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Building Botswana through right Education


Well, the year just ended was a momentous year that will be remembered for more wrongs than good that happened in the country. The invigorating election campaigns by our three political parties with the results that surprised some and left many seriously wounded across the political divide was one of the highlights that merit some comment.


Some disturbing features of the election included some leaders instead of engaging their opponents on issues, chose to be vicious and personal in a manner that left many wondering as to where we were headed to as a nation.  Some even talked of war and instability that will happen if opponents were to win the elections. 

Immediately after the election results, instead of party leaders and activists burying the hatchet and congratulating the winners, another round of war of words ensued to try to discredit some ‘winners’. The social media, the print media and the freedom squares became the battlegrounds for mud slinging and insults instead of them becoming plough fields for planting developmental ideas to build the country going forward.


As we start the year we must say no to insults and unnecessary self praise that some have found to be useful tools for silencing those who do not agree with them. Remember self praise has no commendation. Some would say it is only acceptable when used by entertainers, comedians or clowns. Generally those who use derogatory language do so to hide their ignorance and or to hide from some self inflicted pain mostly emanating from malicious or untruthful statements made in public by perpetrators and their cronies.

No one has the monopoly of knowledge. We must be willing to live and learn from one another regardless of our educational background or political inclinations.  I urge all our politicians to engage positively to address pertinent national issues that continue to bedevil our republic, thus limiting our ability to attain the level of development we deserve. 

We have lots of issues to address, ranging from education, employment creation,  agriculture and food security, land availability, industrialisation, health care, tourism, sports, entertainment, the performing arts, including our electoral system that has managed to allow the minority to be the majority in the last general elections. This system yearns for a review by our parliament, don’t you think?  With this long list we should all be searching frantically for solutions rather than engaged in unproductive negative talk in public forums.


My intention this year is to continue to share, probe and ‘nudge’ with a view to stimulate debate and perhaps contribute my ‘pennies worth’ in shaping the way forward towards 2019 and beyond. We must accept that this country needs significant change to become a modern country that can compete with the very best in the world. There is no reason why we cannot strive to be the best.

There is no reason why we cannot be globally competitive. We must start by accepting that we need to change our attitudes; that we need to start cleansing our governance practices; that we must continue to expose and isolate corruption in all its manifestations and that we must promote best practices in all spheres of our personal and public lives.

Those who continue to benefit from corrupt practices and continue to steal from public coffers by whatever means must know that the people are watching; one day they will be asked to account and may face relentless raging wrath of undefined magnitude from the people.


Let me go into my topic of today. I want to begin the year by talking about education, appropriate education I must emphasise. I believe appropriate education is the cornerstone that will anchor any significant development in any country.  It is through appropriate education that we can become the best that we can be. I want to assert that everything we do as a nation is as good as the education we have given to our people. As the global village mantra becomes even more virulent, countries with substandard educational practices and poor governance practices will be found wanting. They will be rejected or left behind; even well meaning citizens will leave their country for better pastures elsewhere.


What is education? There is no single or simple definition. What is true though is that education is not defined only in terms of the number of years of schooling and the fluency in English as many people in this country seem to believe but more importantly it is defined in terms of the practical and usable skills and practices that are acquired during the schooling years.

This is what I would term appropriate education. Appropriate education must equip the recipient to be industry ready on completion of the chosen line of education, whether in teaching, whether in manufacturing, whether in mining, whether in agriculture, whether in tourism, whether in journalism, whether in whatever field! Imagine a medical Doctor who completes his medical studies without any practical skills! I do not even want to imagine what kind of doctor this will be.

I am sure none of us would like to be seen by such a doctor for medical care.  I believe that’s why doctors spend seven years or so training before they can practice. It is a legal and professional requirement.  In the military, would you expect our military men to get some classroom theoretical education and then send them to the battle field to defend our country? Would you? Why do we then expect people in other professions to be given classroom schooling and then expect them to practice as engineers, lecturers, artisans, accountants, human resources practitioners, managers etc?  Why?


