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Basarwa and their Tswana Kinsmen: A Tale of Persecution (1)

In this tale about the horrors of history in Kalahari country, Botswana novelist, poet, historian, essayist, biographer, writer of short stories and travelogue, and human rights campaigner, Teedzani Thapelo*, looks hard at Tswana imperial dominion over Basarwa nation in the last one hundred years, and wonders what it is that makes people who profess to be civilised to behave in such a cold and cruel manner towards others. Is this a matter of race? Is it a question of cultural arrogance? Is it a simple matter of unmitigated human savagery? Is there something barbarian about our national character? Does our vulgar, pretentious, fake significance and brazen philistinism augur well for the future of this country? Is there a value to be derived from this violent mess? Do we derive pleasure from their loathsome miserableness? Is there an ideology and process to promote this violence that some of us don’t know about? What continues to promote this violence? What continues to radicalize the perpetrators of this violence? Is this thing a political proposition? Is it an economic necessity? Where do the perpetrators get their operational instructions, how and why? We need, Thapelo argues, answers to these questions so that when finally the hand of justice comes knocking at the door, bearing on the right a solemn Lady Justice, we should know where to point our fingers. This, he says, is a national duty if we have any conscience at all.

I took the trouble to go through extant historical sources these past three weeks with one object in mind; to explore relations between Basarwa and Batswana in the past hundred years. I just don’t really know where I should begin relating this story. One thing though is certain: throughout this period the life of a Mosarwa has been a theatre of unmitigated calamity and that of his Tswana kinsman a journey of remarkable progress and social transformation, at least by the miserable standards they set for themselves. By some unwritten law of God, oppressors, it would appear rarely ever truly prosper for long.

Anyway, throughout this period Basarwa have bore the brunt of Tswana tyranny and to this day they still find it hard to escape the vigilance of this relentless political despotism. Batswana have shown themselves to be inaccessible to entreaties and virulently determined to visit this spectre of terror upon their neighbours with a commitment so worrisome I doubt any people have ever suffered so much persecution in recent African history, and that is a subject I happen to know very well.

Yes, 800 000 innocent souls died in Rwanda in 100 days while the world watched and partied but the dead do not shed tears; and in some wretched but calm way they lie in the bosom of God: the ultimate author of all things, great and small. Basarwa are still with us, and their blood and tears mingle with the air that we breathe, and their mangled voices, the tolling bells of our cathedrals-the strangest thing for people who live in a democratic society.

We all agree, I think, it’s a terrible thing for the lives of others, their very welfare and happiness, to be victims of such tyrannical vigilance. I shall return to the issue of justice later. But what really happened to evoke such a vexing conclusion on my part? Well, the incidents of horror are well documented. We shall mention some of them by way of illustration. What I find most shocking is the form and shape this mode of persecution has taken in these years.

The toils of persecution are things so loathsome they scar not only individuals but the entire project of human civilization. We should never take such things lightly. The tyrant, however, is an animal too difficult to appease so that even as I write I know this brief memoir will do nothing to divert the deplorableness of this situation. But common decency demands that we record these blood spots in the annals of national history.

Our children may, with the help of God, and a much firmer grasp of civilised conduct, do something about them in the future. Yes, I do have faint hope posterity may by their own means and convictions feel it necessary to render justice which my contemporaries refuse. That’s one of the reasons I am writing this article.

The trouble with horrific national history is the difficulty of locating the sources of political depravity. So I’m not going to try. It’s always better to appeal to justice than address the sources of malady, something that is very difficult for a historian to do. But I’ll try. It’s important I set these parameters least I be accused of intellectual levity. My discovery is that this tale of persecution operates by supplying means and resources for destruction and refusing opportunities for conquering difficulties, a most singular thing.

The spring of action is political greed. Acts of insult and injury, of which there are far too many, are camouflaged with the cartel of honour, and violent effort is employed to engender hesitated confusion and irresolute answers. Simple scenes of revelry and mirth are contrived to divert the unhappiness of tortured minds, and these are also camouflaged by the episodic benevolence of superior actions that call upon the garb of veneration even under the deep groans of intolerable anguish. Colonialism was not this perverse. Nor apartheid.

