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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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The case for Botswana to ratify the ACDEG

6th March 2023

The Ibrahim Index of African Governance (IIAG) is the most comprehensive dataset measuring African governance performance through a wide range of 81 indicators under the categories of Security & Rule of law, Participation, Rights & Inclusion, Foundations of Economic Opportunity, and Human Development. It employs scores, expressed out of 100, which quantify a country’s performance for each governance measure and ranks, out of 54, in relation to the 54 African countries.

The 2022 IIAG Overall Governance score is 68.1 and ranks Botswana at number 5 in Africa. In 2019 Botswana was ranked 2nd with an overall score of 73.3. That is a sharp decline. The best-performing countries are Mauritius, Seychelles, Tunisia, and Cabo Verde, in that order. A glance at the categories shows that Botswana is in third place in Africa on the Security and Rule of law; ninth in the Participation, Rights & Inclusion Category – indicating a shrinking participatory environment; eighth for Foundations of Economic Opportunity category; and fifth in the Human Development category.

The 2022 IIAG comes to a sweeping conclusion: Governments are less accountable and transparent in 2021 than at any time over the last ten years; Higher GDP does not necessarily indicate better governance; rule of law has weakened in the last five years; Democratic backsliding in Africa has accelerated since 2018; Major restrictions on freedom of association and assembly since 2012. Botswana is no exception to these conclusions. In fact, a look at the 10-year trend shows a major challenge. While Botswana remains in the top 5 of the best-performing countries in Africa, there are signs of decline, especially in the categories of Human Development and Security & Rule of law.

I start with this picture to show that Botswana is no longer the poster child for democracy, good governance, and commitment to the rule of law that it once was. In fact, to use the term used in the IIAG, Botswana is experiencing a “democratic backsliding.”

The 2021 Transparency International Corruption Perception Index (CPI) had Botswana at 55/ 100, the lowest ever score recorded by Botswana dethroning Botswana as Africa’s least corrupt country to a distant third place, where it was in 2019 with a CPI of 61/100. (A score closer to zero denotes the worst corrupt and a score closer to 100 indicates the least corrupt country). The concern here is that while other African states are advancing in their transparency and accountability indexes, Botswana is backsliding.

The Transitional National Development Plan lists participatory democracy, the rule of law, transparency, and accountability, as key “deliverables,” if you may call those deliverables. If indeed Botswana is committed to these principles, she must ratify the African Charter on Democracy Elections and Governance (ACDEG).

The African Charter on Democracy Elections and Governance is the African Union’s principal policy document for advancing democratic governance in African Union member states. The ACDEG embodies the continent’s commitment to a democratic agenda and set the standards upon which countries agreed to be held accountable. The Charter was adopted in 2007 and came into force a decade ago, in 2012.

Article 2 of the Charter details its objectives among others as to a) Promote adherence, by each State Party, to the universal values and principles of democracy and respect for human rights; b) Promote and protect the independence of the judiciary; c) Promote the establishment of the necessary conditions to foster citizen participation, transparency, access to information, freedom of the press and accountability in the management of public affairs; d) Promote gender balance and equality in the governance and development processes.

The Charter emphasizes certain principles through which member states must uphold: Citizen Participation, Accountable Institutions, Respect for Human Rights, Adherence to the principles of the Rule of Law, Respect for the supremacy of the constitution and constitutional order, Entrenchment of democratic Principles, Separation of Powers, Respect for the Judiciary, Independence and impartiality of electoral bodies, best practice in the management of elections. These are among the top issues that Batswana have been calling for, that they be entrenched in the new Constitution.

The ACDEG is a revolutionary document. Article 3 of the ACDEG, sets guidance on the principles that must guide the implementation of the Charter among them: Effective participation of citizens in democratic and development processes and in the governance of public affairs; Promotion of a system of government that is representative; Holding of regular, transparent, free and fair elections; Separation of powers; Promotion of gender equality in public and private institutions and others.

