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The Fire Within


We may not like to admit it but we all have a fire smouldering deep within us and it is called “jealousy”. This fire is the major cause of suspicions, malice, enmity and hatred in our lives. It often leads to gossip, slander and character assassination, breaking of friendships and in many cases even wishing bad things to happen to those we envy.

All our religious foundations and upbringing teach us not to fall into the trap of envying others. But alas we are human and we all have those feelings within us at one time or the other. ‘Do not covet those things in which Allah has bestowed His gifts more freely on some of you than on others’ (Quran 4:32)

The Bible says: For we were also sometimes foolish… living in malice, and envy, hateful, and hating one another… (Titus 3:3)

Jealousy is as old as the humanity and I will highlight two stories mentioned in both the Quran and the Bible. We may remember the story of the two sons of Adam (pbuh) who are mentioned to have committed the first sin on earth when the son of Adam (pbuh), Qabil (Cain) became jealous over his brother Habil (Abel). It eventually led him to kill his brother Habil.  ‘The (selfish) soul of the other led him to the murder of his brother: he murdered him, and became (himself) one of the lost ones’. (Quran 5:30)

Biblical reference: ‘Cain rose up against his brother Abel, and slew him’ (Gen 4:8)

Another is the story of Yusuf (Joseph) which is familiar to many of us; his brothers were jealous of him, because they felt that their father showed more love for him than of them. They plotted and planned against him and threw him into a well. As a result of which the whole story developed, as reported in both the Quran and the Bible, but by the end of the story, it was the brothers who were shameful of their act and had to seek forgiveness from their brother Yusuf (Joseph).

The message is clear, we should refrain from any emotions that incline towards or encourage jealousy. Both the Quran and Bible capture this hatred.

Jealousy occurs when we see another person bestowed with some blessings or bounty and we get envious of them and sometimes desire that the person should be deprived of it. For instance, at times when we see someone who is successful, has more wealth and possessions, beauty, intelligence or any other such bounty, it ignites that ‘fire’ which begins to ‘burn’ within our heart over what that person has been blessed with.

Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) warned against envy by comparing it to fire that completely burns the wood. He said: “Beware of Hasad (jealousy), it destroys one’s good deeds just as fire consumes wood.”

We can become so miserable through jealousy that we wish that the blessing be somehow snatched away from that person. Jealousy and envy are among the most destructive emotions which man may develop toward his fellow human being so much so that a person will wish evil on others and will be happy when misfortune befalls them.

To desire that somebody be deprived of the blessings which the Almighty Allah has bestowed upon him is almost tantamount to us objecting to or challenging the will of Allah. Our jealous nature is actually objecting against the Almighty, that the person who was granted that blessing was not deserving of it, so why was it given to him?

The Almighty Allah says in the Quran: "Allah favoured some of you over others with wealth and properties… Do they deny the favours of Allah?" (Quran 16: 71) And: "Do they envy men for what Allah has given them of His Bounty?" (Quran 4: 54). And:  ‘…It is We Who portion out between them their livelihood in this world, and We raised some of them above others in ranks… (Quran, 43:32)

The sin is thus evident, we are questioning our Lord. So who are we to challenge the wishes of our Lord and Creator?

Jealousy does not only destroy our chances for the Hereafter. The immediate effect in this world is that the jealous person is constantly ‘burning” from within. He simply cannot see the next person successful or happy, hence he is always miserable.

Happiness remains far away from him. Jealousy tends to destroy our happiness in this world and our rewards in the hereafter, yet we gain nothing in return but inner hurt. Desiring evil on others in the process only brings destruction to oneself.

Having realised that your jealousy is a serious disease, one should treat this malady with utmost urgency. Among the ways of removing jealousy from the heart are the following: When the pangs of jealousy rear their ugly head in us, we should turn to our Creator as the Quran directs: The Almighty Allah instructs: "Say: I seek refuge in the Lord of the dawn… from the evil of the envious when he envies." (Quran 113: 5)

Count your Blessings; you are alive, you can see, you can walk, you can talk, you have health and many other such daily blessings that we take for granted. What about the people who do not have any one of the blessings mentioned above?

