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Landlessness & Youth Physiological Development

A few weeks ago I set with my mother for our routine early morning tea, as usual while enjoying the early morning tea; we discussed several contemporary issues including; social, economic, political, religious and family affairs.

During this period I made the mistake of announcing that I will be taking a short break from regular commentary in this publication because I wanted a bit of time and space to focus on several emerging socioeconomic opportunities and demands. To my surprise this announcement landed me in trouble, it was the first time I saw and heard my mother relentlessly disagreeing with me in principle.

She felt my intentions were tantamount to betrayal and sabotage especially to those that grow and benefit from my offerings and alternative viewpoint. Nonetheless I maintained my stand and skipped a week or two without any offering; but it wasn’t long before the magnitude of her submissions surfaced through emails, calls, inboxes and accidental face-to-face interactions with habitual and occasional followers of my offerings here.

More importantly during this phase I recalled vividly that this time last year, thus 12 months ago, hence exactly 48 Saturdays and 48 articles since the day Aubrey Lute (editor of this renowned publication) took a huge risk and finally presented me an opportunity no other editor was willing to take.

It was an opportunity I accepted with both hands and never looked backed, it is his gesture and faith in me that has kept me going. These reflections, experiences and considerations catalyzed my return to regular programming earlier than planned and they will keep me in action indefinitely.   

Now the subject of the day; Youth Land’less-ness and Youth physiological development or lack thereof; the issues of land and youth development are customarily discussed and resolved distinctly, they have different principals and blueprints. Land falls under the Ministry of Lands and Housing mandate, while Youth development falls under the Ministry of Youth, Sports and Culture (MYSC) obligation.

Our country’s land allocation and management aspirations are enshrined in our Land Policy while our country’s Youth development and empowerment aspirations are enshrined in our Youth Policy. Notwithstanding the above stated convectional Youth development & Land background this installment seeks to lighten their interrelationship and fundamental cross-cutting inherent implications.

Though distinct in many superficial dimensions; Land & Youth development coincidentally share a few common platforms; they both occupy key sections and sub-sections of the National Vision 2016, respective State of the Nation Addresses (SoNA) and our respective National Development Plans (NDPs).

Nonetheless, I submit that their inclusion in the stated documents is not in any way linked to their interconnection, it is just coincidental, further interrogation of their respective sub-sections will justify my submissions herein. At this juncture, I assume the fact that access to land is huge challenge in Botswana is public knowledge, despite our relatively tiny population and reasonable geographical size.

I assume I do not have to recite the countless land stampedes and land night vigils that characterize our land application processes and are slowly but certainly becoming a normal part of our lives. I also assume I do not have to remind you of the average number of years one has to spend in the waiting-list just to be allocated a tiny portion of land to raise his/her family.

I also assume I do not have to remind you that many Batswana live and work for high rentals in urban and semi-urban areas, simply because Botswana is a heavily centralized republic and most of its citizen are poverty stricken and un- or underemployed while rent and property prices are reported to be among the highest in the whole continent.

I simply assume I do not remind you of these because you know them better than I do, they are a part of your everyday day lives and perhaps most of you can narrate them way much better than this author.

Based on the ‘Youth Bulge’ phenomenon, it has been widely accepted that Botswana, like other countries, is blessed with a Youthful population, therefore land challenges cited above affect youth more than any other age bracket in this republic. 

Therefore when we talk of land challenges we talk of Youth development challenges more than anything else. Though I should, I opt not to argue access to land as a key economic growth, economic development and economic diversification challenge for young people in our country.

I believe this is a secondary argument that shall be rightfully and comprehensively articulated in a secondary installment of this Youth Landlessness and Youth development series. For this installment I deliberately and strategically focus on land as a basic human development need.

Those that had a chance to study psychology will know of a legendary American psychologist called, Abraham Maslow.  Maslow is best known for creating Maslow's hierarchy of needs, a psychological model predicated on fulfilling innate human needs in priority, culminating in self-actualization (Harper & Row, 1966). Maslow’s hierarchy of needs illustrates that for each and every individual to prosper in life he/she needs to develop through the ranks of the hierarchy.

The hierarchy indicates that first and foremost every individual must have the basic needs or ‘physiological needs’ meet, key among these is decent and affordable housing and/or shelter. Without proper ownership or at least affordable decent shelter Maslow and the psychology fraternity at large caution that such an individual cannot prosper and subsequently achieve much in his/her lifetime and community. They ultimately highlight that such an individual cannot self-actualize in his/her life.

Furthermore distinguished Scottish economist and moral philosopher, Adam Smith, in his publication, The Wealth of Nations, makes an argument that access to land better enables recipients to “appear in public without shame” and to take a meaningful part in the life of their community. He further links access to land with improved “quality of life” or “standard of living” of the recipients and the society at large.

