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DISCIPLINE AND DIGNITY ON THE PRESIDENTIAL 5D ROADMAP!

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:bernard.busani@gmail.com" bernard.busani@gmail.com;   Tel; 71751440

Profligate

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Opinions

Internal party-democracy under pressure

21st June 2022

British novelist, W. Somerset Maugham once opined: “If a nation values anything more than freedom, it will lose its freedom; and the irony of it is that if it is comfort or money that it values more, it will lose that too.”

The truism in these words cannot be underestimated, especially when contextualizing against the political developments in Botswana. We have become a nation that does not value democracy, yet nothing represent freedom more than democracy. In fact, we desire, and value winning power or clinging to power more than anything else, even if it harms the democratic credentials of our political institutions. This is happening across political parties — ruling and opposition.

As far as democracy is concerned, we are regressing. We are becoming worse-off than we were in the past. If not arrested, Botswana will lose its status as among few democratic nations in the Africa. Ironically, Botswana was the first country in Africa to embrace democracy, and has held elections every five years without fail since independence.

We were once viewed as the shining example of Africa. Those accolades are not worth it any more. Young democracies such as South Africa, with strong institutions, deserves to be exalted. Botswana has lost faith in democracy, and we will pay a price for it. It is a slippery slope to dictatorship, which will bring among other excess, assault on civil liberties and human rights violations.

Former President, Festus Mogae once stated that Botswana’s democracy will only become authentic, when a different party, other than the Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) wins elections, and when the President of such party is not from Serowe.

Although many may not publicly care to admit, Mogae’s assertion is true. BDP has over the years projected itself as a dyed-in-the-wool proponent of democracy, but the moment its stay in power became threatened and uncertain, it started behaving in a manner that is at variance with democratic values.  This has been happening over the years now, and the situation is getting worse by the day.

Recently, the BDP party leadership has been preaching compromise and consensus candidates for 2024 general elections. Essentially, the leadership has lost faith in the Bulela Ditswe dispensation, which has been used to selected party candidates for council and parliament since 2003. The leadership is discouraging democracy because they believe primary elections threaten party unity. It is a strange assertion indeed.

Bulela Ditswe was an enrichment of internal party democracy in the sense that it replaced the previous method of selection of candidates known as Committee of 18, in which a branch committee made of 18 people endorsed the representatives. While it is true that political contest can divide, the ruling party should be investing in political education and strengthening in its primary elections processes. Democracy does not come cheap or easy, but it is valuable.

Any unity that we desire so much at the expense of democracy is not true unity. Like W. Somerset Maugham said, democracy would be lost in the process, and ultimately, even the unity that was desired would eventually be lost too. Any solution that sacrifice democracy would not bring any results in the long run, except misery.

We have seen that also in opposition ranks. The Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) recently indicated that its incumbent Members of Parliament (MPs) should not be challenged for their seats. While BDP is sacrificing democracy to stay in power, UDC is sacrificing democracy to win power. It is a scary reality given the fact that both parties – ruling and opposition — have embraced this position and believe democracy is the hindrance to their political ambitions.

These current reality points to one thing; our political parties have lost faith in democracy. They desire power more than, the purpose of power itself. It is also a crisis of leadership across the political divide, where we have seen dissenting views being met with persecution. We have seen perverting of political process endorsed by those in echelons of power to manipulate political outcomes in their favour.

Democracy should not be optional, it should be mandatory. Any leader proposing curtailing of democracy should be viewed with suspicion, and his adventures should be rejected before it is too late. Members of political parties, as subscribers of democracy, should collectively rise to the occasion to save their democracy from self-interest that is becoming prevalent among Botswana political parties.

The so-called compromise candidates, only benefits the leadership because it creates comforts for them. But for members, and for the nation, it is causing damage by reversing the gains that have been made over the years. We should reject leaders who only preach democracy in word, but are hesitant to practice it.

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Opinions

The Big Deal About Piracy

21st June 2022
piracy

Piracy of all kinds continues to have a massive impact on the global creative industry and the economies of the countries where it thrives.

One of the biggest misconceptions around piracy is that an individual consumer’s piracy activities, especially in a market the size of Botswana’s, is only a drop in the pool of potential losses to the different sectors of the economy piracy affects.

