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The great hope of our people…. Time for consolidation

‘You shall know the truth and the truth shall set you free.’ If we arm ourselves with knowledge you will know the truth. Without knowledge the truth will most likely elude us. With knowledge we shall know whether we are being misinformed or we are being informed appropriately.

Being informed appropriately means being given knowledge that empowers us to understand issues around us in order for us to make informed choices. With this knowledge, as an individual, you are able to discern the truth and take appropriate actions. 

I have posted a number of articles on this publication and have received overwhelming encouragement to share more. I will continue to do so as a way of giving back to my beloved fellow citizens, some will criticize and some will learn something. It is all well as we all learn something as we begin to engage each other positively.

I tumbled upon a book by some writer, Allen White entitled “The Great Hope’’. I immediately thought of the great hope that I have for our country. The great hope that one day this country will be able to reach its full potential in terms of development. The great hope that one day all our people will be engaged meaningfully in the transformation of their country.

The great hope that one day the rich resources that God has richly bestowed upon this country with will be enjoyed fully by all our people. The great hope that one day the leadership of this country will understand that they are servants and not masters of the people. The great hope that one day our leaders will understand that each person has a specific role to play in the development of the country…no one is a mistake!

 As I went through the pages of this book, my attention was caught by a chapter entitled “Why there is suffering?” What suffering; I thought to myself! Yes, there is suffering in my country.  The gross unemployment and under-employment that should have long been eliminated is painful. The pain has made some of the unemployed accept that it is impossible for them to be employed – they have now accepted this as their fate. Some have even been removed from the list of the unemployed to perhaps make the statistics look better? We have graduates who are roaming the streets with nothing meaningful to do.

We have interns who are filing and making tea in offices with no prospects for permanent jobs.  We have created abject poverty amongst our people which we say we will eliminate but without putting in place any plausible framework for sustainability. 

We have suffering in many dark corners of this republic, the elderly, the disabled, the sick in hospitals with inadequate care systems, the children who walk long distances to school and being taught under trees in bad weather with inadequate clothing, the children whose education condemns them to a life without any prospects for advancement – yes we have suffering, teachers and officers with inadequate accommodation, the starving wages imposed on the majority of our employees, yes the list is long…there is suffering.

The people subjected to unfair treatment by authorities because ‘ke bo ise mang’. Corruption, nepotism, favouritism in high places, yes there is suffering.  The people who are subjected to this suffering eventually give up hope of ever getting out of the suffering and some resort to some undesirable means to survive or to withstand the suffering. This is unnecessary suffering that must be ended by us!

I would like to paraphrase a portion I read from this chapter- ‘why there is suffering’. This article is really meant for deep introspection within our opposition parties. God’s plan of hope and prosperity for this country will be done through the opposition parties of this country. So it is imperative for the opposition parties to introspect and build a formidable force for change.

‘Before the entrance of sin there was peace and joy throughout the universe. Love for God was supreme; love for one another was impartial. The law of love was the foundation of God’s government, the happiness of all the created beings depended on their acceptance of the principles of justice and righteousness. God took no pleasure in forced allegiance and therefore granted all free will, so that they may render Him voluntary service. However, some highly placed individual chose to pervert this freedom and sin entered the world.

Leaving his place in the presence of God, this individual went forth to spread discontent amongst the angels. Mysteriously concealing his real purpose he endevoured to excite dissatisfaction concerning laws that governed heavenly beings, intimating that they imposed unnecessary restraints.

He urged them to obey only the dictates of their own will. He claimed he was not aiming for self exaltation but was seeking to secure liberty for all the inhabitants of heaven so that they may attain higher level of existence. He was not degraded from his privileged position in heaven, even when he began presenting false claims before the angels.

Again and again he was offered pardon on condition of repentance and submission. At first he did not understand the real selfish nature of his feeling, but as his dissatisfaction was proved to be unfounded, he was convinced that the divine claims were true and just and that he ought to acknowledge that before all heavens. However, pride forbade him from submission. He instead, resolved that he had no need for repentance and thus fully committed himself to continued confrontation with his maker.

He intensified his deception to secure the sympathy of the angels. All those who did not agree with him; he accused of indifference to the interests of the heavenly beings. It became his policy to manipulate the angels with defiant and subtle arguments concerning the purpose of the maker.

By artful perversion he cast doubt upon every statement made by his maker. His position gave him power and influence and many were induced to unite with him. He remained stubborn, defiant and blasphemously claiming to be an innocent victim. He was eventually banished from heaven for ever – he is now a lost soul in the wilderness.’

