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The Source of All Bounties

Iqbal Ebrahim

We are born into this world owning nothing and we will one day depart from it with no worldly assets that we may have acquired, earned or saved. This however does not mean that our life has been ‘wasted’ on this earth. It is only wasted if we fail to acknowledge the many other true blessings, bounties and sustenance that we have been blessed with.

Between our birth and physical death, we are all utterly dependent on the bounties of the Almighty. Indeed, The Almighty Allah is the only Creator, Sustainer, Nourisher and Cherisher of the Universe. "And whatever blessings and good you have, it is from Allah…" (Quran 16: 53}.

The bounties of Allah embrace mankind and all of creation. Yet, the main beneficiary of these bounties is none other than the human being. If we really are honest with ourselves we will see that we have so many blessing to be thankful for. Sure, we may not have everything that we wish for but Almighty Allah has given us so many blessings that we sometimes forget and take them for granted.

Humans have been blessed to wear the Crown of creation because of the favours from our Lord. Allah Himself declares in the Quran “We have honoured the children of Adam (humankind); provided them with transport on land and sea; given them for sustenance things good and pure; and conferred on them special favours above a great part of Our Creation.” (Quran 17: 70)

Yet despite that we moan and groan about many things but we seldom stop to recognise the ‘other’ blessings we have been given. If we are honest, there are many everyday things that most of us take for granted that which we should be grateful for. We may not realise it or maybe reluctant to admit it but these are gifts and favours that our Creator has graced us with – to name but a few, the roof over our heads, the food that we eat, the clothes that we wear, the food that we eat, the car that we own, the safe drinking water from our taps, the peaceful life that we enjoy, our access to health care, education and many other services that countless people across the world do not enjoy.

‘Show thy gratitude to Allah. Any who is grateful does so to the profit of his own soul, but if any is ungrateful, verily Allah is free from all wants, worthy of all praise’. (Qur’an 31: 12) And: ‘Truly man is a most ungrateful creature (Quran 22: 66)  

We are so spoilt for choice that many of us forget to stop and say ‘Thank You Lord for the Blessings that you have favoured me with’? The best way of Glorifying our Creator is to be grateful to Him, and this attitude of gratitude will enhance us to develop spiritually.

‘If you are grateful, I will add more favours unto you, but if show ingratitude, truly My punishment is terrible indeed’ (Qur’an 14 : 7).’And remember with gratitude Allah’s favours upon you.’ (Qur’an 3 : 103)

The Bible reads: ‘Blessing and glory, and wisdom, and thanksgiving, and honour, and power and might, be unto God for ever and ever.(Revelations 7: 12)

The human mind is endowed with intellect and the power of reasoning, even though it is in varying degrees. But as the Quran says that ‘Allah has breathed into him some of His Spirit’ gives us those spiritual and moral qualities. It is true that we may not be able to understand all the mysteries of creation of this world. Nonetheless, we should use of the power of our intellect and reason to get closer to why we are on this earth and also our duty to fulfil our obligations to our Lord and Creator by acknowledging and thanking Him for all the bounties that we enjoy during our life on this earth.

The Holy Quran calls out, ‘Do they not reflect in their own minds? It is only for a just purpose, and for a term appointed, that Allah did create the heavens and the earth, and all between them. Yet, there are indeed many among people who deny the meeting with their Creator (through resurrection)’ (Quran 30: 8)

As humans we have the responsibility of making the right choices in life in order to fulfil those obligations as Allah’s trustee. We have been especially gifted because the nature of the human is split into that of a physical-intellectual-spiritual being.  It is a heavy responsibility; one which requires making the right choices. Failing to make right choice can lead us astray. The human has been blessed with the potential of ascending to a position that is higher than that of the angels, or the human may descend to a position that is lower than that of animals.

We have to learn to understand the consequences of obedience and those of disobedience to God. But we sometimes get so wrapped up in our worldly life we tend to forget that we have to submit to a lifestyle that is in congruence with our religious beliefs. To do that, we have to ensure that we live our lives in such a manner so that we are ruling over it, instead of being ruled by it.

They are the ones who are described in the Quran as follows: ‘Have hearts [minds] wherewith they understand not, eyes wherewith they see not, and ears wherewith they hear not. They are like cattle, nay more misguided; for they are heedless (of warning).’ (Quran 7: 179)

We therefore have to lead a life that strives to succeed in the 'test' of this earthly life, in order to not only return to an even greater 'garden' after one's physical death, but to enjoy the ultimate bliss of nearness to God and the company of the pure. Many of us need to change our thinking and also errant lifestyles and we can only do that if we begin to realise that we may not have everything that we desire in life but we have many other true blessings from the Lord above. This means that we should start showing our gratefulness to our Lord by for the multitude of blessings that we receive by giving our daily thanks.

The Bible declares: ‘Give thanks unto the Lord, for he is good and his mercy endures forever’. (Psalms 136:1)

The Quran declares: "And if you were to count the blessings of Allah, you will never be able to count them." {14: 34}.

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Is COVID-19 Flogging an Already Dead Economic Horse?

9th September 2020

The Central Bank has by way of its Monetary Policy Statement informed us that the Botswana economy is likely to contract by 8.9 percent over the course of the year 2020.

