In an unprecedented development, Batswana were shocked to witness the brutal and undignified manner in which the Member of Parliament (MP) for Gaborone Central, Honorable Phenyo Butale, of the Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) was manhandled by what appeared to be government security guards attached to the National Assembly.
One photograph published by the local media shows members of the Botswana Police Service standing by as spectators!
This ugly incident, which is reminiscent of the physical harassment and assault recently meted against members of Julius Malema’s Economic Freedom Front (EFF) in the South African National Assembly, has left a cloud that will forever darken our history. If anyone thinks Honorable Butale is the loser since he was publicly humiliated they are wrong. Our country and our Parliament are the losers since on that day our Parliament was adulterated.
The reason Honorable Butale was treated in such a humiliating manner is that he had insisted on moving an urgent motion relating to the water and electricity crisis facing our country.
Apparently, the Deputy Speaker of the National Assembly, Honorable Kagiso Molatlhegi, denied Honorable Butale the right to move his motion because MP for Selibe Phikwe West, Honorable Dithapelo Koorapetse, of the Botswana Congress Party (BCP) had noticed a minister’s question covering the same issue.
Apparently, Honorable Molatlhegi had asked the two legislators to meet and agree on whom would present his item first, but no agreement was reached since, according to Honorable Koorapetse, the two were unable to meet and reach a consensus. It is regrettable that the two MPs, knowing the importance of the issue and the procedures of Parliament, failed to resolve their issue as directed by the Deputy Speaker of the National Assembly.
The question is: was Honorable Molatlhegi right in denying Honorable Butale the right to move his motion before Honorable Koorapetse moved his question? There seems to be no dispute that Honorable Koorapetse noticed his question first and that the question covered the same subject that Honorable Butale’s urgent motion sought to address.
There also seems to be no dispute that an urgent motion and a minister’s question are equal in status and none takes precedence over the other. In the result, Honorable Molatlhegi was right in denying Honorable Butale the right to move the motion ahead of Honorable Koorapetse’s question.
But, that is not the end of the matter. The question is: even if it was appropriate to deny Honorable Butale the right to move his motion ahead of Honorable Koorapetse’s question and to ask him to leave the National Assembly if he did not oblige, was the force and manner used to remove him appropriate? The other question is: was it lawful to use security guards to remove Honorable Butale from the House?
An MP, like everyone else, has the right to protection from inhumane treatment in terms of section 7(1) of the Constitution which reads “No person shall be subjected to torture or to inhuman or degrading punishment or other treatment”.
The limitation to this right is found in subsection (2) which provides that “Nothing contained in or done under the authority of any law shall be held to be inconsistent with or in contravention of this section to the extent that the law in question authorizes the infliction of any description of punishment that was lawful in the country immediately before the coming into operation of this Constitution.
That the security guards, in giving effect to Honorable Molatlhegi’s ruling to have Honorable Butale removed from the National Assembly, treated Honorable Butale in such an inhumane and degrading manner, is not covered by the aforesaid limitation since the action was not lawful.
The action was unlawful in that unreasonable and disproportionate force was used. In our law, even the Police are not allowed to use unreasonable and disproportionate force even in effecting the arrest of a suspected criminal.
Honorable Butale had not committed any crime. He had merely refused to honor the ruling of the Deputy Speaker of the National Assembly. Granted, to preserve the integrity of the National Assembly Honorable Molatlhegi was right to order his removal from the House, but Honorable Butale did not pose any threat to the security of the House that such excessive force was warranted.
Recently, following the use of security personnel to remove EFF MPs from the House, the South African Constitutional Court ruled that it was unconstitutional to allow security personnel to enter the floor of Parliament. The court ruled that only the Sergeant at Arms has the responsibility to effect order in the House. Though this judgment does not bind Botswana, it is at least persuasive and Honorable Molatlhegi, who should be aware of the judgment, should not have allowed such an anomaly to happen.
One wonders whether Honorable Molatlhegi would have allowed such degrading action to be carried out against any of his fellow Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) MPs. He probably would not have allowed it, but he turned a blind eye towards it because it was done against a political adversary.
Though we are all equal before the law an MP is no ordinary person. He or she has the people’s mandate and represents thousands of voters. No wonder MPs carry the title ‘honorable’ and have privileges which ordinary people do not possess.
It, therefore, defies logic why a fellow MP can allow another MP to be treated in such a degrading manner. Though he is the Deputy Speaker of the National Assembly, Honorable Molatlhegi is an MP and should not relish the humiliation of a fellow MP even if they differ politically.
As an Honorable MP, Honorable Butale too should, in future, no matter how much his rights may have been violated, avoid putting himself in a situation that may give an excuse for such barbaric action against him. There is a martial art teaching of ‘Yin and Yun’ which is founded in Chinese philosophy which describes how apparently opposite or contrary forces are actually complementary.
Sometimes, letting go and using a different degree of force from the one applied by the other person makes one emerge triumphant. Of course, such person may appear to have lost the battle but the reality is that they would in fact be the true victors.
Ralph Waldo Emerson once said “some defeats are more triumphant than victories”. If Honorable Butale had just obliged and left the House at the earliest instruction by Honorable Molatlhegi, his dignity would have been preserved and he would have been the victor.
There are those who blame the BCP and Honorable Koorapetse of the barbarism that ensued on that fateful date, arguing that the BCP and/or Honorable Koorapetse could have allowed Honorable Butale to move his motion.
Apparently, there is nothing they could have done since Honorable Molatlhegi had ruled that their intervention was unwelcome because Honorable Butale and Honorable Koorapetse failed to reach agreement before Parliament resumed as per his order.
In any event, this is politics and the BCP and Honorable Koorapetse cannot have been expected to readily concede that Honorable Butale outsmarts them by presenting on an issue that they were supposed to lead since Honorable Koorapetse noticed his question ahead of Honorable Butale’s urgent motion.
Because Honorable Butale was aware of Honorable Koorapetse’s question why did he insist on moving his motion first? It was obviously for political mileage and the BCP and Honorable Koorapetse cannot be blamed for having sought to achieve political mileage too.
The BDP and Honorable Molatlhegi should know that those who rule by the sword die by the sword. I say the BDP because, through the Leader of the House, its Chief Whip and indeed its MPs it could have avoided such a dark cloud from befalling our Parliament through such means as an adjournment in order to address the impasse between the Deputy Speaker and Honorable Butale in a dignified manner.
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.