Every year, on the 31st of May, the world commemorates World No Tobacco Day (WNTD), highlighting the health and additional risks associated with tobacco use, and advocating for governments to adopt effective policies to reduce tobacco consumption.
A major effort has long been underway to curb the world's use of tobacco. No-smoking signs are common fixtures in many businesses. State and federal laws increasingly restrict where people can smoke, and taxes on cigarettes and other tobacco products are higher than ever. Study after study shows a link between smoking and a host of health problems, including heart disease, lung disease and different types of cancers.
According to WHO, tobacco use kills more than 7 million people around the world each year, and that number is predicted to grow unless anti-tobacco actions are re-enforced. In the United States, tobacco use is the largest preventable cause of death and disease. It is still astonishing though to see the rate at which people especially youngsters still choose to use tobacco. Many people if you ask them do not really have valid reasons as to why they are using tobacco.
It is not so much about lacking information or knowledge on the dangers of tobacco use. Some will tell you they thought it was “cool” and they got hooked, some will tell you they got pressured by their peers or partners, some will tell you they grew up in a household where parents use(d) tobacco, for some it acts as a stress reliever, some will tell you they smoke or sniff because of medical problems like obesity or epistaxis, for some it will be because they needed something to do or keep busy in social situations, and many other reasons.
Perhaps our attention should be focused on where it all starts and we try to nip the problem from the roots. In this article, we explore reasons why someone might pick up that first cigarette. Peer pressure – most young people will smoke because their friends or peers smoke. They may feel pressured into doing the same to be accepted as part of the group. The other reason is the excitement that comes with experimenting with something that is forbidden.
Addiction – Nicotine is the main substance in cigarettes and other forms of tobacco. It affects many parts of the body including the brain. Over time the body and brain get used to having nicotine in them. Nicotine reaches the brain within 10 seconds of when it enters the body and causes the brain to release adrenaline, and that creates a buzz of pleasure and energy. The buzz quickly fades though then the person starts feeling tired or down, needing that buzz again.
The body is able to build a high tolerance to nicotine, so a person may begin to need to smoke more cigarettes to get the same buzz. This cycle is what leads to addiction. It is reported that about 80-90% of people who smoke regularly are addicted to nicotine. If a person is struggling with addiction then s/he needs to seek his/her doctor’s intervention to map a rehabilitation road as addiction is a medical problem.
Social reasons – Smoking can be associated with certain activities like taking a break to relax, hanging out with friends or going to certain places. If this is the case then smoking has formed a pattern of one’s social life. Other behaviours that keep one distracted and busy can be learnt to replace smoking, like sipping on water, joining the gym or seeking a new hobby. Intervention of psychologists or counsellors can also be sought to break the link between smoking and socialization.
The Central Bank has by way of its Monetary Policy Statement informed us that the Botswana economy is likely to contract by 8.9 percent over the course of the year 2020.
The IMF paints an even gloomier picture – a shrinkage of the order of 9.6 percent. That translates to just under $2 billion hived off from the overall economic yield given our average GDP of roughly $18 billion a year. In Pula terms, this is about P23 billion less goods and services produced in the country and you and I have a good guess as to what such a sum can do in terms of job creation and sustainability, boosting tax revenue, succouring both recurrent and development expenditure, and on the whole keeping our teeny-weeny economy in relatively good nick.
Joseph’s and Judah’s family lines conjoin to produce lineal seed
Just to recap, General Atiku, the Israelites were not headed for uncharted territory. The Promised Land teemed with Canaanites, Hittites, Amorites, Perizzites, Hivites, and Jebusites. These nations were not simply going to cut and run when they saw columns of battle-ready Israelites approach: they were going to fight to the death.
Parliament has begun debates on three related Private Members Bills on the conditions of service of members of the Security Sector.
The Bills are Prisons (Amendment) Bill, 2019, Police (Amendment) Bill, 2019 and Botswana Defence Force (Amendment) Bill, 2019. The Bills seek to amend the three statutes so that officers are placed on full salaries when on interdictions or suspensions whilst facing disciplinary boards or courts of law.
