Some people associate democracy with the Western world. However, the truth is that Western countries which are under capitalism are not as democratic as they want the rest of the world to believe. We are fully aware that Europe was once ruled by Kings and Princes (Dikgosi le Dikgosana) like Africa.
The stages of mode of production evolved from communalism via feudalism to capitalism and evolved via socialism to communism. This is the law of nature and that is how dialectical materialism works. Capitalism is not the first and the last stage of mode of production.
The questions that need to be answered are what capitalism is and what democracy is and whether they work hand in hand or not. Capitalism by definition is an economic system whereby means of production are owned by private organizations or corporations.
The decision, prices, production of goods and services are determined mainly by manipulative competition in a free market. In other words goods and services are not necessarily produced because people need them, but are produced because some people want to make money, so they have to create the market for their goods and services more especially at the expense of the peasants and the proletarians.
In order for the environment to be conducive for free market, which in reality is free exploitation, the capitalists make sure that they control those in political power.
In other words the political parties in the U.S.A. and other Western countries are sponsored by multinational corporations. These multinational corporations are operating freely in Africa and support pro-neocolonialist political parties or regimes.
Those anti-neocolonialist political parties or regimes are labeled undemocratic. The so called pro-democracy and human rights organizations are nothing but created mainly to make sure that capitalism survive longer than its natural life span. I was shocked to the marrow when I heard the USA secretary of state John Kerry on CNN saying that the Egyptian army had removed President Morsi in order to restore democracy in Egypt.
President Morsi was the first civilian democratically elected President of Egypt in many years. What the CIA did was buy airtime for thousand Egyptians and told them to go to the street of Cairo and demonstrate against President Morsi, which was enough for the army to stage a coup so that the generals can come back to power. And John Kerry shamelessly called the exercise democracy!
Then there is the case of Burundi. After a bloody civil war, the people of Burundi came to peaceful settlement and agreed that there will be a new constitution. The new Burundi constitution states, clearly that there will be a transitional government for five years and all winning political parties will share power.
After five years when the country will be stabilized, there shall be elections and the elected president will serve for two terms. After the transitional period all the political parties stood for elections, Nkurunziza and his party won the elections. Remember they had two Vice Presidents from other parties. This year when he wanted to stand for elections for the second time as stated in the constitution, it was said that he was violating the constitution.
Two terms in office is not a guarantee for democracy. What did Botswana gain after the introduction of the two terms, Botswana performed better than before the two term system! Both Sir Seretse Khama and Sir Ketumile Masire served this country better that the two term Presidents.
What we want in Africa is free and fair elections not terms. Why can`t they have two terms in Britain and France and many other countries in Europe? Two terms or not, as long as multinational corporations control our leaders we cannot have democracy and be free in Africa.
Obama went on record saying Africa doesn`t need strong men but strong institutions, and when he made this statement, some African leaders applauded him, without asking him a simple question: “who controls these institutions Mr. Obama?” Mr. Obama is fully aware that those institutions will be controlled by the U.S.A. through its secret agent- the CIA.
Institutions like UN, SADC and others are funded by Americans and CIA, controlling the minds of those running the institutions, just like how the minds of some African leaders are taken over the moment they win elections! The decisions to run countries are made in Washington DC, London and Paris! This is the African tragedy.
There is no democracy even in America as Sharon Delgodo explains: Abraham Lincoln defines democracy as “government of the people by the people for the people! But because corporations in the United States now have money power to influence American government than the people do, it could be said that in America they have a government of, by and for corporations. That is the American system of corporate rule.
The American corporations manufacture weapons, for example and these weapons need to be sold, American government will create conflict in the world in order to sell American arms of war. Nobody will bother telling you where ISIS, Boko HARAM and many others get their weapons from.
Surely not from Russia and China! If it was so, we could have long been told that Russia and China are arming terrorists. We are fully aware that the colour revolutions in East Europe is nothing but coups masterminded by CIA in order to sell American arms to Europe.
The war in Syria, Yemen and Iraq are there so that American corporations make profit from cheap oil, cheap gas, and expensive weapons. Due to the fact that economic-political education in Africa is a taboo most of our leaders including neo-colonists trained intellectuals are not well informed about economic geopolitics of the world.