Our education since independence has been described by industry, general public and the opposition parties as both inadequate and inappropriate to meet our developmental and business needs. Although our government has also acknowledged this anomaly, addressing this inadequacy seems to be a serious challenge. Some say, it is due to lack of political will.  This maybe somewhat true, but perhaps it is mainly due to lack of deep appreciation of the root causes of this inadequacy.

With all the best political will in the world, can meaningfully transformation of our education system be effected without a deep appreciation of what is wrong and what is causing that which is wrong?  Therefore, there is perhaps a need to unpack the pertinent educational issues so that we can begin to understand what makes our education what it is.  


Someone long ago defined education ‘as a process by which a person begins to learn how to learn’. This sounds like the truth to me. Without understanding the need to learn, one can never learn. Once this understanding is instilled in the individual then learning will be easier and continuous. Education is a never ending process. It does not end when one receives a certificate; the certificate is just the beginning that opens the door for real life learning to start.


Education is officially defined as schooling, teaching, learning, tutoring, instruction, edification and culture. Real education must have all these seven elements to produce a well rounded person who is ready to conquer the world on acquiring this education.

Culture is very important; it is the way of life, the way we do things here, the way we behave here, the way we talk to each other here, the way we work here; basically our work ethics. Without the right culture the work relations and the business suffer.

This is a fact that we do not seem to appreciate as a nation.  Instruction; being instructed and taking instruction are things we often take for granted but this has to be taught during the schooling years, can you succeed in any industry if you are unable to take instructions? Tutoring implies an element of training to horn on specific skills needed; all jobs require specific skills to be learned. 

Learning implies owning the knowledge you have acquired. Once you are well taught the knowledge becomes yours forever. Edification is all these things bundled together.  In our current education system, we emphasise the number of years of schooling and the number of certificates acquired. The result is what we see. Quality and relevance are more important features of any education.


If the education we provide defines the kind of country we desire, then we must define the education that will move us towards being the best destination as pronounced by our national motto or tagline ‘Botswana my pride, your destination’. If we want to build a world class educational system we need to first define what a world class educational system is and what it will do for us.

What are the ingredients of a world class education system? The educator from preschool to tertiary must be well educated, well resourced, well supported, well paid and well motivated.  Without these elements forget about world class education. It is the educators that we must entrust to provide this world class education.


An educator at university, at technical/professional school, at a secondary school, at a primary school, at a preschool must be well educated from both a theoretical and practical point of view. They must possess a certificate that shows that they have acquired enough appropriate theoretical knowledge and a certificate of competency that shows that the individual has acquired enough practical skills to be able to impart knowledge to the recipients.

Despite, the fact that we are talking of educators, we must acknowledge that the education of these people is different and must be appropriate to the area of education they provide. For example, a pre school teacher education cannot be the same as that of a university lecturer.

Both the theory and practice are very different. What is mostly missing in our education is the practical side as alluded to earlier. Practical learning most invariably come from existing institutions, not only nationally but internationally if we want to be global competitive.

University lectures train their student for the world of work and they must have practical knowledge about the world of work. They must have worked in industry to have the practical skills to impart to their students. The students must also be exposed to industry as part of their studies. This is crucial for an effective and complete education.


However, a well educated educator/teacher is not enough; the teacher must be well resourced with a decent classroom, relevant teaching aids and books; a library and computer room for research and continuous learning. Teaching under a tree will not produce the results we desire. The students must also be willing and hungry to learn.

They must be consequences that are clearly defined for both the teacher and the student if learning is not happening as required. The student must also be given appropriate roles to play in helping to run the school. The parent must play a significant role in the school to support the teacher, to support the school and to support the child. The school becomes a second home for the child and the teacher becomes the second parent to the child.  


In addition, they must be a supportive environment for the teacher and the school. The school management must be visible and approachable to the teacher. They must ensure that all her/his teaching and social requirements are recognised and supported. The school buildings and facilities must be regularly maintained. 

