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Party Time

STUART WHITE
THE WORLD IN BLACK-N-WHITE

 

So the elections are done and dusted and the nation has a new government.  Parliament will soon be getting back to doing what it does best, with a few fresh faces and a few familiar ones.  A Cabinet re-shuffle can probably be expected and it will be business as usual. The election results came in pretty quickly, all things considered. 

Naturally enough announcements from the urban districts were the first to be announced whilst returns from the rural areas had to trickle in, something only to be expected with such vast distances to cover and with many isolated polling stations served only by dirt roads. 

In fact the entire process, in the words of one local political officer put it, was ‘a logistical and organisational nightmare’ in terms of pulling the registered electorate together, getting the message across to everyone in the constituency and co-ordinating the key personnel in the district, sometimes by remote control.


It’s a problem which wouldn’t be understood in more populated, first-world counties.  The day was rightly pronounced a public holiday in order to allow staff the opportunity to exercise their electoral right.  But of course with such a large proportion of the urban workforce still registered in their home village one day is not necessarily enough and I know of many companies in town who closed early on Wednesday to enable staff to start their travels in good time.

Then again some places of business such as supermarkets and garages needed to open their doors as normal so staff would have had to make arrangements to cast their votes before or after their shift.  The same goes for all the emergency services.  Election or no election it would be unthinkable for hospital staff, fire, ambulance and police not to be carrying out business as usual so they too would just have had to make a personal plan.


I don’t have to tell you that national elections here are held every 5 years as they have been since 1965 and if maths isn’t your strong point that makes this current plebiscite the country’s 10th.  In global references this is fairly average.  The UK, for instance, puts a 5-year limit on the term of office of a serving Prime Minister before he or she must call an election, though theoretically they may call one any time during that period.  Five years is also the time frame for elections in India, though the United States favours 4 years. 

And whilst a British Prime Minister can be re-elected as many times as the nation wishes them to keep serving their country and their party wishes them to remain at the helm, the USA limits any President to a maximum of 2 terms in office, after which they must stand down, popularity notwithstanding.  Four years also works in Australia, though you can’t help noticing they change their Prime Ministers as often as some people change their sheets, a practice also replicated in Italy.  And though the same period is also in operation in Switzerland, their devolved system of governance demands that a referendum must be held on every important issue, rather than left to elected representatives. 

This means that a Swiss national is given a say on just about everything and votes on an average of 6 times a year.  At the other end of the scale, in the UK, for instance, such a mid-term single-issue vote, such as the recent one to decide on Scotland’s future within the Union, is extremely rare and might only happen once or twice in a voter’s lifetime, all such decisions having been ceded to one’s local parliamentary representative.  That, of course, is the thing about governance by the majority, the acceptance that on any issue a section of the population will not be happy with the decision.  In some cases where a free vote is offered to Members of Parliament this can even result in more dissatisfied constituents than satisfied ones. 

This is precisely why Switzerland has chosen to give its citizens so many opportunities to micro-manage all decisions of conscience or convenience.  For instance one extreme example would be the subject of abortion or euthanasia, controversial, divisive and multi-faceted issues with moral, ethical and religious dimensions where you might not be expected to know where your MP stood on the matter when you voted him or her in.

Less of an emotional topic but just as hot a topic might be a proposal to construct a new factory in your area.  You might be concerned at the creeping industrialisation and burgeoning population that might ensue.  Your MP, on the other hand, might see it as a benefit to the greater community and a bonus opportunity for job creation and local wealth.  So you would want a ‘no’ vote and you end up with a ‘yes’, even though your MP of choice was returned at the election.  And this is where the Swiss multi-referenda come in, giving every man and woman a say on matters of import.  In fact paraphrasing George Orwell it might be said that all European democracies are equal but some are more equal than others.


So although according to the great British Parliamentarian and Prime Minister Winston Churchill “The best argument against democracy is a five-minute conversation with the average voter” and to American author Robert  A. Heinlein “Democracy is a poor system of government at best; the only thing that can honestly be said in its favour is that it’s about eight times as good as any other  method  the human race has ever tried”, as you all digest and debate the results of our most recent national plebiscite it’s probably worth sparing a thought for all those disenfranchised folk around the world for whom the words in those two quotes would ring very hollow indeed.


