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Poverty eradication is our national anthem

Staff Writer
The reputation of President Ian Khama as a shrewd tactician and strategist par excellence has already been put to the test.

The failing and collapsing economy has proven to be Khama's Achilles' heel. The government of Khama by Khama and for Khama indeed! For almost 47years now, it has become music to our ears to hear sources from all over the world, including the dysfunctional Southern African Development Community (SADC), heaping praise on the Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) government for 'prudent' economic management.  Our cabinet ministers, who have been turned into instruments of praise, travel the length and breadth of this country singing the chorus of poverty eradication.

They are just a group of elites who move around telling the poor, the illiterate and the downtrodden, especially in rural areas, about Botswana's superior economic performance wholly attributing that success to prudent economic housekeeping and visionary leadership of the ruling regime.What these cabinet ministers are failing to reveal in their stage-managed kgotla meetings is the root cause of poverty.  Our population is just too small, far less than the population of Soweto in South Africa, and it surprises one as to why everyone in a small population of just two million cannot live a decent life.

The propaganda fed our grannies in these kgotla meetings and in the so-called poverty eradication feasts by the ruling elites have allowed the BDP to bask in a wholly undeserved reputation for being the greatest economic managers in all of sub-Saharan Africa. Characteristically, the BDP and its well-wishers have never taken kindly to alternative views that contrary to popular opinion, Botswana's economic success, if any, is greatly exaggerated because it is not much different from a house of cards.The decades old debate over whether Botswana's success - if any - is the result of the country's mineral wealth or BDP policies has been settled.  Around 45 percent of our citizens wallow in abject poverty as a result of myopic BDP policies.  Without the traditional assistance from the drug-like diamonds that have fuelled for so long the 'boom' years, we have started seeing BDP policies failing to take this nation through this difficult phase.

Poverty is the order of the day in the midst of plenty. The wealth of this country is in the hands of only a few individuals - Chinese, Indians and very few Batswana.  In the not too distant future, Chinese and Indians will be our Members of Parliament and councillors under the BDP since the country is their honeypot. In the final analysis, handouts

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in the form of food and blankets (and shirts nowadays) leave a legacy of dependence among the wretched of the earth.The worth of BDP initiatives comes in the form of these blankets, sweets, shirts and food hampers that the President has found pride and pleasure in doling out.  Villagers have been known to bolt from their homes and jobs to rush to the kgotla to queue up for the dubious. We are left wondering if some of these acts are truly charactable or they are merely intended to drum up support in 2014. Bagaetsho, as the saying goes, there is no free lunch.

Since Khama came into office in April 2008, there has been a rush for unsustainable social programmes that are mainly meant to sustain poverty.  Senior civil servants enjoy this exercise since they tour the country with their friends under the pretext of poverty eradication. Just last year in the Barolong area, many public officers deserted their offices for two weeks fighting poverty, any results from that gathering, only Khama knows. We understand that at the feast millions were drained from government coffers, while a few more were spent at Chanoga for another feast. Where is Minister Kenneth Matambo's financial prudence in this scenario?

As if this is not enough, there came Ipelegeng that can be backdated to 1965 when our parents were paid with mealy meal, beans and cooking oil from the United States of America. Ipelegeng programmes have achieved nothing except to recruit cheap labour to do menial jobs for a measly P450 per month. This contravenes the labour laws of the International Labour Organisation (ILO). It is my honest view that Khama's charity crusade is bringing agony to already suffering Batswana because it deprives poor people of the human spirit of full development.

We often chastise Europeans for abusing and using Africans for comic relief, yet our own leaders enjoy seeing our grannies stampeding for cheap blankets, shirts, sweets and food hampers.This is a lesson to Batswana that not every Jack and Jill can be President. Our constitution should be reviewed, especially the section on who qualifies to be the president of this country because the country needs educated and people in the highest office in the land.  Those uncomfortable with Khama's views are welcome at the Botswana National Front.  They call it the BNF; I call it home.

Comrade Matshwenyego Ben
BNF Life Member



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