Rebecca (not her real name, of course) was gang-raped by a group of 20 armed men in Harare! Hair-raising news of this nature is always hitting news headlines.
In fact Rebecca 's ordeal is a summarized version of what is happening not only in Harare, in particular, and the entire country, in general, but across the globe, where hardly a day elapses without having heard that so and so got raped.
The problem, as I see it, revolves around patriarchal cultures. Such cultures do encourage men to have incredible sexual prowess and to take delight in feeding on a diet of sexual aggression, a phenomenon that normally finds expression in rape or promotes rape. This is the entry point of gender based violence.
Despite some protestations to the contrary, most, if not all societies, the world over, are patriarchal, that is male dominated. Save for a few countries such as India, Malawi and Botswana, all other countries in the world are deeply rooted in male domination. And the cultural gown of patriarchy has a few patches of matriarchy. Ironically, this was also the case with the U.K, during the Victorian Age (1837-1901) , in spite of the fact that Queen Victorian was the major player in the title picture then , and hence the use of such terms as ‘anaclitic love’ and ‘masochism ‘(taking delight in suffering) for women ‘and’ nascissism’ for males.
But what is culture? According to the Merriam Webster's Dictionary and Thesaurus ,cited in Encyclopaedia Britannica (2015) ,it is 'the integrated pattern of human knowledge ,belief and behaviour that depends upon the capacity for learning and transmitting knowledge to succeeding generations .It is the customary beliefs ,social norms ,and material traits of a racial ,religious or social group'. In other words it is everything that sets one group of people apart from others as a distinct entity and encompasses such phenomena as dressing, language, mannerisms ,customs, norms and values and the whole way of life of life, in general.
Culture influences our world outlook (philosophy), in general, as reflectedenshrined in both our religion and laws and this was and is still mirrored in our behaviour and devil-may-care attitudes towards women. Sadly Attitudes are die-hards, especially bad ones .Unlike intelligence, that is inborn, culture is acquired through socialization, a life-long process by which the norms and values of society are inculcated into one from birth to death.
In a classical patriarchal society men perceive women as sex toys to manipulate or objects of male sexual gratification. And the situation is even worse in societies where recreational facilities are very scarce and abusing women becomes a form of entertainment. From a tender age young boys are taught poems which glorify sex, poems which they have to rote learn stanza by stanza .And by the time they reach adulthood they would be able to rehearse those poems up to mountain tops and having to unlearn that message overnight is a mammoth task.
I need to repeat ,for emphasis ‘sake , that even in this age of enlightenment ,indeed nothing pleases a man ,who is worth his salt, more than the mere knowledge that he is responsible for the emotional being of a multiplicity of sexual partners. Which is why male polygamy, known as polygyny, and not the female polyandry one, is mostly fashionable. Which is also why even King Solomon, in spite of the fact that he is the wisest known man, had 700 wives and 300 concubines. (1 Kings 11:3ff).
Such men have an unquenchable sexual appetite and it is no hyperbole to assert that they would salivate at the mere sight of a woman. Against this background, men who fell prey to HIV/AIDS and other STDs were ironically glorified 'Bhuru rinorwa rinoonekwa namavanga'(A bull that has fighting prowess can easily be identifiable through its multi bruises!.) In a bygone era an ideal man had to have extra-ordinary abilities of seducing as many women as possible.
In sharp contrast to women who were animals of prey, men were marauding sexual predators and armed to the teeth with Cupid ‘(the Greek god of love) s bows and arrows to hunt in a thick jungle of love where his arrow rarely missed targets. If this intimacy cannot be attained through fair means then it must be through foul ones such as rape .In this regard ,some sex crazy men ,and macho women alike, are daring to , and are always ready and raring to use magic ,known as mubobobo ,in order to sexually ravage a person who has never given consent to and is not even aware that someone else is busy feasting on her him.
