The BDP regime is running scarred and making suicidal blunders in the process. The best example is how President Khama recently de-campaigned his own part in Maun by engaging in character assassination of Kgosi Tawana and in the process insulting the very Batwana whose votes he craves. We say, let the BDP tremble because it is time they are told in clear categorical terms that; Mene Mene Tekel Uphrasin – ‘the writing is on the wall.
Their days are numbered. And no one should in any way temper with the verdict of the people on October 24 because as they put it Latin; vox populi, vox Dei i.e. the ‘voice of the people is the voice of God’. For many years the opposition has endured and accepted the results of the elections, including dubious ones, and now it is the turn of the BDP to endure and accept the unpalatable verdict of the people.
As the election day draws closer, the single most important question each and every voter must ask him/herself is whether this is just another routine general election or whether this election must be turned a referendum on Ian Khama’s dictatorship. This is the opportune moment for Batswana to speak in one powerful voice and say ; enough is enough of Khama dictatorial regime? They must vote the Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) to save their country from Khama’s dictatorship.
When he assumed office Khama promised to deliver on five Ds, – ‘democracy’, ‘ development’, ‘discipline’, ‘dignity’ and ‘delivery’. It has been a period of spectacularly broken promises and yet he still thinks he can get away with making even more promises. As the English expression goes; jam tomorrow, jam yesterday, but never jam today! Batswana are sick and tired of empty promises and want their development ‘jam’ today, not tomorrow.
Once upon a time Botswana was a nation internationally renowned for being at peace with itself. Indeed when Botswana was surrounded by white minority ruled regimes in Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe) and South Africa Sir Seretse Khama’s description of this country as ‘an island of sanity, peace and tranquility in a sea of turbulence’ was spot on and quite apposite. Then Batswana lived in fear of Ian Smith’s ‘hot pursuit’ of so-called ‘terrorists’ who allegedly mounted attacks on Rhodesia and fled to Botswana for hiding.
We also lived in fear of military incursions by the South African apartheid regime in pursuit of what they claimed were ANC military command and control centres in Botswana. That was the apartheid regime’s excuse for killing South African refugees in Botswana.
Ironically, since 1994 when South Africans regained their independence and Southern Africa ceased to be theatre of revolutions instead of Batswana enjoying the peace dividends the country now lives in fear once again. This time Batswana live in fear of Khama’s abominable monstrosity called the Directorate on Intelligence (DIS) secret gendarmerie.
We are now witnessing a vicious assault on the institutions and traditions of democracy that were developed, nurtured and agreed upon by past leaders of the country, ruling and opposition, as well as the general populace of Botswana for 42 years. In a short space of time Khama has transformed this country in the wrong direction almost beyond recognition. Never before have this country’s civil liberties and freedoms been so severely threatened.
Khama’s DIS ostensibly set up to protect Batswana from foreign enemies is ironically presiding over state terrorism in the country – the magnitude of which has never been seen in this country before. Today Batswana live in fear, not of the imagined foreign enemies, but in fear of the all-powerful DIS which was supposed to protect them from foreign enemies.
The real tragedy is that this state of affairs does not seem to bother Ian Khama one little bit. One cannot identify a single Khama initiative designed to enhance, strengthen and consummate the country’s democracy which his father correctly described as a plant that must be carefully nurtured. Instead of strengthening the institutions of democracy Khama is preoccupied with intimidating and silencing the nation while attempting to build a personality cult.
Extreme intolerance, heavy-handedness and unbridled white-collar theft are assuming alarming proportions. The President is not amenable to advice from any quarter – all he wants is to be surrounded by a bunch of head-nodding puppets and stooges who tell him what he wants to hear.
Political activists, journalists, human rights lawyers, trade unionists, authors, the clergy and even musicians are intimidated, harassed and sometimes tortured and beaten up by the notorious DIS, which has, to all intents and purposes, become a law unto itself. Hit-lilts of politicians and journalists are being bandied about.
