Rraetsho yo ke mo lopelang, without whom I am a nobody, how have you been lately? Kana once in a while I have to keep checking on you especially every time there are issues that have the potential to mentally drain you. As I said recently, I worry a lot about you these days.
The things that have been happening of late, calculated to undermine your authority and perhaps to render you a Cabbage President, should worry everybody around you. I just hope you considered my advice on the food you eat – that is, to ensure that the food you eat is prepared only by my Mmaagwe Atsile. You know what I said – you have so many hidden enemies they might poison you.
I was actually worried maloba when I heard that the other state president – the quasi president – had dropped from your trip to Zim. Akere there had been so much talk about your haters wanting to erase you from the face of earth; and attendant to that talk was the insinuation that the former big spy and his former boss could use some magical and mechanical portions to fail your aircraft while airborne. When I heard you would be flying with one of them it excited me. I thought it was the smartest insurance move you could make to ensure that if you go down, the architect of the downfall goes down with you. That’s why I panicked when I heard that the quasi one would no longer be in the aeroplane with you. I wonder what it is you had done differently to ensure no threat to your grand existence.
But I have to say I am glad you came back in one piece from that God-forsaken land where bombs can be planted at a public gathering the way it was done that day someone else lost a life instead of the targeted Monankakwa. I wonder how you are settling down to the Bulela Ditswe tidings that have since pitted your men against one another. In fact, I hear people are now celebrating that the centre of power has tilted towards the quasi president. Every Tom, Dick and Harry is currently on analysis mode and coming up with theories of why some MPs and Ministers lost in the weekend elections. Diparo, pundits and analysts alike, are busy sharing their deficient learned observations on what could have caused the turn of events. Ke gore where it suits them, they say Nonofo lost because you did not really want him in cabinet and had insidiously plotted his downfall. Where Kgathi has lost, they argue that it’s because the quasi president is in control and you are not. When I question how you would hate Nonofo and still appoint him a minister within your arm’s reach, they argue that yours was actually a smart move of keeping your enemy closer and ensuring you monitor and control his movements.
I do not want to believe that to be true Kgabo. I just think, as I have always said, that these guys are just jealous and do not want to credit you with anything. When I alert them to the fact that Kgathi was always aligned to the quasi president, they argue that being the lelope that he is, he had long switched allegiance to you, which is why the other state president is so bitter he had to go on an all-out attack on him.
I actually hear the two have soured their relations so much that Kgathi is now seeking that the former returns the 9 Simmental bulls he gave to him as farewell gifts. Eish, and to imagine that even without the Simmentals, Kgathi had gone around his constituency canvassing for more gifts for the big Mongwato’s send-off! You guys in politics live a life of lies waitse. I just don’t believe gore so quickly after that, the two are now at loggerheads, simply because Kgathi realigned to serve you as a sitting President? E le gore what had Mongwato invested in Kgathi so much that when he chooses the sitting President, he is then vilified with the ferocity we witnessed recently? It is as if Kgathi committed treason, which then begs the question: what is it that the big guy had hoped to gain by having Kgathi in his corner? Do you now see why I recently said that these guys never really loved you? That they had planned to use you and mislead the nation into believing that they were not corrupt and nepotistic.
Their plan was to always bring in their own flesh and blood as well as their sycophants. That is why when it looked like one of them was going to lose, he fought with every fibre of his being, including seeking recourse beyond the party. It was a do or die for them who claimed to embrace you by handing you the seat. Remember I told you in my last letter that the grand plan for these guys had always been to hand you the seat temporarily; you were meant to last only until they were ready to take the seat back – not even beyond this year.
I mean, what did you make of those early challenges to your presidency? What of the motion of no confidence? And after I had warned you of these, way before they happened remember, potent rumours would then emerge of who was really behind these challenges to your presidency.
Your biggest enemy right now is bigger than just the UDC. The enemy is more within than is outside and of course the situation has to be met with an equally brutal response. I think you did right to bring in your soldier brother back into the system so that he helps you in dealing with the mind of the soldiers plotting your downfall. Kana ke gore some critics of your brother’s re-appointment did not have the full appreciation of what battles you were preparing yourself for. And I still maintain that you continue to refuse to move into the State House maybe until after the 2019 elections. What if their grand plan is to finish you before 2019? And while at that, I hope you have ensured, as I advised, that the food they buy for you is from retailers, wholesalers and producers you can trust. These guys’ tentacles of hate, I warned you, are almost everywhere and I wouldn’t be surprised if they command that special foodstuffs be packaged for you. As it is, they want to drive you crazy. They want to ensure you do not enjoy peace as State President.
