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PEOPLE CENTRED LEADERSHIP: ARE OUR LEADERS REAL PEOPLE FOCUSED?

It appears to me that our leadership is generally selfish and devoid of genuine compassion. The interests and welfare of the people is generally far removed from their minds. Their actions speak much louder than their voices. With their mouths they pronounce that they care for the people while their actions show that they couldn’t be bothered, I could give a million examples.

The façade that is erroneously called government of the people by the people has so grossly misled us and blinded us into believing that the government does what it does in the interest of the people, while the contrary is true. The leaders with their mouths pronounce all the right things to endear themselves to the people when in fact their intention is to gain power and stay in power in order to use the people’s resources for themselves, their relatives and their buddies.

The majority of the people have insufficient knowledge to appreciate that all the resources the country is endowed with belong to them not the government. They do not know that the leadership they have put in place is meant to look after these resources on their behalf. They believe that our leaders are God appointed and cannot be challenged. They do not know that they have the power to change the leadership any time they feel the leadership is misusing their resources and abusing their mandate. They do not know that their voice is the voice of God himself and can be exercised any time.

The few people, who in fact are less than 10% of the population, disproportionately benefit from the national resources and do not really care much about the plight of the majority. The leadership happens to be among this top 10 % of the population. The 90 % majority are the middle incomers; those who live in the peripheries and survive under harsh conditions, those who live from the crumbs from their middle income relatives and from those who themselves earn real peanuts. These helpless individuals in our beloved country live at the mercy of the rich 10 %. What a harsh world we live in!

In a country as rich as ours, endowed with the enormity of resources that God has so generously blessed us with, there should be no abject poverty to talk about, the poverty we have should only be limited to those who are not willing to do anything for themselves; those who enjoy to be spoon-fed and not willing to put in a days work for their own good.

These will be the exception not the 90 % of the population that is so poor and has now unfortunately learnt to accept their poverty status as their God ordained fate.
It is high time that our political leaders speak to the bread and butter issues of the nation and stay away from political ideologies, stay away from political philosophies, and stay away from borrowed political systems that are meant to perpetually keep our people as underdogs and beggars. We should not be interested in words like capitalism, communism, socialism, privatisation, economic diversification and many other such foreign words that have no meaning to the majority of our people.  Yes we can try to conjure up some meaning to explain these words but truth be told these words are alien to us; they are not part of our vocabulary.

Those people who think such words, their originators and their dogmas then will work for us now are living in the long gone past that has never been relevant to us. We need our own heroes and heroines who spoke our languages and understood our ways. We need our own standards developed from our own understanding and our own experiences of the world around us.  We need to just develop our country and our people to be self sufficient in every department of their lives without them being bombarded with foreign dogmas and ideologies. Real leaders will understand the heartbeat of their people.

Let me move back to my topic and highlight some issues that are perpetually keeping the 90 % of our population poor.

Our Education System

Our education system only allows about 10 % of the population to prosper, those are the rich plus a small percentage of very fortunate individuals who will survive under whatever harsh environment placed on them, I salute  and i am proud of those few individuals who break the ceiling regardless. The majority are deliberatively left out on the sidelines and continually fed with lies, that there is no money, that there are no jobs and that this is a problem all over the world, hence anyone who tells you that we have money and that jobs can be created is a liar. These people have been fed these lies for about 50 years and some unfortunately have learnt to accept these lies. Our education system since independence has been our number one enemy. It does not empower people to be self sufficient. It is meant mainly to provide sufficient education to read and write. It does not provide any life skills. It is geared only to provide white color jobs that will not build any industries, then who will build our industries, who will build our roads, who will build our dams, who will build the entire infrastructural development that we need as a country to prosper?  Our education will keep the nation perpetually poor as it is not developmentally focused.

