I am happy to be in the midst of young people today. I am privileged to be among a generation that holds the key to a new Botswana, a generation of hope, a generation that understands its responsibility to shape our nation. I am happy that I can say I lived among you, I lived with you and I walked with you in this great journey to a new Botswana.
I know some of you used their very last bank reserves to be here today; there are friends in the audience who are nursing ill relatives but they still found a way to be here tonight; How fortunate we all should feel that men and women of the cloth left their congregations to be in our midst on this fine night. We thought this was going to be night for young people, but I see so much grey hair, it’s a blessing we can’t say no to. And to the owners of the night, the owners of this occasion, the young people of Botswana, I say thank you for honouring our date with you.
You made this effort to attend this occasion, I am certain, not because I am likeable, but because you share the concern of so many citizens about our nation’s unfolding political narrative. You worry if our system of governance, regardless of your political affiliation, has the capacity to offer you a set of choices on election day, not just choices but, pristine choices on whom you can elect or which party you can elect to lead this country in accordance with your vision, our vision or in accordance with our hopes.
A democratic system that works is one that is not only able to sustain regular free and fair elections, but also a system that guarantees that the pool from which voters will elect parties or leaders into Government is worthwhile or quality pool. It is not enough as a nation to say we have in our midst, capable men and women of integrity if our system suffocates them, and does not allow them to come forward and be available for a vote into Government. Such a system or country that starves ordinary people or voters of credible leaders/parties from which they can choose is no different from a tyrannical system of Government. It means only the rogues will always be the ones running Government, and the people’s vision will burn into ashes.
We need a system that brings out the best and brightest from hiding, a system that allows them to step forward and be available for elections so ordinary people can enjoy their right to choose capable leaders into office. Such a system needs much more than nurturing by one institution, it needs the active participation in the political process of young people.
It needs you to step forward, it needs you share your ideas, it needs you to attend meetings with others, it needs you to learn from others and teach others, it needs you to contribute money and talent to gatherings like this one, it needs you to suggest, groom and nominate potential leaders. It needs you to offer yourself for roles. In so doing, you become the eyes and ears of our nation; you begin to see what many may not see at that moment; and regardless which party you belong to if any, this nation benefits because it will be people like you that guarantee that the ordinary voters can choose from the best people on election day.
Many of our citizens are alarmed that a political party, the BMD of the UDC, that holds such immense promise, is tearing itself apart, and returned from an elective Congress in Bobonong, last month, with two parallel sets of leadership committees. Many of you know that this is not workable and are embarrassed by it. Some of you have listened to radios and read from the press how our great movement has become the skunk of our nation. Our actions and conduct have represented everything that can go wrong in the democratic experiment. Analysts and pundits have dug in the annuls of history and have tried to interpret what the unfolding narrative means or signifies not only about the BMD or the UDC but what it means about the future of Botswana. The perceptions and circumstances at the BMD have generated confusion, disillusionment, mistrust and doubt about whether our nation can achieve the change that we all so desire.
More important than the perceptions, the actual unfolding of events, tactics and behavior within the BMD has revealed that we have and have had in our midst men and women who at best do not believe in the change that we all say this country needs, men and women whose lack of belief causes them to work against every effort to present this country with the type of pristine choice of leaders from which citizens can choose/elect on national election day. This alone is a travesty, it is a tragedy for this is part of the vision that we share we so many citizens, that our movement will be one of the minting pots that will offer this nation a spoil of choice from which to elect leaders that will assist precipitate change.
The painful reality is that the current configuration of and climate within our movement is not requisite to precipitating, currently, the type of change that this country needs. We cannot have the moral authority and force to change and tidy up the Government should we be in Government if we ourselves still have to deal with an endemic and systematic cancer that is fast eroding our commitment to clean governance. The current impasse at BMD is not a traditional difference of opinion or a contest of ideas or ideology; it is not a traditional competition among leaders for leadership roles.
