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Day of Evil in Selibe-Phikwe and Philosophy of Death

By Teedzani Thapelo

Local novelist, poet and historian, Teedzani Thapelo* who researched part of his PhD thesis on certain aspects of Selibe-Phikwe a few years ago when the township was on the verge of economic collapse, and later dramatized this experience in his polyphonic novel, Seasons of Thunder, returns to the mining town only to encounter a terrifying wave of puzzlement and consternation.

Twenty years ago the question in everyone’s mind was, will the mine close or not? Today, following the abrupt closure of the mine bewildered residents are asking themselves, will the town die or won’t it, and nobody has a satisfactory answer to this nerve-racking existential question; not the BDP government, not the residents, and many are already returning to reclaim their roots in homelands left in the bush donkey years ago-a town founded on seismic fault lines has disappointed them and ruined lives, hopes and dreams of three generations.

The state of worry is a mark of both distinction and distress in chaotic society; distinction because among the ruins of such a society some people still manage to stand out no matter how desperate the situation is, and distress because many simply crumble and die, so that even when they are still standing and talking, walking about, and even laughing a little bit like everybody else, the spirit of life, the very soul of human life, departs, and what we really see are phantoms mingling about, senseless and irresolute in the midst of desperate ruination and despair.


Trouble is most such sorts of living forms are unfortunately usually smothered out of existence altogether through the wicked workings of linguistic register, the phony nature of medical science, and the general wilderness of inefficient words; words that often designate living people as dead, and the dead as living, it’s really a serious problem. The case of Selibe Phikwe clearly demonstrates this dilemma.

Sure, it does involve a very ordinary affair; the unexpected, and haphazard, closure of a mining venture. Words, we all know very well are the greatest enemies of reality. Whatever we don’t want to see we repress, overwhelm and stifle out with words. Whatever we feel uncomfortable with we restrain and conceal in a gigantic ocean of bewildering words. The things we love and desire we exult in words, even when they are out of our possession we still claim such possession with words.


To a student of languages this abuse of words at length becomes fatal to both imagination and learning. But politicians have no problem with this burden of unreality; what they see here is a gold mine. Some BDP politicians, for instance, still refuse to admit the mine was closed; “We are just still looking for another buyer,” they say. Oh, really? Why is it the miners and the people of Selibe-Phikwe were not told this before that day of evil, the day when, unprepared, a bunch of BDP politicians matched arrogantly in their town and told them the game was up, and nothing could be done to save the mine from closure, and their desperate lives from ruin and destruction?

Only one thing can guide us towards reality, force of insight and brilliant reading of difficult human situations; going behind words to explore the philosophy of meaning, and this demands clinical empirical observation. It is the one thing scholars are really good at, and the one thing politicians love to hate. Human beings easily get lost in the world of many words, and in many instances, what really appears to be a respectable man talking in such situations is really no more than a parrot squeaking.


Trouble is the ordinary Motswana is easily overwhelmed by argument and authority, even when such argument and authority are nothing but pure nonsense. The case of Selibe-Phikwe is illustrative. The illogicality of authoritarian attitude, the ardour of its speech, the hypocritical eloquence of their affected whimpering; all these things Batswana, not only hoard in their emotional breasts, but they fervently, even feverishly, gather them up, often cherish them, and they are always ready to pour them out by the hour in pubs, busses, radio stations, I would not be surprised if this things also formed part of post-coitus bliss, “Oh, that was great, honey, now tell me more about that fuss at Selibe-Phikwe”. No wonder we are no longer a romantic society!

Two things are a serious problem in our society; intellectual insufficiency, and imperfect trust in our own convictions. We also seem to be increasingly becoming too fond of inconveniences. Everything bad is allowed to pass. We even accord distinction to things that are simply too unintelligible to us. I have been accused of malicious investigation by some politicians in this country, and my crime? Writing articles for newspapers.


Does that make sense? The real problem with moral corruption, I think, is that the desire for freedom, for the flourishing of human aspirations…the simple love of justice, and even the fidelity of simple minds, are regularly prostituted to the lusts of hate and fear. That we now allow such things to happen in Botswana is something I never anticipated, but I should also admit I saw these things coming. Like most people my first reaction was ambiguous. Now I know better.

