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Finance On Autopilot Under Matambo

Kesitegile Gobotswang (PhD)

BCP Deputy Leader


Recently Sonny Serite, one of the leading critics of the Khama Administration described Kenneth Matambo the Minister of Finance and Economic Development (MFED) as intelligent and highly qualified for the job. He attributed the Minister’s shortcomings to the fact that he was serving under a dumb regime. 

It is true that the gentleman possesses the necessary qualifications and experience to manage a modern economy. As an economist he worked for the World Bank (WB) before he became the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Finance and Development Planning (MFDP). Upon retirement he became the Managing Director of Botswana Development Corporation (BDC), a fully government owned investment entity.


Indications are that the Botswana economy is on a downward spiral as it shed more jobs than it created. In our view the reason why the economy is faltering has nothing to do with the capabilities of the Minister. It has a lot to do with the fact that the Minister is highly compromised to stand his ground against the spending spree by the Khama brothers – President Seretse Khama Ian Khama and his brother Tshekedi Khama who is the Minister of Environment, Natural Resources Conservation and Tourism. Public funds and assets are being used as if they are part of the Khama estate under the watchful eye of the Minister.


We should recall that while he was Minister of Finance and Development Planning the gentleman was investigated by the Directorate Corruption and Economic Crime (DCEC) and later faced corruption charges. Motivated by zero conviction rate of high profile cases by the DCEC the President allowed him to remain in his position while facing the charges. 

 

In a proper functioning democracy the minister would have been relieved of his responsibilities at least during the course of his trial. In fact that is what normally happens when public servants are interdicted. It is an accepted international practice that is applied not because the accused person is guilty but to allow him to clear his name and protect the integrity of the institution they lead.

 

The decision to keep him on duty led to an untidy situation where he was an accused person in the morning and honourable minister in the afternoon. In the end the court cleared him of any wrong doing, a move that raised questions about the possible interference of the Executive on the Judiciary. The name of the Minister later cropped up in an uncomplimentary manner in a report by a Parliamentary Special Select Committee of Enquiry into the BDC’s Palapye Fengyue Glass Project. The project that cost the taxpayer P500 million came to nothing and is currently being sold for a song. Unfortunately the findings of the report were set aside by High Court Judge Key Dingake on account of lack of natural justice after the Minister had approached the court.


We would argue here that it was in the interest of the Khama brothers to have the Minister as the political head of the strategic MFED because they knew that he was wounded and weakened. The Palapye Glass Project would remain a dark cloud over his head since the courts did not clear him of any wrong doing.  


The MFED is virtually captured by the Office of the President (OP) that has been given an open cheque. The most powerful ministry has since been rendered ineffective as the well acclaimed financial prudence becomes a thing of the past. Billions of pula is spent on unsustainable programs such as Ipelegeeng, ISPAAD, Boot Camps, and Constituency League. By the end of NDP 11 government would have spent P22 billion on second hand jet fighters while the conditions of service of the officers remain deplorable.


The recent outburst by the Minster of Environment, Natural Resources Conservation and Tourism is quite revealing. When he was summoned to account for poor governance at Botswana Tourism Organization (BTO) and wasteful expenditure he complained that he was unfairly targeted for political reasons. In his view there were Ministers who were performing worse than him yet nobody talked about them. This is just a glimpse of the extent to which the current government is rotten to the core. Reports that payments for temporary teachers/teacher aides are delayed because government does not have sufficient funds are shocking but not surprising.


At the current level of wasteful expenditure it was always going to catch up with us. Today public schools go without sufficient funds to purchase text and exercise books as well as food. Yet the ill-conceived President’s pet projects like Boot Camps turned into “Feedlots” are well funded. Boot Camp “detainees” have daily feasts to supress complaints of abuse by their military handlers and in some instances DISS agents. Money allocated to sponsor tertiary students is illegally diverted to fund personal tastes of the Khama brothers on their joyride schemes.

 

The very existence of the University of Botswana is under threat as P600 million earmarked for tuition and allowances for University of Botswana students cannot be accounted for. It is a system that is open to abuse and embezzlement of public funds.  Soon the Minister will be heading back to Parliament to request billions of pula as supplementary budget.


Recently when asked about the levies in terms of how they are collected and managed the Minister claimed ignorance about the existence of the Tourism Levy Fund and could not fully account for Disaster Fund and Alcohol Levy.  Ministries introduce levies without the approval of the MFED contrary to Public Finance Management Act. Levy funds are open to abuse as it was evident in respect of the controversy around the opening of the Dubai Tourism Office by Minister Tshekedi Khama without the consent of the Permanent Secretary as the Accounting Officer.


Matambo may go down in history as a Finance Minister who let the country down in times of need. Botswana deserves institutions like Thuli Madonsela and Pravan Gordhan to reign in the Khama brothers before they bankrupt the country. The country needs men and women with a back bone.
 

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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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