Over the past week there was a row over the President’s use of the coinage, "Motswana wa Sekei". Some considered the coinage divisive. They argued, forcefully that it splits citizens into classes and offends equality. I understand their worries.
Inter-tribal relations have not been good of late. The presidential tiff has resulted in Bangwato, in particular, being accused of tribal bigotry and a false claim to national leadership.
It was not an entirely undeserved accusation. We squealed over the removal of the first president from the Ten Pula note. I was too young to notice, but I am told that some Mahalapye village-folk rioted over it.
I can, from distant memory, remember my father and his friends chatting about the change with indignation. It was common, in the early 1980’s in Gammangwato, to mock Masire’s totem; the hyena. As little children, we had a little cadence we chanted when out playing. It was a loaded two question cadence;
“A ke nnete?
A ke nnete morena Modimo, Masire o bina phiri?”
It was simply a question to God if it was indeed true that the second President, who had removed our Chief from the Ten Pula note’s had a hyena for a totem - an animal Bangwato associated with everything decayed and witchcraft. Tribal superiority was indirectly drummed into us from a young age. Well, we were not alone, I guess. I know a tribal grouping that is just as bigoted whose members react violently when challenged about it. I don’t know if they chanted similar cadences. I am speaking general observations. I know that not all tribesmen are tribalistic.
Some say that we need to fix the Constitution definitively to bring about tribal parity. The solution is really simpler. We need to delete all constitutional tribal reference. The question of cultural or tribal equality would then become justiciable. Tribal equality can then be adjudicated through the prism of a neutral Constitution. The courts can shape the jurisprudence and the law on questions of inter-tribal relations, not parliament. Recognition of tribes in the Constitution is not an imperative. I digress.
The Motswana-wa-Sekei question is as regards the subject of equal economic opportunity as opposed to human equality. It is as to whether Batswana-ba-Sekei should occupy a special place in economic policy. The drive for foreign direct investment has opened up the country’s economy to opportunity seekers of all forms. Some are really good people who seek nothing but a chance to lawfully make money while helping the country to develop. Some are just economic hitmen seeking to exploit our economy while contributing nothing to it. Retailers of Asian extraction are well represented in this category. Amongst them are Caucasian economic hitmen and women in the hospitality sector who get paid in
The BDP government has overtime given Batswana ba Sekei the shorter end of the stick. They have been sedated with FAP, SMME, Young Farmers Fund amongst others while the real economic opportunities that could make them billionaires were parcelled off to immigrant economic hitmen. This must be corrected.
I agree that the coinage “Batswana-ba-Sekei” doesn’t appear in the law books. But this country is not global property to be claimed and then abused by just any wanderer. It has proud owners; Batswana-ba-Sekei - indigenous citizens. By “Indigenous citizens”, I refer to those whose parents (maternal or paternal or both) did not have to apply for citizenship regardless of their colour or ancestry.
I remain trenchant that economic policy must favour Batswana ba Sekei as a specific objective. Good luck if you think I will ever apologise for this. The President is right. Look where we are on account of all the nonsensical deceptions of globalisation and economic liberalisation and the overly romanticised notion of citizenship. I am told some gentleman owns Botswana land almost as big as Lesotho. Ninety five percent of it must be expropriated. Batswana-ba-Sekei in the North East have no land because a foreign-owned company owns a section of a district. Batswana-ba-Sekei have no role in the diamond sector, the largest foreign exchange earner. Batswana-ba Sekei must claim their heritage and right to their land and to economic opportunities. By the way, Brexit is actually a Makgoa-a-Sekei project. They have risen in defence of their island nation. They don’t want land and economic displacement. I don’t blame them.
I welcome and specially salute all hardworking naturalised citizens who have made our country their home and those who are working hard towards its economic emancipation. One day you will be Batswana ba Sekei. Some have already qualified and they are many. On the flip side, I loathe the favoured variety that have vaticanised parts of our country into racist reserves and look down upon the indigenous citizens.
The kind whose children won’t serve in the army or the police, yet can be found at the Police stations screaming that the country is unsafe. Those who think their O’mangs are nothing but gate-passes to citizen reserved tenders and economic opportunities they have no role in making but have all interest in exploiting.