In my interpretation of our NYP (National Youth policy), it (NYP) seeks to see Youth self-actualize and subsequently prosper, thus becoming key agents of our country’s economic diversification and growth. However with the current levels of landlessness among the Youth population, plus the sky-rocketing rental and property prices, I’m afraid from a physiological viewpoint we are better off raking leaves on a cold windy day.

In the eyes of the visionary our current state of affairs warrants a bleak future, for instance renowned nation builders such as, Oliver Tambo once warned, “a nation that fails to provide for its youth has no future and does not deserve one”.

In light of the deliberations above I hope it’s clear the land issue needs to be addressed urgently, properly and sustainably, if we do envision the kind of Botswana related in our vision 2016 and National Development Plans. I strongly believe our current and foreseeable land challenges are not accidental, I believe they are a result of policy deficits and therefore can be easily and accordingly redressed.

In my own time and space I normally ask myself why countries such as France, which is approximately the same geographical size as Botswana, with a population of over 65 million does not rank shortage of land as one of the key national issues? For the first I agree with BCP (Botswana Congress Party) on the Land Audit proposal as a fundamental starting-point.

I prefer the Land Audit over LAPCAS (Land Administration, Processes, Capacity and Systems). Secondly, I think the heavy centralization of resources and basic services in cities has finally caught up with us; overcrowding, ridiculous rent and property prices are just some of the signs and symptoms.

I believe it’s high time our government deliberately and aggressively decentralizes her services; this will directly and automatically reduce most of the land allocation and management challenges discussed above. I also believe it is high time those that are busy advocating for land-quota reservations kindly start engaging in better and more unifying interventions to our current land allocation and management challenges. Otherwise Abraham Maslow’s hierarchy of needs should not be overlooked when issues of land issue and/or youth development are deliberated and/or resolved.

* Taziba is Youth Advocate, Columnist & Researcher with keen interest in Youth Policy, Civic Engagement, Social Inclusion and Capacity Development
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The Taiwan Question: China ramps up military exercises to rebuff US provocations

18th August 2022

US House Speaker Nancy Pelosis visit to Taiwan has violated the One-China policy, and caused the escalation of tensions across the Taiwan Strait. Experts and political observers across the spectra agree that Pelosis actions and subsequent pronouncements by US President Joe Biden gave impetus to an already simmering tension in the Taiwan Strait, provoking China to strengthen its legitimate hold on the Taiwan Strait waters, which the US and Taiwan deem as international waters.

Pelosis visit to Chinas Taiwan region has been heavily criticised across the globe, with China arguing that this is a serious violation of the one-China principle and the provisions of the three China-US Joint Communiqus. In response to this reckless move which seriously undermined China’s sovereignty, and interfered in China’s internal affairs, the expectation is for China to give a firm response. Pelosi visit violated the commitments made by the U.S. side, and seriously jeopardized peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait.

To give context to Chinas position over Taiwan region, the history behind gives us perspective. It is also important to note that the history between China and Taiwan is well documented and the US has always recognized it.

The Peoples Republic of China recognises Taiwan as its territory. It has always been the case even before the Nationalist Republic of China government fled to the previously Japanese-ruled Island after losing the civil war on the mainland in 1949. According to literature that threat was contained for decades first with a military alliance between the US and the ROC on Taiwan, and after Washington switched diplomatic recognition to the PRC in 1979 by the US One China policy, which acknowledges Beijings position that Taiwan is part of One China. Effectively, Taiwans administration was transferred to the Republic of China from Japan after the Second World War in 1945, along with the split between the Peoples Republic of China (PRC) and the Republic of China (ROC) as a consequence of the Chinese Civil War. Disregarding this history, as the US is attempting to do, will surely initiate some defence reaction on the side of China to affirm its sovereignty.

However, this history was undermined since Taiwan claimed to democratise in the 1990s and China has grown ever more belligerent. Furthermore, it is well documented that the Biden administration, following the Trump presidency, has made subtle changes in the way it deals with Taipei, such as loosening restrictions on US officials meeting Taiwanese officials this should make China uneasy. And while the White House continues to say it does not support Taiwanese independence, Bidens words and actions are parallel to this pledge because he has warned China that the US would intervene militarily if China attacked Taiwan another statement that has provoked China.

Pelosi, in her private space, would know that her actions amount to provocation of China. This act of aggression by the USA seriously undermines the virtues of sovereignty and territorial integrity which has a huge potential to destabilize not only the Taiwan Strait but the whole of the Asia- Pacific region. The Americans know very well that their provocative behavior is deliberately invoking the spirit of separatism masqueraded as Taiwan independence. The US is misled to think that by supporting separatism of Taiwan from China that would give them an edge over China in a geopolitics. This is what one Chinese diplomat said this week: The critical point is if every country put their One-China policy into practice with sincerity, with no compromise, is going to guarantee the peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait. Therefore, it was in the wake of US House speaker Nancy Pelosis visit to Taiwan, that China, in a natural response revealed plans for unprecedented military exercises near the island, prompting fears of a crisis in the Taiwan Strait and the entire Asia-Pacific region. The world community must promote and foster peace, this may be achieved when international laws are respected. It may also happen when nations respect the sovereignty of another. China may be in a better space because it is well capacitated to stake its territorial integrity, what about a small nation, if this happens to it?