It is capitalism which creates institutions. Institutions are created to enhance life, but an institution can take on life of its own, so that its primary purpose becomes mainly its own survival, growth, and extension of power. When this happens people are dehumanized.
They become like cogs in a machine serving the needs of the institution, rather than institutions serving the needs of living beings. With transnational corporations this problem is compounded. Though corporate charters are supposedly granted for public goods, in practice the primary purpose for which cooperation exists is to generate profit for their shareholders.
Their survival and extension of power depend on their generation of wealth. This is generally and legally more important to a corporation than well-being of its workers, consumers, the communities in which it operates, the general public or the earth itself. Democracy is about serving the people while capitalism is about making profit, and you cannot serve the people and make profit at the same time, so capitalism serves to dilute or kill democracy in order to survive.
According to Merriam Webster; Collegiate Dictionary, democracy is defined as, “a government in which the supreme power is vested in the people and exercised by them directly or indirectly through a system of representation usually involving periodically held free election.”
You cannot say the supreme power in America is vested in the people. In 2000 for example the general election results were decided by the Supreme Court which was controlled by the Republican Party. The majority of the Americans voted for Al Gore but those with more judges won the case. In Botswana you cannot say the supreme power is vested in the people and exercised by the people.
The supreme power is vested in the supreme leader who is given those powers by the national constitution. In my view from party level to council and parliament, people must have a sense of exercising their rights not only to vote but to make sure that they contribute to decision making. No one person can make decisions on behalf of others either at party or national level.
The power of the people can only be seen if they are involved in the decision making process under true democracy, the task of leadership is to implement the decision of the majority not to make decisions for the majority and the majority implement the decision of the supreme leader. However a capable leader has to inspire the people he or she leads so that together they own the decision. Nobody has the monopoly of wisdom or intelligence.
We are gifted or talented differently. The difference is how these talents have been developed. This is so because intelligence depends on two major factors namely heredity and environment, where you went to school and who taught you also plays a very important part in your life, but the bottom line is that we are all talented.
Someone might be good in art, one science, the other in mathematics. And the musician cannot say to the lawyer because you cannot sing you are stupid or vice-versa. My point is that democracy involves collective decision making. A true leader inspires the people he or she leads but she or he is also inspired by the people he or she leads.
It is the people who energize the leader. For this to happen, the people must be empowered. Proper education will enable people to make proper decisions. A leader who is a product of the people will be confident to carry out decisions without any fear or prejudices.
We as Africans ought to be fully aware of the economic system we choose to follow as it will surely determine how democratic our societies will be. Most Africans don’t have capital as Nyerere has pointed out. This means the capitalists will come from outside and influence of our governments, our political parties, in the end how we live and behave as Africans.
In order to avoid this, African governments must make political party funding a requirement. This is so because those who fund our political parties will have influence on how political parties formulate their national polices, secondly African governments must encourage and support local investments.
The so called foreign investment is nothing else but enslavement dressed in a different coat. The sole motive for investors, capitalists is to make profit as much as they can. In Botswana we need participatory democracy, where by people from grass route decide what they want in their village or district. Government (mananeo a puso) has failed because they are formulated by people who do not know the Batswana way of life.
You cannot introduce something you have seen working in Singapore and think it will work in Botswana. In my view our leaders and people live in different worlds. Until when our people produce their own leaders, not those imposed on them we shall remain poor in a country full of everything.
It is a tragedy that in a country where some are seen driving big cars many have no water to drink. But that does not surprise some of us because that is how capitalism works. The regime in Gaborone has achieved one big thing, to create a class society in Botswana.
And we should not be surprised when they are given awards or honors because they have done extremely well for their masters in London, Washington DC and Beijing. But one day they will be answerable for selling Botswana for a cup of tea!
This is a question that should seriously exercise the mind of every Botswana citizen and every science researcher, every health worker and every political leader political.
The Covid-19 currently defines our lives and poses a direct threat to every aspect and every part of national safety, security and general well-being. This disease has become a normative part of human life throughout the world.
