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The Law and the People

MAXWELL MOTHAPELARURI MOATHUDI

While we are grappling with illegal gunmen who gate-crush congresses, rapists, murderers, the corruption prone, tax evaders and so on and so forth, let us pause and look at some aspects of the Law as it pertains to our beloved country and its humble, see no evil, hear no evil, talk no evil, law abiding people.

Is it working for us? In other words, does it serve the purpose for which it is intended? Does it serve to regulate behaviour? Maybe, maybe not. It really depends on how or from where one looks at it. For me .. well … here and there, but on the whole I think our Law is not that effective nor efficient. Or maybe it is because of how it is crafted, or interpreted or implemented, or just how I feel about it; I have no clue. I am saying this because I think we are using the Law to solve problems.

Is it intended that way? I really do not know, but that will not prevent me from representing my lay-man’s views in terms of what I think are deficiencies of some of our laws. Oops! Did I just write “deficiencies”? Mmm…h! I do not think I qualify for that. I wanted to, maybe write, irrelevant. Yes, irrelevant, unpredictable and most times un-implementable.

Is this a problem, or I am just making a mountain out of a mole hill? Well, I think it is and probably the reason we are not solving the problems we intend to solve is because we have not, as yet, recognised their existence, or we have, and just choose to ignore them. I just cannot comprehend why we always seem to tighten the screws every time the citizenry seems to be getting out of the way.

Are stiffer laws and punishments a solution to the problems besieging our lovely country? Have we ever considered that maybe it is the circumstances that the citizens of this country find themselves in, and unintentionally and innocently break the law, to make ends meet? Have we? I doubt! What then, is the use of tightening the screws if the circumstances remain the same? An exercise in futility? I guess so. We seem to be intent on the “HOW” aspect, as opposed to the “WHY” aspect.

We look at some variables, that suit us of course, not the equation. During a workshop, in Botswana sometime in February, 2016 or there about, aimed at evaluating where Botswana currently is regarding the death penalty and if enough is being done to minimise fatal errors, Justice Lovemore Chikopa of the Malawi Supreme Court, had this to say; “Talking too much about punishment and not enough focus on reducing people’s chances to offend and/or re-offend does not serve any good”. This says it all, ladies and gentlemen, and he was talking to us; seems we did not understand though.

I think we need to comprehensively concentrate on “why” people break the law, as opposed to “how” we can punish them for breaking the law. It is that simple! Even before the birth of Jesus Christ, Plato (427 to 347 B.C), posited that “Good people do not need laws to tell them to act responsibly, while bad people will find a way around them”. It amazes me that, in the 21st century, we still are not able to match the thinking abilities of people like Plato.

Therein lies the problem; our thinking abilities. We need to recognise the existence of a problem (detect the problem (this we do)), determine the cause of the problem by informed diagnostic methods (this we do not do) before we can even think of effecting a solution to the problem (this we do, and like doing). This I think is yet another problem. We have a propensity to effect solutions, by way of tightening our laws, without thoroughly diagnosing the cause of the problem. We have this irritating and ineffective “replace the fuse – all size fits all” mentality.

Our people will continue to innocently break the law, due to circumstances beyond their control and we will continue to tighten the screws. Those with the wherewithal to rope in legal representation – and they are virtually non-existent in this lot – will claim extenuating circumstances, and probably evade the slammer. Where does this lead us; to overcrowded court-houses and prisons, family disintegration and all sorts of nasty repercussions associated with breaking the Law. The funds that have to be used to build roads, schools, hospitals, clinics and a whole list of valuable and essential infrastructure is used to satisfy our insatiable appetite for solving problems with legislation, and locking our people up.

Besides this insatiable appetite for putting our people behind bars, we lack the rationale to distinguish between laws that punish the citizens and those that regulate and protect the citizens. Mature democracies go all out to promulgate laws that effectively and efficiently protect and regulate their citizens. Why can we not? We cannot because we do not take our people seriously. Otherwise why promulgate laws such as “shoot to kill”.

Kill who? Our very own people who vote for us. Our very own people who are forced by circumstances to break the law, knowingly or otherwise, they still do not have a choice; they just need to survive. Survive as their ancestors survived by killing, not poaching, the animals they live with and amongst, and they do this discriminately because they appreciate that the animals need to procreate so that they maintain their (the people’s) survival.

