It has become somewhat of a crutch for the idiotic – an excuse to hoodwink – a scapegoat of biblical proportions. Like a new convert, I do want to believe, but it is hard. I want to believe the tale that national projects have hit a snag because of the economic downturn of the past few months. There might be truth in this, but how is one to know. I want to believe that the government is broke not because of its own doing, but because of ‘international events’ beyond the government’s control. But it is hard for me to believe because the signs are that re mo letlepung le le thethebatsang pelo. Go a jewa; go a rugwa. Golo mono tlhe banna madi a a rugwa! Ke lebiiiile, mme ga ke rate! Banna tlhe batho ba a ja ba a kgora! A few months ago we were talking about government tenders awarded to relatives – a husband’s ministry awarding a tender to a wife’s company. It was a simple point, this doesn’t look right. It appears like conflict of interest. Those who took this line of argument were shouted down. Then there is the story of an expensive fridge bought for a minister which refuses to go away. Mme fa ke utlwa foriji e ga e mabaibai, ke foriji fela. We have now recently heard now of the P300,000 spent on one minister’s furniture. One could have bought a house with that amount. At another level this talk of fridges and furniture is terribly unfair since I have suspicion that many individuals have stolen millions and here we are concentrating on a few thousands. Hear me and hear me well, the reason why many MPs don’t want the Freedom of Information Act is that it will reveal detail that many are uncomfortable about. Lefatshe leno le gopetswe, e bile bangwe ba tsweletse ba le ja magopelo le ntse le tsamaya. Bangwe ga ba robale, they are wondering when and if details of their impropriety will be revealed. It therefore appears that this country moves forward stable and peaceful, riding that old English saying of ignorance is bliss. It moves like a deceptive river, calm at top, but turbulent underneath. To reveal has therefore become to tamper; to insult bagolo. The truth of the matter is that what has been unearthed is the tip of an iceberg; ke nko ya sekaku, modingwana, phologolo or tlhagala. This winter of discontent will not pass until we have been treated to more Chappies messages: “Did you know”… And like a giant chappies, the stories have become quicksand on which many are stuck and sinking.
Now we are on another story. Over P26 million was redirected from the National Disaster Relief Fund and used to establish a spy agency, DIS. P26 million is a lot of money. Before we get carried away on this matter, let us remember that the point here is not that someone has stolen over P26 million for themselves. The argument is also not that DIS is useless. What concerns us here is maladministration. The point is that P26 million that was reserved for dibetsa tsa tlholego or ditiro tsa Modimo as some word call them, was taken to fund the establishment of a spy agency. The second problem is that those who authorised such redirection of funds seem to have had no authority to do so. The minister who authorised such financial transfers seems to have been an extraordinarily gifted man with the ability of prophets and Hercules. He is quoted as having observed that he was “…confident that there was, in the circumstances then prevailing, minimal chance that the funds would be required for disaster…” How could a mortal, motho wa nama le madi, know such things? Perhaps he had confirmed with Radithupa Radithupa that floods were not imminent. Perhaps the Nigeria prophet had prophesised that there wouldn’t be any calamity that would befall the country. We don’t know. The problem with this development is that it gives an impression of a fridge government – a government that doesn’t care about the most vulnerable members of its society. To take money a ditiro tsa Modimo is to venture into the feared and like Achebe’s little bird nza, it is to challenge the gods to a wrestling match. However we must praise PPADB for showing us that in the middle of this current madness there is hope for this country. Sometimes we stay hopeless feeling that various directors and government departments consider the voice of a minister as God’s law handed down from Mount Sinai. We need real checks and balances so that our rotten side doesn’t overwhelm our reasonable side. This is all in the interest of the country. We must agree that there are virtues central to this country that regardless of a political party, these virtues must be protected and defended. These include freedom of expression, an anti-corruption culture, tolerance and a deep concern for the disadvantaged members of our community. We must uproot greed and an assumption that political position is a free ticket to reckless living. One of the first ways of doing this is to ensure that parliament doesn’t decide on the salaries of its members. Batho ga ba nke ba ituela – go rotloetsa bosenyi. An independent committee must sort this matter out. Mme gone ke tshwenyegile ka gore golo mono tlhe banna gone madi a a rugwa!