The people of Selibe-Phikwe are beginning to experience abandonment, and that is a fate I really would never wish anyone, not even my worst enemy. Batswana are beginning to pay a heavy price for their mystic acceptance of the principle of autocracy in our political culture, and let’s not forget that despotism is by nature a most unwearied industry.


The extirpation from the land of public conscience, of all the hallmarks of freedom in public institutions, the ruthless persecution of the rising generation…all these things Batswana welcomed with open arms and minds, and now BDP is hell bent on the destruction of the very hope of liberty itself. What do Batswana have to say about these things? We have even allowed these people to defile the temperament of our nation, and execrate its moral personality. Has anyone ever seen a republic that takes so few precautions for its safety?

For now we can expect two things from the people of Selibe-Phikwe; disorder, and political revolt. But our domestic god, the Autocrat of our wretched Universe, perched comfortably at Government Enclave, will not allow this. A strike by miners in that cursed town was in the past met with such violence that I doubt the cruel memory of that other day of evil is already forgotten.


In fact I heard BDP politicians boasting and gloating about that triumph of barbarian politics over poor, and unarmed Batswana workers, at the funeral of Mompati Merafe; it is considered a national heroic deed in BDP history. I wonder what our trade unions, and the suffering people of Selibe-Phikwe think about that.


As I write their appointed fate is already overtaking them, and the BDP never bothered to sound out any warning. Very typical isn’t it, this habit of suddenly striking other citizens dead to the ground, annihilating hope and life, and mercilessly ignoring the yells of horror. It happened to Basarwa before, so many times, I’d advice the people of Selibe-Phikwe to take a leaf from the history book of this arrogant politics from Basarwa. They should not expect any help from the BDP and its lackeys at Government Enclave. They must just accept they are on their own. Oh, they will be fed words, billions of words, signifying nothing.

History is teaching us great lessons in this country. The tragedy is that we are learning these things from harsh realities, from plagues, terrors and tomes covered with thorns and thistles. All the same we are learning, and this, I hope, is a learning curve we shall never forget. Even in the face of our rather infrequent moments of elation we really should never forget the dangers that menace our lives and public institutions.


The experience of Selibe-Phikwe is a stark reminder of the impermanence of human security, comfort and happiness in our country, and we should all remember a political culture that cannot safeguard these minimal standards of civilized life is a system based on falsehood and deceit. No faint apologetic smiles can compensate for such loses; for these facile gestures, too, are revoltingly dishonest and treacherous. The people of Selibe-Phikwe are beginning to learn these things in a bad way, and they are learning very fast.

Meanwhile at Government Enclave people are still receiving medals, and BDP monstrous institutions are still giving rewards and appointments to people who really should never have been in the civil service in the first place…to solve the problems of Selibe-Phikwe; the children and people of that wretched town, the very people painfully aware of the emotional tensions of their time, are just spectators. How amazing! Just how are these victims of pure political malice expected to defer to these strangers and their grand superior airs?


I suppose they will have to take these things in just as much great confusion as the crisis plaguing and blighting their lives…the jeering, and leering, the condescending murmurs, the French perfumes, and the peculiar emphasis on sterile bureaucratic resolutions…could there be anything more annoying, more disgusting?


Just imagine those poor people emerging as they are from those horribly irritating sulphuric fumes from the dead mine, and already being exposed to just as nauseating French perfumes, and meanwhile children are out of school, men and women out of work, businesses are collapsing, and professional artisans who have worked for decent wages all their lives are being told to go and till tomatoes for a living, learn to declare war on exotic worms that seem to have a frighteningly huge appetite for tomatoes…how weird!

Selibe-Phikwe is a town that was built by workers and foreign capital. Government only came on board later. Why now are these workers being excluded from decisions that so intimately involve their lives, their future, and the lives of their children and loved ones? Why are worker organisations being marginalised in these silly talks about redirecting the future of the town? Who knows better what the people really want beside the workers of Selibe-Phikwe themselves?


