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Possessions and Confessions

Stuart White

The really delightful thing about growing older is the ability to have richer outlook. You see perspective is the difference between someone who loses a job and says “my life is over” which starts to spiral down into a vortex of perpetual depression versus someone who acknowledges that the situation isn’t looking good and decides to take action nonetheless.

For some people that’s the kick in the butt they needed to start working towards their dreams, kicking fear to the curb and, had it not happened, they would not have taken the need for action.

Those two examples show different perspectives, outlooks, and frames of references which are all quite different. Tony Robbins said ‘Nothing has any meaning apart from the meaning that you give it’ or if we consider the words of French philosopher, Michel Foucault, ‘Nothing has any meaning outside of discourse’, and by that he means ‘discourse creates a social context and gives meaning to anything that is spoken about.’

In other words if it’s true, it’s true for you in your world, and the chances of someone else seeing it differently are very high.

Which brings me to the needing and wanting to hold onto possessions. Because ultimately it is how I feel and think about it right? I recently lost a box of memories that I used to keep in my house. And this really shook me because even though I knew it was just ‘stuff’, on some level it was stuff that I considered to be very important to me. 

But here is the thing, this box had an unsystematic collection of items such as photo albums, old letters, and a diary which I had religiously written in for a year, quite childish things which would be meaningless to anyone else.  And to be quite honest I never really looked through the box, it was dusty in the garage. I had lugged it around for years and I guess just the knowing that it was there made me feel…well, something.

I was really bummed by this loss and it kept rushing into my subconscious because I couldn’t accept that it was gone. You could say, its memories that I could look back on, giving me something to tell my children who are now too old to be interested. Maybe it was for the grandchildren…so that I could be so interesting to them.

Maybe it was proof that I had been somewhere and done something. I realise that no one really cares or is much interested in my collection of stuff.

My mother died recently and at the ripe old age of 85 and I was left to go through her stuff and distribute what was left between her children. It was so sad that, what was left could be carried out in less than two shopping bags and the rest given to a charity shop.

I wondered about a life time of accumulation with nothing to show. I was conscious that my spoils would be more impressive. So when the box went I was disconcerted, and all my spiritual teachings kept saying don’t attach to possessions and I could hear this very clearly, but still I longed for that box.

We spend a lifetime accumulating possessions, filling our lives with beautiful things, cars, clothes, ornaments, people so that we can feel good and so that people can look at us and say “ Woah would you look at that!”. We endure endless days of hard work, burning the midnight oil looking for the next fix, the next win, the next accolade. And perhaps that’s all a bit pointless when we all end up six feet under.

I don’t have a tendency to horde but there are some things I like to keep in case I may need to reference them in the future. What about you, what do you hold on to? Receipts, old wedding photos, old television sets, LPs, clothing, books (sometimes you truly are done with that book and it would be better off in someone else’s hands), school scrap books (ok I am talking of an older generation here (I explained to my children that the box was the equivalent to their social media pages and only then did they understood the magnitude of my situation).

What we have or experience on the outside is a reflection of what is happening on the inside. So the question you would need to ask yourself is ‘What is it about me, my thoughts, my feelings, my perceptions that I feel that I need to hold on to all this stuff in order to feel complete?’ ‘Why am I seeking so much comfort in keeping these things, these habits, these friends and the likes.’

Growing and living gives you a panoramic view of life. It gives you the HD experience that enhances your picture quality. It gives you greater clarity which means the picture on my screen (my perspective) can be less blurred and less fuzzy.

It also brings other benefits such as smoother motion, richer and more natural colours, surround sound, and the ability to allow a variety of input devices to work together (the ability to consider other people’s perspectives). So just when I was  prepared to let that box go, with all its meaning and resolve with the thought that the time is now to create new memories anyway, –ex-wife’s telephone call to disclose – she has it! I guess I will never know if she did it on purpose!

STUART WHITE is the Managing Director of HRMC and they can be reached on 395 1640 or at

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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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