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The awkward dance between the government and the church: Who’s leading? Part II


Every feature in the scriptural definition and description of the Church implies its essential and permanent distinctness from the kingdoms of this world. Even if the whole community were members of the Church, and of one and the same Church, this could be regarded only as an accidental condition of things that could not be expected to last for any length of time, and if it should last, would afford no warrant for disregarding or setting aside Christ’s arrangements.


Although the Church and the commonwealth consist of the same persons, it would still, if Christ’s arrangements as set forth in Scripture were to be at all regarded, be by a different constitution and laws. That men held their places in the one or in the other, whether as office-bearers or as members, and they would still have in these two different capacities different duties to discharge, and a different standard to follow.


Nothing indicates that it was Christ’s intention that the constitution and arrangements of His Church should be altered when His vision should gain an ascendency in a nation. Everything indicates the reverse. He is to be with His church, and His church is to be with Him; that is, subject to His control, obedient to His direction, submissive to His will, faithful in discharging the duties He has imposed upon it, until the end of the world.


A mere change in the external condition of the Church, arising from the proceedings of civil rulers professing to discharge a scriptural duty, is a fundamentally different thing from an alteration in any of those matters which manifestly constitute essential features of the Church as a distinct society, of the arrangements He made for the administration of its government, and the regulation of its affairs.


The classes and qualifications of office-bearers, the nature and limits of their authority and functions, the qualifications and privileges of ordinary members, and the superintendence to be exercised over them by the office-bearers, are manifestly among the essentialia of a distinct organized society, and cannot be materially changed without changing its constitution and character. There is no room for the State to maneuver or attempt under any cloak to interfere.


Christ has settled these points for His church in His word; while in regard to civil society nations are left free to settle most of these matters according to their own judgment and discretion; and from the nature of the case, there are many of them which cannot be settled in civil society in the way in which Christ has settled them in His church.


This is an irrefutable fact. On such grounds as these, it can be easily shown that the distinctness and diversity between the Church, as settled by Christ, and the kingdoms of this world, as settled by man, must be permanently maintained; and that their complete organization, as distinct societies, cannot be infringed upon without sin or chaos on the part of those concerned in it, without interfering with arrangements which Christ appointed and intended to continue till His second coming.


Dare I say, it is not the business of the State what happens in the Church, but it's the business of the Church what happens in the State. The Church willingly subjects itself to the ordinances of the State; but this volitional submission is not to be interpreted to mean that the Church is subservient to the State. The Church is not answerable to the State but to the Lord Jesus Christ.

That is why you have situations of civil disobedience, where the State has passed laws that are contrary to Christ's constitution for His Church. In such instances, the Church has a right, and indeed an obligation, to disregard the State. The State should not and cannot successfully oppress or suppress the Church through the imposition of laws or statutes it knows very well violate the stance of the Church.


It has also been maintained that the distinctness of the State and the Church, viewed as including the origin and nature of the differences between them which it implies, affords a good ground for the inference that the two societies, and the authorities who represent and regulate them, are, and ought to be, wholly independent of each other, with respect to any jurisdiction or authoritative control of the one over the other; that it precludes the assumption or exercise of any right on the part of one to interfere authoritatively in the regulation of the affairs of the other.


I believe that this conclusion is well founded; that it follows fairly from the premises; and that it can be conclusively established by a survey of all the materials bearing upon the settlement of the question. This is the branch of the general subject that bears most immediately upon the position the "free" Church has been led to occupy, and the testimony she has been called upon to bear.


It is on this topic that the controversies which have been long carried on inter imperium et sacerdotium [between the crown and the priesthood], or as to the relation that ought to subsist between the civil and ecclesiastical authorities, have almost wholly turned, until in our own day prominence has been given to the principle of Voluntarism, or of the entire separation of Church and State, a principle which only cuts the knot, and certainly does not untie it.


