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Fare thee well, Mr. President

By the time I write my next column, Lt. Gen. Ian Khama will no longer be this country’s president. I am waiting for April with bated breath. When Sir Ketumile left, I was moved to tears. When Festus Mogae left I was moved to tears.

But this time, there is a feeling of semi-detachment from the impending national occurrence.

I speak of an occurrence that normally evokes violent emotions of sadness within me. Give whatever score you will to Lt. Gen Khama’s government, one thing is clear; economically, it has been a dismal failure. And as far as I am concerned, a president who fails so dismally on the economic front deserves no gift on exit. Sometimes I wonder if my president is not getting so much because many are happy to see him go. Lt. Gen. Ian Khama has been a leisure, conservation and social welfare president. Period. We might as well have had another president for the economy.

There has been just way too much money wasting in his government without growing the economy in any significant way. The ESP blew up more than a billion without any stimulative effect. In the end, it was just wild spending. It is okay to say that he inherited an economy in recession. Nobody said that it would be easy. Fellow African presidents are struggling with worse. A dictator called Kagame inherited worse and is doing great. In the end, what matters is that he did accept the challenge. This was a presidency, not some ceremonial British royalty. It was his duty to guide the ship though the rocky channel to the sunlit days where the gentle winds kiss every sail. We are still at sea. Worse; we are lost at sea. We have no economic direction and are still living off Debswana.

 It has been a rather sad presidency. If you ask me if it has achieved the “5D” roadmap in any way, I would say “NO”, without hesitation. I don’t mean to spite my Chief; I am only being frank. Democracy regressed, Development regressed, dignity got an average score (The Presidential Housing Appeal has been a marvel), and discipline (whatever that meant) was lacking more on Lt. Gen. Khama’s  government than on the populace. You don’t buy offensive, useless jets for close to P20 billion when the country is beset by so many socio economic challenges.

You don’t thrust such a significant development as the EVM on the population without consultation. Well, I stopped being angry about the EVM when I learnt, on good authority, the primary motive behind its acquisition.

As the country’s CEO he must of course take the blame for all failed projects and collapsed institutions. Attorney Busang Manewe says that he will be remembered for keeping our courts busy. He is right. He has truly

awakened the conscience of a nation.

By the way, I am one of those who haven’t contributed anything by way of gifts. I just think that his official retirement package is pornographic enough without me having to add to it. It is even more obscene because it was given under his own government by instrument of a system less than independent. It’s a product of serious conflict of interest. The provision regarding the option to purchase the official residence is less than honourable.

Frankly I think that many in this country have suffered a burn-out. I am one of them.  I do not say that many want regime change. The BDP, as a party, is still dear to many. Whilst the confused opposition sorts itself out, many would be content with leadership as opposed to change. I guess the end of the President’s rule is the one subject where there is fairly good consensus between opposition and the many ruling party members who do not have the fortitude to say it publicly.

It is easy to fall to the temptation to criticise the outgoing President for his style of rule. But overall, I believe his influence has been positive. Many Batswana have woken up to the reality as to how weak their institutions of governance are. He exposed them. He blew our bubble. The personalisation of State institutions has by far been his achievement.

We have had a president who was not just worshipped but literally feared. We have had a President who made nothing of appointing family, friends and relatives to key State institutions, including where he might be directly or indirectly conflicted. For the first time, not by accident but by design, Cabinet outnumbered the backbench in Parliament, rendering the august house almost literally a circus. He gets a 25% score.

The incoming’s legacy would be cemented in ensuring institutional integrity and independence to the three arms of government and to key State offices. A comprehensive constitutional review would usher us into a post liberal dispensation and set us out as the furthest outpost in the democratic frontiers. It would narrow down the scope of political debate to the economy and perhaps earn his party a few more terms. The weeding out of Lt Gen. Khama apologists and sycophants from key State functions is necessary if the incoming’s government should have any dignity and integrity. I said weeding out, not reshuffling.  With that, I might just be sad when he leaves his office in April, 2028.


Chief On Friday



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