Our Welfare System

Now to support these poor school leavers that do not have any skills, we provide welfare system meant to keep these people forever entrenched in poverty. These are the people doing ipelegeng, meaningless tirelo sechaba chores and idling in the streets and chibuku depots. The poor people spend their lives rotating around shades and clearing bushes and grass along the roads, jobs that should be done by people permanently employed by the councils. These people learn that there is no need for any hard work; they believe that the P500 odd they get from government for ipelegeng and tirelo sechaba is manna from heaven.  What happens to their children? Will they value education, do they value discipline, what future do we expect them to have? Someone once said, how you can teach your children to value education when their parents who have gone through the same education are living in abject poverty.

Our Destitutes

Can somebody tell someone that building houses for individuals, some of whom are visibly able-bodied and calling them destitutes is not only irresponsible but it is not sustainable? Why do you not rather use that money to build national centres for real destitutes and poor widows who cannot support themselves?  Centres built right across the country, well supported with feeding, nursing, maintenance and cleaning services as national assets.  These centres would grow with time and services improved from deliberately higher taxes coming from companies and the rich, not from handouts that appear as though people are generous and doing a favour to the poor as we currently see on our national television almost daily. These people deserve national support not handouts from the rich few.

Our Workers

The majority of our workers earn between P900 and P2000 per month.  How can anyone with a family, who has to pay to go work, who has to provide food for her or his family, who has to provide accommodation for his or her family, who has to buy clothes and uniform for her or his family; how can such a worker live a decent life with such starving wages.  People centred leadership would not tolerate such a scenario for their people. Leaders who care about their people will not allow this to happen in the land of plenty.

Our Pensioners

Our pensioners earn about P300 per month. What can they do with P300?  What can anybody do with a monthly income of P300? These are the people who worked tirelessly for their country in their youth and this is how they are being appreciated! People centred leadership would not tolerate such a situation. Our pensioners deserve better, especially in a country that is so rich.

Conclusion

As I conclude I am reminded of the preparations for the 50th independence celebrations. It is the poor 90 % of the population who are preparing for these celebrations. It is these poor 90 % who will be celebrating at the stadiums, at the kgotlas, across the plains and the valleys of our country. Those who understand what this means will not be celebrating, they will be doing their own things, some drinking their sorrows away and wondering what is going on in their beloved country.

The real beneficiaries of our independence, those who are enjoying the fruits of our independence, the 10 % will also be no where to be found on that day, they will be visiting places of interest, at some expensive resorts, locally, regionally or internationally, enjoying themselves, enjoying the fruits of our independence. This is the country we live in, one of the most unequal country, our beloved country, it needs to change! It needs to be more inclusive. We need to get the 90 % not the 10 % to be the real beneficiaries of our independence.

Bernard Busani
Email;  HYPERLINK "mailto:bernard.busani@gmail.com" bernard.busani@gmail.com
Tel: 71751440

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Opinions

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 Botswana’s 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, Mogae’s 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 the Bulela Ditswe dispensation, 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 Ditswe was 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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Opinions

The Big Deal About Piracy

21st June 2022
piracy

Piracy of all kinds continues to have a massive impact on the global creative industry and the economies of the countries where it thrives.

One of the biggest misconceptions around piracy is that an individual consumer’s piracy activities, especially in a market the size of Botswana’s, is only a drop in the pool of potential losses to the different sectors of the economy piracy affects.

When someone sitting in Gaborone, Botswana logs onto an illegal site to download King Richard online, they don’t imagine that their one download will do anything to the production house’s pocket or make a dent in the actors’ net worth. At best, the sensitivity towards this illegal pirating activity likely only exists when contemplating going about pirating a local musician’s music or a short film produced locally.

The ripple effects of piracy at whatever scale reach far beyond what the average consumer could ever imagine. Figures released by software security and media technology company, Irdeto, show that users in five major African territories made approximately 17,4 million total visits to the top 10 identified piracy sites on the internet.

The economic impact of this on the creative industry alone soars to between 40 and 97.1 billion dollars, according a 2022 Dataprot study. In addition, they estimate that “illegally streamed copyrighted content consumes 24% of global bandwidth”.

