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Drunkards will not miss President Ian Khama!

Keletso Thobega

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Imagine that you are out and about having a good time at your favourite night joint. The golden juices are swirling in your head as you dance in slow motion, when the music is abruptly turned off and the lights are switched on and off to indicate that it is now closing time. Talk about an anti-climax! But this is apparently the life that drinkers and drunkards have become used to since 2008. For the past several weeks, the president has embarked on a national tour to bid farewell to Batswana after an eventful presidency. There is no doubt that our teetotaller president gained notoriety when he effected the alcohol levy and restricted entertainment hours laws. But it has been proven that there is no correlation between substance abuse and tax.

When people want to do something, they will do it. And Batswana sure as hell want to drink – so much that you would be forgiven for thinking that imbibing the golden liquids is a compulsory cultural practice. I even hear that the chief drunkards want to introduce the gabola church here. But this war against alcohol is understandable. Alcohol is a silent killer: not only detrimental to one’s health if consumed in large amounts but also, most social ills in our communities boil down to alcoholism – poverty, murder, divorce, HIV/AIDS, road carnages and the list goes on.

But some people still choose to drink like fish. It speaks volumes about twisted priorities and how some people have a low self-esteem. There is nothing wrong with alcohol if it is consumed in small amounts – two or three glasses is enough, folks! Some Batswana have adopted this self-defeating culture of thinking drinking to get drunk is something to be praised for. Go na le selo gatwe ‘plaka’. Someone can wipe off a six or 12 pack or more, or a bottle of whisky or wine in just one sitting. Kooteng ke bokwete. Motho wa teng o tla bo a iphitsa dino tsa bagolo, kamoso a bo a ipoka gore ne a bo nwa a sa bo tshamikise…WTF, who does that?! Never mind that you put yourself at risk of alcohol poisoning, inflammation, liver cirrhosis etc…

And need I add that alcoholics are the ugliest lot out there what with their phuza faces. At times you have to squint in the person’s direction to figure out if they are laughing or crying. Anyways, I bet our President would be shocked if he were to be thrown into a drinking hole and come across the assortment of characters. In every drinking hole, there is always the madcap – that one person murmuring to themselves. Then there is the person who enjoys holding centre stage in conversations. Then there is that chap who is broke but always gets drunk because he asks for beers from patrons.

Bo‘ntlaletse hoo.’ Then there is the one with Dutch confidence: they would be quiet as a church mouse but after a few drinks, suddenly develops verbal diarrhoea. Then there are the ones who always get involved in fights: alcohol incites the Muhammad Ali within them. And then enter the classic, the emotional crier. This one opens the floodgates after a few drinks and tells all and sundry about their “problems” which could range from money issues, being bewitched or love woes. Being a man who seemingly cares about people and is concerned with their plight, the Prez would probably listen attentively. The drunk would sob: Monngame, mokapelo o a ntshwenya…gape o gana ka dikobo. And with a concerned look he would respond: A e didimale a bo e latlha bojwalwa…ke tla e fa dikobo!

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Bureaucracy impedes youth empowerment – Tshekedi

Keikantse Lesemela

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Minister of Youth Empowerment, Sports and Culture Development, Tshekedi Khama said government’s bureaucracy hinders youth participation in economic development.

Speaking during the Youth Awards on Saturday, Khama explained that the society has adopted the word bureaucracy and they live with it. “This word has contradicting terms with the way the youth think, this confirms the space between the youth and how we deliver. The honour is on us to deliver an enabling environment, we talk so much, we have had discussions in pitsos,”

He pointed out that, financial institutions have difficult regulations that hinder youth to access funding for their respective businesses. “When a youth approaches a financial institution, the first question would be where is your pay slip?, secondly, what security do you have? And they will say it’s bank regulations. We live in the bureaucracies of these regulations and it has become our DNA,” said Khama.

Over the years, government has introduced programmes that promote youth entrepreneurship, which include financing, capacity building, market access and marketing an outreach. Currently, the ministry is reviewing the Youth Development Fund to improve training of beneficiaries and encourage consortia and cooperatives.

Recently, when presenting the budget for the Ministry, Khama highlighted that the youth cohort constitutes the majority of the population and this is supposed to present the country with an opportunity to harness the demographic dividend. “Their energy, educational level and technology skills should be exploited to propel our country forward,” he said.

He also indicated that the youth is faced with socio-economic challenges including unemployment, poverty, substance abuse and HIV/AIDS. “Therefore we must intervene to give them the best possible opportunities to achieve their dreams and help our country realize the ideals of vision 2036.”

Meanwhile, government disburses P120 million yearly as funding to youth enterprises and about 919 businesses have been funded in the last financial year. The youth have raised a lot of challenges in doing business, including high rentals for operating space, low market access owing to tight competition and limited production capacities.

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Have a clear succession plan for peaceful transition

Matshediso Fologang

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How have we as a people treated succession? Though in our society succession has always been determined along patriarchal lineage, traditional leadership succession has not always been smooth.

There are known stories where families broke up in a battle for succession. Immediately in my mind comes the last split of the Ba-ga-Malete in 1892. The succession was based on the bravery and not on the strength being the first born child. Throughout Botswana many merafe have a history of succession that didn’t follow the rigidity of patriarchy.

Batswana as a people believe that talk is far better than war. Ntwakgolo ke ya molomo. We are a people who would spend a whole lot of time openly discussing a matter before a decision could be reached. Discussions on any matter put before a gathering of family, clan and morafe was never finalised without thorough discussion. All present regardless of their economic strength participated fully without hindrance. Decisions thereat were reached through consensus. Traditional leaders would skilfully announce the collective decision arrived at.

The good thing about this method of allowing all to participate – Mafoko a kgotla mantle otlhe and the Mmualebe bua gore monalentle a tswe lagwe – was basically premised on the principle of what our current crop of men and women who have read big books would call “participatory democracy.” Democracy therefore has never been an imported phenomenon amongst Batswana. Democracy has always been in our DNA. Regarding succession therefore it has always been based on the consensus of the majority.

The leader though selected among the royal family, his character also played an important role in determining his suitability. As we embraced western type democracy we have in our different political homes defined our succession plans. As a nation we have defined our processes of succession. In the age and era where, unlike in our tradition, we have written these, we do not therefore rely on memories. Our forebears relied on memories and nothing was ever in black and white.

However, our forebears knew succession if not properly handled could bring strife and instability amongst morafe. We were then not part of a collective of nations and therefore what transpired in our little morafe did not necessarily impact our relations with other merafe that much. If not handled well it could create a loophole for other merafe to wage a war against the morafe .

If any such person who had been overlooked for whatever reason felt strongly about such decision, he would either remain part of the morafe as a junior leader or migrate with his supporters. Peace would prevail. Even those who had held fort for their younger siblings would want to hand over a united morafe to his successor.

In modern society, a predecessor takes pride in the performance of his choice of successor. Travelling through history one envies the succession of Kgosi Ketshwerebothata Ikaneng and Mokgosi III and that of Kgosi Mmusi and Linchwe II. Such were Batswana leaders who worked together for the better interest of the merafe they led. What now and whither peace and love for the downtrodden?

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