The maintenance resources need to be provided and managed by the school to ensure that a clean and conducive learning environment is availed always. Management of schools must be decentralised with the central governing body providing the necessary oversight to ensure compliance with general standards.

The schools must be given autonomy to be innovative and to be creative. More importantly they should be encouraged and a given budgetary provision to compete with other schools nationally, regionally and internationally.


The above will not be enough. A teacher must be well paid with a salary package that is commensurate with our expectation of a globally competitive teacher. There is no reason why our teachers should be paid less than their counterparts in industry or across the border. We must benchmark and find the right package that will keep our teachers motivated to provide the best education for our children.  We need to have ‘win – win’ relationships for success in this area.


Having described the educator we need, we need to define the human resources we need to produce? We want teachers, we want technicians, we want artisans, we want accountants, we want business specialists, we want builders, we want road engineers, we want computer specialists, we want water and electricity engineers, we want all the human resources that support our economy; we want people to support our hospitality industries; we want a lot of different specialisations.

Those entrusted with the management of our education must systematically and holistically look at all our human resources needs including sporting, music, and the performing arts and design a well researched and matching educational system.


These are not new concepts. The first world and the developing world have already developed and defined appropriate educational systems. We do not need to reinvent the wheel. We need to be smart like the Chinese, the Singaporeans, the Brazilians, and the Japanese etc. We need to adopt and adapt to survive. We should not waste our resources doings things that have already been done by others.


In closing let me give an example of a failure that I believe was a result of our poor educational system. BEDIA was formed with good intentions of bringing direct foreign investment in our country. If we are honest with ourselves we will acknowledge that we have invested millions of our hard earned money into bottomless pits in our effort to attract this allusive direct foreign investment through BEDIA now BITC. There are a number of reasons why we have not attracted the investment we wished for.

The reasons include among others poor infrastructure, poor governance processes, poor services, inadequately trained human resources. Chief amongst these will be inadequately trained human resources as this will not only impact directly on the business itself, but it will also impact on the other inadequacies that we continue to battle with.


Hyundai Motor Manufacturing Company was established in Botswana in 1992 and folded around 2001. Why? I really do not know but I have a good idea. The official reason you normally get for such failures is never the real reason.  Hyundai is a car manufacturing company from South Korea with manufacturing bases outside of South Korea including Brazil, China, the Czech Republic, India, Russia, Turkey and the U.S. amongst others. 

There is a US$1.7 billion assembly and manufacturing plant in Alabama in the USA which employs over 3000 people who are responsible for bringing to life all the Hyundai modern car designs to the American market and beyond. 

This is a significant investment in one factory.  I do not know how much Hyundai had invested in Botswana. However, the reason they left would have been an unattractive business environment punctuated by poor infrastructure, poor services, unfriendly regulations, unkind processes and so forth. We lost a golden opportunity to be an exporter of the Hyundai dream cars. Whether we like it or not, the chief reason for failure would have been poorly trained human resources. This would never have been given as an official reason; you will only hear about it in the corridors and within closed doors.


A car manufacturing factory is a highly specialised industry that requires diverse skills.  You will need automobile engineers in the electrical and electronic field, mechanical engineers specialising on car manufacturing, specialised welders and painters, computer specialists, designers, planners, accountants, marketing specialists, human resources practitioners etc.

These specialists must understand the uniqueness and intricacies of the motor industry. Have we trained these people and are they available for us to start or support an automobile industry? No. Are you surprised then that the Hyundai car assembly factory failed?


If a foreign company has to rely on foreign experts in large numbers to start a business, they will be significant cost implications in bringing these experts, social implications, accommodation constraints, inadequate schooling for foreign children, industrial relations issues etc. These companies might be attracted by what they read and hear from the likes of BEDIA, but when they start operating here the reality on the ground is different and paining and many of them if not all will leave. Examples abound.


