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Of Masisi, Khama and the Sam Nujoma factor

Kesitegile Gobotswang (PhD)
BCP Deputy Leader

 

For the ruling Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) Tonota has come and gone but its ramifications will reverberate many months to come.  Vice President Mokgweetsi Masisi and his camp may have crushed Nonofo Molefhi and his faction beyond recognition but the latter is not completely annihilated. They have the potential to cause problems for the ruling party.
 

The impact of the recent BDP leadership contest will be felt during the forthcoming primary elections nicknamed Bulela DItswe. The ruling party will certainly emerge from the primaries seriously bruised.  The losses at Bulela Ditswe will be experienced during the general elections, further complicating their chances of survival as an incumbent political formation.
 

Prior to the BDP congress Kentse Rammidi, the Secretary General of the Botswana Congress Party (BCP) had predicted that the Molefhi faction will lose badly and many political careers will go down with it.  Molefhi and his lieutenants led by Dorcus Makgato, Biggie Butale, and Philip Makgalemela took a huge risk in challenging an incoming President and his vindictive faction led by Seretse Khama Ian Khama, the President of the Republic of Botswana. They must be fully prepared to face the consequences for their action. The winners are likely to launch a merciless onslaught on the losing camp to push them out.  In the distasteful words of Mpho Balopi it is their time to EAT.  
 

The vanquished must have known that by challenging Vice President Masisi they were defying President Khama. This is because Khama had openly anointed Masisi for the position of party chairperson.  The prestige that goes with the highest office, the state apparatus at his disposal and his habitual abuse of state resources was bound to be unleashed on the opponents. Acts of intimidation and blackmail were not uncommon during the campaign. It is the kind of treatment that we in the opposition are all familiar with.
 

Prior to Tonota BDP Congress, there were discussions as to whether Molefhi could lead a break-away group to join forces with the opposition. In fact speculations were that his camp will join forces with some disgruntled elements within Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) to form a new political party. Given the prevailing political dynamics such expectations were baseless. The ring leaders of Team Molefhi fully understand the type of leadership that has prevailed at their recent internal elections. It’s a ruthless and vindictive team that is on the driving seat. If they misbehave their income sources could run dry instantly.
 

If we take the example of Molefhi for example, he is currently a senior Minister in a Cabinet that is effectively led by Masisi as Khama fades away. He can’t easily risk the trappings that go with the position. Besides, his family are the founders of ABM University which like other tertiary institutions heavily rely on government sponsorships for their survival. Clearly he cannot bite the hand that feeds him.
 

At another level, in Tonota BDP followers voted for the continuation of the Khama legacy.  In fact when everything is said and done Khama will rule from the grave. We recall that he has already self-appointed himself to the position of Campaign Manager in the 2019 general elections. He is an overpowering personality to be ignored.
 

For Khama the stakes are high. He is passionate about safeguarding his personal wealth that was accumulated under questionable circumstances. Issues around Mosu, Ditseta Island, Military tenders, and abuse of public resources are likely to haunt him now and in the future. He would not leave anything to chance lest he faces prosecutions and spend years in jail instead of enjoying his retirement. In his assessment, Masisi, the self-proclaimed bootlicker was someone he could bank on to protect his controversial economic interests and those of his cronies.     
 

Under the current circumstances Masisi may turn out to be a ceremonial president when Khama “leaves power” on April fool’s Day 2018. Practically speaking Khama is not going anywhere. This is because Masisi has inherited the human resource infrastructure positioned strategically.
 

The situation in which Masisi may find himself reminds one of the Namibian experience where Hifikepunye Pahamba became president while political power and prestige remained with Sam Nujoma, the retired president.  It is said that during the early days of Pahamba’s presidency his entourage would give way to a relatively bigger one servicing Nujoma.
 

Already Khama has been awarded an incredible retirement package that is tantamount to incentivising him to leave office when his term ends in April 2018.  It is a retirement package that was possibly crafted by Khama himself and happily pushed by Masisi through a helpless parliament. Otherwise where on earth do you give a retired public officer a pension and gratuity at the same time, build him a house for P34 million, and allow him have unlimited access to government mode of transportation.
 

If reports that Tshekedi Khama who is President Khama’s brother may be the next party chairperson and Vice President of the Republic of Botswana are true then we must cry for our beloved country. TK as he is popularly called is loose cannon. He can be uncontrollable and knows no bound between private and public office. If he can purchase a luxurious jet for P80 million under dubious circumstances and establish a private militia when he is a mere junior minister what more if he is Vice President.
 

In the past Masisi has hinted that things will change under his administration. We shall give him the benefit of doubt. But he has an immediate crucial test before him. Now that the official house that was occupied by Sir Ketumile Masire could soon be available, he must show that he is made of steel by renovating the house to be ready for occupation by retired President Khama. Like the State House and Ministerial houses the decision will be in order. If it requires amending the Presidents Pensions and Retirement Benefits so be it.  Upon becoming the head of state Masisi must scrap Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs) and the purchase of fighter jets from Sweden, re-open BCL Mine, and improve the working conditions of public servants.
 

Unfortunately Masisi will quickly realize that political power does not necessarily lie within the presidency. He will soon learn that he was put there by powerful forces inside as well as outside government to serve their economic interests. External forces are usually involved. As president he will be the glorified messenger of big business interests. Upon assuming power Masisi will be the driver of a neo-colonial agenda to ensure that wealth is accumulated through profits and exploitation of workers. That is why as the opposition we must never lose sight of this basic fact. In that way we can avoid reducing our struggle to be against individuals instead of unregulated exploitative system of government pursued by the current regime.
 

Tonota may signal the beginning of the end of the moribund BDP.  Faced with a declining popularity, a newly elected micky mouse central committee, and a united opposition led by a youthful vibrant leadership, the ruling party may crumble sooner rather than later.

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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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