It appears to me that our leadership is generally selfish and devoid of genuine compassion. The interests and welfare of the people is generally far removed from their minds. Their actions speak much louder than their voices. With their mouths they pronounce that they care for the people while their actions show that they couldn’t be bothered, I could give a million examples.
The façade that is erroneously called government of the people by the people has so grossly misled us and blinded us into believing that the government does what it does in the interest of the people, while the contrary is true. The leaders with their mouths pronounce all the right things to endear themselves to the people when in fact their intention is to gain power and stay in power in order to use the people’s resources for themselves, their relatives and their buddies.
The majority of the people have insufficient knowledge to appreciate that all the resources the country is endowed with belong to them not the government. They do not know that the leadership they have put in place is meant to look after these resources on their behalf. They believe that our leaders are God appointed and cannot be challenged. They do not know that they have the power to change the leadership any time they feel the leadership is misusing their resources and abusing their mandate. They do not know that their voice is the voice of God himself and can be exercised any time.
The few people, who in fact are less than 10% of the population, disproportionately benefit from the national resources and do not really care much about the plight of the majority. The leadership happens to be among this top 10 % of the population. The 90 % majority are the middle incomers; those who live in the peripheries and survive under harsh conditions, those who live from the crumbs from their middle income relatives and from those who themselves earn real peanuts. These helpless individuals in our beloved country live at the mercy of the rich 10 %. What a harsh world we live in!
In a country as rich as ours, endowed with the enormity of resources that God has so generously blessed us with, there should be no abject poverty to talk about, the poverty we have should only be limited to those who are not willing to do anything for themselves; those who enjoy to be spoon-fed and not willing to put in a days work for their own good.
These will be the exception not the 90 % of the population that is so poor and has now unfortunately learnt to accept their poverty status as their God ordained fate. It is high time that our political leaders speak to the bread and butter issues of the nation and stay away from political ideologies, stay away from political philosophies, and stay away from borrowed political systems that are meant to perpetually keep our people as underdogs and beggars. We should not be interested in words like capitalism, communism, socialism, privatisation, economic diversification and many other such foreign words that have no meaning to the majority of our people. Yes we can try to conjure up some meaning to explain these words but truth be told these words are alien to us; they are not part of our vocabulary.
Those people who think such words, their originators and their dogmas then will work for us now are living in the long gone past that has never been relevant to us. We need our own heroes and heroines who spoke our languages and understood our ways. We need our own standards developed from our own understanding and our own experiences of the world around us. We need to just develop our country and our people to be self sufficient in every department of their lives without them being bombarded with foreign dogmas and ideologies. Real leaders will understand the heartbeat of their people.
Let me move back to my topic and highlight some issues that are perpetually keeping the 90 % of our population poor.
Our Education System
Our education system only allows about 10 % of the population to prosper, those are the rich plus a small percentage of very fortunate individuals who will survive under whatever harsh environment placed on them, I salute and i am proud of those few individuals who break the ceiling regardless. The majority are deliberatively left out on the sidelines and continually fed with lies, that there is no money, that there are no jobs and that this is a problem all over the world, hence anyone who tells you that we have money and that jobs can be created is a liar. These people have been fed these lies for about 50 years and some unfortunately have learnt to accept these lies. Our education system since independence has been our number one enemy. It does not empower people to be self sufficient. It is meant mainly to provide sufficient education to read and write. It does not provide any life skills. It is geared only to provide white color jobs that will not build any industries, then who will build our industries, who will build our roads, who will build our dams, who will build the entire infrastructural development that we need as a country to prosper? Our education will keep the nation perpetually poor as it is not developmentally focused.
Our Welfare System
Now to support these poor school leavers that do not have any skills, we provide welfare system meant to keep these people forever entrenched in poverty. These are the people doing ipelegeng, meaningless tirelo sechaba chores and idling in the streets and chibuku depots. The poor people spend their lives rotating around shades and clearing bushes and grass along the roads, jobs that should be done by people permanently employed by the councils. These people learn that there is no need for any hard work; they believe that the P500 odd they get from government for ipelegeng and tirelo sechaba is manna from heaven. What happens to their children? Will they value education, do they value discipline, what future do we expect them to have? Someone once said, how you can teach your children to value education when their parents who have gone through the same education are living in abject poverty.
Can somebody tell someone that building houses for individuals, some of whom are visibly able-bodied and calling them destitutes is not only irresponsible but it is not sustainable? Why do you not rather use that money to build national centres for real destitutes and poor widows who cannot support themselves? Centres built right across the country, well supported with feeding, nursing, maintenance and cleaning services as national assets. These centres would grow with time and services improved from deliberately higher taxes coming from companies and the rich, not from handouts that appear as though people are generous and doing a favour to the poor as we currently see on our national television almost daily. These people deserve national support not handouts from the rich few.