Batswana have been calling for laws that make it mandatory for citizen participation in public affairs, more so, such calls have been amplified in the just-ended “consultative process” into the review of the Constitution of Botswana. Many scholars, academics, and Batswana, in general, have consistently made calls for a constitution that provides for clear separation of powers to prevent concentration of power in one branch, in Botswana’s case, the Executive, and provide for effective checks and balances. Other countries, like Kenya, have laws that promote gender equality in public and private institutions inscribed in their constitutions. The ACDEG could be a useful advocacy tool for the promotion of gender equality.

Perhaps more relevant to Botswana’s situation now is Article 10 of the Charter. Given how the constitutional review process unfolded, the numerous procedural mistakes and omissions, the lack of genuine consultations, the Charter principles could have provided a direction, if Botswana was party to the Charter. “State Parties shall ensure that the process of amendment or revision of their constitution reposes on national consensus, obtained, if need be, through referendum,” reads part of Article 10, giving clear clarity, that the Constitution belong to the people.

With the African Charter on Democracy Elections and Governance in hand, ratified, and also given the many shortfalls in the current constitution, Batswana can have a tool in hand, not only to hold the government accountable but also a tool for measuring aspirations and shortfalls of our governance institutional framework.

Botswana has not signed, nor has it acceded or ratified the ACDEG. The time to ratify the ACDEG is now. Our Movement, Motheo O Mosha Society, with support from the Democracy Works Foundation and The Charter Project Africa, will run a campaign to promote, popularise and advocate for the ratification of the Charter (#RatifytheCharter Campaign). The initiative is co-founded by the European Union. The Campaign is implemented with the support of our sister organizations: Global Shapers Community – Gaborone Hub, #FamilyMeetingBW, Botswana Center for Public Integrity, Black Roots Organization, Economic Development Forum, Molao-Matters, WoTech Foundation, University of Botswana Political Science Society, Young Minds Africa and Branding Akosua.

Ratifying the Charter would reaffirm Botswana’s commitment to upholding strong democratic values, and respect for constitutionalism, and promote the rule of law and political accountability. Join us in calling the Government of Botswana to #RatifyTheCharter.

*Morena MONGANJA is the Chairperson of Motheo O Mosha society; a grassroots movement advocating for a new Constitution for Botswana. Contact: or WhatsApp 77 469 362.

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The Taiwan Question: China ramps up military exercises to rebuff US provocations

18th August 2022

US House Speaker Nancy Pelosis visit to Taiwan has violated the One-China policy, and caused the escalation of tensions across the Taiwan Strait. Experts and political observers across the spectra agree that Pelosis actions and subsequent pronouncements by US President Joe Biden gave impetus to an already simmering tension in the Taiwan Strait, provoking China to strengthen its legitimate hold on the Taiwan Strait waters, which the US and Taiwan deem as international waters.

Pelosis visit to Chinas Taiwan region has been heavily criticised across the globe, with China arguing that this is a serious violation of the one-China principle and the provisions of the three China-US Joint Communiqus. In response to this reckless move which seriously undermined China’s sovereignty, and interfered in China’s internal affairs, the expectation is for China to give a firm response. Pelosi visit violated the commitments made by the U.S. side, and seriously jeopardized peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait.

To give context to Chinas position over Taiwan region, the history behind gives us perspective. It is also important to note that the history between China and Taiwan is well documented and the US has always recognized it.

The Peoples Republic of China recognises Taiwan as its territory. It has always been the case even before the Nationalist Republic of China government fled to the previously Japanese-ruled Island after losing the civil war on the mainland in 1949. According to literature that threat was contained for decades first with a military alliance between the US and the ROC on Taiwan, and after Washington switched diplomatic recognition to the PRC in 1979 by the US One China policy, which acknowledges Beijings position that Taiwan is part of One China. Effectively, Taiwans administration was transferred to the Republic of China from Japan after the Second World War in 1945, along with the split between the Peoples Republic of China (PRC) and the Republic of China (ROC) as a consequence of the Chinese Civil War. Disregarding this history, as the US is attempting to do, will surely initiate some defence reaction on the side of China to affirm its sovereignty.

