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Botswana Namibia (Part 8)



In our last instalment it was noted that, with the arrival of additional troops, in 1894 the German military Commander in Namibia, Major Theodor Leutwien, was finally able to gain the upper hand in his struggle with Hendrick Witbooi and other important Nama leaders. These notably included Simon! Gomxab Kooper (also often rendered as Kopper or Cooper).

Arguably the most tenacious of all Nama resistance leaders, as well as founder in 1909 of the modern settlement at Lokgwabe in the Kgalagadi District, Simon !Gomxab Kooper was a key figure in the shared history of Botswana and Namibia. For a half century until his death in 1913, Kooper was the leader, known as Gaob or Kaptein, of the Kharakhoen (Kai//khuan) or “Fransmen” branch of the Nama-Khoe.  The date of Simon Kooper’s birth at Pella in the Northern Cape is uncertain. One can rather confirm that by the 1850s he was at the side of his father Kaptein Piet Kooper in central Namibia.

Simon assumed leadership of the !Kharakhoen after the death of father on 15th June 1863, following an attack on Kamaharero’s Ovaherero.  For the three decades thereafter Kooper managed to secure relative peace to his people, ruling from Gochas, with additional !Kharakhoen communities at Aranos, Aroab and Koes (all in Namibia). During this period his hunting parties were, however, also active in south-western Botswana. In November 1876 Simon was among the Nama Kapteins who met with the British Special Commissioner William Coates Palgrave at Berseba. There he joined his peers in giving Palgrave’s proposal for a British Protectorate the cold shoulder, bluntly observing that accepting it would be like swallowing a raw piece of meat.

As we have previously noted, despite gaining the support of the Oveherero, Palgrave’s efforts to expand British jurisdiction into Namibia in the guise of a Hereroland and Namaqualand Protectorate was ultimately vetoed in London, opening the door for German imperial expansion. The peace that Kooper’s following enjoyed was broken in March of 1894. Having already used force to crush Witbooi’s Ç€Khowesin, many of whom were massacred, along with the KaiÇ€khauan, Leutwein next focused his attention on !Kharakhoen. In this context the Germans surrounding Kooper’s headquarters at Gochas by dawn of the 17th of March 1894.

Even with 600 armed men at his disposal, Kooper was outgunned and outnumbered, but prepared to nonetheless resist from a number of defensive strongholds. In this respect Leutwein was also eager to avoid battle, perhaps motivated by the !Kharakhoen’s well deserved reputation for marksmanship. The Major would later write: “I bade him a friendly ‘Good-morning’ and offered my hand.” A short discussion followed, during which Kooper avoided Leutwien’s entreaties that he sign a document accepting German protection.

The standoff was broken three days later when the Major trained his artillery on the Kaptein’s headquarters. Simon, he recalled, then signed the document with unconcealed reluctance asking, “For how long is this to hold good?”“ Forever,” said Leutwien, who further observed “This he did not like.” The arrangement nearly fell apart ten months later when Leutwien once more led a punitive expedition against the KaiIkhauan that also drew in the !Kharakhoen as well as the !Gamnum or Bondelswarts. The expedition had been provoked by mounting unrest following a German patrol’s killing of unarmed Kaikhauan at Aais in September 1894.

Peace was restored after the Kaikhauan were defeated in a battle at Gobabis, which resulted in the death of their Kaptein Eduard Lambert and many others. Their survivors were interred at a concentration camp located at Windhoek, where they were used as forced labour. The existence of the concentration camp in 1895 contradicts the common assumption that such facilities first appeared in southern Africa as a result of Lord Kitchener’s mass detention of blacks as well as Boers during the Anglo-Boer War.

The fate of the Kaikhauan is, further clear evidence that the genocidal nature of the German occupation of Namibia predates the final 1904 Herero-Nama uprising. In this respect, it was the threat of literally being wiped out as a people that ultimately drove most of the rest of the Nama, including !Kharakhoen, as well as the Ovaherero, Ovambadero and other into their desperate rebellion. In other words, genocide may be understood as the very cause, rather than an extreme by-product, of the rebellion.

With the Nama quiet, Leutwien shifted his attention to the potentially more lucrative target of the Ovaherero and related Ovambanderu. The principal Ovaherero leader, Samuel Maharero, was quickly coerced into surrendering both land and cattle to the first wave of German settlers. But, while Maharero struggled in vain to accommodate the German presence his lead rival among the Ovaherero, Nikodemus, supported by the Ovambaderu leader, Kahimema, continued to resist. In their struggle the two benefited from the smuggling of firearms from the Cape Colony via Botswana. As a result Leutwien permanently occupied Gobabis.

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Is COVID-19 Flogging an Already Dead Economic Horse?

9th September 2020

The Central Bank has by way of its Monetary Policy Statement informed us that the Botswana economy is likely to contract by 8.9 percent over the course of the year 2020.

The IMF paints an even gloomier picture – a shrinkage of the order of 9.6 percent.  That translates to just under $2 billion hived off from the overall economic yield given our average GDP of roughly $18 billion a year. In Pula terms, this is about P23 billion less goods and services produced in the country and you and I have a good guess as to what such a sum can do in terms of job creation and sustainability, boosting tax revenue, succouring both recurrent and development expenditure, and on the whole keeping our teeny-weeny economy in relatively good nick.

