The Good, the Bad and the Ugly Road to Denmark

SHARE   |   Monday, 26 September 2016   |   By Adam Phetlhe

Whatever challenges and misfortunes one comes across and whether these are self-inflicted or otherwise, you will probably still be among the lot to celebrate your half century despite the trials and tribulations. Some will celebrate with no reservations while some will do so with a bit of protest. Others won’t altogether. I am celebrating albeit under protest because we started well on the journey but lost direction to the Road to Denmark when we shouldn’t have. It was, and still is within our competence to follow the political compass but it appears we are not willing to do so. The story of the Road to Denmark was brought to our shores in parliament in 2011 by the evergreen and eloquent Rre Botsalo Ntuane who was the leader of opposition then. He was delivering a response to the President’s State of the Nation speech when he said “Madame Speaker, getting to Denmark defines our role in this house. In his latest ground breaking work, The Origins of Political Order, eminent social scientist Francis Fukuyama ventures that every liberal democracy should aspire to emulate Denmark because it represents the ideal society. Denmark is a stable, prosperous, inclusive and honest society. To achieve this a nation must observe three fundamental elements; of rule of law, accountable government and a functioning state….” Every politician should unashamedly identify with this statement. Even those who are politically opposed to Ntuane then and now should have applauded him for such a well-crafted speech! I certainly do!

From the three fundamental elements, coupled with the four founding principles of Democracy, Development, Self-Reliance and Unity, we were on the right track to begin the journey to Denmark as soon as the Union Jack was lowered and the Blue, Black and White flag was hoisted. But the journey was not smooth as overwhelming challenges, some of which could have forced one to give up, cropped up. We shouldered on. One still vividly remembers for example, the Botswana University Campus Appeal (BUCA) which was a campaign grounded on Self-Reliance that led to the firm and solid foundation of the current University of Botswana after the fallout with Lesotho on whose soil the University of Botswana, Lesotho and Swaziland stood and further the need to have our institution of higher learning. But it was not doom and gloom because behind every cloud is a silver lining – diamonds were discovered which somewhat eased our woes. Government was up and running with all the required institutions and structures in place. Naturally and inevitably, we assumed the tag, “The Shining example of Democracy in Africa”. This stood us head and shoulders above the rest on the continent and probably elsewhere and oh boy we were surely and truly on the Road to Denmark. Was this short-lived?

As we continued with the journey, signs of fatigue started to show by blunders from government – the Justice Khumalo investigation on why former President Mogae had issued the Writ of Elections which potentially could have disenfranchised about 60,000 voters with the State of Emergency and the first of its kind in this country, declared; the Christie Commission on corruption allegations at the BHC; the Kgabo Commission on scandalous land deals by political bigwigs; the questionable procurement of unsuitable pipes for the North South Carrier; allegations that former President Masire was bailed out by De Beers from financial problems and finally bought out of office. When these issues became public knowledge, our shining star was beginning to wane off with those who had given us the tag beginning to have a closer look at ourselves. Did we take a hard look at ourselves to say; are we still on the right track? Events unfolding subsequent to this don’t suggest so with the requirements for the Road to Denmark becoming glaringly compromised and manipulated to follow a different direction. This is the bad part of the Road to Denmark.

The ugly part of our journey moved from bad to worse because the culture of corruption, self-preservation and downright entitlement took centre stage bordering on institutionalisation of such with the three fundamental elements of the rule of law, accountable government and a functioning state virtually no longer in our vocabulary. All institutions critical to the execution of the three fundamental elements were located under the direct supervision of the Presidency. This, to say the least, has substantially regressed our “Vision and Mission statements” with the end result that the difference between party and government is blurred and perhaps fatally flawed. Financial mismanagement, wasteful expenditure and the lack of political will to deal with these “misfortunes” have led to our untold suffering because those with political will are “accomplices” in the very act. If you were to consolidate all government money lost through financial mismanagement and wasteful expenditure and that nobody is responsible for it, you will be shocked to the core. Day in and day out, we are told about sustainable and permanent job creation initiatives which haven’t produced such jobs; job summits are held year in and year out without anything to show for it while in the meantime the unemployment rate keeps rising.

Parliament is now used as a platform to cater for narrow-ended agendas as opposed to largely people centred agendas. If I were to mention all the issues which make the Road to Denmark ugly, it would be as good as writing a book. As a Motswana celebrating 50 years of independence, you pretty much know what I am talking about. We have travelled The Good, the Bad and the Ugly Road to Denmark and this notwithstanding, I will celebrate under protest because I believe we have the competence to have dealt with the bad and ugly part more decisively. No government will ever be 100% competent but any government should strive to attain the highest success rate by observing the three fundamental elements of the rule of law, accountability and a functioning state. When we strive to attain the highest percentage points possible in each element, we will regain our lost tag of “The shining example of Democracy in Africa”, a strong indication that we are surely and truly on the Road to Denmark. But as things stand, anybody who purports to be on the right track is simply consumed by delusional disorder. Nevertheless, happy Jubilee celebrations regardless of whether our current misfortunes are self-inflicted or otherwise.

Adam Phetlhe
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