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Gaolathe & Pilane factions are irreconcilable!

Ndulamo Anthony Morima
EAGLE WATCH

Despite the holding of two parallel Congresses by the Gaolathe and Pilane factions of the Botswana Movement for Democracy (BMD), which resulted in the election of two National Executive Committees (NECs), some still believe that the two factions can still be reconciled.

The Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) also holds this view. In this article I argue that the two factions are beyond reconciliation. Their relationship has so irretrievably broken that an attempt to reconcile them can only be in vain. Below I advance the reasons for my view. Firstly, because of UDC’s inertia in mediating between the factions the differences worsened and are now of such a complexion that the two factions can only ‘reconcile’ to the detriment of the democratic project.

Because of the protracted conflict, dissonance has permeated all the party’s structures, the permeation being of such saturation that decontamination is almost impossible. Consequently, there is no Women’s Wing which could be invoking the women’s nurturing endowment to bring sanity to the party. There is no Youth League which could be using the exuberant spirit of the young lions to, even through misguided means, reign in the lions’ unrelenting and unforgiving fights. There are no elders who could be using their wisdom and often useful inertia to guide the party.     

Secondly, the BMD has been infiltrated by third forces. I am yet to be convinced that during the factions’ impasse, which has lasted since the party’s 2015 elective Congress, no third force has infiltrated the factions. As part of the UDC, which has a possibility of winning the 2019 general elections, the BMD is, no doubt, a target of malevolent forces. Though it has denied any involvement, it would be naivety indescribable to discount the Directorate on Intelligence and Security Services (DISS)’s involvement in the debacle. Also, Business interests, even of a foreign nature, can only be discounted at one’s own peril.

It would be surprising if the Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) has not played a role in BMD’s conflicts. After all, it is the BMD split in 2010 which nearly led to the dethronement of the BDP during the 2014 general elections. It is because of the BMD, whose political ideology is closer to that of the BDP, that the BDP is continuing to lose its members to the UDC. The BDP would have to be in a stupor not to relish from the fodder that has become of the BMD since its 2015 elective Congress.

It is inconceivable that the BDP can only have targeted the Botswana Congress Party (BCP) and left its prodigal son, the BMD unattended. It is idiocy indescribable to think that His Honour the Vice President, Mokgweetsi Masisi, has not identified the BMD as a likely obstacle to his presidency. Of course some third forces may not be as malevolent, but they too may have made reconciliation impossible, possibly because they believe their interests can only be better protected by one faction to the exclusion of the other.

These benevolent third forces include some media houses, some civil society organisations, some imminent individuals and, of course, some trade unions. It is common course that the latter have particular interest considering the Botswana Federation of Public Service Unions (BOFEPUSU)’s endorsement of the UDC. The rivalry between BOFEPUSU and its nemesis, the Botswana Public Employees Union (BOPEU), is also likely to have played a part in further alienating the BMD factions. There have been reports that BOFEPUSU and BOPEU funded the factions’events.

No wonder it has been reported that offers by both BOFEPUSU and BOPEU to mediate in the dispute between the two factions have been rejected by both factions, citing their partiality as an impediment to any mediatory role. Thirdly, this conflict has never been about ideas, but has, since the 2015 elective Congress, always been about party positions. This is not a battle for the soul of the party. It is a battle for the stomach. As I opined in last week’s article, it is unlikely that anyone of the leaders from the two factions would yield to reason, especially in view of the 2019 general elections where they expect to, as part of the UDC, ascend to the country’s vice presidency.

Even now when a split seems to be the only viable option, one of the reasons why such option is not being pursued by either faction is because of the fear of having to renegotiate constituency allocation. Not only that. There is also the fear of losing the UDC’s vice presidency. So, the fight for retaining the BMD and not forming a new political party by either faction is not about the party name, the constitution, the logo and the slogan. It is about constituencies and the vice presidency.    

As the late leader of the Botswana National Front (BNF), Dr. Kenneth Koma, used to say this is a case of hunters who fight over an animal before the animal has even been slaughtered. They seem to be oblivious of the fact that both of them may end up being losers because the animal may yet escape capture or slaughter. Fourthly, this conflict has also been aided and abetted by another UDC affiliate, the Botswana People’s Party (BPP), which has been reported to be aligned to the Gaolathe faction. There are reports that should the Gaolathe faction opt to form a new political party BPP would join it.

Fifthly, the Botswana Congress Party (BCP), another UDC affiliate, may have also had a hand in the perpetuation of the BMD conflicts. It is reported that the BCP contends that its UDC membership has equal status with that of the BMD. This is why the BCP not only declined to have its leader, Dumelang Saleshando, being assigned the UDC Secretary Generalship, but wanted him to be vice president. It is also reported that the BCP could not even settle for the 2nd vice presidency, but wanted the vice presidency equivalent to that held by the BMD, arguing that they are not subordinate to the BMD.

Reportedly, the BCP leadership is not comfortable with Honourable Ndaba Gaolathe being BMD president. They prefer Sidney Pilane whom they believe can easily be defeated by their leader should a contest for the UDC vice presidency or presidency arise in future. If that is true it would not be improbable that they contributed to Gaolathe’s down fall, at least for now. It is because of the aforegoing that the holding of a new elective Congress as proposed by the Gaolathe faction has been out rightly rejected by the Pilane faction. This effectively means that the BMD will continue having two parallel NECs until one is set aside by the courts if one of the factions pursues the litigation route.

But, can any of the factions pursue litigation for such purpose? Even if the litigation route were pursued, can a court really order the holding of a new Congress? Even if such court order were issued, can it really be meaningfully implemented? Even if the court order were meaningfully implemented, can there ever be peace thereafter?

If the answer to any of the aforegoing questions is in the negative, the Gaolathe and Pilane factions are unlikely to be reconciled. As I argued in last week’s article, it seems to me that the only viable route is a split and the formation of a new political party, especially by the Gaolathe faction. I still reiterate my view that if the UDC is to stand a realistic chance of wrestling state power from the ruling BDP during the 2019 general elections, the new political party should be formed as early as now. Any further delays would adversely affect the UDC project since the BMD conflicts have started causing conflict in the BNF, with the BNF Youth League calling for actions which are reportedly inimical to the party’s July Conference resolution on the matter. Such conflicts would, no doubt, spill over to the BCP and BPP in due course.

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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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