The current situation at the BMD is much deeper than meets the naked eye of a bystander. There is no need to go into these depths, for we have a conviction that the truth has a way of surfacing, the truth has a way of permeating through tiny walls, at the right time. The BMD situation is about justice, and I have chosen the side of justice, we have chosen justice. Call me what you wish as some do – a faction leader, a warlord or by whatever name – I am not moving from the side of justice. We choose justice because this is our conviction. We choose justice because there will be no change in this country without a commitment to justice.
We choose justice because without it this country will never be able to offer its best and brightest for political office, we need to advance our best people forward to citizens can be spoilt for choice, so they can choose from among men and women of substance who can bring about change. From the side of justice I am unmoving, I am unbending, I am unshaking, I am unwavering, I am unflinching, I am unchanging.
So we need to make decisions, we need to do that fairly, we need to do that wisely, we need to do that soberly, all on the side of justice, so our system can reach a higher level of offering its best people, so our democratic process can function well. This is why we can never impose ourselves – all we can do is to ensure we do our best to give Botswana and make available the best among us. There is a saying the enemy does not care about who you are, the enemy worries more about what you will become. And today I have come to say to you, we need to protect what we will become, for we are going to become a Government of great vision and delivery.
I am not here to give answers to all these questions, I am also here to apologize to the families whose children were injured at our congress, and to the teachers, students of Matshekge for contaminating their reputation. I am here to apologise to Kgosi Dimakatso of Bobonong village for our conduct, and its not about who is to blame and who is not, the buck always stops with the leader, the reason for which I take full responsibility not just for the events leading to, at and after our BMD congress. I travelled this past weekend to Bobonong, to see Kgosi, the school and tender my apology. I also visited the police to thank them, but we are not done with that as we still have to see so many other people and the community.
To the people of Botswana, I understand just how much aching it brings to your hearts to see before you a dream for a new Botswana melt and how let down you must feel. And for this I hope you will forgive me. Yet despite these austere and seemly bleak circumstances, the hope in me has risen more than it has ever before, that a new Botswana is possible, that a new Botswana is within reach. So I am here not only to apologise but also to tell you that I have an immense sense that something special is happening in and to this nation. There is something stirring..
Just to take you back, over five decades ago, the best among our grandfathers gathered to consider a constitution of what would be the new Botswana. They dreamt of and hoped for a nation independent of political control from abroad. They aspired to plough seeds on the soils of the crop of freedom, justice, and the opportunity to prosper materially and in the spirit. And although the money vaults were too barren to finance the running of even the smallest Government machinery they still believed in their future; even though there was no army to protect our vast ploughing fields, our beautiful wild animals, our deltas and our salt pans – even though we did not share in the fortune of mineral discoveries that so many countries around us swam in – even though many of our people wallowed in poverty, their children with no prospects of a good education or a good livelihood – Our grandparents still believed they were onto a new country, and despite the insurmountable obstacles they were driven, and filled with the belief of a prosperous Botswana
And in some ways they achieved some of what was their dream. And in some ways they surpassed what some may have imagined. But that doesn’t mean that what constituted their vision and hopes is what forms our own vision and hopes. Our hopes are our own. They are inspired by our own unique life experience, and by the basic life principle that every generation must do better than the generation before it. Every generation has the obligation to mend the lapses of the past, and every generation should see further and better than the one before it, because they stand on the shoulders of their fathers. This is why we believe our nation can do better, much better; we can do much better as people and as a nation.
We gather here today, to affirm that we stand on the cusp of change; Like eagles, we are being thrust onto the path ahead, pushed by a wind of change. We believe we are due for a new style of governance, a government that listens attentively to the people, a government led by competent men and women of principle. A government that is quick to act on decisions, a Government that is effective, clean and accountable. This is a Government we yearn for, because without such a Government, our dreams will remain unrealized.
Why do we need such a Government. We need such a Government because such a Government is a necessary spice to true change and prosperity. We need such a Government because our people are tired of a Government that buys fighter jets, grippens, at the expense of financing projects that could transform the lives of our people. We need a new Government because the current one cannot account for major expenditures, they say for security reasons.
