Dama Mosweunyane (PhD)
University of Botswana – Faculty of Education
An American poet James Russell Lowell once asked, “Is ours a government of the people, by the people, for the people,” or a Kakistocracy rather for the benefit of knaves at the cost of fools? This question was raised against USA, which is believed to be ahead of countries in upholding democratic values. When John O. Brennan in 2018 tweeted thus, “our kakistocracy is collapsing after its lamentable journey”. These words were directed at the former President of the USA His Excellency Donald Trump, who during his stay in power proved that USA is just like any other capitalist country. It is important to note that these words will find relevance when Botswana Democratic Party finally collapses. Batswana will be justified to celebrate the collapse of the regime that has ruled the country since its independence because that will be the fall of a kakistocracy.
Botswana is a country that has for years been glorified for its democracy and prudence, but clearly what obtains at the moment clearly presents a defeat of these qualities. The Southern African country, which has a population of less than three million, is experiencing unprecedented plundering of resources by those in leadership positions. The citizenry has lost confidence in the ruling class that violates the principles of democracy, in which consultation and accountability are fundamental. When slavery in the USA was abolished and apartheid in the Republic of South Africa got defeated, Botswana imported the heinous political and economic systems. The ruling party is responsible for masterminding regimentation of the nation. The members of the opposition parties are dehumanised as they are ostracised and demonised for their ideas. Those in political leadership positions lack gallantry, patriotism and abhorrence of institutionalised corruption.
The level of bureaucracy in the country denies the citizenry services, which in most instances negatively affects those who do not have the means, who due to poverty cannot afford to pay for services offered by the private sector. The country has not formulated stipulates within which services can be rendered to the people. Botswana does not have a prescribed period within which people can receive services from the public service and parastatals, which is partly responsible for abysmal poverty amongst the citizens. It is within the discretion of those in power to decide if they should respond to complaints from members of the public or not.
The white farmers own farms in which the poor are enslaved and appear only as handlers of livestock, whilst the ownership of such livestock is monopolised by white farmers and their black sycophants. Some farms in Botswana are owned by the remnants of white colonialists who occupied them since the close of the nineteenth century. It is worth noting that some westernised cattle barons have joined white farmers and denied poor Batswana the benefits from their land. The leaders have designed neo colonial legislations that favour the white colonialists and their black bootlickers, such as grazing of their livestock in both their farms and communal areas. The farm owners can look for their livestock outside their farms, but the peasants cannot get in their farms to look for their stray livestock. This is what qualifies as modernised and unconstitutional apartheid.
Botswana is governed by Eurocentric and Americentric men and women who are without moral virtue and are controlled by their gargantuan desire for self-enrichment. They demonstrate no commitment to accountability towards the poverty stricken. The economically disadvantaged citizens are heavily taxed for the rich to line their pockets. The avoidance of taxes that target the haves, such as wealth tax and inheritance tax are axiomatically circumvented. The poor are further disempowered economically and disqualified from decision making structures, only to receive laws that are pushed down their throats.
The poor citizens of Botswana are subjected to wanton atrocities and despondency under the laws that do not empower them to recall their underperforming political representatives. The President of Botswana is constitutionally empowered to appoint specially elected Members of Parliament (MPs), councillors and members of the landboards, despite having more educated citizens who get elected to serve as parliamentarians and counsellors by the people. The ruling party has often abused the provision, as people who are nominated in majority of cases do not have special attributes, but are loyalists of the ruling party. The deployment of personnel on diplomatic missions as ambassadors is also often done to benefit the activists of the ruling party, some of them having lost either party primary or national elections. This venality has often denied the country the best opportunities that could benefit the underprivileged as resources are expended to remunerate undeserving ruling party appointees.
The corrupt government of Botswana is paying exorbitant prices for bogus services and products, which is meant to enrich a few individuals who finance the ruling party in a country that does not provide political party funding. This arrangement has placed the ruling party that has influence over the allocation of resources due to incumbency, at an advantage over its competitors. It is apt to conclude that Botswana is witnessing the worst epoch that is characterised by economic ruin and defiance of democratic values. The political leaders in Botswana do not take heed of the words of great men such as, The former President of the USA Barack Obama, who stated that, “we are reminded that, in the fleeting time we have on this Earth, what matters is not wealth, or status, or power, or fame, but rather how well we have loved and what small part we have played in making the lives of other people better”.
The citizens of Botswana have witnessed the annexation of their land and its use by foreigners for ages, without plans to get it back without compensation, owing to a number of years those in its possession have profited from it. What Batswana are left with is the meaningless elections that take place every five years, the melodic singing of the national anthem, reverence of the flag and veneration of the coat of arms. Botswana has allowed the dumping of corpses of foreigners in the country, who are protected through exotic legislations that the colonial masters imposed upon their departure from what they thought was barren land. Botswana is besieged by worst Asian muggers, who have successfully captured the leaders upon their arrival in the continent. It is clear that the country is under neo-imperialists who pay local workers slave wages for working torturous hours. The political leaders in Botswana as elsewhere in the continent, have sold the poor citizens to squalor, exploitation, desolation, unemployment, malnourishment, shortened life expectancy and poverty. Despite the atrocities committed against the citizens of Botswana, they have remained peaceful and hopeful, partly because of the indoctrinating and palliative education system that mentally stultifies.
It is worthy to note that Ralph Bunche, who participated in the founding of the United Nations said, “Peace is no mere matter of men fighting or not fighting. Peace, to have meaning for many who have known only suffering in both peace and war, must be translated into bread or rice, shelter, health, and education, as well as freedom and human dignity – a steadily better life”.
Batswana under the diamond decorated democracy are subjected to nepotism, tribalism, racism, regionalism and corporate incest by a regime that is worse than apartheid.
Botswana is yearning for democratic and industrious leadership, which most importantly has conscious. The people of Botswana should fully participate in the affairs of their beloved country, so as not to find reason to relocate to countries where they are discriminated and terrorised.