Therefore my take is that if you want a lasting direct foreign investment in car manufacturing industry you must first invest in appropriate education and training. Establish a car manufacturing academy to train your people in all areas of car design, manufacturing and maintenance. Some of these people will establish their own car manufacturing companies.

Some will find work in other companies, even abroad. When large companies want to invest in Botswana they will find ready made people in the country for their business. The foreign investor will only need to bring their core staff thus significantly increasing chances of success.


This example will apply to any areas you need foreign direct investment in the country.  Let us therefore work towards adopting an appropriate educational system that will produce well rounded individuals who will in turn promote best practices, unlock many doors for our prosperity and attract much needed international investment and expertise.


I hope these thoughts and insights are helpful.  Let us look forward to a more successful and more positive engagement as the year progresses.

Email: bernard.busani@ gmail.com Cell: 71751440

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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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Opinions

Kgafela’s Letter to Masisi

21st February 2022

9th December 2021
Dear Mr President.
RE: BOTSWANA CONSTITUTION REFORM – BAKGATLA BA KGAFELA POSITION

I hope this correspondence finds you well.

I would like to express my gratitude for the decisions you have made to open dialogue in Botswana leading towards Constitutional reform. We understand you have advanced a step ahead by appointing a Commissioner to lead the process. However, we must caution here that, ultimately, your government needs to pass legislation to legitimize and guide the Constitutional reform process. Otherwise, right thinking members of society all over see the futility of the exercise as presently constituted, and will not have confidence in your procedures. Nonetheless, you stand out as the first President of Botswana to take any tangible step towards constitutional reform. Whatever the outcome of the exercise may be, and whatever the motive, credit must accordingly be given where it is due. This much said about Botswana, we now turn to the main topic of this letter.

There are certain pertinent matters that we must make clear at the very beginning, and record our Bakgatla special requests to your Excellency. Whilst we Bakgatla Ba kgafela, and I (Kgafela ii) desire to experience a new future for Botswana, under a new constitution, our unique situation as Bakgatla requires recognition and special attention. The history of Bechuanaland – Botswana and Bakgatla from 1885-2021 is well documented. It is available in Prof Fred Morton’s book: When Rustling became an Art, my recent publication -The Last Frontier, Baloyi Judicial Commission of Inquiry Report of 2019, and the Lord Hailey Commission report. Lord Hailey stated in his report that: Bakgatla land belongs to Kgosi & his morafe. Her Majesty the Queen of England accepted that position in statutory title, which has not changed by lawful process to this date. All those statutes since 1899 (and Commissions of Inquiry reports) are as valid today as they were at the time of their promulgation/reporting. Even the Tribal Territories Act is still law in present day Botswana because it has not been repealed.

There is nothing in law and history to gainsay a glaring truth that:(a) Bakgatla Ba Kgafela are the lawful owners of Bakgatla Tribal Territory, as defined in the Tribal Territories Act and Her Majesty’s Proclamations; (b) Sir Seretse Kgama and BDP party expropriated our country in 1966, without consultation or agreement with Bakgatla; against international law, and against common & customary law concerning the taking of another’s property. Simultaneous with Seretse & BDP taking our country, they imposed a foreign system of human affairs called ‘western democracy’ or ‘multi-party democracy’ upon us in our country; yet again without consultation or agreement. That system has gradually deteriorated the quality of life for our people to the present day of total despair.

Bakgatla do not want to live under that system anymore, whatever name it goes by. We don’t want to be detained by its faults in our progress to the future. We want to rule ourselves in (our country) where we may practice and live our heritage without undue restrictions, including the heritage of being led by a Kgosikgolo (King), and not a politician. There is no logic in our people being driven to vote for a leader every five years, when we already have provably competent traditional leadership amongst us. This desire is consistent with international law (self- determination) and the law of property ownership.