STUART WHITE is the Managing Director of HRMC and they can be reached on 395 1640 or at www.hrmc.co.bw
 

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The Daring Dozen at Bari

8th December 2020
JEFF---Batswana-smoke-unit

Seventy-seven years ago, on the evening of December 2, 1943, the Germans launched a surprise air raid on allied shipping in the Italian port of Bari, which was then the key supply centre for the British 8th army’s advance in Italy.

The attack was spearheaded by 105 Junkers JU88 bombers under the overall command of the infamous Air Marshal Wolfram von Richthofen (who had initially achieved international notoriety during the Spanish Civil War for his aerial bombardment of Guernica). In a little over an hour the German aircraft succeeded in sinking 28 transport and cargo ships, while further inflicting massive damage to the harbour’s facilities, resulting in the port being effectively put out of action for two months.

Over two thousand ground personnel were killed during the raid, with the release of a secret supply of mustard gas aboard one of the destroyed ships contributing to the death toll, as well as subsequent military and civilian casualties. The extent of the later is a controversy due to the fact that the American and British governments subsequently covered up the presence of the gas for decades.

At least five Batswana were killed and seven critically wounded during the raid, with one of the wounded being miraculously rescued floating unconscious out to sea with a head wound. He had been given up for dead when he returned to his unit fourteen days later. The fatalities and casualties all occurred when the enemy hit an ammunition ship adjacent to where 24 Batswana members of the African Pioneer Corps (APC) 1979 Smoke Company where posted.

Thereafter, the dozen surviving members of the unit distinguished themselves for their efficiency in putting up and maintaining smokescreens in their sector, which was credited with saving additional shipping. For his personal heroism in rallying his men following the initial explosions Company Corporal Chitu Bakombi was awarded the British Empire Medal, while his superior officer, Lieutenant N.F. Moor was later given an M.B.E.

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A Strong Marriage Bond Needs Two

8th December 2020

Remember: bricks and cement are used to build a house, but mutual love, respect and companionship are used to build a HOME. And amongst His signs is this: He creates for you mates out of your own kind, so that you may find contentment (Sukoon) with them, and He engenders love and tenderness between you; in this behold, there are signs (messages) indeed for people who reflect and think (Quran 30:21).

This verse talks about contentment; this implies companionship, of their being together, sharing together, supporting one another and creating a home of peace. This verse also talks about love between them; this love is both physical and emotional. For love to exist it must be built on the foundation of a mutually supportive relationship guided by respect and tenderness. As the Quran says; ‘they are like garments for you, and you are garments for them (Quran 2:187)’. That means spouses should provide each other with comfort, intimacy and protection just as clothing protects, warms and dignifies the body.

In Islam marriage is considered an ‘ibaadah’, (an act of pleasing Allah) because it is about a commitment made to each other, that is built on mutual love, interdependence, integrity, trust, respect, companionship and harmony towards each other. It is about building of a home on an Islamic foundation in which peace and tranquillity reigns wherein your offspring are raised in an atmosphere conducive to a moral and upright upbringing so that when we all stand before Him (Allah) on that Promised Day, He will be pleased with them all.

Most marriages start out with great hopes and rosy dreams; spouses are truly committed to making their marriages work. However, as the pressures of life mount, many marriages change over time and it is quite common for some of them to run into problems and start to flounder as the reality of living with a spouse that does not meet with one’s pre-conceived ‘expectations’. However, with hard work and dedication, couples can keep their marriages strong and enjoyable. How is it done? What does it take to create a long-lasting, satisfying marriage?

Below are some of the points that have been taken from a marriage guidance article I read recently and adapted for this purposes.

POSITIVITY
Spouses should have far more positive than negative interactions. If there is too much negativity — criticizing, demanding, name-calling, holding grudges, etc. — the relationship will suffer. However, if there is never any negativity, it probably means that frustrations and grievances are not getting ‘air time’ and unresolved tension is accumulating inside one or both partners waiting to ‘explode’ one day.