We need a new Government because the current one is not able to manage large national, potentially transformational projects. We need a new Government because the current BDP-led Government alienates talented citizens, chocking their creativity, including their own. We need a new Government because the current Government is suspicious of genuine investors, it’s a Government that denigrates workers, a Government that conceals truths about injustices, A Government with secret service that runs the Government behind the scenes by fear and intimidation.
We need a new Government that is fair in all its affairs, a Government that cultivates the idea and belief in everyone that they can become anything they aspire to be under the sun. We are that Government in waiting. We can and we will become that Government of change. We know we are on the cusp of new beginning, so close, because we offer you capable young and old leaders, but these leaders are being hidden behind the smoke of current impasse. We will clear that smoke and ensure that they come forward without any man-made hindrances.
This is much more than about the BMD of the UDC. It is about our consciousness as a people, a dream, a vision, a way of thinking, a way of doing things. Moono. It transcends political parties, it is bigger than political parties. This is a consciousness that was inspired by activists and citizens from all walks of life and from within other political formations. If this consciousness sits with discomfort within the current configuration, we need to be decisive about how best to transfigure ourselves so that this consciousness for change thrives best and helps inspire the kind of Botswana we aspire.
We will never be defeated. “They say nothing real can be threatened. True Love breathes salvation. With every tear comes redemption. And your torturer becomes your remedy” The say we are warmongers. We need to fight for sure, and this war we must fight. But our fight should not be a fight of stones, or of bullets. Neither is it a fight of insults or of accusations. That kind of fight is not ours, we do not belong in it.
I know that some in our midst say, ahh your fight is about a high place in the echelons of your party, it is about dominance in your party, and it is even about a high place in the Government of 2019, should you win elections. No, this is not our fight. This is not our war. We fight for a new Botswana. We fight for our vision, the same vision of the Great Gomolemo Motswaledi, the vision of all fair-minded citizens. We fight to ensure we reach the shores of the great ocean that is the vast wealth of the minds of our people, the ocean whose depths hide minerals and treasures kept for our people, the ocean whose waters quench the thirst for social justice, the ocean whose salts nourish the collective creative talent and great leadership of all our people. We will fight for this new Botswana.
We fight to ensure that the voice of ordinary people that are not part of the main economic stream are heard, We fight for the pursuit of ideas and plans that will generate jobs of the vast swarms of people living without a job. We will never be defeated because we are on the side of justice, We stand with and for the truth.
If at any point there is confusion or doubts about what this is about, we may as well pack our bags and go home. If at any point we forget this vision, or we abandon our first and true love for our responsibility and mission to be conscience of this nation, then we just as well go home. But we cannot go home when so much work remains to be done. We cannot abandon our convictions because the weather is bad. If we do so we would not only have abandoned our movement. Worse, we would have abandoned our people. This we must not and cannot do.
Warmongers, no, we are not warmongers. We are warriors of justice. We are gallant foot-soldiers towards a new Botswana. We are warriors of our collective vision and dream. Better we fight for something, even if we are wrong, at least we stood for something. We may be wrong in what we believe, and we must never think we have the monopoly of the truth. Joshua fought in silence, with silence and faith. He focused, rounded a city, quietly, and on the seven days he and his people shouted. Silence for right passages of time is significant, it is a sign that there is ongoing work, it may not be visible to the eye. It means you understand that everyone will have his or her turn to speak and act.
In the same way, we must also do our work, our part, patiently, and at the right time take action, make decisions, decisively, collectively, no matter how painful. Every-time we meet, every time we come together like this, the skeptics are not happy, our detractors are not happy, those who refuse to allow change are not happy. They are not happy because they are afraid of your power when you come together. They are not happy because they realize what we can become, and what we can become and will become is what we must protect.
We need to learn to do things together, it doesn’t have to be a political rally, we need to learn to act together for the things we believe in. and today, you have once more shown why our faith is in you the young people of Botswana Back to the BMD impasse, we need to wait for UDC. We need to respect the UDC process and hope that when those charged with the responsibility meet, they will offer guidance. We believe first prize is a rerun of the elective Congress, to elect a leadership in a free and fair election. We cannot demand a free and fair elections from our system at the national level, and then fail as a political formation of the BMD to guarantee it at our level.
