The economic system or mode of production that dominates the contemporary world today is seldom called by its proper name. We hear of the market economy or free enterprise system. It is true that in all modern economies markets are critical and ubiquitous’ institutions nearly all aspects of production and distribution involve buying and selling, the activities that define markets.
The phrase free enterprise is still less informative. Certainly not everyone is free to begin an economic enterprise, except in a completely abstract sense. The economic system or mode of production that dominates the world today is capitalism. It is not a very old mode of production, although debate rage, over how old it is and where it began. Most historians believe that capitalism originated in what is today Western Europe. The economic system it supplanted in Europe is known as feudalism which was land based mode of production centered around large agricultural estates called Manors.
These Manors were controlled, though not owned in a modern capitalist sense, by a group of nobles and the work of growing food and producing everything else was done by force, the manner in which feudalism collapsed and capitalism arose is complex and a matter of considerable disagreement among scholars. However, we can make four general comments on what is called the transition from feudalism to capitalism, which occurred roughly from fifteenth to the nineteenth century. First, as capitalism developed the feudal manors gradually became private property, in the modern sense that the property could be sold and no social obligations went along with its ownership.
Second, as land was transformed into property a new class of persons with no access to property was created. This landless class was the working class and its members were able to live only by selling their ability to work, their labour power to those who did own property. Third creation of both private property and working class was everywhere accompanied, indeed made possible by massive force and violence. Serfs had to be compelled to give up their long standing right to use land. The more powerful class of property owners either used direct violence against serfs or secured the power of newly created central government to do their dirty work.
Often times, government, enacted laws that amounted to legal coercion. Before capitalism, serfs had the right to use manors common land, those parts of the manors not planted with crops and often used to gather firewood and water or hunt and trap animals. In the interest of property owners, governments enacted laws that converted common land into private property and made the use of land by non owners a crime, sometimes punishable by death. A peasant who formerly had trapped animals for food on the common land might now be hanged for doing so.
Fourth and of great importance capitalist economies were from the beginning expansionary from English, Holland, France and the other early capitalists nation, capitalism began to spread around the globe. Michael D. Yates is right to argue the capitalism was born in theft and would not have been possible without it. Simply, stated those who are interested in capitalist mode of production want to steal. Today this theft is carried out through multinational co-operations. After the collapse the Soviet Union, Western propaganda machinery was all over informing the world that socialism has failed.
What their handlers deliberately hide from them is the fact that it took North America three hundred (300) years of free slave labour to be so rich and is still stealing natural resources from African, Middle east and Asia to grow its economy. Did socialism really fail? Although this is a discussion for another time, Socialism as Nyerere has rightly argued is an attitude of mind, like capitalism is an attitude. An attitude never dies! We shall always have people with capitalists’ attitudes and Socialists attitudes of minds.
What happed was the collapsed of the union of Soviet Socialist Republic (USSR) scholars differs on factors which led to the collapsed of the USSR but agree on three main ones, namely first economic and psychological war waged by capitalist countries against the USSR. Secondly, lack of ownership of personal properties like houses and third lack of freedom to travel. My argument which is the subject of this paper is that there is a third way for economic development. And this third way can borrow what is required from capitalism and also from socialism.
This anti-greed economic system is African and Christian. This system should replace consumer economy of market with the anti-greed economy of sharing. When I grew up as an African Child, I knew what belong to the family belong to us all. And a family here I am talking among more than fifty or even more, bo malome, bo rakgadi, bo mangwane, ditlogolo, bo nkuku, jalo jalo. Sharing is in our DNA as Africans because we belong to one family.
Ka Setswana, Bangwato ke bo ntsala Bakgatla, Balete ke bo ntsala Bahurutshe. Bayei ke bo ntsala Basarwa, Baherero ke bo ntsala Bambukushu, Batawana ke ditlogolo tsa Bakwena, Bangwaketsi ke bo ntsala Barolong. Setswana sare motho ga nke a tima ntsalae! Gape sare setlogolo ntsha ditlhogo! Sera ngwana malome nnyala gore kgomo di boele sakeng! All these are source of our anti-greed economic of sharing.