Needless to say, a patriarchal society is highly macho and its machismo is demonstrable through the subordination or violation of the rights of women. Rape is thus one of the many tools or instrument of bringing women under control! During war times the situation is even worse when members of the weaker sex are gang-raped in-order to boost the ego of these men as well as serving the insatiable sexual drive of sex starved soldiers. In case the reader is of a nervous disposition, this writer will not venture into the plight of illegal female travellers who suffer at the hands of these gang rapists at border posts. And during war-times it was not uncommon for soldiers to rape a ‘sell-out ‘’s wife in full view of the husband as a way of punishing him. But who is the victim here? And what is rape?
By definition rape is a deviant and or forcible sexual encounter between a man and a woman. In most jurisdictions, ( in which the offence is regulated by the Roman Dutch Common Law), this offence ,as evidenced by its definitional elements ,can only be committed by men save for a few countries like Botswana. Though it is mostly men who are rapists some women are also perpetrators of this vice and hence we see in Genesis 39:6-15 ,for instance ,Portipher 's wife almost forcing herself onto young Joseph ,the romantic magnet who was renowned for his ‘’beauty’’.Which is why in such countries as the latter the term has had to be redefined and is now gender neutral`
It is defined as' any person who has unlawful carnal knowledge of another person, or who causes the penetration of a sexual organ or instrument ,of whatever nature ,into the person of another , for the purposes of sexual gratification ,or who causes the penetration of another person ‘s sexual organ into his or her own person ,without the consent of such other person ,or with such person ‘s consent ,if the consent is obtained by force or means of threats or intimidation of any kind ,by fear of bodily harm ,or by means of false pretences as to the nature of the act ,or, in the case of a married person ,by personating the person ‘s spouse ,is guilty of the offence termed rape’(section 141: of the Botswana penal code) .
According to the modern ,statutory , definition the offence of rape is not confined to reproductive organs but also through any object such as a broom and through any opening such as the nose, ear and mouth if it is for sexual gratification!. Because patriarchy protects female offenders and discourages male victims from laying a charge, due to potential scorn from mainstream society, these culprits will continue with their deviant sexual practice. As a result patriarchy promotes female rape also. After all, and as mentioned earlier on, the well-to –do ,over-assertive women , do brag that they are also men and hence the machismo qualities.
This writer will also include both marital and statutory rape. Statutory rape (defilement) ,though it involves consent, that consent is not informed given that the victim has not reached a level of mental development to a point whereby shehe fully appreciates the nature and or implications of the act. Obsessed with the desire to feel youngish, some old sugar daddies and, jelly mummies alike, deflower the youngsters and that is indeed disturbing. How about girl children who are peddling their flesh? .Could her client also be dragged before the courts for statutory rape?
Marital rape, on the other hand, is non-consensual sexual encounter occurring within the bedroom between spouses. Unfortunately countries which are rooted in the patriarchal Roman -Dutch Common Law have the marital rape exemption clause which says there is no rape within wedlock. According to this reasoning, the payment of lobola , an integral part of our highly patriarchal African culture ,means a wife has surrendered her conjugal rights to her husband ,even if she suspects that her husband has a risky sexual behaviour which can easily put her life in danger.
Due to lack of time and space, this writer will not venture into forced wife inheritance, another aspect of a patriarchal culture, and this practice also amounts to rape. Other similar victims are girlfriends who are raped during dates. And even 'ladies of the night' in some cases fall prey also.
Perpetrators of rape usually raise such lame excuses as: the lady is my girl-friend or whore; the woman was moving alone at an ungodly hour; that the victim did not fight back or scream for help(As we have noted in the statutory definition above rape does not always involve physical force); that in agreeing to come for a date she was prepared for this eventuality; that the victim was putting on such provocative outfit as the so-called miniskirt which was in essence nothing but a belt wound around her waist in such a way that nothing was left to imagination , thereby moving around naked and therefore advertising her thighs; or putting on a skin hugging outfit that tends to hug one 's body in such a way that people can easily enumerate all the contours of her mountainous pair of guitar-shaped bums.
To the man concerned the lady was beckoning at him through action and action speaks louder than words. The macho-man would not want to betray his manhood by letting ‘the offer’ go. It is very strange indeed ,but not surprising in these macho societies , that men would want to prescribe what women should wear while the latter sex is not allowed that right and this is unconstitutional.(see section 15 of the Botswana Constitution on the Equality and Non Discrimination Clause).After all ,due to global warming ,the weather is getting hotter and hotter with each passing day and ,women ,through miniskirts ,need fresh air and ,besides ,our democratic societies’ law provide for freedom of dressing.
