Youth anger, is only a representation of simmering public anger that has been brewing over many years.
It threatens to rapture the peace we have enjoyed as a nation. Make no mistake about it, most Batswana are angry.
Only those who are permanently settled in the ranks of the defeated, and have accepted their pitiable conditions as preordained by the Almighty, and those benefitting or standing to benefit from government patronage, are content.
Let us not lie to ourselves; we have an evolving national security situation in our hands Law enforcement institutions, can use coercive powers, to ensure law and order, but they cannot foster, let alone, sustain national peace. Peace is a voluntary state of being, not one resulting from the exercise of coercive power. We are fast losing it, if we have not lost it already.
I have said it before, and so many others have said it too, that the unemployment situation is a ticking time bomb. So is the systemic, economic disenfranchisement of Batswana. These are brewing a whole lot of negative emotion going far beyond the simple challenges they pose.
The toxicity, is pervasive. Amonget others, the nation is becoming increasingly xenophobic; even racist. Hate speech is building up in social media. Botswana stands divided on the basis of skin colour. Non-indigenous Batswana will soon feel unwelcome and insecure, as the “us”, and “them” narrative, becomes the new normal.
We cannot afford that. There are non indigenous Batswana who mean well for our country. And true, we need foreign investors. Not all are corrupt, and not all, are in bed with politicians. Some are honest, hardworking people, who came here in search of a better life and are contributing meaningfully to national development.
When people are angry, because economic doors have been shut on their faces, or they feel, rightly or wrongly, that the nation’s wealth is being corruptly auctioned off to foreigners, the cup of discontent begins to overflow, and national security is threatened.
The prime subjects of public anger, seem, for the most part, to be Batswana of Indian origin. Then, there are the Chinese and other people, in that order. An impression has settled in the public psyche, that government is in an adulterous relationship with these racial groupings at the expense of its constitutional union with indigenous citizens.
Many are prospering and living large, in Botswana, not on account of any merit, but on account of having political leaders and the BDP in their back pockets. Someone may disagree, but that is another point, altogether. These groupings are in control of the economy, and enjoy the fairer share of economic opportunities because they have purchased our leaders.
It is also true that they are the financial backbone of the ruling party and lavish political leaders with gratuitous shareholding in thinly veiled, corporate outfits. Corruption, by politicians, does have a lot to do with it. As it is, the
The president has acknowledged before, and promised interventions to ensure that “Batswana ba sekei” take centre stage in national development . More than two years into his reign, the nation awaits such and in the streets, anxiety is building up. COVID-19, has complicated an already volatile state of affairs. Instead, all the nation gets to hear is that the President is in bed with the same objects of public anger.
The nation gets to hear that while they have been waiting for plots for more than 30 years, just to build a house, the President stands to be allocated a ranch he only applied for yesterday. Confidence in the Masisi government, is at an all time low, and rightfully so. The two examples I have cited above do not speak to youth and citizen empowerment, but to the empowerment of the privileged.
Regrettably, the President and his advisors seem to be at peace with it all. They seem to think that public emotion can be sedated by empty rhetoric and tokenism. They seem to think that by keeping the Butterfly and Bakang Seretse stories alive, the public can be duped into believing that there is an honest effort against perceived wrongdoing.
Somebody should tell the President to wake up, and smell the coffee. Batswana want their country back. They want their land back and they want their economy back. They want it in his hands, because he is their President. Somebody should tell him that he is failing dismally, in that regard.
Recently, former President Mogae, warned, that the indigenous Batswana empowerment narrative should not be at the expense of foreign investment. He was right. Sadly, the esteemed former leader is himself a beneficiary of the very largesse Batswana are crying about.
As such his statements came out as rather self-cleansing. He has also had an opportunity to fix the mess but he did not. Masisi is only continuing his legacy. And that is the legacy many Batswana, want to root out. Until now, all our presidents have failed us in this regard and Masisi is proving no different.
As an apology to landless Batswana, the Banyana Farms tender must be cancelled. It is inappropriate, that at a time when it takes forever for Batswana to get plots for simple dwellings, and have been reduced to landlessness and destitution, the President, in particular, should be getting State land, in record time.
It is not about conflict. It is about the message that that is sending to the public; that their president; who already has land, by the way; is entitled to more land even before they are entitled to a residential dwelling.