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Coping with Personal Problems

Iqbal Ebrahim

Who does not have problems? Problems are a part and parcel of our lives. We all have stresses and burdens in our daily existence. Whether it is at school or at work or just the daily trials and tribulations of life, we carry much on our shoulders. Some of us carry our own loads and some of us carry loads that we share with others – health problems, personal family issues, financial dilemmas, marital discord, employment troubles, and the list could go on.

These burdens that we bear can be heavy. In fact, most of us may say that at one time or another, they feel too great to bear. ‘Be patient (in adversity); for, verily, Allah will not let the reward of the righteous be wasted’. Quran 11: 115.

Every home has its own problems, as does every office, corporation, and country. Daily we can expect to meet problems that arise from our social interactions, whether they occur within a family setting, or among neighbours, or between colleagues and business partners, or even with those we meet on the street.

There are countless other daily problems that we encounter but the ones that bring about greater stress are the inner and personal problems. The worst thing about some of these problems is that they are ‘personal’ ones and we cannot share them with others.  Each of our souls is afflicted with its own inner problems. They could be as result of problems between loved ones / partners, the family and of course our own that we dare not share with others.

These unfortunately can wear us down mentally because we are unable to share them with others. This adds to our burden as we carry that load within ourselves. Often we besiege ourselves with problems and difficulties, the problem could actually come from the deep within us and cannot be simply shrugged off.

This is not to say that those problems are not real. They definitely are. So we need to find good ways of getting around them. We do not have to dwell on them. We need to seek the help of Allah and cling hard to the firm handhold that He provides, repeating the words: "You alone do we worship and You alone we ask for help. (Quran 1:5)  

Think about it, if it were not for poverty, people would not know wealth. And if it were not for sorrow, people would not know joy. If it were not for distance and separation, people would never know the joy of meeting and being reunited with our loved ones. In this manner, this world is just like a passage with a light at the end of it, where pleasure is accompanied by pain and laughter by tears, a world where the degree and severity of suffering has a corresponding degree of happiness a person feels when that suffering goes away.

There is not a day that goes by that a believer is not tested by his Lord. In some of these tests it may seem impossible for one to pass, yet with patience comes prosperity. But remember that Allah says: ‘And if Allah touches you with affliction, none can remove it but He: But if He bestows upon you a favor, remember that He is the Possessor of every power to do all that He wills’. (Quran 6: 17). But remember that Allah also says to us: ‘On no soul do We place a burden greater than it can bear: before Us is a record which clearly shows the truth: they will never be wronged’. (Quran 23: 62)

How do we face these adversities? For a believer, when faced with the challenges of life we need only to turn to our Lord in Prayer asking for patience, guidance and the strength to overcome those challenges. We can solve many of our problems with Allah's help, and we can minimize others. As for those problems for which we cannot find a solution, we need to learn patience, where possible we can try our best to accommodate them. ‘O, you who believe! Persevere in patience and constancy; vie in such perseverance; strengthen each other; fear Allah that ye may prosper’. (Quran 3: 200)

Thus patience is a necessary ingredient in all cases. Therefore, we have been encouraged – actually commanded – to be patient. The word patience appears many times in the Quran. There can be no doubt that expecting relief from Allah is a form of worship, since it is part of being patient. Without patience we will become rudderless and our efforts can come to nothing. This is because when problems strike we feel completely besieged by them and we are likely to react with a knee jerk reaction that can be in a spontaneous and emotional manner that clouds our judgement without actually identifying the source of the problem.

Sometimes we wonder why our problems keep coming back and why they are never solved. If we analyse ourselves we will realize we were the people Allah mentions in the Quran: ‘And as for man, when his Lord tries him, then treats him with honour and makes him lead an easy life, he says (puffed up): My Lord honours me. But when He tries him, restricting his subsistence for him, then he says (in despair): My Lord has humiliated me’. (Quran 89: 15 – 16).

This can be a reason for our constant problems and suffering with no happiness to relieve us. As already mentioned in the verse above that, Allah promises us to give us good after affliction if we are patient, steadfast and importantly appreciative. This also means if we are not, then we should not even expect any lenience from Allah when it comes to his trials.

When we are stressed and tormented we fail to see that these trials may be or are a blessing, something to bring us closer to our Lord. This is how we should look at these challenges; Allah is testing us in order for us to become closer and more beloved to him. So we should be happy with our tests and work through them, thanking Allah and asking for his forgiveness throughout those challenging times. And those who are patient will have the best rewards, that of eternal happiness and glory.

When we turn to our Lord by way of supplication, devotion in prayer, and humility, we will find Allah's help and support, and Allah will bless us with the strength of will that we need. We will also find help and support from his believing brethren who follow the same path.
When stressed we should pray: Oh Lord, Grant us the good in this life and the good in the hereafter and save us from the hellfire. Teach us to be humble and help us in the trials you put on us. Keep us away from that which will harm us and unite us with those who will help us.

We should constantly pray: 'Our Lord! Do not punish us if we forget or make a mistake. Our Lord! Do not place on us a burden as You placed on those before us. Our Lord! Lay not on us the kind of burden that we have no strength to bear. Pardon us, Forgive us, Have mercy upon us. You are our Protector……..'  (Quran 2; 286) These are the teetering steps to our personal problem solving.    

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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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