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Khama deserves praise for saving on retirement home

Ndulamo Anthony Morima
EAGLE WATCH

According to Mmegi’s online edition of 16th August 2017, in a statement from Office of the President (OP), government’s spokesperson, Dr. Jeff Ramsay, has stated that President Lieutenant General Dr. Seretse Khama Ian Khama will, from April 2018, occupy the retirement home which had hitherto been occupied by the late former President, Sir Ketumile Masire.

This is indeed commendable considering that in terms of the Pensions and Retirement Benefits Act President Khama could, when he retires in April 2018, demand to have an official residence and office space built specifically for him by the state. By opting to occupy the late Sir Ketumile Masire’s retirement house President Khama will indeed save Batswana the millions of Pula which could otherwise be spent in the building and fittings of a new retirement home.

It is only when such decisions are made by leaders that Batswana can understand when government tells them that the country faces financial challenges that warrant tightening of the belt. It is only when leaders make such sacrifices that workers can understand when government offers them lower salary increase percentages than the ones they seek. It cannot be that only Batswana and workers are implored to make sacrifices when leaders live in extravagance.

Of course, there are those who argue that the retired president house’s refurbishments, which have been going on for about a year now, have resulted in astronomical costs, but the refurbishment costs are unlikely to exceed those of building a new house. If properly appropriated, this saving can go a long way in augmenting the resources allocated for such programmes and/or projects as youth and women empowerment, poverty alleviation initiatives, relief projects as well as intensive public works projects.

In the result, though most of the aforesaid projects may not give rise to long term employment, some would indeed create long term jobs in both the formal and informal sector, reducing the high unemployment which is currently bedeviling our people, especially the youth. By making this option, President Khama has put the country ahead of his own interests. It is because of such selflessness that Khama came to be adored by many Batswana, especially when he was vice president and during his early years as president.

Then, he admonished Members of Parliament (MPs) and called them vultures for lobbying for their own salary increment despite the plight of the voter. He assisted Village Development Committees (VDCs) to recover rentals from tenants who hitherto defaulted in paying rentals at will. However, though President Khama has continued with his selflessness through such projects as the Housing Appeal Project, and giving such gifts as blankets, groceries and wheel chairs to the poor and those living with disabilities, some have argued that he has, over time, become selfish.

Of course, the first blemish on his record was his insistence to fly Botswana Defence Force (BDF) air craft despite the fact that he had retired as a soldier and was now a civilian. This was exacerbated by the fact that, at least on one occasion, there were reports that some of his civilian associates also flew in military aircraft. The recent amendment to the Pensions and Retirement Benefits Act has been used as another case in point. Queried by many was the introduction of a 30% gratuity over and above the tax free monthly pension; and allowing a retired President to be paid monthly pension even if he or she is employed by government, the private sector or international organizations.

Similarly unpopular was the amendment giving the retired president the option of receiving office accommodation allowance using the prevailing Gaborone market rental rates instead of being provided with an office. Also unwanted was the amendment to give the retired president the option to choose between having a residential house and receiving a housing allowance in lieu of the house. Similarly problematic was the amendment to widen the mode of transport provided to a retired president to include air and water and not just road.

Many argued that these amendments were meant to benefit President Khama following his retirement. Some even went to the extent of alleging that President Khama promised MPs a salary increment in exchange for their vote for the amendments to the Pensions and Retirement Benefits Act to be passed into law. President Khama and his younger brothers, Tshekedi and Anthony, have also been blamed for monopolizing the tourism industry and being apportioned vast pieces of land, including tourist attractions and game farms.

These allegations dented President Khama’s credibility and obliterated the admirable record he had set as a selfless leader who puts Batswana’s interests ahead of his own. Many stated that he has, like all other leaders, especially African leaders, relented to the corruption that results from power. Granted, President Khama cannot right this blemished record merely by the decision not to demand the construction of his own retirement home. But, the decision is admirable nonetheless and it will go a long way in returning him to his selfless self. Given the time that remains in his presidency, this may be too little too late to return President Khama to his glory days. But it deserves praise nonetheless for it will, no doubt, save Batswana the millions of Pula that will go a long way in improving its people’s livelihoods at least in the short term.

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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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