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Union of Blue Bloods

9th September 2020

Joseph’s and Judah’s family lines conjoin to produce lineal seed

Just to recap, General Atiku, the Israelites were not headed for uncharted territory. The Promised Land teemed with Canaanites, Hittites, Amorites, Perizzites, Hivites, and Jebusites. These nations were not simply going to cut and run when they saw columns of battle-ready Israelites approach: they were going to fight to the death.

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Security Sector Private Bills: What are they about?

9th September 2020

Parliament has begun debates on three related Private Members Bills on the conditions of service of members of the Security Sector.

The Bills are Prisons (Amendment) Bill, 2019, Police (Amendment) Bill, 2019 and Botswana Defence Force (Amendment) Bill, 2019. The Bills seek to amend the three statutes so that officers are placed on full salaries when on interdictions or suspensions whilst facing disciplinary boards or courts of law.

In terms of the Public Service Act, 2008 which took effect in 2010, civil servants who are indicted are paid full salary and not a portion of their emolument. Section 35(3) of the Act specifically provides that “An employee’s salary shall not be withheld during the period of his or her suspension”.

However, when parliament reformed the public service law to allow civil servants to unionize, among other things, and extended the said protection of their salaries, the process was not completed. When the House conferred the benefit on civil servants, members of the disciplined forces were left out by not accordingly amending the laws regulating their employment.

The Bills stated above seeks to ask Parliament to also include members of the forces on the said benefit. It is unfair not to include soldiers or military officers, police officers and prison waders in the benefit. Paying an officer who is facing either external or internal charges full pay is in line with the notion of ei incumbit probation qui dicit, non qui negat or the presumption of innocence; that the burden of proof is on the one who declares, not on one who denies.

The officers facing charges, either internal disciplinary or criminal charges before the courts, must be presumed innocent until proven otherwise. Paying them a portion of their salary is penalty and therefore arbitrary. Punishment by way of loss of income or anything should come as a result of a finding on the guilt by a competent court of law, tribunal or disciplinary board.

What was the rationale behind this reform in 2008 when the Public Service Act was adopted? First it was the presumption of innocence until proven otherwise.

The presumption of innocence is the legal principle that one is considered “innocent until proven guilty”. In terms of the constitution and other laws of Botswana, the presumption of innocence is a legal right of the accused in a criminal trial, and it is an international human right under the UN’s Universal Declaration of Human Rights, Article 11.

Withholding a civil servant’s salary because they are accused of an internal disciplinary offense or a criminal offense in the courts of law, was seen as punishment before a decision by a tribunal, disciplinary board or a court of law actually finds someone culpable. Parliament in its wisdom decided that no one deserves this premature punishment.

Secondly, it was considered that people’s lives got destroyed by withholding of financial benefits during internal or judicial trials. Protection of wages is very important for any worker. Workers commit their salaries, they pay mortgages, car loans, insurances, schools fees for children and other things. When public servants were experiencing salary cuts because of interdictions, they lost their homes, cars and their children’s future.

They plummeted into instant destitution. People lost their livelihoods. Families crumbled. What was disheartening was that in many cases, these workers are ultimately exonerated by the courts or disciplinary tribunals. When they are cleared, the harm suffered is usually irreparable. Even if one is reimbursed all their dues, it is difficult to almost impossible to get one’s life back to normal.

There is a reasoning that members of the security sector should be held to very high standards of discipline and moral compass. This is true. However, other more senior public servants such as judges, permanent secretary to the President and ministers have faced suspensions, interdictions and or criminal charges in the courts but were placed on full salaries.

The yardstick against which security sector officers are held cannot be higher than the aforementioned public officials. It just wouldn’t make sense. They are in charge of the security and operate in a very sensitive area, but cannot in anyway be held to higher standards that prosecutors, magistrates, judges, ministers and even senior officials such as permanent secretaries.

Moreover, jail guards, police officers and soldiers, have unique harsh punishments which deter many of them from committing misdemeanors and serious crimes. So, the argument that if the suspension or interdiction with full pay is introduced it would open floodgates of lawlessness is illogical.

Security Sector members work in very difficult conditions. Sometimes this drives them into depression and other emotional conditions. The truth is that many seldom receive proper and adequate counseling or such related therapies. They see horrifying scenes whilst on duty. Jail guards double as hangmen/women.

Detectives attend to autopsies on cases they are dealing with. Traffic police officers are usually the first at accident scenes. Soldiers fight and kill poachers. In all these cases, their minds are troubled. They are human. These conditions also play a part in their behaviors. They are actually more deserving to be paid full salaries when they’re facing allegations of misconduct.

To withhold up to 50 percent of the police, prison workers and the military officers’ salaries during their interdiction or suspensions from work is punitive, insensitive and prejudicial as we do not do the same for other employees employed by the government.

The rest enjoy their full salaries when they are at home and it is for a good reason as no one should be made to suffer before being found blameworthy. The ruling party seems to have taken a position to negate the Bills and the collective opposition argue in the affirmative. The debate have just began and will continue next week Thursday, a day designated for Private Bills.

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