Recent conflicts within the Botswana Movement for Democracy (BMD), which may inevitably spill over to the Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC), have compelled me to break from the series ‘Remembering the unwanted’ to which I will return next week.
For some time now there has been conflict within the BMD. At some point in time, the BMD Youth League was tearing itself apart, with warring factions reportedly aligned to the two factions within the party’s National Executive Committee (NEC).
Then there was the issue of Advocate Sidney Pilane’s application for readmission into the party which was surprisingly met with fierce resistance by some within party. Seemingly, it is this issue, especially after his application was accepted by the Mochudi West constituency, which has brought so much unrest within the party, with some calling for the expulsion of the party Secretary General, Honourable Gilbert Mangole.
The issue of Pilane’s re-admission has gone out of hand to the extent that the party has to go for a Special Congress mainly for it. It is unprecedented for a party to call a Special Congress to determine an individual’s application to rejoin the party, let alone one who is its founding Vice President. But not even the imminence of the Special Congress has brought calm within the party.
Reportedly, the pro Pilane faction wants the party Vice President, Honourable Wynter Mmolotsi, to be expelled for causing instability within the party. According to Mmegi’s online edition of 1st June 2016, “…the pro Pilane team is not happy that the anti-Pilane team is using the current President and Vice President’s tour and rallies to canvass support from members.”
They dismiss the claim that the party President and Vice President’s tour is meant to inform members about what led to the collapse of the party’s NEC, saying that could be done during the impending Special Congress were all NEC members will be present to set the record straight should there be a misrepresentation of facts.
Mmegi’s report further states that “the pro-Pilane team also wants the Member of Parliament (MP) for Mogoditshane, Honourable Sedirwa Kgoroba, to be suspended from the party for continuing his attack on other party members on social media…”
This is surprising because the very pro-Pilane faction is said to be preaching reconciliation while the anti-Pilane group is said to be adamant that only a Special Congress can effectively resolve the impasse within the party which has resulted in the NEC being moribund.
My fear is that if the BMD conflict is not well managed it will affect the UDC. Inevitably, some of the UDC’s other members, the Botswana National Front (BNF) and Botswana People’s Party (BPP), may, for political expediency, align with the BMD’s warring factions, something which can only exacerbate the conflict.
Not only that. The BMD’s conflict has delayed the Opposition’s cooperation talks which were supposed to start in April 2016. Reportedly, the anti-Pilane faction has objected to Pilane being part of the negotiation team, calling for vetting of members of the negotiation team, something which will take time, especially considering the current impasse within the BMD’s NEC.
The BMD conflicts are fodder for those within the BNF, BPP and the Botswana Congress Party (BCP) who are against cooperation. They will use it to justify their view that working with other parties may bring instability to their own parties, further diminishing their chances of success during the 2019 general elections.
This is worsened by the fact that many within the BNF and BCP do not really trust the BMD since it is ideologically closer to the Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) than it is to them. In fact, some believe that many in the BMD are likely to defect to the BDP should political dynamics shift in the BDP’s favour.
The BMD conflicts are even more fodder for the BDP. The BDP has always used the propaganda that Batswana should not vote for the Opposition since opposition parties are prone to conflict. It has warned the voter that if any of the opposition parties were to be elected to government Botswana will lose the peace and stability it is internationally acclaimed for.
Many Batswana, especially the elderly, the illiterate and those who live in rural areas have bought into this propaganda. Several of them, especially those who remember the BNF split, have started citing the BMD conflict as the reason why the Opposition cannot be trusted with governing the country.
Prior to the BDP’s split which resulted in the BMD’s formation, the BDP boasted of being the only political party in Botswana which has not suffered a split since independence. It cited with relish the BNF split which led to the formation of the BCP. But, that changed when it suffered the split which resulted in BMD’s formation.
In the face of the conflicts engulfing its offspring, the BMD, the BDP is embarking on a two pronged propaganda offensive. On the one hand it is using the conflict to prove that the blame for the split is not at its door step, but at the door step of those who defected, especially the leaders. Incidentally, and conveniently for the BDP, it is these leaders who form the embattled BMD’s NEC.
On the other hand, the BDP is appealing to those in the BMD to rejoin the BDP by telling them that they can never survive in the Opposition. They tell them that because of ideological differences they can never belong with such leftist diehards as the BMD’s Chairperson, Nehemiah Modubule, who was a member of the BNF for most of his life.
In the 2014 general elections, the BDP seats in the National Assembly fell from 45 in 2009 to 37 in 2014. Its popular vote declined from 53.26% in 2009 to 46.7% in 2014. While this was an indication that the BDP could lose power in 2019, the BMD’s conflicts, especially if they can spill over to the UDC and the BCP, are putting that in doubt.
This conflict, coupled with the conflict between the Botswana Federation of Public Service Unions (BOFEPUSU) and Botswana Public Employees Union (BOPEU) as well as the apparent divisions on opposition cooperation within the BCP, can deny Batswana a once in a lifetime opportunity to experience a change of government.
It will be remembered that even prior to these conflict the BDP had begun a charm offensive to regain its voters, especially in relation to public servants. It came up with so-called initiatives which include an increase in the repayment period for Government Employees Motor Vehicle and Residential Property Advance Scheme (GEMVAS) housing loan from 10 years to 20 years.
In addition, it claims to have introduced free rent for employees in Category 1 Remote Area Service Allowance (RASA) earning areas; free internet and a special Self Help Housing Agency (SHHA) scheme for public servants of grade D4 and below; and allowing Public Servants to engage in private businesses.
Also, government claims that in order to encourage a culture of saving among public servants, it initiated the Botswana Public Officers Savings and Credit Cooperative Society which was registered in April 2013. Its latest charm offensive was the introduction of the Economic Stimulus Package (ESP).
The UDC, therefore, has to assist the BMD to emerge from this conflict as quickly as possible to avoid further damage, lest the conflict, BOFEPUSU and BOPEU’s war and the BDP’s undeniable revival become the BDP’s live line in 2019.
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.