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BCP’s goodwill slowly, surely fading away…but there is still a glimmer of hope!


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

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Can we cure ourselves from the cancer of corruption?

28th October 2020
DCEC DIRECTOR: Tymon Katholo

Bokani Lisa Motsu

“One of the saddest lessons of history is this: If we’ve been bamboozled long enough, we tend to reject any evidence of the bamboozle. We’re no longer interested in finding out the truth. The bamboozle has captured us. It’s simply too painful to acknowledge, even to ourselves, that we’ve been taken. Once you give a charlatan power over you, you almost never get it back.” Carl Sagan

Corruption is a heavy price to pay. The clean ones pay and suffer at the mercy of people who cannot have enough. They always want to eat and eat so selfishly like a bunch of ugly masked shrews. I hope God forgives me for ridiculing his creatures, but that mammal is so greedy. But corruption is not the new kid on the block, because it has always been everywhere.

This of course begs the question, why that is so? The common answer was and still is – abuse and misuse of power by those in power and weak institutions, disempowered to control the leaders. In 1996, the then President of The World Bank, James D. Wolfensohn named the ‘C-Word’ for the first time during an annual meeting of the Bretton Woods Institutions. A global fight against corruption started. Transparency International began its work. Internal and external audits mushroomed; commissions of inquiry followed and ever convoluted public tender procedures have become a bureaucratic nightmare to the private sector, trying to fight red tape.

The result is sobering corruption today is worse than it was 25 years ago. There is no denying that strong institutions help, but how does it come that in the annual Transparency International Ranking the same group of countries tend to be on the top while another group of countries, many African among them, tend to be on the bottom? Before one jumps to simple and seductive conclusions let us step back a moment.

Wolfensohn called corruption a cancer that destroys economies like a cancer destroys a body. A cancer is, simplified, good cells in a body gone bad, taking control of more and more good cells until the entire body is contaminated and eventually dies. So, let us look at the good cells of society first: they are family ties, clan and tribe affiliation, group cohesion, loyalty, empathy, reciprocity.

Most ordinary people like the reader of these lines or myself would claim to share such values. Once we ordinary people must make decisions, these good cells kick in: why should I hire a Mrs. Unknown, if I can hire my niece whose strengths and weaknesses I know? If I hire the niece, she will owe me and support my objectives.

Why should I purchase office furniture from that unknown company if I know that my friend’s business has good quality stuff? If I buy from him, he will make an extra effort to deliver his best and provide quality after sales service? So, why go through a convoluted tender process with uncertain outcome? In the unlikely case my friend does not perform as expected, I have many informal means to make him deliver, rather than going through a lengthy legal proceeding?

This sounds like common sense and natural and our private lives do work mostly that way and mostly quite well.

The problem is scale. Scale of power, scale of potential gains, scale of temptations, scale of risk. And who among us could throw the first stone were we in positions of power and claim not to succumb to the temptations of scale? Like in a body, cancer cells start growing out of proportion.

So, before we call out for new leaders – experience shows they are rarely better than the old ones – we need to look at ourselves first. But how easy is that? If I were the niece who gets the job through nepotism, why should I be overly critical? If I got a big furniture contract from a friend, why should I spill the beans? What right do I have to assume that, if I were a president or a minister or a corporate chief procurement officer I would not be tempted?

This is where we need to learn. What is useful, quick, efficient, and effective within a family or within a clan or a small community can become counterproductive and costly and destructive at larger corporate or national scale. Our empathy with small scale reciprocity easily permeates into complacency and complicity with large scale corruption and into an acquiescence with weak institutions to control it.

Our institutions can only be as strong as we wish them to be.

I was probably around ten years old and have always been that keen enthusiastic child that also liked to sing the favourite line of, ‘the world will become a better place.’  I would literally stand in front of a mirror and use my mom’s torch as a mic and sing along Michael Jackson’s hit song, ‘We are the world.’

Despite my horrible voice, I still believed in the message.  Few years later, my annoyance towards the world’s corrupt system wonders whether I was just too naïve. Few years later and I am still in doubt so as to whether I should go on blabbing that same old boring line. ‘The world is going to be a better place.’ The question is, when?

The answer is – as always: now.

This is pessimistic if not fatalistic – I challenge Sagan’s outlook with a paraphrased adage of unknown origin: Some people can be bamboozled all of the time, all people can be bamboozled some of the time, but never will all people be bamboozled all of the time.

We, the people are the only ones who can heal society from the cancer of corruption. We need to understand the temptation of scale and address it. We need to stop seeing ourselves just a victim of a disease that sleeps in all of us. We need to give power to the institutions that we have put in place to control corruption: parliaments, separation of power, the press, the ballot box. And sometimes we need to say as a niece – no, I do not want that job as a favour, I want it because I have proven to be better than other contenders.

It is going to be a struggle, because it will mean sacrifices, but sacrifices that we have chosen, not those imposed on us.

Let us start today.

