Sir Ketumile Marise’s send-off gave some sections of Batswana the opportunity to take a deep reflection on the country’s current state of affairs. In particular, the occasion provided a rare moment for some members of the ruling Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) to vent out their frustrations on the way the country and their party is being governed.
BDP political stalwarts like Daniel Kwelagobe took the lead in their public outcry. When paying tribute to Sir Ketumile the former Secretary General and later Chairperson of the ruling party made reference to the famous Biblical message which talks about cross roads. By way of paraphrasing, it says that when you realise that you have lost the road, you must go back to the crossroads to chart the right path.
Kwelagobe is not the only one in the BDP who has expressed serious concerns over the state of affairs in the country. The former President Festus Mogae has once expressed his views over the deterioration of the rule of law, a critical tenet of democracy.
Last week we talked about Masire’s parting shot aimed at the controversial introduction of the Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs). Following Masire’s footsteps Kwelagobe made his views against EVMs publicly known. Not to be left behind religious organizations also advised government against the EVMs. In his pastoral letter Bishop Valentine Seane of the Catholic Church was unequivocal in his rejection of the EVMs.
To many Batswana across the political divide the EVM will turn out to be the last straw that will break the camel’s back. Its suspicious intentions, its timing and the manner in which the bill was introduced got many people talking. In particular, lack of consultation and rushing the passing of the bill in the middle of the night was yet another example that the country has gone astray.
Another Bill that was introduced in a similar manner was the Presidential Retirement Bill. Parliament stayed overnight to make sure that they passed a bill that will virtually give the next retired president everything that he ever dreamed of as a young person. Ian Khama will get all the things he needed in life not through hard work but by an accident of history. Upon retirement Khama will be the envy of successful hardworking business people like Rre David Magang and Satar Dada.
As if this was not enough Khama recently issued a Presidential Directive to hand over Air Botswana (the national airline) to Wilderness Safaris, a company in which he has vested business interest. Had Wilderness Safaris not somersaulted it was a done deal. Media reports indicate that Khama may not have given up on the weird idea of directly benefiting from the sale of Air Botswana.
The above examples are clear indications that under the moribund BDP, Botswana has been reduced to a banana republic. This country is only a democracy only in so far as it holds regular elections every five years. It is the type of democracy that begins and ends on the day of elections.
Where did we go wrong, is the big question. According to Kwelagobe the crossroads is where consultation became a thing of the past. Since the statement was made at the funeral of an elder statesman, he focused on lack of consultation of the party elders. Consulting the elders on matters of national interest is necessary but not sufficient. In a true democracy the critical point is to consistently consult with the voters on matters that affect them.
Another point raised by Kwelagobe to drive his point home was the closure of mines. BCL Mine in particular was closed under suspicious circumstances resulting in the loss of 6000 jobs. In my recollection it was the most ruthless decision ever taken by an elected government against citizens in the history of Botswana.
Following Kwelagobe’s utterances Kabo Morwaeng who is a member of the BDP Election Board ventured into the issue of returning the party and government back to cross roads. In his narrow view returning to crossroads was about improving the management of primary elections dubbed Bulela Ditswe.
It is generally believed that Kwelagobe’s views were directed at President Khama. However, some have ventured to think that it is Vice President Mokgweetsi Masisi who must take note of the clarion call as President in waiting. This is informed by the fact that Khama is increasingly becoming a lame duck president as focus shifts to Masisi. Besides he does not possess the requisite inclination to change his trajectory. For him a call for the return to cross roads is too little too late.
We should not lose sight of the fact that it was the Botswana Congress Party (BCP) and the Botswana Alliance Movement (BAM) that warned Batswana against the path the BDP had chosen under the Khama administration. In 2008 the title of the BCP/BAM joint Manifesto was entitled “A Nation at Cross roads: Which Way Now – Democracy and Prosperity or Dictatorship and Economic Collapse.”
Our prediction of a bleak future coincided with the reign of Khama as President of Botswana. Excitement among the general population was unprecedented. There was a great sense of optimism. It was anticipated that when Khama leaves office in 2018 Botswana will be in the same league with countries like Dubai and Singapore.
Borrowing a leaf from David Magang many had anticipated that Khama was destined to become the benevolent dictator. Even the best economists never thought that a country like Rwanda could become an economic success story from Africa ahead of Botswana.
One of the major deviations from a promising developmental path was the introduction of the so-called 4Ds (Democracy, Development, Dignity, and Discipline) which later became five. The four national principles of Democracy, Development, Self-Reliance, and Unity were seriously undermined by Khama’s political slogans in the form of the 4Ds. As expected everybody within the system jumped into the bandwagon to please the President and secure their “entitlements”. The four national principles took a back seat. This was a huge setback for Botswana.
As Khama approaches the end of his term in office, not many Batswana will remember his political slogans that were parroted as national principles. They have ceased to be a feature of the official statements. Even the originator of the Ds hardly mentions them in his frequent address of kgotla meetings. Returning to cross roads must entail the revival of national principles.
Almost ten years after the BCP’s prophetic message Botswana of today has shifted from its core democratic values. Under the corrupt-ridden BDP, authoritarianism reigns. The economy is under intensive care. To call it a government of thieves, by thieves for thieves is a serious underestimation. The painful truth is that BCP has been vindicated.
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.