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BDP’s leadership: Minority tribes and Women

Ndulamo Anthony Morima
EAGLE WATCH

The Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) prides itself as a political party which gives all its members an equal opportunity to achieve their full potential. It prides itself as being accommodative and tolerant of all its members despite such differences as ethnicity, race and gender. Yet, in reality this does not appear to be so.

Is it not surprising that despite having been in existence for about fifty years now, the BDP has never had a female party president? Can this be a mere coincidence or it is as a result of a well calculated political scheme? It is my view that this is because patriarchy has been so entrenched within our society, of which the BDP is a part, that having a female party president within the BDP is almost taboo.

Even attaining the position of party chairperson seems to be a no go area for women within the BDP. One of the current contenders for the party chairpersonship, Tebelelo Seretse, once tried her luck, but she failed not because she lacked the necessary credentials, but largely because of the prevailing gender stereotypes and prejudices. Even now when she is running for the second time, the reservations expressed against her are not based on merit, but are based on gender stereotypes and prejudices.

The facts that Tebelelo Seretse is a trained lawyer; was a Member of Parliament (MP) for many years; has served as a minister in several capacities; is an accomplished businesswoman and was, until recently, Botswana’s Ambassador to the United States of America are seldom mentioned. What is mentioned is that she is a woman who despite calling herself ‘Madam Chairperson’ during her campaign has lost the chairpersonship race before.  

Unfortunately, faced with such disadvantage, Tebelelo Seretse and other women candidates for the forthcoming BDP Central Committee elections are left with no option, but to campaign on the gender ticket. This further alienates them from the male dominated party structures, making their campaign messages almost inaudible. In fact, their male contenders use that against them telling the voters that if elected into office the female candidates will not serve all party members impartially, but will be biased towards women.

Though the BDP constitution does not provide that the party chairperson becomes state vice president and consequently succeeds the state president in terms of the automatic succession provision of our constitution, in practice that is what has prevailed. Therefore, while women could at least have better chances for the party chairpersonship, such chances are nullified by the prospects for the state vice presidency that the position presents.

Some people blame women for failing to support each other so that they prevail against male domination in contestation for political office. While in theory that is true, the reality is that gender inequality and male domination within the BDP, as in the rest of society, has become so entrenched that it cannot be remedied by the female vote alone. The BDP leadership needs to take a conscious decision to uplift women so that they have an equal chance to attain such influential positions as that of party president, chairperson, Secretary General and Treasurer.

Is it not surprising that that despite having been in existence for about fifty years now, the BDP has never had a party president from such minority tribes as Basarwa, Bakalanga, Bayeyi, Bambukushu, Babirwa, and Batswapong? Is this a mere coincidence or it is as a result of a well calculated political plot? In my view, it is by political design. The only reason that Ponatshego Kedikilwe, for example, never became president is that he belonged to a minority tribe. He will, therefore, only remain ‘the best president’ that never was. The best he got was the vice presidency when President Lieutenant General Seretse Khama Ian Khama’s choice, the late Lieutenant General Mompati Merafhe, become incapacitated by illness.

This week there were media reports that a former BDP Secretary General and Member of Parliament was overheard dissuading people from his region from voting for Honourable Biggie Butale for the party chairpersonship because he is a Kalanga. If such a high ranking member of the BDP can hold and utter such a view and the party leadership fails to take disciplinary action against him, it indicates that tribalism is deep-rooted or is at least condoned within the BDP. Reportedly, the said person encouraged those from his region to vote for His Honor the Vice President, Mokgweetsi Masisi, presumably because he is from a superior tribe.

Why should tribalism and gender and not merit and substance be the determining factor of who attains a particular position? If a candidate is indeed the best candidate, as his or her supporters believe, he or she should win not because his or her tribe or gender is better than others, but because he or she is substantively better than all other candidates.

The BDP has no right to deny us being served by its very best men and women only giving us its second best whose ‘best’ is only tribe and gender. Such is the worst betrayal of our people. Such would be unforgivable, especially for a party which prides itself with having been founded on such strong democratic pillars as tolerance and respect for diversity.

If the BDP really prides itself as a political party which gives all its members an equal opportunity to achieve their full potential, Honourable Butale should not be denied being party chairperson by the fact that he is Kalanga. Similarly, Tebelelo Seretse should not die without becoming chairperson simply because she is a woman. On the same token, His Honor, Mokgweetsi Masisi, and Ramadeluka Seretse should not be punished for belonging to the tribes that they do. The only thing that should matter is substance, and of course political positioning.

Certainly, the BDP’s political positioning cannot be compromised by the fact that it elects a woman as chairperson. Nor can it be compromised by the fact that it elects a Mosarwa, Mokalaka, Moyeyi, Mombukushu, Mmirwa or Motswapong as chairperson. On the contrary, this can put the BDP in good stead since Batswana, especially from such hitherto marginalized genders and tribes, would vote for it because it would have proved that it is truly a party for all Batswana.

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The Daring Dozen at Bari

8th December 2020
JEFF---Batswana-smoke-unit

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.

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A Strong Marriage Bond Needs Two

8th December 2020

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”

UNDERSTANDING

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.”

COMMITMENT

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.

ACCEPTANCE

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.

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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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