The late Sir Seretse Khama, the father of the nation must be tossing and turning in his grave. Two critical issues must be tormenting his soul, writes Mmegi Correspondent DOLLY BYRONE THEBE
The first is personal. His son Ian Khama is being hauled in coals by a party he co-founded. He is worried, not that his son should be untouchable, but because of the absence of due process.
The second factor tearing Seretse’s soul is that the democratic credentials he bequeathed the nation are being trampled upon with impunity and that those who tend to lose the most (the people) have turned a deaf ear to a clear and undisguised assault on values this nation held dear from time immemorial. One was beginning to feel that the nation is doomed until one audacious backbencher, Unity Dow decided to take the bull by its horns. What a refreshing and unique contribution coming from a member of the ruling party! Kudos to you Honourable MP.
The Dow of old has sprung back to life in the niche of time. Our democracy is dying. What the nation must realise what took years to build and nurture can disintegrate with the stroke of a pen. Words of former US president Ronald Reagan are critical in the situation that currently afflicts our country.
“Freedom is a fragile thing. It is never more than a generation away from extinction. It is not ours by inheritance. It must be fought for and defended constantly by each generation for it comes only once to a people”.
Already, every right thinking person in his or her heart of hearts can tell that something in this country has gone amiss. The country put into high office President Mokgweetsi Masisi via the traditional process of democracy. But his actions in office resemble more of some of the vicious dictators the world has ever produced. Ours has effectively become a one man dictatorship masquerading as a democracy. In Masisi, the nation had reared a charmer man who has not only succeeded in selling a dummy to his past immediate predecessor but also managed to fool the entire nation.
But his extreme supporters continue to fight in his corner defending with everything at their disposal. One fanatic of the Masisi regime is fond of saying this is Masisi’s time and not Khama’s time. In other words, the man has a blank cheque to do as he pleases during his mandate. Few people are able to see the problem at hand beyond the Masisi-Khama dispute. It’s like it is either you are with Masisi or with Khama.
Botswana no longer exists. Only two lobbies compete for attention. The Masisi lobby and Khama lobby. Those who try to see the big picture are labelled and stigmatised. Even public servants live under perpetual fear. Appointments in the public service are defined by where one stands in terms of the Masisi-Khama stand off.
Dictators do not fall from heaven. They are reared by the people. Masisi is our own creation and so is the dreadful DIS. Without an appeasement policy followed by the West and an overwhelming national support, Adolf Hitler would have risen to become the menace he came to be to his people and the world.
The people cheered him on when he made extravagant and outrageous promises and threats. The world came to pay a heavy price for its inactions. It is no rocket science that Masisi is the Biblical Jonah taking the nation to a different destination that even his supporters never imagined. But his colleagues, save for Dow, are encouraging him to march on. Their eyes are fixating on the selfish and parochial agenda of securing the next parliamentary seats. It is all about political expediency and nothing about our Botswana. The BDP traditional party caucus system is being to secure temporary conveniences while mortgaging the future of our children and children’s children.
What’s conspicuously absent in Botswana is a culture of solidarity and collectivism. When faced with a common threat, Batswana prefer to wait for their turn as individuals rather than confront the enemy as a collective. This could be caused by the fact that unlike fellow African brothers and sisters, Botswana did not go through the experience of the liberation struggle, which made solidarity a compelling approach. It is clear there is a bull in a China shop - the DIS.
The DIS is a busy body poking its nose on political matters outside its mandate. This is a monster that tramples upon long cherished values of democracy, good governance and the rule of law. The DIS has unleashed a reign of terror against the Khama family and the founding director-general of the DIS, Isaac Kgosi. The two, it seems, don’t deserve anybody’s sympathy because they formed the DIS. So they are literally getting a dose of their own medicine. What people don’t realise is that the issue at hand is not about Khama or Kgosi. It is beyond them. The DIS is assaulting our values and this should invite a national response.
Masisi is playing a game of politics that endangers our peace and international reputation. The BDP as a collective know too well that Masisi has crossed the redline. But fear is ruling the party. They too fear a monster they had reared. Above all, the BDP has a tradition of choosing political expediency over Botswana.
Our elected BDP representatives have succumbed to the temptation of placing short-term political interests over the long-term future of the country. As for Masisi, there is no doubt that he is a shrewd politician and he is playing his game very well to suit his re-election agenda. He knows that his first term is almost over and that he achieved next to nothing. His election bid is anchored on the Khama family.
Dictators never take responsibility for their failures. They also find a way of shifting the blame. Hitler blamed the Jewish community for every affliction that Germany faced while in our case Masisi is unleashing a reign of terror on Khama. He has failed to build a case of corruption against Khama and now seeks to jail him without due process. As Dow said, children will spit on our graves if we could sponsor a violation of our Constitution and democratic traditions.
Doing nothing is not an option. It’s time to rise above narrow parochial confines and to defend our democracy as a collective. Dow has set the right tone.