The COVID-19 patronage and the art of deception

‘Last week, Botswana officially transitioned into an open corrupt state’

In April 2020, the government declared a State of Emergency to deal with the COVID-19 pandemic that had started five months earlier in China.

Three months into the State of Emergency, there seems to be no coherent strategy about how to deal with the pandemic. The COVID-Task Team appears to be incompetent and to be riddled with conflict and professional rivalries. There seems to be a power struggle at the top. You can never know who is charge between doctors in the Presidential COVID-19 Task Team.

It is either they release a statement in the morning that no permits will be required to move within zones and later in the afternoon retracts that statement, or instruct legislators that they will all be quarantined at government chosen facilities and change five minutes later that all Members of Parliament are free to go home.


The lack of strategy is not surprising. On assuming the Presidency, President Mokgweetsi Masisi promised to revitalise the economy from years of mismanagement and corruption. What he did not tell everybody was that he was at the centre of an intricate patronage system himself and had thrived from it. His feuding with former President Ian Khama was a calculated psychological step meant to ensure that he was not held accountable. The strategy has been successful for the most part because all government institutions have been compromised.

Given the enthusiastic support that he received, President Masisi did not count on a docile citizenry demanding accountability in relation to his businesses and associations with a cabal of Asians. Last week when questions were being asked about his sudden found wealth, President Masisi did what all African leaders do. He declared a lockdown. Until last week President Masisi has never had to hedge his bets thanks to a compromised media. Last week, Botswana officially transitioned into an open corrupt state.

We now know that the Directorate of Intelligence and Security (DIS) was involved in undermining the 2019 elections. It could not have done so without a budget and blessing of the ruling Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) leadership.

Instead of addressing allegations of electoral fraud and public looting, the economy and everybody else is condemned to an unjustified lockdown.

The State of Emergency has been an assault on our collective intelligence and responses to the coronavirus pandemic have not been about addressing our public health crisis but an embezzlement scheme designed to benefit those with ties to the highest office.

Today’s thought

“You can fool some of the people all the time, and all of the people some of the time, but you cannot fool all of the people all the time.”

 – Abraham Lincoln

Editor's Comment
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This is after the easing of several restrictions when Botswana emerged from a State of Emergency at the end of September. The embargoes that were lifted included numbers of attendees at public gatherings.The move to ease restrictions revived the entertainment industry, which had come to a complete halt for a little over 18 months, and that is a long time not making a living.Musicians, promoters and support staff largely depend on festivals to put...

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