Look at how things have panned out now. About 9 of your cabinet ministers have lost their bid to return to Parliament. What motivation do they have now to continue serving the nation with diligence? Their focus has obviously derailed now and instead they are beginning to think of their lives post 2019 election. I doubt they will even care to visit their constituencies again after this. Even the four other MPs who were not in cabinet will just be focussed on how they sustain their lives after the 2019 election. I mean, what should now motivate Sadique to go and address his constituents on anything, in Lobatse when he knows he won’t be their MP in the next few months? The likes of Setlhomo, Moipisi and Molefi will now be seeking to embark on businesses that will sustain them beyond 2019. That is surely going to negatively affect productivity on your men and for the next 14 months your government could be operating on auto pilot. These things should be worrying you now. I bet the quasi president is celebrating now, and I wouldn’t be surprised if he influences those who lost from his stable to just quit Parliament by resigning, so that your party is thrown into the chaos of parliamentary by-elections.
I mean, right now, what can stop Sadique from saying he is quitting Parliament to focus on personal issues? Beware such things could be coming. Or worse, Madigele and Mzwinila? Then you will have to worry about cabinet and the opposition onslaught. I hear diparo and quasi analysts attribute these results to the influence of Khama. I don’t agree with them entirely. From my knowledge of what has been happening on the ground, Molefhi, Butale, Madigele and especially Kgathi, were always going to lose. No such thing as Khama magic on their fate. It’s a fallacy. But even where there could have been that Khama magic, and even where Khama wants to be credited with making some candidates lose, it should show you that you have bigger problems within the party. You are dealing with hypocrites who know exactly what they are doing.
Of course all you politicians are hypocrites, but the BDP hypocrisy is at another level. They are deliberately putting you in a tight spot. You may reshuffle cabinet to address the matter of demotivated ministers who lost the Bulela Ditswe election, but there might be a revolt from them that may cause you even bigger problems. So as it is, you must be careful what you do next. This one here could be your biggest test, the kind that should make or break you. But should you emerge from the current turmoil intact, I tell you nothing else will trouble your presidency. Forget the fabled threat from the opposition.
They are still dealing with their own demons. You should have seen their circus of a rally in Gabane this weekend. The leaders of the same party hitting at one another! Imagine. So for now while they fail to take advantage of your troubles go go tlhobosa batlhophi, put on your combat gear and go out there to fight back. As it is, the political ground favours no one. The smartest will prevail, and with your superior position that comes with free operational resources, you should be the one to come out strong. Gape I trust the political master schemer that you are. Remember, you are the State President, and you are on pole position. So act like you are the President. And you owe no one an apology.
This lockdown is going to plunge many into depression
Dear Mokgweetsi Masisi
Today, Wednesday April 1, 2020, marks exactly two years since you were sworn in as President of this republic, and I wonder how you will be celebrating this milestone while under quarantine. Kana right now we could be coming over there to celebrate with you had you not blundered by attending that State House pool party in Namibia. Your residence would be lit this time, ree ja joy in celebration of your second anniversary since your ascendance to the highest office on the Tswana land. Knowing you, this corona thing would have been shoved aside to allow the world to know gore you are turning two years as President – even after announcing a lockdown on Tuesday. Akere wena you are often thus – you say this, you do the other. Kana gape it would be your chance to show that Namibian President gore le wena you can gather people for a celebration even amidst this state of public emergency. Akere le ene despite global warnings against international travel he decided to host a party and invited you – the result of which you are now in quarantine. I just wonder how Atsile and MmaAtsile are coping with an absent Daddy and Hubby. In fact, we haven’t heard much of our lovely First Lady since you went into quarantine – even at this odd hour when a mother-figure is needed to reassure the nation that all will be alright. O re costile motherlove Morena. Kana if it wasn’t for that reckless trip, we could be seeing her around with you. Jaanong mmanyana gatwe a seka a go atumela shem…
Anyway, it was great to see you looking fit and strong on Tuesday morning BraMEK, and we are glad you are showing no signs of infection. Kana yo mogare e bile ga o tlhaole. It doesn’t care if you are a British Prime Minister, German Chancellor or a Royal Prince. Neither does it care if you are a Head of State, or popular football star or internationally-acclaimed movie star – e ralla anyone Covid-19, rich or poor; black or white and everything in between. So seeing you looking that healthy after that risky Namibia trip has helped reassure us that within the gloom and doom of the socio-economic crisis created by the virus world-wide, there is that silver lining of remembering that it does not just infect unless invited to, and that even when it has infected one, death is not always a given. I realise however that you waited for your anniversary day to pass without impediment before you could institute the start of the lockdown tomorrow. We support your decisiveness nonetheless and promise to abide by the guidelines laid before us to boost our survival chance against this monster of a virus. I see you have even tried to do all in your power to ensure individuals and business entities do not feel the extreme wrath of this Covid-19 and the attendant lockdown. Among the things in your rescue package I see you talk of tax holidays for businesses; access to credit; immediate reconnection of water; decrease