*Bokani Lisa Motsu is a student at University of Botswana

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Opinions

Accounting Officers are out of touch with reality

19th October 2020

Parliament, the second arm of State through its parliamentary committees are one of Botswana’s most powerful mechanisms to ensure that government is held accountable at all times. The Accounting Officers are mostly Permanent Secretaries across government Ministries and Chief Executive Officers, Director Generals, Managing Directors of parastatals, state owned enterprises and Civil Society.

So parliament plays its oversight authority via the legislators sitting on a parliamentary committee and Accounting Officers sitting in the hot chair.  When left with no proper checks and balances, the Executive is prone to abuse the arrangement and so systematic oversight of the executive is usually carried out by parliamentary committees.  They track the work of various government departments and ministries, and conduct scrutiny into important aspects of their policy, direction and administration.

It is not rocket science that effective oversight requires that committees be totally independent and able to set their own agendas and have the power to summon ministers and top civil servants to appear and answer questions. Naturally, Accounting Officers are the highest ranking officials in the government hierarchy apart from cabinet Ministers and as such wield much power and influence in the performance of government.  To illustrate further, government performance is largely owed to the strategic and policy direction of top technocrats in various Ministries.

It is disheartening to point out that the recent parliament committees — as has been the case all over the years — has laid bare the incompetency, inadequacy and ineptitude of people bestowed with great responsibilities in public offices. To say that they are ineffective and inefficient sounds as an understatement. Some appear useless and hopeless when it comes to running the government despite the huge responsibility they possess.

If we were uncertain about the degree at which the Accounting Officers are incompetent, the ongoing parliament committees provide a glaring answer.  It is not an exaggeration to say that ordinary people on the streets have been held ransom by these technocrats who enjoy their air conditioned offices and relish being chauffeured around in luxurious BX SUV’s while the rest of the citizenry continue to suffer. Because of such high life the Accounting Officers seem to have, with time, they have gotten out of touch with the people they are supposed to serve.

An example; when appearing before the recent Public Accounts Committee (PAC), Office of the President Permanent Secretary, Thuso Ramodimoosi, looked reluctant to admit misuse of public funds. Although it is clear funds were misused, he looked unbothered when committee members grilled him over the P80 million Orapa House building that has since morphed into a white elephant for close to 10 successive years. To him, it seems it did not matter much and PAC members were worried for nothing.

On a separate day, another Accounting officer, Director of Public Service Management (DPSM), Naledi Mosalakatane, was not shy to reveal to PAC upon cross-examination that there exist more than 6 000 vacancies in government. Whatever reasons she gave as an excuse, they were not convincing and the committee looked sceptical too. She was faltering and seemed not to have a sense of urgency over the matter no matter how critical it is to the populace.

Botswana’s unemployment rate hoovers around 18 percent in a country where majority of the population is the youth, and the most affected by unemployment. It is still unclear why DPSM could underplay such a critical matter that may threaten the peace and stability of the country.
Accounting Officers clearly appear out of touch with the reality out there – if the PAC examinations are anything to go by.

Ideally the DPSM Director could be dropping the vacancy post digits while sourcing funds and setting timelines for the spaces to be filled as a matter of urgency so that the citizens get employed to feed their families and get out of unemployment and poverty ravaging the country.
The country should thank parliamentary committees such as PAC to expose these abnormalities and the behaviour of our leaders when in public office. How can a full Accounting Officer downplay the magnitude of the landless problem in Botswana and fail to come with direct solutions tailor made to provide Batswana with the land they desperately need?

Land is a life and death matter for some citizens, as we would know.

When Bonolo Khumotaka, the Accounting Officer in the Ministry of Land Management, Water and Sanitation Services, whom as a top official probably with a lucrative pay too appears to be lacking sense of urgency as she is failing on her key mandate of working around the clock to award the citizens with land especially those who need it most like the marginalised.  If government purports they need P94 billion to service land to address the land crisis what is plan B for government? Are we going to accept it the way it is?

Government should wake up from its slumber and intervene to avoid the 30 years unnecessary waiting period in State land and 13 years in Tribal land.  Accounting Officers are custodians of government policy, they should ensure it is effective and serve its purpose. What we have been doing over the years, has proved that it is not effective, and clearly there is a need for change of direction.

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Is it possible to make people part of your business resilience planning after the State of Public Emergency?

12th October 2020

THABO MAJOLA

His Excellency Dr Mokgweetsi EK Masisi, the President of the Republic of Botswana found it appropriate to invoke Section 17 (1) of the Constitution of the Republic of Botswana, using the powers vested in him to declare a State of Public Emergency starting from the 2nd April 2020 at midnight.

The constitutional provision under Section 17 (2b) only provided that such a declaration could be up to a maximum of 21 days. His Excellency further invoked Section 93 (1) to convene an extra- ordinary meeting of Parliament to have the opportunity to consult members of parliament on measures that have been put in place to address the spread and transmission of the virus. At this meeting Members of Parliament passed a resolution on the legal instruments and regulations governing the period of the state of emergency, and extended its duration by six (6) months.

