Reportedly, the Botswana Movement for Democracy (BMD) Vice President, Wynter Mmolotsi, has disclosed that the Botswana National Front (BNF), BMD and Botswana Peoples Party (BPP), all affiliates of the Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC), are in talks to form a single opposition party. If this were to pass it would be a graduation from the current status where UDC operates as a coalition, with each affiliate party maintaining its own identity, membership and structures.
While this is no doubt a good idea, considerable debate needs to be held to consider its merits and demerits. More importantly, the affiliate parties need to commence the consultations and debates as early as now and set a strict time limit by which a decision should have been taken. This will avoid a situation where the disagreements, even conflicts, elicited by the matter, which will obviously be emotive, spill into the 2019 general election season much to Botswana Democratic Party (BDP)’s delight.
Starting with the merits, a single party will have one political ideology and the electorate will have clarity on its deliverables if it ascends to government. That the BNF subscribes to Social Democracy, with some of its members inclined to Socialism, Communism, Marxism and Leninism, and the BMD and the BPP subscribe to Social Democracy, with some of their members inclined to Capitalism, is a recipe for ideological conflict in future.
Based on one political ideology a single party will also have one manifesto. Though the UDC had one manifesto for the 2014 general elections, a critical analysis of the manifesto indicates that the capitalist aspirations that several BMD adherents hold are barely visible. The BPP’s nationalist inspiration is almost non-existent.
The BNF’s far leftist ideals of Communism, Marxism and Leninism are moderated, a thing which no doubt further alienates such extreme leftists as Dr. Elmond Tafa, Gabriel Kanjabanga and Meshack Mthimkhulu. The extreme leftists often take refuge under the ‘Temporary Forum’ to, in their words, defend the party’s principles.
One political party will also have one Central Committee with a leader elected by the members. UDC’s current leadership was not elected by the members. Its composition is a result of board room appointments based on each affiliate’s standing within the coalition. BNF, for example, got the presidency by virtue of being the senior affiliate. Though elections do not always ensure that the most capable are elected to office, under one political party an elected Central Committee will at least be representative of the members’ will.
For a political establishment to win elections it needs to have functional ward, constituency and national structures which are differentiated not by an issue as fundamental as ideology, but only by function. This cannot be possible under a coalition no matter how organized it is. If the UDC becomes one party it will, for example, have a single Youth League and Women’s Wing both of which will maximize outreach to youth and women respectively. It will have one Labour Committee which will ensure that workers’ rights are protected.
A political party’s identity is perhaps one of its most invaluable assets. No wonder some members of the BNF led by Gabriel Kanjabanga fought all the way to the courts in an effort to protect the BNF logo’s use in UDC’s logo. If the UDC becomes one party it will obviously have its own logo, colors and slogan. Hopefully, this will put the conflict regarding its affiliates’ identities to rest.
Yet, the very merits of elevating the UDC to one political party can, if not properly managed, be demerits. From an ideological point of view, for example, there is no doubt that those at the extreme end of the political spectrum will feel left out when the party is formed.
This is because as of necessity they will have to be left out if each affiliate party’s ideology is accommodated. Such accommodation cannot be achieved without a compromise and a compromise will require accommodating those at the centre of each party’s ideological spectrum.
Because of ideological differences, it will be difficult for the party to reach consensus on the manifesto for the 2019 general elections. Other affiliates, especially the junior parties, may feel that the manifesto does not reflect their ideologies and visions, a thing which may lead to conflict.
Unlike in 2014 when such differences did not manifest publicly, in 2019 they may because the possibility of attaining state power will be more real than in 2014. Not only that. The euphoria that emanated from a new relationship will have subsided; frailties will have been identified among the ‘comrades’ and competition, or even rivalry, will have arisen between ‘comrades’.
No party will give up its identity easily. Especially in the Opposition were there are few tangible benefits for party members, the party’s identity embodied in the party regalia is all there is really. Certainly members of the BNF will not easily give up the ‘Kopano ke maatla’ motto.
Nor can the BPP give up its ‘Lefatshe la Rona’ ‘Shango Yedu’ ‘Ilizwe Nge Lethu’ slogan. The BMD may considering that because it has been in existence for only five years its motto and logo have not become so entrenched as to evoke strong emotion if or when it is discarded. Accommodating the colors of the three parties in the new party’s identity will also pose a challenge.
The ideological conflict is the greatest threat to the party model’s success. It is almost inconceivable that BNF’s Communists, Marxists and Leninists will buy into the party model. Nor can the BMD and BPP Capitalists. It is, therefore, likely that if a party is formed, each affiliate party will suffer a split. While those from the BNF are likely to form a new party or revive the late Dr. Kenneth Koma’s New Democratic Front (NDF), those from the BMD are likely to return to the BDP. The BPP, being so miniscule that splitting is almost impossible, is, as a whole, unlikely to join the party.
The other threat to the party model’s success is conflict resulting from leadership contestations. Under the party model, individuals will have to contest for various positions in the party. The fact that the UDC performed so well at the last general elections and the imminent departure of President Lieutenant General Seretse Khama Ian Khama, will make many in the UDC believe that it will attain state power in 2019.
Unlike in 2014 when even the UDC knew it was unlikely to wrestle power from the BDP, in 2019 the state presidency, ministerial and judicial positions will be at stake. If the Central Committee, Youth League and Women’s Wing elections are not well managed they are likely to cause a split just before the general elections, an eventuality which the BDP is praying occurs.
That, like any undertaking in life, elevating UDC to a party poses demerits does not mean it is not a project worth pursuing. All it means is that the UDC has to be cautious in pursuing it. For instance, considering that an opportunity exists for the UDC, even in its current form, to win elections in 2019, is it prudent for it to take such a gamble in view of the demerits of changing to a party? Is there any factor which makes the UDC’s elevation to a party before 2019 a necessity? Are the UDC affiliates’ grassroots structures ready for such a development?
Most importantly, because conflict is going to be inevitable, the process, if it is indeed started, has to be started as early as now and completed latest by March 2016. This will enable the party, if it is indeed ultimately formed, to heal in time for the elections. It will also ensure that attacks from the BDP, or Botswana Congress Party (BCP) if it will not be in a coalition with the UDC, are blunted by the passage of time.
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.