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Iqbal Ebrahim

‘Allah will never change the Grace that He has bestowed on a people until they change what is their own souls’ (Quran 8:53)

We see so much unhappiness, disillusionment, distress, and all sorts of other irrational behaviour and negative happenings around us that it slowly begins to gnaw at us. So much so, that we too can also easily slip into that mode if we allow ourselves to wallow in it.

One might ask, what is the cause of all this? Much of this can be put down to the fact that humanity seems to have lost its moral values embedded in their religious teachings and beliefs. The moral values of the world community have disintegrated and distorted because of the selfish greed and passions of people. Despite so-called modernisation we seem to be slowly edging towards returning to the ‘dog eats dog’ primitive cultures of the life prior to the advent of religious faith as we know it.

Unfortunately many of us have been misled to believe that happiness comes from material possessions, of course, some material possessions can lead to a more comfortable life, but usually there no correlation between happiness and material prosperity – it goes much deeper than that.  

The bottom line is that the world needs reformation, but before we can attempt to reform the world we need to look at ourselves and see our role in that process. Change comes from within. We need to pause and remind ourselves of our purpose on this earth. What is our purpose and what are we on this earth for? Man has been placed on this earth but for a short while; in our short life in this world we will be groomed, trained and tested and then pass on to the Hereafter to reap the rewards or otherwise of our actions in this world.  

‘It is He who made you His agents (vicegerent) inheritors of the earth, He raised you in ranks some above others, that He may try you in the gifts that He has given you’. (Quran 6: 165).And: ‘We did indeed make you a vicegerent of earth; so you  judge between men in truth and justice; nor do you follow your follow the lusts of your heart, for they will mislead  you from the Path of Allah: for those who wander astray is a penalty grievous….(Quran 38: 26).

We have to do some honest soul searching to identify our own weaknesses and shortcomings to see what we can do change our patterns of thought, behaviour and actions so that they are in line with what the Almighty God has intended and decreed for us. Once we have identified our worldly ephemeral weaknesses, passions, desires and outlook, only then can we embark onto the road to reformation.  

How do we get onto the road to reformation? The first step is to bring our Lord and Creator closer to our daily lives and to worship Him alone with all sincerity and to submit to Him in every aspect of our lives. ‘Your Lord has decreed that you worship none but Him’. (Quran: 17:23). And ‘…do not join in worship others with Allah; for false worship is indeed the highest wrong-doing (Quran 31: 13). And: ‘….Worship none but Allah’ (Quran 2:83).

The Bible says: ‘The Lord our God is one Lord; and thou shalt love him with all thy heart and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind and with all thy strength; this is the first commandment’ (Mark 12:30).

Once we have created this connection with our Creator it will become easier to follow in the ways of our religious teachings and edicts. We have to turn to prayer: ‘….. establish regular prayers…for those things that are good remove those that are evil; be that the word of remembrance to those who remember their Lord’ (Quran 11:114).

We can then move on to many other things that can bring that comfort into our lives. One of the important factors is that we need to bring ‘peace’ within ourselves. This means that we have to learn to be comfortable and confident with ourselves, we then spread the net wider to include our family our family and loved ones.

There are some basic human values that form the bedrock of all religions and societies the world over and are without doubt universal in their belief and practice. If we were to bring them into our lives there will be much more peace and understanding within our communities. In every faith, religion and even culture, the respect for one’s parents is paramount. Respect and kindness to parents is not just a social responsibility but it is our religious duty and obligation.  

‘….And that you show kindness to your parents. Whether one or both of them attain old age in your life, say not a word of contempt, nor repel them, but address them in terms of honour……’ Quran 17: 23-24. And: ’We have enjoined on man to be good to his parents…show gratitude to Me and your parents’. (Quran 31: 14).

The Bible also speaks about respect for parents; in the Ten Commandments the instruction is ‘honour thy father and thy mother’ and further, ‘Children, obey your parents in all things; for this is well pleasing unto the Lord’ (Col 3:20)
Our parents deserve to be treated with love, kindness and compassion because not only did they bring us into this world, raised and cared for us from our childhood to adulthood. It is our obligation to reciprocate that type of love and commitment in return.  

Nowadays it is embarrassing to see the way some people treat their parents with such disrespect, including using verbal, mental or physical abuse. In many parts of the world parents are seen as a burden and are just dumped and left to fend for themselves with little or no support. Yet when they die some make elaborate funeral arrangements just for ‘show’, yet when the parents were alive they lived a miserable life with little or no support from the children.  

Sadly elsewhere in the world, and even in our midst, in their old age parents are abandoned because their off-spring are too busy with their own lives and the parents are seen as a burden. They even encourage them to go into an old age or retirement home with the lame excuse that ‘they will be better off in the company of people their own age’; only to visit them when we have time, if ever. What a sorry state of affairs.

Once we have created a happy and loving relationship within the family unit we will begin to look outwards to the wider community.
(to be continued)

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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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