It is not difficult to perceive how it is that the differences between the Church and the State, which constitute them two distinct societies, should lay a foundation for their entire independence of each other in respect to jurisdiction or authoritative control, while they give no countenance to the doctrine of the necessity of their entire separation, or of the unlawfulness or impracticability of a friendly combination between them for mutual aid and assistance.


That two societies which must consistently come into contact with each other, and whose leading ends and objects, though different, have yet no discordance or opposition, should combine more or less for mutual co-operation and assistance, and of course should make arrangements with each other with this view, is a position which has every antecedent probability and presumption in its favor. The burden of proof lies wholly upon those who deny it.


The fact of the matter is the two cannot ignore each other, even if they wanted to. I've already stated that they share the same fundamental constituents – people, who are in both at the same time. The hot potato is not whether co-existence or a symbiotic relationship is possible. The hot potato is about who should influence whom, and to what extent. Bluntly put, it's a power struggle. Both have an obligation to one another.


And then it can, I think, be proved that an obligation attaches to the State and to civil rulers in their official capacity, to aim at the promotion of the interests of the Church and its welfare. The appropriate result of this obligation, where both parties rightly understand their respective duties, and where special circumstances in the condition of the community do not preclude it, is the formation of a friendly relationship between them.


On the other hand, the notion that of two naturally and originally distinct societies, the one should be entitled to exercise jurisdiction or authoritative control over the other, has every probability or presumption against it. It does not work and indeed cannot work.

The burden of proof lies wholly upon those who assert it. That proof will have to demonstrate that subordination of the one to the other, which is implied in the exercise of jurisdiction, can be legitimately based only either upon the natural intrinsic relation of the two societies to each other, or upon the interposed authority of a common superior.


The natural and original distinctness of the two societies would, upon general principles, exclude the first of these possible grounds of superiority and subordination; and there is a great deal in the special features of the two societies in question, the State and the Church, to confirm the exclusion, and nothing whatever to invalidate it.

If it is alleged, as it has been, that God, the common superior, has invested the one with a right to exercise authoritative control over the other, this of course is a position which must be fairly met and discussed by an investigation of all the materials which legitimately bear upon it.


So far as we can collect the will of God upon this subject from the more general properties and qualities of the two societies as ascertained either from reason or revelation, there is certainly nothing whatever to countenance the idea of the dependence of the one upon the other, or of the subordination of the one to the other, but, on the contrary, much to establish the doctrine of their entire mutual independence in respect to jurisdiction, and to prove the unwarranted and unlawfulness of the one usurping any authority over the other.


The very same result is brought out by an examination of the more specific positions alleged to be sanctioned by Scripture, and to bear more directly upon this particular subject. From the nature of the case there are just three theories that can be maintained upon this subject: First, that of those who assert the superiority in point of jurisdiction of the Church over the State; the right of the ecclesiastical rulers to exercise authoritative control in civil matters.

This is the doctrine of the Church of Rome, and has been maintained more or less fully and openly by most of her leading authorities. Indeed the Vatican is a full State run by the Church with the Pontiff playing the role of head of State. Secondly, that of those who assert the superiority of the State over the Church, or the right of the civil rulers to exercise jurisdiction in ecclesiastical affairs.


This has usually been known as Erastianism, though it is often spoken of by some writers under the designation Byzantinism, a term derived from the degrading subjection to the civil power to which the Patriarchs of Constantinople were reduced during the middle ages, while their rivals the Bishops of Rome attained not only to independence, but to supremacy.


Thirdly, that of those who deny the Popish and the Erastian theories, and maintain that the Church and the State are two co-equal independent powers, each supreme in its own distinct province, and neither having any authoritative control over the other. This is the doctrine taught in the word of God and in the Westminster Standards, though it can scarcely be said to have any distinct compendious historical designation in theological literature.