Our members are not convinced that the court option is viable. The time and material cost entailed will take away whatever energy we need to offer Botswana the best and brightest from among us, men and women that our nation can enjoy the right to choose from at the national elections, men and women that we are certain will assist transform this country. This is an opportunity we as people should not and must not miss.
I know there is talk of a new formation, a new party, and I must admit pressure is being mounted from different directions to embark on this option. Proponents of a new party advance many reasons to embark on such a journey, among them the need for a fresh home as dwelling place for this consciousness of change, a home unblemished and uninhibited by manmade obstacles, but this cannot and should not be our first option. We need to be patient, and give the UDC the opportunity to intervene before we can consider this or that options.
Some of these and our decisions whatever they are, will hurt. Our hearts will bleed, and we need to prepare for that. Whatever decision we make, we must make it because it is the right thing to do, it is on the side of justice and it will bring a new Botswana. We need to commit to meet as often as we can, in a meaningful way, at the appropriate fora, to partake in the decisions that will shape our future as a movement and as a people.
We need to tame our tongues, no matter how deeply we differ with those who do not agree with us. We need to understand that what we say and our behavior, if it is not appropriate, will repulse the very citizens for whom we say we are seeking a new Botswana. None of us should insult others no matter how violated we may feel. A lingering question will always be, how and why did we allow things to reach this stage at the BMD. Our country is on the verge of an extraordinary moment of change in history, and so our institutions, not only political institutions, not just the BMD, will face extraordinary circumstances, one way or the other. Many of this circumstances will be man-made, and forcefully so, by an invisible hand. This will happen more and more, the nearer we get to that extraordinary moment of change.
I know you will find what I am about to say difficult to swallow: things could have been worse, and one day that truth will become more self-evident. There is so much to be grateful for, and to be proud of: Our nation is now within reach of a wonderful change, precipitated by yourselves and by people like the late Gomolemo Motswaledi and the late Kealeboga Ramogobjua. Our country now knows change is possible, our people now have hope, even though it is momentarily dampened. Our country now knows we have capable young people who can lead given the chance. The Government of day now knows they have to think a little more before they embark on anything irresponsible. Let no one take away these, your achievements.
Things could have been worse. If you think about it, yes someone may succeed in stealing the paperwork of our movement, but no one will ever be able to take away our beliefs, your convictions, your vision. Some invisible hand may work to create smoke and the impression that you are terribly divided into two camps, when in fact there is so much unity of purpose, unity in consciousness and oneness in our vision. Some invisible hand may work to contaminate how we may appear or look like today and in the now, but they will never steal from us what we will become.
It’s a shame of course, because we had hoped to build the BMD of the UDC to become like a great university of the ages, a place that prepares talent for leadership and offers it to the citizens so they may make a choice at the national elections for subsequent Governments. Some of the great universities and political institutions are a hundred of more years old. So we are not too late, in fact we are still on time towards realizing this goal one way or the other.
Rumours abound of a plan, apparently my plan, to decamp to the ruling party. I am a servant of the people, I serve at the pleasure of the people as long as they think they need me to assist in their journey. What I cannot do is to walk away from the people, or step away from the side of justice.
Should the people say to me, you have done your part and we need a new set of people to advance our vision, then yes I would be happy to bow out but I am not yet sure if I would want to be a football coach or a rugby coach. I am in the company of great men and women – thank you to the Vice President Mmolotsi, Chairman Mokgware and Secretary General Butale and his deputy Moalosi. Thank you to the Women’s President Mothudi, President of the Youth Kelebeng, thank you to my parents in the movement, my branch chairman Segopolo , thank you to my political Secretary Mma Sibisibi, to the men that offer themselves to travel vast distances with me. Thank you for fighting for the vision of the people of Botswana.
