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Khama is grist for the mill

Joe Brown

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The gloves are finally off! We’ve all been craving this open challenge between former president Ian Khama and his protégé-turned foe – President Mokgweetsi Masisi.

Thanks God Khama has grown tired of the procrastination – the greatest thief of time – and finally thrown down the gauntlet daring Masisi to take it up!

But on the flipside one has to make hay while the sun shines because the mill cannot grind with water that is past. The fickleness and gullibility of the crowds is but a fleeting illusion.

Power-brokers and power-mongers must exploit this resource with the utmost circumspection for it could easily turn into a potent double-edged sword.

But let us interrogate the pros and cons of the Saturday Serowe Showgrounds meeting that had the nation on tenterhooks.

For the Press – except, for obvious reasons, the state-owned – it is grist for the mill; but what does it portend for the alternative parties that are desirous of a shot at state power?

Better still, can we expect any immediate or long term ramifications that will radically alter the composition of the executive and legislature?

Khama, the BaNgwato sovereign, took to the podium cheered on by motley of personal interests all pregnant with expectations – and served missives galore at the government of the day and especially its rulng elite.

No one was spared!

Masisi, his Vice President Slumber Tsogwane, Ministers Dorcas Makgato, Kitso Mokaila, PSP Carter Morupisi who hilariously earned himself the moniker, “Hitleranyana” (Little Hitler) as well as parliamentary candidates – they all fell on the blade of Khama’s raised sword.

It was vintage Khama politics! Tearing down the system that created him including the party his father built, all ostensibly in the noble defense of democracy!

And he couldn’t have chosen a more suitable venue – Serowe, the capital of GannaNgwato.

Umbrella for Democraic Change leader Duma Boko was certainly portrayed in favourable light, as were all the other alternative poltical formations – BPP, BCP, AP and by extension BMD.

If Khama keeps his promise to hitch a ride on an aircraft emblazoned with the message, ‘Boko for President’– then the Advocate from Mahalapye should have done something incredibly good to deserve the endorsement of a man that not so long ago was his worst nightmare.

Surely this presents an opportunity for UDC or particularly BNF and BCP to strike the hammer while the iron is hot. GaMmangwato, as Khama rightfully declared, is the stronghold of the Botswana Democratic Party.

And any serious politician that hopes to break the BDP’s grip on power and cast the party asunder cannot ignore Central District.

For time immemorial this region has been the BDP’s bulwark, but suddenly Khama is prepared to hand it to the alternative, if only to preserve democracy, which he furiously defended for the 40 years he served both in the army and public service.

This is a masterstroke, the genius of a Commander and strategist that has carefully studied the Art of War.

He has now marshalled his forces and given them a three weeks ultimatum in which to have combed and canvassed the entire enemy territory before he can unleash the devastating blow.

The Commander in Chief will himself lead the reconnaissance. I can almost hear the pounding of the hearts of Ministers and MPs that he has announced he’ll visit their constituencies to enquire from their electorate if they can be trusted!

As Kgosi of BaNgwato, former Army Commander and former President of the country and the ruling party, Khama is aware of the immense influence he wields on his subjects.

We all know how his support for Shaw Kgathi’s primary election opponent, dashed the minister’s hopes for another bite at the parliamentary cherry.

Then again Khama’s support can be self-defeating. Witness the controversy that dogged Pelonomi Venson-Moitoi’s bid for BDP’s presidency culminating in her eleventh hour pullout from what she described a ‘sham election’ in Kang!

Khama remains an enigma. Here’s a man, a lone ranger that will have his way no matter the consequences. There’s a good chance the BDP will rather fire him, as he suggested, throw him the long rope to finish what he started in April 1st 2018.

Chances are, when his troops return from their canvassing they will return a verdict that the masses want him to join the UDC.

But when he does join UDC, Khama will have to lead it because he’ll not suffer another indignity of being led by one his ‘subjects’ as happened with former President Festus Mogae.

Alternatively, they will tell him to form his own party and recruit members from the BDP and all the other alternative parties!

This prospect appears most appealing if you factor in the recent goings-on in the BDP where one MP has already been expelled whilst another is on suspension for various infractions.

MP Samson Moyo Guma was expelled in absentia; Prince Maele is on suspension and may tender in his resignation anytime; while Mma Venson-Moitoi is also likely to quit the party for the humiliation it meted out on her.

The same is true for Biggie Butale and other primary election losers who will be tempted to join Khama’s party if he takes that route.

Insecure MPs in the opposition especially in the Central District could also jump ship to align with the Kgosi so as to assure their sell by date.

As for the vacillating and fence-sitting BDP MPs they could have been swayed by the crowd that attended the Serowe showground political rally and already begun searching for a new political home. It’s their democratic right.

They say as you sow so shall you reap; as you make your bed, so you must lie upon it.

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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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