Here is a truly strange one, that sure flies in the face of logic; we encourage people to drink lots of water and then prevent them, by law, from passing the excess off, fully knowing that we have not provided facilities for getting rid of the excess. How immature! Everyone knows it is bad, and wrong, to pass off excess water anywhere one wishes to, but, in the absence of the requisite infrastructure, what does one do when nature calls? And I mean really calls? You see, it is a conundrum, and it requires mature reasoning and respect for the sanctity of life.

If we continue passing law after law in pursuit of the “HOW” to punish those who break the law, we will certainly end up with a situation where the citizenry does not respect the law. We will certainly end up with a situation where even the law enforcement cadre do not know which or what law to use against the people.

This might effectively bring about law breaking and corruption amongst the enforcers, who represent the Government, and, Justice Louis D Brandeis, US Supreme Court Justice this to say about this kind of situation; “Our Government is the potent, the omnipotent teacher. For good or for ill, it teaches people by example…if the government becomes a law breaker, it breeds contempt for law; it invites every man to become law unto himself”.

If you have read an article carried in the Sunday Standard of March 3 – 9, 2019, titled “Police law-breaking almost cost two men their lives”, you will catch my drift. Yet again, we might end up with people or organisations creating their own laws, simply because there are so many laws which cause confusion among the people and the law enforcement officers themselves. Explain this; why is it that a certified copy of a National identity card (Omang) has to expire, and in three to six months for that matter, before the original card expires?

If this is a law, then, at best, it is stupid! Will this not encourage corruption? Come on, let us be serious! A poor old man hitch hikes all the way from Moletemane to Mmadinare to drop off land application forms and is told that his certified copy of “Omang” has expired! He has the original card in his pocket but it has not expired. The poor fellow is confused but is afraid to confront the not so friendly gate-keeper (sometimes application forms are handled by gate-keepers), so off he hungrily hitch hikes to Selebi-Phikwe Omang offices to be informed that his card has still got three or so more years before expiry. Confusion! Confusion! Confusion! I do not want to explain how this will lead to corruption; it’s all there for you to figure it out dear esteemed reader.

Very soon we might find ourselves not giving rides to our family members because someone might misinterpret the law as outlawing hitch-hiking. What is outlawed is getting paid for giving someone a ride, not giving the ride itself. Same as carrying “Omang”. There is no law prescribing the carrying of “Omang”. There is serious need to educate law enforcement officers, and the public at large, so that there is harmony amongst us.

We make laws and leave it to the people to figure them out. If one is unlucky not to know about the existence of some law, and they break the said law; you know what happens? “Ignorance of the law is not an excuse”. If this is the law, then it is cowardly. Not everyone can read. So putting the responsibility to know and interpret the law on people who cannot read, let alone access where the law is published, is downright cruel, and, at best, rude.

While we are busy making laws that punish our people, we very conveniently ignore cries from the people to pass other laws which will protect the people and the people’s interests. Why? The answer is simple! We ignore these cries, from our VOTERS, so that we may keep the voters in the dark and enjoy the fruits alone. How else does one start to explain the reason behind not promulgating a law on “Declaration of Assets and Liabilities”?

Well, I will start to explain by stating “so that the people may not know what we brought with us (assets or liabilities) when we acquired power (and we mostly bring liabilities) and therefore cannot prove we enriched ourselves whilst in power”. And then again, this law, as it has been argued in some quarters, will not be of “significant assistance unless accompanied by legislation on the right to information (Freedom of Information Act) and an appropriate Media Practitioners’ Act”.

Simple! How long have Media practitioners been harping to have the Legal Practitioners’ Act (LPA) repealed, or at the least reviewed? Ten or so years? That is a long time, and we have decided to turn a deaf ear to their cries. This is misplaced reasoning on our part. Should the law not address issues of equality, fairness and justice? What then happens to the equality, fairness and justice, which the law has to concern itself with? We are imperilled by statements such as, “why fix it if it not broken”.

That is an American way of thinking and I struggle to figure out “why America? when we are still a developing country, without laws that genuinely protect the interests of the ordinary masses”. We are custodians of this information, on behalf of the people, why then do we deny them that which we hold on their behalf. Baffling, is it not?

You see, we are all a people, governed by a people and I want to believe, for us (the people). So I just do not understand why a people governed by a people for the people, should want to disagree on what the people feel is right for them. Because, whatever is right for the people, has to be right for the law maker, unless the law maker does not live the life of the ordinary people.

