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Mine Workers’ endorsement of opposition candidates welcome

Kesitegile Gobotswang (PhD)

BCP Deputy Leader

During the recent official launch of Aobakwe Area Gabathuse, the Botswana Congress Party (BCP) candidate for Boikago-Madiba by election the opposition coalition came in full force.


This was evident in terms of the various party colours of lime, yellow, gold and orange as well as the appearance of seasoned politicians as key speakers representing the united opposition political parties.  The presentation by Kenny Kapinga was refreshing and well received.  

Part of the reason why a person of Kapinga’s status is believable is because he has served under different ruling party governments with distinction rising to the position of Deputy Police Commissioner before being side-lined and “banished” to South Africa and Zimbabwe under the pretext of being appointed an Ambassador in those countries. 


His only crime was that he had consistently resisted the temptation to take the membership of the ruling Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) a move annoyed the powers that be.  His decision not to be associated with political parties was informed by his strong professional conviction.

What also happened on the day of the launch was an attempt by the BDP to hold a political rally within a distance of about a kilometre. Unfortunately their meeting crumbled as a result of the swelling numbers at the BCP launch. Since the beginning of the Boikago-Madiba campaign the political rallies of our opponents have generally been unimpressive and less glamorous. In the freedom square language  “ba ja legapu.”


The Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) presidential succession divisions were evident since the campaign started, a factor that is likely to cost them the ward they controlled since 1966. It was the endorsement of the BCP candidate by the Botswana Mine Workers’ Union (BMWU) that received a standing ovation from the massive crowd of opposition members and supporters who had thronged the Stoneham Freedom Square grounds. 


Mbiganyi Ramokate the General Secretary of BMWU delivered a hard hitting address. The solidarity message brought hope and optimism to the foot soldiers. More importantly, the BMWU have decided to support the opposition coalition now and in the future elections with a view to remove the BDP from power. They also indicated that they will actively be campaigning for the opposition in the on-going bye elections.

The decision by the mine workers to turn against the ruling party was taken following the abrupt and reckless closure of the BCL and Tati Nickel Mines. Furthermore there was no proper consultation with the mine employees and stakeholders such as the residents of the SPEDU region.  It is evident that even the elected representatives were never consulted about the impending closure. It has been a ruthless and heartless decision by the Botswana government driven by nothing but greed and misguided priorities.

The livelihoods of thousands of Batswana were placed in jeopardy by a government that claims to care for its citizens.  No proper counselling was rolled out to prepare the workers emotionally and otherwise. According to Ramokate there have been fatalities resulting from the closure of the mines as 20 ex-employees of BCL took their own lives. Although government had promised to take care of injured former miners they have since failed to fulfil the promise.

BMWU is bitterly concerned that when a group of ministers first delivered the bad news employees were promised that they will be paid full month salaries for the next 18 months after the termination of their employment with BCL.  Later government somersaulted on their commitment,  a move that did not go down well with the former miners.


Another thing that angered the former BCL employees was that several attempts to seek audience with the President were ignored with contempt. BMWU strongly believes that the current government is arrogant, stubborn and repressive. It is against this background the decision by BMWU to support the opposition coalition must be understood.  

The decision by the BMWU will certainly trigger an old debate about the involvement of trade unions in partisan politics. It is an issue that was recently topical at a workshop sponsored by the Friedrich Ebert Stiftung. Following that workshop, I penned an article in which I tried to interrogate the issue further.


The thrust of the argument is that as the political situation of a country changes there comes a time when the urgency to remove a government that has become arrogant, stubborn, corrupt and regressive beyond redemption far exceeds any other consideration. This is the situation that currently prevails in Botswana today.

It is worth pointing out that this kind of arrangement is temporary and strategic in a national democratic revolution. All the democratic forces in the country are united by the ultimate goal to push for the removal from power of a regime that has degenerated to the extent of failing to observe the rule of law and basic tenets of good governance.  

As the opposition coalition takes shape Batswana should brace themselves for an unprecedented political realignment never seen before. The situation is ripe for a strategic alliance between the opposition coalition and trade unions, business, the media, organized tertiary students, and the church. When this happens it could be the beginning of the end of the BDP rule. After 50 years Botswana will finally graduate into a truly multi-party democracy. Such a historic movement is unstoppable.

We therefore welcome the decision of the BMWU to take a clear position to support the opposition coalition aimed at ushering in a new dispensation in 2019. The times for being neutral are over. We are hopeful that other trade unions and civic organizations will follow the example of BMWU and Botswana Federation of Public and Private Sector Union (BOFEPPUSU). Our democracy and common values are under threat from a corrupt, greedy, arrogant, and stubborn group of individuals masquerading as a government.

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The Daring Dozen at Bari

8th December 2020

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.

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)


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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