When someone sitting in Gaborone, Botswana logs onto an illegal site to download King Richard online, they don’t imagine that their one download will do anything to the production house’s pocket or make a dent in the actors’ net worth. At best, the sensitivity towards this illegal pirating activity likely only exists when contemplating going about pirating a local musician’s music or a short film produced locally.

The ripple effects of piracy at whatever scale reach far beyond what the average consumer could ever imagine. Figures released by software security and media technology company, Irdeto, show that users in five major African territories made approximately 17,4 million total visits to the top 10 identified piracy sites on the internet.

The economic impact of this on the creative industry alone soars to between 40 and 97.1 billion dollars, according a 2022 Dataprot study. In addition, they estimate that “illegally streamed copyrighted content consumes 24% of global bandwidth”.

As Botswana’s creative industry remains relatively slight on the scale of comparison to industries such as Nollywood and Nilewood where the creative industry contributes a huge proportion to West and East Africa’s respective GDPs, that does not imply that piracy activities in Botswana do not have a similar impact on our economy and the ability of our creative industry to grow.

When individuals make decisions to illegally consume content via internet streaming sites they believe they are saving money for themselves in the name of enjoying content they desire to consume. Although this is a personal choice that remains the prerogative of the consumer, looking beyond the fact that streaming on illegal content sites is piracy, the ripple effect of this decision also has an endless trail of impact where funds which could be used to grow the local creative industry through increased consumption, and revenue which would otherwise be fed back into Botswana’s economy are being diverted.

“Why can’t our local creative industry grow?” “Why don’t we see more home-grown films and shows in Botswana?” are questions constantly posed by those who consume television content in Botswana. The answer to this lies largely in the fact that Botswana’s local content needs an audience in order for it to grow. It needs support from government and entities which are in a position to fund and help the industry scale greater heights.

Any organisational body willing to support and grow the local creative industry needs to exist and operate in an economy which can support its mandates. Content piracy is a cycle that can only be alleviated when consumers make wiser decisions around what they consume and how.

This goes beyond eradicating piracy activities in so far as television content is concerned. This extends to the importation and trade in counterfeit goods, resale of goods and services not intended for resale across the border, outside its jurisdiction, and more. All of these activities stunt the growth of an economy and make it nearly impossible for industries and sectors to propel themselves to places where they can positively impact society and reinvest into the country’s economy.

So what can be done to turn the tide here in Botswana in order to see our local production houses gain the momentum required to produce more, license more and expand their horizons? While those who enforce the law continue to work towards minimizing piracy activities, it’s imperative that as consumers we work to make their efforts easier by being mindful of how our individual actions play a role in preventing the success of our local creative networks and our economy’s growth.

Whether you are pirating a Hollywood Blockbuster, illegally streaming a popular Motswana artist’s music, or smuggling in an illegal decoder to view content restricted to South Africa only, your actions have an impact on how we as a nation will make our mark on the global landscape with local creative productions. Thembi Legwaila is Corporate Affairs Manager, MultiChoice Botswana

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Opinions

Our Strength is our Unity

18th March 2022
Craig-Cloud

Putin Chose War.  We Remain United with Ukraine.

U.S. Ambassador Craig L. Cloud

This is a dangerous moment for Europe and for freedom-loving people around the world.  By launching his brutal assault on the people of Ukraine, Vladimir Putin has also committed an assault on the principles that uphold global peace and democracy.  But the people of Ukraine are resilient.

They’ve had a democracy for decades, and their bravery is inspiring the world.  The United States, together with our Allies and partners across the globe, will continue to support the Ukrainian people as they defend their country.  By choosing to pay for a war instead of investing in the needs of Russians, Putin’s invasion of Ukraine will be a strategic failure for the Kremlin and ravage the future of the Russian people.

When the history of this era is written, it will show that Putin’s choice to launch an unprovoked, unjust, and premeditated attack left the West more unified and Russia exponentially weaker.

United in Our Response

This will not end well for Vladimir Putin.  Together, the United States and our Allies and partners are taking action to hold Russia accountable.  As a result of unprecedented global sanctions coordination, the United States, the United Kingdom, the European Union, Japan, and Canada have removed selected Russian banks from the SWIFT messaging system and imposed restrictive measures on the Russian Central Bank.

President Biden announced sweeping financial sanctions and stringent export controls that will damage Russia’s economy, financial system, and access to cutting-edge technology.  After Putin began his invasion, the ruble hit its weakest point in history, and the Russian stock market plunged.

