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Fishing for Compliments

Stuart White

“I often went fishing in Maine during the summer. Personally I am very fond of strawberries and cream, but I have found that for some strange reason, fish prefer worms. So when I went fishing, I didn’t think about what I wanted. I thought about what they wanted. I didn't bait the hook with strawberries and cream.

Rather, I dangled a worm or grasshopper in front of the fish and said: "Wouldn't you like to have that?" Why not use the same common sense when fishing for people?”  An extract from 'How to Win Friends and Influence People’ by Dale Carnegie.

It doesn’t take a genius to understand how best to deal with people. I think intuitively we all know what is good and bad behaviour and an honourable way to live, yet looking around it seems that arrogance, ego and lack of empathy is the currency of today.

Sometimes I think that the old world values have gone and that in our fast-paced lives we have forgotten how to respect people and connect at the most basic and personal level: But this week I had a different experience which tells me there is still hope.

I am conducting a research project at the moment on a subject which would be for others pretty boring and academic, but that is neither here nor there. What is germane is that I kept coming across research, articles and opinions of someone eminently qualified in the subject matter and I began to think to myself I’d love to be able to interact with them, ask some advice etc. 

Eventually I decide to try and establish contact, so with stalker mentality I started on Facebook traversing through Twitter, Instagram gradually progressing to LinkedIn and the website of a previous employer all in the hope of getting an email address with the aim of making contact.

My success comes in a LinkedIn request which is accepted, and which he responds to with a small personalised message from which I can see that he has shown an interest by reading my profile. I am impressed because on LinkedIn I am a sort of quick glance and press connect kind of guy (because I tell myself I don’t have time to provide more detail).

Nonetheless I am a little apprehensive about approaching someone who sits at guru level and asking for help, worried he might find me intrusive, although I am encouraged by his response so far.   I should add that this is not the first time I have resorted to stalker behaviour, bearing in mind that a stalker’s behaviour reflects the times they live in.

When I was 10 years old I wrote to the then British Prime Minister, Edward Heath, about my concerns over the miner’s strike and its impact on the country. Both Premier Heath and my guru took the time to respond to me, one by letter through Her Royal Majesty’s Mail and the other through my internet provider in the form of an email.

My guru has now engaged in conversation, assisted with information, offered his support and shown a genuine interest in the work I am doing. He is incredibly generous on all fronts. Both these men made me feel acknowledged and recognised and I can’t help thinking of the quote by Malcolm S Forbes which says “You can easily judge the character of a man by how he treats those who can do nothing for him.”

Quotes like this have been around for a long time: “Treat others the same way you want them to treat you, and as ye would that men should do to you, do ye also to them likewise.” King James Bible “A great man shows his greatness by the way he treats little men” Thomas Carlyle.  

‘Fundamental Techniques in Handling People’ from Dale Carnegie’s above-quoted book has this excerpt: “Benjamin Franklin, tactless in his youth, became so diplomatic, so adroit at handling people that he was made American Ambassador to France.” What was the secret of his success? "I will speak ill of no man," he said, "…and speak all the good I know of everybody."

So I am encouraged today to be a little bit more generous myself inspired by the thought that if my guru can, why not me? This is how change in the world is effected I suppose, when we see behavior we admire and respect and recognize that this is what we value and want to be, so we model our own on it.

They come from universal laws that have stood the test of time. As Carnegie says in his book “The ideas I stand for are not mine. I borrowed them from Socrates, I swiped them from Chesterfield, I stole them from Jesus and I put them in a book. If you don't like their rules whose would you use?”

In the nineteenth century Charles Haddon Spurgeon was a leading preacher in England. The following passage appeared in a sermon that he delivered in 1876.  “I think you may judge of a man’s character by the persons whose affection he seeks.

If you find a man seeking only the affection of those who are great, depend upon it he is ambitious and self-seeking; but when you observe that a man seeks the affection of those who can do nothing for him, but for whom he must do everything, you know that he is not seeking himself, but that pure benevolence sways his heart.”

And  since we know from the teachings of the Bible that Jesus himself was a man of great humility, not too proud to wash clean the feet of Simon the Leper,  it seems only fitting that such, dear readers, should be my Easter message.

STUART WHITE is the Managing Director of HRMC and they can be reached on 395 1640 or at

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Is COVID-19 Flogging an Already Dead Economic Horse?

9th September 2020

The Central Bank has by way of its Monetary Policy Statement informed us that the Botswana economy is likely to contract by 8.9 percent over the course of the year 2020.

The IMF paints an even gloomier picture – a shrinkage of the order of 9.6 percent.  That translates to just under $2 billion hived off from the overall economic yield given our average GDP of roughly $18 billion a year. In Pula terms, this is about P23 billion less goods and services produced in the country and you and I have a good guess as to what such a sum can do in terms of job creation and sustainability, boosting tax revenue, succouring both recurrent and development expenditure, and on the whole keeping our teeny-weeny economy in relatively good nick.

