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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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Is COVID-19 Flogging an Already Dead Economic Horse?

9th September 2020

The Central Bank has by way of its Monetary Policy Statement informed us that the Botswana economy is likely to contract by 8.9 percent over the course of the year 2020.

The IMF paints an even gloomier picture – a shrinkage of the order of 9.6 percent.  That translates to just under $2 billion hived off from the overall economic yield given our average GDP of roughly $18 billion a year. In Pula terms, this is about P23 billion less goods and services produced in the country and you and I have a good guess as to what such a sum can do in terms of job creation and sustainability, boosting tax revenue, succouring both recurrent and development expenditure, and on the whole keeping our teeny-weeny economy in relatively good nick.

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Union of Blue Bloods

9th September 2020

Joseph’s and Judah’s family lines conjoin to produce lineal seed

Just to recap, General Atiku, the Israelites were not headed for uncharted territory. The Promised Land teemed with Canaanites, Hittites, Amorites, Perizzites, Hivites, and Jebusites. These nations were not simply going to cut and run when they saw columns of battle-ready Israelites approach: they were going to fight to the death.

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Security Sector Private Bills: What are they about?

9th September 2020

Parliament has begun debates on three related Private Members Bills on the conditions of service of members of the Security Sector.

The Bills are Prisons (Amendment) Bill, 2019, Police (Amendment) Bill, 2019 and Botswana Defence Force (Amendment) Bill, 2019. The Bills seek to amend the three statutes so that officers are placed on full salaries when on interdictions or suspensions whilst facing disciplinary boards or courts of law.

In terms of the Public Service Act, 2008 which took effect in 2010, civil servants who are indicted are paid full salary and not a portion of their emolument. Section 35(3) of the Act specifically provides that “An employee’s salary shall not be withheld during the period of his or her suspension”.

However, when parliament reformed the public service law to allow civil servants to unionize, among other things, and extended the said protection of their salaries, the process was not completed. When the House conferred the benefit on civil servants, members of the disciplined forces were left out by not accordingly amending the laws regulating their employment.

The Bills stated above seeks to ask Parliament to also include members of the forces on the said benefit. It is unfair not to include soldiers or military officers, police officers and prison waders in the benefit. Paying an officer who is facing either external or internal charges full pay is in line with the notion of ei incumbit probation qui dicit, non qui negat or the presumption of innocence; that the burden of proof is on the one who declares, not on one who denies.

The officers facing charges, either internal disciplinary or criminal charges before the courts, must be presumed innocent until proven otherwise. Paying them a portion of their salary is penalty and therefore arbitrary. Punishment by way of loss of income or anything should come as a result of a finding on the guilt by a competent court of law, tribunal or disciplinary board.

What was the rationale behind this reform in 2008 when the Public Service Act was adopted? First it was the presumption of innocence until proven otherwise.

The presumption of innocence is the legal principle that one is considered “innocent until proven guilty”. In terms of the constitution and other laws of Botswana, the presumption of innocence is a legal right of the accused in a criminal trial, and it is an international human right under the UN’s Universal Declaration of Human Rights, Article 11.

Withholding a civil servant’s salary because they are accused of an internal disciplinary offense or a criminal offense in the courts of law, was seen as punishment before a decision by a tribunal, disciplinary board or a court of law actually finds someone culpable. Parliament in its wisdom decided that no one deserves this premature punishment.

Secondly, it was considered that people’s lives got destroyed by withholding of financial benefits during internal or judicial trials. Protection of wages is very important for any worker. Workers commit their salaries, they pay mortgages, car loans, insurances, schools fees for children and other things. When public servants were experiencing salary cuts because of interdictions, they lost their homes, cars and their children’s future.

They plummeted into instant destitution. People lost their livelihoods. Families crumbled. What was disheartening was that in many cases, these workers are ultimately exonerated by the courts or disciplinary tribunals. When they are cleared, the harm suffered is usually irreparable. Even if one is reimbursed all their dues, it is difficult to almost impossible to get one’s life back to normal.

There is a reasoning that members of the security sector should be held to very high standards of discipline and moral compass. This is true. However, other more senior public servants such as judges, permanent secretary to the President and ministers have faced suspensions, interdictions and or criminal charges in the courts but were placed on full salaries.

The yardstick against which security sector officers are held cannot be higher than the aforementioned public officials. It just wouldn’t make sense. They are in charge of the security and operate in a very sensitive area, but cannot in anyway be held to higher standards that prosecutors, magistrates, judges, ministers and even senior officials such as permanent secretaries.

Moreover, jail guards, police officers and soldiers, have unique harsh punishments which deter many of them from committing misdemeanors and serious crimes. So, the argument that if the suspension or interdiction with full pay is introduced it would open floodgates of lawlessness is illogical.

Security Sector members work in very difficult conditions. Sometimes this drives them into depression and other emotional conditions. The truth is that many seldom receive proper and adequate counseling or such related therapies. They see horrifying scenes whilst on duty. Jail guards double as hangmen/women.

Detectives attend to autopsies on cases they are dealing with. Traffic police officers are usually the first at accident scenes. Soldiers fight and kill poachers. In all these cases, their minds are troubled. They are human. These conditions also play a part in their behaviors. They are actually more deserving to be paid full salaries when they’re facing allegations of misconduct.

To withhold up to 50 percent of the police, prison workers and the military officers’ salaries during their interdiction or suspensions from work is punitive, insensitive and prejudicial as we do not do the same for other employees employed by the government.

The rest enjoy their full salaries when they are at home and it is for a good reason as no one should be made to suffer before being found blameworthy. The ruling party seems to have taken a position to negate the Bills and the collective opposition argue in the affirmative. The debate have just began and will continue next week Thursday, a day designated for Private Bills.

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