As the alleged absurdity and danger of an imperium in imperio [a state within a state], and the alleged necessity of some one power or authority that shall superintend and control everything in a community, is the common basis of the two leading erroneous theories upon the subject of the relation between the civil and the ecclesiastical authorities, it may be proper to make some observations upon it.


The direct disproof of it as an argument for the superiority of the one, and the subordination of the other, is of course to be found in the proof that the Church and the State are two distinct independent societies, each having a distinct government of its own, self-sufficient and authoritative in its own domain, and with reference to its own functions and objects.

If this can be proved, then no valid argument against the application of the doctrine can be derived from mere inconveniences or embarrassments that may occasionally arise, especially if it can be further proved, as it can, that collision and embarrassment may be easily avoided by settling the limits of the respective jurisdictions or spheres of the two powers. And there is no such great difficulty in doing this as is commonly believed. Our Savior has enjoined His followers to render unto Caesar the things that are Caesar's, and unto God the things that are God’s.


This implies that there are some things which belong to the domain and jurisdiction of Caesar, or the civil authority, which are subject to his jurisdiction, with respect to which he has rightful authority, and is ordinarily to be obeyed; reserving, of course, the great principle which is of universal application, namely, that we must obey God rather than man.

It implies also, that there are some things which are God’s, in such a sense not to belong to Caesar at all; not to belong to his domain, or to be subject to the authority of the civil authority. There is no great difficulty in settling what these things are, respectively. Caesar’s things are the persons and the property of men, and God’s things are the conscience of men and the Church of Christ.


The civil authority has rightful jurisdiction over the persons and the property of men, because the word of God sanctions his right to the use of the sword (Romans 13:4), and because jurisdiction in these matters is evidently indispensable to the execution of the functions of his office.

The attainment of the great end of civil government, namely, the promotion of the good social order and conscience, for God alone is Lord of the conscience, and has left it free from the doctrines and commandments of men. The civil authority has no jurisdiction over the Church of Christ, because Christ alone is its King and Head, and because by His own authority in His word, He has made full provision for its government – for the administration of its affairs, through other parties, without vesting any control over it in the civil authorities.


The civil authority, I believe, is bound, in the exercise of his proper authority, in his own domain, to aim at the promotion of free worship and the welfare of the Church; but though this obligation brings religion and the Church within the scope of his care, it does not bring them within the sphere of his jurisdiction. Furthermore, it does not entitle him to deal with them in a manner inconsistent with, or unauthorized by their proper nature or their prescribed constitution.

The civil authority is also entitled to exercise a certain superintendence and control in religious and ecclesiastical matters, limited to the object of promoting the attainment, and preventing the frustration of the great end of his office, the peace and good order of the community.


But this consideration, though authorizing him to restrain and punish whatever or whosoever, under pretence of conscience or of ecclesiastical authority, interferes with the interests he is bound to guard. It does not invest him with legitimate authority in matters of religion, or the affairs of the Church, or enable him to impose upon any a valid obligation to render to him obedience in these things.

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Can we cure ourselves from the cancer of corruption?

28th October 2020
DCEC DIRECTOR: Tymon Katholo

Bokani Lisa Motsu

“One of the saddest lessons of history is this: If we’ve been bamboozled long enough, we tend to reject any evidence of the bamboozle. We’re no longer interested in finding out the truth. The bamboozle has captured us. It’s simply too painful to acknowledge, even to ourselves, that we’ve been taken. Once you give a charlatan power over you, you almost never get it back.” Carl Sagan

Corruption is a heavy price to pay. The clean ones pay and suffer at the mercy of people who cannot have enough. They always want to eat and eat so selfishly like a bunch of ugly masked shrews. I hope God forgives me for ridiculing his creatures, but that mammal is so greedy. But corruption is not the new kid on the block, because it has always been everywhere.