However, this history was undermined since Taiwan claimed to democratise in the 1990s and China has grown ever more belligerent. Furthermore, it is well documented that the Biden administration, following the Trump presidency, has made subtle changes in the way it deals with Taipei, such as loosening restrictions on US officials meeting Taiwanese officials this should make China uneasy. And while the White House continues to say it does not support Taiwanese independence, Bidens words and actions are parallel to this pledge because he has warned China that the US would intervene militarily if China attacked Taiwan another statement that has provoked China.

Pelosi, in her private space, would know that her actions amount to provocation of China. This act of aggression by the USA seriously undermines the virtues of sovereignty and territorial integrity which has a huge potential to destabilize not only the Taiwan Strait but the whole of the Asia- Pacific region. The Americans know very well that their provocative behavior is deliberately invoking the spirit of separatism masqueraded as Taiwan independence. The US is misled to think that by supporting separatism of Taiwan from China that would give them an edge over China in a geopolitics. This is what one Chinese diplomat said this week: The critical point is if every country put their One-China policy into practice with sincerity, with no compromise, is going to guarantee the peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait. Therefore, it was in the wake of US House speaker Nancy Pelosis visit to Taiwan, that China, in a natural response revealed plans for unprecedented military exercises near the island, prompting fears of a crisis in the Taiwan Strait and the entire Asia-Pacific region. The world community must promote and foster peace, this may be achieved when international laws are respected. It may also happen when nations respect the sovereignty of another. China may be in a better space because it is well capacitated to stake its territorial integrity, what about a small nation, if this happens to it?

As to why military exercises by Beijing; it is an expected response because China was provoked by the actions of Pelosi. To fortify this position, Chinese President, Xi signed a legal basis for Chinas Peoples Liberation Army to safeguard Chinas national sovereignty, security and development interests. The legal basis will also allow military missions around disaster relief, humanitarian aid and peacekeeping. In addition the legal changes would allow troops to prevent spillover effects of regional instabilities from affecting China, secure vital transport routes for strategic materials like oil, or safeguard Chinas overseas investments, projects and personnel. It then follows that President Xis administration cannot afford to look weak under a US provocation. President Xi must protector Chinas sovereignty and territorial integrity, of which Taiwan is a central part. Beijing is very clear on One-China Policy, and expects all world players to recognize and respect it.

The Peoples Liberation Army has made it clear that it has firepower that covers all of Taiwan, and it can strike wherever it wants. This sentiments have been attributed to Zhang Junshe, a researcher at the PLA Navy Research Institute. Zheng further said, We got really close to Taiwan. We encircled Taiwan. And we demonstrated that we can effectively stop intervention by foreign forces. This is a strong reaction from China to warn the US against provocation and violation of the One-China Policy.

Beijings military exercises will certainly shake Taiwans confidence in the sources of its economic and political survival. The potential for an effective blockade threatens the air and shipping routes that support Taiwans central role in global technology supply chains. Should a humanitarian situation arise in Taiwan, the blame would squarely be on the US.

As Chinas military exercises along the Taiwan Strait progress and grow, it remains that the decision by Nancy Pelosi to visit Chinas Taiwan region gravely undermined peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait, and sent a wrong signal to Taiwan independence separatist forces. This then speaks to international conventions, as the UN Secretary-General Antnio Guterres explicitly stressed that the UN remains committed to the UN General Assembly Resolution 2758. The centerpiece is the one-China principle, namely, there is but one China in the world, the government of the Peoples Republic of China is the sole legal government representing the whole of China, and Taiwan is a part of China. It must be noted that the US and the US-led NATO countries have selectively applied international law, this has been going on unabated. There is a plethora of actions that have collapsed several states after they were attacked under the pretext of the so-called possession of weapons of mass destruction illuminating them as threats – and sometimes even without any valid reason. to blatantly launch military strikes and even unleash wars on sovereign countrie

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Internal party-democracy under pressure

21st June 2022

British novelist, W. Somerset Maugham once opined: If a nation values anything more than freedom, it will lose its freedom; and the irony of it is that if it is comfort or money that it values more, it will lose that too.

