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Youth, arise and save BNYC!

Ndulamo Anthony Morima
EAGLE WATCH

Although the Botswana National Youth Council (BNYC) has been tainted with allegations of poor corporate governance, corruption, economic crime and maladministration, the youth should rise and organize to repel any attempt by government or any person or entity to take advantage of the situation and unlawfully weaken or disband the BNYC.

If suggestions that recently surfaced to the effect that government has, following preliminary reports of internal audits by the Directorate on Intelligence and Security Services (DISS) and the Ministry of Youth, Sports & Culture (MYSC), taken steps which include freezing funds, impounding vehicles and debarring the BNYC National Executive Committee from signing for all financial transaction is correct, government has almost taken over the BNYC.

While the allegations against BNYC are serious and those at fault should, after due process, be punished if proven guilty, such harsh and unprocedural action by government is unwarranted. One wonders why the DISS conducted the internal audit. Shouldn’t MYSC’s audit have been sufficient? Shouldn’t government rather have used Auditor General (AG) or a private audit firm if it sought an alternative report? Has the DISS been used to audit other parastatals and statutory bodies which have been accused of equally if not more palpably abominable acts of corruption, economic crime and maladministration?

Assuming there is corruption, economic crime and maladministration at BNYC, why, if the story in Sunday Standard’s edition of 24th January 2015 is correct, were the vehicles which are alleged to have been procured illegally through a loan not approved by government impounded only to be packed at Botswana Defence Force (BDF)’s Glen Valley Barracks? If impounding the vehicles was indeed a necessity why were the vehicles not packed at Central Transport Organization (CTO)’s warehouses or other government departments?   

If the internal audit had been conducted by MYSC, AG or a private audit firm, irregularities, if any, would have been identified and those liable should have, if the matter could not be addressed internally, been referred to the Botswana Police, Directorate on Corruption & Economic Crime (DCEC) or the Ombudsman. The transgressions alleged, i.e. corruption, economic crime and maladministration certainly fall within the statutory mandate of these organizations and not the DISS. None of the allegations, objectively seen, threatens our national security.

If government believes that BNYC is in a state of leadership or management crisis, which it (BNYC) is unable to resolve, it (government) should invoke Article 24.2 of the BNYC Statutes. In terms thereof, “…the Minister (of Youth, Sport & Culture) may appoint, for a period not exceeding twelve(12) months, any person who considers him or herself to be suitably qualified to act as Chairperson of the Council. At the expiry of the twelve (12) months, the acting Chairperson of the Council shall be required to call a special meeting of the General Assembly to appoint a new Chairperson in accordance with the appropriate statute(s)”.

Therefore, if indeed government believes that BNYC is in a state of leadership or management crisis, as it seems to be, government’s intervention should be in terms of Article 24.2 of the BNYC Statutes. Its intervention is only limited to appointment of the acting Chairperson through which it (government) can influence the outcome it seeks. Inarguably, therefore, government’s action, especially with respect to usurping the mandate of the National Executive Committee, is improper.   

The purport of Article 24.2 of the BNYC Statutes is that, in the interim, the acting Chairperson, in collaboration with MYSC, but guided by the Council and the youth’s best interests, would work with and within the BNYC structures to bring regularity to the Council. It is during this period that government, since it funds BNYC, can seek such things as the list of bank accounts, bank balances, financial statements and the list of assets and liabilities.

In any event, since BNYC submits quarterly reports to MYSC, MYSC already has such information. Also, MYSC would have already been aware of BNYC’s administrative and financial status since, in terms of Article 13.1.2(viii) of the BNYC Statutes, MYSC’s Permanent Secretary is an ex officio member of the National Executive Committee of the Council.

That BNYC was established through a Presidential Directive (CAB. 9/74) does not mean that government can, though BNYC and/or some of its officials are prima facie at fault, deal with it in a manner that not only violates the law, but also undermines its legal status. In fact, contrary to the myth that BNYC was established through a Presidential Directive, it was not.

The Presidential directive did not establish BNYC, but rather approved BNYC’s formation, hence the directive says “(a) that action taken to form Botswana National Youth Council be approved”. This can only be interpreted to mean that BNYC’s existence predates the Presidential Directive.     

In any event, as per Tafa J. in Goitse Mpolokang & Tibapi Gucha v The Attorney General for the Republic of Botswana (Representing the Ministry of Youth, Sports & Culture), case number CVHGB-001021-13, BNYC, though it falls under MYSC for purposes of subventions and reporting, has a separate legal status which is that of a universitas and is capable of acting in its own name as well as suing and being sued in its own name.

