When the Member of Parliament (MP) for the Goodhope-Mabule constituency, Honorable James Mathokgwane, resigned only seven months after he was elected, the nation and his constituency were left in utter shock, especially that the resignation was sudden. Not only that. Some of his voters alleged, through radio phone-in programmes, that he neither consulted nor at least informed them of the resignation claiming that they only learnt about it through the media.
While initially the reason for his resignation was stated as ‘for personal reasons’ Mathokgwane was later quoted as citing his diabetic condition as the reason for the resignation, stating that on medical advice he had decided to resign since his condition has deteriorated since he became an MP. He implied that the deterioration was caused by the agitation that is often occasioned by his functions as an MP.
At almost the same time that the reasons for his resignation became public, it emerged that Mathokgwane was appointed as Regional Director (Operations) with the Selibe Phikwe Economic Diversification Unit (SPEDU) only a day after attending the job interview. If this is true, it is extra ordinary indeed.
In this article, I consider the lessons that can be learnt from Mathokgwane’s resignation. I also consider the implications of the resignation for Mathokgwane himself, the Botswana National Front (BNF), the Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC), the Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) and to the Botswana Congress Party (BCP).
If a people’s representative can resign so suddenly and without consulting or at least informing his electorate there is a problem with our representative democracy. An employee, even a low level employee earning less than One Thousand Pula a month, is required by law to give notice, usually one month, or pay the employer an equivalent of one month’s salary in lieu of notice. The employer is expected to do the same when he or she terminates an employee’s contract of employment.
What about an MP or Councilor who was elected by the people and is supposed to serve them? Should it not be part of our law that an MP or Councilor, who is a people’s servant, should serve notice prior to resigning?
Should it not be part of our law that an MP or Councilor should consult or at least inform his or her voters prior to resigning? Should an MP or Councilor not account to his or her voters or at least give a report of his or her tenure of office prior to resigning? Is it not ironical that an MP or Councilor can resign whenever he or she wants but the voters who put him or her into office cannot recall him or her from office for underperformance?
Mathokgwane’s integrity may have been dented irreparably in the eyes of his voters to the extent that he may never be trusted with public office again. Though they acknowledge that conditions differ from one individual to another, people are wondering how diabetes, a condition suffered by many people, can lead one to resign from his job. They give examples of known diabetics who hold more demanding positions than that of an MP but have not resigned their jobs.
Others wonder whether by joining SPEDU Mathokgwane implies that SPEDU has no challenges which can cause the same aggravation to his health that he suffered when he was an MP. Some argue that considering the enormous challenge of diversifying Selibe Phikwe away from dependence on copper and nickel bestowed upon SPEDU, the SPEDU job may be more challenging and stressful than that of an MP. They think that Mathokgwane is using his diabetes condition as an excuse to abandon his voters for greener pastures.
They think that the real reason for Mathokgwane’s resignation is an insatiable desire to amass wealth and that he has chosen his own well-being over that of his voters who entrusted him with their lives less than seven month ago.
Mathokgwane did not help the situation when he reportedly stated that he would not compromise his life for politics because if he dropped dead today politics would not take care of his children. One wonders whether he was not aware of that seven months ago when he promised to serve Barolong with all his might and will. One also wonders who would take care of the children of his campaign agents, for example, who risked their lives for him, if they dropped dead or had been killed during the campaigns.
Other people believe that Mathokgwane was ‘bought’ by the ruling BDP to resign so that it can re-gain the seat through a bye election. They allege that the mysterious way in which Mathokgwane got the SPEDU job suggests that the job was given to him in return for his resignation. Though this and the aforesaid allegations against Mathokgwane may be untrue they have irreparably eroded his integrity.
Following Mathokgwane’s resignation, which followed that of a UDC councilor in Kgatleng, some people claim that this is an indication that the UDC cannot be trusted with forming a stable government when it assumes state power.
They allege that the UDC is guilty of greed, the very vice it has always blamed the BDP for. While the number of resignations by UDC representatives is not that many for one to draw such a conclusion, this may work against the UDC. Unfortunately, in politics perceptions are often regarded as fact.
Tainted by this perception, which the BDP and the BCP are relishing, if the UDC does not work very hard to dispel the perception before the bye elections it may lose the seat. After all, the UDC won the Parliamentary seat with a slim majority. Also, the BDP won many Council seats. The BDP’s loss of the Parliamentary seat may have had more to do with the voters’ dislike for the then BDP candidate, Honorable Kitso Mokaila, than with their dislike for the BDP itself.
Not only that. At the last general elections the UDC was riding on the high winds of change, Moono, which do not necessarily prevail today. Such issues which gave traction to the Moono wave as alleged extra-judicial killings by the Directorate on Intelligence and Security Services (DISS), the alleged assassination of Gomolemo Motswaledi, the Directorate on Public Service Management (DPSM)’s disputes with the Botswana Federation of Public Service Unions (BOFEPUSU) are no longer as topical. Also, some are of the view that the UDC has performed below expectation in Parliament.
Considering that his popularity ratings have not risen since the general elections and may have in fact declined further as a result of the water and electricity shortages, the UDC’s prospects of victory may only be enhanced if Honorable Mokaila contests the bye elections.
If he does not stand and Honorable Eric Molale stands instead the UDC may lose the seat. The fact that he comes from Phitshane Molopo, a village which has not produced an MP for many years, the people from Phitshane Molopo and surrounding villages may want to see one of their own in Parliament.
Molale’s candidacy, if he does in fact resign as Specially Elected Member of Parliament and contests the bye elections, may also be a setback for the UDC because as the Minister for Presidential Affairs & Public Administration and having been Permanent Secretary to the President (PSP) for many years, he has some gravitas which puts him in good stead.
In fact, rumor has it that those advocating for his candidature use the argument that considering that he has the credentials to be the next Vice President, it is better for the BDP that he earns an elected seat as early as now. This, it is reported, is going down well with the people from the constituency whose region has not produced a Vice President since independence.
For the UDC to win the seat it needs to have a strong candidate. If reports that Kgosi Lotlamoreng II intends to contest the seat under the UDC banner are anything to go by, he may be the only live line for the UDC. He may win not because he has much political gravitas but because he is Kgosi and, like Batawana with Kgosi Tawana Moremi II, Barolong may want to see their Kgosi in Parliament.
After all, given his intellect he is not of much use as a Kgosi, some argue. Also, his efforts to become chairperson of Ntlo ya Dikgosi have been thwarted by Kgosi Puso Gaborone of Batlokwa who many say is in the BDP’s good books.
The BCP too needs to have a strong candidate if it is to win the bye election, especially if Honorable Eric Molale and Kgosi Lotlamoreng II were to stand for the BDP and UDC respectively. Clearly, the BCP’s likely candidate, Comfort Maruping, who has contested and lost the seat several times before, has no political gravitas to challenge Honorable Eric Molale and Kgosi Lotlamoreng II.
This notwithstanding, the BCP may surprise many if the fact that since the general elections it has, against all odds, won one council bye election in Kgatleng from the UDC is anything to go by.
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.