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One Born Every Minute

Stuart White

Now in case you’re not up with the current exchange rate of dollars to pula, it’s about 10 to 1.  So a monthly salary of US $3000 would be P30k, not bad for a nanny, I’m sure you’d agree.  Throw in the free accommodation and free food and it’s a dream job, especially as the only qualifications appear to be strong religious convictions, creed not specified. 

It almost sounds too good to be true and thereby hangs a tale.  If anything in life sounds too good to be true then you can bet your bottom dollar (or in this case, three thousand of them per month) that is almost certainly is.

There has to be a scam or a catch or both but the problem is that the world is full of gullible souls who will be sucked into the con and before they know it, they’re actually out of pocket, in this case out of a job (well, face it, they were never actually in one) and the con-men or con-persons have succeeded in their scam.

But you might think, hang on, what could possible go wrong?  You apply for the job and if you land it, your employment ship has really come in – 3 grand a month in greenbacks for a bit of babysitting.  If not, it’s back to the sits vacancy columns and websites and you’ve lost nothing but a bit of time and effort.  But of course scams don’t work like that.  If you’ll excuse the mixed metaphors, they’re designed to suck you in, butter you up, then reel you in, hook line and sinker. 

And during the buttering up phase, you feel so flattered, so lucky, so blessed you’re willing to do anything not to mess up this opportunity of a lifetime.  And the first thing you learn is that the job is not here in Botswana but over in the United States, the land of opportunity where streets are paved with gold – more good news.  Then they tell you that they’re not actually living there themselves but are in the process of immigrating so they’d like you to go ahead and set up house for them. 

They will pay for your flight and other expenses, they’ll arrange your visa but for that there will be a small charge.  And you think, fair enough.  What’s a small capital outlay upfront compared to the luxury lifestyle ahead?  But of course, if there never was a job, there never can be a visa. 

You will send the money and then be told that a problem with the paperwork has cropped up and you will need to pay a bit extra and then a bit extra and this will go for as long as they think they can keep on conning you, then one day, long after you’ve started having nagging doubts and suspicions but have brushed them aside, all correspondence will suddenly cease. 

They’re one step ahead of you again and they’ve worked out that you’re running out of money and starting to raise objections.  You are no longer the milk cow you were at the start so they drop you like a hot potato and move on to the next sucker.  And of course there’s a good chance they’ve been juggling multiple victims all along, each one of them forking out money for non-existent permits and paperwork for a non-existent job babysitting a non-existent infant. 

And as always in these scams there’s an early clue in the text.  The first line reads ‘I am my wife’ when it should have read ‘I and my wife’.  See, an English-speaking person wouldn’t make such a silly mistake but a conman fluent in Pidgin English and qualified in ripping off the gullible most certainly would.

And of course this sort of thing doesn’t just apply to the employment market.  A far more lucrative target is that of the lovelorn and lonely.  They are way more vulnerable and way more desperate.  Week after week some bleeding heart tale crops up of a scammed woman who has given over a small fortune to someone she’s only ever chatted to over the internet, someone who is never who he pretended to be and who promised her his undying love… a price. 

Or a scammed guy who thinks the Filipino beauty in the picture is really smitten by a punchy, middle-aged sad-do with a laptop and a bit of money in the bank.  And again it’s always on a drip-feed basis, money first before visas and a passport.  Then it will be for an airfare so he/she can finally make the trip to meet their beloved in the flesh. 

Only of course they will never get on the plane because they are either not who they claim to be in the first place or they are taking candy from these overgrown babies and this is how they make a living.  And before they’re completely done with them, they’ll also have asked for money for clothes/cosmetic surgery/medical bills for them or their nearest and dearest – the list is endless, even though the victims’ resources may not be. 

Take this sorry tale which appeared in this week’s papers.  An Australian woman named Jan Marshall has revealed how she handed over US$ 350k to what she believed to be an Englishman named Eamon Donegal Dublhlainn (seriously?), whom she met on the dating site ‘Plenty of Fish’ but who turned out to be, surprise, surprise, a group of Nigerian fraudsters.  She was even provided with pictures of the fictitious Mr. D but again, unsurprisingly they emailed but whenever they were supposed to video chat there was always a problem. 

Mr. D first told her he was an engineer working in the States then when their ‘relationship’ began to get serious he told her he had taken a contract in Dubai and from there it would be a short hop to come and visit her in Oz. 

But curiously he found himself having to pay unexpected taxes for which he didn’t have the readies – luckily she did.  Then he was robbed of the monies she sent and needed some more.  Then it was money for building materials, all the while telling her that these payments were only loans, and that he had funds but he was just temporarily unable to access them.  And she paid and paid and paid, despite her more astute friends hearing alarm bells going off and trying to warn her.

Sadly there are women like Jan everywhere.  It’s estimated that in Australia alone, victims are conned out of some US$30m every year, most of which ends up in Nigeria, Eastern Europe and the Philippines.   And there are unemployed hopefuls too who think it’s a fair trade paying for a work permit in return for the job of a lifetime.   Well, they say there’s one born every minute – just make sure it isn’t you.

