The gender movement should pause for a moment and consider a fresh approach towards addressing the gender imbalance. The fundamental aim should be to achieve a more balanced and fulfilled family rather than a divided, undisciplined and unstable family. The aim should be to build a stable, disciplined and a fulfilled nation.
We must start from the premise that the present generation did not create the gender imbalance we face. It is something that was inherited from many generations before us. It is not a women against men issue; It is neither a political issue; It is an issue that needs open mindedness; it’s an issue that we must deal with soberly without attempting to appease the gender movement. We must acknowledge that men and women were created differently to perform the different roles in building the family and the nation. This does not in anyway imply that one gender greater or more important than the other.
The mistakes of the past must be solved jointly without undue cohesion from one gender. Remember the letter I quoted last week. The man raised very important questions that many of us are afraid to raise. The letter raised question of dishonesty in dealing with gender issues and insinuated that the gender movement was a deliberate creation by some capitalists who want to destroy the family structure and weaken nations in order to wage economic wars against these unsuspecting nations.
I believe the target countries are in Africa. One is tempted to say this is a gross exaggeration, but what is the major cause of any war and instability in the world? Is it not control of economic resources? But do the perpetrators ever accept this as the reason?
They do not. What is the cause of wars and instability in the Middle East and North Africa? Is it not the oil? We are told it is religious intolerance and dictatorships but if you study these closely you will find that both of these are a creation of those powerful countries in the developed world. Is religion not meant to unite not to divide nations? This world is without doubt full of people who will do anything to control others using whatever convenient excuse there is.
The SADC region is one if not the only region in the world that is still to be fully exploited and is currently relatively stable. Its huge minerals and wildlife resources are the envy of many from the developed world. We cannot rule out that the gender issue is not being used as musk to create instability in Africa in order to gain access to its rich and untapped resources. So the gender card can be used as a convenient weapon to fuel discontent and weaken us in order to gain control of our natural resources. We have to be careful that we do not fall into this carefully engineered trap meant to ensnare us and make us forever weak and dependent.
Well that maybe scary, but hopefully it will move us to honestly begin to face the real underlying causes of the gender imbalance and help us establish what needs to be done to build a cohesive and balanced society that God intended for mankind. This is a call for social dialogue not a call for finger pointing, not a call for men to stand on one side and for women to stand on the other side and to start throwing salvos and stones at each other. This is not a time for the ruling party to stand on one side and the opposition parties on the other side and fight to win the hearts of women and their manipulators.
This is the time to start building bridges that will bring men and women closer together as complementary partners in building our nation. We do not need unhealthy competition between men and women where the only winners will be those who want to tear us apart in the name of gender equity.
If you go to many of the developed countries you will see how men and women in general relate to each other, you will see how husbands and wives treat each other and how together they bring up their children. Also while there, see what percentage of women hold leadership positions in their countries. It seems some of us have lost the plot here and followed the evil one who is continually deceiving us for his own good.
Let us look at some pertinent gender issues that are potential timed explosives;
We must accept that the gender movement has created explosive societal divisions which we are failing to face head on for reasons that border on timidity or lack of foresight. We have coined and accepted new words and phrases. Words and phrases like; passion killing, alarming rates of divorce, gender based violence, gender based abuse, sugar daddies, sugar mummies, increasing levels of prostitution, increasing levels of homosexuality, increasing use of habit forming drugs; we are now even contemplating legalizing some of these vices. I believe this is a result of a nation that is at war with itself. When we start gender and age based movements, we are unwittingly dividing the nation into groups which groups will start fighting each other.
It is fine to have women movements and programs to address issues that relate only to women and men like wise can have theirs. It is also good to have youth programs for addressing issues that relate only to the youth. But if you discriminate only based on gender and age you are dividing the nation and unwittingly planting seeds of discord in your society. Such a situation could ultimately result in the nation becoming increasingly ungovernable allowing opportunists to take control. History is littered with such takeovers.
Let me give examples to explain what I mean. When people talk gender in this country and perhaps elsewhere, they are talking about women. Gender programs as currently fashioned are essentially for women leaving men behind. This means that as women become more and more assertive and more and more aggressive in pursuit of their voice as a result of these programs, men are left behind wondering what has become of their women. This inevitably results in men becoming angry as they do not understand their women fork any more.
