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You surely kept us on tenterhooks my dear Jan.

Joe Brown

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Dear January

Allow me to pass my condolences on the sudden passing of your bosom buddy December of 2018 with whom you conspired to eat and drink us off our hard-earned money.

The way things were going with that December lad – the parties, credit card-swiping, the cheating, the picnics, the beer, the recklessness, the adultery, the show off – he was never going to last longer and it is no wonder he is now gone and sadly forgotten after that sudden death that happened at the height of exaggerated excitement and jubilation.

I’m awed though, at the frenzy and pomp that met your baton take-over. For a moment everyone had suddenly forgotten that the blissful December of double salaries and fruition of metshelo was gone – and in was you Jan, bringing with you the burden of reality, where the rough financial reckoning of school fees, job hunting, debts, loan applications and the daylight robbery that is ‘development fees’ stare us all in the face.

Now as has happened to your elder brothers who lived in the years past, here you are – lonely, despondent and uneventful as ever, with very little carousing to shout about as all the glitz and swag of 2018 went away with the dearly-departed December.But I must say I am impressed at your improvisation, ensuring that even as you bring with you these agonising regulars, you are not as boring as your other January brothers of the past.

You of the 2019 generation have ensured we remain on tenterhooks with each passing day of your being. There is so much to consume in a very short space of time thanks to your warmth and calm following the December craze. I mean, from the word go you were lit with intriguing stories of Hollywood proportions. From the circus of Kamal Jacobs and his blood-sucking cheerleaders to the blockbuster arrest of Isaac Kgosi, you, dear Jan, have dished more than we can chew and swallow already.

You have in a short span of your life already shown us things we never could have thought would ever visit our peaceful country. December never really knew what your pregnancy carried, and now dikgang le ditiragalo tsa gago di matsorotsoro. I mean, way back in the infancy of your being, we were entertained by the circus that involved that Kamal chap who chanced on Sisiboy and reportedly acting in the interests of the new Israelis of New Jerusalem and their godfather Kgosikgolo in their bid to test the waters on whether or not the legitimacy of the sitting president could be challenged.

The guy was brave.
Or perhaps even foolish, knowing that his godfather had long set that notorious presidential immunity precedent through the Motswaledi case. Of course his lawyers made away with his money – kana bone they were bound to pocket handsomely whether Kamal won or lost. He should have known better, even after he was given hope that he could get things his way.
The circus continued when it emerged Kgosikgolo and his lawyers were now distancing themselves from his case. I guess wherever he is he must be cursing your barrenness and wishing you disappear fast to herald a more hopeful February.

Never one to disappoint, January, you dished even more of this unfolding plot to oust SisiBoy. We learnt of the millionaires in South Africa who were willing to financially back efforts to dispose of the sitting president.

It surely looks like these guys are hellbent on running this country through a captured presidency. I remember that December revelation of some Venson-Moitoi woman who laid bare her intentions of taking over party and state presidency come this July. I tell you that woman is not acting out of genuine motives. A cabal of those with selfish interests is using her. Not the MmaV I know. That’s why I feel that after SisiBoy, we are going to be run by a captured President who will be serving the interests of somebody else and not those of the nation. It actually got worse when it was also announced at the height of your continuing reign, dear January, that Kgosikgolo too, was out on a fundraising mission in London – just to ensure his grand plan to oust the sitting president is well-oiled and will not encounter financial hiccups.

Assuming the funds eventually help remove Masisi, the financiers will be expecting their cut in the deal, and our land could be sold for a song. Le ene Sisiboy must be having a dangerously-inflated confidence. Where does he get the nerve to go on a private visit to Mozambique while his enemies at home are plotting his downfall? Unless maybe he was out there on a truly private mission to seek a counter attacking strategy and plan from his counterparts who are known to have fought fierce territorial battles to protect the presidency against marauding rebels.

And talking about rebels, it was again this month, January, that we learnt of a plot to expel BPP from the UDC for what is deemed some rebellious conduct. I hear they cannot be fully trusted as they have been sympathetic to the BMD. I just do not understand how this UDC thing works really – in the recent past they expelled BMD after denying for months that they were plotting that expulsion. Similarly, they are denying they will be expelling the BPP as well and given their history of denials, I shudder to think where we will be in the coming months with regards to this obscure party of the north.

As things go, I am afraid one of these months the UDC is going to expel either BCP or BNF or even both. It is a party slowly feeding on its body parts and I pray that their denial of wanting to expel the BPP holds water. We can’t afford a hollow UDC that could soon be competing against its original component parties instead of consolidating efforts to defeat the crumbling BDP. It was this month that we again learnt of this BDP’s imminent loss of Shima Monageng who is believed to be on his way to Ndaba’s purple movement. I bet he will promptly become their parliamentary candidate in Molepolole. Kana ko AP when you join, you are assured of a council or parliamentary seat.

I don’t know why Kamal couldn’t just go there and be assured of a platform to fight Matsheka ko Lobatse rather than waste his money on a lost cause. He should learn from the likes of Monageng who just kept their cool upon losing, while plotting their next move. And now when such longtime loyalists of the ruling party are jumping ship, the UDC on the other hand continues to weaken itself. Akere they recently expelled Pilane and part of his party! Now they want to finish him off with some tape and video leaks.

