Former cabinet Minister, who was at some point a leading candidate for the portfolio of Vice President in the former President Festus Mogae administration, David Magang has again took a shot at the government of Botswana for lack of sight and vision with regard to the beneficiation of her mineral resources.
Magang shared his assessment of government at a public lecture organized by the University Of Botswana Department Of History on Thursday where he was the guest speaker. As a key presenter, his particular focus was to lead discussion in interpreting and interrogating a quote “A nation without a past is a lost nation” as extracted from a speech by Botswana’s founding President Sir Seretse Khama which he delivered during the 1970 University of Botswana (UB), Lesotho and Swaziland Graduation Ceremony in Swaziland.
Magang said he has been singing the same song to government since 1978 until 2006 when government heeded and implemented the long call for diamond beneficiation. “In Botswana, the one great lesson we have learnt is the belatedness with which it dawned on us that it was time we beneficiated our mineral resources, an imperative I obsessively kept calling attention to as far back as the early 80s and to which the powers-that-be were so lackadaisically resigned,” he lashed out at the government during the deliberation to the audience who were almost full in capacity at the state of the art new UB conference facility in Gaborone.
He continued to point out that sadly, in addition to the diamond beneficiation fracas, there is still a whole host of lessons that government has chosen to simply ignore. For example, he said Botswana’s examination-based educational system has on balance been resoundingly vain owing to its archaic emphasis on rote-learning instead of spontaneous internalization of the inculcated knowledge. “It should have been discarded a long time ago, like the Scandinavian country of Finland has, but why we continue to cling to it so boggles the mind as to numb the senses altogether,” the suburban Phakalane township developer maintained.
The business mogul also revealed why there was suddenly a need for a Directorate of Corruption and Economic Crime (DCEC) which was later established in 1994 – in order to combat corruption and economic crimes in the country. Economic prudence and a characteristically peace-loving bent on the part of Batswana are not recently nurtured virtues, he observed. He maintained that, “of course we have over the years seen the emergence of a level of greed and self-aggrandizement in certain quarters that is eye-poppingly brazen and blatant – necessitating our putting into place graft-bursting institutions such as DCEC to provide the necessary checks and balances – but that is more of an anomaly than an all-encompassing national trait.”
The property magnate said that in terms of the education, he also points a finger at government for not having listened to the late Patrick Van Rensburg in relation to embracing education with production at an early stage. The 79 year old hailed Patrick Van Rensburg as a pioneer educationist who founded the highly efficacious Brigades movement in Botswana at a time when Batswana were desperate for the barest vocational skills. He said “if we had keenly embraced his concept of education with production, the country’s unemployment levels would not be this acute. Although a vociferous proponent and practitioner of vocational education for self-employment, Patrick van Rensburg did not advocate for marginalisation or abolition of history in the school system as seems the case currently.”
He continued to take a shot: “yet all the above fair-skinned personages are not spoken of in the same glowing terms as the equally illustrious indigenous Batswana. None of them has been put on a particularly towering pedestal by the chroniclers and savants of our national history or merited a posthumous nominal honour after a national landmark,” he pointed out in his 1 hour 30 minutes long lecture to the audience.
According to the former ruling Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) legislator, the blame, as far as he is concerned, “lies squarely on those who devise the curricula in the history departments at both the high school and university level. I need not stress that those who perform sterling in any facet of national progress must be equally lauded and proportionally projected irrespective of skin pigmentation. Colourbar must not be allowed to factor into the appreciation and salutation of our national heroes.”
When hitting at the UB academics on equal token as he did to a large extent to the government of the day, Magang highlighted that “my own hosts today, the University of Botswana authorities, bear their share of this oversight I regret to say.” He said he is given to understand that there is a long-held tradition at the national university whereby buildings and other constituent facilities are officially known by mere numbers instead of being named after national heroes some of whom he had made mention of in his address.
“Maybe the recent re-naming of the hospital at the University of Botswana after the recently departed Sir Ketumile Masire is a signal on the part of the university authorities that they are intent on making amends in this regard.” The former Lentsweletau Member of Parliament reminisced that once he asked the late Professor Thomas Tlou also why most of the theses of Botswana’s indigenous historians were based on research conducted in other countries when ideally their own country ought to take pride of place.
“The professor laid the blame squarely on Government: he told me whereas other governments were prepared to avail funding for research to even non-citizen historians, ours didn’t seem to care an iota,” he said. Magang continued: “almost every University of Botswana lecturer I have had occasion to talk to over the years bristles at the stigmatic absence of a printing press at a university that prides itself as one of the best on the continent. An in-house printing press would make information dissemination by way of books easier and cheaper. It would open the floodgates of indigenous bibliographical output, which presently comes only in trickles as international scholarship arbiters repeatedly lament.”