I would like to challenge our political parties especially the opposition to look at the above story closely and ask themselves this question. Who are these men who have allowed and continue to allow the perpetuation of this suffering in this land of plenty and what should be done to get our people out of this suffering? I want the leadership and the general members of society to look in the mirror and examine themselves and see if there are not partly or entirely responsible for this suffering. Have we not like the one in the text above deviated from the cause to liberate our people.

Instead we have misled our people and turned them against each other by cunningly undermining others and claiming supremacy! Have we been honest? Are we pursuing our own interests at the expense of our people? How long has this been going on? Why did we ever allow ourselves to have more than one opposition political party in this country with such a small population? Where there any irreconcilable differences within the opposition ranks or where there just immaterial personal differences and preferences that took centre stage? We need to reconcile our differences and become one big force for change. No one should be ‘banished for ever’.

We need to get our people to understand the issues so that they are not easily deceived by those self seeking individuals who want power at any cost for the sole purpose of advancing their own interests and prestige like the one in the text? Hitler once said if you tell people lies all the time eventually they will accept these lies as the truth.  RB, BTV and Botswana daily news paper are used as government propaganda machines meant to prevent the real suffering in the country from being reported and only giving a glowing picture of what the government is doing.

The president goes around the country at our expense giving out blankets, radios and houses to deliberately present a false picture to our people and the world that he cares. The unsuspecting public out there and the international community believe this propaganda while the truth and the reality on the ground is severely compromised.

 It is therefore important that all those who can see through this musk, must work together as one to fight the injustices imposed on our people. Working together will have the desired effect of getting more with less! The combined resources in terms of financial, manpower and intellectual capacity will multiply. The reach to our people will be much wider. The support from local and international interests will multiply. The ability to remove the musk for the truth and the reality in our country to be reflected correctly will be magnified.  

The elections are gone and the people have spoken and spoken very clearly. True leaders have heard the people and will honour the voice of the people in good time. Those who still want to justify a ‘multiparty’ democracy as opposed to a ‘two’ party democracy are still missing the point. Batswana have spoken; they want a ‘two’ party democracy.

They want one voice against the ruling party. This one voice is the voice of the government in waiting. Those 800,000 people who did not vote will vote during the next election to support a ‘two’ party democracy. These people are saying, ‘we are too small a population to be fantacising about multiparty democracy’. They are saying, ‘we need only two parties, so swallow your pride, work together and we will support you.’

Have it ever occurred to you that the multiplicity of parties was encouraged and promoted because it meant that the ruling party will be kept in power for ever? These 800,000 people who did not vote are aware of it. They know that their vote will not make any difference in the outcome of the election if we have multiple parties selling the same election package. One can only logically assume that only those leaders, blinded by their own desire for top leadership positions will continue to advocate for divisions within the opposition ranks, despite the loud voice coming from the just ended election.  

So it is time for the opposition to come together as one, to fight as one, to speak with one voice, for one purpose only, that of truly liberating our people from the shackles of the current misguided  and mischievous government.

Email: bernard.busani@ Cell: 71751440

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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 Botswana’s 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, Mogae’s 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 the Bulela Ditswe dispensation, 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 Ditswe was 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 consumer’s piracy activities, especially in a market the size of Botswana’s, 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 don’t imagine that their one download will do anything to the production house’s 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 musician’s 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 Botswana’s 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 Africa’s 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 Botswana’s economy are being diverted.

“Why can’t our local creative industry grow?” “Why don’t 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 Botswana’s 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 country’s 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, it’s 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 economy’s growth.

Whether you are pirating a Hollywood Blockbuster, illegally streaming a popular Motswana artist’s 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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Our Strength is our Unity

18th March 2022

Putin Chose War.  We Remain United with Ukraine.

U.S. Ambassador Craig L. Cloud

This is a dangerous moment for Europe and for freedom-loving people around the world.  By launching his brutal assault on the people of Ukraine, Vladimir Putin has also committed an assault on the principles that uphold global peace and democracy.  But the people of Ukraine are resilient.

They’ve had a democracy for decades, and their bravery is inspiring the world.  The United States, together with our Allies and partners across the globe, will continue to support the Ukrainian people as they defend their country.  By choosing to pay for a war instead of investing in the needs of Russians, Putin’s invasion of Ukraine will be a strategic failure for the Kremlin and ravage the future of the Russian people.

When the history of this era is written, it will show that Putin’s choice to launch an unprovoked, unjust, and premeditated attack left the West more unified and Russia exponentially weaker.

United in Our Response

This will not end well for Vladimir Putin.  Together, the United States and our Allies and partners are taking action to hold Russia accountable.  As a result of unprecedented global sanctions coordination, the United States, the United Kingdom, the European Union, Japan, and Canada have removed selected Russian banks from the SWIFT messaging system and imposed restrictive measures on the Russian Central Bank.