Thank you to BOFEPUSO for understanding what standing on the side of justice means, thank you to you President Tshukudu, SG Rari and your deputy Motshegwe. Thank you to the MPs, the councilors, the branch and regional chairs. Thank you to the media that keeps us accountable, and that communicate our message whether we agree with them or not. Thank you to our lawyers Rantao and Chilisa, thank you to the passionate activists and loyalists of our movement and thank you to the men and women out there who are patient with us and encourage us to reach that new Botswana.
We will never be defeated. “They say nothing real can be threatened. True Love breathes salvation. With every tear comes redemption. And your torturer becomes your remedy” I end with a prayer adapted from a prayer by Martin Luther King: Lord, we are confronted with the appalling fact that the history of our lives is the history of an eternal revolt against you. But thou, O God, have mercy upon us. Forgive us for what we could have been but failed to be. Give us the intelligence to know your will.
Give us the courage to do your will. Give us the devotion to love your will.. God remove all bitterness from our hearts and give us the strength and courage to face any disaster that comes our way. God grant that we wage the struggle with dignity and discipline. May all who suffer oppression in this world reject the self-defeating method of retaliatory violence and choose the method that seeks to redeem. O God, make us willing to do your will, come what may. Increase the number of persons of good will and moral sensitivity. Give us renewed confidence in nonviolence, patience, wisdom, oneness and the way of love as taught by you.
BMD President, Ndaba Gaolathe delivered this speech at a meeting of young people at Maitisong Hall in Gaborone on Thursday.
“One of the saddest lessons of history is this: If we’ve been bamboozled long enough, we tend to reject any evidence of the bamboozle. We’re no longer interested in finding out the truth. The bamboozle has captured us. It’s simply too painful to acknowledge, even to ourselves, that we’ve been taken. Once you give a charlatan power over you, you almost never get it back.” Carl Sagan
Corruption is a heavy price to pay. The clean ones pay and suffer at the mercy of people who cannot have enough. They always want to eat and eat so selfishly like a bunch of ugly masked shrews. I hope God forgives me for ridiculing his creatures, but that mammal is so greedy. But corruption is not the new kid on the block, because it has always been everywhere.
This of course begs the question, why that is so? The common answer was and still is – abuse and misuse of power by those in power and weak institutions, disempowered to control the leaders. In 1996, the then President of The World Bank, James D. Wolfensohn named the ‘C-Word’ for the first time during an annual meeting of the Bretton Woods Institutions. A global fight against corruption started. Transparency International began its work. Internal and external audits mushroomed; commissions of inquiry followed and ever convoluted public tender procedures have become a bureaucratic nightmare to the private sector, trying to fight red tape.
The result is sobering corruption today is worse than it was 25 years ago. There is no denying that strong institutions help, but how does it come that in the annual Transparency International Ranking the same group of countries tend to be on the top while another group of countries, many African among them, tend to be on the bottom? Before one jumps to simple and seductive conclusions let us step back a moment.
Wolfensohn called corruption a cancer that destroys economies like a cancer destroys a body. A cancer is, simplified, good cells in a body gone bad, taking control of more and more good cells until the entire body is contaminated and eventually dies. So, let us look at the good cells of society first: they are family ties, clan and tribe affiliation, group cohesion, loyalty, empathy, reciprocity.
Most ordinary people like the reader of these lines or myself would claim to share such values. Once we ordinary people must make decisions, these good cells kick in: why should I hire a Mrs. Unknown, if I can hire my niece whose strengths and weaknesses I know? If I hire the niece, she will owe me and support my objectives.
Why should I purchase office furniture from that unknown company if I know that my friend’s business has good quality stuff? If I buy from him, he will make an extra effort to deliver his best and provide quality after sales service? So, why go through a convoluted tender process with uncertain outcome? In the unlikely case my friend does not perform as expected, I have many informal means to make him deliver, rather than going through a lengthy legal proceeding?
This sounds like common sense and natural and our private lives do work mostly that way and mostly quite well.
