Botswana: Lest We Forget!

Published on 24th May 2017

In 2015, I read in one of the British journals, past Tory Premier, Edward Heath, 1970-1974, deceased in 2005, was being investigated posthumously for sexual abuse crimes , 10 years after his death! I know of Setswana saying, ‘Molato ga obole”(crime/debt doesn’t decay)!

I hardly imagined the expression implied that even after the flesh and bones of the perpetrator of the crime or the victim’s had long decayed, the crime/debt lives on. I however remembered Mark Antony’s funeral oration by Julius Caesar’s graveside: “The evil that men do, lives after them; the good is often interred with their bones.” Obviously the (colonial) master and servant shared certain concepts, albeit in their diverse tongues.

There’s poignant irony in Mark Anthony’s oration. The human history norm is studded with statues and monuments of great men; here and there, women, who excelled in their relationships with fellow humans, guaranteeing themselves evergreen memory in the annals of history.  Mark Anthony’s oration, the irony spin notwithstanding, conveys subtle element of truth. The evil men, that men do may not be depicted or reproduced in monuments or on their embalmed tombs, but it nevertheless , lives forever in  written or oral and carried from generation to generation. Think of Cain the fratricide, Lot’s wife, Hitler, Pol Pot, Stalin, Mobutu Se Se Seko, Idi Amin.

Premier Edward Heath’s investigation revolves around alleged children sexual abuse. The allegation is, a retired policeman claimed that in 1992 a prosecution against a brothel-keeper was dropped after he/she threatened to expose Edward Heath crimes. More cases against Heath were pending.  Apparently, junior officers, previously ignored or suppressed by corrupt senior authorities, decided, without fear or favour to open Heath’s can of worms concealed under the carpet of official impunity.

Does Edward Heath in his grave or his ilk across the globe care? After all, he is dead, or they are dead. Do they care while alive about the wrong they do, ever coming back to haunt them in their graves or scandalising their kinsmen’s when they are gone? Imagine committing scandalous, atrocious, heinous, abominable crimes of whatever nature, because you’re in power and untouchable. The substance of the history of brutality, corruption, dishonesty, arrogance committed by dictators, autocrats, charlatans, does it mean anything to all these political muggers? Do the Edward Heaths of this world care how such history might affect their legacy beyond the grave, or… ?

I hear the Ministry of Health and Wellness in Botswana, has issued a saving-gram listing what conditions of health or un-wellness, public health facilities must, by order provide or deliver at a price. These range from injuries sustained under influence of alcohol to attempted suicide and injuries suffered during riotous assemblies…Self-inflicted harm in human society is elastic, basically a product from many interrelated sources full of subtle contradictions, making human beings a unique species.  Human values and norms instruct us to be our brothers/sisters’ keepers, but like Cain, the son of Adam and Eve, we deny without blush that we are our siblings’ keepers. Wittingly or unwittingly the seed of self-destruction in the family of man is sown on the fertile soil of greed and self-centredness!

Think of circumstances under which some of our brothers/sisters attempt:  suicide, drug and alcohol abuse, attend potentially riotous protest marches, suffer any imaginable so-called self-inflicted pain or injury. Any and/or all these, may be motivated by personal interactions with members of one’s circle, peers, relatives, boss(es) at work; more specifically, it may be the result of public authorities deficient policies, programmes and laws! How Batswana behave is often a function of outside influences, particularly mismanagement of political affairs. Think of one fellow Motswana who owns property across the length and breadth of Botswana: farms, cave(s), island (s), companies, houses, motor vehicles, choppers, boat(s), caravan(s), island, although unmarried and childless. Meantime you have a spouse, eight children, without a job, without a sleigh, without means to rent a room to sardine-pack your brood; what options do you have for decent survival? Should anybody be alarmed when you attempt suicide, or you’re sucked into the quicksand of alcohol or drug abuse through peers who suffer the same unfortunate circumstances?

 Meanwhile we’re told: Botswana is a democracy, Batswana are equal before the law, Government has obligations to ensure all enjoy human rights, including good health and decent life, blah, blah. However, we observe other people’s fortunes in contrast with our own and realise the only difference between one-self and the better off, isn’t necessarily their higher intelligence, better education or hard work, but that they were either born with a silver spoon in the mouth or had privileged opportunities of self-enrichment by exploiting fellowmen/women and/or by inheritance and corruption!

The saving-gram was issued by the tit-for-tat Minister, who admonished voters during a by-election campaign a couple years back, to stop voting opposition BNF, if they knew which side their bread was buttered. Of course, she serves as cat’s paw of an even more sinister Executive who demands blind allegiance!

Batswana may wonder why BDP is jittery about losing 2019 elections to the extent of imposing EVMs. The party is trembling at prospect of a victorious opposition, hauling the corrupt BDP leaders before court, prosecuting them for sins committed while in power.  But, lest we forget: the Edward Heath, ‘Molato-ga-o-bole’ approach is initiative of elements in Heath’s own party! Similarly, within BDP we know, there are diamond nuggets inside the cesspool of its corrupt stable. The righteous exist inside the BDP and will emerge to fumigate the stable of the scum within its walls, not the opposition, whose priority is serving the long neglected people’s interests!

Michael Dingake

Botswana Political Activist and Writer.

Courtesy: Mmegi online.

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