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Time For Change Is Near: Do Not Despair Despite The Current Debilitating Challenges!

Bernard Busani

I have been missing in action as they say. I had taken time off to reflect on the many challenges facing us a nation and as individuals.

Some of my followers were worried that I may have been gagged.  No, I am sound. It is gratifying that many people have found some encouragement and enlightenment in my contributions. Many of our people believe that a better future is in store for the nation despite the many man-made debilitating challenges facing the nation.

I am therefore encouraged to continue to engage and contribute in my small way to the national discourse. I love my country very much; I want only the best for this beautiful country. I will therefore continue to challenge the wrongs I see in our country and provide meaningful suggestions for the future. There is need to inspire hope for the poor, the youth, the unemployed; the disadvantaged in our society. Let me say boldly that God who so loved us will never allow this country to fail.

I must assure you that God is quietly building a new crop of leadership that will take this country to new heights of development where the national cake will be shared equitably by all our people; where merit will displace cronyism and sycophancy; where our young people will be given opportunities and assisted to grow to achieve their full potential; where our older people will be equipped with skills and opportunities to  improve their lives and will decidedly reject the mentally impoverishing handouts we see daily being paraded on BTV masterminded by the first citizen.

All our mines will be re opened and will produce at full capacity and will employ more of our citizens. New mines will also be opened and successful mineral beneficiation will take place in this country. This country will indeed become a true shining example of people centred development in Africa. Do not despair!

I have been observing closely and hoping to see change of mindset in the current leadership; the leadership we have entrusted with the stewardship of our country and its natural resources. What I see is a continued spirited movement towards a national disaster of unprecedented proportions, clearly driven by naked greed, self interest and self entitlement. This must stop.

The ruling class has become so reckless and so comfortable in the knowledge that many Batswana are now very poor and unemployed; desperately vulnerable and trapped into a gullibility rut where they want all of us to be, the end game being total control of our minds.

Because of the hunger; in some cases ignorance imposed on our people; in other cases naked greed, all created deliberately through the manipulative propaganda propagated through BTV, the daily news and Radio Botswana, we see Batswana still voting for the BDP in large numbers as seen in the recent bye elections; we see many people from the opposition defecting to the BDP despite the many blunders and many national disasters created by the reckless management of our economy by the same ruling party.  This is not surprising, but those who truly love this country should now be concerned and do something before our country is brought down to its knees economically.

The list  of the blunders perpetuated by this government is endless, legendary and quite frankly  shocking, especially since 2008; Morupule B that is now being sold for a song after spending billions of Pulas only to fail to achieve energy sufficiency that was promised by 2012; the aborted Palapye glass factory; the aborted metal refinery plant in Francistown, the many projects including airports, stadia, schools, roads etc that were completed years behind schedules with unacceptable cost overruns and suspect quality; the mines that closed, some reduced their production levels; the latest disaster that is meant to deliver the final fatal blow to Phikwe and declare it a ghost town; by the way, where is the Lobatse leather park, no body is talking about it these days, has it also joined the list of the failed projects?

 Despite all these glaring failures people are still joining BDP and voting for a party that has obviously failed the leadership test in so many obvious ways. The reason is that people are hungry and desperate. They need the crumbs from BDP tables to survive. All you need to do, to keep a slave calling you master is to provide basic food and some modicum of shelter, but one day and only one day that slave will wake up and violently turn against you.

In passing, this week we will are seeing America voting for a new leadership in a contest that was long, open, vigorous and transparent to allow all Americans to carefully assess the candidates and choose freely. The whole world has been watching as American brings in a new leadership of their choice. For me the American choice represents a shift in our geopolitical landscape.

 How I wish we could one day talk of true democracy in our country, like we have witnessed in America and in Britain recently where the leaders can be exposed in order for the nation to know exactly what they stand for; where the nation knows that it has the power to appoint the leadership and to remove same leadership if it fails to deliver and where the leadership respects the true will of the people. We long to see our country becoming ‘a shining example of democracy’ in Africa.

Why we should not despair

I was asked by students doing mining related courses whether they should continue doing mining related degrees in the wake of the many mine closures and reduced production in some of our mines.  I told them to continue and that the future is bright and very bright. Our country is very rich in mineral resources and many other natural resources; these will require Batswana with requisite qualifications and experience to exploit them for the good of the nation. Remember our mineral wealth was hidden from the imperialists and only revealed to us after our independence in 1966.

This was no accident, the current closures and reductions are a way of preserving our minerals for the true benefit of our people and future generations. The current leadership has failed to diligently manage these resources and therefore there is need to shut them and preserve them for future generations. God is simply taking these resources from the current wasteful leadership, so do not be afraid.