Men begin to feel that they are not respected by their women anymore. Men respond either by becoming physical abusive or behaving in wayward manners. Is this not perhaps the reason for passion killing and gender based abuse that is ravaging this nation?
What is leading to the growth of sugar daddies and sugar mummies? Could it be because women have become too independent from their men counterparts and men have turned away towards vice resulting in both men and women doing as they please?
Is the gender movement not undermining family values thus creating a selfish free for all mentality which mentality promotes the notion that it is fine to care only for oneself as opposed to caring for the family and the nation? If men have been brought up and socialised in a particular way reversing that is a process that need to be managed by the gender movement.
Let us consider another explosive scenario. You are a middle income couple both working with a typical family of two boys and two girls who have now graduated from university and cannot find meaningful employment or business opportunities. Further you have an uncle and aunt aged around forty and both have never worked and are struggling to make ends meet.
They both have their own children boys and girls who through government scholarships have graduated at university and are also not employed. Your boys and your girls are looking for opportunities, would you accept a situation where the establishment favours your girls more than your boys because of gender? How would your boys feel if their sisters are offered employment and business opportunities only because of their gender and they remain at home struggling to survive?
How about your uncle and aunt who have struggled to raise their kids and suddenly their children get youth funding and grants from government to start some business! Your uncle and aunt have applied to get funding from CEDA to no avail, then your aunt because of gender is given a gender based project and your uncle is left out in the limbo despite his desire and known superior capabilities. If this happens to more and more families what will happen to the nation? Will this promotes peace and harmony in families and the nation at large? You can make your own deductions and conclusions.
Recently a number of women were sent to India to study solar systems and were paraded on BTV on their return. The question is why only women? Do men not need the same exposure? Is this not dividing the nation? The gender department seems to be a department meant for women alone. How about men? Do men also need a parallel men’s gender department? The gender department should be entrusted to build and not to destroy the family. The family is the nucleus and sanctity of a nation.
The family is a foundation and role model to teach us to love, to respect and to value each other. Our government through the gender department should foster the same principles in order to build a loving, caring and respectful nation that values people equally. The gender movement should also be driving the same agenda of nation building.
I believe the gender movement has gone over board and has allowed some women to take advantage and do as they please regardless of consequences and men have stood aside and wondered. When you see a very young girl who should be at school, going out with an old white man in full view of the public and we turn a blind eye, what are we saying about the future of this girl child? Unfortunately we are allowing the future of this girl child and many others who will follow her example to be permanently ruined.
But we have powerful and intelligent women in this country who I am sure will not want to be given positions of responsibility simply because they are women. They work very hard and compete fairly. They deserve what they have achieved. Let these women stop being political correct and only demand fair and equal treatment of all people regardless of gender. Men must also stop stooping to this gender biased pressure that is pitting our sons against our daughters in a contest that neither of them will win which contest will eventually destroy this beautiful land of ours if not stopped early in its tracks.
Let us work together to build this nation. Let us address the real issues that cause gender imbalance in a manner that does not destroy our national and moral values. Evil is evil, it must be addressed by society fairly and firmly whether it comes from a man or from a woman, whether it comes from the West or the East, whether it was intentionally done or not.
Perhaps we have gone too far away from our creator and we perhaps need to reconsider our ways and seek his intervention more than ever before in order to amicably address this gender imbalance monster.
The Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) has recently faced significant criticism for its handling of the voter registration exercise. In this prose I aim to shed light on the various instances where the IEC has demonstrated a lack of respect towards the citizens of Botswana, leading to a loss of credibility. By examining the postponements of the registration exercise and the IEC’s failure to communicate effectively, it becomes evident that the institution has disregarded its core mandate and the importance of its role in ensuring fair and transparent elections.
Incompetence or Disrespect?
One possible explanation for the IEC’s behavior is sheer incompetence. It is alarming to consider that the leadership of such a critical institution may lack the understanding of the importance of their mandate. The failure to communicate the reasons for the postponements in a timely manner raises questions about their ability to handle their responsibilities effectively. Furthermore, if the issue lies with government processes, it calls into question whether the IEC has the courage to stand up to the country’s leadership.
