Sir John Dalberg-Acton once said “Power tends to corrupt and absolute power corrupts absolutely. Great men are almost always bad men”. Recent events indicate that the Botswana Democratic Party (BDP), which has been in power since 1965, has become drunk with power and power has begun to corrupt it absolutely.
Just this week, there were reports in a local private radio station, Duma FM, that following a directive from the Ministry of Lands & Housing, a BDP sectoral policy on land, which is part of the BDP manifesto for the 2014 general elections, is displayed in Land Board offices throughout the country. Further that the Ministry has ordered that the said sectoral policy be read to employees during their daily morning meetings.
If these reports are true, this will be an unfortunate situation since it is tantamount to politicization of the public service by the ruling party. When a citizen visits a government office or facility he or she expects to find the national flag, and documents or material bearing such national symbols as the coat of arms; and logos in the case of Councils and Land Boards.
Batswana do not expect to find documents or material with political party colors and logos displayed by public officials in government offices, be it at national or local authority level. They do not expect to find material with photos of His Excellency (HE) the President clad in BDP regalia. They expect to find only official photos with HE dressed in neutral colors and with his photos bearing the coat of arms since he, as Head of State, leads all of us despite our political party differences.
It is also improper for the ruling party to use its authority to influence the government as an employer to indoctrinate public servants with its political propaganda in government offices and during working hours. Like opposition political parties, the BDP should propagate its political messages at its own cost and through means that do not compromise the political neutrality of the public service.
Hopefully, such trade unions as Botswana Land Boards & Local Authorities and Health Workers Union (BLLAHWU) and Botswana Public Employees Union (BOPEU) will sensitize their members to resist being brain washed by the BDP in this manner.
For many years the Opposition has been complaining that the BDP gains undue political advantage because during election campaigns HE and ministers use government resources. Reportedly, in the recent Good-hope-Mabule constituency bye-elections, HE used Botswana Defence Force (BDF) helicopters to traverse the constituency; and ministers abandoned their offices and used government vehicles driven by government employees during working hours in their house to house campaigns.
Immediately after the writ of elections was issued for the bye election, Specially Elected Member of Parliament (SEMP) and Minister of Presidential Affairs and Public Administration, Eric Molale, reportedly abandoned his ministerial and parliamentary duties for the campaign for both his party’s primary elections and the bye elections.
When a Member of Parliament (MP) asked the Deputy Speaker to give an explanation for Molale’s continued absence from Parliament, a senior cabinet minister is reported to have interjected, claiming that giving an answer to such a question would set a bad precedent since other MPs have been absent from Parliament and no such question was asked.
Just prior to his party’s primary elections, Molale used government vehicles and drivers to campaign under the pretext that he was taking services to the people. It is not understandable why the Minister of Health did not take the lead since the so-called services were mostly health related. Botswana Television (Btv) and Radio Botswana (RB) covered the tour and gave it publicity as though it was an official tour when it was in fact a political campaign.
Botswana Television and Radio Botswana themselves have been used by the BDP to present itself as the only alternative for Batswana. While such BDP political events as political rallies and meetings are covered extensively, and HE is often accorded one sided propaganda interviews, the Leader of the Opposition and the Opposition is seldom covered. When it is covered, emphasis is put on such negatives as political party in-fighting and poor political rally and meeting attendance as though the BDP is free of such.
High ranking government officials have resigned their positions today only to be sworn in as BDP MPs the following day. Examples are HE when he resigned from the BDF only to be Vice President the following day. Molale himself resigned as Permanent Secretary to the President (PSP) only to be nominated and elected as Specially Elected Member of Parliament the following day and later appointed Minister of Presidential Affairs and Public Administration. This only confirms that such officials would not only have been card carrying members of the BDP, but would have been covertly involved in the party’s operations.
Yet, if such reports are true, the BDP led government has been swift to purge the officials it suspected and/or knew were Opposition sympathizers. Former Botswana Federation of Trade Unions (BFTU) and Botswana Teachers Union (BTU) president, Japhta Radebe, and MP for Gabane-Mmankgodi constituency, and former Commander of BDF Ground Forces, Major General Pius Mokgware, are examples. Their careers were cut short because of suspected allegiance to the Opposition.
Just this week, there have been reports that the Ministry of Education and Skills Development (MoESD) has bowed to political pressure from the ruling BDP to transfer the majority of the teaching staff at Goodhope Senior Secondary School who have been accused of supporting the Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) in the just ended Good hope-Mabule constituency bye election. Reportedly, at least eighteen teachers and part of Management will be transferred to other schools.
The Ministry of Education and Skills Development’s claim that the transfers are a normal administrative action aimed at addressing declining performance at the school is not convincing. Many schools have had similar and even worse performance and behavioral problems and the solution to the problem has never been as drastic and unreasonable as this. I say unreasonable because this, being the last term of the year, the transfers are, no doubt, going to affect the students adversely. Also, have the teachers been the only cause for the poor performance?
Sometime in 2013 we witnessed with regret when prominent members of the BDP used their numbers and influence in the Council to frustrate and ultimately oust the then president of the then Botswana Confederation of Commerce, Industry & Manpower (BOCCIM) and now Business Botswana, Alex Letlhogonolo Monchusi, following his stand-off with the Chief Executive Officer, Maria Machailo-Ellis.
Having witnessed how the blurring of the line between the government and the ruling party has been detrimental to democracy in many countries one would not want to see Botswana going that route. Zimbabwe is, today, a sorry shadow of its real self because there is no difference between the ruling party, ZANU-PF, and the government.
In South Africa, what the African National Congress (ANC) decides at Luthuli House becomes government policy. China has one of the world’s worst human rights records because the Communist Party is essentially the government. North Korea, Venezuela and Bolivia are worse since they essentially have no government, they being ruled by the party and the military.
If the BDP does not take heed of Sir John Dalberg-Acton’s words, it will confirm his words that because of corruption by power “great men are almost always bad men”. In this context, the words would be “great parties are almost always bad parties” for there is no doubt that before it allowed power to corrupt it and corrupt it absolutely the BDP was a great party. It is as a result of this corruption by power that its continued reign is now under threat. It is this corruption by power which may, in the next general elections, bring BDP’s rule to an end.
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.