In addition, we have ambitions of the future which may not necessarily coincide with ambitions of other Batswana in their respective localities. For instance, the rest of Botswana may wish to continue with western democracy and leadership by politicians, whilst we don’t, because we have seen the system clearly for what it represents. Moreover, our Bakgatla Kingdom extends into South Africa. Different considerations apply. It has been so, even during British colonial rule. That is why the colonial government always excluded Bakgatla land when it passed legislation for Bechuanaland Protectorate. A case on point is the Bechuanaland Protectorate (Lands) Order of 16th May 1904, which states at section 1: For the purposes of this Order the expression “Crown lands” means the lands abandoned as aforesaid by the Chiefs Khama, Sebele, and Bathoen, to wit, the lands bounded on the West by the native reserves of the Bangwaketsi, the Bakwena, and Bamangwato, on the North by the Shashi River, on the East by the Transvaal, and on the South by the territory of Barolongs always excepting the territories of the Chief Moghosi of the Bamaliti, and Linchwe of the Bakhatla, all of which Native Reserves and territories have been or shall be more particularly described in Proclamations of His Majesty’s High Commissioner for South Africa(my underlining for emphasis).

The key words are: “always excepting the territories of the Chief Moghosi of the Bamaliti, and Linchwe of the Bakhatla”. We cannot speak for Bamaliti or other tribes & peoples of Botswana because we do not have a mandate to do so. They have their own Dikgosi and representatives. We wish to focus for now only on us Bakgatla, and our demand for restoration of ownership rights to our country. We do not want our ownership issue lumped in generalization with the rest of Botswana issues. We say this with respect, recognizing always that we have family, friends’ relations and other investment across Botswana. We love Botswana. As such, we do not want to burden anyone with our uniqueness, or they becoming an albatross in our march into the future. Pertinently, we do not want our future held hostage to any delays or failures – if any – within the Constitutional review exercise your Excellency has commenced.

Accordingly, this correspondence serves to kindly ask your Excellency to utilize his current powers as leader of BDP and State President, to take such steps as necessary to redress the injustices of 1966 perpetrated against Bakgatla – by returning Bakgatla Tribal Territory to its rightful owners.

It seems to me that we are asking something relatively simple and reasonable, because all you need do is: (a) present this demand to your BDP parliament caucus; (b) discuss with your cabinet, and (c) proceed to amend the current Botswana Constitution (application clauses) to indicate that the current constitution does not apply, and should never have applied to Bakgatla Tribal Territory (this should have been done in 1966 at the London Conference and stipulated in the Bechuanaland Independence Act passed in London), (d) declare our Bakgatla independence,(e) pass transition legislation, and (f) inform the United Nations and SADC accordingly that you have released us to our independence. This bold step will resolve a historical injustice in a short space of time with the least amount of energy. What we do with our independence moving forward is our business. We have competent leadership, intelligent resourceful people and good ideas to sort ourselves out. Be rest assured that Bakgatla shall experience a better quality of life to that we have endured under the current Botswana constitution since 1966.

Whilst it may be tempting to lose the simplicity of our demand in rhetoric, decorum, political red tape, and fear of the truth & change, it remains glaringly clear to us (victims of injustice) that: In as much as Sir Seretse Kgama and his BDP of 1966 managed to take our land by passing a law (Constitution), it should be within your same powers with current BDP to pass a similar law (amendment of constitution) to restore our country. Your Excellency has sufficient numbers in parliament, and all power of government to achieve this. Your party hasthe power to pass pretty much any law you please, as has been the case over the past 55 years. You also happen to be a Mokgatla man, well positioned to achieve these goals of freedom for Bakgatla. The only relevant question you need ask yourself, colleagues and interested persons now is: Show lawful cause why restoration of Bakgatla country must not happen!

May it be clear that: Bakgatla will not participate in any talks for Constitutional reform in Botswana, until we have full restoration our country (Bakgatla Reserve). Otherwise, we risk falling into error of betraying our forefather’s stand, recorded in Kgosi Linchwe 1’s letters of 1894, Kgosi Linchwe ii’s letters of December 1965, and all their gains since 1870, which are (our inheritance) systematically taken from us by politicians and foreign rule disguised as a democracy. Only then, with our country in hand, shall we be in a position to meaningfully contribute to constitutional reform, and negotiate a Federal State of Botswana (in the very least of compromises), where Bakgatla retain their independence, or semi – autonomy, within the greater Botswana.