For you, esteemed reader, to catch my drift, you have to belong with the masses. You have to live with the ordinary people, and experience their hardships brought about by overly retrogressive legislation. I live amongst a people who do not understand the law, and yet are supposed to respect it and engage with it. I live amongst a people who do not know that it is an offence to kill another human being. To them, their law is the law of the jungle – “eat or be eaten”.

So, to subject these people to the rigors of the modern law and not educate them on it is an injustice. I want to believe the majority of the people who inhabit prisons know absolutely nothing about the law, or if they do, they think it is for those who passed the laws. “Melao yeo ke ya bone” is the usual rhetoric amongst these people. If you do not understand me, come with me to the cattle-post, spend the weekend with them, and you will understand.

“From where I stand, you are no longer the break of day. You are no longer the silver light that shines in the evening. I can hardly feel my heart even though you hold me in your arms, and I hope you stay far from where I stand. Look at me … tell me what you see. Do you understand what your laws have done to me? You no longer sweep my heart away. You no longer hold me close beside you and help me find my way. It is no longer clear if you are the only for me. At least if you could see that it is written in my eyes how much I love you, my beloved Botswana”.

Much as he was not focussing on what this article is about, Iqbal Ibrahim (Understanding Islam) mirrors my thoughts in the Weekend Post of 02 – 08, March, 2019, when he writes; “We go through our daily lives with tests and challenges – sometimes we get so overwhelmed by them that we ask “why me”? When these things happen, our patience is tested and some people go into depression, lose faith and hope and even go as far as getting into a state of limbo because we lose rationality.

When the future looks bleak, we must remember the saying; “every cloud has a silver lining”. The cloud is the deteriorating state of affairs in our country and the silver lining is HE MEK Masisi. Even as they lambast and harangue you, I have HOPE! Do not lose sight of where you want to take our country. I want to sing Dobbie Gray’s song the way he sang it, once again, not in the bastardised fashion as in the previous paragraph, and I have faith you will finally make that possible; AGAIN.

May God bless this, the Republic of Botswana. PULA!!!
Maxwell Mothapelaruri Moathudi writes from Selebi-Phikwe

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WeekendLife

5 consideration for your Marketing strategy in 2022

12th January 2022

‘The world of marketing is getting confusing,’ this is the sentiment from many marketers who find themselves in the middle of rising digitization and online migration driven by increased connectivity and a pandemic that dictated reduced physical interactions.

According to the Harvard Business Review, customers’ increased discernment, demand for great service experience and the ability to raise ‘a storm’ of complaints online about brands, is reshaping the role of marketing.

In today’s world of brand management, the constant consideration should be agility. This means actually listening to customer sentiment, being flexible with your creative design, messaging, placements and budgets.

Here are a few more pointers to discuss in your 2022 marketing strategy sessions.

  1. Budgeting needs to change: Event based budgeting, allocations based on calendar activities rather strategic impact initiatives, is a thing of the past. If the pandemic taught us anything is that uncertainty for people gatherings is something we need to live with. Furthermore, a lot of this type of marketing is barely linked to specific value beyond brand awareness. It’s time to disrupt yourselves by really evaluating value. In a digitizing world, a marketing budget should be reflective of the overall business direction.
  2. Outdoor is not dead, it just needs creativity: As the world was locked downed due to covid-19, one key consequence was that we were forced to spend more time in doors. As such, many of the billboards had no eyes on them. However, as things

open up, it’s time for brands to challenge billboard companies to create experiential advertising. Like ‘the floating cat’ in Tokyo, a 3-D anamorphic outdoor ad, billboards can be engaging and exciting for those who cross paths with them. Outdoor advertising needs to be reimagined to drive brand ‘stickiness’ in a bold manner.

  1. Thought leadership needs to be genuine: The pressure for relevancy has driven many executives into taking up video and word based content to be seen as authorities and subject matter experts. Begs the question, is it genuine? Does the person you are putting in front of the camera genuinely care to be a source of knowledge and consistently share insights. Thought leaders have an intrinsic drive to share information. It is not just based on one’s position in an organisation. So for 2022, look deeply within for talent that have authentic perspectives they can contribute to public discourse for the benefit of your brand.
  2. Influencers, do you really need them?: This is a question many brand managers have to scratch their heads over every time they go-to-market. In an effort to be seen as a cool and relevant, many brands, large and small have jumped on the influencer bandwagon to drive awareness. The world over influencers have presented brands with a new platform for awareness by using their personalities to market to their followers. Think Kim Kardashian, Mihlali Ndamase, Mjamica, they all have legion of followers who engage with their content on their social media pages. As a brand manager, your job is to be discerning and ensure brand fit. In doing research, look beyond the numbers: audit their historic content type, look into the engagements, do their followers actually engage based on the content subject? Is their tone of engagement relevant to your brand? That is what will answer the question… does your brand need them.
  3. It’s time to take the ROI conversation seriously: This is more of a self-preservation tip. Measuring marketing activity and impact has for many brands been a half-baked approach. For greater impact in 2022, marketing teams need to introspect and fully embrace the technologies. Digital and social media platforms have presented us an opportunity to actually measure our efforts. So insights, listening and automation tools need to be added to your technology stack for you to better reports on your impact.  Get closer to sales and service teams, as your efforts often have a direct bearing on their output.

