This is the time of the year when individuals and organizations reflect on their previous performance and seriously draw lessons from the past in order to chart the way forward in the coming year/s. It is a time for a thorough critical introspection. We in the Botswana Congress Party (BCP) are not an exception to the rule. In this first instalment in the New Year we attempt to do exactly that.
The BCP is a party that has persevered over the years. Its resilience is no longer in doubt given what it went through over the years. The post 1999 general elections presented the biggest challenge ever. It was the first election following the historic split from the Botswana National Front (BNF) in 1998. Eleven (11) Members of parliament, scores of councillors and critical activists left the BNF to form the BCP under the leadership of Michael Kitso Dingake the former Roben Island inmate.
The new kid on the block was viewed as a serious threat to existing political parties. Consequently it had to contend with fears and often hostile attacks from major political parties. As part of a scheme to discredit the BCP parliament adopted a motion tabled by Gladys Kokorwe calling on the government to outlaw flow crossing. This was followed by a Parliamentary Committee that toured the country addressing Kgotla meetings under the pretext of consultations. Such meetings were successfully used to bash the BCP beyond recognition.
Although the BCP recorded a confortable 16 per cent popular vote in the 1999 General Elections the party suffered a crushing defeat when all the eleven Members of Parliament lost the elections except Joseph Kavindama representing the Okavango constituency. Debate ensued on whether the BCP was a viable project. Some key founding members defected back to the BNF.
Michael Dingake voluntarily resigned his position as the first President of the BCP. The BCP detractors celebrated what they predicted to be the beginning of the end of the party. The baton was subsequently handed over to Otlaadisa Koosaletse who later re-joined the BNF following his lose at the hands of his Vice President Gilson Saleshando in 2005.
Following the poor performance of the BCP in the 1999 general elections the motivation to outlaw flow crossing had reached a dead end. Part of the reason for the reluctance to introduce the anti-flow crossing law was the fact that the governing party frequently benefited and celebrated defections from the opposition parties.
The Kokorwe motion was clearly an un-principled intervention that was meant to crush the newly formed BCP. The status quo remained until the ruling Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) suffered a major split in 2010 when there was a short-lived advocacy for an anti-flow crossing legislation.
The BCP would face another turbulent period following the 2005 Elective Congress which was held in Letlhakane in the Boteti District. The biggest causalities of the elections were the incumbent President and the Secretary General who later retraced their steps back to the BNF together with a number of activists. The Elective Congress was held following the 2004 General Elections during which the BCP significantly increased its popular vote but remained with a single Member of Parliament in the person of Dumelang Saleshando.
The period between 2005 and 2009 saw a rejuvenated and vibrant organization firing from all cylinders – boosted by an effective single MP and a highly vocal and aggressive party leader. The BCP became popularly known as the fastest growing party of choice. Its response to national issues was unparalleled.
Some of the highlights were its sterling report on the forceful removal of residents of Central Kgalagadi Game Reserve (CKGR) and periodic documentation of the state of democracy and the rule of law under a popular party publication entitled “Democracy Alert.” It was clear to political commentators that the BCP had become a critical player in the politics of the country.
However the continued growth of the party and its sterling performance on the national scale failed to translate into significant increase in the number of elected representatives in parliament. The party only managed to increase parliamentary seats from one (1) in 2004 to five (5) in 2009 following a successful merger between the BCP (Ya Lephoi) and the Botswana Alliance Movement (BAM) while the New Democratic Front (NDF) and Socialist Democratic Party (SDP) were Groups Members.
There was a bright light at the end of the tunnel for the fastest growing party in Botswana until its momentum came to a temporary halt in 2014. The party would find itself in the middle of the mother of all political storms following the unexpected results of the 2014 General Elections. Many detractors described the BCP results as a disaster. Some political analyst concluded that the party was down and predicted that would never rise again.
This was despite the fact that we recorded a popular vote equivalent to that of the Democratic Alliance (DA) the leading opposition party in South Africa. Admittedly in a first past the post electoral system the number of seats counts far more than the proportion of votes recorded by a political party. In fact if the electoral system of proportional representation was used in Botswana in the 2014 General Elections a coalition government will be in power since the ruling party polled less that 50% of the popular vote.
Hence in anticipation of an imminent defeat in 2019 General Elections the governing party has devised a strategy to introduce an Electronic Voting Machine (EVM) to rig the elections in order to stay in power. Following the 2014 General Elections yet again the prophets of doom predicted the death of the BCP and tried without success to instigate an internal revolt against the party leader.
The voices of hate were championed by none other than one newspaper editor with his usual toxic pen. During 2015 a series of elective congresses beginning with the BCP Youth League, Women’s League and ultimately the Kanye National Elective Conference did not help an already fragile situation. Robust and often hostile debates on opposition cooperation did not help the situation either. The ruling party used money power, promises of jobs and special CEDA loans to recruit some disgruntled activists.
Despite all these challenges the BCP continued to perform well in the by-elections. The party continued to attract political talent that left its detractors speechless. There is no doubt that 2017 will be a good year for the BCP as it becomes party of a broad democratic movement geared towards unseating the ruling party from power in 2019 with or without the rigging EVM.
We expect to welcome back to the party former comrades who had been deceived into joining the ruling party. Receiving them with open arms is consistent with one of our core values of embracing those who wish to be party of the BCP family. The voice of the organization will reverberate across the length and breadth of the country. The BCP may have been shaken in 2014 but it has definitely managed to quickly bounce back to the disappointment of its detractors.
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.