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Jeff Ramsay

In our last instalment, the Banyayi ruler Chilisamhulu had seized the Bakalanga throne from the Balilima or Bawumbe ruler Chibundule, thus establishing himself as the first of the Nichasike line of Mambos.

The Nichasike or Changamire dynasty subsequently ruled over the Bakalanga kingdom for over a century and a half (c.1680-1835), before being overthrown by Nguni invaders during the Difaqane era.

Like the previous Chibundule rulers, Mambo Nichasike I established his headquarters in the Matopos hills at a place he called Mabwe Dziba.

This name is sometimes translated as "the stones that protect", which is said refer to the various shrines to the god Mwali that surrounded the site rather than the high stone walls of the royal enclosure (dzimbabwe) itself.

After consolidating his rule over the Balilima, Nichasike expanded the boundaries of the old Chibundule (Butwa) state. As a result of his military campaigns in the east the Portuguese slave traders were permanently driven out of the Zimbabwe plateaux.

Thereafter, Nichasike was able to at least temporarily impose his suzerainty over the Mutapa, Manyika, and Maungwe kingdoms.

Along with his successors, he also expanded the hegemony of his "Rozwi Empire" to the south and west into modern Botswana as far as Mahalapye and the Venda lands in what is now the Limpopo Province of South Africa. Chilisamhulu Nichasike's personal praise poem thus celebrated his prowess as a conqueror:

"Ndakuna, ndabaka, ndayibambula nyika, ndakuna, nadbe Mambo, ngobe ndabaka, ndayibambula nyika yaChibundule.

Ndima ndabe Mambo. Kuti ndabaka, ndayyibambula nyika. Ndayilaula, ndabaka, ndahombela; chowodla nkoma chaha ndiponi."

Translation: "I have conquered and I have built, I have extended the country, I have conquered and I am King, for I have extended the country of Chibundule."

"It is I who is King. I built and extended the country. I have ruled it and built and reinforced it; that which would destroy the Kingdom from where will it enter?"

In what is now north-eastern Botswana, the Mambo's presence was reinforced through the migration of a number of Banyayi groups led by junior members of the royal lineage.

These included the Badalaunde or Batalaote, Bamen'we, Banambia and Batshangate.

Dalaunde or Ntalaolte is commonly said to have been a junior son of Nichasike's first house, although oral traditions are not consistent on this point. While he died in Zimbabwe, under his son, Langane, the Batalaote migrated into Botswana settling at a place called Manyalala.

The southward expansion of Batalaote brought them to the borders of the emerging Bakwena kingdom under Kgosi Motshodi.

At least one early clash resulted from this proximity when Motshodi's senior son and heir, Legojane, led his "Mateane" regiment on a cattle raid into Legane's country.

The expedition resulted in Legojane being killed in battle, while those of his followers who survived returned to Motshodi's kraal empty handed. From Legojane's praise poem:

"Lenyora, we! Letsatsi, we! Makalaka lo kaka loa re boela; Lo kaka loa re khutlela Maririma. Kea gapa sepe; Ke gapile podi. Ke gapile podinyana ea sekgwakgwa, Podi tlaa! U bolele diokoko.

"U ko u bue dilo tsa Bokalaka. U tlo u bue dilo tsa kwa ga Kgabo.

Re tsamaile ra itiketsa thata; Legwape le ena ra mo itiketsa; Ra ba ra lebana le Leganana [Legane]; Leganana ea re go sena pula, Go tlo go fhela go thiba mouwane, Go fhela go thibathiba lerunyana."

Translation: "Thirst and heat, Bakalanga you could kill us. I have not captured anything. I only captured a small goat with a scab. Tell this tale of great sadness.

"Tell us about the Bukalanga incidents. Tell us about the incidents at [the Bakwena baga] Kgabo's.

We went there with care and stealth. We hid away from Legwape. But, then we found ourselves face to face with Legane. With Legane there is no rain, only mist clouds in the air. Then a small cloud hangs around."

Later, during the time of Legane's son Sankoloba, the Batalaote became allies of the Bangwato. Sankoloba's, himself, is said to have been killed by the Amandebele.

Thereafter, the Batalaote became divided.

Two of Sankoloba's sons, Matsuga and Motsume, along with many of their relatives ultimately fled to Shoshong; where they lived under the Bangwato Kgosi Sekgoma I, father of Khama III.

The Batalaote who remained behind at Manyalela were initially reduced to living as vassals of the Amandebele under the authority of an induna named Manyami. Later, they also switched their allegiance to the Bangwato.

In 1863, following their defeat by the Bangwato at Shoshong, the Amandebele under Lobengula attacked the Batalaote for their disloyalty. Many Batalaote were then captured and taken to Zimbabwe. The survivors who remained behind were scattered, with most resettling at Shoshong. This disaster brought a final end to the group's independence. (to be continued)

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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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