Every household in Botswana – be it a multi-million Pula mansion in Phakalane, a two and a half in Naledi, a home in Nata, and even a rondavel at the lands in the western Kweneng – has as a Number 10, the ever-present three-legged cooking pot.
Although the vernacular for the “poto” is number ten, it is the number three that we should venerate, acknowledging the stability of our venerable cooking utensil.
Throughout history the number three is a special number. The belief in the triumvirate of the Holy Trinity concept of a balance of forces brings joy and home. The calls Liberté, Egalité, Fraternité unified France in the 19th Century after the French Revolution and finds its way into the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
Destiny’s Child is another number 3 which balanced the talents of Beyoncé Knowles. Kelly Rowland and Michelle Williams.
But the number 3 that concerns us most is the foundation, and fundamental institutions of our Government – the Executive, Legislature and Judiciary. The framers of our Constitution introduced these essential planks of a democratic concept of Government under which each branch of Government acts as a restraint on the power of the others, together bringing about balance, which promotes the rights of the individual.
But our three-legged Government “poto” is falling over, extinguishing the fire, the will of the people. Since Independence two legs of the pot of Government have been in the control of one political party, with the Legislature, slavishly subordinate to the executive. The third leg. The Judiciary was free and independent and acted as a break to the unbridled power of the State. This no longer seems to be true and the independence of the judiciary is at risk, as it becomes increasingly politicized, and appears to have lost is moral compass and understanding of what is right and wrong.
Until the recent mid-term elections, the same dangers were facing the United States as Trump controlled the Executive, both houses of Congress and had started to pack the Supreme Court with judges loyal to his seeming contempt of civil and human rights, and the rule of law.
The US came dangerously close to its three-legged “poto” of Government being captured and collapsing. Will Botswana be so fortunate or will the “poto” of Government eventually lean so far over that it breaks, extinguishing the fire of democracy?
Not only has the judiciary been packed with “politically correct” judges during the Khama administration, but recent developments cast doubt on the very trustworthiness of the courts.
We therefore live in dangerous times where our democracy is under threat. Even one of the hinges, needed to hold up the pot’s handle is also broken as leadership in the Public Service is no longer appointed based on merit and competence, but on the colour of their shirts. Only the other hinge – the free and independent Media – remains strong. However, this too is under threat – politically and economically as Government challenges its survival with legal threats and commercial challenges from State owned media.
Since the beginning of time, the number three has represented the most stable structure to promote balance and unity. WE must ensure that our households not only contain a Number 10, but also a commitment to protecting the number 3.