As to why military exercises by Beijing; it is an expected response because China was provoked by the actions of Pelosi. To fortify this position, Chinese President, Xi signed a legal basis for Chinas Peoples Liberation Army to safeguard Chinas national sovereignty, security and development interests. The legal basis will also allow military missions around disaster relief, humanitarian aid and peacekeeping. In addition the legal changes would allow troops to prevent spillover effects of regional instabilities from affecting China, secure vital transport routes for strategic materials like oil, or safeguard Chinas overseas investments, projects and personnel. It then follows that President Xis administration cannot afford to look weak under a US provocation. President Xi must protector Chinas sovereignty and territorial integrity, of which Taiwan is a central part. Beijing is very clear on One-China Policy, and expects all world players to recognize and respect it.

The Peoples Liberation Army has made it clear that it has firepower that covers all of Taiwan, and it can strike wherever it wants. This sentiments have been attributed to Zhang Junshe, a researcher at the PLA Navy Research Institute. Zheng further said, We got really close to Taiwan. We encircled Taiwan. And we demonstrated that we can effectively stop intervention by foreign forces. This is a strong reaction from China to warn the US against provocation and violation of the One-China Policy.

Beijings military exercises will certainly shake Taiwans confidence in the sources of its economic and political survival. The potential for an effective blockade threatens the air and shipping routes that support Taiwans central role in global technology supply chains. Should a humanitarian situation arise in Taiwan, the blame would squarely be on the US.

As Chinas military exercises along the Taiwan Strait progress and grow, it remains that the decision by Nancy Pelosi to visit Chinas Taiwan region gravely undermined peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait, and sent a wrong signal to Taiwan independence separatist forces. This then speaks to international conventions, as the UN Secretary-General Antnio Guterres explicitly stressed that the UN remains committed to the UN General Assembly Resolution 2758. The centerpiece is the one-China principle, namely, there is but one China in the world, the government of the Peoples Republic of China is the sole legal government representing the whole of China, and Taiwan is a part of China. It must be noted that the US and the US-led NATO countries have selectively applied international law, this has been going on unabated. There is a plethora of actions that have collapsed several states after they were attacked under the pretext of the so-called possession of weapons of mass destruction illuminating them as threats – and sometimes even without any valid reason. to blatantly launch military strikes and even unleash wars on sovereign countrie

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Internal party-democracy under pressure

21st June 2022

British novelist, W. Somerset Maugham once opined: If a nation values anything more than freedom, it will lose its freedom; and the irony of it is that if it is comfort or money that it values more, it will lose that too.

The truism in these words cannot be underestimated, especially when contextualizing against the political developments in Botswana. We have become a nation that does not value democracy, yet nothing represent freedom more than democracy. In fact, we desire, and value winning power or clinging to power more than anything else, even if it harms the democratic credentials of our political institutions. This is happening across political parties ruling and opposition.

As far as democracy is concerned, we are regressing. We are becoming worse-off than we were in the past. If not arrested, Botswana will lose its status as among few democratic nations in the Africa. Ironically, Botswana was the first country in Africa to embrace democracy, and has held elections every five years without fail since independence.

We were once viewed as the shining example of Africa. Those accolades are not worth it any more. Young democracies such as South Africa, with strong institutions, deserves to be exalted. Botswana has lost faith in democracy, and we will pay a price for it. It is a slippery slope to dictatorship, which will bring among other excess, assault on civil liberties and human rights violations.

Former President, Festus Mogae once stated that Botswanas democracy will only become authentic, when a different party, other than the Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) wins elections, and when the President of such party is not from Serowe.

Although many may not publicly care to admit, Mogaes assertion is true. BDP has over the years projected itself as a dyed-in-the-wool proponent of democracy, but the moment its stay in power became threatened and uncertain, it started behaving in a manner that is at variance with democratic values.This has been happening over the years now, and the situation is getting worse by the day.

Recently, the BDP party leadership has been preaching compromise and consensus candidates for 2024 general elections. Essentially, the leadership has lost faith in theBulela Ditswedispensation, which has been used to selected party candidates for council and parliament since 2003. The leadership is discouraging democracy because they believe primary elections threaten party unity. It is a strange assertion indeed.

Bulela Ditswewas an enrichment of internal party democracy in the sense that it replaced the previous method of selection of candidates known as Committee of 18, in which a branch committee made of 18 people endorsed the representatives. While it is true that political contest can divide, the ruling party should be investing in political education and strengthening in its primary elections processes. Democracy does not come cheap or easy, but it is valuable.

