Find us on Google+

Saturday, 8 August 2009

VP Kunda's Misguided Ideology (Guest Blog)

The Hon. Vice President and Crown Prince, George "Orwell" Kunda, and Hon. Minister of Information and Broadcasting Services, the Hon. Rev. Lt. Gen. Ronnie Shikapwasha (M.P., M.D., S.O.S., B.Y.O.B.), have placed blame for violence against media personnel squarely on the shoulders of the victims themselves. After all, if these journalists didn't go swanning around in provocative attire they wouldn't invoke the passions of violent young men, who obviously have done no wrong because they bow down whenever old men walk by. I for one am glad to see such leaders upholding Henry VIII's legacy, because what good is a church if it doesn't defend the Head of State on command? After all in Rwanda, the church was complicit in genocide because it, "took sides with newspaper and radio stations which were fanning out falsehoods, and propaganda which led to the genocide," which was carried out by politically motivated gangs of violent thugs fanatically dedicated to the ruling party and who listened exclusively to State-sanctioned media, oh, wait, forget that last part. At the Nuremberg Trials in Germany following WWII, the prosecution of Nazi government publicist, Julius Streicher, is something that the UN has referred to. Yeah, take that you wayward journalists! Now do you get it? If you keep undermining President Banda the way Julius Streicher undermined Hitler, you might wind up answering charges at the Hague for war crimes.

If that devastating argument still hasn't deterred you from your course, then you are clearly "asking for it." The Press is free to choose from the full range of both limited options: Censor yourselves to the point that George and Ronnie are never again "annoyed" by your reportage, or be censored by Government directly. How much more freedom could you want? Ronnie has spoken to people on the phone who agree with him, and when you print something that he doesn't like, you really can't be surprised if his worshipful entourage does violence to you. He will tell you, as the President has, that what his boys did was wrong, and that they shouldn't do it again, but really they are clearly very good boys, much better than you, and you obviously brought it on yourself by appearing provocative. The record of recent events at the airport clearly shows that the police intervened to stop the attack after the end of the 12th round, in accordance with boxing commission rules. They will be able through diligent investigation to identify and charge the culprits within weeks of witnessing the events personally. They will move with all possible speed, once they are absolutely certain that that is what the Big Man really wants them to do.

We can all learn the lesson of the US experience with prisoner abuse at Abu Gharaib Prison in Iraq: Evidence of Government wrong-doing embarrasses the ruling party and tarnishes the image of the nation in the eyes of the rest of the world. Therefore, no person concerned with preserving the good name of the nation should ever publish evidence of government wrong-doing. If soldiers with their pesky "honor codes" and "rules of engagement" won't cooperate, outsource the operation to Halliburton and XE (formerly Blackwater). The lessons from Timor are likewise clear: Draft oppressive laws designed to inhibit the formation of political organizations, and then selectively enforce or relax these laws to allow your own supporters to organize while stifling the development of opposition. Use State Media outlets to signal the importance of a "trigger event" which can be described as a threat to government typical of all opposition thinkers simultaneous with public statements by ruling officials that the resulting violence may be more than the police can contain, and that the government, "cannot guarantee the safety" of persons who may be targeted by organized mobs. Declare a curfew and prevent all but the most organized and well armed gangs from moving out of doors, while house to house searches and impromptu lynchings are conducted over a period of several days. Declare a state of emergency, impose martial law, and clamp down on any possible backlash. Voila, opposition decapitated. The only thing that could spoil it would be exposure of the evidence that ties the government to funding of the violent gangs. Surely now you see why it is so important that media never asks questions that the government may not want to answer?

Stay within "the set confines of [your] profession," because by judging Botswana's peacefulness using the single criteria of having a regulated media, we can clearly conclude that whatever the Government says or does is good, since the alternative is an unstable country. Of course the country is not threatened in any way by violence, and any perception of instability is false, even though the presence of unregulated media is a source of instability in the minds of Government supporters, who are difficult to control, so you had better watch out.

Big Brother certainly is.

(USA / Guest Blogger)

1 comment:

  1. Yakima,

    Thanks for this assessment.

    I have been thinking about these issues and in particular with relation to the the Government's approach towards journalists and free press in general.

    The question in my mind was the extent to which VP Kunda and others are controlling national events or appear to be mere followers. In other words to what extent are the clearly oppressive and authoritarian reactions part of a calculated plan or the "rants of a desperate man" or indeed Father Bwalya was quoted today as "kicks of a dying horse"...?

    It seems to me that the govt is struggling to adjust to the new forms of communications, especially local radio. An institutional adjustment is necessary but it is unclear the extent to which the current party in govt is thinking through these important issues strategically.

    It has led to an impression of a govt following, and desperately trying to counter, media scrutiny rather than managing the affairs of the nation. The result is that rather than set the agenda, the Government has resorted to behaving in an extremely authoritarian approach. What they should be doing is thinking in a better accommodation with new forms of communication.

    Which of course brings to the question of why the government has failed to think along this line. I think it is because RB appears to lack the weight to impose his own persona on the entire MMD government. I am increasingly coming to believe the President has failed to sufficiently translate the power of the Presidency over his party, which has led to a weakening in authority, with that their morals also appear to have broken. Without cohesiveness the government becomes paranoid and strikes even at women and children.

    To some extent RB is a victim of timing and poor mandate, which has forced him to rely on people like VP Kunda.

    Its stuff for political scientists to ponder, but the question of genesis of this current perverse inclination by the Executive requires debate.


All contributors should follow the basic principles of a productive dialogue: communicate their perspective, ask, comment, respond,and share information and knowledge, but do all this with a positive approach.

This is a friendly website. However, if you feel compelled to comment 'anonymously', you are strongly encouraged to state your location / adopt a unique nick name so that other commentators/readers do not confuse your comments with other individuals also commenting anonymously.