Think about the harm you are doing to yourself and the foolishness of your action. The only thing that we will achieve is misery. Our evil desires are not going to change anything except to make us burn from within and to destroy our good deeds. In order to discourage envy, the Prophet (pbuh) said:” Do not look to those above you. Look to those below you, as it will more likely remind you of Allah’s favours bestowed on you.”

By adopting a positive attitude and being thankful for our daily blessings the terrible evil of jealousy will be slowly be cleansed from one’s heart. One will also find happiness in this world and one’s good deeds will not be destroyed.

Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) said: "Envy is permitted only in two cases: A man whom Allah gives wealth, and he uses of it rightfully, and a man to whom Allah gives knowledge which he applies and teaches it.''

Here is a short story that carries an important message:

An old man told his grandson “My son there is a big battle between two wolves inside us all. One is evil. It is anger, jealousy and greed, inferiority, lies and ego.

The other is Good, It is joy peace, love, hope, humility, kindness, empathy and truth.”

The boy thought about it and asked “Grandpa, which wolf wins?”

The Grandfather quietly replied, “The one you feed”

So the message is that we should avoid feeding our hearts and minds with negativity and thoughts of jealousy as these are very mentally debilitating.

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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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The Era of “The Diplomat”

30th November 2020

Youngest Maccabees scion Jonathan takes over after Judas and leads for 18 years

Going hand-in-glove with the politics at play in Judea in the countdown to the AD era, General Atiku, was the contention for the priesthood. You will be aware, General, that politics and religion among the Jews interlocked. If there wasn’t a formal and sovereign Jewish King, there of necessity had to be a High Priest at any given point in time.

Initially, every High Priest was from the tribe of Levi as per the stipulation of the Torah. At some stage, however, colonisers of Judah imposed their own hand-picked High Priests who were not ethnic Levites. One such High Priest was Menelaus of the tribe of Benjamin.

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Land Board appointments of party activists is political corruption

30th November 2020

Parliament has rejected a motion by Leader of Opposition (LOO) calling for the reversing of the recent appointments of ruling party activists to various Land Boards across the country. The motion also called for the appointment of young and qualified Batswana with tertiary education qualifications.

The ruling party could not allow that motion to be adopted for many reasons discussed below. Why did the LOO table this motion? Why was it negated? Why are Land Boards so important that a ruling party felt compelled to deploy its functionaries to the leadership and membership positions?

Prior to the motion, there was a LOO parliamentary question on these appointments. The Speaker threw a spanner in the works by ruling that availing a list of applicants to determine who qualified and who didn’t would violate the rights of those citizens. This has completely obliterated oversight attempts by Parliament on the matter.

How can parliament ascertain the veracity of the claim without the names of applicants? The opposition seeks to challenge this decision in court.  It would also be difficult in the future for Ministers and government officials to obey instructions by investigative Parliamentary Committees to summon evidence which include list of persons. It would be a bad precedent if the decision is not reviewed and set aside by the Business Advisory Committee or a Court of law.

Prior to independence, Dikgosi allocated land for residential and agricultural purposes. At independence, land tenures in Botswana became freehold, state land and tribal land. Before 1968, tribal land, which is land belonging to different tribes, dating back to pre-independence, was allocated and administered by Dikgosi under Customary Law. Dikgosi are currently merely ‘land overseers’, a responsibility that can be delegated. Land overseers assist the Land Boards by confirming the vacancy or availability for occupation of land applied for.

Post-independence, the country was managed through modern law and customary law, a system developed during colonialism. Land was allocated for agricultural purposes such as ploughing and grazing and most importantly for residential use. Over time some land was allocated for commercial purpose. In terms of the law, sinking of boreholes and development of wells was permitted and farmers had some rights over such developed water resources.