“Let not some men among you laugh at others: it may be that the (latter) are better than the (former): nor let some women laugh at others: it may be that the (latter) are better than the (former): nor defame nor be sarcastic to each other, nor call each other by (offensive) nicknames.” (49:11)

We all have our individual faults though we may not see them nor want to admit to them but we will easily identify them in others. The key is balance between the two extremes and being supportive of one another. To foster positivity in a marriage that help make them stable and happy, being affectionate, truly listening to each other, taking joy in each other’s achievements and being playful are just a few examples of positive interactions.
Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) said: “The believers who show the most perfect faith are those who have the best character and the best of you are those who are best to their wives”

UNDERSTANDING

Another characteristic of happy marriages is empathy; understanding your spouses’ perspective by putting oneself in his or her shoes. By showing that understanding and identifying with your spouse is important for relationship satisfaction. Spouses are more likely to feel good about their marriage and if their partner expresses empathy towards them. Husbands and wives are more content in their relationships when they feel that their partners understand their thoughts and feelings.

Successful married couples grow with each other; it simply isn’t wise to put any person in charge of your happiness. You must be happy with yourself before anyone else can be.  You are responsible for your actions, your attitudes and your happiness. Your spouse just enhances those things in your life. Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) said: “Treat your women well and be kind to them for they are your partners and committed helpers.”

COMMITMENT

Successful marriages involve both spouses’ commitment to the relationship. The married couple should learn the art of compromise and this usually takes years. The largest parts of compromise are openness to the other’s point of view and good communication when differences arise.

When two people are truly dedicated to making their marriage work, despite the unavoidable challenges and obstacles that come, they are much more likely to have a relationship that lasts. Husbands and wives who only focus on themselves and their own desires are not as likely to find joy and satisfaction in their relationships.

ACCEPTANCE

Another basic need in a relationship is each partner wants to feel valued and respected. When people feel that their spouses truly accept them for who they are, they are usually more secure and confident in their relationships. Often, there is conflict in marriage because partners cannot accept the individual preferences of their spouses and try to demand change from one another. When one person tries to force change from another, he or she is usually met with resistance.

However, change is much more likely to occur when spouses respect differences and accept each other unconditionally. Basic acceptance is vital to a happy marriage. Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) said: “It is the generous (in character) who is good to women, and it is the wicked who insults them.”
“Overlook (any human faults) with gracious forgiveness.” (Quran 15:85)

COMPASSION, MUTUAL LOVE AND RESPECT

Other important components of successful marriages are love, compassion and respect for each other. The fact is, as time passes and life becomes increasingly complicated, the marriage is often stressed and suffers as a result. A happy and successful marriage is based on equality. When one or the other dominates strongly, intimacy is replaced by fear of displeasing.

It is all too easy for spouses to lose touch with each other and neglect the love and romance that once came so easily. It is vital that husbands and wives continue to cultivate love and respect for each other throughout their lives. If they do, it is highly likely that their relationships will remain happy and satisfying. Move beyond the fantasy and unrealistic expectations and realize that marriage is about making a conscious choice to love and care for your spouse-even when you do not feel like it.

Seldom can one love someone for whom we have no respect. This also means that we have to learn to overlook and forgive the mistakes of one’s partner. In other words write the good about your partner in stone and the bad in dust, so that when the wind comes it blows away the bad and only the good remains.

Paramount of all, marriage must be based on the teachings of the Noble Qur’an and the teachings and guidance of our Prophet Muhammad (PBUH). To grow spiritually in your marriage requires that you learn to be less selfish and more loving, even during times of conflict. A marriage needs love, support, tolerance, honesty, respect, humility, realistic expectations and a sense of humour to be successful.

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Chronic Joblessness: How to Help Curtail it

30th November 2020
Motswana woman

The past week or two has been a mixed grill of briefs in so far as the national employment picture is concerned. BDC just injected a further P64 million in Kromberg & Schubert, the automotive cable manufacturer and exporter, to help keep it afloat in the face of the COVID-19-engendered global economic apocalypse. The financial lifeline, which follows an earlier P36 million way back in 2017, hopefully guarantees the jobs of 2500, maybe for another year or two.

It was also reported that a bulb manufacturing company, which is two years old and is youth-led, is making waves in Selibe Phikwe. Called Bulb Word, it is the only bulb manufacturing operation in Botswana and employs 60 people. The figure is not insignificant in a town that had 5000 jobs offloaded in one fell swoop when BCL closed shop in 2016 under seemingly contrived circumstances, so that as I write, two or three buyers have submitted bids to acquire and exhume it from its stage-managed grave.

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