"Thy Lord hath decreed that ye worship none but Him, and that ye be kind to parents. Whether one or more attain old age in thy life, say not to them a word of contempt, nor repel them, but address them in terms of honour. And out of kindness, lower to them the wing of humility, and say, "my Lord! Bestow on them Thy Mercy, even as they cherished me in childhood." (Quran 17: 23-24).
In all religions, cultures, traditions, nationalities and societies, parents have an honourable status. From a logical and material point of view, we are and should be indebted to our parents, particularly our mother. She not only nourished us in her womb, but went through pain and suffering of child bearing and birth.
She loved us even before we were born. She toiled when we were totally helpless infants; she fed us, cleaned our nappies and wiped the ‘snot’ off our noses and all those selfless and loving things mothers do. She spent sleepless nights caring for us when we were sick. She patted us to sleep and in our helpless state kept an ever watchful eye on us.
A mother’s love for her child is selfless. She took the trouble to protect and nourish you with her love, her heart and soul to satisfy all your needs in relation to hunger, thirst, dress, etc. She spent sleepless nights, suffering anxieties.
She provided you with shelter against heat and cold, and protected you from ailments. She is always the shelter that we can turn to in our hour of need. Hence, it is not possible for us to compensate her, or even thank her enough for this love. Our fathers have the joint responsibility and that right because it is he who brought you into existence, and we are a branch of the tree of his life.
"We have enjoined on man kindness to his parents; in pain did his mother bear him, and in pain did she give him birth." (Quran 46:15)
Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) was whom should we render kindness to? The Prophet told him to be kind to his mother. Three times he put the same question to the Prophet, and three times he got the same answer. When he asked the question the fourth time, he was told to be kind to his father, indicating that the mother's right took precedence over that of the father.
Our parents working as a team provide for our physical, educational, psychological, and also for our, religious, moral, and spiritual needs. Our indebtedness and gratitude to our parents is so immense that it is not possible to repay it fully.
In lieu of this, it becomes our duty to show the utmost kindness, respect, and obedience to them. The position of parents, and our obligations and responsibilities, are addressed in Islam in detail. The parent-child code of behaviour is laid down in Quranic commandments, as well as the sayings of Prophet Muhammad (pbuh).
"And We have enjoined on man to be good to his parents. In travail upon travail did his mother bear him, and in two years was his weaning. Show gratitude to Me and to thy parents; to Me is thy final goal." (Quran 31: 14)
The above verse shows that gratitude to Allah and to parents go hand in hand. Gratitude to Allah is incomplete without showing gratitude to one's parents. Being grateful to Allah is a form of worship which earns us heavenly rewards, so too can being grateful to one's parents. "He who wishes to enter Paradise through its best door must please his parents."
Thus, we are required to show kindness, respect, and humility to our parents. It is our duty to do so, the only exception to the above command is made in the following verse: "We have enjoined on man kindness to his parents; but if they strive (to force) thee to join with Me anything of which thou hast no knowledge, obey them not." (29:8).This means that the only time that we should disobey them is when they join partners in the worship of Allah. In Islam ‘Allah is One and has no partners to share in His Glory’.
Islam has assigned parents certain duties that they have to fulfil. If they fail in them then they will be questioned about it. As parents our responsibility is to provide them with the basic necessities of life, further it is our duty to teach our children the Oneness of Allah, the Quranic Commandments, teachings, moral code and Islamic values. Further we should give them the teachings of the various Prophets and the Sunnah (teachings) of Prophet Muhammad (pbuh)
Regrettably, in this day and age, we witness the abuse, verbal and at times physical, that children mete out to their parents. It is not uncommon for children nowadays lose ‘patience’ leading them to curse, shout at and even swear their parents; in some instances even use violence. As they get older some of us tend to disown them and even ‘write’ them off as a burden to ourselves.
Worse still, when some of us climb the ladder of power, wealth, position and influence, we tend to ‘hide’ our parents because we are embarrassed of them in front of our friends and colleagues. So we tend to ship them off to the cattle post or elsewhere out of the way as it were. Sad but true this happens but in many parts of the world it is common for old parents to be shipped off to an old age home.
There are many teachings of Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) about the responsibilities toward our parents, among them: "It is a pity that some people may not attain Paradise, on account of not serving their old parents." "Paradise lies under the feet of the mother." "Allah's pleasure is in the pleasure of the father, and Allah's displeasure is in the displeasure of the father."
Let turn to Allah so that He may guide us to fulfil our obligations so that we may be respectful, kind, and obedient to our parents, and that we continue to show them humility regardless of the power, position, wealth, and influence we may have in life.
Let us also be patient, kind, thoughtful, and friendly with our children, as we guide them through their lives, and that we discharge our responsibilities towards them, so that we may be rewarded, both in this world and in the Hereafter.
The world in which we live is a criminally unequal one. In his iconic 1945 allegorical novella, Animal Farm, a satire on the facetiousness of the then Soviet Empire’s crackbrained experiment with a command economy, the legendary George Orwell in my view hit the nail squarely on the head when he said all animals were equal but some animals were more equal than others.
That’s the never-ending dichotomy of the so-called First World and its polar opposite, the so-called Third World as Orwell’s cleverly-couched diatribe applies as much to the tread-of-the-mill laissez faire economics of our day as it did to Marxist-Leninist Russia a generation back.