BMD leader Gomolemo Motswaledi died under mysterious circumstances and the Khama regime did not care. Even former Presidents Masire and Mogae are feeling the pinch and have already sounded a warning to Ian Khama. Sadly, with every day that passes the prophetic words uttered by former BDP Assistant Minister, Oliphant Mfa that under Ian Khama democracy will be enjoyed only by those in prisons and in their graves ring true.
There is a growing number of extra-judicial killings of criminal suspects without recourse to courts of law or due process, because as former President Mogae observes, this ‘’regime’ does not respect the rule of law. Where is the ‘dignity’’ of the people who are cold-bloodedly murdered by state agents without recourse to the courts of law? For the first time in the history of this country the UNHCR reports that there are 229 Batswana refugees who fled to other countries. They have since been joined by Kgosi Kgafela of Mochudi and Edgar Tsimane of the Sunday Standard.
The DIS taps our telephone messages and jams private radio stations. According to former President Mogae, Khama has expelled over 2, 000 people from this country – more than all the foreigners expelled by former presidents of this country combined. A country which once enjoyed the reputation of welcoming refugees under Khama’s tyranny is beginning to produce refugees.
Certainly, this is not the Botswana we need and we must speak out against this unfolding dictatorship through the ballot. If this opportunity is not seized the next five years will be the longest five years in the history of our five year electoral cycle because as the saying goes, he who rides a tiger is afraid to dismount i.e. this dictatorship can only worsen if, God forbid, it is given another term in office.
Regarding discipline and delivery, if Khama was serious he should have come up with a Ministerial Code of Conduct to reign in his corrupt ministers . What we seeing instead is that ministers facing criminal allegations are arrogantly allowed to stay in office and continue with their court battles.
This is an affront to social justice and insult to Batswana who were promised ‘discipline’ and ‘delivery’. By now laws on the Declaration of Assets and Freedom of Information Bill to enable Batswana to fight the cancer of unbridled kleptocracy should have been passed by parliament.
That international organizations report that the ruling class has stashed a whopping P50 billion in foreign banks while nearly half Batswana are languishing in needless poverty does not bother Khama one little bit. Many of the poverty-stricken Batswana are regularly paraded on Btv surrounding Father Christmas Ian Khama as he doles out soup, diphaphatha, blankets and other cheap election bribes in gross violation of their personal ‘dignity’ – the very principle he promised to uphold in 2008.
For me the major highlights of this year’s election campaign was to share the political platform with Johnson MOtswharakgole representatives of BOFEPUSO who took the correct and historic decision to abandon petty bourgeois trade union neutrality and forge a strategic partnership with UDC. The UDC’s human rights approach to development and commitment to the second generation of rights as encapsulated in the UN International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights is the single most important reason why the 100 000 strong BOFEPUSO has rallied behind the UDC.
For many years this is what we have been calling for – as the first step towards the emancipation of the working class The first step to freedom in the labour movement is to abandon false political neutrality and consciously build strategic alliances with revolutionary parties while safeguarding their relative autonomy as trade unions.
The labour movement came to this historic decision after being subjected to sustained harassment by the Khama regime to a point where they were told that even if they went on strike for five years he would never succumb to their demands. October 24th is pay-back time. Workers must jettison the BDP regime from power for the next five years.
My lowest point in this general election is the BCP’s decision to renege on its commitment to work with other opposition political parties in a broad anti-Khama United Front even when there is enough evidence that his tyranny will not spare anyone, not even the BCP.
Recently their activists have been roughed-up apparently by members of the DIS. Our only saving grace is the statement Dumelang Saleshando made before his organization abandoned the Umbrella project – that any party that withdraws from the project must be punished by the electorate.
To all those who understood the imperative necessity of forging a broad anti-Khama, and this includes BCP members themselves, October 24th is pay-back time. Let us punish the BCP leadership by voting the UDC to save our country from Khama’s terror tactics. On October 24th the poverty-stricken masses of this country will have real power in their hands to changes all this and usher in a new democratic dispensation under the leadership of the UDC.
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.
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
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.