The problem is scale. Scale of power, scale of potential gains, scale of temptations, scale of risk. And who among us could throw the first stone were we in positions of power and claim not to succumb to the temptations of scale? Like in a body, cancer cells start growing out of proportion.
So, before we call out for new leaders – experience shows they are rarely better than the old ones – we need to look at ourselves first. But how easy is that? If I were the niece who gets the job through nepotism, why should I be overly critical? If I got a big furniture contract from a friend, why should I spill the beans? What right do I have to assume that, if I were a president or a minister or a corporate chief procurement officer I would not be tempted?
This is where we need to learn. What is useful, quick, efficient, and effective within a family or within a clan or a small community can become counterproductive and costly and destructive at larger corporate or national scale. Our empathy with small scale reciprocity easily permeates into complacency and complicity with large scale corruption and into an acquiescence with weak institutions to control it.
Our institutions can only be as strong as we wish them to be.
I was probably around ten years old and have always been that keen enthusiastic child that also liked to sing the favourite line of, ‘the world will become a better place.’ I would literally stand in front of a mirror and use my mom’s torch as a mic and sing along Michael Jackson’s hit song, ‘We are the world.’
Despite my horrible voice, I still believed in the message. Few years later, my annoyance towards the world’s corrupt system wonders whether I was just too naïve. Few years later and I am still in doubt so as to whether I should go on blabbing that same old boring line. ‘The world is going to be a better place.’ The question is, when?
The answer is – as always: now.
This is pessimistic if not fatalistic – I challenge Sagan’s outlook with a paraphrased adage of unknown origin: Some people can be bamboozled all of the time, all people can be bamboozled some of the time, but never will all people be bamboozled all of the time.
We, the people are the only ones who can heal society from the cancer of corruption. We need to understand the temptation of scale and address it. We need to stop seeing ourselves just a victim of a disease that sleeps in all of us. We need to give power to the institutions that we have put in place to control corruption: parliaments, separation of power, the press, the ballot box. And sometimes we need to say as a niece – no, I do not want that job as a favour, I want it because I have proven to be better than other contenders.
It is going to be a struggle, because it will mean sacrifices, but sacrifices that we have chosen, not those imposed on us.
Let us start today.
*Bokani Lisa Motsu is a student at University of Botswana
Parliament, the second arm of State through its parliamentary committees are one of Botswana’s most powerful mechanisms to ensure that government is held accountable at all times. The Accounting Officers are mostly Permanent Secretaries across government Ministries and Chief Executive Officers, Director Generals, Managing Directors of parastatals, state owned enterprises and Civil Society.
So parliament plays its oversight authority via the legislators sitting on a parliamentary committee and Accounting Officers sitting in the hot chair. When left with no proper checks and balances, the Executive is prone to abuse the arrangement and so systematic oversight of the executive is usually carried out by parliamentary committees. They track the work of various government departments and ministries, and conduct scrutiny into important aspects of their policy, direction and administration.
It is not rocket science that effective oversight requires that committees be totally independent and able to set their own agendas and have the power to summon ministers and top civil servants to appear and answer questions. Naturally, Accounting Officers are the highest ranking officials in the government hierarchy apart from cabinet Ministers and as such wield much power and influence in the performance of government. To illustrate further, government performance is largely owed to the strategic and policy direction of top technocrats in various Ministries.
It is disheartening to point out that the recent parliament committees — as has been the case all over the years — has laid bare the incompetency, inadequacy and ineptitude of people bestowed with great responsibilities in public offices. To say that they are ineffective and inefficient sounds as an understatement. Some appear useless and hopeless when it comes to running the government despite the huge responsibility they possess.
If we were uncertain about the degree at which the Accounting Officers are incompetent, the ongoing parliament committees provide a glaring answer. It is not an exaggeration to say that ordinary people on the streets have been held ransom by these technocrats who enjoy their air conditioned offices and relish being chauffeured around in luxurious BX SUV’s while the rest of the citizenry continue to suffer. Because of such high life the Accounting Officers seem to have, with time, they have gotten out of touch with the people they are supposed to serve.