Additionally, dressing does not have a bearing on whether or not one’s conduct is decorous or has the praiseworthy features of human conduct. Also our constitutions provide for freedom of movement (see section 14 of the Botswana Constitution).
Be that as it may, as long there was no consent the common denominator is force and hence rape. The ground of justification, in a charge of rape, is consent, known in Latin as volenti non fit injuria. This defence must comply with a number of requirements and one of them is that it must have been given before the act. This means if the victim withdraws that consent before or during the encounter and the culprit nevertheless proceeds against the wishes of this ‘sex toy’, he can still be convicted of rape. In the same vein consent should not be after the act (post facto).
The following circumstances, inter alia, make a person incapable of consenting: those sleeping, in a drunken stupor, under hypnosis or the insane (an exception, however, is, in principle, during the lucidum intevellum period), youthfulness. In some extreme cases someday old toddlers oftentimes fall victim to such sexually avaricious men. Maybe toddlers are also expected to be in long nappies too! That is a show or manifestation of manhood and it is hardly surprisingly then that men are oftentimes equated to a bull which hardly recognizes any boundaries when it comes to sex .Sadly, this archaic perception of manhood used to be an integral part of our culture.
Such sick rapists, most of whom are business tycoons, do that out of the mistaken belief that this practice may boost their business fortune. Others harbour the misconception that intimacy with kids would cure their HIV/AIDS status and false prophets and medicine men are equally to blame for spreading this myth. Similarly, such spiritual men, whose minds are rooted in patriarchy, tend to force themselves onto their clients who are desperate for a cure or, alternatively, misrepresent the nature and or effects of the act.
“One of the saddest lessons of history is this: If we’ve been bamboozled long enough, we tend to reject any evidence of the bamboozle. We’re no longer interested in finding out the truth. The bamboozle has captured us. It’s simply too painful to acknowledge, even to ourselves, that we’ve been taken. Once you give a charlatan power over you, you almost never get it back.” Carl Sagan
Corruption is a heavy price to pay. The clean ones pay and suffer at the mercy of people who cannot have enough. They always want to eat and eat so selfishly like a bunch of ugly masked shrews. I hope God forgives me for ridiculing his creatures, but that mammal is so greedy. But corruption is not the new kid on the block, because it has always been everywhere.
This of course begs the question, why that is so? The common answer was and still is – abuse and misuse of power by those in power and weak institutions, disempowered to control the leaders. In 1996, the then President of The World Bank, James D. Wolfensohn named the ‘C-Word’ for the first time during an annual meeting of the Bretton Woods Institutions. A global fight against corruption started. Transparency International began its work. Internal and external audits mushroomed; commissions of inquiry followed and ever convoluted public tender procedures have become a bureaucratic nightmare to the private sector, trying to fight red tape.
The result is sobering corruption today is worse than it was 25 years ago. There is no denying that strong institutions help, but how does it come that in the annual Transparency International Ranking the same group of countries tend to be on the top while another group of countries, many African among them, tend to be on the bottom? Before one jumps to simple and seductive conclusions let us step back a moment.
Wolfensohn called corruption a cancer that destroys economies like a cancer destroys a body. A cancer is, simplified, good cells in a body gone bad, taking control of more and more good cells until the entire body is contaminated and eventually dies. So, let us look at the good cells of society first: they are family ties, clan and tribe affiliation, group cohesion, loyalty, empathy, reciprocity.
Most ordinary people like the reader of these lines or myself would claim to share such values. Once we ordinary people must make decisions, these good cells kick in: why should I hire a Mrs. Unknown, if I can hire my niece whose strengths and weaknesses I know? If I hire the niece, she will owe me and support my objectives.
Why should I purchase office furniture from that unknown company if I know that my friend’s business has good quality stuff? If I buy from him, he will make an extra effort to deliver his best and provide quality after sales service? So, why go through a convoluted tender process with uncertain outcome? In the unlikely case my friend does not perform as expected, I have many informal means to make him deliver, rather than going through a lengthy legal proceeding?
