Following an appeal by one of the candidates for the Botswana Democratic Party (BDP)’s Goodhope/Mabule constituency primary elections, former chairperson of the National Youth Executive Committee (NYEC), Kenaleone Frankie Motsaathebe, the BDP has declared Specially Elected Member of the National Assembly and Minister for Presidential Affairs and Public Administration, Honorable Eric Molale, as the winner of the primary elections.
Therefore, unless Motsaathebe resorts to the courts and succeeds in overturning the BDP’s decision, Honorable Molale will, if he satisfies the nominations process by the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC), as he is expected to, contest the bye elections scheduled for 15th August 2015 as a BDP candidate.
The question is: compared to his expected contenders, namely Kgosi Lotlamoreng II and Comfort Maruping of the Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) and Botswana Congress Party (BCP) respectively, does Molale have anything to offer Barolong?
This is the question we seek to answer in this article. In the two subsequent weeks we ask the same question of Kgosi Lotlamoreng II and Comfort Maruping. In the week of the elections, we make a comparative analysis of the three candidates in a cursory manner to remind the voter of their strengths and weaknesses.
There is no doubt that Honorable Molale is endowed with sufficient intellectual and administrative capabilities required of an administrator. Notably, he has served government as Permanent Secretary (PS) in the Ministry of Local Government (MLG), giving him invaluable experience in tribal administration, land administration and local government generally.
Honorable Molale has, until the 2014 general elections, served as Permanent Secretary to the President (PSP) and has a rare record of serving more than one president. Having been PSP for about twelve years, Honorable Molale has no doubt amassed invaluable knowledge and experience in state administration as well as matters of the presidency.
But, the question is: will this endowment in administration which he gained by serving the executive arm of government translate into the astute political leadership required of an elected Member of Parliament (MP) with respect to his constituency? Put differently, will Honorable Molale serve Barolong, or rather, Barolong and BaNgwaketse with the diligence which some say he exhibited when he was the head of the civil service?
It is common knowledge that Barolong, or at least some Barolong, have shown displeasure that they are treated as subservient to BaNgwaketse. Such subservience, they say, is demonstrated by the fact that part of Borolong is under Ngwaketse rule.
This displeasure has led to the birth of a pressure group called Barolong ba Baikuedi which, though in a docile way, has strived to redress the situation to no avail mainly because it lacked the support of such prominent members of the Rolong tribe as Honorable Molale.
A cursory review of the available literature and anecdotal evidence suggests that Honorable Molale has not assisted the cause for Barolong’s self-rule. Perhaps his excuse is that he was constrained by the fact that he has been a civil servant and, for about eight months, a cabinet minister. But, did he at least play an advisory and behind-the-scenes role in that regard?
We may never know. But, if being in the civil service was truly a hindrance, did he play any role in that regard before he joined the civil service, for example during his student years? Available evidence, though anecdotal, does not show that Honorable Molale has been helpful to Barolong in that regard.
But, if indeed he was constrained by the civil service in assisting to alleviate the plight of his tribesmen, if elected as Member of Parliament (MP) will he assist Barolong in that regard or he will still be constrained by the fact that he will be a minister and bound by collective responsibility if such a course is against government policy? If such a course is against the BDP’s manifesto and policy will he give his tribe’s plight precedence over following the party line or he will submit to the dictates of the party?
The issue of self-rule aside, Barolong, as a tribe, have not been prominent, something which, in all fairness, should be blamed more on their tribal leader, Kgosi Lotlamoreng II and his predecessors, than on Honorable Molale. But, has Honorable Molale used his position and influence to assert Barolong’s prominence? Would someone believe you if you told him that someone as powerful as the PSP is a son to the Barolong?
Or, was he constrained by the civil service to associate himself with his tribe and contribute to its upliftment? If elected as MP will he, in the true meaning of the adage ‘charity begins at home’, work to better his people’s lives? But, what will have changed? As minister, as he is likely to remain, won’t he still be constrained by the civil service?