An example; when appearing before the recent Public Accounts Committee (PAC), Office of the President Permanent Secretary, Thuso Ramodimoosi, looked reluctant to admit misuse of public funds. Although it is clear funds were misused, he looked unbothered when committee members grilled him over the P80 million Orapa House building that has since morphed into a white elephant for close to 10 successive years. To him, it seems it did not matter much and PAC members were worried for nothing.
On a separate day, another Accounting officer, Director of Public Service Management (DPSM), Naledi Mosalakatane, was not shy to reveal to PAC upon cross-examination that there exist more than 6 000 vacancies in government. Whatever reasons she gave as an excuse, they were not convincing and the committee looked sceptical too. She was faltering and seemed not to have a sense of urgency over the matter no matter how critical it is to the populace.
Botswana’s unemployment rate hoovers around 18 percent in a country where majority of the population is the youth, and the most affected by unemployment. It is still unclear why DPSM could underplay such a critical matter that may threaten the peace and stability of the country. Accounting Officers clearly appear out of touch with the reality out there – if the PAC examinations are anything to go by.
Ideally the DPSM Director could be dropping the vacancy post digits while sourcing funds and setting timelines for the spaces to be filled as a matter of urgency so that the citizens get employed to feed their families and get out of unemployment and poverty ravaging the country. The country should thank parliamentary committees such as PAC to expose these abnormalities and the behaviour of our leaders when in public office. How can a full Accounting Officer downplay the magnitude of the landless problem in Botswana and fail to come with direct solutions tailor made to provide Batswana with the land they desperately need?
Land is a life and death matter for some citizens, as we would know.
When Bonolo Khumotaka, the Accounting Officer in the Ministry of Land Management, Water and Sanitation Services, whom as a top official probably with a lucrative pay too appears to be lacking sense of urgency as she is failing on her key mandate of working around the clock to award the citizens with land especially those who need it most like the marginalised. If government purports they need P94 billion to service land to address the land crisis what is plan B for government? Are we going to accept it the way it is?
Government should wake up from its slumber and intervene to avoid the 30 years unnecessary waiting period in State land and 13 years in Tribal land. Accounting Officers are custodians of government policy, they should ensure it is effective and serve its purpose. What we have been doing over the years, has proved that it is not effective, and clearly there is a need for change of direction.
His Excellency Dr Mokgweetsi EK Masisi, the President of the Republic of Botswana found it appropriate to invoke Section 17 (1) of the Constitution of the Republic of Botswana, using the powers vested in him to declare a State of Public Emergency starting from the 2nd April 2020 at midnight.
The constitutional provision under Section 17 (2b) only provided that such a declaration could be up to a maximum of 21 days. His Excellency further invoked Section 93 (1) to convene an extra- ordinary meeting of Parliament to have the opportunity to consult members of parliament on measures that have been put in place to address the spread and transmission of the virus. At this meeting Members of Parliament passed a resolution on the legal instruments and regulations governing the period of the state of emergency, and extended its duration by six (6) months.
The passing of the State of Emergency is considered as a very crucial step in fighting the near apocalyptic potential of the Novel COVID-19 virus. One of the interesting initiatives that was developed and extended to the business community was a 3-month wage subsidy that came with a condition that no businesses would retrench for the duration of the State of Public Emergency. This has potentially saved many people’s jobs as most companies would have been extremely quick to reduce expenses by downsizing. Self-preservation as some would call it.
Most organisations would have tried to reduce costs by letting go of people, retreated and tried their best to live long enough to fight another day. In my view there is silver lining that we need to look at and consider. The fact that organisations are not allowed to retrench has forced certain companies to look at the people with a long-term view.
Most leaders have probably had to wonder how they are going to ensure that their people are resilient. Do they have team members who innovate and add value to the organisation during these testing times? Do they even have resilient people or are they just waiting for the inevitable end? Can they really train people and make them resilient? How can your team members be part of your recovery plan? What can they do to avoid losing the capabilities they need to operate meaningfully for the duration of the State of Public Emergency and beyond?