Yes, business can play a part in these belated efforts but not if disillusioned workers start gathering up their families and returning to their villages to start eking out some miserable existences there. What incentives have been put in place to keep these people in Selibe-Phikwe? None. 5000 workers translates to families comprising altogether more than 30 000 people, a whole political constituency…and these people are scattering to their villages in huge numbers even as I write now.


BDP does not care…they are still talking to the business community…what silliness! The economies of scale is disappearing, purchasing power is dying, and they are still talking to business…just who told them these disappointed people are going to stay in that wretched mess?


Who told them those who have already fled are coming back? What foolishness! Why does BDP despise workers so much? Can anything ever succeed in that town without the determined commitment of the people, of the communities, who built that town in the first place? Where is this madness coming from?

BDP will succeed only in one thing; further weakening of the businesses operating in that town; banks, retail shops, small businesses, transport operators, learning institutions and manufacturing plants. So far they have already succeeded in cutting the number of political constituencies from two to one, and by the time we get to the elections in 2019 that town will be just one of the small wards in that vast region…just imagine that? You think it won’t happen?


It will happen…mark my words, unless this madness stops and BDP reigns in this irritating appetite by imperial bureau to always appear like the only competent arbiter of social ills and tensions in public life. These people are so incompetent they can hardly manage their own departments. What really can they accomplish in Selibe-Phikwe?

I might be wrong about all this. But I have seen these things happening before. Other people may think…but this is Botswana. Everything is possible here…a typical languid African habit of dealing with serious national crisis. Buffoonery of all sorts is allowed to flourish.  I doubt though if these queer ideas of industry are agreeable and encouraging to those suffering people. To begin with they are too horribly startling. Second they are ridiculous to the extreme.


The most discerning, and therefore most utterly confounded amongst the people are already leaving. But they are not done with the BDP. Oh, no. Their judgement of this horrendous situation is much more philosophical, and tactical. Their response more political, and strategic.


I am thinking of moving to Selibe-Phikwe, permanently. As I said, the drama unfolding here is most instructive, and I love learning, from real life situations-every writer does. I even discern certain first principles dear to the merciless minds of youths cropping up here and there. The cries of astonishment and dismay are slowly dying, giving way to harsh, brittle laughter, and ferocious anger.

BDP and Government Enclave, as usual, have no heart to hear the sounds of weeping, and the gnashing of teeth. They are calmly talking voodoo economics…in curt, self-confident voices. Tender roots are being uprooted from the hearts and minds of a desperate people, whole lives are being wasted, thousands of brains are seething with arguments, and even the most ordinary town resident is sick with indignation…the spirit of progress and truth is being destroyed, for far too many people, and BDP functionaries sit in their offices, drinking coffee, and munching scones…talking voodoo economics.


They don’t want to hear unguarded expressions; they have no time for useless gatherings, and street corner murmurings. All is quiet on the Western front. They see not the broken lives, ruined, and robbed of hope. The miserable existences in some filthy hole of a room, the sordid bed of an understaffed  hospital, the misleading peace of bitter calmness, the horrible discord, the minds morphing into abject things, the fears of permanent endangerment…under their noises, these are anomalies. Collected-cool as cucumber, BDP functionaries eat toast with butter, talking about corrections…oh, boy, just where do these people get their souls? Is it possible people like these leave behind posterity? It’s just amazing how they take pride in their futile purpose.

When, really, will they start dealing with the consequences? For how long do they intend to continue refusing to confront reality? And this burden of unreality, just how long can it survive the God of Justice that is enshrined in the hearts and souls of all suffering human beings? Are they waiting for history to put fate to the test? Is that what they really want? No nation wants to endure the crisis of its fate. It’s weary work. All rational people work hard to avoid this, to strike a less costly bargain with fate.


This is the basis of political philosophy; the cornerstone of all rational political activity. Just what is BDP up to? I am not saying they should stop eating caviar. By all means gorge yourselves while you still have time. But national problems, we all know, cannot be solved simply by way of mental extravagance and arbitrary proceedings bothering on recklessness…what BDP calls mananeo.


BDP has reduced all poor people of Botswana to the disreputable position of being treated by the Office of the President and underling ministries as nothing short of beggars off duty. Is this what they want for the population of Selibe-Phikwe? A town this big, this literate, this politically active, cannot, and will not, be degraded to the lowest social depths of the hopeless and destitution, not without serious political consequences.