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

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DIS Parley Committee selection disingenuous 

25th November 2020

Intelligence and Security Service Act, which is a law that establishes the Directorate of Intelligence and Security Service (DIS), provides for establishment of a Parliamentary Committee. Recently, the President announced nine names of Members of Parliament he had appointed to the Committee.

This announcement was preceded by a meeting the President held with the Speaker and the Leader of Opposition. Following the announcement of Committee MPs by the President, the opposition, through its leader, made it clear that it will not participate in the Committee unless certain conditions that would ensure effective oversight are met. The opposition acted on the non-participation threat through resignation of its three MPs from the Committee.

The Act at Section 38 provides for the establishment of the Committee to examine the expenditure, administration and policy of the Directorate. The law provides that the Parliamentary Committee shall have the same powers and privileges set out under the National Assembly (Powers and Privileges) Act.

On composition, the Committee shall consist of nine members who shall not be members of Cabinet and its quorum shall be five members.  The MPs in the Committee elect a chairperson from among their number at their first meeting.

The Members of the Committee are appointed by the President after consultation with the Speaker of the National Assembly and Leader of the Opposition in the National Assembly. It is the provision of the law that the Committee, relative to its size, reflect the numerical strengths of the political parties represented in the National Assembly.

The Act provides that that a member of the Committee holds office for the duration of the Parliament in which he or she is appointed.  The Committee is mandated to make an annual report on the discharge of their functions to the President and may at any time report to him or her on any matter relating to the discharge of those functions.

The Minister responsible for intelligence and security is obliged to lay before the National Assembly a copy of each annual report made by the Committee together with a statement as to whether any matter has been excluded from that copy in pursuance of the provision of the Act.

If it appears to the Minister, after consultation with the Parliamentary Committee, that the publication of any matter in a report would be prejudicial to the continued discharge of the functions of the Directorate, the Minister may exclude that matter from the copy of the report as laid before the National Assembly.

So, what are the specific demands of the Opposition and why are they not participating in the Committee? What should happen as a way forward? The Opposition demanded that there be a forensic audit of the Directorate. The DIS has never been audited since it was set up in 2008, more than a decade ago.

The institution has been a law unto itself for a longtime, feared by all oversight bodies. The Auditor General, who had no security of tenure, could not audit the DIS. The Directorate’s personnel, especially at a high level, have been implicated in corruption.  Some of its operatives are in courts of law defending corruption charges preferred against them. Some of the corruption cases which appeared in the media have not made it to the courts.

The DIS has been accused of non-accountability and unethical practices as well as of being a burden on the fiscus.  So, the Opposition demanded, from the President, a forensic audit for the purpose of cleaning up the DIS.  They demand a start from a clean slate.

The second demand by the Opposition is that the law be reviewed to ensure greater accountability of the DIS to Parliament. What are some of the issues that the opposition think should be reviewed? The contention is that the executive cannot appoint a Committee of Parliament to scrutinize an executive institution.

Already, it is argued, Parliament is less independent and it is dominated by the executive. It is contended that the Committee should be established by the Standing Orders and be appointed by a Select Committee of Parliament. There is also an argument that the Committee should report to Parliament and not to the President and that the Minister should not have any role in the Committee.

Democratic and Parliamentary oversight of the intelligence is relatively a new phenomenon across the World. Even developed democracies are still grappling with some of these issues. However, there are acceptable standards or what might be called international best practices which have evolved over the past two or so decades.

In the UK for instance, MPs of the Intelligence and Security Committee are appointed by the Houses of Parliament, having been nominated by the Prime Minister in consultation with the Leader of the Opposition. This is a good balancing exercise of involvement of both the executive and the legislature. Consultation is taken for granted in Botswana context in the sense that it has been reduced to just informing the Leader of Opposition without much regard to his or her ideas; they are never taken seriously.

Furthermore, the current Committee in the UK has four Members of the ruling party and five MPs from the opposition. It is a fairly balanced Committee in terms of Parliamentary representation. However, as said above, the President of Botswana appointed six ruling party MPs and three from the opposition.

The imbalance is preposterous and more pronounced with clear intentions of getting the executive way through the ruling party representatives in the Committee. The intention to avoid scrutiny is clear from the numbers of the ruling party MPs in the Committee.

There is also an international standard of removing sensitive parts which may harm national security from the report before it is tabled in the legislature. The previous and current reluctance of the executive arms to open up on Defence and Security matters emanate from this very reason of preserving and protecting national security.

But national security should be balanced with public interest and other democratic principles. The decision to expunge certain information which may be prejudicial to national security should not be an arbitrary and exclusive decision of the executive but a collective decision of a well fairly balanced Committee in consultation with the Speaker and the minister responsible.

There is no doubt that the DIS has been a rogue institution. The reluctance by the President to commit to democratic-parliamentary oversight reforms presupposes a lack of commitment to democratization. The President has no interest in seeing a reformed DIS with effective oversight of the agency.

