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Home is where the heart is

Iqbal Ebrahim

The basis of any society is built on the family unit and the family is the cornerstone and the foundation of all social, cultural and religious structures in society. This then flows into and determines the strength of societies which then ultimately flows into humanity. When the family is strong, a society endures. When the family comes apart, a society unravels.

How would you classify your residence, is it a house or a home? There is a distinguishing difference between the two because, I believe in the principle that: ‘A house is built with bricks, mortar and cement, but a home is built with love, respect, trust, affection, good manners, kindness and happiness.’ If you think about those who are homeless, who live in shelters, or on the streets, or as refugees scattered in temporary camps, then you will realize the blessing of having a home. ‘Allah has made for you in your homes, a place of rest and comfort for you’ (Quran 19:80).  

We don’t realise the importance of a stable home built on the elements mentioned above. Many of us live in fancy homes with all the mod cons, yet we are still unhappy. Call me old fashioned, but rewind to a few years back when most of us grew up in humble and simple dwellings with no electricity or water or for that matter, horror of horrors, not even a phone or television, yet we were happy and contented. So what is the problem?

Firstly, our religious faith has slowly crumbled just like the unstable home we live in. Faith is central to belief in Islam, without faith there can be no belief. So our faith should be built on firm foundations for that religious belief and practice to flow into our homes. ‘Which then is best? He that layeth his foundations on piety to Allah and His good pleasure; or he that layeth his foundation on undermined sand cliff, ready to crumble to pieces? (Quran 9: 109)

The Bible says: “He is like a man, who, in building his house, dug deep and laid his foundation on rocks….. but anyone who hears my words and does not obey them is like one who built it without laying a foundation; when the flood hit that house it fell at once” (Luke 7: 48-49)

In this day and age of modernisation many of us miss the opportunity of building a ‘real home’ because we are too busy following the dictates of today’s lifestyle. Though the family is living in one house, we are living ‘apart’.

Many homes have literally become bed and breakfasts – in other words family members come home only to sleep, have breakfast, and are gone again to their worldly chores resulting in very little family time and communication. Worse still, even if they are together in the lounge or even at the dinner table, each one of them will be engrossed fiddling with their mobile devices on face book, What’s app and all the other social media sites.

As a result of these and other modern day outlooks, the sanctity of family relations and life is crumbling. There is a lack of an atmosphere of family-ness as a result, children are growing up with a distinct disconnect with the family unit. What can we do to create an atmosphere that leads to happiness and friendliness in the home? We have to realise that the home is a place of shared responsibility. ‘O you who believe, save yourselves and your families from the fire of Hell… (Quran 66:6)

Therefore in a home the responsibility falls onto every member of the family to ensure that it is not just a place where people eat and sleep, but a place where family members sincerely enjoy being together, with shared beliefs and values, where there is mutual love, respect, comfort and peace. These can only exist if we live a life based on the values, principles and teachings of the Quran and the Sunnah of Prophet Muhammad (pbuh). ‘Those who believe and whose families follow them in faith, to them we shall join their families…..’  (Quran 52:21)

Families need role models – regrettably many parents seem to have forgotten their responsibility and leadership roles in their homes. Let us take a home in which there is a strained relationship between father and the mother, this usually leads to an unhappy home. In some cases when they are at loggerheads it can lead to the exchange of harsh words and worse still spousal violence.

One can imagine the negative effect this will have on the children. The whole aspect of a home being a loving, respectable and peaceful haven is shattered. As often stated, children may not necessarily do as you ask them to, but they will certainly ape what you do. Therefore we need to take our parental roles seriously – that responsibility is borne by the parents of the household.

Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) said: “On the Day of Reckoning Allah will ask every shepherd (or responsible person) about his flock (those for whom he was responsible), whether he took care of it or neglected it, until He asks a man about his household."

So where do we start? We need to start by showing kindness in the home this means showing love, respect and affection towards one's wife and children is one of the ways that lead to creating an atmosphere of happiness and friendliness in the home. Being kind to one another is one of the means of attaining happiness in the home, for kindness is very beneficial between the spouses, and with the children, and brings results that cannot be achieved through harshness, as the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) said: ‘Allah loves kindness and rewards it in such a way that He does not reward for harshness or for anything else’.

Kindness and respect can even include helping one another by sharing the workload in the home. Take for example, when some men arrive home expect their wives to have the food ready, even though the pot is on the stove and the baby is screaming on one side; they do not pick up the child or patiently wait a while for the food to be served – they will sulk or even go off at a tangent as some men think that housework is beneath them, and some even think that it will undermine their status and position if they help their wives with this work. In helping one’s wife with the housework builds a stronger and loving relationship because it will be a way of sharing responsibility in household chores.    
To be continued….

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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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The Era of “The Diplomat”

30th November 2020

Youngest Maccabees scion Jonathan takes over after Judas and leads for 18 years

Going hand-in-glove with the politics at play in Judea in the countdown to the AD era, General Atiku, was the contention for the priesthood. You will be aware, General, that politics and religion among the Jews interlocked. If there wasn’t a formal and sovereign Jewish King, there of necessity had to be a High Priest at any given point in time.

Initially, every High Priest was from the tribe of Levi as per the stipulation of the Torah. At some stage, however, colonisers of Judah imposed their own hand-picked High Priests who were not ethnic Levites. One such High Priest was Menelaus of the tribe of Benjamin.

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Land Board appointments of party activists is political corruption

30th November 2020

Parliament has rejected a motion by Leader of Opposition (LOO) calling for the reversing of the recent appointments of ruling party activists to various Land Boards across the country. The motion also called for the appointment of young and qualified Batswana with tertiary education qualifications.

