Since its formation in 1998, following the Botswana National Front (BNF) 1998 split after the infamous Palapye Congress, the Botswana Congress Party (BCP) has, on the whole, enjoyed peace and stability.
When it was formed many believed it will, like most splinter parties, be short lived. This expectation was enhanced when most of the BCP Members of Parliament (MPs) who had defected from the BNF lost their seats in the 1999 general elections. In the 1999 general elections, the BCP, though it was voted for by 40, 096 voters translating to 11.90% of the popular vote, won only one Parliamentary seat, Okavango constituency, through the late Joseph Kavindama.
Even when the BCP had only one MP it held together, the three threads holding it together being discipline, respect for leadership, and inner party democracy. Its members, both the rank and file, put the party above their own personal interests. When in the 2014 general elections the BCP won only three seats in Parliament some thought that was a recipe for a split. Often, when a political party suffers such an electoral loss there is a lot of finger pointing which, if not properly managed, may lead to a split.
Not only did the BCP lose most of the seats it contested. It also, perhaps most significantly, lost Gaborone Central despite it being contested by its leader, Dumelang Saleshando, who wrestled it from a political heavy weight, Dr. Margret Nasha, in 2004, becoming, like the late Kavindama, the only BCP MP which attracted him the name ‘Lesiela’, meaning orphan.
Of course as the BCP was licking its wounds there was finger pointing, especially by those who believed the BCP could have performed better electorally if it had contested the elections under the Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) banner. It is public knowledge that after the 2014 general elections there were divisions in the BCP, with some canvassing for the party to join the UDC coalition while others were opposed to that, arguing that the BCP should stand alone to avoid a dilution of its political ideology and policies.
Besides the fear of dilution of its political ideology and policies, those opposed to BCP’s joining of the UDC coalition, gave as a reason for such apprehension, the fact that the UDC affiliates, especially the BNF, were prone to conflict and instability and that may rub on the BCP, tainting its peace and stability record.
Indeed, largely because of the UDC issue, the BCP went to its July 2015 elective Congress a divided party, with many in the Youth League, for example, and some in the top echelons of the party, including the Central Committee, opposed to the coalition. One of the biggest causalities of the Central Committee elections was long time Information and Publicity Secretary, Taolo Lucas, who lost the Vice Presidency to former Secretary General, Dr. Kesitegile Gobotswang despite the fact that as long time party spokesperson his name had become synonymous with the party.
As if that was not enough, following the August 2015 leak of an alleged secret recording of some BCP Youth League leaders selling the soul of the party, the BCP lost its Youth League President, Lotty Manyepedza, and Youth League Secretary General, Thato Osupile, to its political nemesis, the BDP.
While the latter has not been very active in politics, the former has been used by the BDP to great effect especially in bye elections held in Opposition strongholds. Though the Opposition, the BCP in particular, may not publicly admit it, Manyepedza as well as another defector to the BDP, Ditiro Majadibodu, who contested the Nata Gweta constituency under the BCP in 2014, are a source of concern.
Yet, the BCP leadership, in handling these challenges, exercised caution and political maturity. For instance, though Central Committee members differed on whether or not to join the UDC coalition it remained united and none of its members was purged. Also, though the Youth League was divided on the UDC coalition issue, the leadership, especially Central Committee members, did not exploit the divisions for their selfish political expediency. Neither were the Youth League members who were opposed to the coalition purged after the leaders who were opposed to the coalition lost the 2015 Central Committee elections.
What is perhaps more admirable is the fact that though their leader, Dumelang Saleshando, lost his Parliamentary seat in 2014 and the party, under his stewardship, was decimated during the 2014 general elections, the party stood by him and showed confidence in him by re-electing him unopposed in 2015.
The BMD, on the other hand, has, in my view, dismally failed in its handling of the challenges facing it as a party. Its National Executive Committee (NEC) and National Working Committee (NWC) have never functioned since they were elected at its July 2015 elective Congress in Ghantsi.
The Advocate Sidney Pilane matter in which he applied to rejoin the party exposed rifts of unparalleled proportions in the party simply because the NEC handled it along factional lines, giving rise to conflicts that have resulted in the suspension of the party President, Honourable Ndaba Gaolatlhe, and his deputy, Wynter Mmolotsi, among others.
Still owing to the NEC and NWC’s dysfunctional and factional status, the Youth League was used to fight proxy wars on behalf of the factions within the NEC and NWC. As a result, the Youth League cannot point to any achievement in advancing youth empowerment during its tenure. Neither can the Women’s Wing whose May 2016 Elective Congress was also divided along factional lines, with the Mangole/Modubule faction, also known as the Pilane faction, losing to the Gaolatlhe/ Mmolotsi faction.
Recently, efforts were made by the Mangole/Modubule dominated NWC to postpone a statutory Youth League Elective Congress though it was held, allegedly at the instance of the Gaolatlhe/ Mmolotsi faction, in defiance of the NWC resolution. This has thrown the BMD into another quagmire since it has resulted in the suspension of the party President, Honourable Ndaba Gaolatlhe, and his deputy, Wynter Mmolotsi, among others. No doubt, the party’s forthcoming Congress, assuming it will be held without it being similarly postponed, will be marred by turbulence.
Granted, political parties, like all other human institutions, will always have conflicts, even factions. It is how a political party manages these conflicts and factions that matters. In my view, the BMD has failed dismally in this area. In my view, the BMD, having been in existence for about seven years now, should have graduated from what Dr. Roger K. Allen calls the Chaos(Fire-Fighting Mentality) stage to the High Performance (Outstanding, sustainable results) stage.
What the BMD needs to do to attain the High Performance stage is to go back to what Dr. Allen calls the Stability stage and this it can achieve only if it goes back to the basics. In politics, going back to the basics simply requires party members and leaders alike to always demean their personal interests to those of the party.
If the BMD were in adherence to the basics it would not have allowed Advocate Pilane’s membership to divide it so grossly; it would not have allowed its Youth League and Women’s Wing to be moribund due to blind loyalty to individual leaders; and the NEC and the NWC would not have neglected to defer their differences to the Congress.
It is only selfishness which motivated the factions in the NEC and NWC to use technicalities to avoid the Special Congress, a Congress which, though it would have been convened for the Advocate Pilane matter, could have dealt with the issue of factions before they could erode the party’s integrity to this lamentable extent.
As Dr. Allen said, “there is no magic in moving beyond chaos. There are no simple formulas. Real organizational development requires commitment and hard work…” This is what the BMD needs, not the legal technicalities its leaders are currently engaged in. The BMD needs the commitment and hard work which the BCP, no doubt, faced as a result of the seemingly insurmountable challenges which it faced, but triumphed over because of sticking to the basics by demeaning personal interests to those of the party.
Granted, the BCP has been in existence for many years, it being in its 19th year of existence while the BMD is only in its 7th year of existence. But, seven years of existence, especially for a political party whose founders and leaders were from a ruling party and who were MPs, are enough for the political party to have graduated from the Chaos or fire-fighting stage.
Clearly, the BMD needs to borrow a leaf from the BCP, at least in such areas as discipline, respect for leadership, and inner party democracy. It is this leaf which has assisted the BCP to, despite facing such challenges as the ones discussed above, remain united, with peace and stability reigning within its structures.
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.