Makers, translators, interpreters or misinterpreters of the law? Part 1
Row has erupted in the country (Botswana) when, on the 26th of September 2015, His Excellency, the President Ian Khama, suspended the quartet of Judges on allegations of having concurrently occupied government houses and undeservedly received accommodation allowances for a considerable period of time.
Suggestions from some quarters are that there is need to make arrangements to pay back the money as the matter is purely administrative and a mere blunder on the part of the staff at the department of Administration Of Justice. In that sense, to borrow Shakespeare‘s words, the judges are more sinned against than sinning’ (‘King Lear’ Act 5 scene 2 lines 57 – 60).
Begging to differ, other people are of the opinion that this anomaly is nothing but a tip of the proverbial iceberg of what is happening behind the scenes within the judiciary and therefore contend that nothing short of a deterrent measure will right this wrong.
But what does the constitution say about that development?
Section 97 of the Botswana Constitution provides for grounds and procedures to be followed religiously for the removal of judges of the High Court
‘A judge of the High Court may (and not shall) be removed from office only for inability to perform the functions of his or her office (whether arising from infirmity of the body or mind or any other cause or for misbehavior, and shall not be so removed except in accordance with the provisions of this section’ (subsection 2) and subsection 3 reads;
‘If the President considers that the question of removing a judge of the High Court under this section ought to be investigated then
(a) He or she shall appoint a tribunal which shall consist of a Chairman and not less than two other members, who hold or have held high judicial office
(b)the tribunal shall enquire into the matter and report on the facts thereof to the President and advise the President whether the judge ought to be removed from office under this section for inability as aforesaid or for misbehavior’
Subsection 4 provides that if the tribunal advises the President to remove the judge concerned he (the President) shall dismiss that judge.
As can be seen, the wording of the constitution is quite clear but what differs is the interpretation and that is the center of the debate. For example, what is misbehavior? And how can it be quantified? Unfortunately, the constitution does not have the interpretation section to define the word and it will be up to the Judges, and not President, to decide the meaning, using their own viewstandards given the value-laden or normative nature of the concept. But why this panic given that section 10 of our constitution presumes everyone innocent till proven guilty?.
This writer‘s interest lies not in the debate on whether or not His Excellency has acted ultra-vires the Constitution but on: who really makes the law, the politician or judge? Are judges translators, interpreters or mis-interpreters of the law? Before addressing these emotive questions we need to refresh our minds by getting into the bible and then link our discoveries to the topic in question.
When Jesus Christ was rejected at Nazareth,’ he could not do mighty works—because of people ‘s unbelief” This is Mark ,the evangelist, ‘s version (Mark 6:5).
After having noted that this presentation was not only unintelligible and absurd but was bound to leave a sour taste in the mouths of the early Christian community, Matthew sugar-coated it to read ‘— He could not do many mighty works—‘(Matthew 13:58).
It is in this context that Matthew is regarded a modified version of Mark whose language was rough and ready and riddled with grammatical slips and peculiar construction of various description .In the process, he ended up confusing both the reader and himself due to his failure to put himself across effectively.
As can be seen, Matthew ended up totally changing the complexion of Mark’s story through the insertion of the word ‘many’. Judges have similar powers, as we shall realise. In a related development ,Mark portrays James and John ,the sons of Zebedee ,as very ambitious people who went to Jesus demanding for the lion ‘s share in the kingdom of God (Mark 10:35-45)but Matthew exonerates them by saying it was their mother who did so(Matthew 20:20-28).
The two separate occasions by Mark reflect the weak or dark side of both our Lord, Jesus Christ Himself, and two of his inner circle disciples, the former succumbing to anger while the latter are over-ambitious. No doubt, at the back of his mind, Mark did not intend to bring about this result but due to lack of education and stunted intellectual and linguistic prowess, he unwittingly produced that effect.
When interpreting statutes judges often encounter problems of this sort and are forced to invoke the above Matthew- an approach. Students of statutory interpretation, I am sure, would recall terms ‘laps us linguae’ or ‘scrivener‘s error’ meaning ‘slip of the tongue’.
What makes the situation worse is that the meanings of words are neither fixed nor final but vary according to the context in terms of time, culture etc. Just like the concepts deviance and beauty, which lie in the eyes of the beholder, the meaning of a word is influenceddetermined by what the reader would want it to mean.