From a Christian point of view, Christ teaching is the source of anti-greed economic system. The story on Mark 10:17-22 says it all.“A man ran up to him, and asked, Good teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life? And Jesus said to him why do you call me good? No one is good except God alone” you know the commandments:
Do not murder, do not commit adultery, do not steal, do not give false testimony, do not defraud, honour your father and mother, and he said to him, teacher all these I have kept since I was a boy and Jesus said to him you lack one thing. Go, sell everything you have and give to the poor and you have treasure in heaven and come follow me. At this word the man’s face fell and he went away sad because he had great wealth. For us in Botswana who live in a society where conspicuous consumption is a sign of status and is believed to be the source of all well being, this story of Mark can be a profoundly disturbing text.
You lack one thing Go, sell offers everything you have and give to the poor. In doing this Jesus as Fernando Belo points out, the young rich Messianic reading of his practice. Here, the ethic of the law he has been following is found to be inadequate. Leaving/following are the dialectically related negative and positive moments of the appropriate response every call to follow Jesus. Jesus invites us to leave the security offered by wealth, status or achievement to trust solely in God’s providential care.
This risk the young man is unable to take his inability comes from his attachment to money and comfort, status and security it brings. It is the outcome of a system which has instilled and which continues to nourish it. A Belo put it: the dominant codes of his society and ours have gained the upper hand over him. Jesus does not say go and give them blankets or diphapha. He says go and sell everything you have and give to the poor not what you have been given by the business community but sell what you have and give to the poor!
What we need is not only the socialists or capitalists attitudes but ant-greed attitude. The anti-greed attitude which Jesus requires is an expression of trust in the unique good way of God, to which Jesus refers in the very first words he speaks in the story, no one is good except God alone (10.17). Such an anti-greed attitude is nourished by a concern for the poor. Jesus’ option for the poor, conspicuous in his life and teaching – for his life we know, was lived out in a progressive identification with the needy and the out cast, an on going journey from the centre to the periphery cross, beyond which no further movement was possible, for Jesus, was here locally outcast and wholly poor.
The Christians ethos is an ethos of anti-greed. The African ethos is an ethos of anti-greed. In my view it is not enough to say as Rre Ntuane always want to remind us that BDP is a member of socialists international or what Rre Moetsi Monwasa always tell the nation that UDC has adopted a social democratic programme. What Batswana want to see now is concrete realities, a change of mind set, a paradigm shift, a new way of doing things.
There is a need for change of mind. Fear of change and loss is not necessarily a response that gives proof of people natural conservatives for in spite of the unemployment many people have found within consumers capitalism real relief from an older poverty. This predisposes them to look upon the system as progressive, and they are the more inclined to accept its version of common sense , its logic in pursuit of ends which unlike, perhaps, at earlier time. The system has not been slow to make advantage of this more general public acceptance of the exigencies of capital.
The most argent purpose of any real alternative must be to demonstrate the necessity of disengagement from these processes, and in such a way that it can be slow to be not impoverishment or loss, but liberation. For we are dealing with what Rudolf Bahoro has called the occupied regions of our consciousness.
What does this means is that we must liberate ourselves from the chains of wealth. To think that without wealth we are nothing, otherwise we shall continue to accumulate wealth at the expense of others and we remain greedy. And even if we give others diphaphata and give ourselves aeroplanes we are not ashamed because part of consciousness has been occupied by greediness.
The first step in this direction is for all leaders, starting from Councilors, members of parliament, central committee member of all parties to declare their assets and liabilities and most importantly declaration of all gifts which are more than one hundred pula. What Batswana don’t like to see is BDP rule beyond October 2019, or UDC to win and Batswana losses.
Batswana must win not BDP or UDC in 2019. Batswana must be given a chance to debate about their future. We are talking about our lives, our country and the future of generation to come, so we got nothing to fear. People should know that we are here not to do anybody any favour but our country. The under informed and misinformed African leaders think that capitalism is God created system and to opposites it is to oppose God’s will, and thus other systems cannot work. They are told that capitalism is the solution, a key to prosperity.
This is a question that should seriously exercise the mind of every Botswana citizen and every science researcher, every health worker and every political leader political.
