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Gov’t defies the BDP and Batswana’s will!

Ndulamo Anthony Morima
EAGLE WATCH

According to a survey conducted by Afro Barometer whose results were released on 24th October 2017, there are several instances where the ruling Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) government defies not only the will of Batswana, but also the will of the BDP itself.

One such instance is the enactment of the law on the use of Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs) for the 2019 general elections whose Bill was, in an unprecedented move, tabled before Parliament through a Certificate of Urgency. The Afro Barometer survey indicates that more than half, i.e. 53% of the respondents are not satisfied with the reasons advanced by the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) for using EVMs in 2019.

While 16% of the respondents either refused to answer or indicated that they don’t know, only 31% of the respondents indicated that they were fairly or very satisfied with the reasons given for the introduction of EVMs. What can be extrapolated from these results is that 53% of Batswana are opposed to the use of EVMs for the 2019 general elections and/or at all. That notwithstanding, government defied the people’s will and proceeded to enact the EVM law.   

One of Botswana’s principles is therisano, i.e. consultation. Yet, as regards the introduction of EVMs, the government violated that principle since the Afro Barometer survey indicates that more than two-thirds (69%) of the respondents state that the IEC did not adequately consult the public on whether or not EVMs should be used. A meagre 16% of the respondents indicated that the consultation was enough while only 3% indicated that the consultation was more than enough. 12% either did not know or refused to answer the question.

The other instance where government defied the people’s will is in relation to the setting of election dates by the IEC. The Afro Barometer survey indicates that 68% of the respondents approve or strongly approve that the IEC should set election dates. While only a meagre 22% of the respondents disapprove or strongly disapprove of the election dates being set by the IEC, only 10% neither approve nor disapprove or don’t know or refused to answer the question.

Even the BDP’s strongholds, i.e. the rural dwellers, the elderly and the illiterate or semi-illiterate approve or strongly approve that the IEC should set election dates. While 69% and 70% of semi-urban and rural dwellers respectively approve or strongly approve of it, 67% of those aged 56 years and above also approve or strongly approve of it. 71% of those with no formal education also approve or strongly approve of it.

 
This confirms the view held by several Batswana that the current situation where dates for national and local elections are set by the President and the Minister of Local Government respectively is unfair since a strong possibility exists that these individuals, being politicians, are likely to set dates favourable to their own political party, resulting in unfair elections. The other instance where government defied the people’s will is with respect to state funding of political parties. 63% of the respondents either agree or strongly agree that there should be state funding of political parties based on electoral performance.

While a meagre 24% of the respondents disapprove or strongly disapprove of state funding of political parties, only 4% neither agrees nor disagrees and only 5% don’t know whether or not state funding of political parties is essential for our democracy. But, what is even more troubling is that in this instance the government is in defiance of the views of its own political party, the BDP. An astounding 60% of BDP members either agree or strongly agree to state funding of political parties.

Even in the BDP’s base, i.e. rural areas, the majority support state funding of political parties based on electoral performance. While 62% of rural and semi-urban dwellers agree or strongly agree with it, 63% of urban dwellers do likewise. Other BDP’s bases, i.e. the elderly and the illiterate or semi-literate also agree or strongly agree with state funding of political parties based on electoral performance. While 57% of those aged 56 and older agree or strongly agree with it, 60% of those with no formal education also agree or strongly agree with it.

It is common knowledge that the Opposition is among those who have called for such electoral reforms as setting of election dates by the IEC and state funding of political parties. The Opposition has also been opposed to the introduction of EVMs. This is probably the reason why the Afro Barometer survey indicates that the majority of Batswana see the Opposition offering a viable alternative vision and plan for the country. While 62% of the respondents agree or strongly agree that opposition parties present a viable alternative vision and plan for the country, only 22% disagrees or strongly disagrees. A mere 16% neither agrees nor disagrees or refused to answer or did n’t know the answer.

Of course, considering the fact that the survey was done in June and July this year, before the birth of the Alliance for Progressives (AP), it may well be that this view has changed since the Umbrella for Democratic Change(UDC) project is under threat should the AP decide to contest the elections outside the UDC. In another troubling instance for the government, 56% of BDP members themselves agree or strongly agree that their adversaries, i.e. the Opposition present a viable alternative vision and plan for the country than their own party.

Not only that. Even the BDP’s traditional strongholds agree or strongly agree that the Opposition present a viable alternative vision and plan for the country. 51% of the elderly, i.e. those aged 56 years and older believe as such. 54% of those with no formal education also believe as such. While many Batswana, including BDP members themselves have lost confidence in the BDP and by implication the government, Batswana’s trust in the IEC has not withered despite the introduction of the controversial EVMs.

While 52% of the respondents trust the IEC somewhat or a lot, 42% of the respondents trust the IEC just a little or not at all. Six percent (6%) of the respondents either don’t know whether they trust it or refused to answer the question. Batswana’s trust on the IEC notwithstanding, it is worth noting that trust in the IEC is declining. While in 2008, the trust was at 70%, it declined to 61% and 52% in 2012 and 2017 respectively. In 2014, the trust level remained at 61%.

One can safely argue that the decline on Batswana’s trust on the IEC is linked to Batswana’s declining confidence in the BDP as reflected by the results of the 2014 general elections when the BDP’s popular vote fell to below 50% for the first time since independence. In view of the aforegoing, it is clear that the BDP government is defying the will of not only Batswana, but also its own members. It is in this regard that the government needs to, as some political analysts and commentators have argued, conduct a referendum on electoral reforms.

The other reforms that Batswana have called for which also have to be subjected to a referendum are direct presidential elections; specially elected Members of Parliament (MPs) and nominated Councillors; recall for non-performing MPs and Councillors; Independence of the IEC; change of the voting system; floor crossing, etc. Though the latter is not a case of the government’s defiance of the BDP and Batswana’s will it needs to be stated that the Afro Barometer survey indicates that many Batswana are opposed to it.

While a staggering 81% approve or strongly approve that MPs who leave their political party should give up their Parliamentary seat, a meagre 11% disapproves or strongly disapproves. 8% neither approves nor disapproves or don’t know or refused to answer the question. It is worth noting that there is consensus regarding this approval since the approval is above 70% for all categories of data disaggregation, i.e. gender, geographical location, age, and level of education.

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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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