This sounds like common sense and natural and our private lives do work mostly that way and mostly quite well.
The problem is scale. Scale of power, scale of potential gains, scale of temptations, scale of risk. And who among us could throw the first stone were we in positions of power and claim not to succumb to the temptations of scale? Like in a body, cancer cells start growing out of proportion.
So, before we call out for new leaders – experience shows they are rarely better than the old ones – we need to look at ourselves first. But how easy is that? If I were the niece who gets the job through nepotism, why should I be overly critical? If I got a big furniture contract from a friend, why should I spill the beans? What right do I have to assume that, if I were a president or a minister or a corporate chief procurement officer I would not be tempted?
This is where we need to learn. What is useful, quick, efficient, and effective within a family or within a clan or a small community can become counterproductive and costly and destructive at larger corporate or national scale. Our empathy with small scale reciprocity easily permeates into complacency and complicity with large scale corruption and into an acquiescence with weak institutions to control it.
Our institutions can only be as strong as we wish them to be.
I was probably around ten years old and have always been that keen enthusiastic child that also liked to sing the favourite line of, ‘the world will become a better place.’ I would literally stand in front of a mirror and use my mom’s torch as a mic and sing along Michael Jackson’s hit song, ‘We are the world.’
Despite my horrible voice, I still believed in the message. Few years later, my annoyance towards the world’s corrupt system wonders whether I was just too naïve. Few years later and I am still in doubt so as to whether I should go on blabbing that same old boring line. ‘The world is going to be a better place.’ The question is, when?
The answer is – as always: now.
This is pessimistic if not fatalistic – I challenge Sagan’s outlook with a paraphrased adage of unknown origin: Some people can be bamboozled all of the time, all people can be bamboozled some of the time, but never will all people be bamboozled all of the time.
We, the people are the only ones who can heal society from the cancer of corruption. We need to understand the temptation of scale and address it. We need to stop seeing ourselves just a victim of a disease that sleeps in all of us. We need to give power to the institutions that we have put in place to control corruption: parliaments, separation of power, the press, the ballot box. And sometimes we need to say as a niece – no, I do not want that job as a favour, I want it because I have proven to be better than other contenders.
It is going to be a struggle, because it will mean sacrifices, but sacrifices that we have chosen, not those imposed on us.
Let us start today.
*Bokani Lisa Motsu is a student at University of Botswana
Parliament, the second arm of State through its parliamentary committees are one of Botswana’s most powerful mechanisms to ensure that government is held accountable at all times. The Accounting Officers are mostly Permanent Secretaries across government Ministries and Chief Executive Officers, Director Generals, Managing Directors of parastatals, state owned enterprises and Civil Society.
So parliament plays its oversight authority via the legislators sitting on a parliamentary committee and Accounting Officers sitting in the hot chair. When left with no proper checks and balances, the Executive is prone to abuse the arrangement and so systematic oversight of the executive is usually carried out by parliamentary committees. They track the work of various government departments and ministries, and conduct scrutiny into important aspects of their policy, direction and administration.
It is not rocket science that effective oversight requires that committees be totally independent and able to set their own agendas and have the power to summon ministers and top civil servants to appear and answer questions. Naturally, Accounting Officers are the highest ranking officials in the government hierarchy apart from cabinet Ministers and as such wield much power and influence in the performance of government. To illustrate further, government performance is largely owed to the strategic and policy direction of top technocrats in various Ministries.
It is disheartening to point out that the recent parliament committees — as has been the case all over the years — has laid bare the incompetency, inadequacy and ineptitude of people bestowed with great responsibilities in public offices. To say that they are ineffective and inefficient sounds as an understatement. Some appear useless and hopeless when it comes to running the government despite the huge responsibility they possess.
If we were uncertain about the degree at which the Accounting Officers are incompetent, the ongoing parliament committees provide a glaring answer. It is not an exaggeration to say that ordinary people on the streets have been held ransom by these technocrats who enjoy their air conditioned offices and relish being chauffeured around in luxurious BX SUV’s while the rest of the citizenry continue to suffer. Because of such high life the Accounting Officers seem to have, with time, they have gotten out of touch with the people they are supposed to serve.