The other question is: has Honorable Molale, as a MoRolong, used his skills and experience to assist in his tribe’s development, for example, by assisting such structures as Village Development Committees (VDCs), Parents Teachers Associations (PTAs), Home Based Care Groups(HBCG), Youth groups, Women’s groups, and Bogosi? Has he assisted the youth and such vulnerable groups as those living with disabilities in his tribe? Anecdotal evidence suggests that Honorable Molale has not been helpful in that regard.
Perhaps his excuse is that as a civil servant, especially as PSP he did not do that for fear of being accused of bias towards his tribe. But, are there no things he could have done, without necessarily using government resources and time to assist his tribesmen? Using personal time and means to mobilize resources for the poor or sick, for example, cannot be regarded as abuse of office in favour of one’s tribe. Can it?
If indeed it is true that Honorable Molale cannot have assisted his tribe without compromising his position, after being elected MP will the fact that he is a minister not continue to be a hindrance in that regard? Perhaps he will say it won’t be a hindrance as evidenced by the fact that he recently mobilized some private companies to take health services to Barolong. But, why has he not done that all along? Why did he only do that in the run-up to the BDP’s primary elections?
Borolong, especially when the late Ronald Sebego was still area MP and Minister of Agriculture, used to contribute significantly to Botswana’s Agricultural output. This is no more. The question is: does Honorable Molale have legislative and policy plans to influence government to resuscitate Borolong’s Agricultural prowess?
Has he, since it is likely that he has always been a member of the BDP even when he was in the civil service, influenced the BDP to include such plans in its manifesto? Has he influenced government to include such plans in the National Development Plan? Are Barolong aware of such plans?
Granted, comparatively speaking, Borolong generally has better infrastructure in terms of roads, telecommunications, electricity and government services, but does Honorable Molale have plans to lobby for such to be distributed to such small villages as Mosi, Sedibeng, Leporung and Dikhukhung?
Does he have plans to attract the private sector to reach Barolong in terms of their services? With respect to the latter, if what he did in the run-up to the primary elections is anything to go by he certainly can do that. After all, his office commands such influence that few companies can resist the urge to associate with him in the hope of winning tenders from government.
The aforegoing notwithstanding, given his intellectual endowment, administrative prowess and indisputable influence on government, especially on the presidency, it is inarguable that if Honorable Molale has the will to serve his people he has something to offer Barolong. One other attribute he can offer Barolong seems to be loyalty. Though some ascribe it to boot licking, it is my view that only a loyal person can serve more than one president as PSP.
The question is: in whose favour is he likely to exercise such loyalty? Will he exercise such loyalty for the betterment of his people or to protect the interests of the BDP and government? If history is anything to go by, I am convinced that he is likely to be loyal to the BDP and the government at the expense of Barolong. If I am right, what then will Honorable Molale offer to Barolong? Will he have anything to offer more than Kgosi Lotlamoreng II and Comfort Maruping would?
Intelligence and Security Service Act, which is a law that establishes the Directorate of Intelligence and Security Service (DIS), provides for establishment of a Parliamentary Committee. Recently, the President announced nine names of Members of Parliament he had appointed to the Committee.
This announcement was preceded by a meeting the President held with the Speaker and the Leader of Opposition. Following the announcement of Committee MPs by the President, the opposition, through its leader, made it clear that it will not participate in the Committee unless certain conditions that would ensure effective oversight are met. The opposition acted on the non-participation threat through resignation of its three MPs from the Committee.
The Act at Section 38 provides for the establishment of the Committee to examine the expenditure, administration and policy of the Directorate. The law provides that the Parliamentary Committee shall have the same powers and privileges set out under the National Assembly (Powers and Privileges) Act.
On composition, the Committee shall consist of nine members who shall not be members of Cabinet and its quorum shall be five members. The MPs in the Committee elect a chairperson from among their number at their first meeting.
The Members of the Committee are appointed by the President after consultation with the Speaker of the National Assembly and Leader of the Opposition in the National Assembly. It is the provision of the law that the Committee, relative to its size, reflect the numerical strengths of the political parties represented in the National Assembly.
