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The devil made me do it! Part IV

Why did God send the Flood? The Bible specifies in the very next verse that: "And GOD saw that the wickedness of man [was] great in the earth, and [that] every imagination of the thoughts of his heart [was] only evil continually.

And it repented the LORD that he had made man on the earth, and it grieved him at his heart. And the LORD said, I will destroy man whom I have created from the face of the earth; both man, and beast, and the creeping thing, and the fowls of the air; for it repenteth me that I have made them. Gen 6:5-7.

These giants (Nephilim) were called “men” in Genesis 6:4. God was so grieved by the wickedness of men, which can refer to giants (Nephilim) as well, that God decided to destroy mankind. We know today that demons are evil spirits, and they oppress people with many negative things.

They apparently were wicked back then also, back when they had their own mortal bodies, as were all men. It was because of the wickedness of all men, giant (Nephilim) or not (though they were included in this accounting), that God chose to destroy the world. It should be noted that the wickedness of all men was the reason for the Flood, and the stated reason was not the intermixing itself.

If intermixing happened as described above, it may have to do with why God spared Noah. This ties back to the prophecy of Ezekiel 31, which describes a giant tree so tall, and with so many high branches, and boughs, that it outgrew everything else. These giants (Nephilim) are called “men” by the Bible, and so their children were all “men” also.

Their bodies would have been human, and so God considered them human. But if you were to take a snapshot picture of the spirits of all the people who looked human living on the earth at that time, and look at it, what would you see? It could be that the vast majority of the population had immortal spirits originally begat of these angels who fathered the giants (Nephilim), while only a small minority of people had the mortal human spirits which were begat originally by Adam.

Those with immortal spirits would not sleep in death, but would become what we know today as demons. Looking at the symbolism of Ezekiel 31, it seems possible that humanity was spiritually being out-bred and becoming like an endangered species, though not out-bred physically. Physically there were many who had human bodies, everyone had a human body, but spiritually only a few had human spirits begotten originally from Adam. “But Noah found favor in the eyes of the LORD.

These [are] the generations of Noah: Noah was a just man [and] perfect in his generations, [and] Noah walked with God.” Genesis 6:8-9. Noah had a perfect lineage tracing back to Adam, as is recorded in Genesis. Part of why Noah found favor in the eyes of the Lord was because he was a just man.

But the other reason that Noah found favor with God was because his spirit was human, and traced back to Adam. One has to wonder just how much pure humanity was left in the world by the time of Noah. God did say that “all flesh” had corrupted His way, and there was violence cause of them.

“And God looked upon the earth, and, behold, it was corrupt; for all flesh had corrupted his way upon the earth. And God said unto Noah, The end of all flesh is come before me; for the earth is filled with violence through them; and, behold, I will destroy them with the earth…

And, behold, I, even I, do bring a flood of waters upon the earth, to destroy all flesh, wherein [is] the breath of life, from under heaven; [and] every thing that [is] in the earth shall die.” Genesis 6:12-13,17. And so God sent a worldwide Flood, which destroyed all people except for Noah and his family.

“Which sometime were disobedient, when once the longsuffering of God waited in the days of Noah, while the ark was a preparing, wherein few, that is, eight souls were saved by water” 1 Peter 3:20. We can know that Noah was “perfect in his generations” and therefore had a human spirit, seeing his lineage that traced back to Adam.

Therefore, his three sons also had human spirits, and so all of humanity that was to follow after the flood would have human spirits also. But apparently while Noah was perfect in his generations, either his wife or daughter-in-laws were not perfect in their generations.

The eight souls on the Ark were all human, including Noah’s wife and daughters-in-law. Yet the fact that humanity dropped to having 120 year life-spans several generations after the flood, and gigantism showed up in their descendents, shows that not everyone on the Ark was “perfect in their generations”. Only Noah was specified to be. Many people have thought that the change of shortened life-spans after the flood was due to atmospheric changes.

But in fact one Christian creation scientist, Dr. Carl Wieland, has theorized that the loss of longevity could have been caused by genetics. "…All positions which attempt to explain the ‘lifespan drop’ in environmental terms have another bit of data to explain, and that is the temporary persistence of longevity after the Flood. Noah was 600 at the time of the Flood, but lived another 350 years afterwards, in the post-flood atmosphere! Even in pre-Flood terms, Noah was already of moderately advanced age.

