Every man has a right to fight for what they believe is rightfully theirs. You might be a voter, a politician, or just a nobody – as some seem to think the rest of us are- but fight you must! I have been observing, for quite a number of years now, how voters and politicians fight for what they believe they are rightfully entitled to, a good salary and impressive conditions of service and living.
What bothers me though, is that, hard as the voter must fight, s/he is always, at the back of her/his mind, hoping that someone else will be backing their fight. I have just about given up on anyone backing my fight or any voter’s fight for that matter. Just recently, I think as recent as 2014, salaries and allowances of Members of Parliament were increased, and I mean massive increase. I am writing this as a “voter”, and a Motswana in Botswana. I am writing this as a man who fights to nurture democracy with his vote, though not enough, it is something.
This vote can either be for the ruling party or for those who oppose; who I vote for is not important in the interest of this article. What is important is my belief that politicians are there to represent the interests of those who voted for them, and of course, in the broader interest of the “country”. You see, the “country” is more important than the voter and the politician and even more important than the self.
There are about two (2) million Batswana. Out of this two (2) million Batswana, pardon me for I do not have the statistics, I can maybe say a million or so are humble men and women who are capable of making choices. Some have made choices I cannot mention here, but there is only a few of those. These men and women have made choices, and humble as Batswana are, I can maybe say the majority of them made those choices in the interest of the “country”.
Some have made choices to serve the “country” as servants of the public (the Public Service) and are under the indirect control of politicians; nothing bad or wrong with that, at least in as far as this write-up is concerned. Some have made choices to serve the public in an indirect manner (the Private Sector). I am not mentioning the Parastatals, as they are public service officers anyway, the only difference between them and the direct public service is the salaries and other pecks that go with having been employed there.
Now, we have some who chose to serve the public as politicians; I have just recently learnt that they are not considered public service officers, though mostly they behave as such. All of these environments (the Public Service, the Private Sector and Politics) under which we have made choices to serve are pretty hostile, that is, in comparison with other countries which we can reasonably compare with. Politicians are the peoples’ representatives and as such are elected, “not hired” (otherwise we (the voters) will “fire” them, even before they complete their term(s))).
They, like the rest of us, have made a deliberate choice to serve their country in that capacity. Like the rest of us, they were not forced. Now it bothers me that they have made the “self” part of their mandate. When they stood for election it was never part of their manifesto to represent the “self”. The recent increase in their salaries and the continued justification for such really boggles my mind; it is all about the self, as oppossed to being about the voter and the country. Is it real, I ask myself, that a man, or woman makes a deliberate choice, fully knowing the conditions under which they are going to serve and, without negotiating with the “boss” (the voter), changes those conditions. Is the voters’ conditions of service and living not imperative anymore, as promised prior to elections?
I want to, as a voter, look through some of the justifications for the massive salaries and allowances increases our representatives put forth.These were carried in some newspaper a some months bak. Justification 1: Some politicians become destitutes after their term of office expires and they are not re-elected
Should this be the tax payer’s problem? If you had watched the movie “Where were you when the lights went out?”, then you already have the answer. First, there is something called “investment”. Our politicians, like the rest of us, must invest their meager earnings, in other words, “make hay while the sun shines”, unless our politicians beleive the sun will shine forever; and for a while it did seem so. This justification on its own should shed light on the kind of people our politicians are.
How does one lead people, in these present times of hardship, and not invest for the future? I believe leaders are in a way like teachers; the rest of the people look up to them for guidance. Now, if our leaders cannot advise themselves … it tells a different story. Should the tax payer be burdened with politicians who fail to invest while they made deliberate choices to enter politics? If politicians believe higher salaries guarantee a life out of destitution after leaving office, then why do they not extend the benefit to the rest of us poor souls who have made choices bereft of self enrichment? If our politicians believe heftier salaries are a guarantee to a life of grandeur after political office, then they are in for a pretty nasty surprise. It is simple Mathematics actually.
If you do not invest while you can, no matter how much money you pump out of the system, you will still be a destitute after office. The advise to our leaders is to start investing now and those who do not know how to invest or what investment is are surely in the wrong place for we need leaders who are wise enough to invest or at least know what investment is so that they can advise us. A high salary is not the answer, it is simple looting of the public coffers, period.
