When the now Vice President, His Honor, Mokgweetsi Masisi, confessed to being a lelope, i.e. a bootlicker, he was publicly ridiculed in social media. Few believed that a self-respecting person can inscribe in history that “ke lelope, ke ngwana wa lelope, ke ngwana wa ngwana wa lelope” literally meaning that “I am a bootlicker, I am the child of a bootlicker, I am the grandchild of a bootlicker.” For many, Masisi had departed from his own persona to the extent that he could ascribe to himself such a lowly attribute as to be diminutive to his whole being.
Not long after that a recording of Masisi boasting that the Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) had misled Gabz FM and the American Embassy into believing that it would participate in the Gabz FM Parliamentary debates when it knew all along that it would not participate went viral. Again, many believed that Masisi had become a liability to the BDP.
This was worsened by Masisi’s perceived and/or actual anti-trade union position which earned him the wrath of the Botswana Federation of Public Service Unions (BOFEPUSU). Consequently, BOFEPUSU campaigned against his betrothal during his party’s primary elections and when he, against all odds, emerged triumphant, BOFEPUSU included him, still to no avail, in its so-called ‘hit list’ for non-election during the general elections, citing him as one of the enemies of democracy.
When Masisi, who had hitherto been excelling, at least in the books of the BDP and President Lieutenant General Seretse Khama Ian Khama, was demoted from being Minister of Presidential Affairs and Public Administration(MOPAPA) to Acting Minister of Education and Skills Development(ME&SD) many thought that President Khama had finally had enough of Masisi’s ‘blunders’.
They remembered how Lesego Motsumi was, against public expectation, in 2011, moved from MOPAPA and assigned an ambassadorial post after being forced to resign from both Parliament and cabinet. They thought it was over for Masisi. When, after the just ended general elections, Masisi was appointed substantive Minister of Education and Skills Development many thought he was no longer in President Khama’s ‘book of life’.
Yet, the many who had written off Masisi were palpably wrong. With the benefit of retrospect many would now realize that when Masisi sacrificed his being for President Khama, and some would say for the party, he struck the right cord. He proved to the person whose boots matter that he can lick them, clean or filthy.
As history will show, it is this self-denigration, which some would call humility or loyalty, that would, among other things, earn him the position of Vice President. I say ‘among other things’ because though the poverty eradication campaigns he tirelessly canvassed for while Minister of Presidential Affairs and Public Administration were premised on an ill-advised policy, he relentlessly promoted them. Through the campaign and his outstanding eloquence in both Setswana and English he, no doubt, endeared the Presidency to the people, especially the common voter.
If the extent to which Masisi professed to abide by bolope is anything to go by, claims that he is a fill-gap Vice President used by President Khama to avoid the obvious ‘taboo’ of himself appointing his younger brother, Tshekedi Khama, as his vice would not matter for Masisi.
The same applies to claims that he was only appointed Vice President because President Khama’s cousin, Dikgakgamatso Ramadeluka Seretse, failed to return to Parliament after losing the party’s primary elections to his long-time rival, Kgotla Autlwetse.
Malope by definition do not care how they attain their objectives. They also don’t worry about tomorrow for as long as they believe they have the trust of their masters. Malope are like malatswathipa. They do not care how sharp a knife is. They do not care about the risks of having their ‘tongue cut’ by the knife for they know their master will ensure their medical attention.
Consequently, Masisi would not be bothered by claims that he was only appointed because President Khama could not, in terms of section 39(1) of the Constitution, appoint his confidant, Kitso Mokaila, as Vice President since he is not an elected Member of the National Assembly. Nor would he be bothered by claims that he was only appointed because Dr. Pelonomi Venson-Moitoi declined the position.
One thing is clear. Bolope has paid for Masisi. That, for whatever reason, he, coming from what some regard as a peripheral tribe; only having been first elected a Member of Parliament (MP) in 2009 and never having held such positions as Secretary General or Chairperson in the party, he is today the Vice President is testimony for this.
Given his almost blind loyalty to President Khama, Masisi will not care whether or not he is a ‘regent’ for Tshekedi Khama and that when the time comes his appointment will be revoked by the President in terms of section 39(4)(i) of the Constitution. He will not care whether or not he ever becomes President.
The aforegoing notwithstanding, all is not bad about Masisi’s appointment as Vice President. That President Khama, a MoNgwato, appointed Masisi, a non-MoNgwato from a peripheral tribe, as Vice President shows that there is respect for all tribes.
It is, however, yet to be seen whether we will ever have a Kalanga, Mosarwa, Moyeyi, MomBukushu or MoHerero Vice President or President. It is also regrettably yet to be seen whether or not we will ever have a female Vice President of President.
Also, though he comes from a BDP family, with his late father, Edson Masisi, and late elder brother, Tshelang Masisi, having been MPs, he cut his own teeth in politics. Notably, he managed to emerge from the shadow of his late father and elder brother, and it would seem, avoided his elder brother’s down fall, factional politics or rather belonging to the ‘wrong’ faction.
President Khama also has to be commended for, contrary to popular belief, not appointing those from the military as his friend, Thapelo Olopeng, and Kitso Mokaila and former Police Commissioner, Edwin Batshu, who are Ministers of Youth, Sport & Culture, Minerals, Energy & Water Resources and Labour & Home Affairs respectively.
Truth be told, though Masisi is a lelope, when he got the opportunity to prove himself to President Khama he worked relentlessly in selling President Khama’s projects, especially the Poverty Eradication Initiatives, when he was Minister of Presidential Affairs and Public Administration.
The projects may be flawed from a policy perspective, but he sold them, seemingly whole heartedly, as was his duty as a Minister. You would agree with me that since he left MOPAPA the projects have not got the same attention. His acting successor, Honorable Shaw Kgathi, was no way near Masisi’s vigor.
Over and above bolope, it was perhaps this vigor, which Masisi is said to have exhibited from his days as an English and History teacher at Mmanaana Community Junior Secondary School; curriculum developer in the Curriculum Department at ME&SD and Project Officer for Education with the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), coupled with eloquence of speech, which endeared him to President Khama.
Now, over and above the bolope and vigor that got him this far, Masisi, as Vice President, has to bring humility and wisdom to Office of the President. He has to temper the President’s iniquities and indiscretions with virtue. He no longer belongs to the trenches where dirty fighting is virtue but is the deputy father for all.
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.