As Botswana’s creative industry remains relatively slight on the scale of comparison to industries such as Nollywood and Nilewood where the creative industry contributes a huge proportion to West and East Africa’s respective GDPs, that does not imply that piracy activities in Botswana do not have a similar impact on our economy and the ability of our creative industry to grow.

When individuals make decisions to illegally consume content via internet streaming sites they believe they are saving money for themselves in the name of enjoying content they desire to consume. Although this is a personal choice that remains the prerogative of the consumer, looking beyond the fact that streaming on illegal content sites is piracy, the ripple effect of this decision also has an endless trail of impact where funds which could be used to grow the local creative industry through increased consumption, and revenue which would otherwise be fed back into Botswana’s economy are being diverted.

“Why can’t our local creative industry grow?” “Why don’t we see more home-grown films and shows in Botswana?” are questions constantly posed by those who consume television content in Botswana. The answer to this lies largely in the fact that Botswana’s local content needs an audience in order for it to grow. It needs support from government and entities which are in a position to fund and help the industry scale greater heights.

Any organisational body willing to support and grow the local creative industry needs to exist and operate in an economy which can support its mandates. Content piracy is a cycle that can only be alleviated when consumers make wiser decisions around what they consume and how.

This goes beyond eradicating piracy activities in so far as television content is concerned. This extends to the importation and trade in counterfeit goods, resale of goods and services not intended for resale across the border, outside its jurisdiction, and more. All of these activities stunt the growth of an economy and make it nearly impossible for industries and sectors to propel themselves to places where they can positively impact society and reinvest into the country’s economy.

So what can be done to turn the tide here in Botswana in order to see our local production houses gain the momentum required to produce more, license more and expand their horizons? While those who enforce the law continue to work towards minimizing piracy activities, it’s imperative that as consumers we work to make their efforts easier by being mindful of how our individual actions play a role in preventing the success of our local creative networks and our economy’s growth.

Whether you are pirating a Hollywood Blockbuster, illegally streaming a popular Motswana artist’s music, or smuggling in an illegal decoder to view content restricted to South Africa only, your actions have an impact on how we as a nation will make our mark on the global landscape with local creative productions. Thembi Legwaila is Corporate Affairs Manager, MultiChoice Botswana

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Opinions

Our Strength is our Unity

18th March 2022
Craig-Cloud

Putin Chose War.  We Remain United with Ukraine.

U.S. Ambassador Craig L. Cloud

This is a dangerous moment for Europe and for freedom-loving people around the world.  By launching his brutal assault on the people of Ukraine, Vladimir Putin has also committed an assault on the principles that uphold global peace and democracy.  But the people of Ukraine are resilient.

They’ve had a democracy for decades, and their bravery is inspiring the world.  The United States, together with our Allies and partners across the globe, will continue to support the Ukrainian people as they defend their country.  By choosing to pay for a war instead of investing in the needs of Russians, Putin’s invasion of Ukraine will be a strategic failure for the Kremlin and ravage the future of the Russian people.

When the history of this era is written, it will show that Putin’s choice to launch an unprovoked, unjust, and premeditated attack left the West more unified and Russia exponentially weaker.

United in Our Response

This will not end well for Vladimir Putin.  Together, the United States and our Allies and partners are taking action to hold Russia accountable.  As a result of unprecedented global sanctions coordination, the United States, the United Kingdom, the European Union, Japan, and Canada have removed selected Russian banks from the SWIFT messaging system and imposed restrictive measures on the Russian Central Bank.

President Biden announced sweeping financial sanctions and stringent export controls that will damage Russia’s economy, financial system, and access to cutting-edge technology.  After Putin began his invasion, the ruble hit its weakest point in history, and the Russian stock market plunged.

Along with the United Kingdom and European Union, the United States imposed sanctions on the architects of this war, including Putin himself.

By moving in close coordination with a powerful coalition of Allies and partners representing more than half of the global economy, we have magnified the impact of our actions to impose maximum costs on Putin and his regime.  In response to Putin’s war of choice, we will limit Russia’s ability to do business in U.S. dollars.

