The Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC)’s 2014 general elections manifesto is glowing with ideals consonant with a true democratic movement. Among those ideals are tolerance, accountability and transparency. Rightly so, the UDC has, either collectively or through its member parties, admonished the ruling Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) for compromising such ideals for political expediency.
Yet, the UDC has, on several occasions, failed to practice what it preaches by desecrating these very ideals. This, despite the fact that it calls itself ‘the government in waiting’. There is a Setswana proverb which says ‘Mmamotse o bonwa mantwaneng’ literally meaning that a woman who will later become a wife and mother shows that during play time. If the UDC is really the government in waiting as it professes, it should start acting like it is in government today.
In a rather scaring development, the UDC has started showing its lack of tolerance for criticism. Those who criticize it are insulted, especially through the social media. They are called names and referred to as BDP operatives or members of the Directorate on Intelligence and Security Services (DISS). The UDC’s petulant response to criticism is just like that of South Africa’s African National Congress (ANC) which labels all its critics as anti-revolutionary.
What democratic party does not want to be criticized? Why should the UDC always expect to be praised even when it clearly derails from the people’s mandate? Is it wrong for people to state that the UDC’s performance in Parliament is below expectation? Is it wrong for people to note that despite his endowment with intellect and wisdom the Leader of the Opposition, Honourable Duma Boko, has not fully applied himself, especially in Parliament?
Rightly so, since 1994 the Botswana National Front (BNF) has relentlessly called upon the BDP government to release the Scotland Yard report on the death of Segametsi Mogomotsi, the fourteen year old school-girl whose killing on 6th November 1994 caused public unrest in Kgatleng as a result of suspicions that she was murdered for ritual purposes.
Yet, the UDC has, for more than a year now, refused to release the report on the death of the late leader of the Botswana Movement for Democracy(BMD) and UDC Secretary General, Gomolemo Motswaledi. Some in the UDC and BMD are now saying the UDC and BMD should only release the Motswaledi report after the government releases the Segametsi Mogomotsi report.
This is ridiculous is n’t it? Clearly, the UDC and the BMD know that the government will not release the Segametsi Mogomotsi report and it wants to use the Segametsi Mogomotsi report as a justification for not releasing the Motswaledi report. Should n’t the UDC and the BMD show that they are different from the BDP by releasing the Motswaledi report? Is the UDC not campaigning on the promise that if it assumes state power it will be more transparent and accountable than the BDP government?
Perhaps the reason for UDC and BMD’s failure to release the Motswaledi report is that contrary to what the UDC made the public believe there was no foul play in Motswaledi’s death. Perhaps the Botswana Police Service’s report that there was no foul play in the car accident that led to Motswaledi’s untimely death is correct.
The current UDC leaders were not democratically elected by the members. When the UDC was formed that was understandable because the coalition was preparing for the bigger picture, the 2014 general elections. But now that it is more than a year after the elections, there is need for the UDC to hold elections for its leadership. Surprisingly, when people call for leadership elections they are insulted and labelled as counter-revolutionary.
What revolution? Is revolution not about respect for democracy? Is democracy not about allowing the members to elect their leaders? Is democracy not about majority rule? Is it democracy for example for the BNF to be holding the position of President in the UDC when it has eight Members of Parliament (MPs) compared to BMD’s nine? Should n’t the leader of the BMD, Honourable Ndaba Gaolatlhe, and not the BNF president, Honourable Boko, be the UDC president and Leader of Opposition in Parliament?
Prior to the 2014 general elections the BNF was no doubt the senior partner in the UDC and it is, therefore, understandable why the BNF president, Honourable Boko, was appointed the UDC leader. But, the balance of power has changed and such should be reflected in the UDC leadership.
These issues may appear insignificant today because the next general elections are still far. But a year or so before the 2019 general elections the dynamics will have changed because those in the UDC leadership will now be looking at the possibility of getting positions in government. That may be a source of conflict which may split the coalition at a critical time and cost it the opportunity to attain state power.
It is, therefore, imperative that elections be held now so that the leadership has legitimacy. Also, if conflict arises as a result of such elections the coalition will have time to heal from such conflict before the 2019 general elections. History has shown that coalition political movements often fail to win elections because of leadership conflicts which often occur at the eve of general elections or if they win elections they fail to form a government because of fights over positions.
After general elections some coalition partners have abandoned their partners and entered into coalitions with other much smaller parties to form a government. In our situation, if the Botswana Congress Party (BCP) does not join the UDC and leadership fights ensue between the UDC affiliates during the next general elections, it is possible that either the BNF or the BMD could abandon the other and enter into a coalition government with the BCP.
Another thing which shows the UDC’s departure from its democratic values is the way its affiliate, the BMD, has handled Advocate Sidney Pilane’s application to re-join it. I have never heared of a situation where one’s application to join a political party is referred to the party Congress.
Political parties need as many members as possible and they would approve a membership application at the earliest opportunity. Yet, the BMD president, Honourable Gaolatlhe, is on record stating that Advocate Sidney Pilane’s application to re-join the BMD will be decided by the party Congress.
Honourable Gaolatlhe quotes a clause in the party Constitution which states that such decision vests with the party Congress. What he deliberately neglects to tell Batswana is that every party Constitution enables the National Executive Committee (NEC) to make decisions on behalf of the Congress in between Congresses.
Advocate Pilane is no ordinary applicant. He is one of the founding members of the BMD. In fact, he was BMD’s interim deputy leader. The BMD Secretary General, Honourable Gilbert Mangole, is on record saying Advocate Pilane is an asset that every political party would do everything to have, stating that even after leaving the BMD he has continued assisting the party.
The way Advocate Pilane’s application has been handled gives credence to the allegations that there are some in the UDC and BMD leadership whose objective is blocking his BMD membership for fear that he will challenge for the BMD and/or UDC presidency.
First, his application was considered by the Constituency Committee which positively recommended his membership to the National Executive Committee (NEC). When the NEC remitted the matter to the Constituency Committee reportedly for compliance purposes and the Constituency Committee, after a long delay, later reneged from its initial decision and recommended against his re-admission, it was clear that politics was at play.
The latest development where there are deep divisions within the NEC following allegations that some members of the NEC have contravened the party Constitution in approving and announcing Advocate Pilane’s application prove that there is more than meets the eye in the Advocate Pilane saga. The tone of the letter to the NEC by Honourable Gaolatlhe reversing Advocate Pilane’s re-admission pending the party Congress says it all.
For many Batswana the UDC is their hope of liberation from the yoke of the BDP’s stifling fourty nine year rule. For them, being liberated from BDP’s rule would be like being freed from a frying pan. But, if the UDC ends up being worse than the BDP those Batswana would have escaped the frying pan only to fall into the fire.
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.