These were elaborate political machines that did not shy away from what they intended to accomplish. What’s happening in Botswana is terribly disturbing. The whole train of life of a Mosarwa is continually subjected to a deserted situation of political terror that is hasty, peevish and tyrannical. It’s like living with and serving a mentally deranged political master; a master whose disturbance and inflammation of the mind is characterised by brief and pale rhapsodies of visionary honour. Tried as I can I just could not give perspicuity to this horrible series of events.

As a child I found the ordinary Motswana possessed of an air of uncommon dignity, a dignity heightened by an expression of frankness, kindness and unreserved enthusiasm; a terribly charming fellow. I found the ordinary Motswana a creature almost encumbered with reflection, sensibility and an amazing good taste that never lost sight of humanity.

Now I am no longer so sure. I wonder what happened to the genuine hilarity of the heart. We have never been a brilliant and scholarly people but we always counted on our good manners to stand us good in all company and conversations. But no longer so. We have changed radically. We are no longer superior to suspicion. Is what I see today our true character coming out? Is what I read in the annals of our history our true character as a nation and a people?

I invite the reader to travel with me through Kalahari country and survey for themselves the criticalness of this situation. The tragic irony of the horror that separates a Mosarwa from his Motswana kinsman is that this same loathsomeness seems, in many instances, to be predicated on the fear for the progress that each party might have made in the affection of the other.

Both are aware of the dangers of this relationship. Both are exhausted by the endless rancour and blood-letting but this they choose, in the majority of cases, to endure with apathy; the Mosarwa because he’s powerless and helpless, his kinsman, because the very things that feed his frenzied gormandising; land, labour and the body of the victim, are not seen as finite resources.

In short there’s no light at the end of the tunnel. The Mosarwa must become accustomed to tormented submission and deference, and his kinsman to his imperious manners and the superior resentment of insolent questioning of his political privilege. The oppressor is always drunk with choler, and will not, under any circumstances, listen to a word that tends to check the impetuosity of his actions.

The victim traverses the land of Kalahari, no, his entire life span, with grievously perturbed steps, foaming with anguish, fury and rage. The oppressor has the honour of choosing any scene of action that pleases his diabolical fancy, the victim always has considerable difficulty appeasing the indignation of the master and the rapacious calling of his raw appetites.

Rarely are peaceful means employed to disarm the stateliness of these opposed resentments and nothing is ever done to effect even the smallest moments of mutual cordiality and happiness, and yet both these antagonists live in a democratic society, and often copulate sufficiently well to bring children in this land of plunder and agony.

The reputation of the tyrant’s courageous brutality is already so well established it cannot allow itself to be exposed to impeachment. The Mosarwa, it would appear, has little courage to subdue its imperial arrogance and unstoppable imprudence-and everybody calls Botswana a democratic society, how amazing!

What, I wonder, makes human beings to behave like this towards each other? Does this simply signify the weakness of human nature? Does it signify the weakness of society, its laws and political institutions? Is it always necessary to expiable haste and indiscretion with blood and sworn hate? Is such an unmitigated persecution of a malignant destiny a pleasant feature of democratic society? What happened to the fields of utility and distinction so well spelled out in parts of our constitution?

Why should one nation give accommodation and advantage to another in this way, a way that can only result in it rusting and rotting in the dungeons of oblivion? Why do some people think the world is made for them, and not others? How does a man explain this malignant contagious distemper in democratic society? I am not a philosopher, and the world, I know, is not governed by words. But these things haunt me like a demon.

I cannot wake, but I think of them. My friends at Government Enclave, I know, don’t care. Their attitude is simple: as we brew, we must bake, and life goes on. But this I think is the wrong attitude to take. Let me explain.

A little over a hundred years ago the traveller J.C. Chapman, met a group of Basarwa. He says in his book they called themselves dogs, pack oxen and horses of Sekomi (sic) the Ngwato chief. Asked if they wanted to do anything better than be slaves of this monarch they said they never thought of aspiring to any other position in life.