The first part of the struggle against the murderous depredation of this disease was to protect personal life through restrictive health injunctions and protocols; the worst possibly being human isolation and masks that hid our sorrows and lamentations through thin veils. We suffered that humiliation with grace and I believe as a nation we did a great job.
Now the vaccines are here, ushering us into the second phase of this war against the plague; and we are asking ourselves, is this science-driven fight against Covid-19 spell the end of pandemic anxiety? Is the health nightmare coming to an end? What happy lives lie ahead? Is this the time for celebration or caution? As the Non State Actors, we have being struggling with these questions for months.
We have published our thoughts and feelings, and our research reviews and thorough reading of both the local and international impacts of this rampaging viral invasion in local newspapers and social media platforms.
More significantly, we have successfully organised workshops about the impact of the pandemic on society and the economy and the last workshop invited a panel of health experts, professionals, and public administers to advance this social dialogue as part of our commitment to the tripartite engagement we enjoy working with Government of Botswana, Civil Society and Development partners. These workshops are virtual and open to all Batswana, foreign diplomatic missions based in Gaborone, UN agencies located in Gaborone and international academic researchers and professional health experts and specialists.
The mark of Covid-19 on our nation is a painful one, a tragedy shared by the entire human race, but still a contextually painful experience. Our response is fraught with grave difficulties; limited resources, limited time, and the urgency to not only save lives but also avert economic ruin and a bleak future for all who survive. Several vaccines are already in the market.
Parts of the world are already doing the best they can to trunk the pestilential march of this disease by rolling out mass-vaccinations campaigns that promise to evict this health menace and nightmare from their public lives. Botswana, like much of Africa, is still up in the disreputable, and, unenviable, preventative social melee of masked interactions, metered distances, contactless commerce.
We remain very much at the mercy of a marauding virus that daily runs amuck with earth shattering implications for the economy and human lives. And the battle against both infections and transmissions is proving to be difficult, in terms of finance, institutional capacities and resource mobilization. How are we prepared as government, and as citizens, to embrace the impending mass-vaccinations? What are the chances of us succeeding at this last-ditch effort to defeat the virus? What are the most pressing obstacles?
Does the work of vaccines spell an end to the pandemic anxieties?
Our panellists addressed the current state of mass-vaccination preparedness at the Botswana national level. What resources are available? What are the financial, institutional and administrative operational challenges (costs and supply chains, delivery, distribution, administering the vaccine on time, surveillance and security of vaccines?) What is being done to overcome them, or what can be done to overcome them? What do public assessments of preparedness tell us at the local community levels? How strong is the political will and direction? How long can we expect the whole exercise to last? At what point should we start seeing tangible results of the mass-vaccination campaign?
They also addressed the challenges of the anticipated emerging Vaccinated Society. How to fight the myths of vaccines and the superstitions about histories of human immunizations? What exactly is being done to grow robust local confidence in the science of vaccinations and the vaccines themselves? More significantly, how to square these campaigns vis-vis personal rights, moral/religious obligations?
What messages are being sent out in these regards and how are Batswana responding? What about issues of justice and equality? Will we get the necessary vaccines to everyone who wants them? What is being done to ensure no deserving person is left behind?
They also addressed issues of health data. To accomplish this mass-vaccination campaign and do everything right we need accurate and complete data. Poor data already makes it very hard to just cope with the disease. What is being done to improve data for the mass-vaccination campaign? How is this data being collected, aggregated and prepared for real life situation/applications throughout Botswana in the coming campaign?
We know in America, for example, general reporting and treatment of health data at the beginning of vaccinations was so poor, so chaotic and so scattered mainstream newspapers like The Atlantic, Washington Post and the New York Times had to step in, working very closely with civil society organizations, to rescue the situation. What data-related issues are still problematic in Botswana?
To be specific, what kind of Covid-19 data is being taken now to ready the whole country for an effective and efficient mass-vaccination program?
Batswana must be made aware that the end part of vaccination will just mark the beginning of a long journey to health recovery and national redemption; that in many ways Covid-19 vaccination is just another step toward the many efforts in abeyance to fight this health pandemic, the road ahead is still long and painful.