Selibe-Phikwe is going down, and its death throes reverberate resoundingly throughout the entire central district and beyond. This is one political failure BDP cannot, and will not, manage, to live down. Its death, if death it really turns out to be, cannot but presage the political death of BDP itself. Is this what the party really wants?

It might be time has come for real work to be done at both Government Enclave and Tsholetsa House. Digging their own grave is all right so far as vanity goes, but in pure political terms, it is, irreverently, a most foolish thing to do. Teedzani Thapelo* is winner of the Institute of International Education Fellowship Award, runner up winner of the 2016 Share Botswana Tourism Fiction Award, and former Distinguished Africa Guest Researcher at Nordic Africa Institute, Research Associate at the Centre for Economic Policy in Southern Africa, Economic History Lecturer at the University of Botswana, and author of Philosophy of Death and the Ruin of Selibe-Phikwe: andonment and revolt, forthcoming in 2018.    

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Brands are important

27th March 2023

So, the conclusion is brands are important. I start by concluding because one hopes this is a foregone conclusion given the furore that erupts over a botched brand. If a fast food chef bungles a food order, there’d be possibly some isolated complaint thrown. However, if the same company’s marketing expert or agency cooks up a tasteless brand there is a country-wide outcry. Why?  Perhaps this is because brands affect us more deeply than we care to understand or admit. The fact that the uproar might be equal parts of schadenfreude, black twitter-esque criticism and, disappointment does not take away from the decibel of concern raised.

A good place to start our understanding of a brand is naturally by defining what a brand is. Marty Neumier, the genius who authored The Brand Gap, offers this instructive definition – “A brand is a person’s gut feel about a product or service”. In other words, a brand is not what the company says it is. It is what the people feel it is. It is the sum total of what it means to them. Brands are perceptions. So, brands are defined by individuals not companies. But brands are owned by companies not individuals. Brands are crafted in privacy but consumed publicly. Brands are communal. Granted, you say. But that doesn’t still explain why everybody and their pet dog feel entitled to jump in feet first into a brand slug-fest armed with a hot opinion. True. But consider the following truism.


Brands are living. They act as milestones in our past. They are signposts of our identity. Beacons of our triumphs. Indexes of our consumption. Most importantly, they have invaded our very words and world view. Try going for just 24 hours without mentioning a single brand name. Quite difficult, right? Because they live among us they have become one of us. And we have therefore built ‘brand bonds’ with them. For example, iPhone owners gather here. You love your iPhone. It goes everywhere. You turn to it in moments of joy and when we need a quick mood boost. Notice how that ‘relationship’ started with desire as you longingly gazed upon it in a glossy brochure. That quickly progressed to asking other people what they thought about it. Followed by the zero moment of truth were you committed and voted your approval through a purchase. Does that sound like a romantic relationship timeline. You bet it does. Because it is. When we conduct brand workshops we run the Brand Loyalty ™ exercise wherein we test people’s loyalty to their favourite brand(s). The results are always quite intriguing. Most people are willing to pay a 40% premium over the standard price for ‘their’ brand. They simply won’t easily ‘breakup’ with it. Doing so can cause brand ‘heart ache’. There is strong brand elasticity for loved brands.


Now that we know brands are communal and endeared, then companies armed with this knowledge, must exercise caution and practise reverence when approaching the subject of rebranding. It’s fragile. The question marketers ought to ask themselves before gleefully jumping into the hot rebranding cauldron is – Do we go for an Evolution (partial rebrand) or a Revolution(full rebrand)? An evolution is incremental. It introduces small but significant changes or additions to the existing visual brand. Here, think of the subtle changes you’ve seen in financial or FMCG brands over the decades. Evolution allows you to redirect the brand without alienating its horde of faithful followers. As humans we love the familiar and certain. Change scares us. Especially if we’ve not been privy to the important but probably blinkered ‘strategy sessions’ ongoing behind the scenes. Revolutions are often messy. They are often hard reset about-turns aiming for a total new look and ‘feel’.



