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Jeff Ramsay

In our last instalment we focused on the Batalaote or, as they are less commonly known, Badalaunde. This week we turn to another local Bakalanga community- the Banambiya. Today, Banambiya communities can be found in both the Chobe District and the adjacent northwestern tip of Zimbabwe.

The Banambiya are also sometimes still referred to as the Bananzwa.
This term has, however, gone out of favour as being derogatory. It is commonly associated with the verb "to lick" (-nanzwa). Some linguists, however, believe that Bananzwa is an Ikalanga corruption of what was originally a community name derived from the Ila-Tonga language. This is consistent with the following historical reconstruction.

The Banambiya are the followers of the Wange, alternatively Zange or Hwange dynasty. According to oral traditions the original Wange she (or xe) was a younger brother of the Mambo (king). While the court traditions thus link the original Wange to the Banyayi Mambo Nichasike, others suggest that he may have in fact been related to the last of the Balilima kings of the Chibundule dynasty. This interpretation is supported by the use of the monkey, shoko, rather than heart, moyo, as the Banambiya totem.

According to the Balilima traditions Wange fled to the Zambezi valley at the time of Nichasike's overthrow of Chibundule (c.1680, though existing genealogy suggests a later migration). There his followers found and conquered the people they called Bananzwa who were a Batonga or Bathoka community under a local ruler named Ngula. The forenames of the known royal descendents of the first Wange are as follows: Tshilobamagu > Lesumbame > Sebemkhula > Nikatambe > Tshilisa > Nimanaga > Tshipaja.

In 1839 the Banambiya country became a temporary base for a section of Amandebele army of Nkosi Mzilikazi, with the Banambiya accommodating the invaders:

"And the Amandebele went to She Wange and said: 'As for us we do not want to fight you.' We are scouting the country looking for our home people. They lost us and we do not know their whereabouts. So Wange stopped his people from fighting with the army of Mzilikazi and he gave them much food and they ate and drank and were happy."

But, in 1853, the Amandebele attacked the Banambiya. This followed an incident in which they were implicated in abandoning to starvation an Amandebele regiment on an island in the middle of the Zambesi. The force was intending to collect tribute among the Batonga on the other side of the river who were also claimed as vassals by the Makololo.

It is further said that the Banambiya, themselves, subsequently refused to pay tribute to Mzililkazi's tax collector, Luponjwana Nzima. On hearing of the above, Mzilikazi ordered that She Lesumbame Wange be skinned alive for having apparently conspired with Makololo to gain Banambiya freedom from the Amandebele. This event, which is extensively recorded in Ikalanga traditions, coincides with both the death of the great Makololo Kgosi Sebetwane at Linyanti, and the arrival of a party of Europeans, including David Livingston, accompanied by Bakwena in the region.

"And so Luponjwana Nzima arrived at Mzilikazi's court without the tribute of  [Lesumbame] Wange. He entered the courtyard without the tribute. So the king asked him: 'what happened that you have returned without anything Nzima?'

"Luponjwana replied: 'Wange is not willing to produce tribute; he has two hearts, his one heart loves the Bakololo, and the other love you my king just a little bit.'

"So Mzilikazi ordered his people: 'Go and kill Wange and skin him nicely and take out his liver and kidneys and lunges and the two hearts spoken of by Luponjwana Nzima and put them on a wooden tray and return with them. Now do not let Luponjwana steal one of the hearts and make it his, lest he also does not obey me as Wange did not obey him, because he had two hearts."

Ikalanga accounts further state that the skin of Lesumbame was used to make shoes for Mzilakazi. This is further alleged to have been the cause of the great Amandebele ruler's death.

"Then King Mzilikazi said: 'Take the skin of Wange and stretch it out so that it can dry.' They took the skin of Lord Wange and stretched it out and when it was dry, they had the pegs pulled out and took it and put it to the King. So King Mzilikazi took the dried skin of She Wange, child of King Nichasike who created the elephant and rhinoceros, and cut it and made shoes, which he put on when walking about his courtyard during the morning and evening. Those who speak say the King died having leprosy because of wearing shoe made from the skin of Wange."

If the above be in part true, the effect was certainly not immediate. The Reverend Robert Moffat did treat Mzilikazi for a chronic leg ailment in 1864, eleven years after Wange's execution and four years before the Amandebele ruler's actual death.

The Amandebele attacked the Banambiya again in 1863, scattering many. Thereafter those who did not flee remained under Sebemkhula Wange who ruled as Mzilikazi's vassal. The name of the Hwange (formerly corrupted as Wankie) Park in Zimbabwe is associated with Sebemkhula.

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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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