The above questions have forced companies to reimagine the future of work. The truth is that no organisation can operate to its full potential without resilient people. In the normal business cycle, new teams come on board; new business streams open, operations or production sites launch or close; new markets develop, and technology is introduced. All of this provides fresh opportunities – and risks.
The best analogy I have seen of people-focused resilience planning reframes employees as your organisation’s immune system, ready and prepared to anticipate risks and ensure they can tackle challenges, fend off illness and bounce back more quickly. So, how do you supercharge your organizational immune system to become resilient?
COVID-19 has helped many organisations realize they were not as prepared as they believed themselves to be. Now is the time to take stock and reset for the future. All the strategies and plans prior to COVID-19 arriving in Botswana need to be thrown out of the window and you need to develop a new plan today. There is no room for tweaking or reframing. Botswana has been disrupted and we need to accept and embrace the change. What we initially anticipated as a disease that would take a short term is turning out to be something we are going to have to live with for a much longer time. It is going to be a marathon and therefore businesses need to have a plan to complete this marathon.
Start planning. Planning for change can help reduce employee stress, anxiety, and overall fear, boosting the confidence of staff and stakeholders. Think about conducting and then regularly refreshing a strategic business impact analysis, look at your employee engagement scores, dig into your customer metrics and explore the way people work alongside your behaviours and culture. This research will help to identify what you really want to protect, the risks that you need to plan for and what you need to survive during disruption. Don’t forget to ask your team members for their input. In many cases they are closest to critical business areas and already have ideas to make processes and systems more robust.
Revisit your organisational purpose. Purpose, values and principles are powerful tools. By putting your organisation’s purpose and values front and center, you provide clear decision-making guidelines for yourself and your organisation. There are very tough and interesting decisions to make which have to be made fast; so having guiding principles on which the business believes in will help and assist all decision makers with sanity checking the choices that are in front of them. One noticeable characteristic of companies that adapt well during change is that they have a strong sense of identity. Leaders and employees have a shared sense of purpose and a common performance culture; they know what the company stands for beyond shareholder value and how to get things done right.
Revisit your purpose and values. Understand if they have been internalised and are proving useful. If so, find ways to increase their use. If not, adapt them as necessities, to help inspire and guide people while immunizing yourself against future disruption. Design your employee experience. The most resilient, adaptive and high performing companies are made up of people who know each other, like each other, and support each other.
Adaptability requires us to teach other, speak up and discuss problems, and have a collective sense of belonging. Listening to your team members is a powerful and disruptive thing to do. It has the potential to transform the way you manage your organisation. Enlisting employees to help shape employee experience, motivates better performance, increases employee retention and helps you spot issues and risks sooner. More importantly, it gives employees a voice so you can get active and constructive suggestions to make your business more robust by adopting an inclusive approach.
Leaders need to show they care. If you want to build resilience, you must build on a basis of trust. And this means leaders should listen, care, and respond. It’s time to build the entire business model around trust and empathy. Many of the employees will be working under extreme pressure due to the looming question around what will happen when companies have to retrench. As a leader of a company transparency and open communication are the most critical aspects that need to be illustrated.
Take your team member into confidence because if you do have to go through the dreaded excise of retrenchment you have to remember that those people the company retains will judge you based on the process you follow. If you illustrate that the business or organization has no regard for loyalty and commitment, they will never commit to the long-term plans of the organisation which will leave you worse off in the end. Its an absolutely delicate balance but it must all be done in good faith. Hopefully, your organization will avoid this!
This is the best time to revisit your identify and train your people to encourage qualities that build strong, empathetic leadership; self-awareness and control, communication, kindness and psychological safety. Resilience is the glue that binds functional silos and integrates partners, improves communications, helps you prepare, listen and understand. Most importantly, people-focused resilience helps individuals and teams to think collectively and with empathy – helping you respond and recover faster.
Article written by Thabo Majola, a brand communications expert with a wealth of experience in the field and is Managing Director of Incepta Communications.