One interesting observation is that politicians are the ones charged with ensuring that there is life after retirement, for every Motswana, not destitution. In other words they are charged with making sure that there are good investment opportunities for the masses and of course themselves. If they cannot coordinate such, then they are in the wrong place and the rest of us poor folks will be left in limbo.
Justification 2: Some politicians work for “Ipelegeng” after their term of office expires and they are not re-elected. Uhu! So Ipelegeng is for a certain group of people? I have all along thought, though not necessarily approving of it, that it was for all Batswana who cannot find reliable and gainful forms of employment. Why should a man who does not know how to invest not work for Ipelegeng? If Ipelegeng is for a certain group of people, then I think those who occupy political office for five years, and even more, and end up destitute belong there.
So, stop worrying, at least you will have a job, or the semblance of one, and start putting aside P50-00 of the P600-00 or so aside for when Ipelegeng ceases, as at least you have learnt a lesson. And remember, politicians are the ones responsible for ensuring good investment opportunities and a comfortable life after retirement. If they cannot work for Ipelegeng, who do they expect to?
Justification 3: Politicians should be paid hefty salaries and allowances beacuse they offer us a clean environment. This is the sentiment of one Councillor in Mochudi. Uhu! Pardon me for having thought that that is part of a politician’s job, providing a clean environment that is. And then again, that might be happening in Mochudi, and I have not been there for quite some time, maybe they have improved. In Selibe-Phikwe at least I know people live with their refuse, what with the dogs, donkeys and cattle opening the gates and tipping over refuse bins while foraging for a meal. Please extend such services to Selibe-Phikwe dear Councillor.
Justification 4: Politicians in other countries are paid handsomely. Now, now, now! Just what countries are we comparing ourselves with? Corrupt countries where politicians loot public coffers? And did our politicians look at other non-political officers’ remuneration, while they were at it? Or did they just look at theirs? I wonder. Why is it that we are so fond of wanting to adopt bad practices. I am confident the countries our politicians are comparing their salaries to offer very unfriendly salaries to the rest of the populace. Why can’t our politicians maybe compare our country with countries like Singapore. In Singapore the Government ensures or at least strives to ensure that; they find jobs for their people
they put a roof over their peoples’ heads (Singapore has one of the world’s highest home ownership at 90-%; we do not see that in Botswana) they raised the GDP from $500 in 1965 to $6500 in 2015 and much, much more .I think our politicians should strive to achieve for us what we yearn for mostly; good jobs, good working conditions, good salaries, affordable housing, affordable medical aid, affordable investment and business opportunities, the list is endless. With a happy people, our politicians can then go ahead and reward themselves, maybe no one will notice, or if they do, they might not think it a bad idea. Go ahead, make us happy, give us good salaries, give us good housing, avail the land, the list is endless; and no one will complain.
Justification 5: Politicians use their money to champion democracy
My my my!…pardon me for thinking politicians made deliberate decisions to be politicians. And again I am wondering, why regret such a grand contribution; promoting democracy; and why should anyone complain or want to be paid for doing good? Let me remind our politicians that they are not the only ones championing democracy, or maybe they only think the others only jump onto the wagon when we “celebrate our democracy (vote)”.
No! If you remember our first President’s words “Democracy, like a little plant, does not grow or develop on its own. It must be nursed and nurtured if it is to grow and flourish. It must be believed in and practiced if it is to be appreciated. And it must be fought for and defended if it is to survive”…Sir Seretse Khama…opening of the 5th session of Parliament in 1978. No need to simplify that.
If our politicians want to stake a claim to nurturing democracy at the exclusion of all the others, then we have another think coming. Why, in the name of God would you want to exclude us? The Public Service, the Private Sector and all the other informal sectors out there contributing to championing democracy. Let us have respect for each other and not justify looting of public coffers, in the name of promoting democracy. This country belongs to all of us and each of us, in their own little way, contributes to nurturing our democracy.