One would presume that, if the post-Flood atmosphere/environment has such devastating effects on us now, then because Noah would have been instantly exposed to these same effects, it should have cut his life short much more rapidly. Actually, only Methuselah and Jared lived longer than Noah”… “Even though the post-Flood decline is obvious, we see that eight generations after the Flood, people are still living more than twice as long as is common today.

It would seem much easier to explain the situation if the change occurred within the makeup of humans, rather than external to them. If our longevity is genetically pre-programmed, then that can explain why Noah still lived for a considerable time after the Flood, regardless of any change in radiation or atmospheric pressure. In other words, he was fulfilling his genetic potential as far as lifespan was concerned (in the absence of accidental death or disease).”… “I suggest that our ancestors simply possessed genes for greater longevity which caused this ‘genetic limit’ to human ages to be set at a higher level in the past”…

“If this suggestion has merit as the major (if not the sole) cause of greater pre-Flood ages, then the obvious question is how some of these longevity genes were lost. The human population went through a severe genetic bottleneck at the time of the Flood—only eight individuals.

The phenomenon of ‘genetic drift’ is well-known to be able to account for ‘random’ selectively neutral changes in gene frequencies (including the loss or ‘extinction’ of genes from a population) which may be quite rapid. Also, loss of genes is far more likely in a small population.”… “This brief essay is meant solely as a stimulus to further thought, not as a precise model of events.

However, it would seem that an explanation along these lines would be feasible, especially if several genes contributed to such longevity. For this scenario to work Noah’s sons and their wives would have to have significant heterozygosity at the relevant gene loci. That this could well have been so is suggested by the age of Shem at death – 600, considerably less than that of his father.

‘Short-lived’ alleles of the relevant genes may always have been present, which would mean that in the pre-Flood world, there would have always been some individuals (homozygous for such alleles) living drastically less than the ages recorded for the patriarchs."

The idea is that before the flood there were people with genes for longevity, and those with genes for a shorter lifespan. The small population size which survived the flood could have resulted in the gene for longevity being lost, and the gene for a shorter lifespan coming to exclusively dominate the gene pool.

If in fact the giants (Nephilim) and their descendents had genes for 120-year life-spans, and these genes were carried on the ark by one of the human women, this would line up perfectly. Noah “was perfect in his generations” and had a human spirit, as would all his descendents, and he had genes for longevity.

But it is possible one of the women on the ark had genes for a shortened lifespan, because she, though human, was descended from a son of Adam and a daughter of the giants (Nephilim). And through such a bottleneck effect as proposed above, the shorter-lifespan genes came to dominate the population universally.

This is in contrast to the rarer and more recessive genes that cause gigantism, which seem to have cropped up in only a minority of the population after the flood. It is very important to note that because Noah had a human spirit, so did all of his sons Shem, Ham, and Japheth, and of their descendants.

All the people after the flood were therefore human, having human spirits that would sleep in death, and human bodies, even if those bodies had genes that were corrupted by the messenger angel insurgence before the flood.

All of the people living after the flood were human, even though eventually all people came to live no more than 120 years, and even though a minority of people after the flood developed gigantism. However, if this entire theory about how spiritual/physical reproduction and lineage works through multiplication is incorrect, then what does the Bible teach?

Then the Bible simply describes these giants (Nephilim) as being “men”, and there is no Biblical argument to be made (that I have found) which explains what the demons are and where they came from. As such, in the absence of any such Biblical argument, the only thing to assume about the giants (Nephilim) is that they were “men” in every way. And then one would have to conclude that spiritually they were no different than any other human people, despite their angel fathers.

One can only make the argument that the giants (Nephilim) became demons with Biblical backing and from Biblical argument if one accepts that the spirit of the child is multiplied from the parents, and at that, begat solely from the child’s father. But if one accepts that the spirit of the child is begat solely by the father of the child, then this also means that if the giants (Nephilim) had daughters (which the bodies of “men” can produce daughters) which a human man could have had a human-spirited child with.

Even though such a daughter of a human father and Nephilim-daughter mother would have genetic corruption producing shortened lifespan and/or gigantism, that child would be human spiritually.

And if such a female child was on the Ark, this could have led to shortened life-spans and gigantism in humanity after the flood. One cannot pick and choose which parts of the ramifications of this theory to accept, without ignoring the simple logical implications of the theory.