Magang asserted that Africa is rich in an indispensable amount of epoch-making history and yet Caucasians, who document much of world history, typically dismiss the continent as inconsequential by any stretch of the imagination. He said this same cynicism was directed at Botswana by the colonialists, who regarded the country as far from historically worthwhile when he cross-examined Sir Khama’s appeal for Africans to break-away from the shackles of mental oppression, and become masters of their own destiny by writing their own history. Magang asked to what extent are efforts made to see to it that certain misconceptions or seeming ambiguities do not hold or are clarified.
For example, he wondered why most Batswana continue to cling to the erroneous position that The Three DiKgosi went to England to ask for British protection when the fact of the matter was that the protectorate – or a profaketorate as he calls it – had been imposed on the country, suddenly and unheralded, by the British government a decade earlier in 1885 and that the object of The Three DiKgosi’s mission was to register their revulsion at the planned handover of our country to Cecil John Rhodes. In the 1960s, he stated that Botswana was perceived as a country which was virtually without history which made the country earn a tagline: “happy is a nation that has no history. By this standard, there can be few nations happier than Bechuanaland.”
Part of the Sir Seretse’s speech reads: "we were taught, sometimes in a very positive way, to despise ourselves and our ways of life. We were made to believe that we had no past to speak of, no history to boast of. The past, so far as we were concerned, was just a blank and nothing more. Only the present mattered and we had very little control over it. It seemed we were in for a definite period of foreign tutelage, without any hope of our ever again becoming our own masters.”
“The end result of all this was that our self-pride and our self-confidence were badly undermined. It should now be our intention to try to retrieve what we can of our past. We should write our own history books to prove that we did have a past, and that it was a past that was just as worth writing and learning about as any other. We must do this for the simple reason that a nation without a past is a lost nation, and a people without a past are a people without a soul," it continued. Magang interrogated the famous speech, and how it was subsequently misread or misunderstood, in order to be able to explain Sir Seretse Khama’s vision of Botswana’s development with the country’s history as a cardinal aspect of nation-building.
Botswana Police Service (BPS) has indicated concern about the ongoing trend where the general public falls victim to criminals purporting to be police officers.
According to BPS Assistant Commissioner, Dipheko Motube, the criminals target individuals at shopping malls and Automated Teller Machines (ATMs) where upon approaching the unsuspecting individual the criminals would pretend to have picked a substantial amount of money and they would make a proposal to the victims that the money is counted and shared in an isolated place.
“On the way, as they stop at the isolated place, they would start to count and sharing of the money, a criminal syndicate claiming to be Criminal Investigation Department (CID) officer investigating a case of stolen money will approach them,” said Motube in a statement.
The Commissioner indicated that the fake police officers would instruct the victims to hand over all the cash they have in their possession, including bank cards and Personal Identification Number (PIN), the perpetrators would then proceed to withdraw money from the victim’s bank account.
Motube also revealed that they are also investigating a case in which a 69 year old Motswana woman from Molepolole- who is a victim of the scam- lost over P62 000 last week Friday to the said perpetrators.
“The Criminal syndicate introduced themselves as CID officers investigating a case of robbery where a man accompanying the woman was the suspect.’’
They subsequently went to the woman’s place and took cash amounting to over P12 000 and further swindled amount of P50 000 from the woman’s bank account under the pretext of the further investigations.
In addition, Motube said they are currently investigating the matter and therefore warned the public to be vigilant of such characters and further reminds the public that no police officer would ask for bank cards and PINs during the investigations.
Botswana Congress Party (BCP) leadership walked out of Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) National Executive Committee (NEC) meeting this week on account of being targeted by other cooperating partners.
UDC meet for the first time since 2020 after previous futile attempts, but the meeting turned into a circus after other members of the executive pushed for BCP to explain its role in media statements that disparate either UDC and/or contracting parties.
The Director General of the Directorate on Corruption and Economic Crimes (DCEC), Tymon Katlholo’s spirited fight against the contentious transfers of his management team has forced the Office of the President to rescind the controversial decision. However, some insiders suggest that the reversal of the transfers may have left some interested parties with bruised egos and nursing red wounds.
The transfers were seen by observers as a badly calculated move to emasculate the DCEC which is seen as defiant against certain objectionable objectives by certain law enforcement agencies – who are proven decisionists with very little regard for the law and principle.