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Khama, Is He Staying or Leaving?

Kesitegile Gobotswang (PhD)

BCP Deputy Leader


Botswana is certainly at the cross roads. The future peace and tranquillity of this country has never been so uncertain ever since the controversial constitutional provision of automatic succession which also set a two term limit. During President Sir Ketumile Masire there was no doubt that he would vacate the seat at the end of his term and that his Vice President Festus Mogae will succeed him. 

 

What Masire did and what he said left citizens with no doubt that he was preparing for life outside political power. The same was true for Mogae as he prepared to leave office and allowed his Deputy Seretse Khama Ian Khama to take over power becoming the third president of the Republic of Botswana.


According to the constitution , President Khama will leave office on April Fools’ Day in 2018. However unlike during the Masire and Mogae era there are lingering questions as to whether he is ready to relinquish power and allow his Vice President Mokgweetsi Masisi to automatically succeed him.  His body language says otherwise.

 

In fact he has not talked about his imminent departure from office in recent times. He has successfully managed to avoid the topic.   Recently Margaret Nasha the former Minister and Speaker of the National Assembly, now a prominent opposition figure is reported to have asserted that Khama may extend his stay in power after his term expires.


Unlike Khama, Pelonomi Venson-Moitoi and Botlogile Tshireletso have been consistent with their planned political retirement message. Constituents of Serowe South are now certain that their Member of Parliament (MP) and Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation Venson-Moitoi will cease to be their MP in 2019. The same is true for electorates of Mahalapye East who have come to accept that this is the last term for their current MP who is also Assistant Minister of Local Government.


Apart from the proposed hefty retirement package for President Khama there is no real indication that he is getting ready to leave in 2018. By this time in 2007 Mogae had virtually surrendered power to Khama and allowed him to set out his transition team. Hence he was able to begin the process of introducing a law and mobilize resources to establish the Directorate of Intelligence and Security Service (DISS).  By the end of 2007 Mogae was reduced to a lame duck president as Khama assumed more powers and influence.  


We cannot say the same about Mokgweetsi Masisi.  Insiders say Masisi does not even enjoy the luxury of using the Presidential Jet when he is representing or acting for the President. He also comes across as someone who lacks the confidence of a president in waiting. He frequently reminds all and sundry that he will be president in April 2018. It is for this reason that he has come to be popularly referred to as Keasekotama.


Reports that a cabinet meeting was called to discuss among others the future of Masisi as Vice President is shocking but not surprising. There is so much uncertainly around his position in the succession scheme of things.  One wonders why Khama would preside over cabinet to discuss matters that are beyond their powers in respect of appointment of individuals to cabinet positions.  That should be the sole prerogative of the president.  


The real reason for convening such a meeting may never be known, a move that will give rise to speculations and conspiracy theories. This is because prior to the controversial cabinet meeting word was going around that Khama was seriously contemplating dropping Masisi from the position of Vice President. 

 

The move would have meant that someone else like Tshekedi Khama would become the Vice President and automatically succeed Khama in April 2018. Surprisingly Khama somersaulted and supported his Deputy for unknown reasons sending shock waves among Masisi’s detractors.


The question remains as to why Khama would feel uncomfortable with Masisi becoming president upon his retirement to the extent of thinking of dropping him. Part of the reason may lie in that Maisisi is generally considered an outsider in the tightly neat group of Khama family, their close friends, and relatives. 

 

Under these circumstances bootlicking has its own limit.    Blood becomes thicker than water.  Obviously Khama led the most corrupt government since independence in 1966. For this reason relinquishing power to an unknown figure like Maisis may be a big risk for him and his allies.


Their biggest fear is that Masisi administration may decide to pursue corrupt powerful individuals who are close associates of the president. The Directorate of Public Prosecutions (DPP) is known to be sitting on dockets of such persons.  Key among these is Isaac Kgosi the Director General of DISS.  The relationship between Kgosi and Khama reminds one of the relationship that existed between the late Louis Nchindo and Festus Mogae.  


When Nchindo faced prosecution for alleged corrupt activities Mogae received representations from powerful BDP personalities pleading with him to spare Nchindo from prosecution which he rejected. So determined was Mogae to allow justice to take its course that any attempt by Nchindo to blackmail him failed dismally.

 

Khama is aware that Masisi may not be easy to blackmail.  Prosecuting Kgosi could shake the core of the Khama circle and their sponsors.  The end could be as bloody as it happened in the case of Nchindo and Mogae.  As if that is not enough, questions still remain concerning the role of the president in the killing of John Kalafatis, execution style.


It is worth noting that Khama will leave power at the peak of systematic looting of public assets.  The controversial sale of BCL to billionaires from Dubai is a case in point.  If Khama leaves government the possible criminality associated with this sale could be exposed and the perpetrators prosecuted with the potential to implicate the president. 

 

This is because there is no way an undertaking of this magnitude could be executed without the direct knowledge and tacit approval by the president. Even if Masisi was to survive the work of the under-world he is likely to remain a ceremonial president as real power remains with the Khama brothers. Already Tshekedi Khama is building what appears to be a well-equipped militia group masquerading as an anti-poaching unit. 

 

On the other hand Khama is proposing for himself a P34million budget for the construction of what is widely believed to be a retirement military facility.  Part of his private command post will be his house that is likely to be bigger than the current state house. Whoever indirectly or directly participates in a scheme meant to loot and threaten the security of this country should be held accountable by the incoming Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) government. In addition, the retired president must be compelled to pay back part of the money used to build structures that have nothing to do with a normal retirement home.

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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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