The ruling party could not allow that motion to be adopted for many reasons discussed below. Why did the LOO table this motion? Why was it negated? Why are Land Boards so important that a ruling party felt compelled to deploy its functionaries to the leadership and membership positions?

Prior to the motion, there was a LOO parliamentary question on these appointments. The Speaker threw a spanner in the works by ruling that availing a list of applicants to determine who qualified and who didn’t would violate the rights of those citizens. This has completely obliterated oversight attempts by Parliament on the matter.

How can parliament ascertain the veracity of the claim without the names of applicants? The opposition seeks to challenge this decision in court.  It would also be difficult in the future for Ministers and government officials to obey instructions by investigative Parliamentary Committees to summon evidence which include list of persons. It would be a bad precedent if the decision is not reviewed and set aside by the Business Advisory Committee or a Court of law.

Prior to independence, Dikgosi allocated land for residential and agricultural purposes. At independence, land tenures in Botswana became freehold, state land and tribal land. Before 1968, tribal land, which is land belonging to different tribes, dating back to pre-independence, was allocated and administered by Dikgosi under Customary Law. Dikgosi are currently merely ‘land overseers’, a responsibility that can be delegated. Land overseers assist the Land Boards by confirming the vacancy or availability for occupation of land applied for.

Post-independence, the country was managed through modern law and customary law, a system developed during colonialism. Land was allocated for agricultural purposes such as ploughing and grazing and most importantly for residential use. Over time some land was allocated for commercial purpose. In terms of the law, sinking of boreholes and development of wells was permitted and farmers had some rights over such developed water resources.

Land Boards were established under Section 3 of the Tribal Land Act of 1968 with the intention to improve tribal land administration. Whilst the law was enacted in 1968, Land Boards started operating around 1970 under the Ministry of Local Government and Lands which was renamed Ministry of Lands and Housing (MLH) in 1999. These statutory bodies were a mechanism to also prune the powers of Dikgosi over tribal land. Currently, land issues fall under the Ministry of Land Management, Water and Sanitation Services.

There are 12 Main Land Boards, namely Ngwato, Kgatleng, Tlokweng, Tati, Chobe, Tawana, Malete, Rolong, Ghanzi, Kgalagadi, Kweneng and Ngwaketse Land Boards.  The Tribal Land Act of 1968 as amended in 1994 provides that the Land Boards have the powers to rescind the grant of any rights to use any land, impose restrictions on land usage and facilitate any transfer or change of use of land.

Some land administration powers have been decentralized to sub land boards. The devolved powers include inter alia common law and customary law water rights and land applications, mining, evictions and dispute resolution. However, decisions can be appealed to the land board or to the Minister who is at the apex.

So, land boards are very powerful entities in the country’s local government system. Membership to these institutions is important not only because of monetary benefits of allowances but also the power of these bodies. in terms of the law, candidates for appointment to Land Boards or Subs should be residents of the tribal areas where appointments are sought, be holders of at least Junior Certificate and not actively involved in politics.  The LOO contended that ruling party activists have been appointed in the recent appointments.

He argued that worse, some had no minimum qualifications required by the law and that some are not inhabitants of the tribal or sub tribal areas where they have been appointed. It was also pointed that some people appointed are septuagenarians and that younger qualified Batswana with degrees have been rejected.

Other arguments raised by the opposition in general were that the development was not unusual. That the ruling party is used to politically motivated appointments in parastatals, civil service, diplomatic missions, specially elected councilors and Members of Parliament (MPs), Bogosi and Land Boards. Usually these positions are distributed as patronage to activists in return for their support and loyalty to the political leadership and the party.

The ruling party contended that when the Minister or the Ministry intervened and ultimately appointed the Land Boards Chairpersons, Deputies and members , he didn’t have information, as this was not information required in the application, on who was politically active and for that reason he could not have known who to not appoint on that basis. They also argued that opposition activists have been appointed to positions in the government.

The counter argument was that there was a reason for the legal requirement of exclusion of political activists and that the government ought to have mechanisms to detect those. The whole argument of “‘we didn’t know who was politically active” was frivolous. The fact is that ruling party activists have been appointed. The opposition also argued that erstwhile activists from their ranks have been recruited through positions and that a few who are serving in public offices have either been bought or hold insignificant positions which they qualified for anyway.

Whilst people should not be excluded from public positions because of their political activism, the ruling party cannot hide the fact that they have used public positions to reward activists. Exclusion of political activists may be a violation of fundamental human or constitutional rights. But, the packing of Land Boards with the ruling party activists is clear political corruption. It seeks to sow divisions in communities and administer land in a politically biased manner.

It should be expected that the ruling party officials applying for land or change of land usage etcetera will be greatly assisted. Since land is wealth, the ruling party seeks to secure resources for its members and leaders. The appointments served to reward 2019 election primary and general elections losers and other activists who have shown loyalty to the leadership and the party.

Running a country like this has divided it in a way that may be difficult to undo. The next government may decide to reset the whole system by replacing many of government agencies leadership and management in a way that is political. In fact, it would be compelled to do so to cleanse the system.

The opposition is also pondering on approaching the courts for review of the decision to appoint party functionaries and the general violation of clearly stated terms of reference. If this can be established with evidence, the courts can set aside the decision on the basis that unqualified people have been appointed.

The political activism aspect may also not be difficult to prove as some of these people are known activists who are in party structures, at least at the time of appointment, and some were recently candidates. There is a needed for civil society organizations such as trade unions and political parties to fight some of these decisions through peaceful protests and courts.

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