The truism in these words cannot be underestimated, especially when contextualizing against the political developments in Botswana. We have become a nation that does not value democracy, yet nothing represent freedom more than democracy. In fact, we desire, and value winning power or clinging to power more than anything else, even if it harms the democratic credentials of our political institutions. This is happening across political parties ruling and opposition.

As far as democracy is concerned, we are regressing. We are becoming worse-off than we were in the past. If not arrested, Botswana will lose its status as among few democratic nations in the Africa. Ironically, Botswana was the first country in Africa to embrace democracy, and has held elections every five years without fail since independence.

We were once viewed as the shining example of Africa. Those accolades are not worth it any more. Young democracies such as South Africa, with strong institutions, deserves to be exalted. Botswana has lost faith in democracy, and we will pay a price for it. It is a slippery slope to dictatorship, which will bring among other excess, assault on civil liberties and human rights violations.

Former President, Festus Mogae once stated that Botswanas democracy will only become authentic, when a different party, other than the Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) wins elections, and when the President of such party is not from Serowe.

Although many may not publicly care to admit, Mogaes assertion is true. BDP has over the years projected itself as a dyed-in-the-wool proponent of democracy, but the moment its stay in power became threatened and uncertain, it started behaving in a manner that is at variance with democratic values.This has been happening over the years now, and the situation is getting worse by the day.

Recently, the BDP party leadership has been preaching compromise and consensus candidates for 2024 general elections. Essentially, the leadership has lost faith in theBulela Ditswedispensation, which has been used to selected party candidates for council and parliament since 2003. The leadership is discouraging democracy because they believe primary elections threaten party unity. It is a strange assertion indeed.

Bulela Ditswewas an enrichment of internal party democracy in the sense that it replaced the previous method of selection of candidates known as Committee of 18, in which a branch committee made of 18 people endorsed the representatives. While it is true that political contest can divide, the ruling party should be investing in political education and strengthening in its primary elections processes. Democracy does not come cheap or easy, but it is valuable.

Any unity that we desire so much at the expense of democracy is not true unity. Like W. Somerset Maugham said, democracy would be lost in the process, and ultimately, even the unity that was desired would eventually be lost too. Any solution that sacrifice democracy would not bring any results in the long run, except misery.

We have seen that also in opposition ranks. The Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) recently indicated that its incumbent Members of Parliament (MPs) should not be challenged for their seats. While BDP is sacrificing democracy to stay in power, UDC is sacrificing democracy to win power. It is a scary reality given the fact that both parties ruling and opposition have embraced this position and believe democracy is the hindrance to their political ambitions.

These current reality points to one thing; our political parties have lost faith in democracy. They desire power more than, the purpose of power itself. It is also a crisis of leadership across the political divide, where we have seen dissenting views being met with persecution. We have seen perverting of political process endorsed by those in echelons of power to manipulate political outcomes in their favour.

Democracy should not be optional, it should be mandatory. Any leader proposing curtailing of democracy should be viewed with suspicion, and his adventures should be rejected before it is too late. Members of political parties, as subscribers of democracy, should collectively rise to the occasion to save their democracy from self-interest that is becoming prevalent among Botswana political parties.

The so-called compromise candidates, only benefits the leadership because it creates comforts for them. But for members, and for the nation, it is causing damage by reversing the gains that have been made over the years. We should reject leaders who only preach democracy in word, but are hesitant to practice it.

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