The Kgotla remains a vital organ in this republican democracy. For a long time it has been the place where Batswana are consulted about issues that affect their lives and their country (morero) – a means through which participatory democracy was realized. Because they would have had a say, the people felt closer to the decisions that the Government took even where they disagreed with the Government.
During President Khama’s administration, the culture appears to have dwindled, the Government has, without any explanation, completely abandoned governance through consultation and substituted it with governance by directives. On very critical issues touching at the core of people’s lives the people are ambushed with policies and not invited to take part in the formulation of such policies.
Yes consultation is such an easy process. All that is require is before taking a final decision, the Government ought to explain to the affected individuals the decision that the Government intends to take and then give the people the opportunity to reflect on what the Government proposes to do and indicate their views on it.
The Health Policy and the amendment of the Electoral Act are two life-altering decisions that ought never to be taken for granted by a government that has the best interests of its people at heart. In handling these issues the Government proceeds like Cabinet was under a psychotropic drug. It violated all the basics.
Even though such a policy could never be a product of a sensible and fully rational government, and it is a shame that such has occurred, the Government ought to have indicated its intention to introduce a policy excluding individuals from government medical aid and explaining the reasons for such a policy.
Accountability requires that the Government ought to reason with the people and convince them of a pressing social need necessitating such a drastic policy intervention. Policy decisions ought to be based on scientific data not some fleeting passions of a vexed powerful and emotional government official.
This is what ought to have occurred also in respect of the Electronic Voting Machine (EVM). Instead of meeting in the darkness of the night, at a time when the people are attending to the mundane- to their wives and children, when the people are contemplating issues of national governance and democracy, and passing a law, this process ought to have been proceeded by adequate consultation. Show the people, the voters, that there is a good case for changing the method of voting and give them time to reflect and debate the issue in the democratic spaces.
The Government must then actively listen to the people and where necessary engage them to give more clarification. It’s in the nature of a republican democracy, the model constitutionally adopted. Also, it’s about the health of their bodies and their right to vote. The Government ought to actively listen to its people.
In the Health Policy such opportunity did not arise. It was as if the night before some powerful government official entertained a nightmare, a terrible dream where Batswana were all irresponsible smokers and drunkards known to frequently committing suicide for the hell of it, for fun and entertainment. The assumptions underlying the Policy were as insulting as there were idiotic.
Ponder this – in matters as grave as these two, affecting life, limb and liberty, why would a Government of the people by the people not consult the people?
It seems to me that only a callous, numb and insensitive bully of a government thinking it’s people unworthy of a place in governance and in the regulation of their lives, that the people are bereft and destitute of the mental abilities to perceive a wrong committed against them, a government not giving a hoot about the proper means of a running a country, can do that.