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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

BOMU clears trending misconceptions

21st September 2021
BOMU President Phemelo Lesokwane

Almost every year, Botswana Musicians Union (BOMU) attracts hullabaloo over its annual music awards. This time around, it was not only that. There has been much noise around compliance, Ministry of Youth Empowerment, Sport and Culture Development involvement in the affairs of this organisation, as well as the contentious sponsorship from the Department of Broadcasting Services (DBS).

Following a four-year hiatus, BOMU awards found themselves being the talk of the town due to unfair practices some artists claim clouded the non-complying organisation. These are serious accusations that BOMU has since rubbished as deliberate actions intended to tarnish its reputation.

Some disgruntled artists recently took to the streets to protest against these practices. However, these are not subscribing members of BOMU. Before being cut short by the Police, these artists demanded that the Minister of Youth Empowerment, Sport and Culture Development Tumiso Rakgare step down immediately. They claim that Rakgare has failed his mandate.

On the other hand, they demanded that the Youth Ministry reverse the P500 000 it has splashed on the BOMU awards, and the money be split among artists. A lead protester in these activities, Rhumba artist General Tuco, told Weekendlife that BOMU management should halt the awards and instead clean the organisation’s dirty laundry.

He further indicated that they would be dropping a petition at the DBS offices, urging the group to revoke the P1.5 million sponsorship it has awarded BOMU. Because these discontented artists claim that BOMU is non-compliant, they will also be marching to the Registrar of Societies to express their grievances.

In an interview this week, General Tuco said they are still engaging their attorney to formalise their protest and give them a way forward. The Police deny them a permit to hold their rally. According to information gathered last week, the artists were arrested and released the same day and asked to apply for a protest permit.

BOMU PRESIDENT SPEAKS

BOMU President Phemelo Lesokwane told a media member on Wednesday that “We have seen people on social media dragging our name on the mud as BOMU. They say we are non-compliant, corrupt and unfair. When we get to see who these people are, they are not our members. They call themselves artists, but as legalised agents of artists in Botswana, we do not know them, neither do we know what they are talking about. We condemn these acts.”

Lesokwane rubbished allegations that BOMU is not compliant. “We see journalists giving these guys who masquerade as artists more prime time for them to tarnish our name. But they do not have the evidence. BOMU is compliant, and we have all the documents. We also have verified documents from the Registrar of Societies, who are our key stakeholders.”

Talking about being backbitten, Lesokwane claims that government officials from the Registrar of Societies are promoting what unregistered artists are making noise about in the corridors. Some of these officers fed the Youth Minister Rakgare wrong information about BOMU. BOMU has much work to do in-house.

Further, Lesokwane revealed that when they took over the office, BOMU was mugged some of its finances. Investigations are ongoing to retrieve such monies, he said. As if that is not enough cleaning, Lesokwane has a headache dealing with another faction dubbed BW Artists, which represents artists in the Northside of the country.

“If you could look into the management of this organisation, you would question their interests. Two of them are politicians. Once they fail primary elections, they come back into the music industry and cause chaos. I always say I am going to fight with everything I have together with my team to make sure that we protect artists in Botswana.”

JOURNALISTS FINGERED IN THE BOMU MESS

BOMU President Lesokwane has accused journalists of being biased and unfair to his organisation. He stressed that BOMU depends on members of the press to help rebuild the dying Botswana music industry. “Most articles about our artists speak negatively about them. Foreign artists are always given priority instead of our local artists, but we value journalists as our equally significant stakeholders. We can grow this industry together.”

These media reports, Lesokwane said, have forced stakeholders to withdraw their sponsorships towards the BOMU awards, slated for October 2021. At times they are required to answer for hearsays that are not accurate. He reiterated that BOMU has nothing to hide as it is compliant.

BOMU MUSIC AWARDS CONSULTANT SPEAKS

BOMU Music Awards Consultant Seabelo Modibe has been topping the charts for a long good time. His appointment as a consultant was notorious as critics felt his company was relatively premature at the time of appointment.

He joined the BOMU get-together at the time the awards were still distressed by the hubbub. Many asked if he would manage the heat, but clearly, Modibe is having a hard time. He, however, stressed that BOMU is open to criticism.