Your Excellency must appreciate that we Bakgatla will never give up on our demands for restoration of our country. Our stand is a matter of principle informed by history and law. It is a reality of having no choice, given the history of cruelty we and our Bogosi have suffered at the hands of your BDP government and western democracy since 1966. In the climax of it all, your BDP government has advanced as far as passing laws in 2010-2014 (Court Judgements & Executive Orders) declaring your non-recognition of Bakgatla apex leadership, and prohibiting Bakgatla bogosi from leading our people.

In addition, your BDP government has effectively expelled the Bakgatla monarch out of Botswana (under threat of imprisonment) and left our people leaderless to date. These actions are a clear indicator that Bakgatla (have never been accepted) under BDP rule and current Botswana constitution. We have glaring indicators (red lights) that we must have a formal separation which endorses the status quo prior to 1966 in relation to land ownership and sovereignty. Logic dictates that your BDP government must release us Bakgatla into independence, if your government despises us so much as we have all seen over time. Setswana proverbs say: Monna o nkga le di tsaagwe – Motse fa o bakwa re tla o kgaogana.

Therefore, your failure (if any) to heed our demand, can only delay the inevitable. It will always reflect regret towards missed opportunity, as one president after another grapples with the same demand. Unfortunately, you will place us in the awkward position where we have to trouble your BDP government throughout your reign, the British Government, and British Royal Family in various forums over matters that we could have resolved locally as suggested herein. Unfortunately too, you will miss Bakgatla formal participation in the Constitutional reform talks. That entire exercise will become still-born from a failure of participation by a major tribe within the country. You will end up perpetuating the 1966 errors, exactly as they are recorded in the letters and other representations of 1965/66 made by those who opposed Seretse Kgama’s & BDP coup. We are already seeing sign posts from that same road.

The individual Mokgatla man or woman may speak for themselves, as they please. We do expect that some may stand against our course; especially those whose loyalties reside more with politics than Bakgatla heritage. But none – in their small or large numbers – has a legal mandate to speak for our private ownership of Bakgatla Tribal Territory.

Your Excellency must concede the factual reality before us that currently, I am unable to lead, let alone live amongst my people, because of BDP political interference, well documented in my recent book – The Last Frontier. It has always been open to your government to establish real (as opposed to abstract) conditions for my safe return and living amongst my people in Mochudi. Your law officers in DPP & Attorney General have power to formally withdraw all those fake criminal charges against me in Court (if they so wish), and draft legislation for your majority BDP to pass in parliament conferring Kgosi Kgolo Kgafela ii due and deserving immunity of a Kgosikgolo. It will not be the first time your government passes legislation specific to an individual (Kgafela ii).

Likewise, your government has power to pass legislation that formally recognizes, respects and adequately provides for office of KgosiKgolo in Botswana. That kind of legislation would have relieved Batswana of the current morass created by the 2011 High Court Judgement and related Executive Orders.

Rather than perform these relatively simply to understand tasks in the past ten years, we have observed a shameful trend amongst your party members, including your Excellency’s behavior (we say this with respect), where individuals use my name and integrity for political campaign. The theme is – bringing Kgafela back home – without attending to the real matters of legislative intervention. Your Excellency has been recorded saying that you will not rest until Kgafela is back home. But to date, you have not spoken to me. We see you visit people all over Botswana and the world, but you have not made time to visit and talk to me directly less than 400km away. Your party’s political rhetoric using my name treats me more like a stray Poodle, available to any passerby to grab and pose for a selfie – sometimes laced with disrespect.

