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.
“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
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.
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.