Hard rebranding is risky business. History is littered with the agony of brands large and small who felt the heat of public disfavour. In January 2009, PepsiCo rebranded the Tropicana. When the newly designed package hit the shelves, consumers were not having it. The New York Times reports that ‘some of the commenting described the new packaging as ‘ugly’ ‘stupid’. They wanted their old one back that showed a ripe orange with a straw in it. Sales dipped 20%. PepsiCo reverted to the old logo and packaging within a month. In 2006 Mastercard had to backtrack away from it’s new logo after public criticism, as did Leeds United, and the clothing brand Gap. AdAge magazine reports that critics most common sentiment about the Gap logo was that it looked like something a child had created using a clip-art gallery. Botswana is no different. University of Botswana had to retreat into the comfort of the known and accepted heritage strong brand.  Sir Ketumile Masire Teaching Hospital was badgered with complaints till it ‘adjusted’ its logo.



So if the landscape of rebranding is so treacherous then whey take the risk? Companies need to soberly assess they need for a rebrand. According to the fellows at Ignyte Branding a rebrand is ignited by the following admissions :

Our brand name no longer reflects our company’s vision.
We’re embarrassed to hand out our business cards.

Our competitive advantage is vague or poorly articulated.
Our brand has lost focus and become too complex to understand. Our business model or strategy has changed.
Our business has outgrown its current brand.
We’re undergoing or recently underwent a merger or acquisition. Our business has moved or expanded its geographic reach.
We need to disassociate our brand from a negative image.
We’re struggling to raise our prices and increase our profit margins. We want to expand our influence and connect to new audiences. We’re not attracting top talent for the positions we need to fill. All the above are good reasons to rebrand.

The downside to this debacle is that companies genuinely needing to rebrand might be hesitant or delay it altogether. The silver lining I guess is that marketing often mocked for its charlatans, is briefly transformed from being the Archilles heel into Thanos’ glove in an instant.

So what does a company need to do to safely navigate the rebranding terrain? Companies need to interrogate their brand purpose thoroughly. Not what they think they stand for but what they authentically represent when seen through the lens of their team members. In our Brand Workshop we use a number of tools to tease out the compelling brand truth. This section always draws amusing insights. Unfailingly, the top management (CEO & CFO)always has a vastly different picture of their brand to the rest of their ExCo and middle management, as do they to the customer-facing officer. We have only come across one company that had good internal alignment. Needless to say that brand is doing superbly well.

There is need a for brand strategies to guide the brand. One observes that most brands ‘make a plan’ as they go along. Little or no deliberate position on Brand audit, Customer research, Brand positioning and purpose, Architecture, Messaging, Naming, Tagline, Brand Training and may more. A brand strategy distils why your business exists beyond making money – its ‘why’. It defines what makes your brand what it is, what differentiates it from the competition and how you want your customers to perceive it. Lacking a brand strategy disadvantages the company in that it appears soul-less and lacking in personality. Naturally, people do not like to hang around humans with nothing to say. A brand strategy understands the value proposition. People don’t buy nails for the nails sake. They buy nails to hammer into the wall to hang pictures of their loved ones. People don’t buy make up because of its several hues and shades. Make up is self-expression. Understanding this arms a brand with an iron clad clad strategy on the brand battlefield.

But perhaps you’ve done the important research and strategy work. It’s still possible to bungle the final look and feel.  A few years ago one large brand had an extensive strategy done. Hopes were high for a top tier brand reveal. The eventual proposed brand was lack-lustre. I distinctly remember, being tasked as local agency to ‘land’ the brand and we outright refused. We could see this was a disaster of epic proportions begging to happen. The brand consultants were summoned to revise the logo. After a several tweaks and compromises the brand landed. It currently exists as one of the country’s largest brands. Getting the logo and visual look right is important. But how does one know if they are on the right path? Using the simile of a brand being a person – The answer is how do you know your outfit is right? It must serve a function, be the right fit and cut, it must be coordinated and lastly it must say something about you. So it is possible to bath in a luxurious bath gel, apply exotic lotion, be facebeat and still somehow wear a faux pas outfit. Avoid that.