“Lot of people say BOMU has been given money to waste. That is not precise. It has sold its product, its broadcasting rights. They were sold for P1.5 million to the DBS. Our contract is for a year, and we will be going back to them in December. MYSC has acquired what we call commercial rights. These are rights that someone buys to promote their mandate. MYSC seeks to promote local music using BOMU awards.”

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WeekendLife

Bold and Golden

15th September 2021

Mpho Donald was undoubtedly the IT girl of the then tedious beauty industry. She loved looking pretty and smelling good. Of course, this is every girl’s dream, but making a living out of it doesn’t flash into many of these girls’ dreams.

Besides, it used to be a lot more common for the majority of entrepreneurs to be male in the past. However, in recent years the number of female entrepreneurs in the world has been on the rise. She is from a family of business-minded people. Both parents were entrepreneurs, but that is not why Donald is a powerful woman in this entrepreneurial space. At one point, life threw lemons at her, and she made lemonade.

At the age of 38, Donald has been to South Africa more than once. These frequent hazardous trips at the time were to acquire secret elements into being a real hustler. She would get robbed, risk being raped or hijacked, but she survived.

“At one point, life got too difficult to an extent where I found myself doing piece jobs for other people just so I earn something to buy toiletry, food and clothes even. I did laundry, and in the entire process, I got tired. I had to think about business, and it was easy because I come from a line of people who believe in trading. Somehow I got motivated, but I never wanted to work for anyone in life.”

Before embarking on shadowing missions in South Africa, Donald would go around the capital city, hunting for customers. Kgale Mews, Commerce Park are urban offices for various companies, but this did not restrict her from knocking, selling makeup, jewellery and accessories.

She was known for this particular hustle in all the offices. Some people will get exhausted because of her irritating products, but that did not stop her from acquiring a tiny spot in Main Mall. She pitched her gazibo, and her next items on display were plus size women’s outfits. These women are often overlooked, especially on beauty pageantry. The controversial Miss Plus Size Botswana pageant never saw the light of the day ever again.

“I guess that was after I saw the pains of plus-sized women when it came to shopping for something to wear. Being a plus-size woman made it easy for me to penetrate this space. I modelled all my clothes and advertised them on social media.”

Social media opened many doors for so many entrepreneurs. Donald can attest to that. She told Weekendlife that “People started coming in to buy both makeup and the clothes. Then, later on, I started selling second-hand clothes and while at it, I moved to my first shop. I think for me taking risks has never really been any scary because I convinced myself that in any case, I fall, I will rise again.”

“So I went boldly into everything that I could do at the time. I would travel to South Africa to places I never knew. I got my stock there, and even when I got robbed, I knew I would eventually reach my destination. It surely wasn’t an easy walk in a park, but I persevered,” she said.

From her mini boutique, Donald went full force into buying and supplying second-hand clothes. “As the COVID-19 lockdowns hit us, I was busy at work pushing the idea on mini bails and second-hand clothes. So it came down to my mind that I have to know what to sell in which season. It was a trial and error kind of hustle, but once you get a grip of it, you begin to sail smoothly.”

Donald currently supplies small businesses across the country. She gets to enjoy a good relationship with her customers, who are in other countries even. “It took me much effort, commitment and loyalty to be where I am today. I guess I could now boldly say that hard work is beginning to pay off. I have started knocking on bigger doors for partnerships, and I believe that if I can get them, beauty plus size clothing will be elevated to the next level.”

Mpho Donald is originally from Serowe. She studied her O and A-levels in Zimbabwe at the Specis College. Still, in Zimbabwe, she enrolled and qualified as a Travel and Tourism expert. She said in an interview that she will be venturing into other hustles too but couldn’t reveal which ones now. Donald is optimistic that everything will be ready and served in 2022.

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WeekendLife

Miss Global Botswana addresses racist remarks

31st August 2021
Miss Global Botswana

After being announced as the next Miss Global Botswana, social media was ablaze, and curiosity was flown all over on whether Sakshi Bhargava is a native Motswana or the crown has incongruously been given to a non-citizen. Many Miss Global Botswana fans were breakneck in assuming that the queen is Indian, probably because the parents are of Indian descent and she looks Indian.