This of course begs the question, why that is so? The common answer was and still is – abuse and misuse of power by those in power and weak institutions, disempowered to control the leaders. In 1996, the then President of The World Bank, James D. Wolfensohn named the ‘C-Word’ for the first time during an annual meeting of the Bretton Woods Institutions. A global fight against corruption started. Transparency International began its work. Internal and external audits mushroomed; commissions of inquiry followed and ever convoluted public tender procedures have become a bureaucratic nightmare to the private sector, trying to fight red tape.

The result is sobering corruption today is worse than it was 25 years ago. There is no denying that strong institutions help, but how does it come that in the annual Transparency International Ranking the same group of countries tend to be on the top while another group of countries, many African among them, tend to be on the bottom? Before one jumps to simple and seductive conclusions let us step back a moment.

Wolfensohn called corruption a cancer that destroys economies like a cancer destroys a body. A cancer is, simplified, good cells in a body gone bad, taking control of more and more good cells until the entire body is contaminated and eventually dies. So, let us look at the good cells of society first: they are family ties, clan and tribe affiliation, group cohesion, loyalty, empathy, reciprocity.

Most ordinary people like the reader of these lines or myself would claim to share such values. Once we ordinary people must make decisions, these good cells kick in: why should I hire a Mrs. Unknown, if I can hire my niece whose strengths and weaknesses I know? If I hire the niece, she will owe me and support my objectives.

Why should I purchase office furniture from that unknown company if I know that my friend’s business has good quality stuff? If I buy from him, he will make an extra effort to deliver his best and provide quality after sales service? So, why go through a convoluted tender process with uncertain outcome? In the unlikely case my friend does not perform as expected, I have many informal means to make him deliver, rather than going through a lengthy legal proceeding?

This sounds like common sense and natural and our private lives do work mostly that way and mostly quite well.

The problem is scale. Scale of power, scale of potential gains, scale of temptations, scale of risk. And who among us could throw the first stone were we in positions of power and claim not to succumb to the temptations of scale? Like in a body, cancer cells start growing out of proportion.

So, before we call out for new leaders – experience shows they are rarely better than the old ones – we need to look at ourselves first. But how easy is that? If I were the niece who gets the job through nepotism, why should I be overly critical? If I got a big furniture contract from a friend, why should I spill the beans? What right do I have to assume that, if I were a president or a minister or a corporate chief procurement officer I would not be tempted?

This is where we need to learn. What is useful, quick, efficient, and effective within a family or within a clan or a small community can become counterproductive and costly and destructive at larger corporate or national scale. Our empathy with small scale reciprocity easily permeates into complacency and complicity with large scale corruption and into an acquiescence with weak institutions to control it.

Our institutions can only be as strong as we wish them to be.

I was probably around ten years old and have always been that keen enthusiastic child that also liked to sing the favourite line of, ‘the world will become a better place.’  I would literally stand in front of a mirror and use my mom’s torch as a mic and sing along Michael Jackson’s hit song, ‘We are the world.’

Despite my horrible voice, I still believed in the message.  Few years later, my annoyance towards the world’s corrupt system wonders whether I was just too naïve. Few years later and I am still in doubt so as to whether I should go on blabbing that same old boring line. ‘The world is going to be a better place.’ The question is, when?

The answer is – as always: now.

This is pessimistic if not fatalistic – I challenge Sagan’s outlook with a paraphrased adage of unknown origin: Some people can be bamboozled all of the time, all people can be bamboozled some of the time, but never will all people be bamboozled all of the time.

We, the people are the only ones who can heal society from the cancer of corruption. We need to understand the temptation of scale and address it. We need to stop seeing ourselves just a victim of a disease that sleeps in all of us. We need to give power to the institutions that we have put in place to control corruption: parliaments, separation of power, the press, the ballot box. And sometimes we need to say as a niece – no, I do not want that job as a favour, I want it because I have proven to be better than other contenders.

It is going to be a struggle, because it will mean sacrifices, but sacrifices that we have chosen, not those imposed on us.

Let us start today.

*Bokani Lisa Motsu is a student at University of Botswana

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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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