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Khama Addresses Local Business

Jeff Ramsay
GUEST

With the appointment of the new Cabinet, and notwithstanding the legal drama at the High Court, the Executive branch hit the ground running this week with a series of organisational and consultative meetings.

Prominent among the latter was Thursday's convening of the 37th Meeting of the High Level Consultative Council (HLCC). The event notably provided a public platform for President Khama reaffirm his own confidence as well as commitment in moving Botswana's economy forward on the basis of emerging progress towards the realisation of what has may be described as this country's often seemingly elusive '6th D' of diversification.

As many readers will already be aware, the HLCC, which normally meets twice a year, consists of the entire Cabinet, along with Permanent Secretaries and other senior officials, and parallel representatives from the private sector and civil society. The latter predominately consists of representatives drawn from the different industrial sub-sectors falling under the Botswana Confederation of Commerce, Industry and Manpower (BOCCIM), which acts as the Council's non-government coordinator.
 
Since its inception, the HLCC has been mandated to consider the submissions of its various industry sub-sectors, e.g. agriculture, mining, retail etc., which meet on a quarterly basis within the appropriate line Ministries. It is within these sub-sectors that the primary work of the Council is actually carried out. Chaired by the Ministers responsible, they serve as effective frameworks for addressing sector specific industry concerns. It is only when an issue cannot be resolved at sub-sector level that it is referred for further consideration to the full Council.

In his tone setting remarks at Thursday's gathering, President Khama pointed to the fact that some two thirds of his current Ministers and Assistant Ministers bring to Cabinet and their portfolios their own extensive and varied experience in the private sector. This, he suggested would give them additional insight into the needs of the business community and other non-state actors, as well as their potential role as partners in moving the country's economy forward through greater diversification.
 
Departing from his prepared text, Khama expressed his own optimism that, despite the continued fragility in international markets, Botswana's economy had turned the corner. He went on express his faith in the nation's capacity to achieve sustained economic growth in the coming years through already ongoing trends towards diversification.

To underscore his point the President summarising emerging prospects with specific reference to progress in the mining and beneficiation of a range of minerals, the expansion and progressive localisation of domestic tourism, emerging opportunities in transport and the growth of small businesses through the Economic Diversification Drive (EDD) and associated interventions.

He went on to warn that in the coming years Government's development priorities would continue to include heavy investments in energy and water security, along with the maintenance of infrastructure, youth empowerment, and poverty eradication. Underlying each of these is his administration's overarching goal of employment creation.

With respect to water, the President candidly observed that while medium and long-term solutions were in the pipeline, the cost of further expansion of the North-South Carrier and associated infrastructure would not be cheap.    

On the topic of Ebola, the President was unapologetic in affirming that Botswana would continue to take a firm line in seeking to strictly limit movement to and from countries at the epicentre of the epidemic.

Khama confirmed that our country along with our neighbours had already experienced a modest decline in overseas visitors due unfounded fears about the spread of Ebola across Africa, despite the fact that Southern African region along with most of the rest of the continent has heretofore remained entirely free of the virus. Given the economic as well as public health threat potentially posed by the Ebola, Government, along with other stakeholders can thus not afford to be less than vigilant in its response.

Through the HLCC, Government and BOCCIM have in recent years also joined hands in common recognition that integrity and transparency in business is a key element towards improving citizens' and investors' perception of the Botswana business climate. This has been expressed in the creation of the Botswana Business Action Against Corruption (BAAC) initiative, which was founded on the view that corruption can only be adequately addressed if cooperative alliances are built involving Business, Government and Civil Society.

One of the critical BAAC outcomes has been the development of the Code of Conduct for the Private Sector, which was launched some three years ago. In this context common disappointment was expressed this week over what has heretofore been the slow uptake by local businesses in subscribing to the Code.

For his part, President Khama concluded his remarks by affirming that he had no intention of allowing either himself or other members of Cabinet to relax between now and 2018, rather declaring that: "During the remaining time in my term of office I will work just as hard as I worked on the first day to serve Batswana."
 

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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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