The list of justifications is so enormous it cannot be covered in one article, and actually does not need to be. One just needs to look at all these justifications to find just what kind of people we are burdened with. Why should we trust someone who cannot take care of his/herself, to take care of us? Why should we trust people who think they are better than us? Why should we trust people who think they are the only ones responsible for protecting and nurturing our democracy? I think it is time Batswana woke up from their slumber and start advocating for their place in Botswana’ democracy.
Yes we will always have politicians, but we need politicians who will take care of us, not those who think they are better than or deserve better than us. We need politicians who will remove the “self” from serving the people. And yes, we need a strong and vibrant civil society that will keep the politicians in check. Left to themselves, as is the case in Botswana…bad recipe. So Batswana, let us not only “celebrate our democracy (vote)”, let us live it, every day of our lives. Nurturing democracy is every Motswana’s right and responsibility.
Now, the Weekendpost of Saturday 10 – 16 December, 2016 carries another story where MP L. Kablay of Letlhakane/Lephephe is advocating for another salary increase and other special incentives such as constituency vehicles and the like. He is reported to have said that democracy is expensive to justify the demands. Yes, “democracy is expensive, very, very expensive,” but it should not be “wasteful”. Again, democracy is not like beauty, “it does not lie in the eyes of the beholder”, it belongs to the masses. Ao! Ba gaetsho! In the midst of massive job losses.
Nnyaa the betsho. Let us, before we think of ourselves, think of the multitudes of BCL miners and other such who have just lost their jobs. These are people who work theirselves out in very unfavourable and mostly unsafe environments. These are people who dug out copper to make Selibe-Phikwe what it is today, trusting that someone will sell that copper so that they continue surviving…for ours is survival, not living. Let us think of the masses who cannot find jobs and still others who are under-employed. Please, ladies and gentlemen, halt the cry for bigger salaries and think of these people.
You must be in Selibe-Phikwe to appreciate the sad, harsh and inhuman reality we see everyday, where the former miners congregate by Area two gates in this simmering heat, supposedly waiting for “change” from their very little terminal benefits. The situation is tantamount to parading these desperate miners for all to see. Please, please, let us think of these poor souls who are guaranteed a future without jobs, who are guaranteed a futureless future. At the very least, let us excise a little conscience of humanity. And please, remember, you made a deliberate choice to be representatives of the people, please do that. Is there any difficulty in that?
The Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) has recently faced significant criticism for its handling of the voter registration exercise. In this prose I aim to shed light on the various instances where the IEC has demonstrated a lack of respect towards the citizens of Botswana, leading to a loss of credibility. By examining the postponements of the registration exercise and the IEC’s failure to communicate effectively, it becomes evident that the institution has disregarded its core mandate and the importance of its role in ensuring fair and transparent elections.
Incompetence or Disrespect?
One possible explanation for the IEC’s behavior is sheer incompetence. It is alarming to consider that the leadership of such a critical institution may lack the understanding of the importance of their mandate. The failure to communicate the reasons for the postponements in a timely manner raises questions about their ability to handle their responsibilities effectively. Furthermore, if the issue lies with government processes, it calls into question whether the IEC has the courage to stand up to the country’s leadership.
Another possibility is that the IEC lacks respect for its core clients, the voters of Botswana. Respect for stakeholders is crucial in building trust, and clear communication is a key component of this. The IEC’s failure to communicate accurate and complete information, despite having access to it, has fueled speculation and mistrust. Additionally, the IEC’s disregard for engaging with political parties, such as the Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC), further highlights this disrespect. By ignoring the UDC’s request to observe the registration process, the IEC demonstrates a lack of regard for its partners in the electoral exercise.
Rebuilding Trust and Credibility:
While allegations of political interference and security services involvement cannot be ignored, the IEC has a greater responsibility to ensure its own credibility. The institution did manage to refute claims by the DISS Director that the IEC database had been compromised, which is a positive step towards rebuilding trust. However, this remains a small glimmer of hope in the midst of the IEC’s overall disregard for the citizens of Botswana.
To regain the trust of Batswana, the IEC must prioritize respect for its stakeholders. Clear and timely communication is essential in this process. By engaging with political parties and addressing their concerns, the IEC can demonstrate a commitment to transparency and fairness. It is crucial for the IEC to recognize that its credibility is directly linked to the trust it garners from the voters.
