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BDP Youth League deserves praise on EVMs!

Ndulamo Anthony Morima
EAGLE WATCH


According to the Botswana Gazette’s edition of 6th June 2017, the Botswana Democratic Party Youth League (BDPYL)’s National Youth Executive Committee (NYEC) has resolved that its Chairman, Simon Mavange, informs the party’s Central Committee (CC) of its opposition to the Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs).

Not only that. The NYEC is reported to have expressed discomfort, even outrage, at the fact that there are some in the BDP leadership who are so reckless as to make unpopular propositions, putting the party on a back foot.  Reportedly, the NYEC has decried this, stating that the party cannot afford such gaffes, especially in view of the 2019 general elections, where, for the first time in the country’s electoral history, the BDP’s victory is not certain.

This uncertainty is caused by the Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC)’s admirable performance in the 2014 general elections as well as its continued growth, especially that the Botswana Congress Party (BCP) has finally joined it. Indeed, the NYEC deserves commendation for reminding its mother body that it should respect the will of Batswana who have, across the political divide, spoken in unison in condemnation of the BDP’s introduction of EVMs.

In this day and era where such party structures as the Youth Leagues and Women’s Wing have become stooges of the party leadership and seldom challenge party resolutions for fear of being victimized and sidelined, it is commendable for the NYEC to have taken such a decision.

Next door in South Africa, we have seen the African National Congress Youth League (ANCYL) led by Collen Maine supporting President Jacob Zuma despite such scandals as Nkandla, the Spy Tapes and the current state capture by the Gupta family. Obviously in an effort to be assured of political protection after Zuma’s term ends in 2019, or his early retirement in 2018 as it has been reported, the ANCYL is now supporting Zuma’s ex-wife, Dr. Nkosazana Dhlamini-Zuma, to succeed Zuma ahead of Vice President Cyril Ramaphosa.     

No doubt, in making the resolution, the NYEC members should have been aware of the possible ramification to their political careers, but they, or at least the majority of them, have put country above party and resolved to speak truth to power. This is what Youth Leagues and Women’s Wings are meant to do. They are meant to provide checks and balances in the party and provide alternative views when the party wanders into the wilderness.

Youth Leagues and Women’s Wings who, because of personal political ambitions, fail to bring the party to account have no place in our democracy. Cardinal to the democratic project is strong inner party democracy, an ideal which Youth Leagues and Women’s Wings should strive to promote.  

There is no doubt that if the BDP goes ahead with the use of EVMs in the 2019 general elections it would have betrayed many Batswana, including some of its own current and former leaders. Former president Sir Ketumile Masire, for example, is on record advising the BDP to desist from introducing EVMs.

Given his democratic credentials, I have no doubt in my mind that our founding father, the late Sir Seretse Khama, would be opposed to EVMs. He would be the first to know that though they have the advantage of returning results quickly, they pose a danger to our peace and stability because of their lack of reliability. Former cabinet minister and longtime BDP Secretary General, Daniel Kwelagobe, has also joined the thousands of Batswana, including some in the BDP, who have argued that the BDP’s decision to introduce EVMs is ill-advised and poses a threat to our democracy.

Though as Secretary General Botsalo Ntuane is obliged to defend the party position with respect to the EVMs, knowing his liberal thinking, I am convinced that he too is personally opposed to EVMs, at least with respect to the manner in which it was introduced. I am also certain that there are many more BDP stalwarts who are opposed to EVMs, but have not expressed themselves publicly for fear of political reprisal and being accused of wanting to rule from the grave.

The NYEC is, therefore, not alone in pleading with the BDP to abandon the EVM project. Over and above the condemnation from these stalwarts, there are reports that even the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) itself has, in its report following a bench marking visit to Namibia, noted the pitfalls posed by EVMs. Not only that. According to the reports, the IEC did not, in its report, make a recommendation for the use of EVMs.

If this is true, the BDP’s credibility is brought into question because the party’s Secretary General, Botsalo Ntuane, was quoted in Sunday Standard’s 21st May 2017 edition saying “I can confidently tell you that the BDP did not initiate the EVM…” He further stated that “… during the BDP National Council we invited the IEC to come and make presentations about these EVMs…. Delegates asked questions about the EVMs and the President…. stated to the delegates that the BDP did not initiate the EVMs.”

The fact that the NYEC’s resolution is targeted at the BDP and not the IEC proves that the NYEC knows, as many Batswana do, that it is not the IEC which initiated the use of EVMs since it is the BDP which, through the Minister of Presidential Affairs, Governance & Public Administration, Honourable Eric Molale, tabled the Bill in Parliament.

The NYEC knows, as many Batswana do, that it is the BDP and not the IEC which, under the cover of darkness, used the certificate of urgency procedure to table the Bill, effectively denying opposition MPs and Batswana the opportunity to debate the Bill and expose its malafides.

The NYEC knows, as many Batswana do, that it is the BDP government which has allocated funds for use by the IEC in the implementation of the EVM project. They know that the IEC is not independent from government in as far as funding and administration are concerned.

The NYEC knows, as many Batswana do, and as Ntuane admitted that there was no need to rush the Bill through a certificate of urgency. He has been quoted as saying “we recognize that the passage of this Bill into a law was a bit controversial. Perhaps things could have been done differently. The elections are three years away. Was there need to rush the Bill really…?  

The NYEC knows, as many Batswana do, that if the BDP government wants it can use its Parliamentary majority to repeal the Act which introduced EVMs, bringing an end to the divisions currently obtaining among our people.  Some issues are so integral to our democracy and national security that we should all put our political differences aside and act in the public interest to champion them. Opposition to EVMs is one such issue, hence the need to commend the NYEC for championing it despite the political risks attendant thereto.

One can only hope that the NYEC will go beyond presenting its position on EVMs to the CC, but will, if the CC refuses to listen to Batswana, take the matter to the forthcoming party congress and lobby party members to vote against it. By so doing, the NYEC will not only be acting in the best interest of the country, but will also be acting in the BDP’s best interests since if the BDP abandons the EVM project, it may be saved from losing the votes of some who would vote against it in 2019 in protest to the EVM project.

The Women’s Wings is implored to rise above personal and sectarian interests and join the NYEC’s efforts to save the BDP from wandering further into the wilderness. Clearly, the NYEC, Masire, Kwelagobe and so many other Batswana cannot all be wrong.

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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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