Another suggestion is to do the obvious. Pre-test the logo and its look and feel on a cross section of your existing and prospective audience. There are tools to do this. Their feedback can save you money, time and pain. Additionally one must do another obvious check – use Google Image to verify the visual outcome and plain Google search to verify the name. These are so obvious they are hopefully for gone conclusions. But for the brands that have gone ahead without them, I hope you have not concluded your brand journeys as there is a world of opportunity waiting to be unlocked with the right brand strategy key.

Cliff Mada is Head of ArmourGetOn Brand Consultancy, based in Gaborone and Cape Town.

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The case for Botswana to ratify the ACDEG

6th March 2023

The Ibrahim Index of African Governance (IIAG) is the most comprehensive dataset measuring African governance performance through a wide range of 81 indicators under the categories of Security & Rule of law, Participation, Rights & Inclusion, Foundations of Economic Opportunity, and Human Development. It employs scores, expressed out of 100, which quantify a country’s performance for each governance measure and ranks, out of 54, in relation to the 54 African countries.

The 2022 IIAG Overall Governance score is 68.1 and ranks Botswana at number 5 in Africa. In 2019 Botswana was ranked 2nd with an overall score of 73.3. That is a sharp decline. The best-performing countries are Mauritius, Seychelles, Tunisia, and Cabo Verde, in that order. A glance at the categories shows that Botswana is in third place in Africa on the Security and Rule of law; ninth in the Participation, Rights & Inclusion Category – indicating a shrinking participatory environment; eighth for Foundations of Economic Opportunity category; and fifth in the Human Development category.

The 2022 IIAG comes to a sweeping conclusion: Governments are less accountable and transparent in 2021 than at any time over the last ten years; Higher GDP does not necessarily indicate better governance; rule of law has weakened in the last five years; Democratic backsliding in Africa has accelerated since 2018; Major restrictions on freedom of association and assembly since 2012. Botswana is no exception to these conclusions. In fact, a look at the 10-year trend shows a major challenge. While Botswana remains in the top 5 of the best-performing countries in Africa, there are signs of decline, especially in the categories of Human Development and Security & Rule of law.

I start with this picture to show that Botswana is no longer the poster child for democracy, good governance, and commitment to the rule of law that it once was. In fact, to use the term used in the IIAG, Botswana is experiencing a “democratic backsliding.”

The 2021 Transparency International Corruption Perception Index (CPI) had Botswana at 55/ 100, the lowest ever score recorded by Botswana dethroning Botswana as Africa’s least corrupt country to a distant third place, where it was in 2019 with a CPI of 61/100. (A score closer to zero denotes the worst corrupt and a score closer to 100 indicates the least corrupt country). The concern here is that while other African states are advancing in their transparency and accountability indexes, Botswana is backsliding.

The Transitional National Development Plan lists participatory democracy, the rule of law, transparency, and accountability, as key “deliverables,” if you may call those deliverables. If indeed Botswana is committed to these principles, she must ratify the African Charter on Democracy Elections and Governance (ACDEG).

The African Charter on Democracy Elections and Governance is the African Union’s principal policy document for advancing democratic governance in African Union member states. The ACDEG embodies the continent’s commitment to a democratic agenda and set the standards upon which countries agreed to be held accountable. The Charter was adopted in 2007 and came into force a decade ago, in 2012.

Article 2 of the Charter details its objectives among others as to a) Promote adherence, by each State Party, to the universal values and principles of democracy and respect for human rights; b) Promote and protect the independence of the judiciary; c) Promote the establishment of the necessary conditions to foster citizen participation, transparency, access to information, freedom of the press and accountability in the management of public affairs; d) Promote gender balance and equality in the governance and development processes.

The Charter emphasizes certain principles through which member states must uphold: Citizen Participation, Accountable Institutions, Respect for Human Rights, Adherence to the principles of the Rule of Law, Respect for the supremacy of the constitution and constitutional order, Entrenchment of democratic Principles, Separation of Powers, Respect for the Judiciary, Independence and impartiality of electoral bodies, best practice in the management of elections. These are among the top issues that Batswana have been calling for, that they be entrenched in the new Constitution.

