Botswana Council of Non-Government Organisations (BOCONGO) Chair Oscar Motsumi says Batswana are currently growing increasingly fearful as the country’s democracy dwindles.
Motsumi said this yesterday during the opening of the Annual NGO Week which was organized by BOCONGO and partners. “What are we doing to nurture and protect our nascent democracy? It is beyond doubt that the democratic space and civil liberties are shrinking in our country. Our inalienable civil liberties are narrowing. How many times have we heard ‘Ijoo, ga re kake ra bua ka mogala’(Oh no, we can’t speak on the phone)…”
He said whether the fear comes from what is imagined or real, it is not clear how long Batswana are going to live with the current situation. He said fear of the unknown now has a firm hold across a wider spectrum of our society adding that the civil society is the architect of society’s destiny and should not be seen as a threat to anyone. He urged the civil society to avoid burying its head in the sand.
Motsumi however encouraged NGOs to be accountable and achieve the goals set by their development partners and donors, warning them about the often-acrimonious politics involving money which eventually leads to some NGOs closing shop. He also called on NGOs to be scrutinized the same way government is held accountable.
Buttressing Motsumi’s point, Bona Life CEO Regina Sikalesele-Vaka said NGOs lack integrity and accountability and this has affected them for years. She also called on the civil society to improve its engagement with government and other relevant stakeholders. She called on greater collaboration, giving the example of the Gaborone Youth Games that she led in 2014 in which she said collaboration with the Ministry of Health and the Botswana Defense Force was fruitful.