The debate on alcohol will be with us for some time. If by imposing a 30 percent levy on alcohol government had thought that they had banished for good the discussion on alcohol, they were only deluding themselves.
To be fair to President Ian Khama, we think we understand why he is so concerned with alcohol consumption, which borders on the abuse. The atrocities resulting from alcohol abuse are a compelling case that very few can argue against. We have seen families break-up, productive lives lost, insurance companies lose millions, many maimed, hospital beds taken up by patients that should not have been patients in the first place. As a leader of this nation, President Khama has a responsibility to be decisive in promoting and protecting the interests of his people even if it means saving themselves from a self-inflicted misery. We cannot fault Khama for trying to protect his people. We do not doubt that President Khama means well. Former President Mogae pulled us from the abyss of HIV/AIDS and Khama is hoping to extend the frontiers by fighting against alcohol abuse.
What we, however, find a little amiss with Khama's alcohol crusade is his lack of consultation and even the lack of respect for institutions that he has to carry along. No matter how noble his intentions are, President Khama would still need to consult not just the bureaucrats in government but the alcohol industry and the public.
We are not merely talking about the stage managed Kgotla meetings, which government officials have desecrated in their partisan addresses where they cough out instructions in the name of consultation. Khama may be the president, but he
We expect President Khama to sell his vision to this country and persuade Batswana to follow a certain path other than coerce institutions through decrees to implement whatever he thinks is good for this country. All of us are concerned about alcohol abuse in this country and we want something positive and longterm to be done about this abuse. We know that the desired change will not result through force because we want long-term sustainable behavioural change not the knee-jerk solutions that President Khama seems to be perfecting.
President Khama needs to engage the alcohol industry and even commission a national study that could help identify the problem and find solutions to this huge problem. President Khama should be careful not to squander the goodwill that Batswana gave him not on account of any delivery but merely because he is the son of the founding father.
"This is a Senate of equals, of men of individual honor and personal character, and of absolute independence. We know no masters, we acknowledge no dictators. "
- Daniel Webster quotes