My humble assessment is that the presidential 5D roadmap is on slippery ground and rapidly collapsing despite the assertion by Dr. Jeff Ramsay, the government spokesperson, that ‘the roadmap is intact and still relevant’. Relevant yes, intact definitely not! According to many commentators and my own observations as stated in my previous submission, Democracy in our country has regressed in many areas since 2008. There have been no notable efforts by the administration to improve our Democracy and one wonders why this was part of the roadmap in the first place.
Although some efforts were made in the Development arena, no meaningful results have been achieved. Developments that do not result in improving the living standards of the people are meaningless. Unemployment and poverty rates have remained high in the past eight years. The same period is littered with a litany of failed projects that have drained millions, if not billions Pulas from the national coffers.
This week, I want to look at the Discipline and Dignity components of the roadmap. I want first to understand what these words mean and see if we have made any notable and worthy improvements in these two aspects of the roadmap.
What is discipline? I have searched for the meaning of this word and found the following interesting definitions; Control gained by requiring that rules and orders be obeyed and punishment for bad behaviour; a way of behaving that shows willingness to obey rules and orders; behavior that is judged by how well that behaviour follows rules and orders; training that corrects, molds or perfects mental faculties or moral conduct or character; orderly or prescribed pattern of behaviour; self control.
How then do you as a government enforce and measure national discipline? Has the president perhaps set himself a lofty, fuzzy and immeasurable objective here? I do not believe so. This could have been broken down into discreet measurable components starting perhaps with the government workforce. For example, all employees have a starting and finishing time at work that could be measured and controlled. There are systems that can be deployed to do that. What systems have been put in place to ensure that all employees start and finish their work on time? And what measures are in place and enforced to ensure compliance? Each employee could have a productivity measure i.e. what is each employee expected to achieve in a given time? Further, are there any specific objectives in place for each employee and are there systems in place to monitor and control achievements of these objectives? In fact this must have started with parliament, cabinet and the president himself to set the tone for the rest of the work force. If such systems and measures do not exist or only exist on paper, then Discipline will continue to be elusive thus impacting negatively on the other Ds on the roadmap.
Moving further, it is now common knowledge that this country is festering with deep wounds of corruption, institutionalised rampant corruption that is stifling development in every area of the economy; corruption that is denying the country of much needed foreign direct investment; corruption that is denying meaningful participation in the economy by independently minded, well meaning and corrupt free nationals. Well, if we had Discipline as a nation would we have such rampart corruption and obvious mal-administration that has led to so many collapsed projects? If we had Discipline would we have had so many projects that grossly exceeded their budgets, their time schedules and compromised end product quality?
What about discipline on our roads? The president has dramatically increased road traffic offences fines. It is believed these are just punitive measures that have not really improved road discipline. We continue to have many of our road users disobeying road signs and rules. We continue to have unnecessary road accidents. So what is the real root cause of this indiscipline? Does it not start at a family level, at school, at the training centre, at work and at all social and community engagement activities? What is the excepted level of discipline in our society? How do we enforce national discipline as a country? Is it possible for the president to enforce national Discipline? If you look at the definition of Discipline, the ultimate end result is self control. But this self control comes from a number of systems that includes teaching, training, molding, correcting and appropriate punishment as an enforcement tool. If the punishment is inappropriate it could be counter productive resulting in more inDiscipline.
I believe Discipline is very important in any society that wants to achieve great national goals. Any society that wants to develop and become leader in any field must have some measure of Discipline. Discipline is import in attracting foreign direct investment. Discipline is crucial in project procurement and implementation. Our education system will fail if our students do not have Discipline, if our teachers do not have Discipline, if the maintenance and service staff lacks Discipline, if officials at the education ministry do not have Discipline, if the responsible minister lacks Discipline. It is a chain reaction with a root that must be identified and corrected. This applies that in all areas of our economy and society in general. InDiscipline is like a disease, the good doctor will tell you that you cannot cure a disease by treating the symptoms.
The solution will start at a family level. But with families that are informed, empowered and supported to provide a moral upright and Disciplined child. This will not happen if the parents are themselves not Disciplined. Now who Disciplines the family? It is a chicken and egg situation, it is a rock and a hard place situation; it is a catch 22 situation; it is a difficult situation that requires the entire nation to address. The President cannot do it alone but can set the tone and agenda for this to happen. The president must meaningfully engage the society and allow the society to come up with possible solutions. The president role should be to empower and incentivise the people to manage Discipline in their own communities and their areas of responsibilities. It cannot be done overnight by one person.
Dignity is another component of the roadmap I want to discuss. I will start by establishing what Dignity is all about and what it implies. The Dignity we are talking about is not the one about rank or position in society but the state of being worthy of esteem and respect. This is the Dignity that every member of society deserves and must have not the shallow one of inherent nobility and worthiness that is bestowed by society to individuals regardless of their input. The question is how then do we measure this Dignity that everyone deserves and must have? Who assesses and assigns an individual a mark on a Dignity measuring stick? As a nation do we have Dignity? How do we know that? Is Dignity measured by what we have as individuals, the jobs we have, the cars we drive, the houses we live in, the schools our children attend? Is it not possible that you can have all the material possessions that the world can offer and still remain without Dignity?
These are many questions to help us think through what the president had in mind when he included Dignity on his roadmap. With the unemployment rate that we have in the country can our people have dignity? With the poverty levels throughout the country can our people have dignity? With the starving wages many of our employed people earn can Dignity be attained? With the shortage of land and lack of decent accommodation for most of our people can we have Dignity? With my plum job, driving my Mercedes Benz, living in Phakalane and my mother, father and siblings living in squalid conditions in ‘Nowhere’ can I have Dignity and peace of mind? With the level of corruption in the country where many jobs are gotten through corrupt practices, where tenders are bought, where wealth is accumulated through corrupt practices, where is Dignity in all these?
As I end, I would like to believe that the president 5D roadmap was relevant but it has unfortunately failed. It has failed mainly because the president failed to put appropriate resources to support his roadmap and to provide focused input into each D. He should have appointed a team of experts to unpack his roadmap and come up with SMART (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Results focused and Time bound) objectives under each D. This team would have been tasked to monitor and measure these objectives and report to the president on a regular basis at the pleasure of the president.
In summary, the roadmap was a good start to the presidential term of office because of the following;
There was and still is room and opportunity to improve our Democracy which has stagnated over the years and has become visibly stale. It needs to be rejuvenated and modernised in many areas.
We need focused Developments that will give all our people a chance to achieve the best they can achieve for themselves and their families. We need Developments that will touch the lives of our people in a notable way.
We certainly need Discipline to be able to achieve all our national and individual objectives. Who does not need Dignity?
So yes the roadmap was relevant, it is still relevant but it needs to be resourced differently in order to touch the lives of our people in a meaningful way.
Last week I said Instead of praying for rain, we should pray for wisdom to enable us to deal effectively with the Developmental challenges we face. I would like to rephrase and say, while we continue to pray for rains, we must also remember to pray for wisdom and understanding that will allow us to plan and resource effectively in to order to achieve all our noble national and individual objectives.
Bernard Busani E mail; HYPERLINK "mailto:email@example.com" firstname.lastname@example.org; 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