In terms of the Public Service Act, 2008 which took effect in 2010, civil servants who are indicted are paid full salary and not a portion of their emolument. Section 35(3) of the Act specifically provides that “An employee’s salary shall not be withheld during the period of his or her suspension”.
However, when parliament reformed the public service law to allow civil servants to unionize, among other things, and extended the said protection of their salaries, the process was not completed. When the House conferred the benefit on civil servants, members of the disciplined forces were left out by not accordingly amending the laws regulating their employment.
The Bills stated above seeks to ask Parliament to also include members of the forces on the said benefit. It is unfair not to include soldiers or military officers, police officers and prison waders in the benefit. Paying an officer who is facing either external or internal charges full pay is in line with the notion of ei incumbit probation qui dicit, non qui negat or the presumption of innocence; that the burden of proof is on the one who declares, not on one who denies.
The officers facing charges, either internal disciplinary or criminal charges before the courts, must be presumed innocent until proven otherwise. Paying them a portion of their salary is penalty and therefore arbitrary. Punishment by way of loss of income or anything should come as a result of a finding on the guilt by a competent court of law, tribunal or disciplinary board.
What was the rationale behind this reform in 2008 when the Public Service Act was adopted? First it was the presumption of innocence until proven otherwise.
The presumption of innocence is the legal principle that one is considered “innocent until proven guilty”. In terms of the constitution and other laws of Botswana, the presumption of innocence is a legal right of the accused in a criminal trial, and it is an international human right under the UN’s Universal Declaration of Human Rights, Article 11.
Withholding a civil servant’s salary because they are accused of an internal disciplinary offense or a criminal offense in the courts of law, was seen as punishment before a decision by a tribunal, disciplinary board or a court of law actually finds someone culpable. Parliament in its wisdom decided that no one deserves this premature punishment.
Secondly, it was considered that people’s lives got destroyed by withholding of financial benefits during internal or judicial trials. Protection of wages is very important for any worker. Workers commit their salaries, they pay mortgages, car loans, insurances, schools fees for children and other things. When public servants were experiencing salary cuts because of interdictions, they lost their homes, cars and their children’s future.
They plummeted into instant destitution. People lost their livelihoods. Families crumbled. What was disheartening was that in many cases, these workers are ultimately exonerated by the courts or disciplinary tribunals. When they are cleared, the harm suffered is usually irreparable. Even if one is reimbursed all their dues, it is difficult to almost impossible to get one’s life back to normal.
There is a reasoning that members of the security sector should be held to very high standards of discipline and moral compass. This is true. However, other more senior public servants such as judges, permanent secretary to the President and ministers have faced suspensions, interdictions and or criminal charges in the courts but were placed on full salaries.
The yardstick against which security sector officers are held cannot be higher than the aforementioned public officials. It just wouldn’t make sense. They are in charge of the security and operate in a very sensitive area, but cannot in anyway be held to higher standards that prosecutors, magistrates, judges, ministers and even senior officials such as permanent secretaries.
Moreover, jail guards, police officers and soldiers, have unique harsh punishments which deter many of them from committing misdemeanors and serious crimes. So, the argument that if the suspension or interdiction with full pay is introduced it would open floodgates of lawlessness is illogical.
Security Sector members work in very difficult conditions. Sometimes this drives them into depression and other emotional conditions. The truth is that many seldom receive proper and adequate counseling or such related therapies. They see horrifying scenes whilst on duty. Jail guards double as hangmen/women.
Detectives attend to autopsies on cases they are dealing with. Traffic police officers are usually the first at accident scenes. Soldiers fight and kill poachers. In all these cases, their minds are troubled. They are human. These conditions also play a part in their behaviors. They are actually more deserving to be paid full salaries when they’re facing allegations of misconduct.
To withhold up to 50 percent of the police, prison workers and the military officers’ salaries during their interdiction or suspensions from work is punitive, insensitive and prejudicial as we do not do the same for other employees employed by the government.
The rest enjoy their full salaries when they are at home and it is for a good reason as no one should be made to suffer before being found blameworthy. The ruling party seems to have taken a position to negate the Bills and the collective opposition argue in the affirmative. The debate have just began and will continue next week Thursday, a day designated for Private Bills.