The ACDEG is a revolutionary document. Article 3 of the ACDEG, sets guidance on the principles that must guide the implementation of the Charter among them: Effective participation of citizens in democratic and development processes and in the governance of public affairs; Promotion of a system of government that is representative; Holding of regular, transparent, free and fair elections; Separation of powers; Promotion of gender equality in public and private institutions and others.

Batswana have been calling for laws that make it mandatory for citizen participation in public affairs, more so, such calls have been amplified in the just-ended “consultative process” into the review of the Constitution of Botswana. Many scholars, academics, and Batswana, in general, have consistently made calls for a constitution that provides for clear separation of powers to prevent concentration of power in one branch, in Botswana’s case, the Executive, and provide for effective checks and balances. Other countries, like Kenya, have laws that promote gender equality in public and private institutions inscribed in their constitutions. The ACDEG could be a useful advocacy tool for the promotion of gender equality.

Perhaps more relevant to Botswana’s situation now is Article 10 of the Charter. Given how the constitutional review process unfolded, the numerous procedural mistakes and omissions, the lack of genuine consultations, the Charter principles could have provided a direction, if Botswana was party to the Charter. “State Parties shall ensure that the process of amendment or revision of their constitution reposes on national consensus, obtained, if need be, through referendum,” reads part of Article 10, giving clear clarity, that the Constitution belong to the people.

With the African Charter on Democracy Elections and Governance in hand, ratified, and also given the many shortfalls in the current constitution, Batswana can have a tool in hand, not only to hold the government accountable but also a tool for measuring aspirations and shortfalls of our governance institutional framework.

Botswana has not signed, nor has it acceded or ratified the ACDEG. The time to ratify the ACDEG is now. Our Movement, Motheo O Mosha Society, with support from the Democracy Works Foundation and The Charter Project Africa, will run a campaign to promote, popularise and advocate for the ratification of the Charter (#RatifytheCharter Campaign). The initiative is co-founded by the European Union. The Campaign is implemented with the support of our sister organizations: Global Shapers Community – Gaborone Hub, #FamilyMeetingBW, Botswana Center for Public Integrity, Black Roots Organization, Economic Development Forum, Molao-Matters, WoTech Foundation, University of Botswana Political Science Society, Young Minds Africa and Branding Akosua.

Ratifying the Charter would reaffirm Botswana’s commitment to upholding strong democratic values, and respect for constitutionalism, and promote the rule of law and political accountability. Join us in calling the Government of Botswana to #RatifyTheCharter.

*Morena MONGANJA is the Chairperson of Motheo O Mosha society; a grassroots movement advocating for a new Constitution for Botswana. Contact: or WhatsApp 77 469 362.

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The Taiwan Question: China ramps up military exercises to rebuff US provocations

18th August 2022

US House Speaker Nancy Pelosis visit to Taiwan has violated the One-China policy, and caused the escalation of tensions across the Taiwan Strait. Experts and political observers across the spectra agree that Pelosis actions and subsequent pronouncements by US President Joe Biden gave impetus to an already simmering tension in the Taiwan Strait, provoking China to strengthen its legitimate hold on the Taiwan Strait waters, which the US and Taiwan deem as international waters.

Pelosis visit to Chinas Taiwan region has been heavily criticised across the globe, with China arguing that this is a serious violation of the one-China principle and the provisions of the three China-US Joint Communiqus. In response to this reckless move which seriously undermined China’s sovereignty, and interfered in China’s internal affairs, the expectation is for China to give a firm response. Pelosi visit violated the commitments made by the U.S. side, and seriously jeopardized peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait.

To give context to Chinas position over Taiwan region, the history behind gives us perspective. It is also important to note that the history between China and Taiwan is well documented and the US has always recognized it.

The Peoples Republic of China recognises Taiwan as its territory. It has always been the case even before the Nationalist Republic of China government fled to the previously Japanese-ruled Island after losing the civil war on the mainland in 1949. According to literature that threat was contained for decades first with a military alliance between the US and the ROC on Taiwan, and after Washington switched diplomatic recognition to the PRC in 1979 by the US One China policy, which acknowledges Beijings position that Taiwan is part of One China. Effectively, Taiwans administration was transferred to the Republic of China from Japan after the Second World War in 1945, along with the split between the Peoples Republic of China (PRC) and the Republic of China (ROC) as a consequence of the Chinese Civil War. Disregarding this history, as the US is attempting to do, will surely initiate some defence reaction on the side of China to affirm its sovereignty.

