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Botswana’s Vision 2036: a false start!

Ndulamo Anthony Morima
EAGLE WATCH

On 19th October 2015 President Lieutenant General Seretse Khama Ian Khama launched a thirty four member Presidential Task Team on the Development of the New Long Term Vision for Botswana, Vision 2036.

According to the government owned Daily Newspaper, this Task Team, which will be chaired by De Beers Chief Executive Officer and former Member of Parliament (MP) and Minister of Trade and Industry, Mr. Neo Moroka, is expected to conclude the draft vision document by May 2016 so that it is adopted by the National Assembly during its sitting of July/August 2016. Reportedly, thereafter, the Vision 2036 document will be launched in September 2016 when the current Vision comes to an end.

It seems to me that with this brief back ground alone Botswana has had a false start for the development of the Vision 2036 document and I will discuss the reasons thereto in turn. Firstly, the Task Team will have only five months to produce the draft Vision document. In my view, this time is not enough considering the fact that the Task Team has to review Vision 2016’s evaluation reports; review the Vision 2036 framework developed by the National Strategy Office and consult the public through the press, meetings, seminars and submissions by individuals and/or organizations and any other platform including electronic media.

Surely, a document as important as a country’s Vision, which will determine the country’s development path for the next twenty years, cannot be adequately done within a time period equivalent to one school term. Even junior secondary school students doing mini-projects in such subjects as Design and Technology and Home Economics need about a full year to complete their projects.

The five months given to the Task Team are only enough for the Vision 2016’s evaluation phase. If done properly, e.g. through kgotla meetings, public consultations and consolidating the input from the public, public consultations will require at least one year considering how vast Botswana is. The question is: why did the government wait until this late to constitute the Task Team?

Secondly, though the Task Team is diverse in terms of the various sectors of the society, e.g. youth, women, people living with disabilities, faith based groups and sports, it is not diverse in terms of having people with dissenting views from those of government. Most of the Task Team’s members, especially high profile members, are well known supporters of the Botswana Democratic Party (BDP).

Conspicuously absent from the Task Team are prominent Opposition politicians, non-conformist academics, progressive student organizations, minority right interest groups, etc. These people often criticize government policy not because they are not patriotic, but because they want the best for their country. They too love their Botswana and are not enemies of the state.

A country’s Vision is not built on false consensus. It is built on true consensus which comes after divergent, and even dissident views, are heared. This is the essence of one of our national principles, therisano, i.e. consultation. That is why our forefathers and foremothers said: ‘mmualebe o bua la gagwe gore mona lentle a tswe la gagwe’ and ‘mafoko a kgotla a mantle otlhe’. These adages simply call for tolerance of differing views within Tswana culture. Yet, today some of our greatest minds are isolated from making such contributions to their country’s development as Vision 2036’s development simply because they question some of government’s policies.  

Many of the high profile members of the Task Team have failed Batswana in the capacities they have held simply because to them patriotism is blind loyalty. In order to protect their positions, they have misled government by making it believe that Botswana is on a growth path when, as shown by such reports as the 2015 Ibrahim Index of African Governance (IIAG), it is on a decline.

Thirdly, because Batswana have not been adequately involved in Vision 2016’s evaluation exercise, Vision 2036 will rest on a defective foundation because it will not be based on an honest assessment of the country’s performance in pursuit of achieving the Vision 2016 ideals. How does one build a strong second house if he or she has no benefit of knowing the strengths and weaknesses of the first house?

Fourthly, not even MPs who are expected to adopt the Vision 2036 document in July/August 2016 will have had enough time to consult their constituencies on the document. There will be only one month between the Task Team’s presentation of the draft document in May 2016 and the National Assembly’s sitting in July 2016.

Therefore, MPs will have only one month to familiarize themselves with the Vision 2036 document and to consult their constituencies on it. Will the Vision 2036 document have been legitimately adopted by the National Assembly? Will it truly reflect Batswana’s views and aspirations? Will our future generations truly inherit a people’s legacy?

Fifth, I foresee problems as regards the Task Team and the National Strategy Office’s roles and responsibilities in the development of the Vision 2036 document. How can one builder, for example, be responsible for setting the foundation and pillars and the other lays the bricks? The building’s structure will no doubt be defective. The Task Team should have been involved right from the time the framework for Vision 2036 was developed and not be merely relegated to its evaluation.

As we speak today, can we comfortably say an average Motswana knows how his or her country has fared under Vision 2016? Even if they are consulted on the Vision 2036 document, how will they know what areas to focus on when making suggestions?

We have just celebrated our fourty nine years of independence. As a build up to Independence Day celebrations, could n’t we have taken advantage of that to get Batswana’s views on Vision 2016’s implementation and the areas of emphasis for Vision 2036? We missed a great opportunity, especially that this year’s Independence Day celebrations were a build up to our 50th anniversary which coincides with the launch of Vision 2036.

When Vision 2016 was developed I was still a young man, but I remember that almost everyone knew about it. Students used to draw the Vision 2016 logo on their exercise book covers.  Batswana, in both rural and urban areas, were consulted. It truly was their Vision and the slogan ‘Vision 2016 ke yame’, i.e. ‘Vision 2016 is mine’ was indeed true. Sadly, as years went by Batswana’s Vision was taken away from them and it now belonged to consultants who made millions through consultancy fees.

Now, are Batswana going to be denied the Vision 2036 as well? In Setswana culture there is nothing as painful as being denied your child as well as your grandchild. Since Batswana were denied their child, Vision 2016, they should at least not be denied their grandchild, Vision 2036. That will be taboo.

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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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