What’s wrong with Duma Boko?

Thabo Masokola
Tuesday, 07 May 2019
What’s wrong with Duma Boko?

He said it. You heard it. You saw it. Therefore, for civility and normative ethics reasons, let us not credit Duma Boko’s disgusting remarks on Atsile Masisi by repeating them here. Like the rest of the nation, I am left speechless by the snarky, petty, juvenile antics of the aspiring president of Botswana.

For a moment, just stretch your imagination, perhaps to a breaking point and imagine Botswana under a leader who carries such malice against innocent souls (children). It is hard to imagine, but it is incumbent upon all of us to ensure it does not happen in our lifetime, not even in God’s lifetime. It is our patriotic duty to safeguard our tolerant and inclusive normative value system anchored on Botho. The point is I would have equally been disgusted had it been anybody hurling such obscenities to Boko’s children. The question on everybody’s lips is, when did the Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) politics hit this rock bottom? If their leader’s public comments are anything to go by, then they represent a very dangerous strain in contemporary politics.

As far as I am concerned, insults and outrageous comments can never be a cornerstone of a mature and intelligent political strategy. If for some reason you may think I am overrating strategy, just take a look at US President, Donald Trump, he has won power, but he has so far been unable to rule. He moves in circles, hoping from issue to issue; today it's North Korea, tomorrow it's Venezuela and the next day it's Iran and at the end of the day, it is all much ado about nothing. The way I understand it, our political rallies and other public platforms have always been used by parties to sell their different political ambitions and policies. No matter how weird some of those ideas were, they were nevertheless given audience because they were always in a respectful tone.  But Boko’s recent remarks clearly indicate that rules of civility definitely have taken a back seat. By seeking to blur the lines between what is acceptable and not acceptable, it is testimony that the shock value is gone.

We should not allow personal, more slash and burn politics to be part of our modern election dialogue. For us the electorates, content is more than triviality and cheap-talk. We are attracted to issues that seek to secure better life for all Batswana, not abusive language. If Boko has run out of content, he should not think demeaning an innocent child could be interpreted as a stroke of a political genius.  If he has personal issues with President Masisi, that is between him and the latter, it has nothing to do with the little girl.  As a leader and a father, we thought Boko intuitively knew that he carried moral duty to protect children and provide for their physical and emotional safety. As a father, we thought he could promote development of positive parenting skills and a secure parent-child attachment to those that look up to him. But his remarks prove us very wrong.

Political parties and their members should be among the foremost champions of child protection. Perhaps most importantly, they should advocate within their constituencies for an end to violence and abuse against children. They should challenge attitudes and beliefs that treat violence against children as inevitable or harmless. They should spread the message that violence against children is preventable and further mobilise political will required to put an end to such violence. But Boko has decided to throw away his moral responsibility towards Atsile in favour of scoring political ‘points.’ On a positive note, he has just made our voting easy; #Eseng mo Ngwaneng.

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