They called themselves dogs because they hunted and killed game for their master, pack oxen because they had to carry home the proceeds of their hunts for hundreds of miles, and horses because they had to act as his spies throughout his kingdom and run from one post to another with the least information so the man could always rest at peace knowing all was well.

In short, they fed his family, provided secret security services for his kingdom, without asking for millions of money like the DIS, made sure his authority was not challenged, and got nothing in return for their work. We may suspect they got some food but that is only conjecture.

At about the same time David Livingstone, a great humanitarian, died in central Africa fighting to stop slavery and the abomination of slave-trading. America was still smarting from a civil war to end slavery in that great republic, a war that cost millions in human lives and property just to procure the freedom and human dignity of hapless black souls who had hitherto remained tied to the mainstream society by denigrating and dehumanizing bonds of blood, sweat and tears. But in Botswana, a country that had just run 5000 miles across the sea to ask for protection from an old woman in Britain, slavery continued to flourish.

In the 1930s the writer Diana Wyle estimated that Tshekedi Khama owned 300 000 herd of cattle and 3000 Basarwa. This translates to one Mosarwa looking after 100 cows. Bangwato are what they are today because of Basarwa. I could quote many similar data for relations between these suffering people and Bakwena, Bangwaketse, and other tribes.

The tragic plight of Basarwa is a matter of recorded history. The blight of their lives has always been, and remains to date, a function of Tswana prosperity. For centuries they remained the backbone of the country’s transport network, serving wealthy Tswana tribesman as porters, postmen, messengers, and the historical record shows they could even be used to convey their masters and trading goods on their bare backs for hundreds of miles.

Basarwa have always been, and remain to date, master trackers. It is an open secret that it was these much oppressed and maligned people who opened the odiously exacting hinterland of the great Kalahari Desert for commercial exploitation, scientific investigation and tourist marvel and adventure.

For ages they lived in this enchanting paradise with poets, philosophers, scientists, artists, geologists, film makers, intrepid and wayward missionaries, adventurers, celebrities and all sorts of lost human souls from all parts of the world.

Today these great pioneers, these quiet, unassuming, hospitable, and humble souls have been reduced to mere objects of exploitation and tourist fascination. They are outsiders in a land they conquered through great spiritual contemplation and compassionate communing with nature and beasts. The uncontaminated Mosarwa is by nature and philosophical disposition a mystic and wanderer.

He tames first his passions and excesses, and then next tries the best he can to live with his known world-a world of immanent human experience. The way Batswana treat Basarwa today is appallingly disturbing and morally reprehensible principally because it is a horrendous violation of the law of human hospitality-a principle that has been the hallmark of all great civilisations since time immemorial. It is the worst case of bestial internal colonialism ever recorded in human history.

The greatest shame is that it is precisely because of the way we treat these hapless people that the civilised world is beginning to use our oppressive interactions with them as a yardstick to measure our humanity. What a shame! What a horrible fate! What a scandalous self-denigrating proposition! The tragedy is that we do this horrible thing for the simplest reason in the world-we want to be rich. We want to be affluent. We want to be big men and women. The tragedy is that we call this wholesale dispossession and exploitation of fellow citizens civilised behaviour.

The world is laughing at us. It has a right to. The opprobrium of decent voices is engulfing the very soul and spirit of the nation. Rightly so. I just wonder when we’ll tire of this dishonour, humiliation and ignominy. It is a tragedy of our own making. The land claims, legal disputes, intellectual contestations, constitutional determinations, international outcries, activist social science, anthropological anger and discontent, and Basarwa nationalisms and liberation struggles that have characterised ideological, political, moral and legal discourses and actions in Botswana between the first constitutional intervention and pronouncement in 1978 and the sustained High Court battles in the recent past all arise from these historical injustices.

To this day Basarwa struggle for freedom rages on. As I said, the tragic development biography of Basarwa has already become the greatest feature of our definition as nation. There is no worse affront to the magnificence of the human estate than the deliberate vehemence of brutality against others in modern society. The history of Basarwa in Botswana occupies prime position in university bookshelves around the world in all written languages.