Along with the United Kingdom and European Union, the United States imposed sanctions on the architects of this war, including Putin himself.

By moving in close coordination with a powerful coalition of Allies and partners representing more than half of the global economy, we have magnified the impact of our actions to impose maximum costs on Putin and his regime.  In response to Putin’s war of choice, we will limit Russia’s ability to do business in U.S. dollars.

We will stunt Russia’s ability to finance and grow its military.  We will impair Russia’s ability to compete in the global economy.  And we are prepared to do more.

In addition to economic penalties, this week President Biden authorized an additional $1 billion over the $350 million of security assistance he recently approved, and a $650 million in 2021, to immediately help Ukraine defend itself, bringing America’s total security assistance to Ukraine over the past year to $2 billion.

We also stand ready to defend our NATO Allies.  President Biden has coordinated with Allied governments to position thousands of additional forces in Germany and Poland as part of our commitment to NATO’s collective defense.

He authorized the deployment of ground and air forces already stationed in Europe to NATO’s eastern and southeastern flanks:  Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, and Romania.  Our Allies have also added their own forces and capabilities to ensure our collective defense.  There should be no doubt about the readiness of the greatest military Alliance in the history of the world:  NATO is more united than ever.

The United States has also coordinated with major oil-producing and consuming countries to underscore our common interest in securing global energy supplies.  We are working with energy companies to surge their capacity to supply energy to the market, particularly as prices increase.

Putin’s Unprovoked and Premeditated War

This was an attack that Vladimir Putin has planned for a long time.  He methodically moved more than 150,000 troops and military equipment to Ukraine’s border.  He moved blood supplies into position and built field hospitals, demonstrating his intentions all along.

He rejected every good-faith effort by the United States and our Allies and partners to address his fabricated security concerns and to avoid needless conflict and human suffering by engaging in diplomacy and dialogue.

Putin executed his playbook exactly as we had warned he would do.  We saw Russia’s proxies increase their shelling in the Donbas.  We saw the Russian government launch cyber-operations against Ukraine.  We saw staged political theater in Moscow and heard outlandish and baseless claims made about Ukraine in an attempt to justify Russia’s aggression.

Russia continues to justify its military aggression by falsely claiming the need to stop “genocide” in Ukraine – despite there being no evidence that genocide was occurring there.  We saw Russia use these tactics before when they invaded Ukraine in 2014 and Georgia in 2008.

And then, at almost the very same moment the United Nations Security Council was meeting to stand up for Ukraine’s sovereignty and forestall disaster, Putin launched his invasion in violation of international law.  Missiles began to rain down, striking historic cities across Ukraine.  Then came air raids, columns of tanks, and battalions of troops, all riding a renewed wave of disinformation and outright lies.

We have been transparent with the world.  We declassified our intelligence about Russia’s plans so there could be no confusion and no cover up.  Putin is the aggressor.  Putin chose this war.  And now his people will bear the consequences of his decision to invest in war rather than in them.

Transatlantic Unity and Resolve Stronger Than Ever

Putin’s goal of dividing the West has failed.  In the face of one of the most significant challenges to European security and democratic ideals since World War II, the United States and our Allies and partners have joined together in solidarity.  We have united, coordinating intensively to engage as one with Russia and Ukraine, provided assistance to Ukraine, developed a broad response, and reaffirmed our commitment to NATO.

Putin has failed to divide us.  Putin has failed to undermine our shared belief in the fundamental right of sovereign nations to choose their destiny and their allies.  And Putin will fail to erase the proud nation of Ukraine.

The next few days, weeks, and months will be incredibly difficult for the people of Ukraine.  Putin has unleashed great suffering on them.  But the Ukrainian people have known 30 years of independence, and they have repeatedly shown they will not tolerate anyone who tries to take their country backwards.

The world is watching this conflict closely, and if Russian forces commit atrocities, we will explore all international mechanisms that could be used to bring those responsible – whether members of the military or their civilian leadership – to account.

Putin’s aggression against Ukraine will cost Russia profoundly, both economically and strategically.  The Russian people deserve better from their government than the immense cost to their future that this invasion has precipitated.

Liberty, democracy, and human dignity are forces far more powerful than fear and oppression.  In the contest between democracy and autocracy, between sovereignty and subjugation, make no mistake:  Freedom will prevail.

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