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Khama on a joy ride to Chile

Kesitegile Gobotswang (PhD)
BCP Deputy Leader

While the private media was consumed by fake news propagated by authors of the scandalous Tholwana Borethe President Seretse Khama Ian Khama undertook a three day state visit to Chile in South America. 

According to state media the President is accompanied by Minister of International Affairs and Cooperation Pelonomi Venson-Moitoi, Minister of Presidential Affairs, Governance and Public Administration Eric Molale, Minister of Investment, Trade and Industry Vincent Seretse, and Sadique Kebonang Minister of Mineral Resources, Green Technology, and Energy Security.

Statements coming from government enclave are couched in typical diplomatic language coupled with phrases that are frequently recited to evade the truth about relations between countries. According to the state media the purpose of the visit was “To strengthen and broaden the scope of relations between the two countries as well as explore new possible areas of bilateral cooperation.”  There are no specifics in terms of existing bilateral areas of cooperation that are being strengthened.  

We may never get to know the real mission of the visit to Chile. However, given the previous overseas visits to South Korea and Sweden, we have reason to be suspicious. Khama’s recent overseas visits were linked to acquisition of sophisticated military equipment with a potential to trigger an undesirable arms race in Southern Africa. Clearly his visits are informed by his personal tastes and economic interest. Every year the President never misses to attend the meeting of Conservation International where he is a Board Member.  Speculation is that he may serve the organization on a semi full-time basis after retirement.

We must be concerned about the secrecy surrounding such visits. Given the looting of state assets and abuse of public office that characterise the Khama Administration we must demand full accountability by the President.  Needless to say accountability is the highest form of patriotism. A President who prefers to address foreign over local media is clearly unpatriotic. We must get it from him why he undertook such a long expensive visit across oceans. Khama may enter the Guinness Book of Records for being the only democratically elected President who never addressed the local press on issues of national interest.  In the absence of information shared with the public we are left with no choice but to speculate.  

It is worth noting that the President travelled to Chile via the United States of America where he attended a meeting on Conservation and Sustainability hosted by University of Wisconsin. It is not by coincidence that the visit to Chile was planned around the same time as the University of Wisconsin meeting. The President has been criticised for using state resources to satisfy his personal interests. He possibly used the Chile state visit as a cover up to the Wisconsin University excursion.   

Khama is known for his passion in tourism.  Hence he has made it a point that the political head of the sector is someone whom he can trust in protecting his interest.  When he assumed power in 2008 the Minister of Wildlife and Tourism was Kitso Mokailo his confidante from their days in the Botswana Defence Force (BDF).  Mokaila was replaced by Tshekedi Khama who is his younger brother. Apart from Tourism Khama has over the years developed interest in petroleum and diamond trade. In order to safeguard his business interest he strategically positions his close relatives and trusted allies in these sectors.

It is against this background that the visit to Chile must be understood.  It may turn out to be a private business trip funded by the taxpayer. In trying to determine the underlying reasons for the Chile state visit it is important to examine the key features of the political and economic development of Chile. Chile and Botswana shares a number of things in common. Like Botswana Chile is one of the most prosperous countries in South America with a high per capita income, good competiveness, most politically stable, and least corrupt.

However, Chile and Botswana record some of the highest income inequalities. Wealth distribution is a huge challenge in both countries.  There is poverty in the mist of plenty. Surprisingly both Botswana and Chile expressed their commitment in eradicating abject poverty.  Obviously it is a mission impossible.

Botswana and Chile are rich in natural resources especially copper.  Obviously Botswana could learn a lot about copper mining in Chile and how they deal with frequent fluctuations in global market prices.  The timing of the visit does not make sense, coming after the final decision to liquidate BCL. Had the President visited Chile in 2015 it is likely that BCL Mine would still be operational today. The excitement of the Minister of Mineral Resources over Dubai as a potential buyer of BCL and Tati Nickel resulted in overlooking possible opportunities in other parts of the globe such as South America, Chile in particular.  

If the purpose of the visit was to explore possibilities of saving BCL and Tati Nickel mines then the inclusion of Minister Sadique Kebonang was justified. Another reason why Kebonang was part of the large Presidential entourage might have to do with the long awaited Lobatse Leader Park. South American countries have successfully beneficiated cattle by products. They have a huge leather manufacturing industrial base. Of the four Ministers who accompanied the President one can safely say that Eric Molale the Minister of Presidential Affairs and Public Administration was just a tourist. He was on a joy ride to occupy excess space in the presidential jet with very little to show upon his return.  

The Botswana Congress Party (BCP) is not against foreign investment. However, we believe in the introduction of a law on indigenous economic empowerment which would stipulate that foreign companies that invest in Botswana should partner with indigenous Batswana to impart business skills and also enhance cash circulation in the local economy.  This has the potential to create employment opportunities for young people.

In the end when the cost of the state visit far outweigh its benefit then there is something seriously wrong with such a visit. It is a waste of public resources and an abuse of public office.  The nation deserves to know better.  BCP will continue advocating for the introduction of the freedom of information law to ensure the right of citizens to know in order to make informed decisions.

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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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