While no one can dispute the fact that all is not well at BNYC, one is tempted to believe that this has accorded government or some within government the opportunity to finally close it down. Though the current BNYC is moribund in terms of bringing government to account on the socio-economic and political issues bedeviling our youth, it is common cause that there are some in government who are uncomfortable with the idea of a youth council. These are those who believe that BNYC serves the interests of the Opposition and would relish its demise.

Not only that. The corruption, economic crime and maladministration at BNYC probably involves some officials at MYSC who have committed such ills either by omission or commission. The harsh measures meted against BNYC may, therefore, be a means of using a hammer to instantly kill a fly so that the injuries the fly had cannot be identified.

It is inexplicable why so many irregularities can have been committed at BNYC under the watch of MYSC which, on behalf of the Permanent Secretary, not only seats in BNYC’s National Executive Committee, but also receives the Council’s quarterly and annual reports as well as audited financial statements.

In view of the aforegoing, while the youth should condemn and punish those who brought the Council’s name into disrepute and misappropriated the Council’s resources through corruption, economic crime and maladministration, they should oppose any effort to take advantage of this to close the Council or turn it into a desk at MYSC as government has intimated.

BNYC, if properly functioning, is essential for youth development. Its demise can, therefore, only negate the gains we have made since its establishment and/or approval in 1974. The youth should also arise and save BNYC by reclaiming its governance and avoid a situation where the National Executive Committee and Management run it as they please.

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Technology saves Lions from angry Okavango villagers

22nd November 2022

Villagers in the eastern Okavango region are now using an alert system which warns them when collared lions approach livestock areas. The new technology is now regarded as a panacea to the human/wildlife conflict in the area as it has reduced mass poisoning and killing of lions by farmers.

The technology is being implemented by an NGO, Community Living Among Wildlife Sustainably (CLAWS) within the five villages of Seronga, Gunutsoga, Eretsha, Beetsha and Gudigwa in the eastern part of the Okavango delta.

A Carnivore Ecologist from CLAWS, Dr Andrew Stein explained that around 2013, villagers in the eastern Okavango were having significant problems with losses of their cattle to predators specifically lions, so the villagers resorted to using poison and shooting the lions in order to reduce their numbers.

He highlighted that as a form of progressive intervention, they designed a programme to reduce the conflicts and promote coexistence. Another component of the programme is communal herding, introduced in 2018 to reduce the conflict by increasing efficiency whereby certified herders monitor livestock health and protect them from predators, allowing community members to engage in other livelihood activities knowing that their livestock are safe.

They are now two herds with 600 and 230 cattle respectively with plan to expand the programme to other neighbouring villages. Currently the programme is being piloted in Eretsha, one of the areas with most conflict incidences per year.

Dr Stein explained that they have developed the first of its kind alert system whereby when the lions get within three or five kilometers of a cattllepost or a homestead upon the five villages, then it will release an alert system going directly to the cellphones of individuals living within the affected area or community.

‘So, if a colored lion gets to about five kilometers of Eretsha village or any villagers in the Eretsha that has signed up for, the system will receive an SMS of the name of the lion and its distance to or from the village”, he stated. He added that this enables villagers to take preventative action to reduce conflicts before its starts.

Dr Stein noted that some respond by gathering their cattle and put them in a kraal or put them in an enclosure making sure that the enclosure is secure while some people will gather firewood and light small fires around edges of the kraal to prevent lions from coming closer and some when they receive the SMS they send their livestock to the neighbours alerting them about the presence of lions.

He noted that 125 people have signed to receive the alert system within Seronga, Eretsha, Beetsha, Gunutsoga and Gudigwa. He added that each homestead is about five people and this means more than 600 people immediately receive the messages about lions when they approach their villages. He also noted that last year they dispersed over 12 000 alerts, adding that this year is a bit higher as about 20 000 alerts have been sent so far across these villages.

Stein further noted that they have been significant changes in the behavior of the villagers as they are now tolerant to lions. “85 percent were happy with the SMS and people are becoming more tolerant with living with lions because they have more information to reduce the conflicts,” he stressed.

Stein noted that since the start of the programme in 2014 they have seen lion populations rebounds almost completely to a level before and they have not recorded cases of lion poisoning in the last three years which is commendable effort.

Monnaleso Sanga from Eretsha village applauded the programme by CLAWS noting that farmers in the area are benefiting through the alert system and take preventative measures to reduce human/lion conflict which has been persistent in the area. He added that numbers of cattle killed by lions have reduced immensely. He also admitted that they are now tolerant to lions and they no longer kill nor poison them.