There is no doubt that your BDP government displays superficial attitudes towards my return to Botswana. That same disposition makes it delusional for anyone to believe that your BDP government will ever pass the legislation suggested above (establishment of office of KgosiKgolo & immunity) because if the contrary were true, we would have seen signs sprout in the past ten years, especially since 2018. As such, trust is impossible, and we have to live with that reality.

I have come to terms with my fate that: the only way I will ever see my father country, or enjoy Botswana, is when Bakgatla have recovered our independence, or there is a new government that will create a safe environment for me to walk freely in Botswana enjoying respect of a KgosiKgolo. In the meantime, we will endure such fate that we continue to suffer property losses, poverty, and so many other difficulties flowing from my inability to access my property and my people in Botswana. Indeed, we have lost a lot of money so far, from having to defend ourselves and innocent tribesmen against politically motivated criminal trials, whilst thieves took advantage of our vulnerability to crush us deeper into poverty. We have no hope for compensation from government.

My Botswana Identity document (Omang), passport and driver’s license have expired. It is impossible for me to renew. I cannot visit a nearest Botswana embassy for help whilst there is risk of being arrested because of outstanding criminal charges in Botswana. Effectively, my Botswana citizenship under the current legal regime has expired, and I am left with no hope of renewal. I stand banished today, as it were with my grandfather Kgosi Molefi. These are repeating cycles of history we must break, once and for all.

Be that as it may, please understand that we hold no grudges against your Excellency or anyone in Botswana, given the conclusions and the decisions of destiny we have taken about the future. Nothing else matters now, other than that future. To that end, I am hereby formally inviting your Excellency to make time to come here and see me in South Africa, so that we may talk about these matters, and perhaps others of national interest. We need a very clear way forward post March 2022 concerning restoration of our country, because we intend to escalate our plight. Your Excellency may usefully arrange through my brother Hon Mmusi Kgafela and Kgosi Sekai, both of whom will liaise with Kgosi Ramono here in South Africa. Please let me know your response on or before 30th January 2022.

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Botswana to Become a Vaccinated Nation: Pandemic Anxiety Over?

30th March 2021

OSCAR MOTSUMI

This is a question that should seriously exercise the mind of every Botswana citizen and every science researcher, every health worker and every political leader political.

The Covid-19 currently defines our lives and poses a direct threat to every aspect and every part of national safety, security and general well-being. This disease has become a normative part of human life throughout the world.

The first part of the struggle against the murderous depredation of this disease was to protect personal life through restrictive health injunctions and protocols; the worst possibly being human isolation and masks that hid our sorrows and lamentations through thin veils. We suffered that humiliation with grace and I believe as a nation we did a great job.

Now the vaccines are here, ushering us into the second phase of this war against the plague; and we are asking ourselves, is this science-driven fight against Covid-19 spell the end of pandemic anxiety? Is the health nightmare coming to an end? What happy lives lie ahead? Is this the time for celebration or caution? As the Non State Actors, we have being struggling with these questions for months.

We have published our thoughts and feelings, and our research reviews and thorough reading of both the local and international impacts of this rampaging viral invasion in local newspapers and social media platforms.

More significantly, we have successfully organised workshops about the impact of the pandemic on society and the economy and the last workshop invited a panel of health experts, professionals, and public administers to advance this social dialogue as part of our commitment to the tripartite engagement we enjoy working with Government of Botswana, Civil Society and Development partners. These workshops are virtual and open to all Batswana, foreign diplomatic missions based in Gaborone, UN agencies located in Gaborone and international academic researchers and professional health experts and specialists.

The mark of Covid-19 on our nation is a painful one, a tragedy shared by the entire human race, but still a contextually painful experience. Our response is fraught with grave difficulties; limited resources, limited time, and the urgency to not only save lives but also avert economic ruin and a bleak future for all who survive. Several vaccines are already in the  market.

Parts of the world are already doing the best they can to trunk the pestilential march of this disease by rolling out mass-vaccinations campaigns that promise to evict this health menace and nightmare from their public lives. Botswana, like much of Africa, is still up in the disreputable, and, unenviable, preventative social melee of masked interactions, metered distances, contactless commerce.

