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State Capture: Lessons For Botswana

Kesitegile Gobotswang (PhD)
Deputy Leader, BCP

South African Constitutional democracy has once again become an envy of the African continent ahead of old, regressing and tired democracies in countries like Botswana.  Thuli Madonsela the former Public Protector a woman made of steel has delivered another earth shattering report entitled “State of Capture.” This comes on the heels of the famous Nkandla report that had far reaching political ramifications. Both reports were based on investigations into perceived corrupt activities associated with President Jacob Zuma of South Africa. 

In the case Nkandla the Public Protector had concluded that certain additional features to the security upgrade at Zuma’s home in Nkandla were in fact non-security items. These included a cattle kraal, chicken run, swimming pool, visitors’ centre, and amphitheatre.  Consequently the Public Protector issued an order calling for remedial action entailing payment of the tax payer’s money spent on non-security upgrades.  


In respect of the Nkandla report the African National Congress (ANC) dominated parliament attempted to undermine the powers of the Public Protector by interpreting her order as just a recommendation with no legal effect and therefore non-binding. Parliament essentially exonerated President Zuma from any liability. The opposition Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) and Democratic Alliance (DA) took the matter to the Constitutional Court which ruled in their favour.

It was a damning judgement that unequivocally put the three arms of government in their rightful positions as per the Constitution of South Africa. The judges were in agreement that by refusing to comply with the order from the office of the Public Protector, both Zuma and the National Assembly failed “to uphold, defend, and respect” the highest document of the land which is the Constitution. The President of South Africa has since paid back the money as demanded by the Public Protector.


Towards the end of her term of office Thuli Madonzela the former Public Protector took the decision to investigate allegations of state capture by the Gupta family. Before the report could be made public, President Zuma and his associates rushed to the courts to stop the Public Protector from making the report public. On Wednesday November 2nd, 2016 the North Gauteng High Court ruled that the report should be made public by 5pm on the same day. The 355 page report was subsequently made public and also posted on the website of the Office of Public Protector.  Batswana can only look at developments in South Africa with envy and a sense of jealousy.  This is because events unfolding there are unthinkable in Botswana, the so-called shining example of democracy.


The difference between Botswana and South Africa lies in their constitutional framework. While in South Africa the constitution provides for Chapter 9 State Institutions in Botswana we have oversight institutions that are a product of weak acts of parliament. These institutions lack independence and power since they are accountable to the Office of the President instead of parliament or the constitution.  Of all the oversight institutions the Ombudsman is the weakest and most irrelevant.  Most of the citizens would not be in a position to name the current Ombudsman. 

On the other hand the Directorate of Corruption and Economic Crime (DCEC) is a mere tool of the powerful ruling elite that is used to cover up their corrupt acts.  The DCEC spends most of the time and resources chasing the “small fish” with a zero conviction rate of the “big fish.” The country has lost billions of pula through corruption at the Botswana Development Corporation (BDC) and the Glass Manufacturing, Morupule B, Seleka Springs’s dubious arms deals, Botswana Meat Commission (BMC), Botswana Railways (BR) and yet no one has been held accountable or prosecuted. 

Actually the DCEC is not doing anything that the Police would not do. The Ombudsman has failed to investigate a report by the Botswana Congress Party (BCP) on Mosu Presidential Resort.  Mosu is the Nkandla of Botswana where public resources may have been used for its construction. They also turned the other way when the BCP reported a case involving the use of a Botswana Defence Force (BDF) aircraft by the President at the Rasesa Air Show. All these were also brought to the attention of the DCEC. The DCEC and the Ombudsman are not worth the amount of money allocated to them and must disband to safe the country of the limited resources. 

They should be replaced by a powerful institution that combines both of their functions, to be called the Ombudsman or Public Protector. Such an institution should be a product of the constitution not a piece of a weak legislation.
The country continues to bleed because of dysfunctional oversight institutions. The BCL and Botswana Tourism Organization (BTO) scandals are the latest in a series of national man-made disasters resulting from official corruption.  It can only be in Botswana where a Minister can use previous failures to act on corruption and abuse of office as his defence.  


What is particularly weakening democracy in Botswana is the poor financial capability of the opposition political parties to mount court challenges against government transgressions, corruption and abuse of public office. The trade unions have been relatively successful in this regard. The situation is compounded by the fact that Botswana has an extremely weak and timid private sector that is mostly scared of being associated with a course of action championed by the opposition parties. 

As a result government acts with impunity on a daily basis. For example the Botswana Police Service (BPS) is sitting on a case involving the postponement of the Francistown West bye-election triggered by a petition signed by dead people among others.  Recently Minister Tshekedi  Khama acted in a manner that is clearly an obstruction of justice in a case involving the BTO. In these cases citizens remain helpless and at the mercy of the state.


Although there is a strong case to stop the provisional liquidation of BCL citizens don’t have the capacity to challenge this treacherous act by the government of the day.  As for the Electronic Voting Machine (EVM) it would not see the light of day if the opposition parties had the financial muscle.  What the private sector in Botswana does not seem to appreciate is the fact that the EVM may be the last straw that breaks the camel’s back.  The EVM may be the source of unimaginable political instability that will not spare capital. Botswana desperately needs a strategic alliance between labour, capital, students, political, and religious organizations to deal with the challenges facing the country today. 

In South Africa the Safe South Africa Campaign rally was graced by high profile individuals in society such as Justice Zag Yacoob (retired Constitutional Court Judge), Sipho Pityana (Anglogold Ashanti CEO and ANC stalwart) etc. We need our own Yacoobs and Pityanas to safe our country from the ruthless “vultures”.

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The Daring Dozen at Bari

8th December 2020
JEFF---Batswana-smoke-unit

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.

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A Strong Marriage Bond Needs Two

8th December 2020

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”

UNDERSTANDING

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.”

COMMITMENT

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.

ACCEPTANCE

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.

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Chronic Joblessness: How to Help Curtail it

30th November 2020
Motswana woman

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.

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