We will stunt Russia’s ability to finance and grow its military.  We will impair Russia’s ability to compete in the global economy.  And we are prepared to do more.

In addition to economic penalties, this week President Biden authorized an additional $1 billion over the $350 million of security assistance he recently approved, and a $650 million in 2021, to immediately help Ukraine defend itself, bringing America’s total security assistance to Ukraine over the past year to $2 billion.

We also stand ready to defend our NATO Allies.  President Biden has coordinated with Allied governments to position thousands of additional forces in Germany and Poland as part of our commitment to NATO’s collective defense.

He authorized the deployment of ground and air forces already stationed in Europe to NATO’s eastern and southeastern flanks:  Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, and Romania.  Our Allies have also added their own forces and capabilities to ensure our collective defense.  There should be no doubt about the readiness of the greatest military Alliance in the history of the world:  NATO is more united than ever.

The United States has also coordinated with major oil-producing and consuming countries to underscore our common interest in securing global energy supplies.  We are working with energy companies to surge their capacity to supply energy to the market, particularly as prices increase.

Putin’s Unprovoked and Premeditated War

This was an attack that Vladimir Putin has planned for a long time.  He methodically moved more than 150,000 troops and military equipment to Ukraine’s border.  He moved blood supplies into position and built field hospitals, demonstrating his intentions all along.

He rejected every good-faith effort by the United States and our Allies and partners to address his fabricated security concerns and to avoid needless conflict and human suffering by engaging in diplomacy and dialogue.

Putin executed his playbook exactly as we had warned he would do.  We saw Russia’s proxies increase their shelling in the Donbas.  We saw the Russian government launch cyber-operations against Ukraine.  We saw staged political theater in Moscow and heard outlandish and baseless claims made about Ukraine in an attempt to justify Russia’s aggression.

Russia continues to justify its military aggression by falsely claiming the need to stop “genocide” in Ukraine – despite there being no evidence that genocide was occurring there.  We saw Russia use these tactics before when they invaded Ukraine in 2014 and Georgia in 2008.

And then, at almost the very same moment the United Nations Security Council was meeting to stand up for Ukraine’s sovereignty and forestall disaster, Putin launched his invasion in violation of international law.  Missiles began to rain down, striking historic cities across Ukraine.  Then came air raids, columns of tanks, and battalions of troops, all riding a renewed wave of disinformation and outright lies.

We have been transparent with the world.  We declassified our intelligence about Russia’s plans so there could be no confusion and no cover up.  Putin is the aggressor.  Putin chose this war.  And now his people will bear the consequences of his decision to invest in war rather than in them.

Transatlantic Unity and Resolve Stronger Than Ever

Putin’s goal of dividing the West has failed.  In the face of one of the most significant challenges to European security and democratic ideals since World War II, the United States and our Allies and partners have joined together in solidarity.  We have united, coordinating intensively to engage as one with Russia and Ukraine, provided assistance to Ukraine, developed a broad response, and reaffirmed our commitment to NATO.

Putin has failed to divide us.  Putin has failed to undermine our shared belief in the fundamental right of sovereign nations to choose their destiny and their allies.  And Putin will fail to erase the proud nation of Ukraine.

The next few days, weeks, and months will be incredibly difficult for the people of Ukraine.  Putin has unleashed great suffering on them.  But the Ukrainian people have known 30 years of independence, and they have repeatedly shown they will not tolerate anyone who tries to take their country backwards.

The world is watching this conflict closely, and if Russian forces commit atrocities, we will explore all international mechanisms that could be used to bring those responsible – whether members of the military or their civilian leadership – to account.

Putin’s aggression against Ukraine will cost Russia profoundly, both economically and strategically.  The Russian people deserve better from their government than the immense cost to their future that this invasion has precipitated.

Liberty, democracy, and human dignity are forces far more powerful than fear and oppression.  In the contest between democracy and autocracy, between sovereignty and subjugation, make no mistake:  Freedom will prevail.

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