We remain very much at the mercy of a marauding virus that daily runs amuck with earth shattering implications for the economy and human lives. And the battle against both infections and transmissions is proving to be difficult, in terms of finance, institutional capacities and resource mobilization. How are we prepared as government, and as citizens, to embrace the impending mass-vaccinations? What are the chances of us  succeeding at this last-ditch effort to defeat the virus? What are the most pressing obstacles?

Does the work of vaccines spell an end to the pandemic anxieties?

Our panellists addressed the current state of mass-vaccination preparedness at the Botswana national level. What resources are available? What are the financial, institutional and administrative operational challenges (costs and supply chains, delivery, distribution, administering the vaccine on time, surveillance and security of vaccines?) What is being done to overcome them, or what can be done to overcome them? What do public assessments of preparedness tell us at the local community levels? How strong is the political will and direction? How long can we expect the whole exercise to last? At what point should we start seeing tangible results of the mass-vaccination campaign?

They also addressed the challenges of the anticipated emerging Vaccinated Society. How to fight the myths of vaccines and the superstitions about histories of human immunizations? What exactly is being done to grow robust local confidence in the science of vaccinations and the vaccines themselves? More significantly, how to square these campaigns vis-vis personal rights, moral/religious obligations?

What messages are being sent out in these regards and how are Batswana responding? What about issues of justice and equality? Will we get the necessary vaccines to everyone who wants them? What is being done to ensure no deserving person is left behind?

They also addressed issues of health data. To accomplish this mass-vaccination campaign and do everything right we need accurate and complete data. Poor data already makes it very hard to just cope with the disease. What is being done to improve data for the mass-vaccination campaign? How is this data being collected, aggregated and prepared for real life situation/applications throughout Botswana in the coming campaign?

We know in America, for example, general reporting and treatment of health data at the beginning of vaccinations was so poor, so chaotic and so scattered mainstream newspapers like The Atlantic, Washington Post and the New York Times had to step in, working very closely with civil society organizations, to rescue the situation. What data-related issues are still problematic in Botswana?

To be specific, what kind of Covid-19 data is being taken now to ready the whole country for an effective and efficient mass-vaccination program?

Batswana must be made aware that the  end part of vaccination will just mark the beginning of a long journey to health recovery and national redemption; that in many ways Covid-19 vaccination is just another step toward the many efforts in abeyance to fight this health pandemic, the road ahead is still long and painful.

For this purpose, and to highlight the significance of this observation we tasked our panellists with  the arduous imperative of  analysing the impact of mass-vaccination on society and the economy alongside the pressing issues of post-Covid-19 national health surveillance and rehabilitation programs.

Research suggests the aftermath of Covid-19 vaccination is going to be just as difficult and uncertain world as the present reality in many ways, and that caution should prevail over celebration, at least for a long time. The disease itself is projected to linger around for some time after all these mass-vaccination campaigns unless an effort is made to vaccinate everyone to the last reported case, every nation succeeds beyond herd immunity, and cure is found for Covid-19 disease. Many people are going to continue in need of medications, psychological and psychiatric services and therapy.

Is Botswana ready for this long holdout? If not, what path should we take going into the future? The Second concern is , are we going to have a single, trusted national agency charged with the  mandate to set standards for our national health data system, now that we know how real bad pandemics can be, and the value of data in quickly responding to them and mitigating impact? Finally, what is being done to curate a short history of this pandemic? A national museum of health and medicine or a Public Health Institute  in Botswana is overdue.

If we are to create strong sets of data policies and data quality standards for fighting future health pandemics it is critical that they find ideological and moral foundations in the artistic imagery and photography of the present human experience…context is essential to fighting such diseases, and to be prepared we must learn from every tragic health incident.

Our panellists answered most of these questions with distinguished intellectual clarity. We wish Batswana to join us in our second Mass-vaccination workshop.

*Oscar Motsumi: Email:oscar.motsumi@gmail.com

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