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There is no Democracy under Capitalism

Some people associate democracy with the Western world. However, the truth is that Western countries which are under capitalism are not as democratic as they want the rest of the world to believe. We are fully aware that Europe was once ruled by Kings and Princes (Dikgosi le Dikgosana) like Africa.

The stages of mode of production evolved from communalism via feudalism to capitalism and evolved via socialism to communism. This is the law of nature and that is how dialectical materialism works. Capitalism is not the first and the last stage of mode of production.

The questions that need to be answered are what capitalism is and what democracy is and whether they work hand in hand or not.  
Capitalism by definition is an economic system whereby means of production are owned by private organizations or corporations.

The decision, prices, production of goods and services are determined mainly by manipulative competition in a free market. In other words goods and services are not necessarily produced because people need them, but are produced because some people want to make money, so they have to create the market for their goods and services more especially at the expense of the peasants and the proletarians.

In order for the environment to be conducive for free market, which in reality is free exploitation, the capitalists make sure that they control those in political power. 

In other words the political parties in the U.S.A. and other Western countries are sponsored by multinational corporations. These multinational corporations are operating freely in Africa and support pro-neocolonialist political parties or regimes. 

Those anti-neocolonialist political parties or regimes are labeled undemocratic. The so called pro-democracy and human rights organizations are nothing but created mainly to make sure that capitalism survive longer than its natural life span. I was shocked to the marrow when I heard the USA secretary of state John Kerry on CNN saying that the Egyptian army had removed President Morsi in order to restore democracy in Egypt.

President Morsi was the first civilian democratically elected President of Egypt in many years. What the CIA did was buy airtime for thousand Egyptians and told them to go to the street of Cairo and demonstrate against President Morsi, which was enough for the army to stage a coup so that the generals can come back to power. And John Kerry shamelessly called the exercise democracy!

Then there is the case of Burundi. After a bloody civil war, the people of Burundi came to peaceful settlement and agreed that there will be a new constitution. The new Burundi constitution states, clearly that there will be a transitional government for five years and all winning political parties will share power.

After five years when the country will be stabilized, there shall be elections and the elected president will serve for two terms. After the transitional period all the political parties stood for elections, Nkurunziza and his party won the elections. Remember they had two Vice Presidents from other parties. This year when he wanted to stand for elections for the second time as stated in the constitution, it was said that he was violating the constitution.

Two terms in office is not a guarantee for democracy. What did Botswana gain after the introduction of the two terms, Botswana performed better than before the two term system! Both Sir Seretse Khama and Sir Ketumile Masire served this country better that the two term Presidents.

What we want in Africa is free and fair elections not terms. Why can`t they have two terms in Britain and France and many other countries in Europe? Two terms or not, as long as multinational corporations control our leaders we cannot have democracy and be free in Africa.

Obama went on record saying Africa doesn`t need strong men but strong institutions, and when he made this statement, some African leaders applauded him, without asking him a simple question: “who controls these institutions Mr. Obama?” Mr. Obama is fully aware that those institutions will be controlled by the U.S.A. through its secret agent- the CIA.

Institutions like UN, SADC and others are funded by Americans and CIA, controlling the minds of those running the institutions, just like how the minds of some African leaders are taken over the moment they win elections! The decisions to run countries are made in Washington DC, London and Paris! This is the African tragedy.

There is no democracy even in America as Sharon Delgodo explains: Abraham Lincoln defines democracy as “government of the people by the people for the people! But because corporations in the United States now have money power to influence American government than the people do, it could be said that in America they have a government of, by and for corporations. That is the American system of corporate rule.

The American corporations manufacture weapons, for example  and these weapons need to  be  sold, American government  will create  conflict  in  the world  in order  to sell  American  arms of war. Nobody will bother telling you where ISIS, Boko HARAM and many others get their weapons from.

Surely not from Russia and China! If it was so, we could have long been told that Russia and China are arming terrorists. We are fully aware that the colour revolutions in East Europe is nothing but coups masterminded by CIA in order to sell American arms to Europe.

