We are in a serious crisis as a nation. Some of our people might not see this because either they benefit from this crisis or they have been turned to see abnormality as normality, bad as good. We are living in a world where lies are turned into truth and truth into lies.
If it was not so everybody would see that we are leading to disaster if not caterstrophy. In order to address this crisis we need a holistic approach to these problems we are facing as a nation. We should not be bothered by those who don’t see this country in serious crisis as Reinhold Niebuhr said; the moral attitudes of dominant and privileged groups are characterised by universal self-deception and hypocrisy.
The most common form of hypocrisy among the privileged classes is to assume that their privileges are the just payment with which society rewards specially useful or meritorious functions. They make laws in order to steal from the society. They do what ever they want to do in the society in the name of national service and patriotism, sometimes they behave as good Samaritans and generous.
Thorstein Veblen interprets this generosity as efforts to incite the envy of their fellowmen by a display of their resources. The society needs to be protected against such people. The only way to make sure the society is protected is through the national Constitution.
The only Constitution which can protect the people and the country is the Constitution written by the people for the people. The Constitution, as the supreme law of the country must reflect the interests and aspirations of the citizens. It is from this background that it is imperative that Batswana must be given chance to write their own Constitution.
The current Constitution reflects the interests and aspiration of those who wrote it and those who approved it. And we know that the Constitution of Botswana was written by the British and approved by few delegates in London. We are aware that a section of the delegation led by Phillip Matante boycotted the signing ceremony of the Constitution on the ground that the British written constitution does not reflect the interest of the people.
In other way the Constitution was imposed on us as the new, nation state. This should not be seen as unique to Botswana. In almost all former Colonies in Africa, the former Colonial masters would make sure that their interests, remain protected and the best way to do so is through the Constitution. Later on, these new independent African states had to rewrite their own Constitutions.
Kenya, Uganda, Ghana, Zambia and Zimbabwe are a few examples of African countries, which threw away the British manufactured Constitutions and formulated their own Constitutions written by the African people for the African people. We should not ask for permission to write our own Constitution.
We need a Constitutional Commission appointed by parliament to draft a new Constitution for the country. All Political Parties should be represented in this commission, all traditional leaders, leaders of trade unions, civil society leaders and other stakeholders like women and youth should be represented in this commission in my view this need to be done as a matters of urgency.
Those who will be mandated to draft a new Constitution, I am saying a draft because it must be approved through a referendum. This time we won’t take chances. They should take the following into consideration among others:
The historical reality – We should never forget the fact that before Bechuanaland came into being as protectorate, we used to have separate Kingdoms in this land. For example Bangwaketse, Bangwato, Bakwena, Batawana, used to have their own Kings and Kingdoms with their natural resources. These Kingdoms used to have their laws, customs, cultures, resources, all their needs to be seen being protected in the new Constitution. We can not know where we are going unless we know where we come from.
In my view a federal Constitution will be the best for this country. Unity in diversity is the only way for the future. We should accept the historical reality that, we are Bakwena, Bangologa, Balete, Bakaukau, Bangwato, Bambukushu, Baherero, Bayei, Bakakwe, Batawana; our heritage must be protected in the Constitution.
Economic interests – Our new Constitution must protect the economic interests of all Batswana. What does this means is that the national cake should be shared in a manner that it benefits all the people and regions of our beautiful country. The workers who produce the wealth of this nation must be protected by the Constitution.
The wealth of this country should be protected, we accept foreign investment and it needs to be protected but we must also make sure that those who come under the disguise as foreign investors don’t take everything out of this country. Very few Batswana know that one of the reasons why the pula is so weak is that the country is being looted, millions if not billions of pula are taken outside the country every day by so called foreign investors.
Under Sir Seretse Khama and Sir Ketumile Masire pula was stronger than USA dollar because there was little or no looting of the country by locals and foreigners. The movement of money in and outside was controlled.
Misuse of power and corruption – The new Constitution must protect the nation from those leaders who might use power to serve their interests rather than the people; nobody should be seen to be above the law. President, Ministers, Mps, Directors all are human, they are subject to make mistakes like other ordinary people, in any case before you are elected or appointed to any position you were just another person there.
Your position does not make you a super human being. You can be corrupted or corrupt just like anybody who can be corrupted. In Singapore and other South East Asian countries where corruption is not tolerated any leader from director to ministers and presidents who receive a present worth more than US $10 must report it to the police or declare it.
Declarations of assets by leaders are Constitutional requirement. A leader is a public figure and his or her assets, and liabilities must be known to the public. If you want to live a private life with private dealings then you must not seek public office. You can not have both. Your friends and business associates must be known by the public.
Elections – The Constitution must insure those who rule us are truly and honestly elected by us not imposed on us by those who have financial powers. Free and fair elections must be seen not only heard. To this to happen, the political playing ground must be level. Party funding must be Constitutional. All parties must be involved in the appointment of senior Independent electoral commission. Foreign funding must be prohibited or at least those who fund political parties or individuals must be known by the public. The constitution must insure that those who run for elections have the right credentials to be leaders.
People should not feel proud that they won elections at council or parliament level when they know that, they used money from criminals to finance their campaigns at the end of the day they will serve this crooks than serving Batswana.
I have stated few things which in my view are very central in the new Constitution which will reflect the interest and aspiration of our people. I know Batswana are very wise people they will come out with more input during the Constitutional Commission Assembly. We must get rid of the current Constitution because as Kgosi Kgafela II said is fraudulent.
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