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Cry My Beloved Country

Publishing Date : 08 January, 2019

Author :

MAXWELL MOTHAPELARURI MOATHUDI

I am deeply concerned my brothers and sisters. I am deeply concerned about my country; makes me remember Alan Patton of “Cry my beloved country” novel, during my teenage years at “Swaneng ke Swaneng”. Go diragala eng ka hatshe la rona betsho?


 Since 2014 or there about, I have spent sleepless nights asking myself this very question; albeit with no answers. Our country has been inundated with streams and streams of arguments and counter-arguments aimed at nothing. Nothing because it seems the arguments and counter-arguments are not providing any answers. The newspapers have been choke-filled with articles concerning politics and corruption, with no end in sight, though this is something (kudos my brethren in the private media industry), at least.


We have been busy cultivating corruption and corrupt people and making them part of our culture. Yes! Culture is man-made; but do we have to inculcate corruption into it (our culture)? Our clinics and hospitals are without the requisite drugs, to a point where, in a bid to cover up for our failures, we have started categorising drugs as vital, necessary and so on and so forth.


A drug is a drug, and its purpose is to save and/or preserve human life; no matter how we try to classify it. So! Let there be drugs, vital or whatever, for our people need them. But, is this possible with this rampant corruption? Hardly! The decade up to 2018 saw unabated and unprecedented corruption in our midst. Let us draw a list (even if I tried or anyone tried, the list cannot be exhausted: corruption has been made part of our culture):
 

  1. Morupule B Project (P10 billion +)
  2. Fengue Glass Plant (P500 million +)
  3. National Petroleum Fund (P250 million)
  4. Botswana Public Officers’ Pension Fund (BPOPF) – P400 million))
  5. Ministry of Youth Empowerment, Sports and Culture Development (MYESC) – BOT50 Independence Celebrations (millions of Pula)
  6. e-Government (P500 million +)
  7. Digital migration (P180 million +)
     

The list goes on and on … and I am not going to attempt to address all the above incidences; I leave it to you to conjure-up what effect this will have on an ordinary Motswana’s livelihood. At the least, these are some of the scandals that made major headlines and have an everlasting impact on the lives of us, the ordinary citizens.


Do we have any recourse? I doubt; for we are a very humble people and believe all will come to pass. Come to pass, my foot, whilst the majority of well-meaning, hardworking citizens die of hunger and disease. Come to pass, my foot, while the majority of our citizens do not have portable drinking water, accommodation, electricity, you name it. What in God’s name happened to this beautiful country and its humble people? The answer lies somewhere in the just past decade.


We need to be reminded that, with the disappearance of the pension funds, and mind you, this affects the whole public service, a hundred thousand (100 000+) and counting; people are going to suffer. Let us remember that these are the very people who the Unions, Medical Aid Funds, Banks and so on and so forth pester during their active life and avoid like a scourge once they are out of work (pensioning).


Some might ask; but what is the direct impact of this on society? The question is very appropriate, and I will attempt, from my lay-man’s point of view, to hazard (just on the surface though) the impact this unabated corruption has or will definitely have on the masses; I take two or three examples.
 

Morupule B Project

How many of us depend on electric energy from Botswana Power Corporation (BPC) for a living? Oh! Is it living or survival? I guess the question should be; how many of us depend on BPC electric energy for survival? You might not recognise it, but for us to just survive, we depend very much on electric energy. How many of you ever considered how life “will be” if there is no telecommunications? Just telecommunications, nothing life threatening.


I am saying “will be” because the electric energy fiasco is far from over, and all because of the rampant corruption. Mascom, be Mobile, Orange and even the Botswana Telecommunications Corporation (BTC) fixed lines and associated services will go down in the absence of electric energy from BPC. The services will go down since all these entities do not have back-up systems, or if they have, they are entirely unreliable. If you think I am lying, just wait and see.


Water Utilities Corporation (WUC) depends on BPC electric energy to pump the very water the lucky few who have access to portable water rely on and if they have any back-up system to talk about, it is not reliable enough for our survival; just wait and see. The hospitals and clinics; do they have any reliable back-up systems? Just wait and see. What use will be our mobile phones, our lap-tops, desk-tops and all such goodies, in the absence of BPC electric energy? Just wait and see. We still import basics like candles, and they are going to be in demand, and expensive; who can afford paraffin with the ever rising cost of fuel? Another by-product of corruption.


Do not let anyone lie to you that our electric energy problems are about to be a thing of the past. I learnt very recently that the sale of Morupule B is on the cards once again. Will this be in the interest of Batswana or we are just opening another avenue for corruption. “Ke a bona madi a motho a saa berekelang, madi a bogodu, a monate thata”. Are these few ladies and gentlemen permanently wired for corruption? Is corruption part of their DNA? It seems, otherwise how does one start to explain their insatiable appetite to destroy “the people’s lives”. In Phikwe we are left in the dark every time the wind blows or it rains. I assume there is no money to repair the very old electrical infrastructure. And where has the money gone? The corruption route; where else?