The Act provides that that a member of the Committee holds office for the duration of the Parliament in which he or she is appointed. The Committee is mandated to make an annual report on the discharge of their functions to the President and may at any time report to him or her on any matter relating to the discharge of those functions.
The Minister responsible for intelligence and security is obliged to lay before the National Assembly a copy of each annual report made by the Committee together with a statement as to whether any matter has been excluded from that copy in pursuance of the provision of the Act.
If it appears to the Minister, after consultation with the Parliamentary Committee, that the publication of any matter in a report would be prejudicial to the continued discharge of the functions of the Directorate, the Minister may exclude that matter from the copy of the report as laid before the National Assembly.
So, what are the specific demands of the Opposition and why are they not participating in the Committee? What should happen as a way forward? The Opposition demanded that there be a forensic audit of the Directorate. The DIS has never been audited since it was set up in 2008, more than a decade ago.
The institution has been a law unto itself for a longtime, feared by all oversight bodies. The Auditor General, who had no security of tenure, could not audit the DIS. The Directorate’s personnel, especially at a high level, have been implicated in corruption. Some of its operatives are in courts of law defending corruption charges preferred against them. Some of the corruption cases which appeared in the media have not made it to the courts.
The DIS has been accused of non-accountability and unethical practices as well as of being a burden on the fiscus. So, the Opposition demanded, from the President, a forensic audit for the purpose of cleaning up the DIS. They demand a start from a clean slate.
The second demand by the Opposition is that the law be reviewed to ensure greater accountability of the DIS to Parliament. What are some of the issues that the opposition think should be reviewed? The contention is that the executive cannot appoint a Committee of Parliament to scrutinize an executive institution.
Already, it is argued, Parliament is less independent and it is dominated by the executive. It is contended that the Committee should be established by the Standing Orders and be appointed by a Select Committee of Parliament. There is also an argument that the Committee should report to Parliament and not to the President and that the Minister should not have any role in the Committee.
Democratic and Parliamentary oversight of the intelligence is relatively a new phenomenon across the World. Even developed democracies are still grappling with some of these issues. However, there are acceptable standards or what might be called international best practices which have evolved over the past two or so decades.
In the UK for instance, MPs of the Intelligence and Security Committee are appointed by the Houses of Parliament, having been nominated by the Prime Minister in consultation with the Leader of the Opposition. This is a good balancing exercise of involvement of both the executive and the legislature. Consultation is taken for granted in Botswana context in the sense that it has been reduced to just informing the Leader of Opposition without much regard to his or her ideas; they are never taken seriously.
Furthermore, the current Committee in the UK has four Members of the ruling party and five MPs from the opposition. It is a fairly balanced Committee in terms of Parliamentary representation. However, as said above, the President of Botswana appointed six ruling party MPs and three from the opposition.
The imbalance is preposterous and more pronounced with clear intentions of getting the executive way through the ruling party representatives in the Committee. The intention to avoid scrutiny is clear from the numbers of the ruling party MPs in the Committee.
There is also an international standard of removing sensitive parts which may harm national security from the report before it is tabled in the legislature. The previous and current reluctance of the executive arms to open up on Defence and Security matters emanate from this very reason of preserving and protecting national security.
But national security should be balanced with public interest and other democratic principles. The decision to expunge certain information which may be prejudicial to national security should not be an arbitrary and exclusive decision of the executive but a collective decision of a well fairly balanced Committee in consultation with the Speaker and the minister responsible.
There is no doubt that the DIS has been a rogue institution. The reluctance by the President to commit to democratic-parliamentary oversight reforms presupposes a lack of commitment to democratization. The President has no interest in seeing a reformed DIS with effective oversight of the agency.
He is insincere. This is because the President loathes the idea losing an iota of power and sharing it with any other democratic institution. He sees the agency as his power lever to sustain his stay in the high office. He thought he could sanitize himself with an ineffective DIS Committee that would dance to his tune.
The non-participation of the opposition MPs renders the Committee dysfunctional; it cannot function as this would be unlawful. Participation of the opposition is a legal requirement. Even if it can meet, it would lack legitimacy; it cannot be taken seriously. The President should therefore act on the oversight demands and reform the DIS if he is to be taken seriously.
