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Iqbal Ebrahim

Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) said; ’Take benefit of: your youth before your old age, your health before your sickness, your wealth before your poverty, your free-time before your preoccupation, and your life before your death.’

We are so laidback that procrastination is a habit which some may not even realize they have. We all suffer from it, me included, at one time or another, but rarely admit it. We like to gloss it over and claim we are just ‘chilling’ or taking a break, but in reality we are constantly delaying things – a sure sign of procrastination.

We delay doing things by saying I will do it later, tomorrow or whenever. But do we really get round to doing it? It’s the ‘tomorrow that never comes’. ‘Don’t put off till tomorrow what can be done today’ and ‘procrastination is the thief of time’ old adages that we of yesteryear were brought up to respect and follow.

We are on this earth but for a short while, some may live longer than others, while some of us will die young. Look around you and think about it; how many people younger than you, with their hopes and ambitions have had their lives cut short and left this world? Life is full of uncertainty, there is no guarantee of a tomorrow; we all have our ambitions, hopes, and dreams for the future, yet we never know when the Angel of death will come knocking at our door.

We are prone to say ‘I will do such and such tomorrow / next week’ but seldom do we add the word ‘Insha Allah’ – (if Allah so Wills). The Qur’an reminds us ‘nor say anything, I shall be sure to do so and so tomorrow without adding if Allah so Wills’ (Qur’an 18: 23). The Bible also says: “you don’t even know what your life will be tomorrow. You are like a puff of smoke, which appears for a moment and then disappears. What you should say is this ‘if the Lord is willing, we will live and do this or that’.” (James 4: 14-16)

Admittedly, today we lead very busy lives trying to provide for our families more comforts and a better life. But unfortunately in the humdrum of our earthly life one of the things we procrastinate upon is our duty towards our Creator. Somehow we tend to forget that our abode in this world is temporary and transient we fail to take lessons or even acknowledge that we are but ‘travellers’ through this world and that the life in the Hereafter is eternal.  
The Qur’an says: ‘Short is the enjoyment of this world; the Hereafter is the best for those who do right’ (Qur’an 4: 77). And; ‘Little is the comfort of this life as compared to the Hereafter…Do you prefer the life of this world to the Hereafter?’ (Qur’an 9: 38). Think of the Hereafter.

While we recognize that we have a single entry visa stamped ‘in transit’ to this world we need to be more aware that we are just that, a traveller passing through this world, the expiry time and date of our visa is only known to our Lord. Time marches on so do we, towards meeting our Maker so we need to fulfil our obligations to our Lord.

For Muslims we have the path cut out for us. Starting with our obligatory five times daily prayers, there is no question of procrastinating here, because these prayers are performed at specified times. It is a sort of discipline that teaches us to be aware that there is a time for us and there is a time for our Maker. This does not necessarily mean that we should leave our daily work obligations and other stations that we occupy in life and spend all our time in prayer.

What is meant is that we should infuse into our daily lives and occupations the proper conduct, behaviour, morals, ethics, values and that all our actions are within the bounds of our religious belief and guidance. This in itself becomes a training ground that leaves little room for procrastination.

Apart from the physical acts of worship a Muslim is also obliged to lead a life that is in congruence with the guidance of the Qur’an and the Holy Prophet Muhammad (PBUH). We are exhorted to constantly seek repentance and fulfil our other obligatory requirements as soon as we can. Every believer who has accumulated a certain value of savings and wealth is required to yearly give Zakaat, an obligatory and mandatory alms giving which is seen as purification of that income and wealth.  

In addition Muslims who can afford to do so are required to at least once in their lifetime, perform Haj – the Pilgrimage. These must be done as soon as possible – we must fulfil these obligations at our earliest, death waits for no one, there is no guarantee of a tomorrow.

“Pilgrimage to the House (of Allah) is a duty which men owe to Allah, (that is) those who can afford the journey; but if they deny faith, Allah stands not in need (of the services) of any of His creatures”. (Quran 3: 96 – 97).

While attending to our religious obligations we also have other worldly obligations to fulfil. We may be busy with our worldly affairs and naturally we have the stresses of our employment, office and other commitments – but we need to step back and bring a balance into our lives. The best balance is spending time with our families and loved ones we should not overlook and forget to find the quality time to spend with them.  

Time waits for no one. Therefore savour and treasure every moment you have. You will value it even more if you share it with those special people we care for because it gives us much peace of mind and in a way reignites our hearts to understand that we have responsibilities towards our family; this focusses our attention and minds on the value of time.   

Time is very precious and valuable so why procrastinate? Let me share a very profound message from a dear friend who found this quote in a book by Rick Warren: "When you give someone your time, you are giving them a portion of your life that you'll never get back. Your time is your life. That is why the greatest gift you can give someone is your time". This captures beautifully the essence and value of time. It is not about how much time we have but how we utilize and appreciate those precious moments that we are blessed with.  

There are only seven days in a week: ‘someday’ is not one of them, neither is ‘one of these days’. There are two tomorrows; one that will definitely come and one that never comes.

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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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