For this purpose, and to highlight the significance of this observation we tasked our panellists with the arduous imperative of analysing the impact of mass-vaccination on society and the economy alongside the pressing issues of post-Covid-19 national health surveillance and rehabilitation programs.
Research suggests the aftermath of Covid-19 vaccination is going to be just as difficult and uncertain world as the present reality in many ways, and that caution should prevail over celebration, at least for a long time. The disease itself is projected to linger around for some time after all these mass-vaccination campaigns unless an effort is made to vaccinate everyone to the last reported case, every nation succeeds beyond herd immunity, and cure is found for Covid-19 disease. Many people are going to continue in need of medications, psychological and psychiatric services and therapy.
Is Botswana ready for this long holdout? If not, what path should we take going into the future? The Second concern is , are we going to have a single, trusted national agency charged with the mandate to set standards for our national health data system, now that we know how real bad pandemics can be, and the value of data in quickly responding to them and mitigating impact? Finally, what is being done to curate a short history of this pandemic? A national museum of health and medicine or a Public Health Institute in Botswana is overdue.
If we are to create strong sets of data policies and data quality standards for fighting future health pandemics it is critical that they find ideological and moral foundations in the artistic imagery and photography of the present human experience…context is essential to fighting such diseases, and to be prepared we must learn from every tragic health incident.
Our panellists answered most of these questions with distinguished intellectual clarity. We wish Batswana to join us in our second Mass-vaccination workshop.
Today is International Women’s Day – it’s a moment to think about how much better our news diet could be if inequities were eliminated. In 1995, when the curtains fell in one of the largest meetings that have ever brought women together to discuss women in development, it was noted that women and media remain key to development.
Twenty-six years later, the relevant “Article J” of the Beijing Platform for Action, remains unfulfilled. Its two strategic objectives with regard to Women and Media have not been met. They are Increase the participation and access of women to expression and decision-making in and through the media and new technologies of communication
Promote a balanced and non-stereotyped portrayal of women in the media.
Today, as we mark International Women’s Day, it’s an indictment on both media owners and civil society that women remain on the periphery of news-making. They cannot claim equal space in either the structures of newsrooms or in the content produced, be that as sources of news or as the subjects of reports. Indeed, the latest figures from WAN-IFRA’s Women in News Programme show just one in five voices in news belong to women*, be they as sources, as the author or as the main character of the news report.
Some progress was evident several years back, with stand-out women being named as chief executive officers, editors in chief, managing editors and executive editors. But these gains appear short lived in most media organisations. Excitement has turned to frustration as one-step forward has been replaced with three steps backwards. In Africa, the problem is acute. The decision-making tables of media organisations remain deprived of women and where there are women, they are surrounded by men.
Few women have followed in the footsteps of Esther Kamweru, the first woman managing editor in Kenya, and indeed sub-Saharan Africa. Today’s standout women editors include Pamela Makotsi-Sittoni (Nation Media Group, Kenya), Barbara Kaija (New Vision, Uganda), Mary Mbewe (Daily Nation, Zambia), Margaret Vuchiri (The Monitor, Uganda), Joyce Shebe (Clouds, Tanzania), Tryphinah Dongwana (Weekend Post, Botswana), Joyce Mhaville (Independent Television -ITV, Tanzania) and Tuma Abdallah (Standard Newspapers,Tanzania). But they remain an exception.
The lack of balance between women and men at the table of decision making has a rollback effect on the content that is produced. A table dominated by men typically makes decisions that benefit men.
So today, International Women’s Day is a grim reminder that things are not rosy in the news business. Achieving gender balance in news and in the structure of media organisations remains a challenge. Unmet, it sees more than half of the population in our countries suffer the consequences of bias, discrimination and sexism.
The business of ignoring the other half of the population can no longer be treated as normal. It’s time that media leaders grasp the challenge, not only because it is the right thing to do, but because it also makes a whole lot of business sense: start covering women, give them space and a voice in news-making and propel them to all levels of decision making within your organisation.