There’s hardly any leading anthropologist at the world’s top hundred universities who has not written about Basarwa in the last hundred years. The story of Basarwa has appeared in all leading newspapers of the world. It has been debated in the House of Commons in Britain from as far back as the 1880s and as I write that august house is still open to such debates; its hansards a record of our great folly as a nation.

This story has been the subject of congressional lobbying in America. No leading global television network has not covered this story. No prestigious international magazine has not featured it. This story has featured in films, documentaries, academic conferences and remains the subject of animated discussions in classrooms and private homes in just about every part of the world.

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Elected officials should guard against personal interest

23rd September 2020

Parliament was this week once again seized with matters that concern them and borders on conflict of interest and abuse of privilege.

The two matters are; review of MPs benefits as well as President Mokgweetsi Masisi’s participation in the bidding for Banyana Farms. For the latter, it should not come as a surprise that President Masisi succeeded in bid.

The President’s business interests have also been in the forefront. While President Masisi is entitled as a citizen to participate in a various businesses in the country or abroad, it is morally deficient for him to participate in a bidding process that is handled by the government he leads. By the virtue of his presidency, Masisi is the head of government and head of State.

Not long ago, former President Festus Mogae suggested that elected officials should consider using blind trust to manage their business interests once they are elected to public office. Though blind trusts are expensive, they are the best way of ensuring confidence in those that serve in public office.

A blind trust is a trust established by the owner (or trustor) giving another party (the trustee) full control of the trust. Blind trusts are often established in situations where individuals want to avoid conflicts of interest between their employment and investments.

The trustee has full discretion over the assets and investments while being charged with managing the assets and any income generated in the trust.

The trustor can terminate the trust, but otherwise exercises no control over the actions taken within the trust and receives no reports from the trustees while the blind trust is in force.

Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) Secretary General, Mpho Balopi, has defended President Masisi’s participation in business and in the Banyana Farms bidding. His contention is that, the practise even obtained during the administration of previous presidents.

The President is the most influential figure in the country. His role is representative and he enjoys a plethora of privileges. He is not an ordinary citizen. The President should therefore be mindful of this fact.

We should as a nation continue to thrive for improvement of our laws with the viewing of enhancing good governance. We should accept perpetuation of certain practices on the bases that they are a norm. MPs are custodians of good governance and they should measure up to the demands of their responsibility.

Parliament should not be spared for its role in countenancing these developments. Parliament is charged with the mandate of making laws and providing oversight, but for them to make laws that are meant solely for their benefits as MPs is unethical and from a governance point of view, wrong.

There have been debates in parliament, some dating from past years, about the benefits of MPs including pension benefits. It is of course self-serving for MPs to be deliberating on their compensation and other benefits.

In the past, we have also contended that MPs are not the right people to discuss their own compensation and there has to be Special Committee set for the purpose. This is a practice in advanced democracies.

By suggesting this, we are not suggesting that MP benefits are in anyway lucrative, but we are saying, an independent body may figure out the best way of handling such issues, and even offer MPs better benefits.

In the United Kingdom for example; since 2009 following a scandal relating to abuse of office, set-up Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority (IPSA)

IPSA is responsible for: setting the level of and paying MPs’ annual salaries; paying the salaries of MPs’ staff; drawing up, reviewing, and administering an MP’s allowance scheme; providing MPs with publicly available and information relating to taxation issues; and determining the procedures for investigations and complaints relating to MPs.

Owing to what has happened in the Parliament of Botswana recently, we now need to have a way of limiting what MPs can do especially when it comes to laws that concern them. We cannot be too trusting as a nation.

MPs can abuse office for their own agendas. There is need to act swiftly to deal with the inherent conflict of interest that arise as a result of our legislative setup. A voice of reason should emerge from Parliament to address this unpleasant situation. This cannot be business as usual.

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The Corona Coronation (Part 10)

9th July 2020

Ever heard of a 666-type beast known as Fort Detrick?

