Batswana Should Stop Treating Leaders Like Gods

The argument by UDC President, Duma Boko, that it is potentially corrupt for outgoing Botswana President Ian Khama to receive presents in his farewell tours has aroused a very interesting debate in which he is being criticized for being heartless and “taking from the poor” when he is already a man of means.
This is a very important debate which must be viewed beyond just being an attack on Khama but must be an opportunity for elected officials and public officers to assess their roles in relation to their service to the public for whom they are entrusted resources and the faith to be reasonable, prudent and efficient when delivering their mandate. The first problem is that the cultural psychological fixation of Batswana to exalt the status of leaders (of any kind) to the point of treating them like deities. Consider how people generally react to Khama and even Boko; Khama being a Kgosi and son of the founding president Sir Seretse Khama inhibits many people and leads to a feudal power dynamic whereby some people literally roll on the ground in reverence of him or fear to tell him he is wrong when he is wrong. It should not surprise anyone that there is an ongoing zeal to shower the outgoing president with gifts of all manner, expensive or cheap because even if the gifts are not coerced, the psychology of many Batswana is not to immediately worry about their own condition if there is an opportunity to demonstrate love, reverence, curry favour or make a spectacle to demonstrate loyalty, for whatever reason, to a leader.
Opposition leader Boko also has a similar effect on his followers who exalt his intelligence, good oratory skills, celebrate the fact that he is a lawyer as well as for his much-vaunted Harvard education. This will be the case even if the UDC wins the 2019 elections. However, what is different is whether or not leaders, public office holders and politicians have the humility to demonstrate that they understand that they exist to serve the public and not the other way around.    However, it is well documented in Africa and other third world countries that leaders often get lost in the thrill and privilege of power that they soon start acting like Gods; taking from the poor- instead of giving.
In that vein, while many people criticize Khama for his ‘shameless’ acceptance of gifts, Batswana must reflect long and hard on their tendency to exalt leaders to the level of deities.