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Union of Blue Bloods

9th September 2020

Joseph’s and Judah’s family lines conjoin to produce lineal seed

Just to recap, General Atiku, the Israelites were not headed for uncharted territory. The Promised Land teemed with Canaanites, Hittites, Amorites, Perizzites, Hivites, and Jebusites. These nations were not simply going to cut and run when they saw columns of battle-ready Israelites approach: they were going to fight to the death.

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Security Sector Private Bills: What are they about?

9th September 2020

Parliament has begun debates on three related Private Members Bills on the conditions of service of members of the Security Sector.

The Bills are Prisons (Amendment) Bill, 2019, Police (Amendment) Bill, 2019 and Botswana Defence Force (Amendment) Bill, 2019. The Bills seek to amend the three statutes so that officers are placed on full salaries when on interdictions or suspensions whilst facing disciplinary boards or courts of law.

In terms of the Public Service Act, 2008 which took effect in 2010, civil servants who are indicted are paid full salary and not a portion of their emolument. Section 35(3) of the Act specifically provides that “An employee’s salary shall not be withheld during the period of his or her suspension”.

However, when parliament reformed the public service law to allow civil servants to unionize, among other things, and extended the said protection of their salaries, the process was not completed. When the House conferred the benefit on civil servants, members of the disciplined forces were left out by not accordingly amending the laws regulating their employment.

The Bills stated above seeks to ask Parliament to also include members of the forces on the said benefit. It is unfair not to include soldiers or military officers, police officers and prison waders in the benefit. Paying an officer who is facing either external or internal charges full pay is in line with the notion of ei incumbit probation qui dicit, non qui negat or the presumption of innocence; that the burden of proof is on the one who declares, not on one who denies.

The officers facing charges, either internal disciplinary or criminal charges before the courts, must be presumed innocent until proven otherwise. Paying them a portion of their salary is penalty and therefore arbitrary. Punishment by way of loss of income or anything should come as a result of a finding on the guilt by a competent court of law, tribunal or disciplinary board.

What was the rationale behind this reform in 2008 when the Public Service Act was adopted? First it was the presumption of innocence until proven otherwise.

The presumption of innocence is the legal principle that one is considered “innocent until proven guilty”. In terms of the constitution and other laws of Botswana, the presumption of innocence is a legal right of the accused in a criminal trial, and it is an international human right under the UN’s Universal Declaration of Human Rights, Article 11.

Withholding a civil servant’s salary because they are accused of an internal disciplinary offense or a criminal offense in the courts of law, was seen as punishment before a decision by a tribunal, disciplinary board or a court of law actually finds someone culpable. Parliament in its wisdom decided that no one deserves this premature punishment.

Secondly, it was considered that people’s lives got destroyed by withholding of financial benefits during internal or judicial trials. Protection of wages is very important for any worker. Workers commit their salaries, they pay mortgages, car loans, insurances, schools fees for children and other things. When public servants were experiencing salary cuts because of interdictions, they lost their homes, cars and their children’s future.

They plummeted into instant destitution. People lost their livelihoods. Families crumbled. What was disheartening was that in many cases, these workers are ultimately exonerated by the courts or disciplinary tribunals. When they are cleared, the harm suffered is usually irreparable. Even if one is reimbursed all their dues, it is difficult to almost impossible to get one’s life back to normal.

There is a reasoning that members of the security sector should be held to very high standards of discipline and moral compass. This is true. However, other more senior public servants such as judges, permanent secretary to the President and ministers have faced suspensions, interdictions and or criminal charges in the courts but were placed on full salaries.

The yardstick against which security sector officers are held cannot be higher than the aforementioned public officials. It just wouldn’t make sense. They are in charge of the security and operate in a very sensitive area, but cannot in anyway be held to higher standards that prosecutors, magistrates, judges, ministers and even senior officials such as permanent secretaries.

Moreover, jail guards, police officers and soldiers, have unique harsh punishments which deter many of them from committing misdemeanors and serious crimes. So, the argument that if the suspension or interdiction with full pay is introduced it would open floodgates of lawlessness is illogical.

Security Sector members work in very difficult conditions. Sometimes this drives them into depression and other emotional conditions. The truth is that many seldom receive proper and adequate counseling or such related therapies. They see horrifying scenes whilst on duty. Jail guards double as hangmen/women.

Detectives attend to autopsies on cases they are dealing with. Traffic police officers are usually the first at accident scenes. Soldiers fight and kill poachers. In all these cases, their minds are troubled. They are human. These conditions also play a part in their behaviors. They are actually more deserving to be paid full salaries when they’re facing allegations of misconduct.

To withhold up to 50 percent of the police, prison workers and the military officers’ salaries during their interdiction or suspensions from work is punitive, insensitive and prejudicial as we do not do the same for other employees employed by the government.

The rest enjoy their full salaries when they are at home and it is for a good reason as no one should be made to suffer before being found blameworthy. The ruling party seems to have taken a position to negate the Bills and the collective opposition argue in the affirmative. The debate have just began and will continue next week Thursday, a day designated for Private Bills.

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