If the Bible teaches that we can know the giants (Nephilim) became demons, based on the spirit of the child coming from the father of the child, then by the same teaching it must be accepted that a human man could have human-spirited human children with a daughter of such giants (Nephilim). Assuming this theory about multiplication and begetting is wrong then all I could say the Bible, God-breathed Holy Scripture, teaches is:

1. The giants (Nephilim) are called “men” and must be assumed to be have been human in every way, including their spirits, and as such (had they known Christ) would have been redeemable, and could have theoretically been saved by faith in Jesus Christ like any other human.

2. The Bible does not specify where the demons came from, these evil spirits who have no physical body and are not seen in a physical form, but seem to want to get in the bodies of people and animals. It is therefore a great mystery as to when God created the demons and where they came from.

Other teachings are out there which conclude that the demons came from the giants (Nephilim) but these teachings are based upon extra-biblical texts, and not the Bible. But the above two points are the only things that can be found in the Bible, or argued from the Bible, unless this theory about the spirit of the child being multiplied and begat by the spirit of the father, etc. is accepted as correct.

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Accounting Officers are out of touch with reality

19th October 2020

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.

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Is it possible to make people part of your business resilience planning after the State of Public Emergency?

12th October 2020

THABO MAJOLA

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.

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Opinions

Elected officials should guard against personal interest

23rd September 2020

Parliament was this week once again seized with matters that concern them and borders on conflict of interest and abuse of privilege.

The two matters are; review of MPs benefits as well as President Mokgweetsi Masisi’s participation in the bidding for Banyana Farms. For the latter, it should not come as a surprise that President Masisi succeeded in bid.

The President’s business interests have also been in the forefront. While President Masisi is entitled as a citizen to participate in a various businesses in the country or abroad, it is morally deficient for him to participate in a bidding process that is handled by the government he leads. By the virtue of his presidency, Masisi is the head of government and head of State.

Not long ago, former President Festus Mogae suggested that elected officials should consider using blind trust to manage their business interests once they are elected to public office. Though blind trusts are expensive, they are the best way of ensuring confidence in those that serve in public office.

A blind trust is a trust established by the owner (or trustor) giving another party (the trustee) full control of the trust. Blind trusts are often established in situations where individuals want to avoid conflicts of interest between their employment and investments.

The trustee has full discretion over the assets and investments while being charged with managing the assets and any income generated in the trust.

The trustor can terminate the trust, but otherwise exercises no control over the actions taken within the trust and receives no reports from the trustees while the blind trust is in force.

Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) Secretary General, Mpho Balopi, has defended President Masisi’s participation in business and in the Banyana Farms bidding. His contention is that, the practise even obtained during the administration of previous presidents.

The President is the most influential figure in the country. His role is representative and he enjoys a plethora of privileges. He is not an ordinary citizen. The President should therefore be mindful of this fact.

We should as a nation continue to thrive for improvement of our laws with the viewing of enhancing good governance. We should accept perpetuation of certain practices on the bases that they are a norm. MPs are custodians of good governance and they should measure up to the demands of their responsibility.

Parliament should not be spared for its role in countenancing these developments. Parliament is charged with the mandate of making laws and providing oversight, but for them to make laws that are meant solely for their benefits as MPs is unethical and from a governance point of view, wrong.

There have been debates in parliament, some dating from past years, about the benefits of MPs including pension benefits. It is of course self-serving for MPs to be deliberating on their compensation and other benefits.

In the past, we have also contended that MPs are not the right people to discuss their own compensation and there has to be Special Committee set for the purpose. This is a practice in advanced democracies.

By suggesting this, we are not suggesting that MP benefits are in anyway lucrative, but we are saying, an independent body may figure out the best way of handling such issues, and even offer MPs better benefits.

In the United Kingdom for example; since 2009 following a scandal relating to abuse of office, set-up Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority (IPSA)

IPSA is responsible for: setting the level of and paying MPs’ annual salaries; paying the salaries of MPs’ staff; drawing up, reviewing, and administering an MP’s allowance scheme; providing MPs with publicly available and information relating to taxation issues; and determining the procedures for investigations and complaints relating to MPs.

Owing to what has happened in the Parliament of Botswana recently, we now need to have a way of limiting what MPs can do especially when it comes to laws that concern them. We cannot be too trusting as a nation.

MPs can abuse office for their own agendas. There is need to act swiftly to deal with the inherent conflict of interest that arise as a result of our legislative setup. A voice of reason should emerge from Parliament to address this unpleasant situation. This cannot be business as usual.

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