Located in the US state of Maryland, about 80 km removed from Washington DC, Fort Detrick houses the US army’s top virus research laboratory. It has been identified as “home to the US Army Medical Research and Materiel Command, with its bio-defense agency, the US Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases, and  also hosts the National Cancer Institute-Frederick and the National Interagency Confederation for Biological Research and National Interagency Biodefense Campus”.

The 490-hectare campus researches the world’s deadliest pathogens, including Anthrax (in 1944, the Roosevelt administration ordered 1 million anthrax bombs from Fort Detrick), Ebola, smallpox, and … you guessed right: coronaviruses.  The facility, which carries out paid research projects for government agencies (including the CIA), universities and drug companies most of whom owned by the highly sinister military-industrial complex, employs 900 people.

Between 1945 and 1969, the sprawling complex (which has since become the US’s ”bio-defence centre” to put it mildly) was the hub of the US biological weapons programme. It was at Fort Detrick that Project MK Ultra, a top-secret CIA quest to subject   the human mind to routine robotic manipulation, a monstrosity the CIA openly owned up to in a congressional inquisition in 1975, was carried out.  In the consequent experiments, the guinea pigs comprised not only of people of the forgotten corner of America – inmates, prostitutes and the homeless but also prisoners of war and even regular US servicemen.

These unwitting participants underwent up to a 20-year-long ordeal of barbarous experiments involving psychoactive drugs (such as LSD), forced electroshocks, physical and sexual abuses, as well as a myriad of other torments. The experiments not only violated international law, but also the CIA’s own charter which forbids domestic activities. Over 180 doctors and researchers took part in these horrendous experiments and this in a country which touts itself as the most civilised on the globe!

Was the coronavirus actually manufactured at Fort Detrick (like HIV as I shall demonstrate at the appropriate time) and simply tactfully patented to other equally cacodemonic places such as the Wuhan Institute of Virology in China?

THE FORT DETRICK SCIENTISTS’ PROPHECY WAS WELL-INFORMED

 

About two years before the term novel coronavirus became a familiar feature in day-to-day banter, two scientist cryptically served advance warning of its imminence. They were Allison Totura and Sina Bavari, both researchers at Fort Detrick.

The two scientists talked of “novel highly pathogenic coronaviruses that may emerge from animal reservoir hosts”, adding, “These coronaviruses may have the potential to cause devastating pandemics due to unique features in virus biology including rapid viral replication, broad host range, cross-species transmission, person-to-person transmission, and lack of herd immunity in human populations  Associated with novel respiratory syndromes, they move from person-to-person via close contact and can result in high morbidity and mortality caused by the progression to acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS).”

All the above constitute some of the documented attributes and characteristics of the virus presently on the loose – the propagator of Covid-19. A recent clinical review of Covid-19 in The Economist seemed to bear out this prognostication when it said, “It is ARDS that sees people rushed to intensive-care units and put on ventilators”. As if sounding forth a veritable prophecy, the two scientists besought governments to start working on counter-measures there and then that could be “effective against such a virus”.

Well, it was not by sheer happenstance that Tortura and Bavari turned out to have been so incredibly and ominously prescient. They had it on good authority, having witnessed at ringside what the virus was capable of in the context of their own laboratory.  The gory scenario they painted for us came not from secondary sources but from the proverbial horse’s mouth folks.

CDC’S RECKLESS ADMISSION

In March this year, Robert Redfield, the US  Director for the Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC),  told the House of Representatives’ Oversight Committee that it had transpired that some members of the American populace  who were certified as having died of influenza  turned out to have harboured the novel coronavirus per posthumous analysis of their tissue.

Redfield was not pressed to elaborate but the message was loud and clear – Covid-19 had been doing the rounds in the US much earlier than it was generally supposed and that the extent to which it was mistaken for flu was by far much more commonplace than was openly admitted. An outspoken Chinese diplomat, Zhao Lijian, seized on this rather casual revelation and insisted that the US disclose further information, exercise transparency on coronavirus cases and provide an explanation to the public.

