A mortgaged democracy

Much has been written and views expressed about the deportation of Professor Kenneth Good. The deportation has far reaching consequences for our democracy.

I debated before writing this letter, whether it would be a good idea given the uncertainty of the times. My conscience gave in because I have been disturbed by how cruel and vindictive the whole process of serving the deportation order on Good has been. Just to recap, the order was served after 5pm, when all airline ticket offices and travel agents had been closed. He was to leave within 48 hours. At the time of the service of the order, his child was at school and possibly preparing for midterm tests. The day of the order was carefully chosen, a Friday, when the university community would have gone for the weekend and lawyers’ offices closed. Saturday would have been half a day, no time to go to the bank and be able to buy an air ticket and no time to get a transfer from Maru a Pula. Forget the classes Good was taking. To the Government that was not a consideration.

Forget the call for compassion as espoused by Vision 2016. Oliphant Mfa’s premonition rang in my head. Flowing from the background in question, I find an enquiry on the State President, his deputy and indeed the state of our democracy relevant. President Festus Mogae ascended to the presidency not through the will of the people, but through the will of the then President, Ketumile Masire. The constitution was changed to block esteemed leaders such as David Magang and Ponatshego Kedikilwe from ascending to the top position. If President Mogae was a proven economist, David Magang was a proven businessman. When Mogae took over, the Vice Presidency was given to Khama. Roy Blackbeard was conveniently retired and offered a diplomatic post in England. President Mogae was to continue where his predecessor had left off.

He allowed the Vice President to fly BDF aircraft. When there was an outcry, technical terms were coined to describe Khama as a member of the reserve army. Is Mompati Merafhe a member of the reserve army? The Vice President was given sabbatical leave, became a minister without portfolio etc. Before the 2004 election results were known, the President threatened to call for fresh election if Parliament failed to endorse his choice of Vice President. Like Masire, he was effectively imposing his choice on us. Turning to the Vice President makes for interesting observation. No sooner had he ascended to the position of Vice Presidency, than he appointed from the army, as his personal secretary, Isaac Kgosi, who was appointed above a number of people who had worked in the civil service and who knew far more about governance than he did. This is not an attack on Kgosi, but since the Vice President is about to assume the Presidency, questions must be asked. Will Kgosi be appointed the PSP? We ask these questions because we need to know what special attributes are associated with those that are appointed to advise our leaders. In South Africa, Vice President Jacob Zuma’s qualifications are matters of public knowledge.

President Mogae’s qualifications are also known. Why can’t we know the qualifications of our own Vice President without fearing for our lives? Our Vice President finds nothing wrong with flying the army aircraft in the midst of public outcry. For him, the voice of the people does not matter. The country is his father’s estate! As a matter of observation, every time controversy arises, our President is always out of the country. In passing, it is appalling that when our judges are criticised and their judgments ridiculed by MPs, the Executive keeps quiet. Botsalo Ntuane was out of line to attack Justice Isaac Lesetedi at a forum he knew would not solicit rebuttal. I, and I believe that this goes for many of my colleagues, hold our judiciary in high esteem. We do not need assistance from populists to disagree with our judiciary. Our judges are men and women of unquestionable integrity and we shall continue to accord them the respect they deserve. In conclusion, how different is this government from the governments of Togo and others, where constitutions are changed for the benefit of an individual, in our case, whose special attributes are unknown? Has this country been mortgaged for the benefit of certain individuals? I read Professor Good’s article and I agree with it.

Government agents may silence people like Duma Boko, but it can never take away our conscience to question and cry out against injustices. Botswana is not a tuck-shop, it is a big organisation that must be manned by men and women who are not only competent, educated, tolerant but who above all are democratic and listen to the voice of the people, for the voice of the people is the voice of God.

We reproduce Kebonang’s letter published by Mmegi in 2005. The decision to re-publish the letter was influenced by Kebonang’s attempt to spin and sanitise Isaac Kgosi battered public image. The turn coat in Kebonang is currently leading a crusade to protect Kgosi against DCEC investigation.

Last modified on Wednesday, 20 August 2014 15:58

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