This January surely has a lot of tidings to digest. For some reason, that lady of the threesome fame with the city Mayor is at it again. After a recording was leaked of Pilane asking the lady to drop the rape charges against the Mayor, now the UDC in cahoots with their partners in opposition party politics are gunning for not only Pilane’s head, but also for his burial. It gets worse when the lady in question even spills the beans on the insides of how Pilane cheated his way towards winning elections to lead his party. She continues to chirrup like a city robin that one, and seeks to be forgiven for dropping the charges in the first place, yet ene o setse a jele cut ya 20grand.

They want Pilane to be prosecuted, but they are silent on what should happen with their UDC mayor chap who Pilane was protecting. Politicians! They will humble you. It shows exactly what they mean when they say in politics there are no permanent friends and enemies. Another January 2019 episode proves this. And in this instance, Isaac Kgosi will know better than to meddle in political issues, because there people you thought you knew and trusted can turn against you in an instant. Not even one of the DIS agents could at least give him a tip-off on his imminent arrest.
In fact, they are the ones who executed the arrest – on their former boss, although he claims he doesn’t know any of them. Le ene he has been a major talk of January. From tax evasions and shady dealings to his movie-perfect arrest, Kgosi has been the in-thing this January. There was a time this January, when attention was on the reactions of Kwelagobe, Kedikilwe, Mogae and Molomo on the conduct of Kgosikgolo, but Mzico’s arrest quickly overshadowed what these men had to say.

The nation was in a jubilant mood – except for the UDC leaders who expressed disdain at what they termed a Hollywood arrest. And not to be beaten in expressing his disgust was Kgosikgolo himself. This week he was telling The Argus Online that the current president is two-faced. He says he does not know the current President of Botswana whom he feels is stressed by being President; he only knows his last Vice President who was more dependable. It would have been a shocker had Kgosikgolo remained silent on the arrest of Mzico.

He wouldn’t wait for February to air his views. He wanted to be a part of these January stories as well. As a retired Number One, he is very quick to respond. In the past, things would have happened and he would have gone on his walkabouts in the bundus as if nothing was happening. He is a new man indeed.

Just like you January. Everyone is on and on about this “New year, New me” thing, and they will be making some resolutions. I wonder what Kgosikgolo’s resolution is. Obviously he told you Jan, in the privacy of his home. And I hope whatever his new year resolution is, nothing from it will be at the expense of the peace we have enjoyed all these years. Goodbye January. You have been both a handful and strangely eventful. You have been a good month, more than the others before you. We all like you for the hope you bring for us, always telling us we still have a chance.

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Now BPF calls Khama His Majesty!

Ernest Moloi

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My good friend Biggie Butale has upped the ante in the hazy maze of traditional leadership and politics.

I hear that he is now addressing the Patron of his party – Botswana Patriotic Front – Lt. Gen. Dr. Ian Khama Seretse Khama, as “His Majesty.” Nothing wrong with this if it’s meant as mere reverence for the traditional position that Khama holds as Chief of Bangwato. However, I sense a completely different motive! Biggie is appealing to the gullibility and sensibility of the hoi polloi; he knows that village folks revere traiditional leadership and trust it with their lives. It is much easier to sell Khama as a ‘King’ or ‘Emperor’ if you will than to introduce him as ‘Patron’ of BPF. Most ordinary folk would be confused – it’s best to appeal to their tribal sentiments.

In many parts of Central District Khama is loved as Kgosi, former Army Commander; former President and son of Foundiing President. These titles are etched in the minds of many. But as for Patron of a new party – a party that broke away from his father’s Botswan Democratic Party, that is unheard of; it is sacrilege! But being a smart man, Biggie is quite aware of all these hence his uncanny approach, if some would consider it so.

He must manage the delicate balance of pleasing the masses of the people and maintaining the enigmatic character of his Master! I tell you this requires special, in fact rare skills! But somehow, Biggie’s approach is also fitting like a glove to the hand, in the subtle narrative, that has long held Ian Khama as Paramount Chief of Botswana. Some people have told me that they always suspected that our founding president (MHSRIP) could’ve unknowingly encouraged this narrative when he installed Ian Khama as Kgosi of Bangwato on 8th May 1979 in Serowe, the capital of GammaNgwato! Unlike other Tswana magosi, Khama was draped with a lion’s skin and not the leopard skin as is customary. Magosi in Botswana are revered as ‘Maapara Nkwe’ but in many respects, Ian’s coronation was a departure from this norm.

Further, he was installed Kgosi whist still serving in the army and so on that day, he wore his military uniform! Although in his speech Sir Seretse Khama counselled his son with so much wisdom, telling him without mincing any words that in Botswana there is NO Paramount Chief; that he is Kgosi of BaNgwato only – it will appear that time has completely washed away that counsel. Otherwise how do you explain Ian Khama’s insistence to hold on to both traditional and political leadership roles? As President he derived so much pleasure in reminding some of his subjects in his Cabinet that he was their Chief.

