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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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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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