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Speechwriters' headache

Speechwriters are the busiest in the government enclave as they work around the clock to compose the best speeches for both incoming President Mokgweetsi Masisi and the outgoing President Ian Khama. Mmegi Staff Writer RYDER GABATHUSE reports

FRANCISTOWN: They are putting the last lines to the speeches that the nation is waiting for with baited breath, especially the inaugural speech by Masisi. The nation is waiting to hear where he (Masisi) will take the nation.

 As Khama has aptly described Masisi as very intelligent and a man very familiar with the country’s dynamics during his farewell meeting in Serowe Tuesday this week, the nation is waiting to test the man’s abilities through his promises in the speech content.

The best crafted speech will certainly captivate the mood and meet the expectations of the nation and beyond. It will answer the concerns of the people.

Botswana is a nation ravaged by unemployment especially among the youth brigade. The 2017 unemployment statistics estimate that about 18.1 percent of the labour force was unemployed.

It will certainly start with speech composers and stop with the readers of the speeches.

As the saying goes that the President and the Cabinet are as good as their speeches, speech writers are expected to work very hard to compose captivating speeches that will resonate with the nation and its needs.

Next Sunday, Masisi will be the cynosure of all eyes as he takes the baton of power from Khama who completes his two five-year terms on the same day.

All ears will be on the ground to hear what the speechwriters have done for the nation. It will be a test moment for our speechwriters as the nation will be up on its toes.


What kind of a speaker is Masisi?

Is he a plain speaker who wouldn’t want to colour his speech or would he go for the jugular and settle for outright rhetoric and use the power of language to move the nation and send his message home. Or would he settle for a combination of both plain speech and rhetoric? Considering that although he struggled so much serving under Khama to be his own man, Masisi might raise his head and prove that he is not where he is by any fluke but deservingly so.

In party politics, Masisi surprised many when he went against the advice of majority not to contest for the party chairpersonship and twice went into the trenches and won.

In 2015, just a year after Khama appointed him Vice President (VP) he was put to a stern test when three veteran politicians challenged him for the party chairpersonship at Mmadinare and he brushed the crowded runners aside as he beat Ramadeluka Seretse, Tebelelo Seretse and Biggie Butale hands down.

Just last year at the party’s elective congress in Tonota, he beat another accomplished politician and Cabinet colleague, Nonofo Molefhi hands down and his lobby team also known as Team Dubai beat the Molefhi team to a whitewash.Having proven his resilience as an indefatigable fighter in the

party’s elected positions, simply conquering the BDP, will he use the same fighting spirit to provide for the nation in his inaugural speech?

University of Botswana (UB) political science lecturer, Leonard Sesa in summation says Masisi doesn’t have command.

“Whatever he says generally lacks command and his speeches in most cases where he is not reading, lack seriousness,” observes Sesa, adding that Masisi’s voice is even lighter when he chides party members.

The political scientist is particularly worried that in most cases when Masisi speaks, he sounds like a bragging character, which he feels can send a wrong message to his audience.

But faced with the challenges of the general elections next year, he may try to be somewhat serious in an endeavour to woo people to vote for the party.

“He has schooled enough and could easily use that to read the mood of the nation. With all the assignments that he was given by Khama, he will have to be serious and show the nation what he is capable of,” the political scientist pre-empts Masisi’s direction of speech. Something that he has come out clear about is building a good relationship with the public servants, which has been at its lowest ebb under Khama.

Sesa feels Masisi is likely to take a leaf from the opposition parties and run with some of the issues that they (opposition parties) have commanded over the years to win favour with the masses.

The political scientist is further worried that Masisi appears too excited to even say out the party’s best kept secrets, which can be counterproductive to the party’s strategies.

Another UB political scientist, Dr Kebapetse Lotshwao says: “In my view, I don’t think he is a coherent speaker and there is a danger to that as he seems to lack consistency when he speaks”.

As people who are led, Lotshwao emphasises, “we should know what our leaders need”. He is of the view that when he performs his functions of State president Masisi should rise above party politics and serve the nation equitably without political consideration.

The UB don has also consistently observed that Masisi hardly distinguishes between party and national issues, indicating that as state President, he will not be a president of the BDP only, but now his constituency would have widened.

“He should differentiate between his party leadership and leading a nation,” he says, pleading with those handling him to advise him to mark the difference between the BDP and the nation.

One of the duties of speechwriters at the Office of the President (OP) would be to clearly ensure that they guide the incoming President and hide his weaknesses. The expectations are that the composers of speeches at OP in the land should be adequately informed on pertinent issues to particularly articulate them.




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