And to this day, although immersed in the murky ‘dirty’ partisan politics he continues to remind everyone that cares to listen that he is Kgosikgolo! And this nomenclature is also problematic, as his father had indicated back then, because it implies supremacy over other tribes. A kgosikgolo is in the true sense of the word, an emperor, one who lords over the whole nation. But problem with Botswana is that we are not homogenous but groups of diverse cultures and languages! Each and every tribe as Sir Seretse Khama counselled, has its own Kgosi! That is why to this day we have Ntlo Ya DiKgosi as an advisory body to the Legislature.

But of-course we understand that Magosi have cried foul that politicians have usurped their powers, but that is a debate for another day – and anyway as a collective in that august house, Magosi have the perfect opportunity to bargain for better conditions of service just like all other public servants! I say this because Kgosi is a Kgosi because of the people he leads (Kgosi ke kgosi ka batho)!
So, we must understand BPF’s interim president Biggie’s newfound title for Kgosi Khama in this light. This thinking was further reinforced in my mind on that day in 2008 when Khama installed Kgafela II as Kgosi of BaKgatla. In his speech I remember him telling Kgafela that as ‘Kgosi of Bangwato ke go roma mo morafeng yo’ – I was stunned that one Kgosi was sending another into another’s tribe.

The question that remained unanswered in my mind then was, to do whose bidding? But there was a twist at that ceremony which was characterised by pomp and pageantry. Kgafela sat regally on his throne as Khama draped him with the leopard’s skin, yet a closer observation would have revealed that he used the lion’s skin as his footstool! When we remember that it was during Khama’s presidency that Kgafela was ‘derecognised’, imprisoned and ultimately fled into exile just because he had dared challenge the Constitutuion of the country – we can now see clearly why Khama wants to remain both Kgosi and politician.

But we don’t know what will become of President Masisi’s overtures – as he has promised to do everything in his means to return Kgafela to Botswana. As for me, I have my doubts that it is meant in good faith, but that it is a ploy to use BaKgatla Kgosi to lure votes for his younger brother, Mmusi, who is a parliamentary candidate for BDP! Whatever happens surely this year promises to be the best, as Khama has told us!

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Of Bundle of Joy and Sisiboy’s broken bromance

Keletso Thobega

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I studied European history in secondary school and Hitler was my favourite subject. I especially enjoyed learning about the Policy of Appeasement.

I recall that one of the textbooks we used had a cartoon that depicted Stalin and Hitler seemingly chatting to each other in a friendly embrace. However, both of them were holding shotguns at the back. This cartoon summed up my views on politics and life in general – never let your guard down because there are no permanent friends in life and politics. Those who have read influential books such as Art of War and The 48 Laws of Power would know that most scholars of philosophy attest that as much as it is good to live at peace with your fellow human beings it is also equally good to be “aware” because it is better to be safe than sorry. Let’s just say that dynamics of human relations can be complex.

This thought came to mind when a picture of our current and former Presidents looking cosy recently surfaced on social media and set tongues wagging. It is a beautiful picture of happy people but it is also loaded when you consider that the two apparently don’t get along. Some people claimed that they are fooling us and actually best friends. So, should they size each other up, hump chests and avoid greeting and touching each other prove that they don’t see eye to eye? And then what?

We all have people we have had fall-outs with or don’t see eye to eye with. But as an adult, you learn to “contain” issues. Ee, botshelo ga bo ratanelwe. Go na le batho ba ba sa re emang sentle. Mme ga o ka ke wa raya motho o re ‘ngaka ya me ya re wa ntowa’ kana ‘ke a itse gore o ne o reng, o dira eng’ jalo jalo. O dididmala fela. Le fa motho a kile a go direla bosula, o mo golola mo moweng, fa o mmona o a ikoba, ga o simolole o sinalla e ka re o hupile santlhoko!

Disagreeing with someone, not sharing their ideology or having a fall-out does not mean that you hate them and you should take the matter publicly even on platforms where it is not necessary to parade your “issues.”

Mind you, despite the said betrayal and deception that prevailed between the two, once upon a time they were in a strong bromance. They worked and spent a lot of time together. As to who is the right or wrong between is a topic you can discuss with your friends over beers or wine.

Despite the highly documented hostility between the two, it would be diabolic and psychotic to expect them to always be at each other’s throats at every turn to the extent of snubbing each other publicly.

Pardon my analogy, but it is like expecting ex-lovers to hate each other because they are not together anymore or former friends to not speak to each because the relationship ended. Relationships start and deteriorate daily; it is no train smash – it is part of life. But civilised people know that you don’t suddenly refuse to speak to the next person; sometimes you just pretend, o ichinamisanyana hela.

At the end of the day you have history with that person and were at some point close to them. Tota motho fa o kile wa tshela le ene ga gona gore o ka mo itebatsa kana wa mo itatola, le fa lo sa tlhole le utlwana. Sisiboy and Ruta’s bundle of joy probably missed each other. They are human after all!

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