in fuel prices; an economic stimulus package; loan guarantees for businesses; restructuring of loans with banks; relaxed payment of insurance premiums for both individuals and companies; provision of a wage subsidy for citizen employees of businesses mostly affected by the virus in order to enable them to retain employees; expedited payments to business entities by government and parastatals … and other interventions intended go fokotsa manokonoko a Covid-19. Yet there are those still in tears Big MEK, who ask gore bone gatwe bone ke ba ga mang. These are the folks who live from hand to mouth, who worry that the lockdown will kill them even faster than the virus itself. Akere Tautona there are people who make an instant daily stipend from clearing the weeds, doing laundry, selling fatcakes, selling cooltime, veggies, sweets and mabudula on the streets as well as those who sell traditional beer? How do they make money for their groceries ne Tautona? What measures do you have in place for them? In your address on Tuesday morning you did not elaborate on that and I pray that by the time this letter reaches you, you would have clarified the matter. Kana these are the people who will not comply because one way or the other, they would have to go out there to hassle. I bet they were wondering who exactly you were talking to when you mentioned the issue of panic buying. You need to urgently come up with a plan for them BraMEK, otherwise they may have to choose between death by hunger and death by corona. Go riana there is one mosadimogolo in Ramotswa who was made to spill away her traditional brew last week, despite having started the fermentation process two days before Trade Minister Peggy Serame decreed that there would be no sale of alcohol. Gatwe mosadimogolo o sale a bedisa ka Tuesday before the ban on sale of alcohol was announced ka Thursday. Her brew got ready for sale on Saturday but your men of the law came hard on her, making her throw it all away. Imagine such instances BraMEK on our oldies who seem to have been left out in your disucusions ahead of the sale ban of bojwala. Others BraMEK say you never even bothered to address their worries against landlords who will still demand rent for their houses despite the tenants not going out to work and make money on the streets. There are also these chaps who depend on our absence from our homes to make a living – the ones who take advantage of our absence to break into our homes to take what they never had to sweat for. Ba re o ba bolaile because homesteads will be occupied throughout the day. They worry that with soldiers and police officers expected to be unleashed on the streets, they may have a difficult time to do any work at night. And in the case these chaps continue to work and flout the lockdown and extreme social distancing rules, what can we expect you to do with them Tautona? Could they straightaway be charged with attempted murder should they test positive for coronavirus? Akere by coming into our homes they would have exposed us to harm? And then there are the ladies of the night BraMEK, although I know you would argue that the law does not recognise them. But hey, they are there and their hassle is real. If you are going to keep their customers under lockdown, how will they survive? Kana e bile these days they are a bit sophisticated – they rent houses from which they operate, where their clients meet them for a roll in the hay. They have to make money for both the rent and their meals. If we don’t aid them they too pose a risk as they might sneak out to go and meet their clients ‘halfway’ and end up infecting each other. As I said earlier, I hope you do something about these forgotten citizens, even if it is it could mean dropping a bag of Tsabana in each household. Note also that suddenly – after you announced the lockdown – some employers out there are beginning to label their traditionally lowly-regarded workers as ‘essential service employees.’ Yet they have nothing to offer them commensurate with the new label. Others are dismissing employees already, claiming the lockdown will kill their business. And with the grounding of public transport vehicles, these companies have no plan how to get their essential service workers to the workplace. Ne kere le bone ba o ba tlhodumele Tautona. And on a more serious note, I worry about our mental health BraMEK. I tell you this lockdown is going to have its toll on the mental health of many. There is too much anxiety right now and there is a general fear of the unknown. With no light visible at the other end of the tunnel, many will be choking in there, worried about the uncertainty of everything including the well-being of relatives, the security around their jobs, the inability to attend funerals of their loved ones… resulting in rising stress levels and possible depression. Some couples will be annoying each other and expect cases of GBV to rise during this period. I hope you will look into such matters to ensure people are given some form of counselling and advice, especially through television and radio. Otherwise we thank you for acting on this lockdown thing sooner than later – although I still feel it should have come earlier. It was always going to be pointless to wait for deaths to go uncontrollably high before we could take the virus seriously. You had no choice but to put us down into extreme social distancing. Mistakes are going to happen along the way, and I hope we will help you go through correcting them amicably together without pointing fingers. And what an opportune time for bonding to happen! Parents will school their children and tertiary students will have enough time to reorganise themselves in preparation of the next time the coursework rooms open. Husbands and wives who all along did not see eye to eye will emerge from this lockdown a lot closer. And during the potentially lonely days, I hope there will be enough and clear communication to keep people at ease. For now it is Goodbye Mr President. Pass my warmest regards to my cousin Neo and her little girl. And sorry about the sleepless nights you and especially Health Minister Lems Kwape have to endure. I really feel for the poor chap; and pass this message to him that we all love him. We see what he is doing and what he is going through. Cheers for now MEK.