In a similar incident early this May, Miss Universe Canada Nova Stevens was chastened for being black. The beauty queen admitted that she’s disappointed with the behaviour of some pageant fans from other countries, noting that their hate takes away from the fun and enjoyment of the pageant.

“Is it that difficult to spread love instead of hate? No one is saying you have to support all contestants. All we’re saying is that you support your delegate without bringing others down,” she said.
She called out racist comments on her Instagram criticizing her appearance. Stevens is of Sudanese descent. The remarks included: “Akala ko engkanto (I thought she was a mythical creature),” and “Hindi naman sa hinuhusgahan ko siya pero natatakot ako, promise. Parang hindi siya tao.” (I’m not judging her, but I’m terrified. It’sIt’s like she’s not a human being.)

Miss Global Botswana Bhargava told Weekendlife that she was born and brought up in Francistown, 19-years ago. She started her primary school in John Mackenzie and did her A-levels in Francistown, where she served as Deputy Head girl.

Her parents, she said, moved to Botswana from India in 1988. Technically, they have been in Botswana for 33 years. That then means they are Batswana by citizenship. According to data from the Ministry of Nationality, Immigration, and Gender Affairs, for a citizen of another country to qualify for Botswana citizenship, that person must satisfy few conditions.

The applicant has been resident in Botswana for a continuous period of 12 months immediately to the date of their application for a naturalization certificate. They should have been resident in Botswana for aggregate periods of not less than ten years during the 12 years immediately preceding the 12 months prescribed above. The applicant shall renounce the other country’s citizenship.

“Being born and brought up in Botswana, I have grown up learning Botswana culture, understanding Setswana, and I pride myself in being a Motswana by birth but Indian by race. We were lovingly welcomed into a very diverse nation. They fell in love with Botswana, and from then, they knew that this was the place where they wanted to birth and raise their children such that we grew up knowing this peaceful nation to be our home.”

“Our national flag, the black and white colors symbolize collaboration between people of diverse races and culture and a belief in racial cooperation and equality. I am proudly one of the first representations of the diversity our country has especially in the pageantry industry and I am fully equipped to represent our country.”

Bhargava further indicated that the Botswana culture is more of her identity than anything else as she has always known Botswana to be her home. “One should not be judged by race but should rather be embraced by character.”

BEAUTY WITH A PURPOSE

Having started pageantry at the age of 16, Bhargava has been a beauty queen with a purpose. She has worn two crowns too. In 2016, she was crowned Junior Miss Botswana 2nd princess and Miss Teen Hope 1st princess in 2017. During the past few years, she has also been pursuing ambassadorship with few companies.

“I became the brand ambassador of three local brands: the Diamond Pageantry Academy, BushT Fashions, and Em’s beauty Spa. She founded a non-governmental organization called Able Hearts Foundation. This is an NGO that strives to create equality for people living with disabilities.

“It runs with a slogan dubbed ”We are all equal in the fact that we are all different”. I believed that I am a true representation of what a beauty queen can help the community and how we have the ability to make the world a better place,” she told WeekendLife in an exclusive interview this week.

She started Able Hearts Foundation in 2017 after she realized that people faced with disabilities were ridiculed and made fun of, and, “I knew that as a teenager, I needed to stand up for this community and educate my peers on how to treat people faced with disabilities as equal in the society. For over 4 years now, I have worked with the Francistown Center for the Deaf Education, the Lephoi Center for the visually impaired and the Mochudi Resource Center for the blind.”

The newly crowned queen said she has worked with many more children living with disabilities and made it her mandate to nurture their talents and empower them to the point where they know and trust that they are equally important.

ATTENDING MISS GLOBAL IN INDONESIA

Miss Global organization has announced through their Instagram account that the competition is back, and a new edition is set to be held this September in Bali, Indonesia, with more than 80 delegates expected to participate.

Bhargava will be representing Botswana at the beauty competition, and she is ready to bring the crown home. “I entered the pageant industry at a very young age and my biggest dream was to represent Botswana on an international stage.

I applied to Miss Global organization as Botswana’s representative to hope that I would get a chance to truly showcase all of the hard work I have been putting into my ambitions of putting Botswana on the global map in allowedy. I am very excited to have been given the opportunity to live one of my biggest dreams.”

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