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Rash Decisions

Stuart White


Recently my mate from Cape Town confessed to me how fed up he was with his marriage, job and almost everything else that came to mind. He said he was infected with the boredom bug and it was eating away at him, making him feel downright miserable. Not quite the seven-year-itch because they have only been together one and a half years but as he put it, more like relationship eczema and that rash was spreading all over his life.

Boredom is a common marital problem that can materialise early on in a relationship. Couples often find that after the honeymoon period is behind them and they have settled into the routine of married life, it isn’t quite the bed of roses they imagined it to be.

Sometimes what seems to have had all the ingredients for a perfect marriage breaks down purely through the sheer monotony of no surprises, no challenge and no change. We often get into the habit of focusing on day-to-day needs such as earning money to pay the mortgage and forget what life should be all about and why we are married in the first place.

And whilst historically divorce was blamed on that proverbial seven-year-itch, today’s studies suggest that relationships are more likely to break down after only two years.  Perhaps these days we need an accelerated break-up table – the 1-year rash, 2-year eczema, 3-year impetigo and so on?

Now read the last few paragraphs back and see how pertinent it is to substitute marriage with the employment relationship. There is an obvious parallel because in both cases, boredom is the enemy. When you are bored life seems to weigh down on your shoulders, everything seems an effort. Five minutes seems a very long time and a day like an eternity.

Boredom can lead to depression and the feeling that something is very wrong. It’s a real problem that if left unresolved can be both relationship and soul-destroying.  When my mother was bored (more accurately fed up) she used to muse ‘I could run a mile’.  The inference was twofold – either that running a mile was less of a bore than what she was currently doing or that she just wanted to get away.

So what is boredom? I got bored just reading that. But the point I think it was getting at was boredom arises not for a lack of things to do but the inability to latch onto any specific activity. Nothing interests us, despite an often profound desire for engagement.

The answer to relationship boredom isn’t always easy but the problem can be resolved if the mutual will is there. As a starting point you need to consciously make time for each other. Make an effort, plan evenings out, think about what you used to do before you got married, consider what was most exciting and re-introduce some of those elements back into your life.  And even though this may seem unpalatable and unconventional, the same behaviour and attitudes can be adopted for the employer/employee relationship.

During the performance appraisal and being cognisant of the need to keep the relationship healthy the employer should ask the employee if he/she still feels good about working there and if the relationship is meeting its potential. If not the employer should look for those trigger points to engage the employee again.

Unfortunately the employer more often than not doesn’t see the relationship as being a two-way partnership involving choices by both parties. Like the old South African masters and servants act they see the employee as being someone who should just be grateful to be in the relationship in the first place.

Now if you’ve ever been in an intimate relationship with a person and he/or she has the attitude that you should be grateful for the ride (no pun intended), then you know that subservient relationships don’t really work unless you are a dominatrix.

It’s impossible to say exactly what is needed to rekindle the spark with your employees or spouse because our likes and preferences are not all the same but we all need passion, engagement and commitment.  You need to take time to think about what would make your life and your relationship spark again, treat each day as special and re-introduce that passion into the relationship.

And if you think this all sounds a bit fanciful just think how many times you’ve heard someone say ‘I Love my work’ or the complete opposite ‘I hate my job’, love and hate being 2 sides of the same coin.  Emotions run high in personal and business relationships alike and just as in a marriage or civil partnership, for employer and employee both the choices are the same – counselling, therapy and a commitment to continue, amicable or toxic divorce  or just muddle along till death do you part.  So if you and yours really do have irreconcilable differences, surely a clean break and a final settlement is best all round?

STUART WHITE is the Managing Director of HRMC and they can be reached on 395 1640 or at

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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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