Another possibility is that the IEC lacks respect for its core clients, the voters of Botswana. Respect for stakeholders is crucial in building trust, and clear communication is a key component of this. The IEC’s failure to communicate accurate and complete information, despite having access to it, has fueled speculation and mistrust. Additionally, the IEC’s disregard for engaging with political parties, such as the Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC), further highlights this disrespect. By ignoring the UDC’s request to observe the registration process, the IEC demonstrates a lack of regard for its partners in the electoral exercise.
Rebuilding Trust and Credibility:
While allegations of political interference and security services involvement cannot be ignored, the IEC has a greater responsibility to ensure its own credibility. The institution did manage to refute claims by the DISS Director that the IEC database had been compromised, which is a positive step towards rebuilding trust. However, this remains a small glimmer of hope in the midst of the IEC’s overall disregard for the citizens of Botswana.
To regain the trust of Batswana, the IEC must prioritize respect for its stakeholders. Clear and timely communication is essential in this process. By engaging with political parties and addressing their concerns, the IEC can demonstrate a commitment to transparency and fairness. It is crucial for the IEC to recognize that its credibility is directly linked to the trust it garners from the voters.
The IEC’s recent actions have raised serious concerns about its credibility and respect for the citizens of Botswana. Whether due to incompetence or a lack of respect for stakeholders, the IEC’s failure to communicate effectively and handle its responsibilities has damaged its reputation. To regain trust and maintain relevance, the IEC must prioritize clear and timely communication, engage with political parties, and demonstrate a commitment to transparency and fairness. Only by respecting the voters of Botswana can the IEC fulfill its crucial role in ensuring free and fair elections.
The Oil and Gas industry has undergone several significant developments and changes over the last few years. Understanding these developments and trends is crucial towards better appreciating how to navigate the engagement in this space, whether directly in the energy space or in associated value chain roles such as financing.
Here, we explore some of the most notable global events and trends and the potential impact or bearing they have on the local and global market.
Governments and companies around the world have been increasingly focused on transitioning towards renewable energy sources such as solar and wind power. This shift is motivated by concerns about climate change and the need to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Africa, including Botswana, is part of these discussions, as we work to collectively ensure a greener and more sustainable future. Indeed, this is now a greater priority the world over. It aligns closely with the increase in Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) investing being observed. ESG investing has become increasingly popular, and many investors are now looking for companies that are focused on sustainability and reducing their carbon footprint. This trend could have significant implications for the oil and fuel industry, which is often viewed as environmentally unsustainable. Relatedly and equally key are the evolving government policies. Government policies and regulations related to the Oil and Gas industry are likely to continue evolving with discussions including incentives for renewable energy and potentially imposing stricter regulations on emissions.
The COVID-19 pandemic has also played a strong role. Over the last two years, the pandemic had a profound impact on the Oil and Gas industry (and fuel generally), leading to a significant drop in demand as travel and economic activity slowed down. As a result, oil prices plummeted, with crude oil prices briefly turning negative in April 2020. Most economies have now vaccinated their populations and are in recovery mode, and with the recovery of the economies, there has been recovery of oil prices; however, the pace and sustainability of recovery continues to be dependent on factors such as emergence of new variants of the virus.
This period, which saw increased digital transformation on the whole, also saw accelerated and increased investment in technology. The Oil and Gas industry is expected to continue investing in new digital technologies to increase efficiency and reduce costs. This also means a necessary understanding and subsequent action to address the impacts from the rise of electric vehicles. The growing popularity of electric vehicles is expected to reduce demand for traditional gasoline-powered cars. This has, in turn, had an impact on the demand for oil.
Last but not least, geopolitical tensions have played a tremendous role. Geopolitical tensions between major oil-producing countries can and has impacted the supply of oil and fuel. Ongoing tensions in the Middle East and between the US and Russia could have an impact on global oil prices further, and we must be mindful of this.
On the home front in Botswana, all these discussions are relevant and the subject of discussion in many corporate and even public sector boardrooms. Stanbic Bank Botswana continues to take a lead in supporting the Oil and Gas industry in its current state and as it evolves and navigates these dynamics. This is through providing financing to support Oil and Gas companies’ operations, including investments in new technologies. The Bank offers risk management services to help oil and gas companies to manage risks associated with price fluctuations, supply chain disruptions and regulatory changes. This includes offering hedging products and providing advice on risk management strategies.