The majority of our workers earn between P900 and P2000 per month. How can anyone with a family, who has to pay to go work, who has to provide food for her or his family, who has to provide accommodation for his or her family, who has to buy clothes and uniform for her or his family; how can such a worker live a decent life with such starving wages. People centred leadership would not tolerate such a scenario for their people. Leaders who care about their people will not allow this to happen in the land of plenty.
Our pensioners earn about P300 per month. What can they do with P300? What can anybody do with a monthly income of P300? These are the people who worked tirelessly for their country in their youth and this is how they are being appreciated! People centred leadership would not tolerate such a situation. Our pensioners deserve better, especially in a country that is so rich.
As I conclude I am reminded of the preparations for the 50th independence celebrations. It is the poor 90 % of the population who are preparing for these celebrations. It is these poor 90 % who will be celebrating at the stadiums, at the kgotlas, across the plains and the valleys of our country. Those who understand what this means will not be celebrating, they will be doing their own things, some drinking their sorrows away and wondering what is going on in their beloved country.
The real beneficiaries of our independence, those who are enjoying the fruits of our independence, the 10 % will also be no where to be found on that day, they will be visiting places of interest, at some expensive resorts, locally, regionally or internationally, enjoying themselves, enjoying the fruits of our independence. This is the country we live in, one of the most unequal country, our beloved country, it needs to change! It needs to be more inclusive. We need to get the 90 % not the 10 % to be the real beneficiaries of our independence.
Bernard Busani Email; HYPERLINK "mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org" email@example.com Tel: 71751440
This is a question that should seriously exercise the mind of every Botswana citizen and every science researcher, every health worker and every political leader political.
The Covid-19 currently defines our lives and poses a direct threat to every aspect and every part of national safety, security and general well-being. This disease has become a normative part of human life throughout the world.
The first part of the struggle against the murderous depredation of this disease was to protect personal life through restrictive health injunctions and protocols; the worst possibly being human isolation and masks that hid our sorrows and lamentations through thin veils. We suffered that humiliation with grace and I believe as a nation we did a great job.
Now the vaccines are here, ushering us into the second phase of this war against the plague; and we are asking ourselves, is this science-driven fight against Covid-19 spell the end of pandemic anxiety? Is the health nightmare coming to an end? What happy lives lie ahead? Is this the time for celebration or caution? As the Non State Actors, we have being struggling with these questions for months.
We have published our thoughts and feelings, and our research reviews and thorough reading of both the local and international impacts of this rampaging viral invasion in local newspapers and social media platforms.
More significantly, we have successfully organised workshops about the impact of the pandemic on society and the economy and the last workshop invited a panel of health experts, professionals, and public administers to advance this social dialogue as part of our commitment to the tripartite engagement we enjoy working with Government of Botswana, Civil Society and Development partners. These workshops are virtual and open to all Batswana, foreign diplomatic missions based in Gaborone, UN agencies located in Gaborone and international academic researchers and professional health experts and specialists.
The mark of Covid-19 on our nation is a painful one, a tragedy shared by the entire human race, but still a contextually painful experience. Our response is fraught with grave difficulties; limited resources, limited time, and the urgency to not only save lives but also avert economic ruin and a bleak future for all who survive. Several vaccines are already in the market.
Parts of the world are already doing the best they can to trunk the pestilential march of this disease by rolling out mass-vaccinations campaigns that promise to evict this health menace and nightmare from their public lives. Botswana, like much of Africa, is still up in the disreputable, and, unenviable, preventative social melee of masked interactions, metered distances, contactless commerce.
We remain very much at the mercy of a marauding virus that daily runs amuck with earth shattering implications for the economy and human lives. And the battle against both infections and transmissions is proving to be difficult, in terms of finance, institutional capacities and resource mobilization. How are we prepared as government, and as citizens, to embrace the impending mass-vaccinations? What are the chances of us succeeding at this last-ditch effort to defeat the virus? What are the most pressing obstacles?
Does the work of vaccines spell an end to the pandemic anxieties?
Our panellists addressed the current state of mass-vaccination preparedness at the Botswana national level. What resources are available? What are the financial, institutional and administrative operational challenges (costs and supply chains, delivery, distribution, administering the vaccine on time, surveillance and security of vaccines?) What is being done to overcome them, or what can be done to overcome them? What do public assessments of preparedness tell us at the local community levels? How strong is the political will and direction? How long can we expect the whole exercise to last? At what point should we start seeing tangible results of the mass-vaccination campaign?