Land Boards were established under Section 3 of the Tribal Land Act of 1968 with the intention to improve tribal land administration. Whilst the law was enacted in 1968, Land Boards started operating around 1970 under the Ministry of Local Government and Lands which was renamed Ministry of Lands and Housing (MLH) in 1999. These statutory bodies were a mechanism to also prune the powers of Dikgosi over tribal land. Currently, land issues fall under the Ministry of Land Management, Water and Sanitation Services.

There are 12 Main Land Boards, namely Ngwato, Kgatleng, Tlokweng, Tati, Chobe, Tawana, Malete, Rolong, Ghanzi, Kgalagadi, Kweneng and Ngwaketse Land Boards.  The Tribal Land Act of 1968 as amended in 1994 provides that the Land Boards have the powers to rescind the grant of any rights to use any land, impose restrictions on land usage and facilitate any transfer or change of use of land.

Some land administration powers have been decentralized to sub land boards. The devolved powers include inter alia common law and customary law water rights and land applications, mining, evictions and dispute resolution. However, decisions can be appealed to the land board or to the Minister who is at the apex.

So, land boards are very powerful entities in the country’s local government system. Membership to these institutions is important not only because of monetary benefits of allowances but also the power of these bodies. in terms of the law, candidates for appointment to Land Boards or Subs should be residents of the tribal areas where appointments are sought, be holders of at least Junior Certificate and not actively involved in politics.  The LOO contended that ruling party activists have been appointed in the recent appointments.

He argued that worse, some had no minimum qualifications required by the law and that some are not inhabitants of the tribal or sub tribal areas where they have been appointed. It was also pointed that some people appointed are septuagenarians and that younger qualified Batswana with degrees have been rejected.

Other arguments raised by the opposition in general were that the development was not unusual. That the ruling party is used to politically motivated appointments in parastatals, civil service, diplomatic missions, specially elected councilors and Members of Parliament (MPs), Bogosi and Land Boards. Usually these positions are distributed as patronage to activists in return for their support and loyalty to the political leadership and the party.

The ruling party contended that when the Minister or the Ministry intervened and ultimately appointed the Land Boards Chairpersons, Deputies and members , he didn’t have information, as this was not information required in the application, on who was politically active and for that reason he could not have known who to not appoint on that basis. They also argued that opposition activists have been appointed to positions in the government.

The counter argument was that there was a reason for the legal requirement of exclusion of political activists and that the government ought to have mechanisms to detect those. The whole argument of “‘we didn’t know who was politically active” was frivolous. The fact is that ruling party activists have been appointed. The opposition also argued that erstwhile activists from their ranks have been recruited through positions and that a few who are serving in public offices have either been bought or hold insignificant positions which they qualified for anyway.

Whilst people should not be excluded from public positions because of their political activism, the ruling party cannot hide the fact that they have used public positions to reward activists. Exclusion of political activists may be a violation of fundamental human or constitutional rights. But, the packing of Land Boards with the ruling party activists is clear political corruption. It seeks to sow divisions in communities and administer land in a politically biased manner.

It should be expected that the ruling party officials applying for land or change of land usage etcetera will be greatly assisted. Since land is wealth, the ruling party seeks to secure resources for its members and leaders. The appointments served to reward 2019 election primary and general elections losers and other activists who have shown loyalty to the leadership and the party.

Running a country like this has divided it in a way that may be difficult to undo. The next government may decide to reset the whole system by replacing many of government agencies leadership and management in a way that is political. In fact, it would be compelled to do so to cleanse the system.

The opposition is also pondering on approaching the courts for review of the decision to appoint party functionaries and the general violation of clearly stated terms of reference. If this can be established with evidence, the courts can set aside the decision on the basis that unqualified people have been appointed.

The political activism aspect may also not be difficult to prove as some of these people are known activists who are in party structures, at least at the time of appointment, and some were recently candidates. There is a needed for civil society organizations such as trade unions and political parties to fight some of these decisions through peaceful protests and courts.

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