The Covid-19 currently defines our lives and poses a direct threat to every aspect and every part of national safety, security and general well-being. This disease has become a normative part of human life throughout the world.
The first part of the struggle against the murderous depredation of this disease was to protect personal life through restrictive health injunctions and protocols; the worst possibly being human isolation and masks that hid our sorrows and lamentations through thin veils. We suffered that humiliation with grace and I believe as a nation we did a great job.
Now the vaccines are here, ushering us into the second phase of this war against the plague; and we are asking ourselves, is this science-driven fight against Covid-19 spell the end of pandemic anxiety? Is the health nightmare coming to an end? What happy lives lie ahead? Is this the time for celebration or caution? As the Non State Actors, we have being struggling with these questions for months.
We have published our thoughts and feelings, and our research reviews and thorough reading of both the local and international impacts of this rampaging viral invasion in local newspapers and social media platforms.
More significantly, we have successfully organised workshops about the impact of the pandemic on society and the economy and the last workshop invited a panel of health experts, professionals, and public administers to advance this social dialogue as part of our commitment to the tripartite engagement we enjoy working with Government of Botswana, Civil Society and Development partners. These workshops are virtual and open to all Batswana, foreign diplomatic missions based in Gaborone, UN agencies located in Gaborone and international academic researchers and professional health experts and specialists.
The mark of Covid-19 on our nation is a painful one, a tragedy shared by the entire human race, but still a contextually painful experience. Our response is fraught with grave difficulties; limited resources, limited time, and the urgency to not only save lives but also avert economic ruin and a bleak future for all who survive. Several vaccines are already in the market.
Parts of the world are already doing the best they can to trunk the pestilential march of this disease by rolling out mass-vaccinations campaigns that promise to evict this health menace and nightmare from their public lives. Botswana, like much of Africa, is still up in the disreputable, and, unenviable, preventative social melee of masked interactions, metered distances, contactless commerce.
We remain very much at the mercy of a marauding virus that daily runs amuck with earth shattering implications for the economy and human lives. And the battle against both infections and transmissions is proving to be difficult, in terms of finance, institutional capacities and resource mobilization. How are we prepared as government, and as citizens, to embrace the impending mass-vaccinations? What are the chances of us succeeding at this last-ditch effort to defeat the virus? What are the most pressing obstacles?
Does the work of vaccines spell an end to the pandemic anxieties?
Our panellists addressed the current state of mass-vaccination preparedness at the Botswana national level. What resources are available? What are the financial, institutional and administrative operational challenges (costs and supply chains, delivery, distribution, administering the vaccine on time, surveillance and security of vaccines?) What is being done to overcome them, or what can be done to overcome them? What do public assessments of preparedness tell us at the local community levels? How strong is the political will and direction? How long can we expect the whole exercise to last? At what point should we start seeing tangible results of the mass-vaccination campaign?
They also addressed the challenges of the anticipated emerging Vaccinated Society. How to fight the myths of vaccines and the superstitions about histories of human immunizations? What exactly is being done to grow robust local confidence in the science of vaccinations and the vaccines themselves? More significantly, how to square these campaigns vis-vis personal rights, moral/religious obligations?
What messages are being sent out in these regards and how are Batswana responding? What about issues of justice and equality? Will we get the necessary vaccines to everyone who wants them? What is being done to ensure no deserving person is left behind?
They also addressed issues of health data. To accomplish this mass-vaccination campaign and do everything right we need accurate and complete data. Poor data already makes it very hard to just cope with the disease. What is being done to improve data for the mass-vaccination campaign? How is this data being collected, aggregated and prepared for real life situation/applications throughout Botswana in the coming campaign?
We know in America, for example, general reporting and treatment of health data at the beginning of vaccinations was so poor, so chaotic and so scattered mainstream newspapers like The Atlantic, Washington Post and the New York Times had to step in, working very closely with civil society organizations, to rescue the situation. What data-related issues are still problematic in Botswana?
To be specific, what kind of Covid-19 data is being taken now to ready the whole country for an effective and efficient mass-vaccination program?