Any unity that we desire so much at the expense of democracy is not true unity. Like W. Somerset Maugham said, democracy would be lost in the process, and ultimately, even the unity that was desired would eventually be lost too. Any solution that sacrifice democracy would not bring any results in the long run, except misery.

We have seen that also in opposition ranks. The Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) recently indicated that its incumbent Members of Parliament (MPs) should not be challenged for their seats. While BDP is sacrificing democracy to stay in power, UDC is sacrificing democracy to win power. It is a scary reality given the fact that both parties ruling and opposition have embraced this position and believe democracy is the hindrance to their political ambitions.

These current reality points to one thing; our political parties have lost faith in democracy. They desire power more than, the purpose of power itself. It is also a crisis of leadership across the political divide, where we have seen dissenting views being met with persecution. We have seen perverting of political process endorsed by those in echelons of power to manipulate political outcomes in their favour.

Democracy should not be optional, it should be mandatory. Any leader proposing curtailing of democracy should be viewed with suspicion, and his adventures should be rejected before it is too late. Members of political parties, as subscribers of democracy, should collectively rise to the occasion to save their democracy from self-interest that is becoming prevalent among Botswana political parties.

The so-called compromise candidates, only benefits the leadership because it creates comforts for them. But for members, and for the nation, it is causing damage by reversing the gains that have been made over the years. We should reject leaders who only preach democracy in word, but are hesitant to practice it.

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The Big Deal About Piracy

21st June 2022

Piracy of all kinds continues to have a massive impact on the global creative industry and the economies of the countries where it thrives.

One of the biggest misconceptions around piracy is that an individual consumers piracy activities, especially in a market the size of Botswanas, is only a drop in the pool of potential losses to the different sectors of the economy piracy affects.

When someone sitting in Gaborone, Botswana logs onto an illegal site to download King Richard online, they dont imagine that their one download will do anything to the production houses pocket or make a dent in the actors net worth. At best, the sensitivity towards this illegal pirating activity likely only exists when contemplating going about pirating a local musicians music or a short film produced locally.

The ripple effects of piracy at whatever scale reach far beyond what the average consumer could ever imagine. Figures released by software security and media technology company, Irdeto, show that users in five major African territories made approximately 17,4 million total visits to the top 10 identified piracy sites on the internet.

The economic impact of this on the creative industry alone soars to between 40 and 97.1 billion dollars, according a 2022 Dataprot study. In addition, they estimate that illegally streamed copyrighted content consumes 24% of global bandwidth.

As Botswanas creative industry remains relatively slight on the scale of comparison to industries such as Nollywood and Nilewood where the creative industry contributes a huge proportion to West and East Africas respective GDPs, that does not imply that piracy activities in Botswana do not have a similar impact on our economy and the ability of our creative industry to grow.

When individuals make decisions to illegally consume content via internet streaming sites they believe they are saving money for themselves in the name of enjoying content they desire to consume. Although this is a personal choice that remains the prerogative of the consumer, looking beyond the fact that streaming on illegal content sites is piracy, the ripple effect of this decision also has an endless trail of impact where funds which could be used to grow the local creative industry through increased consumption, and revenue which would otherwise be fed back into Botswanas economy are being diverted.

Why cant our local creative industry grow? Why dont we see more home-grown films and shows in Botswana? are questions constantly posed by those who consume television content in Botswana. The answer to this lies largely in the fact that Botswanas local content needs an audience in order for it to grow. It needs support from government and entities which are in a position to fund and help the industry scale greater heights.

Any organisational body willing to support and grow the local creative industry needs to exist and operate in an economy which can support its mandates. Content piracy is a cycle that can only be alleviated when consumers make wiser decisions around what they consume and how.

This goes beyond eradicating piracy activities in so far as television content is concerned. This extends to the importation and trade in counterfeit goods, resale of goods and services not intended for resale across the border, outside its jurisdiction, and more. All of these activities stunt the growth of an economy and make it nearly impossible for industries and sectors to propel themselves to places where they can positively impact society and reinvest into the countrys economy.

So what can be done to turn the tide here in Botswana in order to see our local production houses gain the momentum required to produce more, license more and expand their horizons? While those who enforce the law continue to work towards minimizing piracy activities, its imperative that as consumers we work to make their efforts easier by being mindful of how our individual actions play a role in preventing the success of our local creative networks and our economys growth.

Whether you are pirating a Hollywood Blockbuster, illegally streaming a popular Motswana artists music, or smuggling in an illegal decoder to view content restricted to South Africa only, your actions have an impact on how we as a nation will make our mark on the global landscape with local creative productions. Thembi Legwaila is Corporate Affairs Manager, MultiChoice Botswana

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