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Iqbal Ebrahim

Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) described the importance of a mother in the following words: ‘Heaven lies at the feet of the mother’ meaning that if you fulfil your duties of respect for, being kind to and honouring your mother you will by Allah’s grace enter Paradise.

Islam respects the Divinely given responsibility and most important role for childbirth to women. There are certain hardships that are experienced only by a mother; she carries the unborn child, goes through the trials and tribulations of pregnancy, the birth and the nursing and the raising of the child. There is no substitute for mother’s milk or mother’s love – no one can extract and bottle motherly love and compassion. The key ingredient in any child’s upbringing is a mother’s natural affinity for children and her patience, kindness, willingness to sacrifice her own comforts.   

Women are uniquely qualified to do this all important task it is because they have those special talents and the psychological strength and makeup needed to raise children.

They have a more delicate, sensitive and emotional nature that helps a mother to understand and uniquely sense the children’s physical and emotional needs even if they cannot express them. That is what makes them so extra special. As the Quran says: ‘We have enjoined on man kindness to his parents; in pain did his mother bear him, and in pain did she give birth to him……The carrying of the child to his weaning….’ (Quran 46: 15).

Once blessed with offspring, parents hold an enormous responsibility in terms of what they teach their children and accordingly how their children grow up to be adults. Children should be raised to understand their own rights, obligations and responsibilities as Muslims as well as of their parents, community, society and ultimately the world itself.

Therefore children have the right, to be raised as responsible Muslim adults and parents must ensure and fulfil that right appropriately.

The Holy Qur’an says: ‘O you who believe! Save yourself and your families from the Fire of Hell’. (Ch. 66: V6).

Enter the mother: A good mother is one who understands the crucial nature of her responsibility, she will raise children with courage, honesty, truthfulness, patience and perseverance, love and kindness, faith and self-confidence and will instil in her children faith and moral values, as only a mother can. Mothers are the silent workers who are indispensable for building the character of the next generation. Therefore a society without mothers and homemakers will produce at-risk youth.

There was a report on a meeting held in the USA a few years ago that showed at the time that out of a population of about 60 million youth, about a quarter i.e. 15 million were at risk youth. Mostly, they came from dysfunctional families and were in danger of falling victims to the ‘pathologies and poisons of the street.’ Out of them, every year, 3.4 million of them tried drugs. Half a million attempted suicide. A lot of them would drop out of high school and will be functionally illiterate in a country with free universal education. Many of the kids had turned to violent crime. The main reason was that they grew up without a homely environment.

Without doubt many other nations including us are also suffering, fast forward to Botswana of today, how different is it? Albeit our population is much smaller, but the statistics will show that we also suffer from similar problems of our youth.

Why is it so? The main reason is lack of parental guidance. Regrettably in this day many homes are not conducive to proper upbringing of children. Today we see the destruction of the family unit and many homes are single family homes. In many cases the father may have abandoned the children and the mother is forced to raise the children alone.
Many of today’s homes are no longer the havens of peace, comfort and tranquillity that we once knew as they are filled with domestic violence, vulgar language, family strife, lack of respect and a whole host of modern day ills. How then do we expect to raise well-adjusted children in this poisoned atmosphere? Children need role models, and parents are their primary examples. To be good role models themselves, parents must also have models or mentors of their own whose example they can emulate. This means that parents, too, must model their lives according to the Islamic way of life.

Parents have to take an active role in guiding their children and families onto the path of righteousness. Islam holds parents responsible for steering their children’s upbringing according to the guidelines of the Quran and Prophet Muhammad’s (PBUH) teachings. Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) said: ‘No father has given a greater gift to his children than good moral training’.

The Bible also gives guidance: “Behold, children are a heritage from the Lord, the fruit of the womb a reward”. (Psalms 127:3).  Also: Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it”. (Proverbs 22:6)

On the importance of a mother: Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) when asked ‘who deserves the maximum love and respect’. He replied ‘your mother’. Who is next? He replied again ‘your mother’. Again asked ‘who is next’ the reply was ‘your mother’. On the fourth time he answered ‘your father’. This shows that a mother gets the maximum respect and love – ahead of the father.

So the recommendation to be dutiful and good refers to both parents, but the mother’s share is greater.  What is meant is that the mother deserves a greater share of her child’s honour, and her rights take precedence over those of the father in cases where a choice must be made.

The Bible says: ‘A wise son maketh a glad father; but a foolish son is the heaviness of his mother’ (Prov 10: 1). And: ‘He that wasteth his father and chasest away his mother, is a son that causeth shame and brings reproach’ (Prov 19: 26)

Remember that no day care centre, nursery or school can make up for the absence of the mother and father. What the children need for their upbringing is not a poultry farm, but the love that only parents (especially a mother) can give to their children.

In return let us show that love, respect and caring for our mothers, because they deserve to be treated with our utmost love and attention. We are because of them.  So the truth is: Mothers: they are real gold, why should anybody trade them in for glitter?

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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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