About Masisi sneaking away
On a score of the fact that they earn a salary, put in a number of set hours in a workday, habitually come late to work and are members of a workplace tea club, presidents are also workers and have inalienable workers’ rights.
In Botswana, one of those rights includes disappearing from work at any time of the workday or not coming to work for days on end. Doing that elsewhere would be an offence but in Botswana, no punitive action is taken against workers who do that – which elevates this sort of self-indulgence to the level of a right. Male workers in the civil service are known to hang their jackets from the back of a chair in their offices and disappear for days.
Colleagues stopping by the office would, on seeing the jacket, think that the occupant is on the traditional three-hour mokwetjepe run when, in fact, he may, at that particular time, have stopped off at Kaytees Restaurant in Mahalapye to hoard delicious Setswana chicken pieces on his way home. Football players do the same thing. That explains why the Zebras lose so many games because, all too often, players just disappear from their positions in the backline and the enemy team easily scores.
Even leaders can disappear at a time that they are needed the most. After the 2019 elections, Duma Boko, the president of the Umbrella for Democratic Change, disappeared for a full week at a time that most party supporters needed grief counselling.
That is context in which one fails to understand the brouhaha over President Mokgweetsi Masisi disappearing from work earlier this month. Why is it that Batswana want to deny Masisi a right that they themselves have enjoyed for decades? If he ever feels the need to respond, the president should invoke John 8: 7: “Let any one of you who is without [absenteeism] sin be the first to throw a stone.” And, if the issue becomes as serious as to require the intervention of the Gaborone Labour Office, Masisi should involve the trade union for African leaders – the African Union.
Kgosikgolo Satar Dada
For two centuries now, capitalist over-achiever, Mr. Satar Dada, has been the treasurer of the Botswana Democratic Party and nothing suggests that he is about to step down any time soon. Mr. Dada’s name is on the lobby lists of each of the two competing campaigns, one headed by Vice President Slumber Tsogwane and the other by former cabinet minister, Nonofo Molefhi.
We apologise for our use of Mr. with regard to the subject in question because at this point, and in terms of centuries-old indigenous culture, he is practically royalty. We should actually refer to him as Kgosikgolo Dada because his hegemony has long transcended mere political incumbency.
Finland should benchmark with us
We don’t know what nature of bilateral relations Botswana has with Finland but the latest “scandal” in the latter country strongly suggests that the Finnish are passing up opportunity to learn from us. A couple of days ago, Finnish Prime Minister Sanna Marin partied until four in the morning, twerking up a storm.
This is supposed to be a scandal and some have called on the 35-year old Marin to resign. Clearly the Finnish don’t know what a “scandal” is and we propose that a Finnish delegation should benchmark with Botswana on what constitutes a scandal.
A scandal is an improperly awarded government tender with a value of at least nine digits; or throwing open borders at the height of a deadly pandemic to let in people from the epicentre of infection; or planning to confiscate undeveloped plots from owners in the middle of a pandemic-ravaged economy; or asking a nation of non-readers to review a 69-page constitution. Partying until 4 a.m. is what we would call Block 6 in Botswana and is not even long enough compared to the partying that political leaders do at Sandveldt farms.
The Marin “scandal” illuminates another issue that should resonate with Batswana: if you allow children into politics, you should expect childish behaviour in politics. The difference between Finland and Botswana though is that in the case of the former, the childish conduct happened outside normal working hours and at a nightclub. In Botswana, it routinely happens during working hours at the legislative assembly – which is why we also propose that the Finnish delegation visiting Botswana to benchmark on scandals should do so when parliament is sitting.
Thabo Mbeki’s ‘scuttlebutting’
As Africans, we need to be wary about those among us who proclaim the highest ideals of pan-Africanism while simultaneously projecting what they believe is western sophistication. A couple of days back, former South African president Thabo Mbeki got into a public spat with Julius Malema, a rabble-rouser who is somehow leader of a political party with millions of supporters. Mbeki said that what Malema had said about him was “scuttlebutt.” A man who famously and publicly proclaimed his Africanness in a speech can’t find an insult in the many African languages of South Africa and has to borrow one from the west - only to hurl it at a Standard 7 drop-out.