However, this history was undermined since Taiwan claimed to democratise in the 1990s and China has grown ever more belligerent. Furthermore, it is well documented that the Biden administration, following the Trump presidency, has made subtle changes in the way it deals with Taipei, such as loosening restrictions on US officials meeting Taiwanese officials this should make China uneasy. And while the White House continues to say it does not support Taiwanese independence, Bidens words and actions are parallel to this pledge because he has warned China that the US would intervene militarily if China attacked Taiwan another statement that has provoked China.

Pelosi, in her private space, would know that her actions amount to provocation of China. This act of aggression by the USA seriously undermines the virtues of sovereignty and territorial integrity which has a huge potential to destabilize not only the Taiwan Strait but the whole of the Asia- Pacific region. The Americans know very well that their provocative behavior is deliberately invoking the spirit of separatism masqueraded as Taiwan independence. The US is misled to think that by supporting separatism of Taiwan from China that would give them an edge over China in a geopolitics. This is what one Chinese diplomat said this week: The critical point is if every country put their One-China policy into practice with sincerity, with no compromise, is going to guarantee the peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait. Therefore, it was in the wake of US House speaker Nancy Pelosis visit to Taiwan, that China, in a natural response revealed plans for unprecedented military exercises near the island, prompting fears of a crisis in the Taiwan Strait and the entire Asia-Pacific region. The world community must promote and foster peace, this may be achieved when international laws are respected. It may also happen when nations respect the sovereignty of another. China may be in a better space because it is well capacitated to stake its territorial integrity, what about a small nation, if this happens to it?

As to why military exercises by Beijing; it is an expected response because China was provoked by the actions of Pelosi. To fortify this position, Chinese President, Xi signed a legal basis for Chinas Peoples Liberation Army to safeguard Chinas national sovereignty, security and development interests. The legal basis will also allow military missions around disaster relief, humanitarian aid and peacekeeping. In addition the legal changes would allow troops to prevent spillover effects of regional instabilities from affecting China, secure vital transport routes for strategic materials like oil, or safeguard Chinas overseas investments, projects and personnel. It then follows that President Xis administration cannot afford to look weak under a US provocation. President Xi must protector Chinas sovereignty and territorial integrity, of which Taiwan is a central part. Beijing is very clear on One-China Policy, and expects all world players to recognize and respect it.

The Peoples Liberation Army has made it clear that it has firepower that covers all of Taiwan, and it can strike wherever it wants. This sentiments have been attributed to Zhang Junshe, a researcher at the PLA Navy Research Institute. Zheng further said, We got really close to Taiwan. We encircled Taiwan. And we demonstrated that we can effectively stop intervention by foreign forces. This is a strong reaction from China to warn the US against provocation and violation of the One-China Policy.

Beijings military exercises will certainly shake Taiwans confidence in the sources of its economic and political survival. The potential for an effective blockade threatens the air and shipping routes that support Taiwans central role in global technology supply chains. Should a humanitarian situation arise in Taiwan, the blame would squarely be on the US.

As Chinas military exercises along the Taiwan Strait progress and grow, it remains that the decision by Nancy Pelosi to visit Chinas Taiwan region gravely undermined peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait, and sent a wrong signal to Taiwan independence separatist forces. This then speaks to international conventions, as the UN Secretary-General Antnio Guterres explicitly stressed that the UN remains committed to the UN General Assembly Resolution 2758. The centerpiece is the one-China principle, namely, there is but one China in the world, the government of the Peoples Republic of China is the sole legal government representing the whole of China, and Taiwan is a part of China. It must be noted that the US and the US-led NATO countries have selectively applied international law, this has been going on unabated. There is a plethora of actions that have collapsed several states after they were attacked under the pretext of the so-called possession of weapons of mass destruction illuminating them as threats – and sometimes even without any valid reason. to blatantly launch military strikes and even unleash wars on sovereign countrie

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