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Botswana’s beacon of democracy light dims!

Ndulamo Anthony Morima
EAGLE WATCH

According to last year’s Legatum Prosperity Index, Botswana ranked top of 142 African countries. Botswana was placed 1st in Africa and 41st in the world in good governance while emerging 32nd out of 162 countries in the most peaceful index. This was commendable indeed.

Regrettably, according to the 2015 Mo Ibrahim Index of African Governance (IIAG) Botswana’s record has deteriorated. This is probably the reason there has, especially since 2011, been an outcry from many quarters of the population, a factor which inarguably cost the ruling Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) during the 2014 general elections.  While its seats in the National Assembly fell from 45 in 2009 to 37 in 2014, its popular vote declined from 53.26% in 2009 to 46.7% in 2014.


The fact that, overall, Botswana has fallen from position 1 to position 3 out of 54 African countries is a cause for concern. That most countries in the continent, including the leader, Mauritius, have also suffered a decline should be no consolation to Botswana. Having for many years been rightly regarded as a beacon of democracy, Botswana’s fall from grace should be troubling enough.


Though the overall leaders, Mauritius, also fell from 81.7% in 2014 to 79.9% this year, Botswana should try to borrow a leaf from their book in terms of what she should do to be the overall best in Africa. Cabo Verde too, which obtained the second position at 74.5%, should be Botswana’s point of reference though it also suffered a decline from 76.6% in 2014.


The premise of this discussion is that for a country that has been performing as well as Botswana, a score of less than 70% for any of the indicators is not acceptable. Not only that. For such key indicators as respect for human rights, national security and personal security, a score of less than 85% is not good enough.


Botswana’s lowest score is in the area of Infrastructure where she attained a paltry 55.0%. While this score appears inaccurate considering the level of infrastructure in cities and towns, it may actually be a true reflection of the level of Botswana’s infrastructure, especially in relation to rural areas. No wonder several Economic commentators have argued that the reason the Agricultural sector’s contribution to the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) (which was worth 15.81 billion US dollars in 2014) has declined over the years is that rural areas lack such infrastructure as good roads and electricity.


The red flag in our record this year is the fact that we are ranked eighth with respect to Participation and Human Rights, with a score of 66.2% in the rights sub-indice. There is no doubt that such scourges as the murder of John Kalafatis by members of the Botswana Defence Force (BDF); the ill-treatment of such minority tribes as Basarwa; and the failure to accord full rights to gays, lesbians and the transgendered have contributed to such deterioration in our human rights record.


Our deplorable performance in the area of Gender Issues, in which Botswana is ranked 19th on the continent, did not come as a surprise. How can we expect to get any score more than 62.3% when of the sixteen cabinet ministers only three are women; of the eight Assistant Ministers only one is a woman; there is no female judge at the Court of Appeal; and only three  out of twenty four permanent judges of the High Court are women.


How can we perform higher than 62.3% in Gender Issues when only two out of seven Industrial Court judges are women; only four out of fifty-seven Elected Members of Parliament are women; and only one of the four Specially Elected Members of Parliament are women?


Though Botswana’s most improved categories this year were in the areas of Human Development and Rural Sector, with 79.5 and 66.7% respectively, performance with respect to Rural Sector is concerning. This is more so because the majority of our population lives in rural areas.

This shows that such government programmes as the poverty eradication programme; Young Farmers Fund; Public Works Programme (Ipelegeng); ISPAAD and LIMID have not had the desired impact as many political commentators have long warned.  


Though not very bad, our score of 67.6% in Public Management is another area of concern. This is probably the result of the intransigence that has been exhibited by the Directorate on Public Service Management (DPSM), especially in terms of its relations with the public service trade unions.

The way government has handled public service employees’ issues, especially after the 2011 public sector strike, has no doubt played a role in negating Botswana’s record.


Equally disconcerting is the score of 66.1% in the area of Sustainable Economic Opportunity where Botswana is ranked at position 4. This confirms the argument that many Batswana have always made that the so-called economic empowerment programmes that were introduced after President Lieutenant General Seretse Khama Ian Khama assumed office are not sustainable.


If government had heeded the public’s concerns that such programmes as the Youth Development Fund; Young Farmers Fund; Public Works Programme(Ipelegeng); ISPAAD; LIMID; National Youth Service( Tirelo Sechaba); and the National Internship Programme need improvement in order to have significant economic impact Botswana could be rating higher in Sustainable Economic Opportunity. This is such a critical indicator that a score less than 75% is not good enough.      


Though we are not position 1 in the continent, the scores of 82.7% and 79.5% in Safety and Security and Human Development respectively are worthy of praise. But, the fact that we are ranked second in Safety and Security is concerning since it shows that such eye sores as the extra judicial killing of John Kalafatis and the alleged torture by the Directorate on Intelligence & Security Services (DISS) have made Batswana not to feel safe and secure in their own country. This is supported by the fact that our score in the area of personal safety is a mere 63.1%.  


While it is commendable that Botswana attained an almost perfect score of 99.9% with respect to National Security, such gains may have been at the expense of human rights and personal security for which, as shown above, Botswana has underperformed. If Botswana does not address the areas where she underperformed, her gains in National Security will be negated since a discontent citizenry is prone to influence by forces which can be a threat to national security.  


The aforegoing notwithstanding, Botswana needs to be applauded for performing very well in the arears of Accountability (72.3%); Education (74.0%); Business Environment (75.3%); Participation (77.1%); Social Welfare (79.2%); Health (85.3%) and the Rule of Law (95.5%). However, our admirable record on the Rule of Law may be under threat because of the affront to judicial independence which seems to be taking root.


While some people argue that rankings by such international organizations as the IIAG are not a true reflection of what actually obtains on the ground, I believe the rankings are reliable since they are a result of scientific research conducted by credible organizations. As shown above, the rankings are not one sided because they reflect a country’s underperformance in as much as they reflect its high performance. For example, while Botswana has scored as high as 99.9% in National Security it has scored as low as 55.0% in Infrastructure.

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The Daring Dozen at Bari

8th December 2020
JEFF---Batswana-smoke-unit

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.

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A Strong Marriage Bond Needs Two

8th December 2020

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”

UNDERSTANDING

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.”

COMMITMENT

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.

ACCEPTANCE

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.

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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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