President Biden announced sweeping financial sanctions and stringent export controls that will damage Russia’s economy, financial system, and access to cutting-edge technology.  After Putin began his invasion, the ruble hit its weakest point in history, and the Russian stock market plunged.

Along with the United Kingdom and European Union, the United States imposed sanctions on the architects of this war, including Putin himself.

By moving in close coordination with a powerful coalition of Allies and partners representing more than half of the global economy, we have magnified the impact of our actions to impose maximum costs on Putin and his regime.  In response to Putin’s war of choice, we will limit Russia’s ability to do business in U.S. dollars.

We will stunt Russia’s ability to finance and grow its military.  We will impair Russia’s ability to compete in the global economy.  And we are prepared to do more.

In addition to economic penalties, this week President Biden authorized an additional $1 billion over the $350 million of security assistance he recently approved, and a $650 million in 2021, to immediately help Ukraine defend itself, bringing America’s total security assistance to Ukraine over the past year to $2 billion.

We also stand ready to defend our NATO Allies.  President Biden has coordinated with Allied governments to position thousands of additional forces in Germany and Poland as part of our commitment to NATO’s collective defense.

He authorized the deployment of ground and air forces already stationed in Europe to NATO’s eastern and southeastern flanks:  Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, and Romania.  Our Allies have also added their own forces and capabilities to ensure our collective defense.  There should be no doubt about the readiness of the greatest military Alliance in the history of the world:  NATO is more united than ever.

The United States has also coordinated with major oil-producing and consuming countries to underscore our common interest in securing global energy supplies.  We are working with energy companies to surge their capacity to supply energy to the market, particularly as prices increase.

Putin’s Unprovoked and Premeditated War

This was an attack that Vladimir Putin has planned for a long time.  He methodically moved more than 150,000 troops and military equipment to Ukraine’s border.  He moved blood supplies into position and built field hospitals, demonstrating his intentions all along.

He rejected every good-faith effort by the United States and our Allies and partners to address his fabricated security concerns and to avoid needless conflict and human suffering by engaging in diplomacy and dialogue.

Putin executed his playbook exactly as we had warned he would do.  We saw Russia’s proxies increase their shelling in the Donbas.  We saw the Russian government launch cyber-operations against Ukraine.  We saw staged political theater in Moscow and heard outlandish and baseless claims made about Ukraine in an attempt to justify Russia’s aggression.

Russia continues to justify its military aggression by falsely claiming the need to stop “genocide” in Ukraine – despite there being no evidence that genocide was occurring there.  We saw Russia use these tactics before when they invaded Ukraine in 2014 and Georgia in 2008.

And then, at almost the very same moment the United Nations Security Council was meeting to stand up for Ukraine’s sovereignty and forestall disaster, Putin launched his invasion in violation of international law.  Missiles began to rain down, striking historic cities across Ukraine.  Then came air raids, columns of tanks, and battalions of troops, all riding a renewed wave of disinformation and outright lies.

We have been transparent with the world.  We declassified our intelligence about Russia’s plans so there could be no confusion and no cover up.  Putin is the aggressor.  Putin chose this war.  And now his people will bear the consequences of his decision to invest in war rather than in them.

Transatlantic Unity and Resolve Stronger Than Ever

Putin’s goal of dividing the West has failed.  In the face of one of the most significant challenges to European security and democratic ideals since World War II, the United States and our Allies and partners have joined together in solidarity.  We have united, coordinating intensively to engage as one with Russia and Ukraine, provided assistance to Ukraine, developed a broad response, and reaffirmed our commitment to NATO.

Putin has failed to divide us.  Putin has failed to undermine our shared belief in the fundamental right of sovereign nations to choose their destiny and their allies.  And Putin will fail to erase the proud nation of Ukraine.

The next few days, weeks, and months will be incredibly difficult for the people of Ukraine.  Putin has unleashed great suffering on them.  But the Ukrainian people have known 30 years of independence, and they have repeatedly shown they will not tolerate anyone who tries to take their country backwards.

The world is watching this conflict closely, and if Russian forces commit atrocities, we will explore all international mechanisms that could be used to bring those responsible – whether members of the military or their civilian leadership – to account.

Putin’s aggression against Ukraine will cost Russia profoundly, both economically and strategically.  The Russian people deserve better from their government than the immense cost to their future that this invasion has precipitated.

Liberty, democracy, and human dignity are forces far more powerful than fear and oppression.  In the contest between democracy and autocracy, between sovereignty and subjugation, make no mistake:  Freedom will prevail.

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