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THE IDEAL QUALITY OF A MUSLIM

8th September 2022

A Muslim is supposed to be and should be a living example of the teachings of the Quran and the ‘Sunnah’ (the teachings and living examples of Prophet Muhammed (SAW – Peace be upon Him). We should follow these in all affairs, relations, and situations – starting with our relationship with our Lord, our own self, our family and the people around us. One of the distinguishing features of the (ideal) Muslim is his faith in Allah, and his conviction that whatever happens in the universe and whatever befalls him, only happens through the will and the decree of the Almighty Allah.

A Muslim should know and feel that he is in constant need of the help and support of Allah, no matter how much he may think he can do for himself. He has no choice in his life but to submit to the will of his Creator, worship Him, strive towards the Right Path and do good deeds. This will guide him to be righteous and upright in all his deeds, both in public and in private.

His attitude towards his body, mind and soul

The Muslim pays attention to his body’s physical, intellectual and spiritual needs. He takes good care of his body, promoting its good health and strength. He shouldn’t eat in excess; but he should eat enough to maintain his health and energy. Allah, The Exalted, Says “…Eat and drink; but waste not by excess, for Allah loves not the wasters.” [Quran 7: 31]

The Muslim should keep away from alcohol and drugs. He should also try to exercise regularly to maintain his physical fitness. The Muslim also keeps his body and clothes clean, he bathes frequently. The Prophet placed a great emphasis on cleanliness and bathing. A Muslim is also concerned with his clothing and appearance but in accordance with the Islamic ideal of moderation, avoiding the extremes.

As for his intellectual care, the Muslim should take care of his mind by pursuing beneficial knowledge. It is his responsibility to seek knowledge whether it is religious or secular, so he may understand the nature and the essence of things. Allah Says: “…and say: My Lord! Increase me in knowledge.” [Quran 20: 114

The Muslim should not forget that man is not only composed of a body and a mind, but that he also possesses a soul and a spirit. Therefore, the Muslim pays as much attention to his spiritual development as to his physical and intellectual development, in a balanced manner which ideally does not concentrate on one aspect to the detriment of others.

His attitude towards people

The Muslim must treat his parents with kindness and respect, compassion, politeness and deep gratitude. He recognizes their status and knows his duties towards them. Allah Says “And serve Allah. Ascribe nothing as partner unto Him. (Show) kindness unto parents…” [Quran 4: 36]

With his wife, the Muslim should exemplify good and kind treatment, intelligent handling, deep understanding of the nature and psychology of women, and proper fulfilment of his responsibilities and duties.

With his children, the Muslim is a parent who should understand his responsibility towards their good upbringing, showing them love and compassion, influence their Islamic development and giving them proper education, so that they become active and constructive elements in society, and a source of goodness for their parents, community, and society as a whole.

With his relatives, the Muslim maintains the ties of kinship and knows his duties towards them. He understands the high status given to relatives in Islam, which makes him keep in touch with them, no matter what the circumstances.

 

With his neighbours, the Muslim illustrates good treatment, kindness and consideration of others’ feelings and sensitivities. He turns a blind eye to his neighbour’s faults while taking care not to commit any such errors himself. The Muslim relationship with his wider circle of friends is based on love for the sake of Allah. He is loyal and does not betray them; he is sincere and does not cheat them; he is gentle, tolerant and forgiving; he is generous and he supplicates for them.

In his social relationships with all people, the Muslim should be well-mannered, modest and not arrogant. He should not envy others, fulfils his promises and is cheerful. He is patient and avoids slandering and uttering obscenities. He should not unjustly accuse others nor should he interfere in that which does not concern him. He refrains from gossiping, spreading slander and stirring up trouble – avoids false speech and suspicion. When he is entrusted with a secret, he keeps it. He respects his elders. He mixes with the best of people. He strives to reconcile between the Muslims. He visits the sick and attends funerals. He returns favours and is grateful for them. He calls others to Islam with wisdom, example and beautiful preaching. He should guide people to do good and always make things easy and not difficult.

The Muslim should be fair in his judgments, not a hypocrite, a sycophant or a show-off. He should not boast about his deeds and achievements. He should be straightforward and never devious or twisted, no matter the circumstances. He should be generous and not remind others of his gifts or favours. Wherever possible he relieves the burden of the debtor. He should be proud and not think of begging.

