It is inarguable that having obtained seventeen out of the fifty-seven elective parliamentary seats, the Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) emerged from the just ended general elections as the greatest victor. Yet, if not properly managed this success can turn out to be the party’s greatest undoing. In this article, I consider the things that, beyond this success, the UDC should do or not do in order to maintain its position as the main Opposition party in Parliament and to stand a better chance of winning the next general elections.
Firstly, the UDC should commit to the agreements made with respect to recognition of the coalition partners-the Botswana National Front (BNF), Botswana Movement for Democracy (BMD) and Botswana Peoples Party (BPP). These agreements, which relate to such aspects as allocation of party leadership positions, dispute resolutions procedures, relations with each other in the media, resource sharing, e.t.c are as important now as they were before the general elections. In fact, it can be successfully argued that they are more important now that the dust has settled and things are more visible than they were before the general elections.
Secondly, the UDC should, in the true spirit of a coalition or co-operation model, not attempt to blur the ideological differences between its member parties. In other words, though it should speak with one voice, especially in Parliament and in public, it should not behave like one political party.
If it does, the followers of the member parties will lack a sense of belonging and be prone to being lured into joining either the Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) or Botswana Congress Party (BCP). Also, if it does, in the case of the BNF, members of the Temporary Platform and such of BNF leader, Duma Boko,’s adversaries as Gabriel Kanjabanga and Lemogang Ntime, will be vindicated in their long held view that the three-year old UDC is bad since it will destroy the forty-five year old BNF.
Thirdly, the UDC should, if the BCP were to seek to join it, ensure that the negotiations commence as soon as possible. A clear time frame should be set for the negotiations so that a decision is made at least two years before the next general elections. This will avoid a situation where the issues emanating from failed cooperation talks spill into the election year, a thing which the BDP will relish.
To attain such timely resolution of the BCP’s possible membership of the coalition and to demonstrate good faith, the UDC need not wait for the BCP to initiate the talks. In fact, it is my view that if the UDC initiated the talks there would be more prospects of success than if they were initiated by the BCP or by an independent convener.
Also, though the BCP has been bruised following its dismal performance in the just ended general elections, if it seeks to join the UDC, the UDC should not take advantage of that and be arrogant towards the BCP. Of course the BCP made a tactical error by walking away from the cooperation talks and of course the UDC has been vindicated, but that should not detract the UDC from the bigger picture-wrestling power from the BDP when it will be at its weakest in the forthcoming general elections following President Lieutenant General Seretse Khama Ian Khama’s departure. There is no doubt that the UDC and the BCP will need each other for that to happen.
Further, should the BCP seek to join the UDC and indeed be admitted into the fold, the BNF, as the biggest party in the coalition, should not make the mistake of abandoning or beginning to undermine its smaller coalition partners- the BMD and the BPP. Small as they may be, they assisted the BNF when it mattered the most and as ‘cautious sons’ who remained in the family when the ‘prodigal son’ left, they should not be forsaken when the ‘prodigal son’ returns home.
On the other hand, the ‘cautious sons’ should not react with animosity and vengeance when the ‘prodigal son’ returns for in the dirty game of numbers that politics is, it unfortunately matters not whether one is prodigal or cautious. Similarly, though I am opposed to an alliance between a political party and a trade union, the UDC should not wantonly abandon the Botswana Federation of Public Service Unions (BOFEPUSU). If it does, as I pray it does, sever its relationship with BOFEPUSU it should do so carefully and only after ensuring that BOFEPUSU assists it to establish and strengthen its Labour Committee.
Fourthly, the UDC should not bask in the glory of its success for too long for the BDP and the BCP may take advantage of that and make political strides which the UDC, after its recline, may find too far to catch up with. This is the dark cloud that befell the Democratic Party and President Barack Obama in the United States of America(USA) who, after the 2008 ‘
Yes, we can’ victory, fell into a slumber only for the Republicans to humiliate them in this year’s elections by gaining a majority in both the Congress and the Senate. Though it is not the governing party and cannot implement the policies and programmes espoused in its manifesto, the UDC should use Parliamentary debates and Parliament’s Question Time to give the voters a feel of how it can perform when in government. The UDC should make Parliamentary debates as robust as they were during the days of Dr. Kenneth Koma, Paul Rantao and Maitshwarelo Dabutha.
Fifthly, the UDC needs to, as early as now, renew itself. That is what the USA’s Republican Party did after the 2008 elections. Though its growth was largely assisted by its Tea Party Movement, it renewed itself by reconsidering its position on such issues as immigration.
It is this renewal which will ensure that the UDC not only retains those who voted for it this year, but also attracts new members from those who did not vote as well as those who voted for the BDP and the BCP. If the BDP which won the elections is, less than a month after the general elections, already reportedly crafting a tag line to counter the UDC’s “Moono ke one oo”, the UDC should, no doubt, also be planning a revival. If the UDC fails to plan a timeous rebirth, the BDP’s new tag line, which is rumored to be “Thulaganyo”, may take ground and force the UDC to be on the defensive, something which is never good, especially in politics.
Sixthly, the UDC needs to inculcate a culture of stewardship, especially among its Councilors and Members of Parliament (MPs). It is only stewardship and not such material things as wealth, educational qualifications and flamboyance of speech that will ensure their re-election in the next general elections. It is incontrovertibly only stewardship which ensured that one of the UDC’s best sons, the late Gomolemo Motswaledi, became so revered especially in death that through his death he earned the UDC sympathy and electoral success.
But, from the next elections onwards Motswaledi’s name and mysterious death will have begun to fade from the voters’ memory that the UDC may no longer be able to milk it. If such MPs as MP for Gaborone Central, Honorable Phenyo Butale, who largely won elections because of Motswaledi’s name, do not become stewards and serve their people well, this may be their one and only term in Parliament. This would be regrettable considering the value they are already adding to their constituents’ lives.
Last, but not least, the UDC should encourage its Councilors, MPs and party leaders to respect the Setswana idiom “Ere go bona bodiba bo jeleng ngwana wa ga mmaago obo kakologe”, meaning that one should avoid following the perilous route that cost his or her fellow human being’s life.
UDC Councilors, MPs and party leaders should avoid the crimes, corruption, maladministration and such personal indiscretions as alcohol and drug abuse and infidelity that cost several of their colleagues Council and Parliamentary seats. Simply put, the UDC should practice what it preaches. Behavior should not only be condemned as a malady or indiscretion when it relates to a BDP leader and be condoned when it relates a UDC member.
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.