BCP leadership may call me a prophet of doom or whatever they prefer to call one like me, but the truth is that BCP leadership is slowly but surely squandering the goodwill of its supporters and symphathisers. The language used by some of their leaders and activists against UDC is shockingly rude and misguided.
If this continues, very soon the 140 000 people who voted for BCP will find new suitors. There is however, still a glimmer of hope, a small light at the end of the tunnel which hopefully will be taken advantage of before it extinguishes and before the last vestiges of hope evaporate forever into thin air.
Three weeks ago, Professor Zibani Maundeni penned an article in the weekend post of the 15-21 November, 2014 premised fittingly on the emerging revolution movement and a seemingly confused counter revolution movement that is sweeping across the country.
A revolution which he believes should have been driven by a unitary force under the umbrella; a resolute revolution that sought ‘democratic restoration, economic revival and a clean government; A calm revolution that sought to restore the dignity of our people by creating opportunities, rewarding jobs and providing adequate land for all our people.
This article was by no means a comprehensive and holistic academic assessment of the 2014 general election. Such would have been a more rigorous assessment with much more detail for universities and certainly not written for a newspaper like the weekend post.
This was an informed observation, by the learned professor for most people in Batswana who are lay persons. Certainly not for decorated academics like Dr. Kesitegile Gobotswang who in the following week in the same newspaper launched the most untypical venomous attack on Professor Maundeni and his credentials.
The attack was uncalled for and left many aggrieved and wondering as to what is happening to the BCP top leadership. Some of the BCP people, we have come to admire because of their seemingly level headedness and generous wisdom have degenerated in level of thinking. This negative and worrying behavior has been consistent since the elections. After their Palapye retreat, the behavior instead of softening has become even more virulent, narrow and self-damaging. This consistent trend is worrying and needs to be reversed.
It looks like Dr. Gobotswang, like some of his colleagues are annoyed by the truth they confuse for lies. Professor Maundeni stated the truth summarised in part herein. ‘BCP was swept away partly by a revolution it refused to join. BCP became a victim of circumstances which its visionaries failed to see and its policy makers failed to prepare for.
BCP has instead unleashed its activists to attack the UDC, the private media and the trade unions. BCP is now presented with another opportunity to join the revolution or miss out yet another chance presented by history and risk being swept away completely,’ This is the truth, nothing but the truth, that annoyed Dr. Gobotswang and necessitated his vicious, callous and uncouth attack on the professor.
In his response in the WeekendPost of 22-28 November, 2014, ‘when a decorated academic speaks like a lay person – the case of Professor Zibani Maundeni’, Dr Gobotswang who is also an academic totally misses the point and goes out on a total tangent and condemns the professor for failing to unpack the revolution and its material conditions.
I wonder why the good doctor did not do that himself as an academic. Professor Maundeni did not author a thesis or an academic paper to be found in academic journals and or used in lecture rooms. The article was meant for the lay persons who I am sure understood the professor. I do not know how many people understood the good doctor’s response.
The good doctor is bending the truth when he says; it was a lie to say BCP withdrew from umbrella 2 talks. Nobody ever said BCP walked away from the umbrella 2 talks. This is gross hallucination. What has been said and is the truth is that BCP walked away from the umbrella talks because of disagreement on five if not two constituencies. BCP did not finish the umbrella talks, which talks they initiated and embraced as the only plausible way of effecting ‘regime change’.
They agreed with the unions and the other opposition parties that this was the only way. They further said anyone who will walk away from the talks should be punished by the voters. This is nothing but the truth. The reasons advanced for the so called collapse of the umbrella 1 talks are pathetic and childish by any reasonable standard.
That is why the other parties continued the difficult talks and succeeded. BCP must own up and tell the nation the real reason for withdrawing from the talks. Do not tell us about the letter that was signed. To many of us, it was part of a grand scheme to deceive the nation and waggle out of the talks for reasons only known to BCP. I will hazard a guess later in this submission.
He further says it was a lie to say BOFEPUSO supported UDC. Who did BOPEPUSO support? Is it not true that the majority of BOPEPUSO membership and leadership supported UDC? They may have been some who supported BCP or even BDP and this is quite normal in a democratic dispensation.
However, the majority has the last word and in this case they unequivocally supported the UDC. This is the unfettered truth. They say the truth sometime hurts, but I say it only hurts those who are alien to the truth; those despite all the clarity of facts put on the table, continue to deny these facts.
The doctor, trivialises the origin of the umbrella idea by saying it was their idea in 2007 and 2011. Yes it was their idea and others bought into it, so what. Why did they walk away from their own brain child? Why are they still consulting about their own brain child? Why? Why? Why? Why all this fuss?
Why did they say during the elections that BNF will seize to exist after the elections? Can we assume that killing BNF was part of BCP’s grand plan when it gave birth to the umbrella idea? Was part of the reason for BCP walking away from the Umbrella talks not the realisation that they were not going to be able to manipulate Cde Boko and kill BNF? Was the other reason not the fact that they realised they will not be able to take the leadership of the UMBRELLA party? The truth comrades!
Comrades, my brothers, my sisters and fellow citizens of character, BCP has been very manipulative and this time they have been found out, really wanting. They must admit it, own up and rejoin BNF and UDC! This is the only way they will redeem themselves and survive beyond 2019.