These are the standards by which the (ideal) Muslim is expected to structure his life on. Now how do I measure up and fit into all this? Can I honestly say that I really try to live by these ideals and principles; if not can I really call myself a true Muslim?

For the ease of writing this article I have made use of for want of a better word, the generic term ‘he’, ‘his’, ‘him’ and the ‘male’ gender, but it goes without saying that these standards apply equally to every female and male Muslim.

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OUR BELOVED CHILDREN

29th August 2022

“Homicide and suicide kill almost 7000 children every year; one in four of all children are born to unmarried mothers, many of whom are children themselves…..children’s potential lost to spirit crushing poverty….children’s hearts lost in divorce and custody battles….children’s lives lost to abuse and violence, our society lost to itself, as we fail our children.” “If you bungle raising your children, I don’t think whatever else you do matters very much.” (Quotation taken from a book written by Hillary Clinton).

These words may well apply to us here in Botswana; We are also experiencing a series of challenges in many spheres of development and endeavour but none as challenging as the long term effects of what is going to happen to our youth of today. One of the greatest challenges facing us as parents today is how to guide our youth to become the responsible adults that we wish them to be, tomorrow.

In Islam Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) has enjoined upon the parents to take care of the moral and religious instruction of their children from the very beginning, otherwise they will be called to account for negligence on the Day of Judgement. Parents must inculcate God-consciousness in their children from an early age, whereby the children will gain an understanding of duty to The Creator.

 

The Holy Qur’an says: ‘O you who believe! Save yourself and your families from the Fire of Hell’. (Ch. 66: V6). This verse places the responsibility on the shoulders of the parents to ensure that training and guidance begin at home. The goal is to mould the child into a solid Islamic personality, with good morals, strong Islamic principles, knowledge and behavior so as to be equipped to face the demands of life in a responsible and mature manner. This should begin with the proper environment at home that inculcates the best moral and behavioral standards.

But what do we have instead? Believers of all Religious persuasions will agree that we have children growing up without parental guidance, a stable home environment, without role models, being brought up in surroundings that are not conducive to proper upbringing and moulding of well-adjusted children. These children are being brought up devoid of any parental guidance and increasingly the desperate situation of orphaned children having to raise their siblings (children raising children) because their parents have succumbed to the scourge of AIDS.

It is becoming common that more and more girls still in their schooling years are now falling pregnant, most of them unwanted, with the attendant responsibilities and difficulties.

Observe the many young ladies who are with children barely in their teens having illegitimate children. In the recent past there was a campaign focused on the ‘girl-child’; this campaign targeted this group of young females who had fallen pregnant and were now mothers. The situation is that the mother still being just a ‘child’ and not even having tasted adulthood, now has the onerous responsibility of raising her own child most of the time on her own because either the father has simply disappeared, refuses to takes responsibility, or in some cases not even known.

We cannot place the entire blame on these young mothers; as parents and society as a whole stand accused because we have shirked our responsibilities and worse still we ourselves are poor role models. The virtual breakdown of the extended family system and of the family unit in many homes means that there are no longer those safe havens of peace and tranquility that we once knew. How then do we expect to raise well-adjusted children in this poisoned atmosphere?

Alcohol has become socially acceptable and is consumed by many of our youth and alarmingly they are now turning to drugs. Alcohol is becoming so acceptable that it is easily accessible even at home where some parents share drinks with their children or buying it for them. This is not confined only to low income families it is becoming prevalent amongst our youth across the board.

 

It is frightening to witness how our youth are being influenced by blatantly suggestive pop culture messages over television, music videos and other social media. Children who are not properly grounded in being able to make rational and informed decisions between what is right and what is wrong are easily swayed by this very powerful medium.

 

So what do we do as parents? We first have to lead by example; it is no longer the parental privilege to tell the child ‘do as I say not as I do’- that no longer works. The ball is in the court of every religious leader (not some of the charlatans who masquerade as religious leaders), true adherents and responsible parents. We cannot ignore the situation we have to take an active lead in guiding and moulding our youth for a better tomorrow.

In Islam Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) said: “No father gives a better gift to his children than good manners and good character.”  Children should be treated not as a burden, but a blessing and trust of Allah, and brought up with care and affection and taught proper responsibilities etiquettes and behaviour.

Even the Bible says; ‘Suffer the little children to come unto me and forbid them not, for of such is the kingdom of God. Verily I say unto you, whosoever shall not receive the kingdom of God as a little child, he shall not enter therein’. (Mark 10:14-15)

The message is clear and needs to be taken by all of us: Parents let us rise to the occasion – we owe it to our children and their future.

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