Batswana must be made aware that the end part of vaccination will just mark the beginning of a long journey to health recovery and national redemption; that in many ways Covid-19 vaccination is just another step toward the many efforts in abeyance to fight this health pandemic, the road ahead is still long and painful.
For this purpose, and to highlight the significance of this observation we tasked our panellists with the arduous imperative of analysing the impact of mass-vaccination on society and the economy alongside the pressing issues of post-Covid-19 national health surveillance and rehabilitation programs.
Research suggests the aftermath of Covid-19 vaccination is going to be just as difficult and uncertain world as the present reality in many ways, and that caution should prevail over celebration, at least for a long time. The disease itself is projected to linger around for some time after all these mass-vaccination campaigns unless an effort is made to vaccinate everyone to the last reported case, every nation succeeds beyond herd immunity, and cure is found for Covid-19 disease. Many people are going to continue in need of medications, psychological and psychiatric services and therapy.
Is Botswana ready for this long holdout? If not, what path should we take going into the future? The Second concern is , are we going to have a single, trusted national agency charged with the mandate to set standards for our national health data system, now that we know how real bad pandemics can be, and the value of data in quickly responding to them and mitigating impact? Finally, what is being done to curate a short history of this pandemic? A national museum of health and medicine or a Public Health Institute in Botswana is overdue.
If we are to create strong sets of data policies and data quality standards for fighting future health pandemics it is critical that they find ideological and moral foundations in the artistic imagery and photography of the present human experience…context is essential to fighting such diseases, and to be prepared we must learn from every tragic health incident.
Our panellists answered most of these questions with distinguished intellectual clarity. We wish Batswana to join us in our second Mass-vaccination workshop.
Today is International Women’s Day – it’s a moment to think about how much better our news diet could be if inequities were eliminated. In 1995, when the curtains fell in one of the largest meetings that have ever brought women together to discuss women in development, it was noted that women and media remain key to development.
Twenty-six years later, the relevant “Article J” of the Beijing Platform for Action, remains unfulfilled. Its two strategic objectives with regard to Women and Media have not been met. They are Increase the participation and access of women to expression and decision-making in and through the media and new technologies of communication
Promote a balanced and non-stereotyped portrayal of women in the media.
Today, as we mark International Women’s Day, it’s an indictment on both media owners and civil society that women remain on the periphery of news-making. They cannot claim equal space in either the structures of newsrooms or in the content produced, be that as sources of news or as the subjects of reports. Indeed, the latest figures from WAN-IFRA’s Women in News Programme show just one in five voices in news belong to women*, be they as sources, as the author or as the main character of the news report.
Some progress was evident several years back, with stand-out women being named as chief executive officers, editors in chief, managing editors and executive editors. But these gains appear short lived in most media organisations. Excitement has turned to frustration as one-step forward has been replaced with three steps backwards. In Africa, the problem is acute. The decision-making tables of media organisations remain deprived of women and where there are women, they are surrounded by men.
Few women have followed in the footsteps of Esther Kamweru, the first woman managing editor in Kenya, and indeed sub-Saharan Africa. Today’s standout women editors include Pamela Makotsi-Sittoni (Nation Media Group, Kenya), Barbara Kaija (New Vision, Uganda), Mary Mbewe (Daily Nation, Zambia), Margaret Vuchiri (The Monitor, Uganda), Joyce Shebe (Clouds, Tanzania), Tryphinah Dongwana (Weekend Post, Botswana), Joyce Mhaville (Independent Television -ITV, Tanzania) and Tuma Abdallah (Standard Newspapers,Tanzania). But they remain an exception.
The lack of balance between women and men at the table of decision making has a rollback effect on the content that is produced. A table dominated by men typically makes decisions that benefit men.
So today, International Women’s Day is a grim reminder that things are not rosy in the news business. Achieving gender balance in news and in the structure of media organisations remains a challenge. Unmet, it sees more than half of the population in our countries suffer the consequences of bias, discrimination and sexism.
The business of ignoring the other half of the population can no longer be treated as normal. It’s time that media leaders grasp the challenge, not only because it is the right thing to do, but because it also makes a whole lot of business sense: start covering women, give them space and a voice in news-making and propel them to all levels of decision making within your organisation.