For years I have trained people about paradigm shifts – those light-bulb-switch-on moments – where there is a seismic change from the usual way of thinking about something to a newer, better way.
I like to refer to them as ‘aha’ moments because of the sudden understanding of something which was previously incomprehensible. However, the topic of today’s article is the complete antithesis of ‘aha’. Though I’d love to tell you I’d had a ‘eureka ‘, ‘problem solved’ moment, I am faced with the complete opposite – an ‘oh-no’ moment or Lost Leader Syndrome.
No matter how well prepared or capable a leader is. they often find themselves facing perplexing events, confounding information, or puzzling situations. Confused by developments of which they can’t make sense and by challenges that they don’t know how to solve they become confused, sometimes lost and completely clueless about what to do.
I am told by Jentz and Murphy (JM) in ‘What leaders do when they don’t know what to do’ that this is normal, and that rapid change is making confusion a defining feature of management in the 21st century. Now doesn’t that sound like the story of 2020 summed up in a single sentence?
The basic premise of their writing is that “confusion is not a weakness to be ashamed of but a regular and inevitable condition of leadership. By learning to embrace their confusion, managers are able to set in motion a constructive process for addressing baffling issues.
In fact, confusion turns out to be a fruitful environment in which the best managers thrive by using the instability around them to open up better lines of communication, test their old assumptions and values against changing realities, and develop more creative approaches to problem solving.”
The problem with this ideology however is that it doesn’t help my overwhelming feelings of fear and panic which is exacerbated by a tape playing on a loop in my head saying ‘you’re supposed to know what to do, do something’. My angst is compounded by annoying motivational phrases also unhelpfully playing in my head like.
Nothing happens until something moves
The secret of getting ahead is getting started
Act or be acted upon
All these platitudes are urging me to pull something out of the bag, but I know that this is a trap. This need to forge ahead is nothing but a coping mechanism and disguise. Instead of owning the fact that I haven’t got a foggy about what to do, part of me worries that I’ll lose authority if I acknowledge that I can’t provide direction – I’m supposed to know the answers, I’m the MD! This feeling of not being in control is common for managers in ‘oh no’ situations and as a result they often start reflexively and unilaterally attempting to impose quick fixes to restore equilibrium because, lets be honest, sometimes we find it hard to resist hiding our confusion.
To admit that I am lost in an “Oh, No!” moment opens the door not only to the fear of losing authority but also to a plethora of other troubling emotions and thoughts: *Shame and loss of face: “You’ll look like a fool!” * Panic and loss of control: “You’ve let this get out of hand!” * Incompetence and incapacitation: “You don’t know what you’re doing!”
As if by saying “I’m at a loss here” is tantamount to declaring “I am not fit to lead.” Of course the real problem for me and any other leader is if they don’t admit when they are disoriented, it sends a signal to others in the organisation stating it’s not cool to be lost and that, by its very nature encourages them to hide. What’s the saying about ‘a real man never asks for direction. ..so they end up driving around in circles’.
As managers we need to embrace the confusion, show vulnerability (remember that’s not a bad word) and accept that leadership is not about pretending to have all the answers but about having the courage to search with others to discover a solution.
JM point out that “being confused, however, does not mean being incapacitated. Indeed, one of the most liberating truths of leadership is that confusion is not quicksand from which to escape but rather the potter’s clay of leadership – the very stuff with which managers can work.”
2020 has certainly been a year to remember and all indications are that the confusion which has characterised this year will still follow us into the New Year, thereby making confusion a defining characteristic of the new normal and how managers need to manage. Our competence as leaders will then surely be measured not only by ‘what I know’ but increasingly by ‘how I behave when I accept, I don’t know, lose my sense of direction and become confused.
.I guess the message for all organizational cultures going forward is that sticking with the belief that we need all-knowing, omni-competent executives will cost them dearly and send a message to managers that it is better to hide their confusion than to address it openly and constructively.
Take comfort in these wise words ‘Confusion is a word we have invented for an order not yet understood’!