The war in Syria, Yemen and Iraq are there so that American corporations make profit from cheap oil, cheap gas, and expensive weapons. Due to the fact that economic-political education in Africa is a taboo most of our leaders including neo-colonists trained intellectuals are not well informed about economic geopolitics of the world.

It is capitalism which creates institutions. Institutions are created to enhance life, but an institution can take on life of its own, so that its primary purpose becomes mainly its own survival, growth, and extension of power. When this happens people are dehumanized.

They become like cogs in a machine serving the needs of the institution, rather than institutions serving the needs of living beings. With transnational corporations this problem is compounded. Though corporate charters are supposedly granted for public goods, in practice the primary purpose for which cooperation exists is to generate profit for their shareholders.

Their survival and extension of power depend on their generation of wealth. This is generally and legally more important to a corporation than well-being of its workers, consumers, the communities in which it operates, the general public or the earth itself. Democracy is about serving the people while capitalism is about making profit, and you cannot serve the people and make profit at the same time, so capitalism serves to dilute or kill democracy in order to survive.

According to Merriam Webster; Collegiate Dictionary, democracy is defined as, “a government in which the supreme power is vested in the people and exercised by them directly or indirectly through a system of representation usually involving periodically held free election.”

You cannot say the supreme power in America is vested in the people. In 2000 for example the general election results were decided by the Supreme Court which was controlled by the Republican Party. The majority of the Americans voted for Al Gore but those with more judges won the case. In Botswana you cannot say the supreme power is vested in the people and exercised by the people.

The supreme power is vested in the supreme leader who is given those powers by the national constitution. In my view from party level to council and parliament, people must have a sense of exercising their rights not only to vote but to make sure that they contribute to decision making. No one person can make decisions on behalf of others either at party or national level.

The power of the people can only be seen if they are involved in the decision making process under true democracy, the task of leadership is to implement the decision of the majority not to make decisions for the majority and the majority implement the decision of the supreme leader. However a capable leader has to inspire the people he or she leads so that together they own the decision. Nobody has the monopoly of wisdom or intelligence. 

We are gifted or talented differently. The difference is how these talents have been developed. This is so because intelligence depends on two major factors namely heredity and environment, where you went to school and who taught you also plays a very important part in your life, but the bottom line is that we are all talented.

Someone might be good in art, one science, the other in mathematics. And the musician cannot say to the lawyer because you cannot sing you are stupid or vice-versa. My point is that democracy involves collective decision making. A true leader inspires the people he or she leads but she or he is also inspired by the people he or she leads.

It is the people who energize the leader. For this to happen, the people must be empowered. Proper education will enable people to make proper decisions. A leader who is a product of the people will be confident to carry out decisions without any fear or prejudices.

We as Africans ought to be fully aware of the economic system we choose to follow as it will surely determine how democratic our societies will be. Most Africans don’t have capital as Nyerere has pointed out. This means the capitalists will come from outside and influence of our governments, our political parties, in the end how we live and behave as Africans.

In order to avoid this, African governments must make political party funding a requirement. This is so because those who fund our political parties will have influence on how political parties formulate their national polices, secondly African governments must encourage and support local investments.

The so called foreign investment is nothing else but enslavement dressed in a different coat. The sole motive for investors, capitalists is to make profit as much as they can. In Botswana we need participatory democracy, where by people from grass route decide what they want in their village or district. Government (mananeo a puso) has failed because they are formulated by people who do not know the Batswana way of life.

You cannot introduce something you have seen working in Singapore and think it will work in Botswana. In my view our leaders and people live in different worlds. Until when our people produce their own leaders, not those imposed on them we shall remain poor in a country full of everything.

It is a tragedy that in a country where some are seen driving big cars many have no water to drink. But that does not surprise some of us because that is how capitalism works. The regime in Gaborone has achieved one big thing, to create a class society in Botswana.

And we should not be surprised when they are given awards or honors because they have done extremely well for their masters in London, Washington DC and Beijing. But one day they will be answerable for selling Botswana for a cup of tea!

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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 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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The Big Deal About Piracy

21st June 2022

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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Our Strength is our Unity

18th March 2022

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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