Somehow, the passing of Linah Mohohlo, the former Bank of Botswana (BoB) governor, feels like the passing of an era.
There is a pervasive feeling of hopelessness about it that accentuates the pre-existing morbid ambiance of our political space. Even as the nation mourns death of one of its finest daughters, you get a sense the tears are falling, just as much, for our sorry state of affairs. There is that, “cry the beloved country” feeling in the air that just won’t go away.
I have had the fortune of living under four presidents, late president Sir Ketumile Masire, being the first. When Sir Seretse Khama died, I was only five.
So I have only read of him in the history books and I have high regard for him. But I have experienced all the other four up, close and personal. I will steer clear from passing any judgement on anyone of them. I dare say, though, that the last two presidencies have shunted us back to the Africa we only ever used to hear about. The toxicity of our politics has reached fever pitch, and there seems to be no let off.
The former president’s reign was haunted by accusations, merited or unmerited, of corruption, extra judicial killings and authoritarianism, amongst others. The current, grossly itinerate president’s reign, is stalked by perennial accusations of falsehoods, corruption, and non delivery, amongst others. But there is even more; the open warfare between him and the man who appointed him. As we speak, bayonets are off scabbards to avenge a perceived insult by the former president to the current.
Were it not for the strong foundation of democracy the likes of Ms Mohohlo lived for, built, and died clinging to, we would be experiencing a civil war. We would be running all over the country with children on our backs, fleeing bullets by belligerent sycophants. We would be where all Africa has been and in some measure, still is.
I am saying that the Khama-Masisi feud has destroyed our priceless democratic experience. When you hear a former president saying publicly that the incumbent, “o a le tlwaela”, you must know that gloves are off. What is sad is that three years since the last presidency, the nation does not know what the men are fighting over and none of them is prepared to say. It is just caught in the crossfire. Sadly, this is a time when the nation ought to be pulling together against a common enemy; COVID-19; the same illness that has apparently, once again planted a spear through its heart.
To be sure, it’s all a BDP, feud. BPF, albeit a a separate entity by law, is de facto, a disgruntled BDP faction. I do not say they have no reasons to be disgruntled. They mention, corruption and dictatorship, amongst others. But that is really, besides the point. We are where we are, because the ruling party
They are unable to resolve their toxic differences, which now stand on the way of national progress, and have endangered both the nation’s economy and the lives of its people. It may well be time to have the BDP deal with its internal problems off the seat of power. Who now talks about health care? Who talks about jobless graduates; amongst others? Batswana don’t deserve the state their nation is in. It has ceased to be about who is right between President Masisi, and (ex) president Khama. It is now about national survival, an imperative bigger than presidential, personal egos. The gentlemen should simply be told to take it outside.
Of course, both sides are playing to public sentiment and have galvanised armies to their defence. The “eseng mo go Kgosi Kgolo”, and the “Cava” brigades, are on an all-out-war and it’s not a war of ideas! It’s not a war about saving the nation or propelling it forward. It’s just a juvenile instrument matching contest. Both their leaders, for whom they are spilling blood so recklessly, live on the GPO. It’s them, ordinary Batswana, who are the losers. I write to say that the country of Linah Mohohlo, doesn’t deserve this.
I mention her alone because its her death that has made me regret and inspired me to pen this piece. The list is endless.
And yet, we are all just as complicit in it all. We are victims of our own undoings. The strength of these two leaders and their combined or separate ability to divide us depends on our willingness to play along.
It all depends in our preparedness to shift attention from the things that matter to the nation, to the things that matter to them, as individuals. Unemployment is on the rise; the vaccine roll-out is not up to scratch, the economy is in tatters, service delivery is at an all time low, and the public service is in such bad shape the President recently squealed. As we speak, there is a purge going on at the DCEC ostensibly to save face.
Government law enforcement agencies have become factories for false prosecutions; for out and out lies, and the persecution of citizens. Yet, we are focused on the former president and his personally annointed successor’s egos while our nation perishes.
I am not naive to think that the opposition and the ruling party can ever find harmony in political views and positions. I have made the point before, that for purposes of this submission, I would safely treat the two sides as one. I’ve given my reasons.
I merely say that when the former president, and the incumbent send condolences to the family of Linah Mohohlo, they must remember to respect her and others who built this country.