He is insincere. This is because the President loathes the idea losing an iota of power and sharing it with any other democratic institution. He sees the agency as his power lever to sustain his stay in the high office. He thought he could sanitize himself with an ineffective DIS Committee that would dance to his tune.

The non-participation of the opposition MPs renders the Committee dysfunctional; it cannot function as this would be unlawful. Participation of the opposition is a legal requirement. Even if it can meet, it would lack legitimacy; it cannot be taken seriously. The President should therefore act on the oversight demands and reform the DIS if he is to be taken seriously.

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The Maccabean Uprising

25th November 2020
Jewish freedom fighters

 Jews drive away occupying power under the command of guerrilla leader Judas Maccabees but only just

Although it was the Desolation Sacrilege act, General Atiku, that officially sparked the Maccabean revolt, it in truth simply stoked the fires of an already simmering revolution. How so General?

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Atomic (CON)Fusion

25th November 2020

For years I have trained people about paradigm shifts – those light-bulb-switch-on moments – where there is a seismic change from the usual way of thinking about something to a newer, better way. 

I like to refer to them as ‘aha’ moments because of the sudden understanding of something which was previously incomprehensible. However,  the topic of today’s article is the complete antithesis of ‘aha’.  Though I’d love to tell you I’d had a ‘eureka ‘, ‘problem solved’ moment, I am faced with the complete opposite – an ‘oh-no’ moment or Lost Leader Syndrome.

No matter how well prepared or capable a leader is. they often find themselves facing perplexing events, confounding information, or puzzling situations. Confused by developments of which they can’t make sense and by challenges that they don’t know how to solve they become confused, sometimes lost and completely clueless about what to do.

I am told by Jentz and Murphy (JM) in ‘What leaders do when they don’t know what to do’ that this is normal, and that rapid change is making confusion a defining feature of management in the 21st century.  Now doesn’t that sound like the story of 2020 summed up in a single sentence?

The basic premise of their writing is that “confusion is not a weakness to be ashamed of but a regular and inevitable condition of leadership. By learning to embrace their confusion, managers are able to set in motion a constructive process for addressing baffling issues.

In fact, confusion turns out to be a fruitful environment in which the best managers thrive by using the instability around them to open up better lines of communication, test their old assumptions and values against changing realities, and develop more creative approaches to problem solving.”

The problem with this ideology however is that it doesn’t help my overwhelming feelings of fear and panic which is exacerbated by a tape playing on a loop in my head saying  ‘you’re supposed to know what to do, do something’. My angst is compounded by annoying motivational phrases also unhelpfully playing in my head like.

  • Nothing happens until something moves
  • The secret of getting ahead is getting started


  • Act or be acted upon

All these platitudes are urging me to pull something out of the bag, but I know that this is a trap. This need to forge ahead is nothing but a coping mechanism and disguise. Instead of owning the fact that I haven’t got a foggy about what to do, part of me worries that I’ll lose authority if I acknowledge that I can’t provide direction – I’m supposed to know the answers, I’m the MD!  This feeling of not being in control is common for managers in ‘oh no’ situations and as a result they often start reflexively and unilaterally attempting to impose quick fixes to restore equilibrium because, lets be honest, sometimes we find it hard to resist hiding our confusion.

To admit that I am lost in an “Oh, No!” moment opens the door not only to the fear of losing authority but also to a plethora of other troubling emotions and thoughts:  *Shame and loss of face: “You’ll look like a fool!” * Panic and loss of control: “You’ve let this get out of hand!” * Incompetence and incapacitation: “You don’t know what you’re doing!”

As if by saying “I’m at a loss here” is tantamount to declaring “I am not fit to lead.” Of course the real problem for me and any other leader is if they don’t admit when they are disoriented, it sends a signal to others in the organisation stating it’s not cool to be lost and that, by its very nature encourages them to hide.  What’s the saying about ‘a real man never asks for direction. they end up driving around in circles’.

As managers we need to embrace the confusion, show vulnerability (remember that’s not a bad word) and accept that leadership is not about pretending to have all the answers but about having the courage to search with others to discover a solution.

JM point out that “being confused, however, does not mean being incapacitated.  Indeed, one of the most liberating truths of leadership is that confusion is not quicksand from which to escape but rather the potter’s clay of leadership – the very stuff with which managers can work.”

2020 has certainly been a year to remember and all indications are that the confusion which has characterised this year will still follow us into the New Year, thereby making confusion a defining characteristic of the new normal and how managers need to manage. Our competence as leaders will then surely be measured not only by ‘what I know’ but increasingly by ‘how I behave when I accept, I don’t know, lose my sense of direction and become confused.

.I guess the message for all organizational cultures going forward is that sticking with the belief that we need all-knowing, omni-competent executives will cost them dearly and send a message to managers that it is better to hide their confusion than to address it openly and constructively.

Take comfort in these wise words ‘Confusion is a word we have invented for an order not yet understood’!

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