Copper and nickel

Despite the depressed market, the world cannot survive without copper and nickel. It is a known fact that commodity prices will always go up and down in a cyclical manner following world changing developmental demands. So producers know that they have to plan for such shocks in the system. It is that simple.   It is clear that the prices are now climbing up albeit slowly as the world stocks reduce and new demand for metals increase.  Where else in the world have copper and nickel mines closed due to the reduced demand?

I am not away of any serious mining venture that would have done that, yes I hear of mines managing down their costs in a sustainable manner, reducing overheads, stockpiling, reducing working time, training their staff to be ready for the upturn, yes that is how prudent leaders manage. There was no reason why any of our copper mines should have been closed; we did not run out of ore, it was failure to manage costs and failure to mine optimally. 

In mining the ore body and what is known as the overburden or country rock is never uniform; always challenging. The miner must have an approved plan that looks at long and short term mining requirements. These plans must consider all the factors including adequate access to the ore bodies, ore grades, treatability, losses, overall production costs and profitability. These plans must be approved, reviewed and monitored on an on going basis by the department of mines on behalf of the nation as these resources belong to the nation.

We seem to think that once we have provided a mining license all that is left is to wait for the royalties; that is negating your responsibility as a steward. There is a definite void in the leadership of our national resources that need to be closed. With this kind of leadership, the only viable option is to shut these resources until you have selfless leadership with requisite skills to reopen the mines and appoint rightful custodians.

Our diamond mines

We have the largest diamond fields in the world. We host ‘the richest mine in the whole world’ Jwaneng mine. I can tell you now that our richest mine has been throwing value since its inception. It is a home of some of the finest and largest stones in the world. The large stones are not being recovered, but crushed into small pieces losing incredible value. We have small but valuable stones called fines that are thrown away because they dilute our dollar per carat value. These are national assets being wasted. 

A younger independent miner Lucara has shown that large stones can be preserved and recovered almost intact. Why it is that Debswana with its huge financial muscles cannot do the same at its mines, is it not because of the shackles imposed by De Beers on Debswana. While we close Damtshaa and reduce production at our diamond mines because of the so called reduced demand preached by De Beers, the same De Beers opens Gahcho Kue diamond mine in Canada in 2016. All diamond mines in the world are running at full production and producers are looking for more diamond resources. Are we not being treated like mushrooms, kept in the dark and fed with cow dug?  What garbage is this?

Diamond beneficiation

The diamond beneficiation that should have taken our diamond business and country to an enviably high level is failing. The reason being given is low levels of labour productivity and lack of requisite skills. As a country that has spent so much on education and have even created a whole parastatal for improving labour productivity we should be ashamed to admit that our beneficiation efforts are faltering because of these manageable factors. It goes to show that our education and productivity efforts are ill founded. If other countries can take our diamonds and create such value in beneficiation for their people and we sit back and fold our arms and blame our labour force, then our national leaders are fast asleep and dangerously incompetent.

Leadership

It is clear; the current leadership has failed the country. We clearly need new leadership that will adequately equip our people to manage these mines including beneficiation. Education without requisite skills development is useless and must be rejected.  Despite almost forty years of mining, we still do not have the requisite skills to manage and run our mines; we rely on others for a lot of our technical skills.

With good leaders we should now be exporting these skills. Our people are as good as any in the world and can be trained to do anything any other nationality can do and even do it better.  Recently, BPC has acquired a German national to manage our national power corporation; we have not raised a single Motswana over so many years to do that; the new Khoemacau copper mine in Maun is looking for a managing director, despite years of mining we should not be surprised to be told that they is no Motswana identified to take up that position; we will import as is customary from countries who value their people and have trained them for such opportunities; we still have an Australian as general manager at one of our diamond mines and many other senior technical people in these mines why? Leadership failure!  

By now, if we were a proud nation as we sometimes brag, we should be having a pool of nationals who can do these jobs ‘in their sleep’ planted all over the world in rich exchange programmes. Until we have a new leadership that is far sighted, our many opportunities and prospects will remain dim, bleak and closed.

We need leaders that have clear national development priorities; leaders that will equip all our people for the many opportunities that are clearly available in this country but closed by greed and self interest resident in the current leadership. All Batswana who love their country must now stand up and go to all the schools, to their villages and educate our people on the need for change and demonstrate why this country cannot move forward with this kind of leadership.

People must know that despite the money, the beers, the blankets, the promises that are splashed at elections and public gatherings they must know that when they are at the ballot box they are alone and must chose change and shame the devil.

All our mines will be reopened, beneficiation will be done in this country and we shall have a world class developmental programme that will make our people proud owners of their resources.

 

E-mail: bernard.busani@gmail.com     Tel: 71751440

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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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