BCP has been saying UDC has lied about BCP. This cannot be farther from the truth. BCP seem to confuse the truth with lies and lies with the truth. This I suspect is deliberate and meant to confuse our people. Let us look at some of their election messaging and judge for ourselves whether they lied or they told the truth.
This will also help us to understand whether BCP is justified in saying UDC peddled lies or is BCP blatantly lying to the nation to tarnish the image of UDC for selfish reasons? Truth no.1: BCP failed to complete the journey towards forming the umbrella party they originated on account of disagreement on five if not two constituencies. Is this not true? Yes or no.
Truth no.2: BCP through its leader said whoever fails to complete the journey towards forming an umbrella party must be punished by the voters; the voters obliged and punished him and his party severely. Is this not true? Yes or no.
Truth no.3: As part of its campaign message BCP said they were the champions of opposition unity because BCP has several parties under its umbrella. The truth is that they swallowed these smaller parties well before the umbrella talks in question began. So why did they start these talks if they wanted to stand alone in their own umbrella?
Do I detect some serious insincerity within BCP leadership? Can we then not logically conclude that BCP was on a mission to swallow the remaining three parties and when they realised it was not going to be so, they quit. The unity talks were only about four parties, so why would BCP be talking of being the champion of opposition unity when they walked away from the only national unity talks we all know about. How disingenuous!
Truth No 4: As part of their campaign message, BCP branded Cde Boko and UDC as the same as BDP. If this is not a lie, then I do not know what a lie is. Any reasonable person who understands our politics will never accept this as the truth. How deceitful. What shameless propaganda!
Truth No. 5: As part of their campaign, they said there where the only party that was going to bring jobs and provide land by a ‘land audit’. They were the only party ‘ready to lead’. Anyone who is discerning enough will know that they were no real difference between BCP and UDC policies. The differences were shallow and cosmetic. Batswana are no fools and can spot a difference when there is one.
Truth No. 6: Where are the shadow ministers? What was the real purpose of this? How do you have shadow ministers outside parliament? Shadow ministers are drawn from parliament to counter government ministers. Was this not another grand scheme to hoodwink Batswana into falsely believing BCP was a government in waiting not UDC? This makes me think BCP is a very disingenuous party.
There is more. They keep on saying they championed a clean campaign during the elections? Really! Not if the above are true. They even joined BDP in demanding the Motswaledi’s report, when they knew very well that the investigations were not yet concluded.
Where is the declaration of assets promised by the BCP leadership? Was this just an ill-conceived idea or was this yet another dubious attention seeking grand scheme by BCP leadership?
This is the counter revolution Professor Maundeni was talking about. BCP is fighting an enemy that does not exist. The really enemy is within BCP especially its leadership. The sooner they realise this, the sooner the revolution towards authentic change, calm change, people’s change can be consolidated. Lies as they say have short legs, they will not go far, they will come back howling and haunting the perpetuator! I said at the beginning that there was a glimmer of hope. This comes from three factors discussed below:
Firstly, I am encouraged by the BCP leader, Dumelang Saleshando who since coming from the Palapye retreat and some of his colleagues since the elections, have not attacked UDC, the union or the press, although they have not condemned the vicious attack on the UDC leadership by the party activists. I assume they are taking serious stock of what happened and considering the road ahead for BCP. I must remind them though that the road ahead without UDC will be full of thistles (very thorny and prickly plants). Please avoid that road as it will lead to the sad extinction of very able and promising young politicians.
Secondly UDC leadership has not responded to the increasingly provocative and viral insults from BCP activists since the election. UDC have been generous, magnanimous and showed true leadership. They must remain steadfast in the face of these attacks. They must not be moved by these attacks and they must stay focused on the many important challenges facing this nation under the BDP misguided rule.
Thirdly, the general UDC members have been very accommodative of BCP insults and are encouraging each other to allow BCP to ‘mourn and heal’. They are hopeful that soon they will understand that their problem is not the UDC. They still believe in their heart of hearts that they belong together with BCP and that BCP will come back and join UDC in order to face the BDP together. The attacks on UDC by BCP are viewed as unfortunate and ill advised.
Having said this, the goodwill is slowly dissipating and soon BCP will be regarded as an enemy of the people. Our people are hungry for change and come 2019 they will make change happen with or without BCP. By then many ordinary members of BCP will have joined UDC, if the leadership remains outside the umbrella.
In conclusion, there is a clarion call for opposition unity under the umbrella. Batswana for many years have called for this unity. We cannot force BCP to join the unity movement or the revolution as seen by professor Maundeni. We will however, continue to encourage them to do so because it is the right thing to do. Our God fearing people will watch closely and we will not allow BCP to mislead this nation anymore.
Politics should not be for the manipulative, calculating and dishonest people, it should be for God fearing people who are prepared to serve the people honestly and diligently; people who will tell the truth no matter how difficult. Moses said to his people, ‘choose for yourselves wise, understanding and experienced people among yourselves and I will appoint them as your leaders.’
True leaders will acknowledge their failures, pick up the pieces and move on. True leaders do not look for escape goats when they fail; they look from within, determine the cause of action and act graciously.
Bernard Busani can be contacted at Email: bernard.busani@ gmail.com Cell: 71751440
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