We can no longer afford to imagine that it’s only men who make and sell the news and bring in the shillings to fund the media business. Women too are worthy newsmakers. In all of our societies, there are women holding decision making positions and who are now experts in once male-only domains such as engineers, doctors, scientists and researchers.
They can be deliberately picked out to share their perspectives and expertise and bring balance to the profile of experts quoted on our news pages. Media is the prism through which society sees itself and women are an untapped audience. So, as we celebrate International Women’s Day, let us embrace diversity, which yields better news content and business products, and in so doing eliminate sexism. We know that actions and attitudes that discriminate against people based on their gender is bad for business.
As media, the challenge is ours. We need to consciously embrace and reach the commitments made 26 years ago when the Beijing Platform for Action was signed globally. As the news consuming public, you have a role to play too. Hold your news organization to account and make sure they deliver balanced news that reflects the voices of all of society.
Jane Godia is a gender development and media expert who serves as the Africa Director of Women in News programme. WOMEN IN NEWS is WAN-IFRA’s ground-breaking programme to increase women’s leadership and voices in the news. It does so by equipping women journalists and editors with the skills, strategies, and support networks to take on greater leadership positions within their media. www.womeninnews.org
The eve of International Women’s Day presents an opportunity for us to think about gender equality and the long and often frustrating march toward societies that are truly equal.
As media, we are uniquely placed to drive forward this reflection and discussion. But while focusing on the challenges of gender in society, we owe it to our staff and the communities we serve to also take a hard look at the obstacles within our own organisations.
I’m talking specifically about the scourge of sexual harassment. It’s likely to have happened in your newsroom. It has likely happened to a member of your team. It happens to all genders but is disproportionately directed at women. It happens in every industry, regardless of country, culture or context. This is because sexual harassment is driven by power, not sex. Wherever you have imbalances in power, you have individuals who are at risk of sexual harassment, and those who abuse this power.
I’ve been sexually harassed. The many journalists and editors, friends and family members who I have spoken to over the years on this subject have also been harassed. Yet it is still hard for leaders to recognize that this could be happening within their newsrooms and boardrooms. Why does it continue to be such a taboo?
Counting the cost of sexual harassment
Sexual harassment is, simply put, bad for business. It can harm your corporate reputation. It is a drain on the productivity of staff and managers. Maintaining and building trust in your brand is an absolute imperative for media organisations globally. If and when a case gets out of control or is badly handled – this can directly impact your bottom line.
It is for this reason that WAN-IFRA Women in News has put eliminating sexual harassment as a top priority in our work around gender equality in the media sector. This might seem at odds with the current climate where social interactions are fewer and remote work scenarios are in place in many newsrooms and businesses. But one only needs to tune into the news to know that the abuse of power, manifested as verbal, physical or online harassment, is alive and well.
Preliminary results from an ongoing Women in News research study into the issue of sexual harassment polling hundreds of journalists in Sub-Saharan Africa and Southeast Asia indicate that more than 1 in 3 women media professionals have been physically harassed, and just under 50% have been verbally harassed. Just over 15% of men in African newsrooms reported being physically harassed, and slightly less than 1 in 4 reports being verbally harassed. The numbers for male media professionals in Southeast Asia are slightly higher than a quarter on both forms of harassment.
The first step in confronting sexual harassment is to talk about it. We need to strip away the stigma and discomfort around having open conversations about what sexual harassment is and isn’t. Media managers, it is entirely in your power to create dynamics in your own teams that are free from sexual harassment.
Publishers and CEOs, you set the organisational culture in your media company.
By being vocal in recognising that it happens everywhere, and communicating to your employees that you will not tolerate sexual harassment of any kind, you send a powerful message to your teams, and publicly. With these actions, you will help us overcome the legacy of silence around this topic, and in doing so take an important first step to create media environments that truly embrace equality.
Melanie Walker is Executive Director of Media Development of the World Association of News Publishers (WAN-IFRA). She is a creator of Women in News, WAN-IFRA’s ground-breaking programme to increase women’s leadership and voices in the news. It does so by equipping women journalists and editors with the skills, strategies, and support networks to take on greater leadership positions within their media. www.womeninnews.org