I think almost everyone now knows why we should have an annual state of the nation address by the first citizen. This is to essentially tell the nation what his government has achieved in terms of the development priorities he has promised the nation.
Top of the agenda for our president should be what he personally promised the nation at the last election. He personally gave each person a person card; a red card as he called, a red card that had five priority areas. I still carry mine. If he has forgotten about this red card, we shall continue to remind him about it as it matters to us and the nation.
His red card which ominously means that if he fails to deliver on the promises defined in the card, he and his government will be red carded and removed from power in 2019 or earlier. Let us remind our first citizen what the card contained and this should have been included in the state of the nation address.
In the next five years, the BDP promises to—
Make job creation priority number 1: divert significant resources to fighting unemployment particularly among our youth
Take Batswana out of poverty: strengthen and increase the scope of our poverty eradication program and social safety net though programs such as LIMID, ISPAAD, the Economic Diversification Drive, Presidential Housing Appeal and Youth Empowerment Scheme:
Increase Education Funding; improve quality and performance by building more classrooms and improving teacher’s welfare.
Eliminate mother to child HIV transmission: provide highly active antiretroviral therapy to all HIV positive pregnant women and dramatically reduce maternal death by increasing the quality of rural healthcare.
Fight corruption in all its manifestation: a zero tolerance approach to corruption
At the bottom of the card which card was duly signed by his Excellency, the president, Dr Ian Khama, the card closes by saying, ‘keep this card and see that we keep our promises’ I HAVE KEPT MINE, I WANT TO SEE THE RESULTS.
These promises are very clear and can easily be turned into measurable objectives and goals for the president and His government. Achieving these promises would go a long way in addressing the challenges bedeviling this nation. ALL Batswana demand feedback through the sate of the nation address on these five priority areas.
These five priority areas contain all the major challenges facing the country and its citizens; we expect the president to address these comprehensively in his state of the nation address each year giving specific deliverables.
Other peripheral issues like the world global economic outlook, broad supporting programs and other niceties can be included as appendices for academics and international interests. The nation wants to hear about the bread and butter issues which the president promised as he traversed daily through out the country, by the way unfairly being financed by public funds during the 2014 election campaigns. He owes the nation and the above must be addressed comprehensively. This is what i mean by comprehensive feedback to the nation.
The president must report how many jobs have been created since he took office or since the last election. He must state how many jobs have been lost during the same period; further explaining where and why these jobs where lost.
He must further explain what programs are in place to create what jobs, numbers of such jobs and specifically what his government is doing to ensure that jobs are protected and continually enhanced. Still on job creation he should explain comprehensively the short to long term impact of the programs such as Economic Stimulus Program (ESP) now a swear word to many.
By the way, ESP if intelligently structured and not used for political posturing and expediency could create short term as well as long term jobs. ASK ME HOW? Even ipelegeng if intelligently and properly structured could create long term and high quality jobs. ASK ME HOW?
TAKE BATSWANA OUT OF POVERTY
What a promise! Who wants to live in poverty? First of all the president and his government must have identified the number of people living in poverty, then using the programs he highlighted in this card indicate how many people would be removed from poverty by these programs and how many have actually been removed from that list.
He must further state how he would then ensure that people stay out of the poverty list? Some kind of a sustainability index to measure quality of such programs may be devised to track the success of each of these programs.
INCREASE EDUCATION FUNDING
This one would have been very easy to measure. You increase quality and performance by building more schools and improving teacher’s welfare. The teachers must have been smiling as well as the parents and students when they heard this promise.
But how many new schools have been built and how has this reduced the teacher student ratio? What programs have been introduced to improve the teacher’s welfare? I see a deteriorating student teacher’s ratio and worsening teacher’s welfare occasioned by tense relations with the government due to long working hours and refusing to pay due overtime How did the president intend to increase teacher’s welfare without even looking at their pay structure and ensuring that it is commensurate with their responsibilities and their position in society.
Our teachers are earning starving salaries and deserve more. The government has recently taken away the teacher’s right to strike; wrongly and dangerously misinterpreting the definition of essential service. Using their definition all jobs are essential jobs and therefore no worker should be given the right to strike. This has gone real too far Mr. President.
ELIMINATE MOTHER TO CHILD TRANSMISSION OF HIV
I am not sure whether the President has introduced anything new to fight HIV and AIDS, particularly new intervention on the mother to child crosses transmission as promised. The interventions in place from my understanding are those from the Mogae presidency.
We now hear of increased new infection on the young people, which means that our objective of zero new HIV infections has dismally failed. The way the male circumcision has been sold as an HIV transmission reduction strategy was wrong and now a total failure leading rather to young people believing that if this would reduce possible infection by 60%, to a young person even an old inadequately informed person it may mean that one can take a risk of unprotected sex and escape infection. We now sadly see an increase in new infection on the youth and perhaps others.
I believe it is because we failed to take a deep breath to analyse the implications both positive and negative of this intervention before we implemented it. Surely before we borrow interventions any intervention for that matter from others we have to adapt to our own circumstances taking into account our own understanding of the immediate world around us.
Male circumcision should have been sold as a health issue and nothing else; a practice that has long existed even before the birth of Christ. Taking religion out of it circumcision was simply a hygiene/health issue, nothing else.
FIGHTING CORRUPTION IN ALL ITS MANIFESTATION
What new interventions have been introduced to fight corruption? I am not away of any. What is clear to most of us is that the level of corruption and perceived corruption is growing in leaps and bounds. Even the long talked about declaration of assets by our legislature has failed to materialise, only flaming the suspicion fires that corruption is indeed widespread in high places; hence declaration of assets legislation would open a Pandora box in which hidden corrupt and heinous activities are placed in secrecy.
It is no wonder why the president does not address these five priority areas he promised Batswana in 2014, the failure is phenomenal and very embarrassing to say the least. Batswana should however continue to remind him of these five promises and demand delivery.
If the president was a student being tested on the five promises he made to Batswana, he would obtained zero marks for each one of these; a total failure and discontinue verdict would be the outcome. He will be red carded and removed from power
In summary he has failed to create jobs, instead he has lost over 30 000 to 40 000 direct and indirect jobs in a very short period. As a result he has increase the number of people joining the poverty trap and thereby instead of taking Batswana out of poverty he has instead condemned them to the horrors of poverty.
On education, the quality of education continues to deteriorate with no notable new schools being built; with the number of sponsored students having dropped by close to 20 % and the University of Botswana being threatened with possible closure. In so far as HIV/Aids is concerned we see an increase instead of reduction of new infections.
Well how about fighting corruption? I have not seen any intervention or any statistic that shows me that we have achieved anything in this area. The president gets straight zeros and must therefore be red carded and discontinued.
Listening to the president state of the nation address and comparing it with the response from the leader of opposition in parliament, it is clear that this country has a viable and suitable alternative right now, 2019 is just too far. The commander in chief has failed the nation and continues to lead our country toward economic and social ruin.
The closure of BCL, especially how it happened; the pronounced eminent sale of Morupule B, must be the last straws even for the diehard BDP stalwarts. However only those BDP stalwarts with a modicum of conscience and self respect will agree with this assessment and will therefore start taking corrective action before too long.
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.