I am sure that those into socio-linguistics would support my contention that words do not have meanings but we give meanings to words and words are just but symbols which represent phenomena. Also, words are a social convention which we use to express our thoughts. For example, a table could be something else but we call it such for convenience‘s sake.
This equally applies for what we write. As humans continue indulging in a social intercourse some words become obsolete while new ones come into picture and this is also influenced by the ever-changing socio-political, economic and environmental situation obtaining at any given time.
Do you still remember, for instance, the archaic Shakespearean or Chaucer‘s English? Also, do you remember how those with the poetic license can easily combine and recombine ,in a very unique way, ordinary words, into new expressions ,in as much the same way as man can combine and recombine objects into new devices?
The above scenario compares very well with the co-relationship between the legislators and the judges and, how through statutory interpretation, judges totally stray from what Parliament meant or wrote ,by creating sense into the legislature’s ‘nonsense’, and this leaves us doubting who between the two arms of government, the legislature or the judiciary, is the supreme law making body. This task naturally leads us to the doctrine of separation of powers which we briefly delve into.
The term Separation of powers, which was coined by Montesquieu, the French philosopher, is the formal division of the 3 arms of government in the following manner: structure, function and personnel. The issue of checks and balances is also an integral aspect of this concept. With regards to structure, we mean the 3 arms exist as distinct entities which cumulatively make up one (government).
As an illustration, Parliament (legislature) is distinct from the Executive and the Judiciary. In terms of personnel, a member of one arm of government should not double cross it with the other arms as in being a Member of Parliament, a judge and a member of the Executive at the same time.
Their functions (duties) are markedly different also: Parliament makes the law, which we call a statute or Act of Parliament such as the Employment Act, the Public Service Act or the Penal Code; the Judiciary interprets that law so that it becomes crystal clear while the Executive applies and enforces the law.
This concept ensures that there is specialization and specialization brings about operational efficiency and effectiveness. Again, following the adage power tends to corrupt and absolute power corrupts absolutely, we are trying to guard against a situation where power is concentrated in one bodyarm as it will be subject to abuse.
By checks and balances we mean one arm should act as a monitoring mechanism to check the abuse of power by the other arm. In political science we use the concept trias politicas doctrine for separation of powers and its antonym is fusion of powers.
The concept ‘fusion of powers’ is designed in such a way that the 3 arms do everything jointly as was the case with monarchs during primitive times: the king was lawmaker (legislature), interpreter (judiciary)and enforcer(executive).This was the also the case with the biblical Moses(Deuteronomy 16:18,numbers 18:13).We detailed this concept because it will be referred to ,more often than not , in the subsequent presentations.
Without getting into the heart of legalese, the law comes into being through the initiative of the politicians in both the legislature and Executive. Meaning through the hands –on- approach ,the Executive arm eg the Ministry of Education initiates a Bill (proposed law)governing that department and it is taken to the August House for debating.
If it succeeds the Bill becomes law and this becomes so after the Presidential Assent and subsequent publication in the Government Gazette. Of course, the Attorney General, who is the principal legal adviser to the Legislature, also plays a role since in most jurisdictions he is the ex-officio Member of Parliament. We also have the Parliamentary legal committee which, in my view, must consist of people with legal minds so that some loopholes in the Bill are detected early and rectified before it graduates into law.
As a monitoring mechanism again, the President, who is the embodiment of the constitution would not assent to a Bill that is ultra-vires the constitution. On that basis, one can safely conclude that it is Parliament, and not the judiciary, that makes the law.
When members of Parliament make the law it is not in their individual capacity but on behalf of the electorate and ,as such ,that law must prevail ,even if unreasonable? This is what democracy is all about! But is it really legislators who make the law?
When a case has found its way into court, the judges (courts) have the duty to apply that law in concrete situations and this is achieved through the interpretation of statutes.
In this exercise the court will be trying to deduce the meaning of a statute as worded in the text itself(textualism ); in principle ,maintain the message of that statute without attaching their own views (originalism);bring to light the intention of Parliament (intentionalism) plus unveil and advance the purpose the statute serves(purposivism).
These are the main theories of statutory interpretation: (textualism, intentionalism, originalism and purposivism).Whichever way one looks at it ,when members of Parliament makes a law they have an intention in mind.
The problems which arise are, inter alia,: has this intention achieved a certain purpose or objective as spelt out in the long title ,for example? Does the wording of the text really capture the intention of the legislators and does the interpretation accorded to the statute by the judges reflect originality when judged against that text?