Lastly, remember that visibility needs to lead to action for your marketing to become a value centre.

 

Modiri Mogende is a Managing Director at Launch Comms, with over 10 years’ experience in media, PR and marketing, he holds a BA and a PgD in Digital Marketing.   

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WeekendLife

Coal still King

15th December 2021
Coal still King

More than 40 countries have committed to shift away from coal in pledges made at the COP26 climate summit. Botswana on the other hand has different plans.

Some 850 Kilometres South West of the capital city Gaborone, lies a winding sandy landscape with wind worn- formations on the horizon accompanied by the harsh sun. The Kalahari Desert is conspicuous in the area.  Here one finds BORAVAST a cluster of villages; Bokspits, Rappelspan, Vaalhoek and Struizendum.

Although the desert is expected to be barren and brown, green blobs occupy the landscape. These are Mesquite a Prosopis species locally referred to as Sexanana. An invasive tree species that has successfully colonised the area all thanks to its properties that enable it to release a toxin to suppress growth of nearby competing plants.

This has resulted in the replacement of most of the indigenous vegetation in the area, forming dense thorn bushes. Circumstantial evidence suggests that it may also be lowering important fresh-water aquifers and clogging boreholes with its extensive root system. This has seriously led to degraded rangelands and reduced biodiversity.

BORAVAST has found a loophole by clearing the species. The clearance is to generate income for the community whilst also ensuring rehabilitation of the landscape to increase continued flow of ecosystem goods and services, simultaneously promoting of livelihoods.

The BORAVAST community is on a mission to create a backbone for the national economy through the community project as they believe that they have the potential to scale up and produce opportunities for local businesses to participate in the value chain of the national economy.

According to BORAVAST Trust Vice Chairman Gideon Martin: “The project has been dormant since 2015, however during the 2019/20 financial year, the Trust resuscitated the projects operations under the sponsorship of the UNDP (Kgalagadi and Ghanzi Drylands Ecosystem Project).

Local Enterprise Authority (LEA) has also jumped into the band wagon by presenting machinery, office equipment and branding assets worth more than 1 million pula to the BORAVAST Trust. The Department of Forestry has also chipped in with P464 000.To date there are only two operational value chain business being charcoal and fodder production in BORAVAST. Our charcoal product has been tested and competes with coal from Morupule, our fodder is also of high nutritional quality.”

A member of the trust describes the charcoal making process: “Charcoal is made by heating wood from Sexanana to high temperatures in the absence of oxygen. This is done with ancient technology of building a fire in a pit, then bury it in the ground. The result is that the wood partially combusts, removing water and impurities and leaving behind mostly pure carbon.

The tricky part is to maintain the heat at a temperature that is appropriate to avoid the wood turning into ash. It is a tedious and risky process as we also have to be on the look out to contain the fire to avoid wild fires. We sit by the pots hours on end to ensure all goes well on the other hand, Charcoal burning produces large amounts of Carbon Monoxide (CO) which is harmful to us when exposed to very high levels.”

In his blog Kobus Venter an activist states that, “these are signs that governments are trying to regulate the industry by introducing more efficient charcoal-making kilns and establishing plantations to ensure sustainability of the timber source. In Namibia, millions of hectares of encroachment bush is being converted to charcoal and sold to neighbouring South Africa as barbecue charcoal.

South Africa itself (according to the most recent South Africa Yearbook) is plagued with alien plant infestations, totalling more than 10 million hectares, about eight percent (8%) of the country’s land surface area. The rate of spread is alarming and their numbers are projected to double over the next 15 years.  More recently Vuthisa Technologies started to convert slashed invasives into charcoal and biochar using Emission Reducing Biochar kilns in a project known as the Vuthisa Biochar Initiative.”

