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Iqbal Ebrahim

We need to find a balance in our lives that will bring peace to our heart, mind and soul because the world we live in today has many challenges and difficulties that stress our lives. We are often attracted to the glamour and glitter of this world forgetting that our ultimate objective is to reserve our place in the life to come. For this we need to reform ourselves, but as the last two articles mentioned the road to self-reformation is long and at times a difficult one.   

The root cause of most of our daily irritations and problems stem from what is commonly known as the ‘seven deadly sins’; most religions, faiths and Divine beliefs in one way or the other, identify these personal traits as undesirable and warns believers against them. Once we conquer these ‘sins’ we will be on the first stretch of road to peace of heart, mind and soul.

To achieve this we need the inner desire to transform ourselves from within so that we begin to realise our true purpose on this earth, so that our worldly life is in alignment with what our Lord and Creator intended for His faithful.

Firstly, mankind has been granted with the great blessing of the power of mind and conscience that gives us the capacity to think. As humans we have been given this blessing which allows us the ability to interrogate our lives through our thoughts, actions and behaviour so that we can use those faculties and opportunities to achieve a higher plane in our spiritual destiny. ‘Verily never will Allah change the condition of a people until they first change what is in their hearts’ (Quran 13: 11)   

Once we have initiated the intention to change the journey will become easier because the Almighty will assist us in the process. ’Verily We take upon Ourselves to guide’ (Quran 92:12)

The most important gift as mentioned is that we have our mind, both conscious and subconscious, because that gives us the ability to weather trials and tribulations but more importantly the strength of will power and self-discipline to transform ourselves even in times of adversity. We have to learn to train our mind to focus on the good in our life because the Almighty will be there for us. ‘We know how thy heart is distressed, but celebrate the praises of thy Lord’ (Quran 15: 97)

We must always expect our lives to have upheavals and challenges as time marches on because there are bound to be pot holes and corrugations along the way. Ups and downs are a natural part of life and are important in keeping us going, because, as we know that a straight line even in an ECG means we are not alive.

We should learn to look at challenges as opportunities for expanding our minds and this unlocks and forces our minds into creative thinking. I read an interesting quote that says: ‘The Pessimist complains about the wind; The Optimist expects it to change; The Realist adjusts the sails’.

So we should adjust our sails to harness the positive energy in order to help us focus on overcoming the challenges along the way. Our mind is a very powerful mechanism that we should cultivate in order to give it us the positive attitudes so that we can navigate through the challenges that face us in today’s world. No doubt there are many conflicting situations in our lives. 

Many of us fall easy prey to pride because we live in a world in which we tend to show off about our worldly possessions, wealth, position and other worldly successes. ‘Exult not, for Allah loves not those who exult (in riches). (Quran 28:76). This exultation leads to pride: and this pride often leads to vanity and arrogance. Pride has been called the sin from which all others arise, this is because we develop excessive belief in our own abilities, and we tend to think that we are above others and that all that we have gained is as a result of our own doing and not through the Blessings of God.

This breeds the arrogant streak in our character and we start chasing for more of the things that our money can buy, just to show off. But we must remember that this pride will be short lived. And swell not thy cheek with pride for men. Nor walk with insolence through the earth; for God loveth not the arrogant boaster. (Quran 31: 18). ‘If we give man a taste of Our favours…..behold he falls into exultation and pride’ (Quran 11:10)
The Bible also warns: “Pride goes before destruction, a haughty spirit before a fall” (Proverbs 16:18).

Another of those sins is that of greed, it is common that when we are blessed with a certain level of wealth we tend to become greedy for more. Greed can become such a driving force in our lives that it can cause us to resort to any means to achieve our objectives via any means and this becomes our driving force, the desire for more material wealth or gain, ignoring the realm of  spirituality.

‘To whom I granted resources in abundance……, to whom I made life smooth and comfortable, yet he is greedy that I should add more……by no means, for to our signs he has been rebellious. (Quran 74:12 -16)
Bible quote: “Having lost all sensitivity, they have given themselves over to sensuality so as to indulge in every kind of impurity, with a continual lust for more” (Ephesians 4:19). And: ‘….yes they are greedy dogs which can never have enough’ (Isiah 56: 11)

Envy / jealousy are very common yet deadly sins of the heart. When we see others blessed with more than us we become envious of them. We see them having been blessed with wealth, status, abilities and situations we easily become resentful of the advantage enjoyed by them and we are filled with a desire to possess the same advantage. In many cases that jealousy can turn to hatred and even wishing that those we envy may be deprived of those things. Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) said: ‘Keep away from jealousy, for jealousy eats up virtues the same way as fire eats up wood’. The Quran says: In no wise covet those things in which Allah has bestowed His gifts more freely on some of you than on others; to man is allotted what they earn’ (Quran 4: 32)  

The Bible also advises: “Therefore, rid yourselves of all malice and all deceit, hypocrisy, envy, and slander of every kind. Like new born babies, crave pure spiritual milk, so that by it you may grow up in your salvation” (1 Peter 2: 1-2)

Continued next week

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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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