Above all, which of these theories is most important? Most Judges hold the view that the purpose of the statute is more primary when compared with everything else and that both the text and legislators’ intention are secondary.
According to that reasoning the purpose is the end in itself while the text and intention are means to that end. A text is an expression of Parliament‘s intention and the intention is to bring about a purpose. If that intention does not yield desired results, judges must improve on it!. It makes sense!
Yes if the text is comprehensive (ble) and lays bare the meaning, that will be a good starting point and it is advantageous because information will be in its virgin state. The next stage is whether or not it brings to light the intention of parliament .If not then the text needs modification.
Suppose it does bring the intention but does not advance its (text) purpose? Again there will be a need to do something onabout the text. What will be the importance of having a statute that does not serve a purpose? That being the case, courts will be acting as a catalyst to achieve parliament‘s purpose.
The word intention, per se, means knowledge plus, and not or, the will. The ‘knowledge’ is the knowledge of the act itself while ‘will’ refers to the desire ,wish or want .If either of these elements is missing then there is no intention to talk about.
It is a fact that ,unlike judges ,most legislators are misinformed about on certain legal issues(knowledge) ,though they might have the zeal to bring about a particular result (will).In this case the ‘will’ is there but ,alas, minus the knowledge.
The learned judges ,who are experts at that field ,therefore become handy in helping the legislators bring about their purpose if ,for instance ,they suspect that the politicians are were not aware that what they wanted to bring about wasis against other provisions or aspects of our law.
What is interpretation, as opposed to translation? To interpret is to form an opinion from given facts or deduce the implication of what someone says. Translation, on the other hand, refers to merely reducing or converting one language into another eg from Setswana to English.
For example, preachers in Church are involved in interpretation of the ‘word ‘and people usually get locked up in disputes over an interpretation of the same words in the bible.(At times ,however, translation is involved if the bible has been written in a foreign language).
In the same vein, judges are always arguing over the interpretation ,and not translation, of a statutory provision, as we saw above. On that basis ,it is actually a misnomer ,if not a mischievous misrepresentation of the facts, to refer the court personnel in charge of converting one language into another to as court interpreters but, instead, translators.
If they were interpreters what would be the duty of the court? It is for the same reason that even witnesses are not allowed to interpret but simply state the facts as they are without forming an opinion! Judges give meanings to written words presented to them by Parliament through an Act.
Unfortunately ,as alluded to elsewhere, the authors of that document are mostly laypersons who do not have the slightest idea about the characteristics of a good law and are not even available in court to clarify what they meant .In the light of a lapse of time all the authors of that statute might be dead ,just like Shakespeare must be turning in his grave and mourning as he hears in his spiritual ear mis-readers or mis-interpreters of his writings. Tragic as it sounds, he cannot do anything to change it.
Tough luck again, because in any society that lays claim to the espousal of democracy, everyone, and judges included, is entitled to his own opinion, whether bad or good. As noted above, judges are not translators but interpreters of the law.
We must have noted that in the process of interpreting statutes, judges employ various tools or aids, both intrinsic and extrinsic. Intrinsic ones are those within the statute itself such as the long and short titles, headings and the preamble.
Those outside the text are the extrinsic aids and they include the historical background surrounding that statute eg if it was crafted against the background of Apartheid.
This information could be drawn from textbooks and other pieces of literature. Dictionaries could also be referred to and even the Hansard. Judges also make use of cannons, maximums, and presumptions and, of course, the rules of interpretation which are the Literal, Golden and Mischief rules.
In a word, this article defined the concepts separation of powers, translation and interpretation of statutes and concluded that it is, on the face of it, Parliament which is the supreme law making body.
We also realized that it is only the court (judges) which has the powers to interpret, and not translate, the law since we have court personnel that is involved in the translation. We managed to browse through possible reasons why the interpreter (judge) might give words a different meaning from what a writer (Parliament) intended.
Next week we shall get into the rules of interpretation and see how judges depart from what Parliament intended and, in the process, make their own laws, laws never envisaged by the legislature, or misinterpret the law either deliberately or by accident. Deliberately — as a necessary evil in order to either help bring to light Parliament‘s intention or help achieve the Act‘s purpose. In the oncoming epistle, again, we shall also try to map the best way forward.
See part 2 of this discussion next week.
KUNGWENGWE –MAN-IA RETURNS (KUNGWENGWE CHARLES STAR) Email: firstname.lastname@example.org email@example.com
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.
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?
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.