But that was not all the beef Zhao had with the US. He further charged that the coronavirus was possibly transplanted to China by the US: whether inadvertently or by deliberate design he did not say.  Zhao pointed to the Military World Games of October 2019, in which US army representatives took part, as the context in which the coronavirus irrupted into China. Did the allegation ring hollow or there was a ring of truth to it?

THE BENASSIE FACTOR

The Military World Games, an Olympic-style spectrum of competitive action, are held every four years. The 2019 episode took place in Wuhan, China. The 7th such, the games ran from October 18 to October 27.  The US contingent comprised of 17 teams of over 280 athletes, plus an innumerable other staff members. Altogether, over 9000 athletes from 110 countries were on hand to showcase their athletic mettle in more than 27 sports. All NATO countries were present, with Africa on its part represented by 30 countries who included Botswana, Egypt, Kenya, Zambia, and Zimbabwe.

Besides the singular number of participants, the event notched up a whole array of firsts. One report spelt them out thus: “The first time the games were staged outside of military bases, the first time the games were all held in the same city, the first time an Athletes’ Village was constructed, the first time TV and VR systems were powered by 5G telecom technology, and the first use of all-round volunteer services for each delegation.”

Now, here is the clincher: the location of the guest house for the US team was located in the immediate neighbourhood of the Wuhan Seafood Market, the place the Chinese authorities to this day contend was the diffusion point of the coronavirus. But there is more: according to some reports, the person who allegedly but unwittingly transmitted the virus to the people milling about the market – Patient Zero of Covid-19 – was one Maatie Benassie.

Benassie, 52, is a security officer of Sergeant First Class rank at the Fort Belvoir military base in Virginia and took part in the 50-mile cycling road race in the same competitions. In the final lap, she was accidentally knocked down by a fellow contestant and sustained a fractured rib and a concussion though she soldiered on and completed the race with the agonising adversity.  Inevitably, she saw a bit of time in a local health facility.   According to information dug up by George Webb, an investigative journalist based in Washington DC,     Benassie would later test positive for Covid-19 at the Fort Belvoir Community Hospital.

Incidentally, Benassie apparently passed on the virus to other US soldiers at the games, who were hospitalised right there in China before they were airlifted back to the US. The US government straightaway prohibited the publicising of details on the matter under the time-honoured excuse of “national security interests”, which raised eyebrows as a matter-of-course. As if that was not fishy enough, the US out of the blue tightened Chinese visas to the US at the conclusion of the games.

The rest, as they say, is history: two months later, Covid-19 had taken hold on China territory.  “From that date onwards,” said one report, “one to five new cases were reported each day. By December 15, the total number of infections stood at 27 — the first double-digit daily rise was reported on December 17 — and by December 20, the total number of confirmed cases had reached 60.”

TWO CURIOUS RESEARCH HALTINGS

Is it a coincidence that all the US soldiers who fell ill at the Wuhan games did their preparatory training at the Fort Belvoir military base, only a 15-minutes’  drive from Fort Detrick?

That Fort Detrick is a plain-sight perpetrator of pathogenic evils is evidenced by a number of highly suspicious happenings concerning it. Remember the 2001 anthrax mailing attacks on government and media houses which killed five people right on US territory? The two principal suspects who puzzlingly were never charged, worked as microbiologists at Fort Detrick. Of the two, Bruce Ivins, who was the more culpable, died in 2008 of “suicide”. For “suicide”, read “elimination”, probably because he was in the process of spilling the beans and therefore cast the US government in a stigmatically diabolical light. Indeed, the following year, all research projects at Fort Detrick were suspended on grounds that the institute was “storing pathogens not listed   in its database”. The real truth was likely much more reprehensible.

In 2014, there was a mini local pandemic in the US which killed thousands of people and which the mainstream media were not gutsy enough to report. It arose following the weaponisation at Fort Detrick of the H7N9 virus, prompting the Obama administration to at once declare a moratorium on the research and withdraw funding.