An example; when appearing before the recent Public Accounts Committee (PAC), Office of the President Permanent Secretary, Thuso Ramodimoosi, looked reluctant to admit misuse of public funds. Although it is clear funds were misused, he looked unbothered when committee members grilled him over the P80 million Orapa House building that has since morphed into a white elephant for close to 10 successive years. To him, it seems it did not matter much and PAC members were worried for nothing.
On a separate day, another Accounting officer, Director of Public Service Management (DPSM), Naledi Mosalakatane, was not shy to reveal to PAC upon cross-examination that there exist more than 6 000 vacancies in government. Whatever reasons she gave as an excuse, they were not convincing and the committee looked sceptical too. She was faltering and seemed not to have a sense of urgency over the matter no matter how critical it is to the populace.
Botswana’s unemployment rate hoovers around 18 percent in a country where majority of the population is the youth, and the most affected by unemployment. It is still unclear why DPSM could underplay such a critical matter that may threaten the peace and stability of the country. Accounting Officers clearly appear out of touch with the reality out there – if the PAC examinations are anything to go by.
Ideally the DPSM Director could be dropping the vacancy post digits while sourcing funds and setting timelines for the spaces to be filled as a matter of urgency so that the citizens get employed to feed their families and get out of unemployment and poverty ravaging the country. The country should thank parliamentary committees such as PAC to expose these abnormalities and the behaviour of our leaders when in public office. How can a full Accounting Officer downplay the magnitude of the landless problem in Botswana and fail to come with direct solutions tailor made to provide Batswana with the land they desperately need?
Land is a life and death matter for some citizens, as we would know.
When Bonolo Khumotaka, the Accounting Officer in the Ministry of Land Management, Water and Sanitation Services, whom as a top official probably with a lucrative pay too appears to be lacking sense of urgency as she is failing on her key mandate of working around the clock to award the citizens with land especially those who need it most like the marginalised. If government purports they need P94 billion to service land to address the land crisis what is plan B for government? Are we going to accept it the way it is?
Government should wake up from its slumber and intervene to avoid the 30 years unnecessary waiting period in State land and 13 years in Tribal land. Accounting Officers are custodians of government policy, they should ensure it is effective and serve its purpose. What we have been doing over the years, has proved that it is not effective, and clearly there is a need for change of direction.
His Excellency Dr Mokgweetsi EK Masisi, the President of the Republic of Botswana found it appropriate to invoke Section 17 (1) of the Constitution of the Republic of Botswana, using the powers vested in him to declare a State of Public Emergency starting from the 2nd April 2020 at midnight.
The constitutional provision under Section 17 (2b) only provided that such a declaration could be up to a maximum of 21 days. His Excellency further invoked Section 93 (1) to convene an extra- ordinary meeting of Parliament to have the opportunity to consult members of parliament on measures that have been put in place to address the spread and transmission of the virus. At this meeting Members of Parliament passed a resolution on the legal instruments and regulations governing the period of the state of emergency, and extended its duration by six (6) months.
The passing of the State of Emergency is considered as a very crucial step in fighting the near apocalyptic potential of the Novel COVID-19 virus. One of the interesting initiatives that was developed and extended to the business community was a 3-month wage subsidy that came with a condition that no businesses would retrench for the duration of the State of Public Emergency. This has potentially saved many people’s jobs as most companies would have been extremely quick to reduce expenses by downsizing. Self-preservation as some would call it.
Most organisations would have tried to reduce costs by letting go of people, retreated and tried their best to live long enough to fight another day. In my view there is silver lining that we need to look at and consider. The fact that organisations are not allowed to retrench has forced certain companies to look at the people with a long-term view.
Most leaders have probably had to wonder how they are going to ensure that their people are resilient. Do they have team members who innovate and add value to the organisation during these testing times? Do they even have resilient people or are they just waiting for the inevitable end? Can they really train people and make them resilient? How can your team members be part of your recovery plan? What can they do to avoid losing the capabilities they need to operate meaningfully for the duration of the State of Public Emergency and beyond?
