African Press International (API)

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Botswana: Khama too powerful, says university lecturer

Posted by African Press International on August 25, 2008

Gaborone (Botswana) – University of Botswana (UB) lecturer, Log Raditlhokwa, says that the Botswana government is distrustful of the country’s intelligentsia so it fails to utilise its intellectual resources to develop the country.

Speaking at an ongoing annual conference on economic policy in Africa, he said that intellectuals need more space in order to bring their influence to bear on policy making at government level. Due to the mistrust that exists between government and UB lecturers and other sectors, government is likely to lose their contributions. Government should not be fearful of divergent views, he said.

“There is a huge problem, especially that we have a new president whose approach to government has question marks. The President, due to his popularity, has become an institution within the state. He has become too powerful and if that power was to be shared, it would work well for the country. But due to mistrust of intellectuals, we might see a lot of intellectuals being marginalised,” he said.

He said that the exclusion of intellectuals in the recently appointed Morals Committee is a case in point that government is suspicious of them. “There are capable people like Dr Monageng Mogalakwe, a sociologist, who could have been co-opted into the committee to meaningfully contribute in its work,” he said.

According to him, government is likely to rely only on foreign consultants and sycophants of the state to carry out research projects relating to government policy. This, he said, is largely due to the fact that the new government is against anyone who criticises it.

“The new leader is imposing directives. Even if intellectuals try to engage government departments it will be difficult because critical thinking is not encouraged,” he said.

Intellectuals both at government and in the university, he said, are straight-jacketed and not expected to think broadly, such that even the political elites within government are silenced and made to think about protecting their jobs.

He dismissed as fallacious what he calls government thinking that it cannot rule without intellectuals, especially those with discordant views. He said that not everyone at UB is a political activist.

“We need to talk about how we can work together to make our country a success. When you are critical of government you are labelled a politician, but what I know is that university empowers its lecturers and students to critically assess issues constructively.

We are not being listened to because we are seen as against the system. We should apply ourselves tactfully and not succumb to government attitude because we have to pay back the nation for educating us,” he said.

He said despite his limitations, Khama has come up with his road map, which intellectuals should partake in, to find their place in it and help develop Botswana.

He hailed the president’s intention to cut the long government bureaucracy and rallied intellectuals to seize the opportunity to serve their country by contributing ideas and solutions to national issues.

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API/Source.Mmegi(Botswana), by Ephraim Keoreng

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