The issues, the concerns and the questions â€˜come crowding in. There seems to be no let- up. The editor of the Sunday Standard Outsa Mokone is jailed overnight, supposedly because of possible charges relating to seedition- but was he ever charged? Sedition! There have been instances in the past when sedition related to the penal code has come to the fore.
Sam Mbaiwa was one such victim but remember also Kenneth Koma, Pretty Molefe, Henderson Tlhoiwe and not least, the cruel treatment of Caitlin Davies editor of the Okavango Observer who was charged because she had carried a report about a teenage gang which was terrorising the Maun community.
Inredible; And then there was the seizure by the police of the book written by Rothstein ( of the Ministry of Agriculture) who was revealing all about some long forgotten issue. And then we come to the unprecedented application for asylum in South Africa of a senior newspaper reporter, the death, accidental or otherwise of an opposition activist, and the beating up and torture of another.
But then again there has been the startling response of the Office of the President to the US Government’s stated concern “over the arrest of Mokone”. In a strange way, over the years, I have tended to admire Jeff Ramsay’s usually measured way of rebuking the private media for one or another of its unfortunately repeated transgressions- although newspaper editors must have become desperately weary of being lectured and put down.
But now all of a sudden, he lost his sense of proportion and perspective, threw restraint out of the window and launched into a totally unnecessary attack on the USA.
Could this statement have been made without the prior approval of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and thus of the Government as a whole? And if so, will we ever know what it was which made the government so dramatically turn its back on a country which has given it such wonderful one term support? But then within a week, Jeff Ramsay was back in the news circulating by email, as from the Office of the President, the text of the key note speech he made at a celebratory dinner to mark 65th anniversary of the founding of the Chinese Peoples republic.
This dinner was attended on the Chinese side by its ambassador Zheng Zhuqiang and by Miles Nan, President of the Association of Chinese in Botswana. This country was represented by HE Festus Mogae, and by the former commander of the BDF, Tebogo Masire but otherwise by not a single representative of the current government, of the national assembly, the city council, whose silhouette seems to be shrinking by the day- or by any major civic leader.
It seems barely credible. Were those two not embarrassed to find themselves in such a strange position?
Could they have known that this would happen? But was Ramsay invite to speak in his personal capacity because the Chinese were aware that he was knowledgeable about their history-which seems unlikely? Or as the representative of the government- which also seems unlikely? Government make their own decisions as to who will represent it and the Chinese are unlikely to have shifted from that norm.
But the point that Jeff made in his speech about China’s worldwide importance today and, more specifically about its importance to this country, made it all the more obvious that he was not the most appropriate person to have done so.
Was he really the only person in government who was free to speak on such an important occasion? Was everyone else engaged elsewhere in canvassing for the election?
Preferably both the Vice President or the Minister of Foreign Affairs should have attended this dinner and one or other should have been the key speaker. In such a situation, the VP would have been in his element. His speeches are a joy-invariably masterpieces- it is his élan, his panache, his relish and enjoyment of the moment and situation and his appreciation of language which makes him a master of his art.
Had he spoken at this dinner he would for a certainty have held the Chinese who were present, enthralled- and relations would have been stronger as a result.
But he was not the key speaker-nor indeed, for whatever reason was he present.
This becomes totally bewildering. Within a week or so, we seem to have got on the wrong side of the two most powerful countries in the world. Was this accident or design?