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Was Kgosi Kgafela II victimised?

“A people who free themselves from foreign domination will be free culturally only if they return to the upward paths of their own culture; this culture is nourished by the living reality of its environment and it negates both harmful influences and any kind of subjugation to foreign culture” – Return to the Source by Amilca Cabral, slain Guinea Bissau scholar and activist.

It was inevitable that the dichotomy between Western values (represented by the national constitution) and indigenous Afrikan values would result in a clash between the two. The trial of Kgosi Kgafela II a few years back over the flogging of some wayward elements in Kgatleng epitomised this clash. The charges against Kgosi Kgafela are premised on the constitution.

It is a constitution that was not crafted by the people of this country, nor was the decision that the country should be a republic taken by us, as no referendum was ever held to decide on these matters. Without the consent of citizens, the constitution replaced the indigenous value system with an alien one.  Whereas the Afrikan value system gives precedence to collective rights over individual rights, the constitution emphasises the latter.

There is a simple rationale for the elevation of societal values over individual rights by Afrikans. At the current level of development, few individuals can do without the support of the communities they reside within. For the community to discharge this responsibility and continuously enhance its ability to develop, it is paramount that it should consistently function in a stable manner without undue disruptions. And this can only take place within a framework that consists of a set of rules that regulate the behaviour and conduct of individual members of the community or society and how they relate to each other.

When individuals respect and uphold the values of their society, they are in effect respecting each individual who resides in that particular society. With this set up there is little chance of the rights of an individual being trampled upon, and there is therefore no need to elevate individual rights over the values of the collective.

Over time though, as societies advance economically with more individuals becoming economically independent (and the state’s ability to take care of the marginalised enhanced), individual rights may begin to take precedence over societal values. However, the change must be gradual and evolve from within and not forced on people by predatory external forces. If change is forced from outside, the alien values will be out of synch with the expectations of indigenous people, leading to social instability, which manifests itself at the family level first.

Our Western-crafted constitution introduced alien values to the citizenry. Primarily, it imposed on people a system of governance that dispensed with the traditional leadership that had hitherto served the people extremely well. The imposition of Western values (e.g., gender equality) on Afrikans has got nothing to do with the West loving us or liberating Afrikan women as some misguided Afrikans like to deceive themselves, but everything to do with the West’s desire to destabilise and weaken Afrikan societies to a point where acts of economic exploitation by the West are welcome and viewed as gestures of unparalleled compassion.

It was not for nothing that, when crafting our constitution the British stripped traditional leaders of their powers. They replaced them with politicians that they can manipulate at will. Traditional leaders are groomed from an early age to advance the interest of their communities and are therefore less likely to betray them. On the other hand, self-interest drives politicians.

Western values have brought Afrikans nothing but anarchy and misery: man is pitied against his woman and parent against child; widespread fatherlessness; murder-suicides; disrespect for the elderly; alcoholism; child neglect; the list is endless. Had our constitution and the judiciary system been home grown, our society wouldn’t be in such a mess. And since we obviously cannot turn to the very same system that brought about this chaotic situation in the first place, our only hope in normalising the situation lies with indigenous solutions.

It was not for personal gain or enjoyment that Kgosi Kgafela ordered the flogging of some of his wayward subjects; he was merely implementing what was desired by Bakgatla. The sensational and grossly unbalanced manner with which the media covered the matter was unfortunate as it left very little room for a sober reflection on the matter. Incidentally, the media was still hounding him after his forced relocation to South Africa.

Pussy footing around indiscipline cannot bring results. We have had our Western judicial system but we have nothing to show for it. If anything, things are increasingly getting worse, which, in fact, prompted President Ian Khama to set up a task force in 2008 led by Kgosi Puso Gaborone to identify measures to turn the situation around. The appointment of a traditional leader to head the task force was a tacit indictment of the Western value system and an admission by the president of a REPUBLIC that the indigenous value system is after all our best bet in ensuring stability and restoring morality in society.

Indeed, the course of action that was recommended by the task force gives traditional leaders a significant role to play in dealing with the moral decay. It was against this backdrop that Kgosi Kgafela and Bakgatla did what they did. In other words, the actions of none other than the president himself encouraged the events that took place in Kgatleng.

Given the rampant indiscipline in our society, Kgosi Kgafela and Bakgatla knew that the principle of due process as dictated by an imposed alien judicial system will not yield any discernible results. In order to tackle the threat to social stability in Kgatleng, they decided to temporarily suspend individual rights for the good of the whole.

This is the same principle that applies at the national level during a state of emergency, whereby civil liberties are drastically curtailed and the president rules by decree when national security is under threat, as provided for in the constitution. Unfortunately, having been stripped of their powers, the same privilege is not extended to traditional leaders.

For Kgosi Kgafela and Bakgatla to do something about the moral decay in their community meant contravening imposed Western laws. But doing nothing about the situation was unacceptable. Kgabo and his subjects were caught between the proverbial rock and a hard place. And given the outcry from Bakgatla over the wayward conduct of some of the tribesmen, doing nothing was not an option open to Kgosi Kgafela.

Kgosi Kgafela had to act; his people demanded it, even if it meant breaking Western laws. Otherwise what would have been the point of being Kgosi in the first place if he did not come to the aid of his people? To take no action would have been a gross dereliction of duty. And to equip him with the necessary tools to deal with the situation, the tribe tacitly gave him powers to dispense with due process. Mephato were revived to mete out swift justice. And as in any war situation there was collateral damage.

In a nutshell, the Bakgatla tribe ordered their Kgosikgolo to flog the ill-disciplined into the straight and narrow; in turn, he ordered his law enforcers (mephato) to dispense the flogging. Kgosi Kgafela is on trial only because he ordered the flogging, not because he flogged anyone. Since it was the tribe that had directed him to use flogging to deal with wayward behaviour, it therefore follows that the tribe should also face the same charges that their Kgosikgolo is facing, otherwise the court case amounts to a miscarriage of justice and the victimisation of Kgabo. He was merely following the orders of his tribesmen.

bugaloc@gmail.com

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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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