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Opposition beware, BDP may win in 2019!

Ndulamo Anthony Morima
EAGLE WATCH

In Botswana’s 2014 general elections while the ruling Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) won thirty seven seats in Parliament, the Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) trailed it with seventeen seats followed by the Botswana Congress Party (BCP) with three seats. Therefore, in 2014, for the first time since independence in 1966, the BDP attained less than 50% of the popular vote, garnering 47% while the UDC and the BCP attained 30% and 2% respectively.  

In 2009, the BDP had attained a safe 53% of the popular vote compared to 21.94% and 19.15% for the Botswana National Front (BNF) and BCP respectively. In terms of Parliamentary seats, the BDP attained 45 seats while the BNF and BCP got 6 seats and 4 seats respectively. The BDP’s 2014 electoral performance was, no doubt, abysmal, making many contend that had the BCP been part of the UDC the BDP would have lost the general election, propelling the newly formed UDC to state power.  

The BDP’s poor performance was ascribed to, inter alia, a disgruntled labour force, especially following the 2011 public sector strike which resulted in the dismissal of 2,934 essential service employees and a disgruntled media. The Botswana Federation of Public Service Unions (BOFEPUSU)’s endorsement of the UDC, which saw it targeting some BDP candidates and campaigning against them, played a pivotal role in BDP’s near loss of state power in 2014.

Not only that. It was also attributed to the alleged assassination of the leader of the Botswana Movement for Democracy (BMD), Gomolemo Motswaledi, and the Directorate on Intelligence and Security Services (DISS)’s murder of John Kalafatis and its overall alleged brutality and support for the BDP. Considering the 2014 general elections results, the UDC had reason to believe that it may win the 2019 general elections, especially if it can convince the BCP to join it. In fact, so real was this possibility that even the BDP itself feared its prospect.  

The prospect for BDP’s defeat in 2019 was increased by the BDP’s seeming fracturing as a result of the chairmanship contest which saw President Lieutenant General Dr. Seretse Khama Ian Khama’s chosen successor, His Honour (HH) the Vice President, Mokgweetsi Masisi, facing stiff opposition, especially in 2015. But, while the labour force and the media still remain disgruntled and the DISS still remains disreputable, several 2014 era conditions either no longer exist or have subsided. Of the 2,934 essential service employees dismissed following the 2011 public sector strike 2,378 have been re-employed.

The anger caused by Motswaledi’s alleged assassination has subsided. The BMD’s failure to release the report, if any, on the circumstances leading to Motswaledi’s death have led some to doubt whether Motswaledi was indeed assassinated as alleged. Though there have recently been allegations that the DISS is involved in the conflicts besieging the BMD, the DISS’s notoriety has subsided, at least in as far as allegations of torture and extra judicial killings are concerned.

Though it is still a force to contend with, BOFEPUSU’s influence has been reduced by Botswana Public Employees Union (BOPEU)’s disaffiliation from it. Some also argue that it has lost some members to BOPEU because of its refusal to accept government’s unilateral salary increases while BOPEU did. The BMD conflicts which have persisted since the party’s elective congress in 2015, culminating in a violent July 2017 Congress in Bobonong the result of which are two parallel National Executive Committees (NECs) have damaged not only the BMD as a party, but also the UDC as a coalition.

As a result of the BMD debacle the Opposition is likely to lose some of its MPs in 2019, especially those who won not because of their own political prowess, but because of the Moono factor. This may be more so in constituencies which are traditional BDP strongholds. Consequently, the BDP’s all-time propaganda that Batswana should not vote for the Opposition since it is prone to conflict and instability is gaining credence, especially following the unprecedented violence during the Bobonong BMD Congress that many witnessed on Botswana Television (Btv).    

While the Opposition, especially because of the BMD fracas and UDC’s failure to intervene to avoid the party’s further hemorrhaging, has not covered itself in glory, the BDP has worked hard, even in heretical ways, to reposition itself for 2019. It waged a recruitment campaign which saw it poaching the BCP’s Member of Parliament (MP) for Okavango, Honourable Bagalatia Arone, Youth League President, Lotty Manyepedza, Secretary General, Thato Osupile, and 2014 Nata-Gweta constituency candidate, Ditiro Majadibodu, among others.

On the contrary, there has been no high profile defection from the BDP to the Opposition. Though he did not defect to the BDP, MP for Maun West, Honourable Kgosi Tawana Moremi’s resignation from the UDC to be an Independent MP has diminished the Opposition in Parliament, whose MPs have been reduced from twenty to eighteen. It has introduced such programmes as the Economic Stimulus Programme (ESP) and the Constituency Fund (CF) which, though condemned by the Opposition, trade unions and the media as unsustainable, have placated the BDP’s base and probably attracted a few new members.

It has used the ESP, CF and such other funds as the Youth Development Fund (YDF) and the Citizen Entrepreneurial Development Agency (CEDA) to not only reward and retain its members, but also to poach members from the Opposition. It has, in an orchestrated move to silence the private media, stopped government and parastatal organizations’ placement of advertisements in private media which it considers hostile to it. This has allowed it to infiltrate the media through the few media houses it supports in a clandestine way.

As it throttles the private media, it continues to use such supposed public media as Btv, Radio Botswana (RB) and Botswana Daily News as its propaganda machinery which gives BDP more coverage than it does for all the Opposition parties combined. It has taken over such hitherto ‘troublesome’ organizations as the Botswana National Youth Council (BNYC) and turned them into its proxies which serve no other purpose than pacifying its constituency into believing that the government is serving them with excellence when it is in fact destroying their futures.

It has filled the leadership of parastatal organisations with well-known party activists and other covert operatives whose mandate is to promote the BDP agenda and to relegate the Opposition to obscurity. It has, under the cover of darkness and in an unprecedented move, used a certificate of urgency to pass amendments to the Electoral Act whose objects are, in my view, to eliminate the Opposition’s prospects of winning the 2019 general elections.

The most controversial of these amendments is the one which allows the use of Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs) in the 2019 general elections. That the BDP government seems resolute to use EVMs despite concerns that it may lead to rigging of elections shows the BDP’s desperation to cling to power at all costs. HH Masisi’s recent victory which saw him retaining the party chairmanship and his entire lobby list making it into the Central Committee has not only cemented his party leadership position, but has also enhanced the BDP’s prospects of success in 2019.

In view of the aforegoing, it is my view that if the Opposition does not put its house in order the BDP may win the 2019 general elections. In any event, the BDP chances are enhanced by incumbency. Also, in Africa, history suggests that if, despite it being at its peak, an opposition party fails to win an election it is unlikely to win future elections. Examples are Morgan Tsvangirai’s Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) and Raila Odinga’s Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) in Zimbabwe and Kenya respectively which despite almost winning elections in 2008 and 2007 respectively have failed to win in subsequent elections.

In my view, not even the fact that the UDC won all the Parliamentary bye-elections for the Goodhope-Mabule and Tlokweng constituencies should be a source of solace. This may count for nothing in 2019 considering the fact that while Tlokweng had been an Opposition stronghold for some time, the UDC had fielded a Kgosi in Goodhope-Mabule. For the UDC to win the 2019 general elections it needs to retain all its eighteen seats and win an additional eleven seats. This, to me, seems to be a toll order considering the fact that the 2014 hype no longer exists and may be nonexistent in 2019.

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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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