Last week I wrote an article in which I implored the Opposition to put its house in order. Though the article related to the Opposition as a whole its main motivation was the perennial instability within the Botswana Movement for Democracy (BMD).
First was the debacle surrounding Advocate Sidney Pilane’s application to rejoin the party. The issue, which is arguably the genesis for the factions within the BMD, dragged on until efforts to resolve it through a Special Congress were aborted through constitutional technicalities. As if the troubles that have besieged the BMD since its elective congress are not enough, this past week it sank deeper into a leadership crisis when, during a meeting to discuss whether or not to postpone the Youth League congress, conflicts, which are reported to have resulted in physical violence, broke.
Though fewer people were involved in the tussle, this was reminiscent of the Botswana National Front (BNF)’s 1998 Palapye fights between the factions led by the late BNF president, Dr. Kenneth Koma, on the one hand and the former Botswana Congress Party (BCP) president, Michael Dingake, on the other.
Unfortunately for Opposition politics these fights resulted in the BNF’s split which resulted in the formation of the BCP, the split which many believe gave the Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) a lifeline in the 1999 general elections considering how well the BNF had performed in the 1994 general elections.
In 1994 out of a total of 44 parliamentary seats the BDP won 27 while the BNF won 13. In terms of the popular vote the BDP got 54.7% while the BNF got 36.9%. The 1994 results were closer to the 2014 results. In 2014 the BDP got 37 seats compared to the BNF’s 17 and BCP’s 3. With respect to the popular vote, while the BDP got 46.5% the UDC and the BCP got 30% and 20.4% respectively.
Back to the BMD. Reportedly, despite the BMD’s National Working Committee (NWC) resolving that the Youth League congress should be postponed, it was held last weakened in Ramotswa, allegedly at the instance of the faction led by party President, Honourable Ndaba Gaolatlhe, and his deputy, Honourable Wynter Mmolotsi.
Interestingly, the Youth League congress was attended by 42 of the 57 constituencies. I say interestingly because assuming these were bonafide delegates, this is quite a healthy turnout considering the impression that had been given that the Youth League was not ready to hold the congress.
The congress was held to the infuriation of the faction led by the party Chairman, Nehemiah Modubule, and Secretary General, Honourable Gilbert Mangole, who later called a press conference during which they castigated Honourable Gaolathe, threatening disciplinary action against him and his supporters who include the Youth League president, Phenyo Segokgo.
Reports are that there is now a plan by the Modubule-Mangole faction to oust Honourable Gaolatlhe from the presidency. This is not surprising because during the press conference at which they castigated him for proceeding with the Youth League congress Modubule is reported to have said he has lost confidence in Honourable Gaolathe. Considering the instability that has characterized the BMD since its elective congress, one cannot discount the possibility of a split, resulting in the formation of another political party before the 2019 general elections.
If this happens, it will be the second time the BDP is given a lifeline at the verge of a potentially decisive general election, the first having been the 1998 BNF split resulting in the formation of the BCP. In the same manner that many suspected that the BDP was behind the 1998 BNF split many suspect that the BDP is behind the turbulence within the BMD in an effort to diminish the UDC’s chances of winning the 2019 general elections.
This is not implausible considering the extent to which the BDP infiltrated the BCP, resulting in defections of its then Youth League president, Lotty Manyepedza, Youth League Secretary General, Thato Osupile and 2014 parliamentary aspirant for the Nata/Gweta constituency, Ditiro Majadibodu. While many people, especially Opposition sympathizers, dread the possibility of a BMD split, I am of the view that the earlier the split occurs the better if the UDC is to have chances of winning the 2019 general elections or at least retaining its current seats in Parliament.
In my view, the longer the BMD continues as this false collective the more detrimental it is for the UDC because many people continue losing confidence on the Opposition on account of its perceived or actual failure to conduct its affairs. It is this very status that the Opposition is currently in which the BDP relishes. After all, it has always been the BDP’s propaganda that Batswana should not trust the Opposition with their vote since its propensity for conflict may jeopardize the country’s peace and stability should it attain State power.
With specific regard to the 2010 BDP split which resulted in the formation of the BMD, the BDP is now able to spin the incident, telling Batswana that considering that those who left it to form the BMD are the ones leading the factions within the BMD, it is clear that they did not leave because of being purged as they claimed, but because of their own intransigence and ill-discipline. Given the decades of peace and stability Batswana have enjoyed under the BDP rule, many, especially the elderly and those who live in rural areas, are unlikely to ‘risk’ their future by voting for the Opposition if this turbulence continues unabated.
It is an open secret that there are many within the BCP who were opposed to the BCP joining the UDC, arguing that it will be tainted by, among other infirmities, the conflicts that have come to characterize the BNF and the BMD. Though they lost during the party’s last elective congress, such voices within the BCP have not been obliterated into oblivion. They may, especially if the BMD situation continues to deteriorate, arise from the ‘ashes’ and orchestrate the BCP’s disaffiliation from the UDC.
Needless to say that it is not only within the BCP that there are dissenting voices. The BNF too has such voices, especially among former members of the Temporary Platform. So does the other, albeit less significant, member of the UDC, the Botswana Peoples Party (BPP). If the BMD splits now and the splinter party leaves the UDC, assuming the other three UDC affiliates will remain under the coalition, the UDC will have enough time to deal with the fall out, especially as regards constituency allocation for the 2019 general elections as well as leadership.
Even if the BMD splits now and the other three UDC affiliates leave the coalition, they, as individual political parties, will have some time, albeit limited, to prepare for the 2019 general elections under their own individual identities, a scenario which has reasonable support across the opposition parties. But, if the BMD fracas continues and it splits as late as 2018 or 2019 the UDC is unlikely to recover in time for the 2019 general elections. In such a case, the BDP will have once again been handed a life line to power by an opposition political party.
Therefore, while I am by no means wishing the BMD to split, its split now rather than later is the better of the two devils. Implausible as it may sound, I say this because unless the UDC or the BMD congress intervenes now a BMD split is imminent. If the UDC and the BMD congress fail to intervene only a defection of one of the prominent members of the two factions may save the BMD. Therefore, though defections and splits are ordinarily bad for a political party, this is one of the few times that a political party as the BMD needs either a split or a defection as early as now.
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.
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”
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)
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.
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.