Advisory and support for sustainability initiatives that the industry undertakes is also key to ensuring that, as companies navigate complex market conditions, they are more empowered to make informed business decisions. It is important to work with Oil and Gas companies to develop and implement sustainability strategies, such as reducing emissions and increasing the use of renewable energy. This is key to how partners such as Stanbic Bank work to support the sector.
Last but not least, Stanbic Bank stands firmly in support of Botswana’s drive in the development of the sector with the view to attain better fuel security and reduce dependence risk on imported fuel. This is crucial towards ensuring a stronger, stabler market, and a core aspect to how we can play a role in helping drive Botswana’s growth. Continued understanding, learning, and sustainable action are what will help ensure the Oil and Gas sector is supported towards positive, sustainable and impactful growth in a manner that brings social, environmental and economic benefit.
Loago Tshomane is Manager, Client Coverage, Corporate and Investment Banking (CIB), Stanbic Bank Botswana
So, the conclusion is brands are important. I start by concluding because one hopes this is a foregone conclusion given the furore that erupts over a botched brand. If a fast food chef bungles a food order, there’d be possibly some isolated complaint thrown. However, if the same company’s marketing expert or agency cooks up a tasteless brand there is a country-wide outcry. Why? Perhaps this is because brands affect us more deeply than we care to understand or admit. The fact that the uproar might be equal parts of schadenfreude, black twitter-esque criticism and, disappointment does not take away from the decibel of concern raised.
A good place to start our understanding of a brand is naturally by defining what a brand is. Marty Neumier, the genius who authored The Brand Gap, offers this instructive definition – “A brand is a person’s gut feel about a product or service”. In other words, a brand is not what the company says it is. It is what the people feel it is. It is the sum total of what it means to them. Brands are perceptions. So, brands are defined by individuals not companies. But brands are owned by companies not individuals. Brands are crafted in privacy but consumed publicly. Brands are communal. Granted, you say. But that doesn’t still explain why everybody and their pet dog feel entitled to jump in feet first into a brand slug-fest armed with a hot opinion. True. But consider the following truism.
Brands are living. They act as milestones in our past. They are signposts of our identity. Beacons of our triumphs. Indexes of our consumption. Most importantly, they have invaded our very words and world view. Try going for just 24 hours without mentioning a single brand name. Quite difficult, right? Because they live among us they have become one of us. And we have therefore built ‘brand bonds’ with them. For example, iPhone owners gather here. You love your iPhone. It goes everywhere. You turn to it in moments of joy and when we need a quick mood boost. Notice how that ‘relationship’ started with desire as you longingly gazed upon it in a glossy brochure. That quickly progressed to asking other people what they thought about it. Followed by the zero moment of truth were you committed and voted your approval through a purchase. Does that sound like a romantic relationship timeline. You bet it does. Because it is. When we conduct brand workshops we run the Brand Loyalty ™ exercise wherein we test people’s loyalty to their favourite brand(s). The results are always quite intriguing. Most people are willing to pay a 40% premium over the standard price for ‘their’ brand. They simply won’t easily ‘breakup’ with it. Doing so can cause brand ‘heart ache’. There is strong brand elasticity for loved brands.
Now that we know brands are communal and endeared, then companies armed with this knowledge, must exercise caution and practise reverence when approaching the subject of rebranding. It’s fragile. The question marketers ought to ask themselves before gleefully jumping into the hot rebranding cauldron is – Do we go for an Evolution (partial rebrand) or a Revolution(full rebrand)? An evolution is incremental. It introduces small but significant changes or additions to the existing visual brand. Here, think of the subtle changes you’ve seen in financial or FMCG brands over the decades. Evolution allows you to redirect the brand without alienating its horde of faithful followers. As humans we love the familiar and certain. Change scares us. Especially if we’ve not been privy to the important but probably blinkered ‘strategy sessions’ ongoing behind the scenes. Revolutions are often messy. They are often hard reset about-turns aiming for a total new look and ‘feel’.
