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BDP politics of deception

Kesitegile Gobotswang (PhD)

 BCP Deputy Leader

 

In its short history the Khama administration has mastered the art of deceiving Batswana of their real intentions.  Read their lips and believe in what they say at your own risk. What they say and what they do are frequently at variance. In some countries they worry about fake news. Here in Botswana the biggest area of concern are fake development projects.  In this article we attempt to demonstrate why the government of Botswana cannot be trusted.  To describe the current administration as a habitual liar is a serious underestimation.

 

When they spent P11 billion on the failed Morupule B mega project government consistently claimed that with the commissioning of the plant Botswana will not only be self-sufficient in energy supply but the country will be in a position to export power to the sub-region and beyond.  This turned out to be one of the biggest deceptions of our times, yet government has avoided the most honourable thing to do which is to offer unconditional apology to the nation. Had it not been because of the un-ceremonial closure of the BCL and Tati Nickel mines the country would still be experiencing disruptive load shading.  

 

When the idea of re-introducing the blue train was first mooted the nation was in a celebratory mood.  What excited them most was to hear that customised new trains will be purchased.  The termination of the blue train was an unpopular decision by government. When the delivery was finally made both the Botswana Railway management and government began speaking in forked tongues.  The nation was shocked to learn that there were no new blue trains to be delivered after all.  Apparently new coaches not engines had been purchased.

 

No sooner had the information emerged that coaches were delivered than it emerged that some of the components were second hand. The coaches were ordered from Trans Net at for an amount of R280 million. At the time of penning this article there were strong allegations that although Trans Net had promised to replace the second hand parts with new components this has not materialized – the politics of deception.  

 

Two years ago government came up with the famous Economic Stimulus Program (ESP). The program was heralded by many BDP functionaries as a timely initiative. Government propaganda machine was in full swing. Botswana Television, Radio Botswana (RB 1 and 2) and Botswana Daily News were awash with news suggesting the dawn of a new era. Who can forget the day the Secretary General of the ruling party was all over the private radio stations urging young people and frequent callers associated with the opposition to register companies in readiness to cash on ESP. This triggered an unprecedented number of new companies registered mostly by unemployed youth.

 

Poor Botsalo Ntuane, out of naivety or deliberate deception he really sounded convinced that this time around his party demonstrated high level creativity and revolutionary thinking. Two years down the line scores of individuals who were excited about ESP are conspicuous by their silence. Those with some conscience feel embarrassed by the mere mention of the failed program.

Like Back School, Double Shift, Target 20,000 and other ill-conceived initiatives ESP has not lived up to expectations. When ESP was introduced one of its main objectives was to address the backlog of projects carried over from National Development Plan 10 (NDP 10). For example the constituents of Nata-Gweta, Sefhare-Ramokgonami and Shoshong expected the construction of Sub-District Council offices. It turned out that these were empty promises. The projects failed to make it into NDP 11 either.

 

Clearly these projects have virtually been abandoned without consulting residents of respective areas.  At least Polson Majaga Member of Parliament (MP)for Nata-Gweta made a big issue out of it to the extent of threatening to resign as MP for the area if the Sub-District was not constructed. Feeling the hit government mounted a temporary asbestos structure for a Service Centre in Nata. On the other Members of Parliament for Sefhare-Ramokgonami and Shoshong conspired with government to deny their constituents the developments they so deserved for political expediency.  For them being a cabinet minister was more important than fighting for the legitimate rights of their voters. If this is not fraud then I don’t know what is. 

 

ESP failed to generate any meaningful gainful employment on a long term basis.  Few low paying insecure and temporary jobs were created. After twenty-five houses were constructed in Machaneng and the Gaborone-Phakalane link road the jobs ended the day the projects were officially handed over. Today few in the BDP leadership wish to be associated with the botched ESP.

 

Another key objective of the program was to stimulate the domestic economy.  Exactly two years since the program was launched there is no evidence that ESP will accomplish its intended objective. A close examination of the projects envisaged clearly shows a less ambitious approach to an economic stimulus program. Constructing a few houses and link roads cannot resuscitate a struggling economy. 

 

An opportunity was lost to build long term infrastructural investments such as the North-South dual carriage road, Trans-Kgalagadi railway line, implementation of Zambezi Integrated Agro-commercial Developmental Program as well as the re-construction of roads that have exceeded their life span. More importantly the program should have been leveraged to safe 6000 jobs at BCL and Tati Nickel mines.

 

Recently councillors in Kweneng District Council exposed the glaring deception around ESP in relation to NDP 11 projects. A close examination of the NDP 11 projects by the vigilant Councillors clearly showed an inclusion of ESP projects with no clear projects for NDP 11 or District Development Plan 8 (DDP 8).  Led by the vocal Gabane North East Councillor Ofentse Mareme of Botswana Congress Party (BCP) Councillors across political parties took an unusual decision of rejecting the proposed projects for DDP 8.  

 

ESP is currently being overshadowed by the re-introduction of LG 1109 and everybody is jumping into the band wagon. The program was introduced as a new initiative captioned as Constituency Development Fund (CDF). Each constituency is entitled to P10 million annually. In the 1970s LG 1109 was implemented to accelerate rural development spearheaded by Ministry of Local Government with a strong component of community participation. The implementation of the current program adopted a top-down planning process as community involvement is given lip service. It is nothing more than a vote catching move by a desperate government that is in a state of panic instilled by the united opposition Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) political Tsunami.

 

Given the above scenario one can safely predict that the much awaited Lobatse Leather Park will end the same way as the Palapye Glass Project, Morupule B and the botched ESP. The country is likely to end up with a mini-tannery the size of the old Swaneng Tannery that was conceived and implemented by Patrick Van Reinsburg and his team of progressive minds.  The nation must see this for what it is – the politics of deception.

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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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