The Trump administration, however, which has a pathological fixation on undoing practically all the good Obama did, reinstated the research under new rigorous guidelines in 2017. But since old habits die hard, the new guidelines were flouted at will, leading to another shutdown of the whole research gamut at the institute in August 2019.  This, nonetheless, was not wholesale as other areas of research, such as experiments to make bird flu more transmissible and which had begun in 2012, proceeded apace. As one commentator pointedly wondered aloud, was it really necessary to study how to make H5N1, which causes a type of bird flu with an eye-popping mortality rate, more transmissible?

Consistent with its character, the CDC was not prepared to furnish particulars upon issuing the cease and desist order, citing “national security reasons”. Could the real reason have been the manufacture of the novel coronavirus courtesy of a tip-off by the more scrupulous scientists?

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Masisi faces ultimate test of his presidency

9th July 2020

President Mokgweetsi Masisi may have breathed a huge sigh of relief when he emerged victorious in last year’s 2019 general elections, but the ultimate test of his presidency has only just begun.

From COVID-19 pandemic effects; disenchanted unemployed youth, deteriorating diplomatic relations with neighbouring South Africa as well as emerging instability within the ruling party — Masisi has a lot to resolve in the next few years.

Last week we started an unwanted cold war with Botswana’s main trade partner, South Africa, in what we consider an ill-conceived move. Never, in the history of this country has Botswana shown South Africa a cold shoulder – particularly since the fall of the apartheid regime.

It is without a doubt that our country’s survival depends on having good relations with South Africa. As the Chairperson of African National Congress (ANC), Gwede Mantashe once said, a good relationship between Botswana and South Africa is not optional but necessary.

No matter how aggrieved we feel, we should never engage in a diplomatic war — with due respect to other neighbours— with South Africa. We will never gain anything from starting a diplomatic war with South Africa.

In fact, doing so will imperil our economy, given that majority of businesses in the retail sector and services sector are South African companies.

Former cabinet minister and Phakalane Estates proprietor, David Magang once opined that Botswana’s poor manufacturing sector and importation of more than 80 percent of the foodstuffs from South Africa, effectively renders Botswana a neo-colony of the former.

Magang’s statement may look demeaning, but that is the truth, and all sorts of examples can be produced to support that. Perhaps it is time to realise that as a nation, we are not independent enough to behave the way we do. And for God’s sake, we are a landlocked country!

Recently, the effects of COVID-19 have exposed the fragility of our economy; the devastating pleas of the unemployed and the uncertainty of the future. Botswana’s two mainstay source of income; diamonds and tourism have been hit hard. Going forward, there is a need to chart a new pathway, and surely it is not an easy task.

The ground is becoming fertile for uprisings that are not desirable in any country. That the government has not responded positively to the rising unemployment challenge is the truth, and very soon as a nation we will wake up to this reality.

The magnitude of the problem is so serious that citizens are running out of patience. The government on the other hand has not done much to instil confidence by assuring the populace that there is a plan.

The general feeling is that, not much will change, hence some sections of the society, will try to use other means to ensure that their demands are taken into consideration. Botswana might have enjoyed peace and stability in the past, but there is guarantee that, under the current circumstances, the status quo will be maintained.

It is evident that, increasingly, indigenous citizens are becoming resentful of naturalised and other foreign nationals. Many believe naturalised citizens, especially those of Indian origin, are the major beneficiaries in the economy, while the rest of the society is side-lined.

The resentfulness is likely to intensify going forward. We needed not to be heading in this direction. We needed not to be racist in our approach but when the pleas of the large section of the society are ignored, this is bound to happen.

It is should be the intention of every government that seeks to strive on non-racialism to ensure that there is shared prosperity. Share prosperity is the only way to make people of different races in one society to embrace each other, however, we have failed in this respect.

Masisi’s task goes beyond just delivering jobs and building a nation that we all desire, but he also has an immediate task of achieving stability within his own party. The matter is so serious that, there are threats of defection by a number of MPs, and if he does not arrest this, his government may collapse before completing the five year mandate.

The problems extend to the party itself, where Masisi found himself at war with his Secretary General, Mpho Balopi. The war is not just the fight for Central Committee position, but forms part of the succession plan.

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