â€¨â€¨Prior to Wednesday afternoon this author was no more certain than most people as to who would ultimately be appointed as our nation's 8th Vice President. The designation of Mokgweetsi Masisi, however, certainly did not come as a surprise. â€¨â€¨His experience, record of service, manifest skill and success as a politician, along with the obvious trust that he has earned in the eyes of the President, and indeed others, had all along marked him an obvious contender.â€¨â€¨
At the risk of being labelled as a "LELOPE", in my own view what stands out first and foremost in terms of the personal qualities Masisi now brings to the nation's second highest office is his passion and related drive for confronting the most difficult issues. This quality has arguably been best displayed in his commitment as the leading driver of the Poverty Eradication Programme.
â€¨â€¨It is not every politician who would with seeming eagerness put his or her political capital on the line by championing a targeted programme to eradicate extreme poverty among the able bodied within what effectively amounts to a five year time frame. When progress in the first phase of the programme, that is the introduction of the backyard gardens, was compromised by water scarcity, others would be inclined to pull back.
â€¨â€¨But, for the now Vice President the challenge of abject poverty has been too urgent and important to ignore. And so with his tenacious support (as well as that of the President), the programme has continued to progress in the face of obstacles. â€¨â€¨While time will tell whether the programme can fully deliver within its ambitious timetable, what is certain is that already thousands of our country's neediest have been given a necessary hand up.
This fact is reflected in the 1,815 projects that are currently operational across the country, as well as the over 13,000 beneficiaries who have been trained so far in basic business skills, to enable them to sustainably manage their SMMEs. â€¨â€¨In other words as a leader Masisi has not been afraid to take on the toughest, some would say riskiest assignments.
This quality was further reflected in this week's announcement that the Vice President will for now continue with his portfolio responsibility at the Ministry of Education and Skills Development; where he has the critical task of ensuring that much needed transformation gets off the ground through implementation of the education and Training Sector Strategic Plan (ETSSP).â€¨â€¨
Those familiar with his vocational background will know that the Vice President's passion for education is longstanding. He was a qualified Secondary School teacher, before joining, in 1987, the Curriculum Development and Evaluation unit; where he supervised the subjects of Social Studies, Music, Religious and Moral Education.
â€¨â€¨Following a stint of graduate studies at Florida State University in the USA, he played a leading role in the local introduction of Criterion Referenced Testing (CRT), while becoming the National Coordinator for Social Studies Education. â€¨â€¨From 1995 the Vice President worked for UNICEF as Education Project Officer.
Beyond his further contributions to local and regional education, this experience may help to account for his reputation as a diplomat, as reflected in recent years by his frequent service as the acting Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation.
â€¨â€¨In 1999 Masisi's academic aptitude was further recognised when he was awarded a prestigious Chevening Scholarship to undertake further graduate studies in Economic and Social Policy at Manchester in the U.K.â€¨â€¨Not reflected on the Vice President's CV is private passion for theatre and the arts, which has included personal involvement on stage and in film. â€¨â€¨
Besides his lifelong dedication to public service and varied experience, the Vice President's strength of character is exhibited in additional personal qualities including a strong sense of self-discipline, easy acceptance of the need for collective responsibility within an organisation and a resulting sense of loyalty. â€¨â€¨It perhaps says something about the current standards of our public discourse that Masisi's critics have often focused on the latter quality, i.e. that of loyalty, as if it were a defect rather than strength.
Words like bootlicker tend to get easily thrown around by those who fail to appreciate the fundamental fact that loyalty is a necessary prerequisite for any form of collective success, be it at the level of family, in sports and business, or at the highest political level.â€¨â€¨ Beginning with Masire's relationship to Seretse, there has in this respect never been a Vice President in this country who has not displayed staunch loyalty to the President of the day while in office. â€¨â€¨
For in as much as Ministers may debate a matter fiercely behind closed doors but are nonetheless expected to thereafter display collective ownership of all Cabinet decisions, the Office of the Vice President among other things is generally expected act as the President's point man in the implementation of the Executive's agenda.â€¨
There is a saying in South Africa which avers that, “the White man has no kin: his kin is money”. The saying rings very true considering what Mayer Amschel Rothschild – he of the planet’s wealthiest family – once said, that, “Permit me to issue and control the money of a nation, and I care not who makes its laws!”
To the white man, the dollar sign looms so large in his optics that it was precisely the reason he appropriated Africa towards the end of the 19th century. The idea was to develop his continent, Europe, at the same rate as he underdeveloped Africa. Yet he was driven as much by economic imperatives as by sheer greed and prejudice.
A “pagan” King violates the Jewish Temple by setting up an idol in the Holy of Holies
Why, General Atiku, has the Judean setting (present-day Israel/Palestine) being the focus of so much geopolitical fervour over the ages when it is so resource-poor and is not even that agriculturally fecund being a virtual desert? Why have all the superpowers of history locked horns over it since days immemorial?
Just a ‘teaser’: we are all complaining of the ‘hot weather’ and ‘heat’ – but think about it, is this a reminder / warning from the Almighty that if we find this weather ‘hot’ can you imagine what the ‘fires of hell’ will be like should we get there?
