Royal greetings to you Bra Stanford aka Tshekedi Khama II of the Royal Bamangwato clan.
I hope this brief finds you in good health Your Royal Highness because of late I have not been too convinced that all is well with you.
Silly me – what would I really expect of a man whose whole life had been attended by supreme privilege and then suddenly at the dusk of his life got a lot of these childbirth privileges taken away from him? You must be thinking I am out to diss you with my proffer of concern in relation to your apparent boredom and disinterest in the governance affairs of this country.
Akere tota it should be pretty obvious that since you are now on the wrong side of the ruling party, you can no longer be that vivacious and seemingly omnipresent chap who made sure to charm his audiences as a minister, irrespective of which ministry you led. Kana wena tota you were a workaholic who took to your assigned roles like fish to water. Wherever you were, you always made sure to create and leave a mark. No ministry was too overwhelming for you. From the tourism ministry to the sport and youth, you made sure to make officers feel your presence.
How you let yourself be tempted by the devil that made you dump the ruling party still beats me. Le fa e bile gotwe blood is thicker than water Bra Stan, the shenanigans that engulfed that pressure group you joined in October last year were too shameful and so below you that I never saw you going in their direction. I just wonder if you indeed joined out of your own volition or you were forced into that silly move by some form of blackmail from your royal uncles and aunts through the godly influence of Big Brother. Whatever happened Bra Stan? I personally think it was a ridiculous stunt you pulled there just on the eve of elections.
I understand you were made to believe that your erstwhile ruling party was going to lose the elections and that you genuinely thought you were joining a winning opposition bloc. The unsung comedian in you, it would amuse me so profusely when immediately after quitting the BDP you called it a “party of drunkards.” You even proclaimed they would lose the elections with flying colours, the opposite of which would later happen. Now you are out there looking lost and casting a figure of a bored person. Kana I saw you recently in parliament – I tell you Bra Stan, you cut a forlorn figure and the way I saw it, you must have been regretting your decision to go with that mob that blindly followed Big Brother to the doomed land.
I mean, who in their right mind would have thought that a pressure group of bitter Bulela Ditswe losers would win the elections and become this country’s ruling party? Kana that is what the hopeless members of that group thought – gore they could win the elections even when they knew they had not even fielded enough parliamentary contestants to give them even a sniffing chance.And you joined that joke of a cabal Bra Stan? Really? I always thought you were smarter than that Brazen. In fact, of all the ministers during both eras of Big Brother and Sisiboy, I always enjoyed listening to you talk. You always made sense and you were never afraid to defy even Big Brother himself whenever you had something better on your mind. In fact, many even concluded that there was no love lost between you and Big Brother.
I recently listened to you again when you were sharing your thoughts on the Youth Development Fund and how it would benefit the economy if each ministry had its own YDF. As usual you made a lot of sense but on that particular matter I wondered why you never questioned Big Brother about it when he was still in charge. I thought to myself then: this is hypocrisy. Why is it now that you go vocal on an arrangement you had no qualms with under Big Brother? Neither did you use the advantage you had as a minister to push the matter through. No wonder people are now saying you only begin to sound like an intelligent man after quitting the ruling party. It is now common narrative that when people are still Madomi, they don’t use their brains – that their brains begin to function once they join the opposition camp.
I am not sure if that is true Bra Stan but le wena the way you have been behaving lately, it might lend credence to such claims – that the brains of politicians function differently depending on which side they are. I was listening to you maloba o lela ka some MP’s constituency office o re the ruling party was deliberately depriving you of an office and staff because you defected to that pressure group ya Serowe. Ao Bra Stan – le wena you know you were not telling the truth. Yours was just some sympathy-seeking stunt; a trait I guess you learnt well from the leaders of that pressure group you joined. Kana those ones master the art of making themselves look like victims even where they are the rabble rousers. And so you have taken to that habit le wena and you are similarly making sure to invite members of the press to come and hear you out on how badly you are being treated.
We remember how Big Brother also did that with distinction and managed to win hearts and minds of those who failed to see through him. To say your not having a constituency office is sabotage is disappointing from a man I so respected as you. Kana even in my constituency right now, my area MP Fox Moagi, has no office and prospective employees are yet to be approved. Just before that MPs budget analysis seminar/retreat that you boycotted, citing lack of MP’s office as your reason, my area MP was on our village’s facebook page pleading with his people to be patient as the process of getting him an office was at an advanced stage, and that soon the matter would be resolved.
Yet he never called babega dikgang to cry sabotage the way you were doing. I am happy to hear that his office will open this week, eventually. In fact, I learnt later that actually 13 more constituencies were facing a similar problem to yours. 13 other MPs did not have constituency offices at the time you cried sabotage, including Honourable Motsamai of UDC in Ghanzi South and Matsheka in Lobatse. Other MPs without offices to date include those of Chobe, Lerala, Kanye South, Gabane and Goodhope. It is a fact and you know it Bra Stan. Yet only you of these MPs viewed the lack of office as sabotage and only you of the affected MPs decided to boycott the MP’s retreat in Phikwe.
Akere you even went on record to say wena you are not attending the MP’s retreat in Phikwe because your constituents have no office at which to consult you. Like since when TK have you had time for consultations with your constituents at the office of the MP in Serowe West? Kana ke gore you politicians have this way of thriving on falsehoods and knowing that we, your voters, are often ignorant and in the dark about how a lot of things work. In the past you have again had to wait for your office to be ready after elections, and you never cried foul. As Big Brother’s prime nemesis would want to ask, why now?
It must really be hard to suddenly find yourself in unfamiliar territory where you have to adjust to all manner of situations. I mean, from being driven around in a big black Beama to having to fend for yourself; and from having to shift seats to some obscure side of the isle in Parley, it must really be uneasy for you. Afterall tota wena you are not used to that opposition lifestyle where instead of your party dishing out the goodies for your upkeep and survival, you have to dig deep from your pocket to fund the movement you belong to.
Bo Masimolole, Guma and Makgalemele were once in that situation at BMD and when they couldn’t cope, they retraced their steps. I know wena your pride won’t let you go back there, but if you regret quitting the BDP Bra Stan, you are making it easy for us to see it, with these recent outbursts.
You must relax and take it easy as it comes. Stay calm and serve your new political movement and constituents without such unnecessary drama which in any case is paradoxical and borders on hypocrisy. You were at the helm of brewing and cooking everything that we consume today, and suddenly sitting on the other side of the fence and shouting how bad it all tastes makes you look and sound more like you are bitter to have been pushed to the outside.As I said earlier, you are a respectable and honourable man who often speaks a lot of sense on issues of national interest. Continue to speak for us in that manner without letting emotions get the better of you.
Forget about everything past and focus on being the great man that I know you to be. Dorcus is gone. I hear she has even decided to quit politics for good. It’s a pity you quit the BDP because of her. If you are going to let that resultant bitterness define you, ene o tsweletse le her life and does not think much about you. So le wena let go Bra Stan, and lead us as only you can. Cheers brother.
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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