We can no longer afford to imagine that it’s only men who make and sell the news and bring in the shillings to fund the media business. Women too are worthy newsmakers. In all of our societies, there are women holding decision making positions and who are now experts in once male-only domains such as engineers, doctors, scientists and researchers.
They can be deliberately picked out to share their perspectives and expertise and bring balance to the profile of experts quoted on our news pages. Media is the prism through which society sees itself and women are an untapped audience. So, as we celebrate International Women’s Day, let us embrace diversity, which yields better news content and business products, and in so doing eliminate sexism. We know that actions and attitudes that discriminate against people based on their gender is bad for business.
As media, the challenge is ours. We need to consciously embrace and reach the commitments made 26 years ago when the Beijing Platform for Action was signed globally. As the news consuming public, you have a role to play too. Hold your news organization to account and make sure they deliver balanced news that reflects the voices of all of society.
Jane Godia is a gender development and media expert who serves as the Africa Director of Women in News programme. WOMEN IN NEWS is WAN-IFRA’s ground-breaking programme to increase women’s leadership and voices in the news. It does so by equipping women journalists and editors with the skills, strategies, and support networks to take on greater leadership positions within their media. www.womeninnews.org
The eve of International Women’s Day presents an opportunity for us to think about gender equality and the long and often frustrating march toward societies that are truly equal.
As media, we are uniquely placed to drive forward this reflection and discussion. But while focusing on the challenges of gender in society, we owe it to our staff and the communities we serve to also take a hard look at the obstacles within our own organisations.
I’m talking specifically about the scourge of sexual harassment. It’s likely to have happened in your newsroom. It has likely happened to a member of your team. It happens to all genders but is disproportionately directed at women. It happens in every industry, regardless of country, culture or context. This is because sexual harassment is driven by power, not sex. Wherever you have imbalances in power, you have individuals who are at risk of sexual harassment, and those who abuse this power.
I’ve been sexually harassed. The many journalists and editors, friends and family members who I have spoken to over the years on this subject have also been harassed. Yet it is still hard for leaders to recognize that this could be happening within their newsrooms and boardrooms. Why does it continue to be such a taboo?
Counting the cost of sexual harassment
Sexual harassment is, simply put, bad for business. It can harm your corporate reputation. It is a drain on the productivity of staff and managers. Maintaining and building trust in your brand is an absolute imperative for media organisations globally. If and when a case gets out of control or is badly handled – this can directly impact your bottom line.
It is for this reason that WAN-IFRA Women in News has put eliminating sexual harassment as a top priority in our work around gender equality in the media sector. This might seem at odds with the current climate where social interactions are fewer and remote work scenarios are in place in many newsrooms and businesses. But one only needs to tune into the news to know that the abuse of power, manifested as verbal, physical or online harassment, is alive and well.
Preliminary results from an ongoing Women in News research study into the issue of sexual harassment polling hundreds of journalists in Sub-Saharan Africa and Southeast Asia indicate that more than 1 in 3 women media professionals have been physically harassed, and just under 50% have been verbally harassed. Just over 15% of men in African newsrooms reported being physically harassed, and slightly less than 1 in 4 reports being verbally harassed. The numbers for male media professionals in Southeast Asia are slightly higher than a quarter on both forms of harassment.
The first step in confronting sexual harassment is to talk about it. We need to strip away the stigma and discomfort around having open conversations about what sexual harassment is and isn’t. Media managers, it is entirely in your power to create dynamics in your own teams that are free from sexual harassment.
Publishers and CEOs, you set the organisational culture in your media company.
By being vocal in recognising that it happens everywhere, and communicating to your employees that you will not tolerate sexual harassment of any kind, you send a powerful message to your teams, and publicly. With these actions, you will help us overcome the legacy of silence around this topic, and in doing so take an important first step to create media environments that truly embrace equality.
Melanie Walker is Executive Director of Media Development of the World Association of News Publishers (WAN-IFRA). She is a creator of Women in News, WAN-IFRA’s ground-breaking programme to increase women’s leadership and voices in the news. It does so by equipping women journalists and editors with the skills, strategies, and support networks to take on greater leadership positions within their media. www.womeninnews.org