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Botswana stance on Zimbabwe is hypocritical
Posted: Wednesday, August 6, 2008

By Batho Montsho
August 06, 2008

This writer recently learned the meaning of the word hypocrite – it is someone who kills both his parents and then pleads orphanage as a mitigating factor when being sentenced. And this writer does not intend to use this word ever again . . . and not in this article.

The Government of Botswana recently pronounced that it does not recognise Robert Mugabe as the President of Zimbabwe as he was not elected in free and fair elections.

Even Members of Parliament (here in Botswana) are not elected in a free and fair election. Who forgets how Gomolemo Motswaledi and Botsalo Ntuane were forced to shift from where they wanted to contest, and identify constituencies elsewhere to pave way for the untouchables of the ruling party?

A case study is our own President, was he elected by the people of Botswana in a free and fair election? Who observed whether the process by which he ascended into power was free and fair?

And where does he get the moral high ground to think he can dictate to another President how he should ascend to the high office. Does anybody remember anything about transparent ballot boxes that are to be used by Sadc member states? Has Botswana complied? What about counting ballots at polling stations, is Botswana in compliance of the requirement?

Botswana thinks democracy in Zimbabwe tarnishes the word democracy! Now, the government, in its quest to instill discipline in Botswana, has decided to impose a 70 percent increment on the price of alcoholic drinks.

The question on everybody's mind is: how did the Government consult on this initiative? I mean, as it turns out not even the most important stakeholder, KBL, was consulted. And we say our Government is democratic! If any consultations were done, what advice did the Bank of Botswana give to the President regarding inflation that is ever on the rise? What role did the Central Statistics office play in this decision regarding (un)employment figures?

What role did the Minister of Youth, Sport and Culture play in this decision regarding the multitudes of youths employed in sectors directly or indirectly dealing with alcoholic beverages? Or the Government just does not care?

Some parents have been using proceeds from Chibuku to educate and feed their children yet without any consultation, the Government wants to kill all these businesses. In their minds, (the Cabinet or (President) want to punish liquor drinkers but they are so blinded by their prejudices that they forget to look at the consequences of the 70 percent decision.

Is the increase in petrol prices deterring motorists from driving around? People just adjust their budgets to accommodate these drastic changes with the resultant poverty to all concerned.

Is anybody not seeing the creeping in of dictatorship? After students who is next on the line. Workers? The Mmegi (newspaper) of (last) Thursday captured it correctly when they said it started with the mobile companies, next was the brewery, the media is very soon to follow suit, and which business is next? We can only guess.

But the pattern has been seen a while back by Rampholo Molefhe. He saw the Government usurping the role of the music union and alas the president launched government-sponsored cultural competitions.

We, the public, are being gullible to think this is a gesture that promotes culture; it is going to kill BOMU and our culture such that by the time we realise that artists are being turned into Government praise singers it will be too late. Then it was again a Government-sponsored constituency league. BFA now is going to administer a league based on political boundaries.

A sport with political leanings exists only in Botswana. The opposition, though voicing its concerns, is just talk and not actively countering (President) Khama's actions. Press conferences are just that, for the media to report on issues discussed therein, but how does the public get engaged? I think the opposition has a habit of sending the media to fight its wars.

The public should be engaged with vigour and not just empty talk at Press conferences.

The opposition should, by now, be proactively making their positions known. And they should be having shadow ministers, not rushing to form their own intelligence, like the BNF was reported to be pondering – to spy on its members! It is also reported in Mmegi that the Chief Justice used his position to influence his junior, a magistrate to change the sentence of his relative.

It is quite regrettable that this incident has passed and the law society is silent. What happened to the likes of activists like Duma Boko, who happen to be leaders of the law society?

Does anybody remember how the Chief Justice once boasted of being a personal friend of the then President Mogae?

Did this not ring any alarm bells? Now the chief justice tries to defend his actions and the question that needs his answer is: is it usual for him to act in that manner in all cases including those where his relatives are not concerned?

Can anybody call a magistrate or a Judge of the High Court in the same manner? A few weeks ago, this writer was taken aback by people, including Government officials, who accused the Sunday Standard of sensational reporting after it reported that Botswana was preparing for war.

In the Mmegi of Friday 25th July, a whole Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation made utterances to the effect that if the Zimbabwean negotiating parties fail to reach an agreement on a Government, there is going to be a civil war in Zimbabwe.

Is this statement not what we call sensational talk, if at all there is sensational reporting? This Minister is not just bluffing because whatever he says has to be scrutinised. Is it information that was passed to him by the intelligence agency?

Or he is just instilling fear in those that have vested interests in Zimbabwe or worse still, may be this is the war that Botswana is purported to be preparing for.

My point was that the government of Botswana has no moral authority to talk on presidential elections because it has a President who never went through the due process of law, as provided for in the constitution of Botswana.

The President of Botswana did not even go through the formalities required by the constitution of his party.

In his own party's constitution there is also, just like the constitution of Botswana, nothing about automatic succession.

As per the constitution of the ruling party, there is no President as of now. This is because (President) Khama was never elected by any structure of the party to become the leader of the BDP.

It was not automatic that when (Ketumile) Masire stepped down (Festus) Mogae became president of the BDP.

And it was not automatic for Khama to take over the presidency of the party when Mogae stepped down.

This writer has noticed that this has escaped the attention of legal experts and our self-styled political analysts.

The question to ask therefore is in what capacity does Khama sit on the central committee of the BDP? Ex-officio?

This is possible given a similar scenario in South Africa where the sitting State President is not a member of the National Executive Committee of the ruling party.

By becoming President of the Republic of Botswana, one does not automatically become the president of the BDP unless the constitution of the BDP was changed to create such a scenario without consulting the wider membership of the BDP.

Does this then not call for the Government to make the constitution of Botswana part of the educational curriculum that ever Motswana should go through? And now we have a situation where the President of the Republic goes around making pronouncements that may later become a nightmare for the ruling party.

BCP on the other hand is no threat to the BDP, and that's the reason why they are never going to say the BDP has planted people in it to destabilise it.

But the moment you hear those word. . . mosi ke molelo betsho!

This article first appeared in Botswana's Sunday Standard online edition.

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