The passing of the State of Emergency is considered as a very crucial step in fighting the near apocalyptic potential of the Novel COVID-19 virus. One of the interesting initiatives that was developed and extended to the business community was a 3-month wage subsidy that came with a condition that no businesses would retrench for the duration of the State of Public Emergency. This has potentially saved many people’s jobs as most companies would have been extremely quick to reduce expenses by downsizing. Self-preservation as some would call it.

Most organisations would have tried to reduce costs by letting go of people, retreated and tried their best to live long enough to fight another day. In my view there is silver lining that we need to look at and consider. The fact that organisations are not allowed to retrench has forced certain companies to look at the people with a long-term view.

Most leaders have probably had to wonder how they are going to ensure that their people are resilient. Do they have team members who innovate and add value to the organisation during these testing times? Do they even have resilient people or are they just waiting for the inevitable end? Can they really train people and make them resilient? How can your team members be part of your recovery plan? What can they do to avoid losing the capabilities they need to operate meaningfully for the duration of the State of Public Emergency and beyond?

The above questions have forced companies to reimagine the future of work. The truth is that no organisation can operate to its full potential without resilient people. In the normal business cycle, new teams come on board; new business streams open, operations or production sites launch or close; new markets develop, and technology is introduced. All of this provides fresh opportunities – and risks.

The best analogy I have seen of people-focused resilience planning reframes employees as your organisation’s immune system, ready and prepared to anticipate risks and ensure they can tackle challenges, fend off illness and bounce back more quickly.  So, how do you supercharge your organizational immune system to become resilient?

COVID-19 has helped many organisations realize they were not as prepared as they believed themselves to be. Now is the time to take stock and reset for the future. All the strategies and plans prior to COVID-19 arriving in Botswana need to be thrown out of the window and you need to develop a new plan today. There is no room for tweaking or reframing. Botswana has been disrupted and we need to accept and embrace the change. What we initially anticipated as a disease that would take a short term is turning out to be something we are going to have to live with for a much longer time. It is going to be a marathon and therefore businesses need to have a plan to complete this marathon.

Start planning. Planning for change can help reduce employee stress, anxiety, and overall fear, boosting the confidence of staff and stakeholders. Think about conducting and then regularly refreshing a strategic business impact analysis, look at your employee engagement scores, dig into your customer metrics and explore the way people work alongside your behaviours and culture. This research will help to identify what you really want to protect, the risks that you need to plan for and what you need to survive during disruption. Don’t forget to ask your team members for their input. In many cases they are closest to critical business areas and already have ideas to make processes and systems more robust.

Revisit your organisational purpose. Purpose, values and principles are powerful tools. By putting your organisation’s purpose and values front and center, you provide clear decision-making guidelines for yourself and your organisation. There are very tough and interesting decisions to make which have to be made fast; so having guiding principles on which the business believes in will help and assist all decision makers with sanity checking the choices that are in front of them. One noticeable characteristic of companies that adapt well during change is that they have a strong sense of identity. Leaders and employees have a shared sense of purpose and a common performance culture; they know what the company stands for beyond shareholder value and how to get things done right.

Revisit your purpose and values. Understand if they have been internalised and are proving useful. If so, find ways to increase their use. If not, adapt them as necessities, to help inspire and guide people while immunizing yourself against future disruption. Design your employee experience. The most resilient, adaptive and high performing companies are made up of people who know each other, like each other, and support each other.

Adaptability requires us to teach other, speak up and discuss problems, and have a collective sense of belonging. Listening to your team members is a powerful and disruptive thing to do. It has the potential to transform the way you manage your organisation. Enlisting employees to help shape employee experience, motivates better performance, increases employee retention and helps you spot issues and risks sooner. More importantly, it gives employees a voice so you can get active and constructive suggestions to make your business more robust by adopting an inclusive approach.

Leaders need to show they care. If you want to build resilience, you must build on a basis of trust. And this means leaders should listen, care, and respond. It’s time to build the entire business model around trust and empathy. Many of the employees will be working under extreme pressure due to the looming question around what will happen when companies have to retrench. As a leader of a company transparency and open communication are the most critical aspects that need to be illustrated.

Take your team member into confidence because if you do have to go through the dreaded excise of retrenchment you have to remember that those people the company retains will judge you based on the process you follow. If you illustrate that the business or organization has no regard for loyalty and commitment, they will never commit to the long-term plans of the organisation which will leave you worse off in the end. Its an absolutely delicate balance but it must all be done in good faith. Hopefully, your organization will avoid this!

This is the best time to revisit your identify and train your people to encourage qualities that build strong, empathetic leadership; self-awareness and control, communication, kindness and psychological safety.  Resilience is the glue that binds functional silos and integrates partners, improves communications, helps you prepare, listen and understand. Most importantly, people-focused resilience helps individuals and teams to think collectively and with empathy – helping you respond and recover faster.

Article written by Thabo Majola, a brand communications expert with a wealth of experience in the field and is Managing Director of Incepta Communications.

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