The IMF paints an even gloomier picture – a shrinkage of the order of 9.6 percent.  That translates to just under $2 billion hived off from the overall economic yield given our average GDP of roughly $18 billion a year. In Pula terms, this is about P23 billion less goods and services produced in the country and you and I have a good guess as to what such a sum can do in terms of job creation and sustainability, boosting tax revenue, succouring both recurrent and development expenditure, and on the whole keeping our teeny-weeny economy in relatively good nick.

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Union of Blue Bloods

9th September 2020

Joseph’s and Judah’s family lines conjoin to produce lineal seed

Just to recap, General Atiku, the Israelites were not headed for uncharted territory. The Promised Land teemed with Canaanites, Hittites, Amorites, Perizzites, Hivites, and Jebusites. These nations were not simply going to cut and run when they saw columns of battle-ready Israelites approach: they were going to fight to the death.

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Security Sector Private Bills: What are they about?

9th September 2020

Parliament has begun debates on three related Private Members Bills on the conditions of service of members of the Security Sector.

The Bills are Prisons (Amendment) Bill, 2019, Police (Amendment) Bill, 2019 and Botswana Defence Force (Amendment) Bill, 2019. The Bills seek to amend the three statutes so that officers are placed on full salaries when on interdictions or suspensions whilst facing disciplinary boards or courts of law.

In terms of the Public Service Act, 2008 which took effect in 2010, civil servants who are indicted are paid full salary and not a portion of their emolument. Section 35(3) of the Act specifically provides that “An employee’s salary shall not be withheld during the period of his or her suspension”.

However, when parliament reformed the public service law to allow civil servants to unionize, among other things, and extended the said protection of their salaries, the process was not completed. When the House conferred the benefit on civil servants, members of the disciplined forces were left out by not accordingly amending the laws regulating their employment.

The Bills stated above seeks to ask Parliament to also include members of the forces on the said benefit. It is unfair not to include soldiers or military officers, police officers and prison waders in the benefit. Paying an officer who is facing either external or internal charges full pay is in line with the notion of ei incumbit probation qui dicit, non qui negat or the presumption of innocence; that the burden of proof is on the one who declares, not on one who denies.

The officers facing charges, either internal disciplinary or criminal charges before the courts, must be presumed innocent until proven otherwise. Paying them a portion of their salary is penalty and therefore arbitrary. Punishment by way of loss of income or anything should come as a result of a finding on the guilt by a competent court of law, tribunal or disciplinary board.

What was the rationale behind this reform in 2008 when the Public Service Act was adopted? First it was the presumption of innocence until proven otherwise.

The presumption of innocence is the legal principle that one is considered “innocent until proven guilty”. In terms of the constitution and other laws of Botswana, the presumption of innocence is a legal right of the accused in a criminal trial, and it is an international human right under the UN’s Universal Declaration of Human Rights, Article 11.

Withholding a civil servant’s salary because they are accused of an internal disciplinary offense or a criminal offense in the courts of law, was seen as punishment before a decision by a tribunal, disciplinary board or a court of law actually finds someone culpable. Parliament in its wisdom decided that no one deserves this premature punishment.

Secondly, it was considered that people’s lives got destroyed by withholding of financial benefits during internal or judicial trials. Protection of wages is very important for any worker. Workers commit their salaries, they pay mortgages, car loans, insurances, schools fees for children and other things. When public servants were experiencing salary cuts because of interdictions, they lost their homes, cars and their children’s future.

They plummeted into instant destitution. People lost their livelihoods. Families crumbled. What was disheartening was that in many cases, these workers are ultimately exonerated by the courts or disciplinary tribunals. When they are cleared, the harm suffered is usually irreparable. Even if one is reimbursed all their dues, it is difficult to almost impossible to get one’s life back to normal.

There is a reasoning that members of the security sector should be held to very high standards of discipline and moral compass. This is true. However, other more senior public servants such as judges, permanent secretary to the President and ministers have faced suspensions, interdictions and or criminal charges in the courts but were placed on full salaries.

The yardstick against which security sector officers are held cannot be higher than the aforementioned public officials. It just wouldn’t make sense. They are in charge of the security and operate in a very sensitive area, but cannot in anyway be held to higher standards that prosecutors, magistrates, judges, ministers and even senior officials such as permanent secretaries.

Moreover, jail guards, police officers and soldiers, have unique harsh punishments which deter many of them from committing misdemeanors and serious crimes. So, the argument that if the suspension or interdiction with full pay is introduced it would open floodgates of lawlessness is illogical.

Security Sector members work in very difficult conditions. Sometimes this drives them into depression and other emotional conditions. The truth is that many seldom receive proper and adequate counseling or such related therapies. They see horrifying scenes whilst on duty. Jail guards double as hangmen/women.

Detectives attend to autopsies on cases they are dealing with. Traffic police officers are usually the first at accident scenes. Soldiers fight and kill poachers. In all these cases, their minds are troubled. They are human. These conditions also play a part in their behaviors. They are actually more deserving to be paid full salaries when they’re facing allegations of misconduct.

To withhold up to 50 percent of the police, prison workers and the military officers’ salaries during their interdiction or suspensions from work is punitive, insensitive and prejudicial as we do not do the same for other employees employed by the government.

The rest enjoy their full salaries when they are at home and it is for a good reason as no one should be made to suffer before being found blameworthy. The ruling party seems to have taken a position to negate the Bills and the collective opposition argue in the affirmative. The debate have just began and will continue next week Thursday, a day designated for Private Bills.

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