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Battle for the Presidency: Masisi vs Molefhi

Ndulamo Anthony Morima
EAGLE WATCH


Since His Honour (HH) the Vice President, Mokgweetsi Masisi, was elected Vice President (VP) becoming constitutionally entitled to automatically succeed President Lieutenant General Dr. Seretse Khama Ian Khama,  many, especially in the ruling Botswana Democratic Party (BDP), have expressed discontent.


Consequently, as soon as the 2014 general elections were over, names began emerging of those who either intended or were being lobbied to challenge HH Masisi, first for the party Chairpersonship and later for the party Presidency and therefore the state Presidency.


Among these names are Tshekedi Khama, Ramadeluka Seretse, Tebelelo Seretse, Jacob Nkate, Boyce Sebetlela, Robert Masitara and Honourable Nonofo Molefhi. In this five part series we consider the chances of success of each of these possible contenders against HH Masisi. We start with Nonofo Molefhi.      


Of late the Minister of Infrastructure and Housing Development, Honourable Nonofo Molefhi, is being named by some as the preferred choice for not only the BDP’s Chairpersonship and Presidency in the coming party elections, but also for the state Vice Presidency and ultimately the state Presidency.


But is Honourable Molefhi really best suited for the state Presidency or his name is being mentioned simply because some in the BDP believe he is the only candidate who can win against HH Masisi?


It is one thing to be suited for a political party position and it is yet another to be suited for a state position. For what is Honourable Molefhi really suited for, the party Chairpersonship and Presidency or the state Vice Presidency and Presidency?


Those, especially in the BDP, who would want Honourable Molefhi to ascend to the state Presidency, are they motivated by the country’s interests or by political party interests? Are they not using Honourable Molefhi as a proxy to fight the political battles they know they cannot win?


In this article, I attempt to answer these and many other consequent questions. But, this cannot be done in a vacuum. A background account is apposite. Thereafter, HH Masisi and Honourable Molefhi’s foot prints are examined before answering these questions if indeed an answer is possible.     


First, the back ground. When, after the 2014 general elections, President Khama hand-picked Honourable Masisi to be his Vice President many, even within the BDP, believed that Honourable Masisi was not the best choice for the position.


Among the reasons given for this view were that he had just recently become a party activist; he had never held a prominent position in the party, especially at the Central Committee (CC) level; he had been in cabinet for only five years; and he is a boot-licker and can, therefore, not properly advice the President.


In the eyes of public servants and trade unions, HH Masisi was regarded as an enemy of the workers who had advocated for anti-labour laws and who, as Minister of Presidential Affairs and Public Administration during the 2011 public service strike, failed to advice government to settle for a reasonable wage increase.


For the media, HH Masisi was anti-freedom of the press and was at the centre of government’s strategy to turn Botswana Television from a public broadcaster to a government propaganda machine. Not only that. They regard him as the progenitor of government’s plan to starve private media of government advertising.   


No wonder during the contest for the BDP Chairpersonship in 2015, which HH Masisi won, an unprecedented high number of candidates challenged him. Such candidates as Tebelelo Seretse and Ramadeluka Seretse contested mainly because they believed that being seasoned party stalwarts and having been in government for many years they are more suited than Masisi.


But, post the Chairpersonship contest Honourable Molefhi’s name has emerged, even outside BDP circles, as the preferred candidate for not only the BDP Chairpersonship but also the state Presidency. Reportedly, he enjoys popular support within the BDP both outside and inside Parliament.


According to Sunday Standard’s online edition of 14th January 2016, faced with a revolt of the BDP Parliamentary Caucus in late 2014 over who was going to become the Vice President of the Republic, President Khama conducted a secret vote for Members of Parliament (MPs).  


According to the paper, sources close to events at the time indicate that the person who scooped most nominations was Honourable Molefhi, followed by Honourable Pelonomi Venson-Moitoi, HH Masisi and lastly Honourable Tshekedi Khama.


It is for this reason that many believe President Khama fought so hard to have the Parliamentary Standing Procedures which provided for a secret ballot vote for the Speaker and Deputy Speaker of the National Assembly as well as the Vice President to be set aside by the courts and replaced with the voting by show of hands arrangement.


