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Stop The Violence Against Women

Iqbal Ebrahim

This past week marked the end of ‘sixteen days of activism on violence against women’. The question that arises is this, now that the 16 days are over will some people think that life is back to ‘normal’ and they can return to their usual violent ways and attitudes towards women?

Every one of us regardless of our religious, cultural, political and ethnic background must express our disgust and concern that women be they our mothers, wives, sisters, daughters, friends, neighbours and others have to suffer violence and abuse mostly at the hands of some of our male counterparts.

Our religious teachings, beliefs and upbringing tell us to treat women with kindness and love: ‘Among His signs is that He created for you mates from among yourselves that you may live in tranquillity with them, and He has put love and mercy between your hearts. Surely there are signs in this for those who reflect’. (Quran 30: 21) and the Bible echoes a similar message, "God created man in his own image … male and female created he them" (Gen. 1:27).

Regrettably this violence extends to even innocent children who are no longer safe from it. Physical violence against women and children seems to have spiralled out of control and has reached alarming and unacceptable proportions so much so that it has become a serious social problem. Pick up any newspaper and you will read about how the rights of women are being violated when they are beaten up, raped or even killed up by their spouses, live-in partners, boyfriends and some deviant elements of society. Latest figures show that 59 women were murdered in the last 12 months.

“Do not kill a soul which Allah has made sacred except by way of justice and law” (Qur’an 6: 151). Whosoever kills any human being (without any valid reason) unless it be for murder or for spreading mischief on earth, it is though he had killed all mankind. And whoever saves a life it is though as he had saved the lives of all mankind” (Qur’an 5: 32).

This violence has spread to every strata of society and is not limited to certain races, religions, cultures, urban or rural areas or even our status in life.  There are various types of violence; mental, emotional, psychological, verbal, physical, and increasingly that of rape. Frighteningly age is no longer a barrier, it is common to hear that children as young as four years and even grandmothers in their 70’s are being abused and even raped.

Rape is one of the most heinous crimes that can be committed against a woman, it is soul destroying, it carries with it deep emotional and psychological scars that will never heal. We have never been a violent society, so where do we learn type of violence? We have to urgently identify the root causes of these vile acts and take drastic steps to eradicate this scourge in order to protect the vulnerable in our society.

Therefore as society we should agitate and push for heavier penalties for these perpetrators. These men who use this type of violence against women should suffer very heavy consequences.

In some parts of the world these rapists have to undergo compulsory chemical castration; unlike the type of castration that we know farmers carry out on their livestock, this one for humans is based on injecting medication into perpetrators of such acts. This medication ensures that it kills any desire in that person. In a very ‘diplomatic’ speak let me just put it this way, that even Viagra and other such medications will not help such a person – let’s just say it kills his ‘passion’. This is the very least that these sub-humans deserve.     

There are many marital homes in which violence takes place behind closed doors as it were without the world knowing. In some of our societies because of cultural, traditional and other man-made barriers spousal abuse has been relegated to the side-lines, almost a topic for non-discussion. We have relegated the abuse of women to a private ‘domestic’ affair and some even hide behind the cloth of cultural, traditional or societal norms, lame excuses such these have no place in any sane society.

 ‘And they (women) have rights similar to those of men over them, according to what is equitable’ (Quran 2:228). And: “O Mankind! We have created you from a (pair) of male and female and made you into communities /nations and tribes, that you may know each other (not that ye may despise each other).  Verily the most honoured of you in the sight of Allah Almighty is the most God-conscious (righteous) of you.” (Quran 49:13)
In Islam we have to accord woman with the highest honour and dignity, and it requires us that she be treated with respect; as the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) said: "the Believers who show the most perfect Faith are those who have the best behaviour, and the best of you are those who are the best to their wives."

A husband is required to treat his wife with the utmost kindness and respect: ‘The Believers, men and women are protectors, one of the other; they enjoin what is just and forbid what is evil’ (Qur’an 9: 71). And: ‘…. (O Believers!) Live with them (i.e., the wives) on a footing of kindness and equity’ (Qur’an 4: 19). Despite these injunctions we still hear of spousal abuse taking place and sadly some Muslim homes are not spared from this evil.  

Today, regrettably there are many homes in which there are ‘live-in’ partners where in the couple live in religious terms, a ‘life of sin’, a opposed to  the traditional married life, without going through the religious or even legal marriage route. While this may be seen as the modern thing to do, it can negatively affect the woman’s vulnerability because it may mean she has less contact with those close to her and the result is that she may lack the support and back up of her family and friends. Without the customary, traditional and religious beliefs and practices, one wonders if the sense of security, commitment and belonging that a normal traditional marriage offers can be maintained in such an arrangement.   

Going forward what we need to do is to ensure that the punishment for this crime must be so strict that the perpetrators will not only think twice but must also face and suffer the consequences of their dastardly deeds.

Otherwise what legacy and lessons are we leaving for and to our youth when they see such evils being perpetrated against women on a daily basis. Men need to stand up and be counted – after all the vast majority of the violence and rapes are perpetrated by men, therefore we should not only be standing shoulder to shoulder in solidarity with women but we should be leading the fight against these vile and evil practices.  

It is important that the nation comes together to discuss this very pressing issue of the abuse of women in all its forms, people  must get the message that society will never allow women to be denigrated in this manner.

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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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