They also addressed the challenges of the anticipated emerging Vaccinated Society. How to fight the myths of vaccines and the superstitions about histories of human immunizations? What exactly is being done to grow robust local confidence in the science of vaccinations and the vaccines themselves? More significantly, how to square these campaigns vis-vis personal rights, moral/religious obligations?
What messages are being sent out in these regards and how are Batswana responding? What about issues of justice and equality? Will we get the necessary vaccines to everyone who wants them? What is being done to ensure no deserving person is left behind?
They also addressed issues of health data. To accomplish this mass-vaccination campaign and do everything right we need accurate and complete data. Poor data already makes it very hard to just cope with the disease. What is being done to improve data for the mass-vaccination campaign? How is this data being collected, aggregated and prepared for real life situation/applications throughout Botswana in the coming campaign?
We know in America, for example, general reporting and treatment of health data at the beginning of vaccinations was so poor, so chaotic and so scattered mainstream newspapers like The Atlantic, Washington Post and the New York Times had to step in, working very closely with civil society organizations, to rescue the situation. What data-related issues are still problematic in Botswana?
To be specific, what kind of Covid-19 data is being taken now to ready the whole country for an effective and efficient mass-vaccination program?
Batswana must be made aware that the end part of vaccination will just mark the beginning of a long journey to health recovery and national redemption; that in many ways Covid-19 vaccination is just another step toward the many efforts in abeyance to fight this health pandemic, the road ahead is still long and painful.
For this purpose, and to highlight the significance of this observation we tasked our panellists with the arduous imperative of analysing the impact of mass-vaccination on society and the economy alongside the pressing issues of post-Covid-19 national health surveillance and rehabilitation programs.
Research suggests the aftermath of Covid-19 vaccination is going to be just as difficult and uncertain world as the present reality in many ways, and that caution should prevail over celebration, at least for a long time. The disease itself is projected to linger around for some time after all these mass-vaccination campaigns unless an effort is made to vaccinate everyone to the last reported case, every nation succeeds beyond herd immunity, and cure is found for Covid-19 disease. Many people are going to continue in need of medications, psychological and psychiatric services and therapy.
Is Botswana ready for this long holdout? If not, what path should we take going into the future? The Second concern is , are we going to have a single, trusted national agency charged with the mandate to set standards for our national health data system, now that we know how real bad pandemics can be, and the value of data in quickly responding to them and mitigating impact? Finally, what is being done to curate a short history of this pandemic? A national museum of health and medicine or a Public Health Institute in Botswana is overdue.
If we are to create strong sets of data policies and data quality standards for fighting future health pandemics it is critical that they find ideological and moral foundations in the artistic imagery and photography of the present human experience…context is essential to fighting such diseases, and to be prepared we must learn from every tragic health incident.
Our panellists answered most of these questions with distinguished intellectual clarity. We wish Batswana to join us in our second Mass-vaccination workshop.
Today is International Women’s Day – it’s a moment to think about how much better our news diet could be if inequities were eliminated. In 1995, when the curtains fell in one of the largest meetings that have ever brought women together to discuss women in development, it was noted that women and media remain key to development.
Twenty-six years later, the relevant “Article J” of the Beijing Platform for Action, remains unfulfilled. Its two strategic objectives with regard to Women and Media have not been met. They are Increase the participation and access of women to expression and decision-making in and through the media and new technologies of communication
Promote a balanced and non-stereotyped portrayal of women in the media.
Today, as we mark International Women’s Day, it’s an indictment on both media owners and civil society that women remain on the periphery of news-making. They cannot claim equal space in either the structures of newsrooms or in the content produced, be that as sources of news or as the subjects of reports. Indeed, the latest figures from WAN-IFRA’s Women in News Programme show just one in five voices in news belong to women*, be they as sources, as the author or as the main character of the news report.
Some progress was evident several years back, with stand-out women being named as chief executive officers, editors in chief, managing editors and executive editors. But these gains appear short lived in most media organisations. Excitement has turned to frustration as one-step forward has been replaced with three steps backwards. In Africa, the problem is acute. The decision-making tables of media organisations remain deprived of women and where there are women, they are surrounded by men.
Few women have followed in the footsteps of Esther Kamweru, the first woman managing editor in Kenya, and indeed sub-Saharan Africa. Today’s standout women editors include Pamela Makotsi-Sittoni (Nation Media Group, Kenya), Barbara Kaija (New Vision, Uganda), Mary Mbewe (Daily Nation, Zambia), Margaret Vuchiri (The Monitor, Uganda), Joyce Shebe (Clouds, Tanzania), Tryphinah Dongwana (Weekend Post, Botswana), Joyce Mhaville (Independent Television -ITV, Tanzania) and Tuma Abdallah (Standard Newspapers,Tanzania). But they remain an exception.
The lack of balance between women and men at the table of decision making has a rollback effect on the content that is produced. A table dominated by men typically makes decisions that benefit men.
