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We need a united Botswana that works for all

Publishing Date : 19 July, 2018

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The presidency of Ian Khama has caused a great rift between government and some sections of the society. This rift in the process created a polarised, intolerant nation which was devoid of a shared destiny. At least the new President Mokgweetsi Masisi has conceded that, and he is now working on a nation building exercise. 

We need to accept that a lot of things have been going wrong in our country for the past decade or so. A lot of things; in the economy, in our politics and in our security sector have been going wrong. This was largely if not entirely, due to the kind of leadership that we had.
If we are to build a nation that is successful, first we need to work together. Our leaders should not confine themselves to the limits of the constitutional frameworks. Unfortunately, this is not what President Khama did during his 10 year tenure. He was only concerned with what the constitution said about his responsibilities and never dared to go beyond that in providing leadership.

On a positive note, this is not what his successor is doing. Masisi has deliberately reached out to various organisations, individuals and other section of the society, including the church to assure them of his willingness to listen and to work with them.  This what true leadership requires, especially in a democratic set-up like ours.

What we have been going through in the previous leadership was alien. The result of which left a broken relationship between the media and government; between the trade unions and government, between the church and government , between investors and government and many others who were hurt by government actions.

Botswana was built through a set of certain values. These are the values of unity, self-reliance, democracy as well as Botho. This is what made us who we are and what earned us the reputation among our peers in the continent and internationally. Like the founding president, Sir Seretse Khama once said, Masisi knows that though the constitution places the responsibility of governing on his shoulder, “ga a kake a busa ale nosi”.   Masisi knows he cannot govern alone, he knows Botswana is bigger than partisan interests and that it is in the interest of the nation that his relationship with key stakeholders is kept amicable.

Masisi knows government alone cannot solve all the problems facing the nation. Some problems can of course be solved through creation of laws and policies. Some problems will need the intervention of both government and other leaders of the society.  Some solutions can be faith based, hence the need to have church leadership on board. Masisi certainly needs others if he is to become a successful president and create a good legacy for himself.

If he engages others, people will then believe this democracy works for all; that people’s contribution in their democracy is not only limited to just voting and then they are forgotten for the rest of the tenure. A functional democracy is where people are able to engage with the political leadership and be able to provide practical solutions to the problems facing the nation.

This week Masisi met the leadership of the trade unions. The story of government relations with trade unions is well documented. Part of this story include the infamous 2011 ‘Mother of all strikes’ and subsequent draconian laws passed by government. The war between government and BOFEPUSU had left bruises had to be mended.

Still this week, he had to meet the leadership of the opposition two days after a frivolous motion of no confidence against him was tabled by the Leader of Opposition. These simple actions are necessary for a nation building exercise. Masisi must continue engaging other leaders and stakeholders in the country to build a united nation with a shared destiny. Politics should not divide us; we should promote collective responsibility and assure every citizen that he has a role to play. There is still a lot to do Mr President, but the past 100 days have been refreshing and assuring. 



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