Fengue Glass Plant

This is yet another project where we failed as a nation, because of the rampant corruption; and we remained and still remain silent. The loss of a job by the then Botswana Development Corporation (BDC) chief accounting officer was not a solution. A thousand prospective jobs disappeared into thin air. These jobs will have gone a long way in alleviating the growing unemployment and attendant poverty. These one thousand people, who would have been employed at the plant, would have assisted us in fighting the growing poverty; we still depend on the extended family structure mind you, and now more than ever; we just might not realise it.


Botswana Public Officers’ Pension Fund (BPOPF)

This one is really heart-breaking; how exactly does one explain stealing from one-self? I thought maybe we could hide behind a finger and claim the government money we steal is not ours; but stealing pension funds, how absurd! So! We steal from ourselves; how shameful! We are talking of money belonging to more than one hundred thousand people, the majority of whom are innocent, hardworking family men and women. In short we are talking of stealing directly from more than three hundred thousand people; that is a sixth of the population. Re bolaile sechaba! I keep saying we; yes it is us because we are as guilty as those with their hands in the cookie jar. We are not making the right noises and therefore we are as guilty as the real culprits.


I mentioned earlier that we still depend on the extended family structure and as such we need to factor in three or more people per “one” of the more than one hundred thousand plus directly affected and we are talking of more than a sixth of our population. Shameful, isn’t it? But here we are, silent as ever. These corrupt fellas take our silence as motivation. We should be making a lot of noise, this despite the legislation denying us the right to peaceful demonstration.


Geez! Fifty years on and we are still not allowed to go into the streets to protest, and it is as normal as going to sleep on an empty stomach, in a dark, little house without portable water! Yes! We are the real cheer leaders! Go on guys, loot the country, there is no one watching! I do not know, “gongwe re tshaba di-sjambok! A mme gone thupa ea bolaya?” On a serious note though, are we willing to subordinate our rights on the basis of fear of being beaten up? Are we willing to let a few individuals enrich themselves at the expense of more than two million people on the basis of fear? Come on!


This deafening silence is amazing and leads me to think that maybe we are all involved. Are we lurking in the shadows, to pounce, in the event that an opportunity presents itself? Or maybe, just maybe, from the extended family perspective, we all get kick-backs from this incessant corruption. I fail to understand how a people, robbed in broad day light, can afford to sit back and relax and think this milking of our economy will come to an end.


You see, corruption is like an infectious disease, it permeates society to a point where everyone is infected. It seems we might just get to that point, a point where every jack and jill is involved in corruption. I call upon you Batswana, let us stand up against corruption, that is, if we are not all involved. We cannot leave it to state machinery like the DCEC, they cannot fight it alone.


As if the above is not enough, our Chiefs are at it. I wrote in one of my past articles that our Members of Parliament (MPs) will soon be demanding luxury, chauffeured seven series BMWs. Before the ink has even dried on the paper, members of the House of Chiefs (Marara), are up in arms demanding chauffeured seven series BMWs. Come on guys! Where will the money come from? The above list represents roughly P12 billion of wasted/looted public funds and you want to add more to these losses. I have just enquired on the price of a brand new BMW seven series (P1.2 million), and from the top of my head we have roughly forty (40) members in the House of Chiefs. So! Our dear esteemed Marara want to take at least another P48 million from the public coffers, and for what, absolutely nothing!


I wish we could take ourselves more seriously. Where is the P48 million coming from? A total of 46 432 candidates sat for this year’s Primary School Leaving Examination, with a 99.9-% pass. Assuming they will all be admitted to Junior Secondary school, we are looking at nearly 50 000 pupils who will need classrooms, well paid and motivated caretakers (teachers, cleaners, cooks, etc., etc.), stationary and the like. Where do you think the money needed to take care of these poor fellas’ education will come from?


These are your very own children, your very own grand-children, ladies and gentlemen in the House of Chiefs, please think of them. It is required of you to be selfless. It is required of you to serve this nation, please be reasonable and stop comparing yourselves to Government Ministers. What will happen to this beautiful country and its humble people if everyone else wants to have what others have? If at least you had a reason for wanting luxury chauffeured cars, besides comparing yourselves to Government Ministers, I might just, just might, be on your side, not now! What value does a chauffeured BMW seven series add to the job you do? Absolutely nothing! You will still be expected to carry out your duties diligently even if you had to drive yourself to work in a “MaoFit”.


Some of us are working very hard to acquire such BMWs for ourselves, without asking the tax payer to foot the bill; why can’t you? Some of us are trying very hard not to be wasteful of public resources, because they belong to the future generation. Let us all, dear Batswana, strive to make this, our country, a bastion of selflessness. We have a future generation to think of. A generation of innocent children. Let us think of them!

Maxwell Mothapelaruri Moathudi writes from Selebi-Phikwe 

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