When the constitutional drafters, at section 51(1) of the Constitution, stated that “there shall be an Attorney-General whose office shall be a public office” and proceeded at section 51(2) to state that “the Attorney-General shall be the principal legal adviser to the Government of Botswana” they knew that such an office is paramount for the proper functioning of the state.
By stating that the Attorney-General shall be the principal legal adviser to the Government of Botswana they envisaged an Attorney-General who shall advise not only the Executive, but also the Legislature and the Judicature. With respect to the former, that is why the Attorney-General is, in terms of section 58(2) (c) of the Constitution, a member of the National Assembly.
If advising the government entails protecting and defending it, our constitutional drafters envisaged an Attorney-General who shall protect and defend all arms of government, not just the Executive. In the case discussed hereunder, for example, the Attorney-General should be representing both the Executive and the Legislature.
Our constitutional drafters, in their wisdom, envisaged an Attorney-General to, being an Attorney by training and admission, and holding such esteemed office because she is a fit and proper person, render unassailable advice to all arms of government without fear or favor. By making the Attorney-General’s office public, the constitutional drafters wanted to put it above such sectarian interests as partisan politics, religious bias, cultural bias, e.t.c. They wanted it, at all times, to be guided by the public interest, not sectarian or private interest. They wanted its actions to always be clothed with public interest, not sectarian interest.
Yet, our Attorney-General seems to abrogate the duty assigned to her by the Constitution. As shall be shown below, her office has been reduced to that of Cabinet’s legal adviser. In fact, sometimes she acts more like the President’s legal adviser. Even more regrettable, her office seems to be more inclined to the ruling Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) than it is to the government of Botswana.
The current case in which the Attorney-General is challenging the constitutionality of the Parliamentary Standing Orders which provide for the election of the Speaker and Deputy Speaker of the National Assembly and endorsement of the Vice President to be by a secret ballot as opposed to by show of hands shall be used to illustrate the assertions aforesaid. Also to be used is the ‘Essential Service’ case which followed the 2011 public sector strike.
By her own admission, the Attorney-General played a role, critical I submit, in the amendment of the Standing Orders, which amendment, less than two months after being adopted by Parliament, is said, by the Attorney-General herself, to be so unconstitutional that it warrants cessation of the endorsement and election of such important officials as the Vice President, Speaker and Deputy Speaker of the National Assembly respectively.
If it is indeed the Attorney-General’s genuine belief that the Standing Orders, which were amended about two months before the general elections, are so unconstitutional only two inferences can be drawn, either she failed to advise the government properly or she advised the government properly, but government refused to heed her advice. If the former is the case, then the current Attorney-General should take personal responsibility and resign. Conversely, if the latter is the case we can only sympathize with her.
Rendering wrong advice in the honest belief that it is appropriate can be condoned. What cannot be condoned is rendering wrong advice knowing it to be wrong but rendering it nonetheless because of irrelevant considerations.
The fact that the amendments, which emanated from Honorable Prince Maele, a BDP Member of Parliament (MP), which were presumably endorsed by the BDP caucus and the Cabinet, and could only have been passed by Parliament because of the BDP’s majority in Parliament, are being challenged by the Attorney-General makes one wonder whether the Attorney-General’s application is truly motivated by public interest or other interests.
A question ought to be asked whether the Attorney-General truly failed to positively influence the proposed amendments both herself personally at Cabinet level and in Parliament through the Parliamentary Counsel who, for all intents and purposes, belongs to her office.
Also worrisome is the manner in which this matter started. It was started through a letter from a private law firm, Collins & Newman, whose senior partner, Parks Tafa, is a well-known BDP functionary and legal adviser for President Lieutenant General Seretse Khama Ian Khama. In a surprising turn of events, the matter was taken over by the Attorney-General with the BDP cited as one of the Respondents.
That is not all. In an unprecedented manner, when the matter went to court, the BDP, represented by none other than Parks Tafa, effectively took over the role of the Attorney-General and acted as if it is the 1st Applicant or at least 2nd Applicant in the matter.
For example, contrary to the norm, Parks Tafa, as though the BDP was one of the Applicants in the matter attempted to exercise the right of reply after the Respondents presented their heads of argument, a privilege ordinarily reserved for Applicants. Also, in terms of substance, the BDP’s arguments were more informed and potentially persuasive than those of the Attorney-General.
The worry does not end there. It would be recalled that during the ‘Essential Service’ case which came after the 2011 public sector strike, the same Parks Tafa, despite being a private legal practitioner and despite the Attorney-General’s office having hundreds of competent Attorneys, represented government.
If Parks Tafa’s representation of government during the ‘Essential Service’ case and the current case is not a sign of government’s lack of confidence on the Attorney-General’s competence, it can only be that the Attorney-General would have advised government otherwise and government would be fearful that she cannot represent it whole heartedly.
It is my humble submission that Parks Tafa is, for all intents and purposes, the de facto Attorney-General of the Republic of Botswana. He is in fact the Attorney-General, while Dr. Athalia Molokomme is in law the Attorney-General.
It is deplorable when a private citizen, aided by the Executive, because of allegiance to the ruling party and the President, factually usurps the powers of a constitutional office, let alone that of Attorney-General. One wonders how many government secret and confidential documents Parks Tafa accesses during the course of representing government in legal matters.
One also wonders whether if he were to commit a crime he can be prosecuted like any other citizen or the Attorney-General would be more inclined, or would be instructed, to declare a nolle prosequi and decline to prosecute him.
Were it not for our Judiciary which is largely independent, Parks Tafa, because of his political influence, would win all court cases not because he is the best Attorney in the country, but because of his association with the highest office in the land, the presidency.
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.
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”
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.”
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.
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.
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.