The above questions have forced companies to reimagine the future of work. The truth is that no organisation can operate to its full potential without resilient people. In the normal business cycle, new teams come on board; new business streams open, operations or production sites launch or close; new markets develop, and technology is introduced. All of this provides fresh opportunities – and risks.
The best analogy I have seen of people-focused resilience planning reframes employees as your organisation’s immune system, ready and prepared to anticipate risks and ensure they can tackle challenges, fend off illness and bounce back more quickly. So, how do you supercharge your organizational immune system to become resilient?
COVID-19 has helped many organisations realize they were not as prepared as they believed themselves to be. Now is the time to take stock and reset for the future. All the strategies and plans prior to COVID-19 arriving in Botswana need to be thrown out of the window and you need to develop a new plan today. There is no room for tweaking or reframing. Botswana has been disrupted and we need to accept and embrace the change. What we initially anticipated as a disease that would take a short term is turning out to be something we are going to have to live with for a much longer time. It is going to be a marathon and therefore businesses need to have a plan to complete this marathon.
Start planning. Planning for change can help reduce employee stress, anxiety, and overall fear, boosting the confidence of staff and stakeholders. Think about conducting and then regularly refreshing a strategic business impact analysis, look at your employee engagement scores, dig into your customer metrics and explore the way people work alongside your behaviours and culture. This research will help to identify what you really want to protect, the risks that you need to plan for and what you need to survive during disruption. Don’t forget to ask your team members for their input. In many cases they are closest to critical business areas and already have ideas to make processes and systems more robust.
Revisit your organisational purpose. Purpose, values and principles are powerful tools. By putting your organisation’s purpose and values front and center, you provide clear decision-making guidelines for yourself and your organisation. There are very tough and interesting decisions to make which have to be made fast; so having guiding principles on which the business believes in will help and assist all decision makers with sanity checking the choices that are in front of them. One noticeable characteristic of companies that adapt well during change is that they have a strong sense of identity. Leaders and employees have a shared sense of purpose and a common performance culture; they know what the company stands for beyond shareholder value and how to get things done right.
Revisit your purpose and values. Understand if they have been internalised and are proving useful. If so, find ways to increase their use. If not, adapt them as necessities, to help inspire and guide people while immunizing yourself against future disruption. Design your employee experience. The most resilient, adaptive and high performing companies are made up of people who know each other, like each other, and support each other.
Adaptability requires us to teach other, speak up and discuss problems, and have a collective sense of belonging. Listening to your team members is a powerful and disruptive thing to do. It has the potential to transform the way you manage your organisation. Enlisting employees to help shape employee experience, motivates better performance, increases employee retention and helps you spot issues and risks sooner. More importantly, it gives employees a voice so you can get active and constructive suggestions to make your business more robust by adopting an inclusive approach.
Leaders need to show they care. If you want to build resilience, you must build on a basis of trust. And this means leaders should listen, care, and respond. It’s time to build the entire business model around trust and empathy. Many of the employees will be working under extreme pressure due to the looming question around what will happen when companies have to retrench. As a leader of a company transparency and open communication are the most critical aspects that need to be illustrated.
Take your team member into confidence because if you do have to go through the dreaded excise of retrenchment you have to remember that those people the company retains will judge you based on the process you follow. If you illustrate that the business or organization has no regard for loyalty and commitment, they will never commit to the long-term plans of the organisation which will leave you worse off in the end. Its an absolutely delicate balance but it must all be done in good faith. Hopefully, your organization will avoid this!
This is the best time to revisit your identify and train your people to encourage qualities that build strong, empathetic leadership; self-awareness and control, communication, kindness and psychological safety. Resilience is the glue that binds functional silos and integrates partners, improves communications, helps you prepare, listen and understand. Most importantly, people-focused resilience helps individuals and teams to think collectively and with empathy – helping you respond and recover faster.
Article written by Thabo Majola, a brand communications expert with a wealth of experience in the field and is Managing Director of Incepta Communications.