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Why BDP Is Scared Of Land Audit

Kesitegile Gobotswang (PhD)

BCP Deputy Leader


When most Batswana were busy preparing for the Easter Weekend government was concluding a fraudulent exercise to appoint members of Land Boards and Sub-Land Boards. If reports reaching us are anything to go by the process that began with public advertisements and a tedious selection process was a complete hogwash and a waste of public resources.

 

What has emerged is that Honourable Prince Maele who is the Minister of Land Management, Water and Sanitation Services appointed Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) activists some of whom did not even bother to submit applications for consideration. Others who were not shortlisted in the selection exercise also found their way into the final list of new members.


Land Board appointments were made to reward BDP party functionaries to perpetuate a well- entrenched system of patronage. But more importantly it is a recipe for illegal land grabbing that will benefit the ruling political elite in general and members of a particular faction to which the Minister is a part of. In the past Ministers responsible for Land Boards were accused of indirectly influencing decisions of land boards across the country. With these appointments the Minister’s control over land allocation will be tightened. Increasingly Land Boards will be reduced to mere rubber stamps of the Minister’s decisions.


Corruption associated with land allocation is as old as the BDP government itself. The first glimpse into irregular land allocations to powerful persons with close ties to government was uncovered by a commission of enquiry into Ngwaketse Farms in the 1970s. The exercise was commissioned by Seretse Khama who was the first president of the republic.

 

Upon the realization that the findings were detrimental to the ruling party top brass the report of the commission was never made public. Recommendations from the report were ignored as if they never existed. I am certain that such reports will be made public by the Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) in the first hundred days upon taking over state power in 2019.


During the era of President Ketumile Masire another earth shattering land scandal was uncovered by the Kgabo Report (1991) coined after former Minister Englishman Kgabo, who chaired the Commission of Enquiry into Land Problems in Mogoditshane and Other Peri-urban Areas. It implicated influential members from the ruling party. Unfortunately it never saw the light of the day as the affected individuals took the matter to court which declared the report null and void on technicalities.

 

The political career of these powerful individuals almost came to an end following the Kgabo Report. The political consequences emanating from the report would be felt in 1994. For the first time the opposition Botswana National Front (BNF) won thirteen constituencies translating into 30% of the popular vote.


President Festus Mogae had his own share of land problems exposed by the Lesetedi Judicial Commission of Enquiry into State Land Allocation in Gaborone (2004). This time around big business and top government bureaucrats were implicated reflecting the changing feature of the local economy.  Among other findings, the Commission found that there was evidence of land allocation “under questionable circumstances” in Gaborone. In most cases developments such as shopping malls and schools were constructed on controversial plots.


Despite these findings nobody was prosecuted or convicted. Attempts to implement the recommendations from the Lesetedi Commission exposed selective demolition of developments on land allocated under dubious circumstances based on social class. For the poor people of Nkoyaphiri and Tsolamosese, demolitions were meted on them in 2005 while big businesses were untouched in the case of Gaborone.  To add salt to injury, parliament was later informed that government departments were accommodated in some properties built on land acquired through dubious means.


The Lesetedi Commission further concluded that their findings could just be the tip of an ice berg. Based on these findings, one would have expected government to cast the net wider to other urban areas to nip the problem in the bud. In the short term the investigation could focus on presidential direct allocations.

 

In the medium to long term investigations could be expanded to land allocations in Tuli Block, Boteti, Central Kgalagadi Game Reserve, Gantsi, Sand Veld and North West. On a related matter Botswana Congress Party (BCP) advocates for comprehensive land audit, a move that is ferociously resisted by government. Given the above history littered with corruption in land allocation benefiting the powers that be their behaviour is comprehensible.


Government opted for the Land Administration Procedures, Capacity Systems (LAPCAS) instead of the Land Audit. The two are diametrically opposed. Land Audit aims at documenting allocated land in terms of ownership, history of use, how it was acquired and other related issues. On the other hand, LAPCAS is meant to develop an inventory of land regardless of how it was acquired. With respect to LAPCAS, plots were allocated numbers for use by public and private institutions like Postal Services, Statistics Botswana and the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC).


LAPCAS will not answer questions related to irregular land allocations as well as self-allocations. For example the system will not deal with controversial land allocations to President Seretse Khama Ian Khama in Borotsi/Chadibe (Tswapong), Mosu (Boteti), and Diseta Island (Shakawe). Khama may not be the only one who occupies land acquired under suspicious circumstances.

 

Claims that some individuals connected to the ruling party have acquired commercial farms under suspicious circumstances are widespread. Imagine the son of a Minister being allocated a commercial farm when he does not own any livestock ahead of cattle barons and later sells it for a fortune to support his lavish lifestyle.


Recent media reports uncovered a case of irregular change of land use implicating Minister Maele. According to reports a certain Simbi Phiri who is a Malawian was assisted by the Minister to fast track change of land use contrary to government land policy and overstepping the respective Land Board. Phiri is well-known for bribing public servants. According to Mmegi newspaper Phiri was recently found with $7.8 million of undeclared cash. He is said to have swindled the South African government large sums of money amounting to R170 million over water and waste water project.


Maele’s justification for being generous with the controversial business man can only be described as being economic with the truth. It is an underestimation of the intelligence of the general public. He claims that his Ministry has decided to make it easy to change land use. It is doubtful that a Minister could vary government policy without the consent of Parliament.

 

Only the Land Audit not LAPCAS can effectively deal with such cases. Minister Maele has a lot to explain in respect of his relationship with a person of Phiri’s controversial background. It is possible that he was not bribed but perception will linger over his head for many years to come if he does not come out clean on this one.

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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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