The IEC’s recent actions have raised serious concerns about its credibility and respect for the citizens of Botswana. Whether due to incompetence or a lack of respect for stakeholders, the IEC’s failure to communicate effectively and handle its responsibilities has damaged its reputation. To regain trust and maintain relevance, the IEC must prioritize clear and timely communication, engage with political parties, and demonstrate a commitment to transparency and fairness. Only by respecting the voters of Botswana can the IEC fulfill its crucial role in ensuring free and fair elections.
The Oil and Gas industry has undergone several significant developments and changes over the last few years. Understanding these developments and trends is crucial towards better appreciating how to navigate the engagement in this space, whether directly in the energy space or in associated value chain roles such as financing.
Here, we explore some of the most notable global events and trends and the potential impact or bearing they have on the local and global market.
Governments and companies around the world have been increasingly focused on transitioning towards renewable energy sources such as solar and wind power. This shift is motivated by concerns about climate change and the need to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Africa, including Botswana, is part of these discussions, as we work to collectively ensure a greener and more sustainable future. Indeed, this is now a greater priority the world over. It aligns closely with the increase in Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) investing being observed. ESG investing has become increasingly popular, and many investors are now looking for companies that are focused on sustainability and reducing their carbon footprint. This trend could have significant implications for the oil and fuel industry, which is often viewed as environmentally unsustainable. Relatedly and equally key are the evolving government policies. Government policies and regulations related to the Oil and Gas industry are likely to continue evolving with discussions including incentives for renewable energy and potentially imposing stricter regulations on emissions.
The COVID-19 pandemic has also played a strong role. Over the last two years, the pandemic had a profound impact on the Oil and Gas industry (and fuel generally), leading to a significant drop in demand as travel and economic activity slowed down. As a result, oil prices plummeted, with crude oil prices briefly turning negative in April 2020. Most economies have now vaccinated their populations and are in recovery mode, and with the recovery of the economies, there has been recovery of oil prices; however, the pace and sustainability of recovery continues to be dependent on factors such as emergence of new variants of the virus.
This period, which saw increased digital transformation on the whole, also saw accelerated and increased investment in technology. The Oil and Gas industry is expected to continue investing in new digital technologies to increase efficiency and reduce costs. This also means a necessary understanding and subsequent action to address the impacts from the rise of electric vehicles. The growing popularity of electric vehicles is expected to reduce demand for traditional gasoline-powered cars. This has, in turn, had an impact on the demand for oil.
Last but not least, geopolitical tensions have played a tremendous role. Geopolitical tensions between major oil-producing countries can and has impacted the supply of oil and fuel. Ongoing tensions in the Middle East and between the US and Russia could have an impact on global oil prices further, and we must be mindful of this.
On the home front in Botswana, all these discussions are relevant and the subject of discussion in many corporate and even public sector boardrooms. Stanbic Bank Botswana continues to take a lead in supporting the Oil and Gas industry in its current state and as it evolves and navigates these dynamics. This is through providing financing to support Oil and Gas companies’ operations, including investments in new technologies. The Bank offers risk management services to help oil and gas companies to manage risks associated with price fluctuations, supply chain disruptions and regulatory changes. This includes offering hedging products and providing advice on risk management strategies.
Advisory and support for sustainability initiatives that the industry undertakes is also key to ensuring that, as companies navigate complex market conditions, they are more empowered to make informed business decisions. It is important to work with Oil and Gas companies to develop and implement sustainability strategies, such as reducing emissions and increasing the use of renewable energy. This is key to how partners such as Stanbic Bank work to support the sector.
Last but not least, Stanbic Bank stands firmly in support of Botswana’s drive in the development of the sector with the view to attain better fuel security and reduce dependence risk on imported fuel. This is crucial towards ensuring a stronger, stabler market, and a core aspect to how we can play a role in helping drive Botswana’s growth. Continued understanding, learning, and sustainable action are what will help ensure the Oil and Gas sector is supported towards positive, sustainable and impactful growth in a manner that brings social, environmental and economic benefit.
Loago Tshomane is Manager, Client Coverage, Corporate and Investment Banking (CIB), Stanbic Bank Botswana
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.