This year marks my 10th year as an employee of The Botswana Guardian and The Midweek Sun newspapers, under the CBET Pty Ltd company.
I still remember one afternoon of 2010 when I was in Francistown. I was waiting for my graduation from the University of Botswana where I did Bachelor of Media Studies. I had just started a freelancing job with Mmegi in the Ghetto when one of the Guardian/Sun managers Tlotlo Mbazo called me offering a job opportunity. See, during our time, UB newspaper- then known as The UB Horizon was hyped and big.
We distributed it across newsrooms in the country. In addition to this, one of my former Journalism lecturers Julia Cass had advised us to always cut our articles and keep portfolios and later send them across media houses for opportunities. So when MmaMbazo called me about an opportunity that had come up, I knew she had seen my work that I had submitted a few months before closing at UB.
Coming into the Guardian/Sun newsroom the first days was exciting yet challenging at the same time. I found many male colleagues that were also very loud and pushy. Intimidating. At times, annoying. Some were old, reminding me of the set up in international newsrooms where journalists are older. The 24 year-old me then was timid and emotional…but zealous and curious. I was impressed however by the female journos that oozed energy and passion.
The truth about the media industry is that there was a time when it was male-dominated. Women were thrown into light beats and strong ones were tackled by males. Though it was the case with Guardian/Sun then, seeing the likes of Phemelo Ramaribeng nee Ramasu pursue News was encouraging. Her human interest stories to a larger extent contributed to my love for Human Rights issues.
I worked under the leadership of great men who all shaped my career in special ways. The likes of peculiar Mpho Dibeela who has since gone into newspaper ownership; Mike Mothibi, the sophisticated writer with a passion for farming; courageous Abraham Motsokono who called a spade a spade and not a big spoon; fatherly Ernest Moloi who helped build resilience in me; Mbazo, woman of the board who leads tenderly but with a stern posture; Justice Kavahematui with a very calm demeanor; Joe Brown-Tlhaselo the perfectionist who pays attention to every detail in the paper – in fact it was Joe-Brown who welcomed me the first day by offering me a chair and lunch! And then there is Boitshepo Balozwi, my editor-turned-friend who every now and then blesses me with pearls of wisdom when ‘the devil wants to lie,’ as well as Dikarabo Ramadubu, our moving encyclopaedia.
Still under this list falls Beatrice Mbulawa, the magnificent General Manager who came with a unique style of managing a media house as a finance-steel lady. Joel Konopo and Ntibinyane Ntibinyane have always been deep hence their now establishment of the bullish INK Centre for Investigative Journalism. In 2012, they took me to Amabunghane Centre for Investigative Journalism in South Africa where my mindset changed altogether. That was an investment that I will always use in my Journalism. Douglas Tsiako also deserves recognition for always believing in me. Special mention of Ditiro Motlhabane for always putting me on my toes about my stories as my News Editor.
My colleagues across every department in The Guardian/Sun throughout the decade, both new and old, have been fascinating. The team is a rare, winning breed. Group dynamics is as real as it gets but I can say unfazed, that I learn a lot from every single individual in our newsroom. The energy here is right. It’s amazing.
So much can be said about my decade in our newsroom. Perhaps, my number one lesson is that of servitude. Journalists are servants. They should serve. At church we say EBENEZER – Thus far the Lord has brought me. Thank you.
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