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Celebrating our heroes and heroines: Dr. Margaret Nasha

Ndulamo Anthony Morima
EAGLE WATCH

For some in the Botswana Democratic Party (BDP), including President Lieutenant General Dr. Seretse Khama Ian Khama, Dr. Margaret Nasha is not a heroine simply because she, especially when she was Speaker of the National Assembly, opposed some BDP policies.

To President Khama in particular, when she, in her autobiography, titled ‘Madam Speaker, Sir: Breaking The Glass Ceiling, One Woman’s Struggle’, condemned some of his leadership attributes she moved from heroine to zero. To some in the BDP, her opposition to the BDP’s plan to, after the 2014 general elections, introduce voting by show of hands as opposed to a secret ballot for the elections for the Vice President and Speaker and Deputy Speaker of the National Assembly made her a villain.

To many in the BDP, her defection from the BDP to its nemesis the Botswana Movement for Democracy (BMD) was heresy unpardonable. It was a sin with the effect of erasing all the good she has done for the BDP and Botswana as a country. But, the truth is that Margaret Nnananyana Nasha is a heroine. Her birth on the 6th August 1947 in "Kanye, Botswana" Kanye was not in vain. It was indeed a blessing not only to her parents and BaNgwaketse, but also to Batswana as a people.

The relatives who sold their cattle to assist her mother educate her cannot regret their efforts. Theirs was a worthwhile investment. Her older sister, who supported her through her early childhood in Johannesburg, South Africa, can only be thanked for tendering the black cow that would later feed many.

Following her primary education in Mmathethe and secondary education in Johannesburg, South Africa, Nasha studied at the University of Botswana (UB) from whence she graduated with a Bachelor’s Degree in Humanities, English and History.
Nasha has served her country diligently in the civil service. Her voice still echoes in the Radio Botswana studios, the studios in which she worked as political reporter and later as news reader. Those who used to listen to her say she was simply outstanding.

Her excellence in journalism, as a profession, and leadership in general was rewarded when she was appointed Director of the Department of Information and Broadcasting Services. Nasha’s working life was not to end in journalism though it appears to have been, no doubt, her passion. She also served her motherland in the diplomatic service. She served as Botswana's High Commissioner to the United Kingdom (UK), a position only entrusted on the best of the best considering the UK’s significance to Botswana.

After the October 1994 general elections, Nasha was nominated by President Sir Ketumile Masire as Specially Elected Member of Parliament following which she was elected as such by the National Assembly. During the 1999 general elections, Nasha won the Parliamentary elections for Gaborone Central constituency, defeating the then presidential candidate,  Michael Dingake of the Botswana Congress Party (BCP). This was a significant victory considering the Opposition’s entrenchment in Gaborone.   

However, in the 2004 general elections Nasha was narrowly defeated by Dumelang Saleshando, another BCP candidate, but President Festus Mogae continued her tenure as Member of Parliament (MP) by giving her another lease of life as Specially Elected Member of Parliament. Nasha has served as cabinet minister under Presidents Masire, Mogae and Khama. She will go down in history as one of the most effective Ministers of Local Government, one of her most notable achievements being the enactment of a world class Childrens’ Act.

At a policy making level, Nasha has served her country as Minister of Presidential Affairs and Public Administration, Minister of Local Government and Minister of Lands and Housing. One of her notable legislative achievements is the enactment of the Abolition of Marital Power Act, which has gone a long way in reducing gender inequality. Her love for childrens’ rights and welfare saw her becoming one of the most outstanding patrons of the Masiela Trust Fund, a trust fund set up for the welfare and care of orphaned and vulnerable children.

After the 2009 general elections, Nasha was elected unopposed as the Speaker of the National Assembly, becoming the first female Speaker of the National Assembly. As Speaker, Nasha fought for the independence of the National Assembly,
During her tenure as Speaker, she took steps to strengthen separation of powers between the Executive and Legislature, refusing several orders from the Executive, something which alienated her from many in the BDP, including President Khama.
Reportedly, the hostility between president Khama and Nasha was so bad that in April 2014 Khama considered using a vote of no confidence to remove her as Speaker, but was dissuaded from so acting by his advisors who feared the vote of no confidence may fail, making her more popular.

Because of this acrimony when she, in 2014, stood for re-election for the position of Speaker, the BDP declined to nominate her. She was instead nominated by the Opposition. She would lose the elections to  Gladys Kokorwe, the current Speaker of the National Assembly. Nasha would, in January 2016, defect to the BMD, an affiliate of the Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC), following which she went on a war path against the BDP and president Khama’s leadership. Given her leadership experience, she was appointed as Advisor to the key offices at the level of the UDC and at contracting party levels.

Of course some have said Nasha is no heroine, accusing her of having failed to comment on the BDP’s poor governance and maladministration when she was at the centre of power. In their view, the only reason Nasha is speaking against the BDP now is that she is bitter of having been dropped as Speaker of the National Assembly. But when she fought in defence of the independence of Parliament she was, as Speaker, at the center of power wasn’t she? Yet she sacrificed such a position for the principles she believed in. She fought for democracy at the risk of losing her position.

Nasha had demonstrated such a trait early in her life when she, together with such other gender activists as Dr. Gloria Somolekae, Dr. Athalia Molokomme and Ntombi Setshwaelo fought against subjugation of women. To the best of my knowledge, in all her years in the public service, Nasha has led by example. She has never been embroiled in corruption and maladministration or indeed any scandal. Even when she, in 2004, lost the Parliamentary elections for Gaborone Central constituency it was not because of corruption and maladministration.

Her detractors argue that during her tenure as Minister of Local Government she failed to restore calm in the chieftaincy, citing the time she went to the Molepolole Kgotla to deliver the news that Kgosi Kgosikwena Sebele should hand over the reins to Kgosi Kgari Sechele as the rightful heir of the Bakwena chieftainship. They also blame her for the controversial relocation of Basarwa from the Central Kgalagadi Game Reserve (CKGR) in the early 2000s, something which led to a protracted court battle between Basarwa led by Roy Sesana and the government and gained Botswana international notoriety in the protection of minority rights.

But, what the detractors do not mention is the fact that, as a cabinet Minister bound by the doctrine of collective responsibility, Nasha was merely implementing government’s decisions. She, as a minister appointed by the president and serving at the president’s pleasure, was acting on behalf of the president. It is for heroines like Nasha that our schools, roads and hospitals should be named after. It is for such people that a hero and heroines’ acre should be established for their burial. It is for such people that a Hall of Fame should be built for their names and contributions to be indelibly inscribed for future generations to learn from.

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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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