Even as the Nation of Israeli braced to militarily take possession of the Promised Land, General, its top three senior citizens, namely Moses, Aaron, and Miriam, were not destined to share in this god-conferred bequest. All three died before the lottery was won.
Financial Reporting (Amendment) Bill, 2020 and Accountants (Amendment) Bill, 2020 were expeditiously passed by parliament on Thursday.
What are these two Bills really about? The Bills are essentially about professional values that are applicable to auditors and accountants in their practice. The Bills seeks to basically enhance existing laws to ensure more uprightness, fairness, professional proficiency, due care, expertise and or professional technical standards.
The Financial Reporting Act, 2010 (FRA) establishes the Botswana Accountancy Oversight Authority (BAOA), as the country’s independent regulator of the accounting and auditing profession. BAOA is responsible for the oversight and registration of audit firms and certified auditors of public interest entities.
In the same vein, there is the Accountants Act, 2010 establishing the Botswana Institute of Chartered Accountants (BICA) which is responsible for the registration and regulation of the accounting and auditing profession. This consequently infers that some auditors have to register first with BICA as certified auditors, and also with BAOA as certified auditors of public bodies. So, the Bills sought to avert the duplication.
According to Minister Matsheka, the duplication of efforts in the regulation of auditors, which is done by both BICA and BAOA, creates a substantial gap on oversight of certified auditors in Botswana, as the two entities have different review procedures. He contends that the enforcement of sanctions becomes problematic and, thus, leads to offenders going Scot-Free, and audit quality standards also continue to plunge.
The Financial Reporting (Amendment) Bill, 2020, in the view of the Minister, brings the oversight and regulation of all auditors in Botswana under the jurisdiction of the Accountancy Oversight Authority and that Bringing all auditors within one roof, under the supervision of BAOA would therefore reinforce their oversight and significantly enhance accountability.
He also pointed that the Bill broadens the current mandate of the Authority by redefining public interest entities to include public bodies, defined as boards, tribunals, commissions, councils, committees, other body corporate or unincorporated established under any enactment.
This covers any company in which government has an equity shareholding. In order to enable the process of instituting fitting sanctions against violation of its provisions, the Bill clearly lays down acts and lapses that constitute professional misconduct.
This Bill further strengthens the sanctions for breach of the Act by public interest entities, officers, firms, and certified auditors. Reinforcing the law with respect to such sanctions will act as an effective deterrent for breach of the Act.
The Accountants Bill also strengthens the current mandate of the Institute by making it obligatory for those who provide accountancy services in Botswana to register with the Institute, and for all employers to hire accountants who are registered with the Institute.
The Minister reasons that in line with the spirit of citizen empowerment, this Bill proposes reservation of at least 50% of the Council membership for citizens. This, he says, is to empower citizens and ensure that citizenries play an active role in the affairs of the Institute, and ultimately in the development of the accounting profession in Botswana.
The Bills come at a point when Botswana’s financial sector is in a quagmire. The country has been blacklisted by the European Union. Its international rankings on Corruption Perception Index have slightly reduced. According to recent reports by Afro Barometer survey, perceptions of corruption in the public service have soured and so is mistrust in public institutions.
Rating agencies, Standard Poor’s and Moody’s have downgraded Botswana, albeit slightly. The reasons are that there continues to be corruption, fiscal and revenue crimes such as money laundering and general unethical governance in the country. There are still loopholes in many laws despite the enactments and amendments of more than thirty laws in the last two years.
One of the most critical aspect of enhancing transparency and accountability and general good governance, is to have a strong auditing and accounting systems. Therefore, such professions must be properly regulated to ensure that public monies are protected against white color crime. It is well known that some audit firms are highly unprincipled.
They are responsible for tax avoidance and tax evasions of some major companies. Some are responsible for fraud that has been committed. They are more loyal to money paid by clients than to ethical professional standards. They shield clients against accountability. Some companies and parastatals have collapsed or have been ruined financially despite complementary reports by auditors.
In some cases, we have seen audit firms auditing parastatals several times to almost becoming resident auditors. This is bad practice which is undesirable. Some auditors who were appointed liquidators of big companies have committee heinous crimes of corruption, imprudent management, fraud and outright recklessness without serious consequences.
There is also a need to protect whistleblowers as they have been victimized for blowing the whistle on impropriety. In fact, in some cases, audit firms have exonerated culprits who are usually corrupt corporate executives.
The accounting and auditing professions have been dominated by foreigners for a very long time. Most major auditing firms used by state entities and big private sector companies are owned by foreigners. There has to be a deliberate plan to have Batswana in this profession.
While there are many Batswana who are accountants, less are chartered accountants. There must be deliberate steps to wrestle the profession from foreigners by making citizens to be chartered. It is also important to strengthen the Auditor General. The office is created by the constitution.
The security of tenure is clearly secured in the constitution. However, this security of tenure was undermined by the appointing authority in many instances whereby the Auditor General was appointed on a short-term contract. The office is part of the civil service and is not independent at all.
The Auditor General is placed, in terms of scale, at Permanent Secretary level and is looked at as a peer by others who think they can’t be instructed by their equivalent to comply. Some have failed to submit books of accounts for audits, e.g. for special funds without fear or respect of the office. There is need to relook this office by making it more independent and place it higher than Permanent Secretaries.