He had no confidence that HH Masisi, and Honourable Gladys Kokorwe who herself faced a serious challenge from Dr. Margret Nasha, will win the Vice Presidency and Speaker of the National Assembly positions respectively if MPs voted in secret and without fear of victimization. Of course, President Khama had reason for such fear.


In the case of the Vice Presidency, Honourable Molefhi was indeed a threat considering the fact that he enjoyed overwhelming support among MPs. Not only that. Reportedly, during the BDP Central Committee elections in 2015 Honourable Molefhi, who contested as an additional member, garnered overwhelming support.


But, who is Nonofo Molefhi? A renowned Interpreter who has interpreted for President Khama, an Orator and HIV prevention activist, especially during his days in the back bench, Honourable Molefhi is a trained Social Worker who used his training by working as a Youth Coordinator and District Officer in the District Commissioner's office. He holds a Post Graduate Diploma in Youth Development from the CYP Caribbean Centre.


He was first elected as MP for Selibe Phikwe East in 2004 and has been in Parliament ever since. He has held several cabinet positions as full minister, including Transport & Communications; Lands and Housing; Infrastructure, Science & Technology and currently serves as Minister for the newly created Ministry of Infrastructure & Housing Development.


But, how does Honourable Molefhi compare with HH Masisi? An Orator and poverty eradication activist, HH Masisi was initially trained as a teacher majoring in English and History. In 1984 he taught at Mmanaana Secondary School in Moshupa. In 1987, HH Masisi transferred to the department of Curriculum Development and Evaluation (CD&E) and worked as Social Studies Curriculum Specialist. He studied at graduate level at Florida State University in the United States, in 1989, specializing in Social Studies Education and Instructional Systems Design.


In 1990 he re-joined CD&E and oversaw Social Studies and other subjects. There, he became the National Coordinator for Social Studies Education and Botswana's representative at the African Social and Environmental Studies Program (ASESP) and Board member for Environmental Education Association of Southern Africa (EEASA) for more than five years.


HH Masisi then joined UNICEF in 1995 as Education Project Officer and he resigned to join politics in 2003. He lost the BDP primary elections for Moshupa constituency in the run up to the 2004 general elections. He, however, won the 2008 primary elections and went on to win the constituency in the 2009 general elections.  


He was appointed as Assistant Minister for Presidential Affairs and Public Administration in October 2009. In January 2011 he was appointed as Minister for Presidential Affairs and Public Administration. HH Masisi became Acting Minister of Education and Skills Development in April 2014. This appointment was made substantive on 28th October 2014. He was elected Vice President on 12th November 2014, but also continued serving as Minister of Education and Skills Development for some time.


The question is: considering the aforesaid foot-print, who has an urge over the other? No doubt, HH Masisi’s academic profile and career experience is more colorful than that of Honourable Molefhi. Politically, perhaps because of them having been civil servants for many years, neither HH Masisi nor Honourable Molefhi have a history of party activism. Neither had held a position in the party Central Committee before 2015.  


While HH Masisi only joined Parliament in 2009, Honourable Molefhi joined Parliament as far back as 2004. It can, therefore, be argued that Honourable Molefhi has more legislative experience than HH Masisi. While Honourable Molefhi joined cabinet in 2008, HH Masisi joined in 2009. However, the fact that HH Masisi has been Vice President for about two years now makes him more experienced in the affairs of the Executive than Honourable Molefhi.


HH Masisi and Honourable Molefhi cancel each other out in the area of grass root involvement in that while the latter has a history of activism in HIV prevention, the former is a known poverty eradication enthusiast. Also, both are known to be avid foot soldiers in dealing with their constituents’ matters.


While both have, as a powerful tool, the art of oration, what seems to be lacking with HH Masisi is the art of persuasion and consensus building. On the contrary, Honourable Molefhi is said to be very strong in these areas. HH Masisi’s worst attributes are his perceived anti-labour stance and anti-media tendencies which came to the fore, especially when the was Minister of Presidential Affairs & Public Administration. But, do we really know Honourable Molefhi’s positions on these? Perhaps we do not because he has not held positions that deal with them.


Therefore, until Honourable Molefhi is tested on these it would not be fair to pass a verdict that he is more or less suited for the state Presidency than HH Masisi. But, the fact that Honourable Molefhi is said to be a consensus builder may be decisive. After all, beyond everything else, the position of President requires tolerance and consensus building more than anything else.

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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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