Hard rebranding is risky business. History is littered with the agony of brands large and small who felt the heat of public disfavour. In January 2009, PepsiCo rebranded the Tropicana. When the newly designed package hit the shelves, consumers were not having it. The New York Times reports that ‘some of the commenting described the new packaging as ‘ugly’ ‘stupid’. They wanted their old one back that showed a ripe orange with a straw in it. Sales dipped 20%. PepsiCo reverted to the old logo and packaging within a month. In 2006 Mastercard had to backtrack away from it’s new logo after public criticism, as did Leeds United, and the clothing brand Gap. AdAge magazine reports that critics most common sentiment about the Gap logo was that it looked like something a child had created using a clip-art gallery. Botswana is no different. University of Botswana had to retreat into the comfort of the known and accepted heritage strong brand. Sir Ketumile Masire Teaching Hospital was badgered with complaints till it ‘adjusted’ its logo.
So if the landscape of rebranding is so treacherous then whey take the risk? Companies need to soberly assess they need for a rebrand. According to the fellows at Ignyte Branding a rebrand is ignited by the following admissions :
Our brand name no longer reflects our company’s vision.
We’re embarrassed to hand out our business cards.
Our competitive advantage is vague or poorly articulated.
Our brand has lost focus and become too complex to understand. Our business model or strategy has changed.
Our business has outgrown its current brand.
We’re undergoing or recently underwent a merger or acquisition. Our business has moved or expanded its geographic reach.
We need to disassociate our brand from a negative image.
We’re struggling to raise our prices and increase our profit margins. We want to expand our influence and connect to new audiences. We’re not attracting top talent for the positions we need to fill. All the above are good reasons to rebrand.
The downside to this debacle is that companies genuinely needing to rebrand might be hesitant or delay it altogether. The silver lining I guess is that marketing often mocked for its charlatans, is briefly transformed from being the Archilles heel into Thanos’ glove in an instant.
So what does a company need to do to safely navigate the rebranding terrain? Companies need to interrogate their brand purpose thoroughly. Not what they think they stand for but what they authentically represent when seen through the lens of their team members. In our Brand Workshop we use a number of tools to tease out the compelling brand truth. This section always draws amusing insights. Unfailingly, the top management (CEO & CFO)always has a vastly different picture of their brand to the rest of their ExCo and middle management, as do they to the customer-facing officer. We have only come across one company that had good internal alignment. Needless to say that brand is doing superbly well.
There is need a for brand strategies to guide the brand. One observes that most brands ‘make a plan’ as they go along. Little or no deliberate position on Brand audit, Customer research, Brand positioning and purpose, Architecture, Messaging, Naming, Tagline, Brand Training and may more. A brand strategy distils why your business exists beyond making money – its ‘why’. It defines what makes your brand what it is, what differentiates it from the competition and how you want your customers to perceive it. Lacking a brand strategy disadvantages the company in that it appears soul-less and lacking in personality. Naturally, people do not like to hang around humans with nothing to say. A brand strategy understands the value proposition. People don’t buy nails for the nails sake. They buy nails to hammer into the wall to hang pictures of their loved ones. People don’t buy make up because of its several hues and shades. Make up is self-expression. Understanding this arms a brand with an iron clad clad strategy on the brand battlefield.
But perhaps you’ve done the important research and strategy work. It’s still possible to bungle the final look and feel. A few years ago one large brand had an extensive strategy done. Hopes were high for a top tier brand reveal. The eventual proposed brand was lack-lustre. I distinctly remember, being tasked as local agency to ‘land’ the brand and we outright refused. We could see this was a disaster of epic proportions begging to happen. The brand consultants were summoned to revise the logo. After a several tweaks and compromises the brand landed. It currently exists as one of the country’s largest brands. Getting the logo and visual look right is important. But how does one know if they are on the right path? Using the simile of a brand being a person – The answer is how do you know your outfit is right? It must serve a function, be the right fit and cut, it must be coordinated and lastly it must say something about you. So it is possible to bath in a luxurious bath gel, apply exotic lotion, be facebeat and still somehow wear a faux pas outfit. Avoid that.
Another suggestion is to do the obvious. Pre-test the logo and its look and feel on a cross section of your existing and prospective audience. There are tools to do this. Their feedback can save you money, time and pain. Additionally one must do another obvious check – use Google Image to verify the visual outcome and plain Google search to verify the name. These are so obvious they are hopefully for gone conclusions. But for the brands that have gone ahead without them, I hope you have not concluded your brand journeys as there is a world of opportunity waiting to be unlocked with the right brand strategy key.
Cliff Mada is Head of ArmourGetOn Brand Consultancy, based in Gaborone and Cape Town.