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BDP: beyond Khama’s Departure!

Ndulamo Anthony Morima
EAGLE WATCH


If the Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) does not amend section 34(1) of Constitution of Botswana which limits the tenure of Office of President to an aggregate period not exceeding ten years, President Lieutenant General Seretse Khama Ian Khama shall relinquish office before the next general elections. In terms of section 35(1) of the Constitution, the Vice President, His Honor Mokgweetsi Masisi, shall automatically become president. This effectively means that the BDP shall contest the next general elections without its talisman, President Khama, at the helm, but with Masisi.

Needless to state that without President Khama at the helm, the BDP’s prospects of winning the elections will be diminished assuming that the Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) will maintain or enhance the strength it exhibited during the just ended elections. This will also be dependent on whether or not the Botswana Congress Party (BCP) joins the UDC or it remains solo. If the BCP remains solo, it will also be dependent on how it emerges from the set back of the just ended general elections.

In view of the aforegoing, the BDP has to, as early as now, start preparing for President Khama’s departure lest it is obliterated during the next general elections. In this article, I therefore, consider the ways in which the BDP can, without undermining President Khama and making him worse of a lame duck president, start preparing for his departure. It is my view that if such preparation is not done now, Masisi will have no sufficient political capital to save the BDP from its imminent decline.

Firstly, considering the fact that the BDP’s success has, over the years, been based on rural dwellers and the aged, it has to develop new strategies of attracting the youth and urban dwellers. Clearly, if the results of the just ended general elections are anything to go by such programmes as the Public Works Programme (Ipelegeng), constituency tournaments, Poverty Eradication Programme (Nyeletso Lehuma), Youth Development Fund (YDF) and Livestock Management and Infrastructure Development (LIMID) cannot be relied upon by the BDP for future success. Not after they failed to guarantee such success during the tenure of their initiator, President Khama.

No doubt, the fact that the BDP lost all the seats in Gaborone, but for Gaborone South (which it won with a mere 243 margin over the UDC) and did not perform well in Francis town and Selibe Phikwe and such semi-urban districts as Mogoditshane, Kgatleng and Kweneng is a writing on the wall. Perhaps it should do in these areas what it did in Lobatse which it reclaimed from the Opposition albeit with a narrow margin of 489 votes after failing for ten years.

Secondly, the BDP has to prepare, as early as now, new candidates who are not from traditional BDP families to contest the next general elections. As evidenced by the fall of such titans as Ramadeluka Seretse, Kitso Mokaila, Daniel Kwelagobe and Gaotlhaetse Matlhabaphiri, the era of ‘domi ke ya rona le bana ba bana ba rona’ (the BDP is ours and our children’s children) is certainly coming to an end. Just like it did in Lobatse where it replaced the ‘old family name’ of Moggie Mbaakanyi with the ‘new family name’ of Sadique Kebonang, who brought Nehemiah Modubule’s ten year rule to an end, it should do the same in many other constituencies.

Thirdly, the BDP needs to, during its future primary elections, desist from imposing candidates who have lost the primary elections on its voters during the general elections. The case of former Member of Parliament (MP), Olebile Gaborone, who, despite losing the Tlokweng constituency primary elections to Elijah Katse, was imposed on the voters following a bogus disciplinary hearing of the latter is a good example. It is probable that BDP’s loss (with a humiliating margin of 2,575 votes) of the constituency was because Elijah Katse’s disgruntled supporters voted for the UDC’s Same Bathobakae.

Fourthly, the BDP has to gain control of the Executive and ensure that it implements the party’s policies and programmes. The party also has to ensure that the President and cabinet ministers remain subservient to the party. Not only that. It has to ensure that the Permanent Secretary to the President, Permanent Secretaries and other government functionaries implement its manifesto in the form of government policies and programmes.

Fifthly, the BDP has to implore government to rein in on such wayward elements as the Directorate on Public Service Management (DPSM) and Isaac Kgosi’s Directorate on Intelligence and Security Services (DISS) whose notoriety, no doubt, contributed to its poor performance at the just ended general elections. If DPSM remains as intransigent as it was between 2011 and 2014, the BDP will further alienate the workers and trade unions. Without the Khama magic to mitigate the workers’ and trade unions’ wrath, the BDP will be destined for a humiliating defeat at the next general elections.

The BDP has to, before President Khama becomes more of a lame duck president, lobby him to, in view of Isaac Kgosi’s indiscretions, remove him from the DISS. If there is any one person who single handedly disgraced not only the BDP, but the country as a whole it is Isaac Kgosi. He can only remain at the DISS’s helm at the BDP’s and country’s peril.

Sixthly, two other people who the BDP has to release if it is to remain relevant post President Khama’s departure are Attorney General, Dr. Athalia Molokomme, and the BDP’s Electoral Board Chairperson and Lawyer, Parks Tafa. These two have advised the government and the BDP respectively to engage in litigation which brought the party and the country into disrepute. The latest example is the case in which government and the BDP wanted the courts to declare as unconstitutional Parliamentary Standing Orders which provided for the endorsement of the Vice President and election of the Speaker and Deputy Speaker of the National Assembly to be done by secret ballot, and not by a show of hands.

Another ludicrous instance is when the Attorney General advised government to declare Teaching as an essential service. Not only that. In another incredible case the Attorney General, in 2013, advised the President to postpone the Francis town West bye elections following the BDP’s failure to nominate its candidate. Appreciatively, owing to our independent judiciary, government lost both these cases which ended at the Court of Appeal.

Seventh, if the BDP wants Masisi, to have the requisite political capital to ensure its success during the next general elections it has to, as early as now, raise his profile and build a personality cult around him. He has to be ‘removed’ from the ordinary realm and made extra-ordinary. To attain this, the party’s spin doctors have to embark on a cautious crusade to negate the ‘lelope’ (bootlicker) heritage that has come to define him and raise him to a statesman. The party and even government spin doctors have to present him as a person who is not only concerned with the present, but with the future. He has to be elevated from a tactical thinker to a visionary thinker failing which we will have a Khama relived presidency. He has to be taught that while he is a BDP member, as state president, he owes his allegiance to the country, not the BDP.

Eighth, the BDP has to introduce the reforms that many Batswana have been calling for or at least hold a referendum on them. These include making Parliament, the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC), Directorate on Corruption and Economic Crime (DCEC) and the Ombudsman truly independent; political party funding; direct presidential elections; changing the electoral system from ‘first-past-the-post’ to proportional representation; abolishing Specially Elected Members of the National Assembly and nominated Councilors, e.t.c. After all, the BDP may find that contrary to its fears, these reforms may not weaken its position. Contrary to its fears, lowering the voting age from 21 years to 18 years did not significantly diminish the BDP’s electoral base.   

Ninth, when Masisi becomes President he has to handle the endorsement of the Vice President and the elections for the Speaker and Deputy Speaker of the National Assembly better than President Khama did. This he can do by lobbying the BDP to return to the tradition where the party Chairperson would, in all likelihood, ascend to the Vice Presidency. Also, to avoid a conflict between the party and government, such key party functionaries as Secretary General and Treasurer hold key cabinet ministries. In that regard, Masisi would have to establish consensus for such positions during the BDP’s last Central Committee elections before the general elections.           

 

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The Daring Dozen at Bari

8th December 2020
JEFF---Batswana-smoke-unit

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.

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A Strong Marriage Bond Needs Two

8th December 2020

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”

UNDERSTANDING

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.”

COMMITMENT

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.

ACCEPTANCE

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.

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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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