However, charcoal is the primary energy source for urban Africa, but its production is widely informal and unregulated. Consequently, charcoal is entwined with violence against nature through rampant deforestation and violence against vulnerable rural communities, fuelling violent political economies of conflict and extraction.

As they are violently dispossessed of forests and land, communities living in production areas face destruction of their cultural heritage, embodied in nature, and the conditions for economic and political dignity. This undermines possibilities for sustainable peace.

Natural Resource Management in the Kgalagadi landscape is characterized by competition and conflict between conservation goals, economic development and the preservation of livelihoods.

Economic development inevitably leads to trade-offs between land uses, and requires choices to be made between the conversion of forests into anthropogenic land uses such as agriculture, on the one hand, and maintaining natural forests with their inherent ecosystem services.

Botswana to realize its national priorities in environmental management focusing on managing the trade-off between income generation and environmental sustainability. The trade-offs between development and environmental sustainability are becoming more evident in the form of threats to fauna and flora, air pollution and water pollution. Ensuring that sustainable resource extraction levels are within the capacity of the environment to assimilate and regenerate is a key concern.

Global Energy Monitor (GEM) that develops and shares information on energy projects in support of the worldwide movement for clean energy. Has revealed in their 2021 report titled “Deep Trouble; Tracking Global Coal Mine Proposals” that Botswana has 6 Coal Mine Development Projects.

It continues; “The Special Report on 1.5°C by the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change estimates that CO2 emissions from coal use needs to fall 50 to 80% by 2030 to keep warming well below 2°C. If proposed new mines open as intended, the CO2 emissions from combustion will be equivalent to 4,639 Mt a year, a 14% increase over global CO2 emissions in 2020 (34,100 Mt), barring declines elsewhere.

In addition, the mines will leak an estimated 13.5 Mt of methane each year from broken coal seams and surrounding rock strata, based on coal mine depth and the gas content of the coal seam. Combined, the annual greenhouse gas emissions from proposed coal mines will be between 5,000 and 5,800 Mt of CO2-equivalent (CO2e) each year (for CO2e100 and CO2e20, respectively), comparable to the annual CO2 emissions of the United States (5,100 Mt). The build out of new mines, therefore, raises serious concerns about meeting the Paris climate agreement.”

Science continues to confirm the urgency of climate crisis. The main issue now is that the  ‘super powers’ are now realising their contribution to climate change and are devising means to halt the repercussions. Now enters the matter of climate justice; those who are least responsible for climate change suffer the ,most, Botswana has not fully utilised her coal reserves and coal production from wood yet the world is about to phase them out. What about the BORAVAST Trust trying to make a living?  The question of the day would be whether an energy transition will be possible in the near future considering that Botswana uses her physical wealth ( coal ) to grow her economy?

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WeekendLife

The King’s journal 

23rd November 2021
Kgafela Kgafela II

This book is a true-life story of an African King based in South Africa. The Last Frontier is a resistance stand by Bakgatla Ba Kgafela tribe and its line of Kings from 1885 against a dark force called ‘western democracy’ that is insidiously destroying lives, peoples, nations and threatens to wipe away whole civilizations in Africa.

The story flows through four important episodes of history, beginning in about 1885 when Bechuanaland Protectorate was formed. This section briefly reveals interactions between Kgosi Linchwe 1 and the British Colonial Government, leading to the establishment of Bakgatla Reserve by Proclamations of 1899 – 1904.

The second episode deals with Kgosi Molefi’s interaction with the British Colonial Government in the period of 1929-36. The third episode records Kgosi Linchwe II’s interactions with the British Colonial Government and black elites of Bechuanaland. It covers the period of 1964-66, leading to Botswana’s independence. Kgosi Linchwe ii resisted the unlawful expropriation of his country (Bakgatla Reserve) by Sir Seretse Kgama’s government of 1966 to no avail. He wrote letters of objection (December 1965) to Her Majesty the Queen of England, which are reproduced in this book.

The fourth episode covers the period between Kgafela Kgafela II’s crowning as King of Bakgatla in 2008 to 2021. It is a drama of the author’s resistance to the present-day Botswana Government, a continuation of Bakgatla Kings’ objection against losing Bakgatla country to the Kgama dynasty assisted by the British Government since 1885. The story is told with reference to authentic letters, documents, and Court records generated during the period of 1885-2019. There is plenty of education in history, law, and politics contained in The Last Frontier for everyone to learn something and enjoy.   

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