So today, International Women’s Day is a grim reminder that things are not rosy in the news business. Achieving gender balance in news and in the structure of media organisations remains a challenge. Unmet, it sees more than half of the population in our countries suffer the consequences of bias, discrimination and sexism.
The business of ignoring the other half of the population can no longer be treated as normal. It’s time that media leaders grasp the challenge, not only because it is the right thing to do, but because it also makes a whole lot of business sense: start covering women, give them space and a voice in news-making and propel them to all levels of decision making within your organisation.
We can no longer afford to imagine that it’s only men who make and sell the news and bring in the shillings to fund the media business. Women too are worthy newsmakers. In all of our societies, there are women holding decision making positions and who are now experts in once male-only domains such as engineers, doctors, scientists and researchers.
They can be deliberately picked out to share their perspectives and expertise and bring balance to the profile of experts quoted on our news pages. Media is the prism through which society sees itself and women are an untapped audience. So, as we celebrate International Women’s Day, let us embrace diversity, which yields better news content and business products, and in so doing eliminate sexism. We know that actions and attitudes that discriminate against people based on their gender is bad for business.
As media, the challenge is ours. We need to consciously embrace and reach the commitments made 26 years ago when the Beijing Platform for Action was signed globally. As the news consuming public, you have a role to play too. Hold your news organization to account and make sure they deliver balanced news that reflects the voices of all of society.
Jane Godia is a gender development and media expert who serves as the Africa Director of Women in News programme. WOMEN IN NEWS is WAN-IFRA’s ground-breaking programme to increase women’s leadership and voices in the news. It does so by equipping women journalists and editors with the skills, strategies, and support networks to take on greater leadership positions within their media. www.womeninnews.org
The eve of International Women’s Day presents an opportunity for us to think about gender equality and the long and often frustrating march toward societies that are truly equal.
As media, we are uniquely placed to drive forward this reflection and discussion. But while focusing on the challenges of gender in society, we owe it to our staff and the communities we serve to also take a hard look at the obstacles within our own organisations.
I’m talking specifically about the scourge of sexual harassment. It’s likely to have happened in your newsroom. It has likely happened to a member of your team. It happens to all genders but is disproportionately directed at women. It happens in every industry, regardless of country, culture or context. This is because sexual harassment is driven by power, not sex. Wherever you have imbalances in power, you have individuals who are at risk of sexual harassment, and those who abuse this power.
I’ve been sexually harassed. The many journalists and editors, friends and family members who I have spoken to over the years on this subject have also been harassed. Yet it is still hard for leaders to recognize that this could be happening within their newsrooms and boardrooms. Why does it continue to be such a taboo?
Counting the cost of sexual harassment
Sexual harassment is, simply put, bad for business. It can harm your corporate reputation. It is a drain on the productivity of staff and managers. Maintaining and building trust in your brand is an absolute imperative for media organisations globally. If and when a case gets out of control or is badly handled – this can directly impact your bottom line.
It is for this reason that WAN-IFRA Women in News has put eliminating sexual harassment as a top priority in our work around gender equality in the media sector. This might seem at odds with the current climate where social interactions are fewer and remote work scenarios are in place in many newsrooms and businesses. But one only needs to tune into the news to know that the abuse of power, manifested as verbal, physical or online harassment, is alive and well.
Preliminary results from an ongoing Women in News research study into the issue of sexual harassment polling hundreds of journalists in Sub-Saharan Africa and Southeast Asia indicate that more than 1 in 3 women media professionals have been physically harassed, and just under 50% have been verbally harassed. Just over 15% of men in African newsrooms reported being physically harassed, and slightly less than 1 in 4 reports being verbally harassed. The numbers for male media professionals in Southeast Asia are slightly higher than a quarter on both forms of harassment.
The first step in confronting sexual harassment is to talk about it. We need to strip away the stigma and discomfort around having open conversations about what sexual harassment is and isn’t. Media managers, it is entirely in your power to create dynamics in your own teams that are free from sexual harassment.
Publishers and CEOs, you set the organisational culture in your media company.
By being vocal in recognising that it happens everywhere, and communicating to your employees that you will not tolerate sexual harassment of any kind, you send a powerful message to your teams, and publicly. With these actions, you will help us overcome the legacy of silence around this topic, and in doing so take an important first step to create media environments that truly embrace equality.
Melanie Walker is Executive Director of Media Development of the World Association of News Publishers (WAN-IFRA). She is a creator of Women in News, WAN-IFRA’s ground-breaking programme to increase women’s leadership and voices in the news. It does so by equipping women journalists and editors with the skills, strategies, and support networks to take on greater leadership positions within their media. www.womeninnews.org