Let us take this as a reminder and a ‘warning’ that we should change our lifestyles so that we follow in the path of righteousness and that which our Lord has directed. Failing this we will face the ‘fire of hell’ which undoubtedly will be many times worse than what we are facing on this earth.
Because as humans we have been favoured and bestowed with the power of intellect thus we enjoy greatness over other creation, coupled with a greater responsibility. Should that responsibility be misused then only on the Day of Reckoning will he know we will live in joy or in grief forever.
Since the dawn of creation Allah has sent down thousands of messengers, dozens of Divine Books but only ONE universal Message to humanity. That message of Divine Revelation and guidance is clear, unambiguous and eternal:
Allah is One, He is Master and Creator of the universe and of mankind and to Him is due all worship and obedience.
He has sent humanity Divine Revelation and guidance through His Messengers and His Books.
As death is inevitable in this world, equally is our resurrection in the Hereafter where everyone will face the consequences of their belief, unbelief and conduct in this temporal world.
This is the basic message, teaching and belief of every religion and without doubt we will all be called to account for our lives in this world and the manner in which we conducted ourselves, will be rewarded thereafter, the consequences of which may be joy forever for some or grief forever for others.
“It is He [Allah] Who created Death and Life, that He may try which of you is best in deeds and He is Exalted in Might, Oft-Forgiving.” (Qur’an: 67: 2)
In Islam the teachings of the Qur’an and the Last and Final Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) give clear guidance to the believer on how to live a life in this world so as to achieve success in the Hereafter.
‘If any do wish for the transitory things of this life, We readily grant them, such things as We will, to such persons as We will…… those who wish for the things of the Hereafter and strive for them with all due striving, and have faith, they are the ones whose striving is acceptable to Allah’ (Qur’an 17: 18-19)
In this world when a person sets out on a journey towards our Maker (Allah), he finds two paths, one leading to God and the other path to different destinations. A sincere and faithful believer will always try to find the right path and to live by the Divine injunctions, laws and code that his religion lays down. This requires us to live in harmony with the will of the Creator, in harmony with our own selves, and with the needs of the rest of creation. Unfortunately we have a tendency at times to toy with Divine Law and to surrender it to the laws of man and in the process to translate and interpret them into what fits in with our lifestyle of today.
If we are to use the intellect and the freedom of choice bestowed to us by God Almighty and follow His guidance, we will then live consciously in a state of “submission’ to Him, thus we will be virtuous. On the other hand when we ignore our Creators injunctions we work against the natural order, we tend to create discord, injustice and evil – and we become one without guidance. Therefore it is the intellect and the freedom of choice given to us that we are fully responsible for whatever we do.
However, it would be foolish for us to think of ourselves as totally independent and self-sufficient. If a person thinks in this manner, we become proud and. We will be inclined to become ungrateful for the bounties that we enjoy – the air that we breathe and the food we eat to sustain us, the eyes and ears we use to perceive the world around us, the tongue and lips we use to express our needs, wants and our inner most feelings and emotions. And being ungrateful, we will be inclined to forget or to reject the truth of the existence of God Almighty.
Unfortunately, people have varying views with regards to what the most important characteristic of a person is: for some it is the colour of his skin; for others, it is his economic situation – whether he is wealthy or poor; others think it is his , social or political standing, whether he is ruler or ruled; for others it is his social standing as an aristocrat, middle or working class; yet for some is his birth place and the language he speaks or the tribe he belongs to, etc..
‘Do men think that they will be left alone on saying “We believe”, and they will not be tested? We tested those before them, and Allah will certainly those who are true and those who are false’. (Quran 29: 2-3)
In Islam, these have no significance rather they are merely taken as signs of the creative power of God to enable people to recognise one another. The Almighty declares “O Mankind! Indeed we have created you as male and female, and have placed you in nations and tribes that you may have mutual recognition. However, the most honourable of you, in the sight of Allah is the one who is most God-conscious” (Qur’an: 49: 13)
Hence, the most important characteristic of a person is whether he is conscious of his Creator, believes in Him and through that consciousness submits to Him at all times and in all circumstances.
According to the Islamic view man is created by Allah in a pure state, free from sin. He also created us with the capacity or power to do both good and evil. He gave us the freedom to choose between doing good or evil. The good and evil therefore is connected with mankind’s freedom of choice and responsibility for their actions. “Good” may be whatever is pleasing to Allah and therefore beneficial to us. Whereas “Bad/evil” may be whatever incurs the anger of God and is therefore harmful to man.
‘By the soul, and the proportion and order given to it; And its enlightenment as to its wrong and its right – truly he that succeeds that purifies it, and he fails that corrupts it….. (Quran 91: 7-10)
Therefore one of mankind’s main tasks is to keep away from and ward off evil. This is why Taqwa, piety and God consciousness is repeatedly mentioned in the Qur’an as the most important quality a person should develop in this regard. This means one must be conscious at all times not to over step the limits set by God. It works as a defence against evil and temptation by keeping a person within the boundaries of piety.