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Welcome 2018


We have ushered in the New Year and we should all pray that it will bring with it joy, happiness, peace and goodwill to all mankind.

But we should also reflect on the past year and take note of the lessons that we learnt from it or can learn from it; for some of us it may have been a difficult year and they couldn’t wait for it to be over, but for others it could have been a great year. Similarly with this new-year that we have just entered, some of us will be looking at it with certain trepidation, uncertainty and nervousness but others will be looking forward to it as a promising year.

With the festivities and holidays over we are back at work and in our daily routines in life. During the festivities some of us may have gotten carried away and over indulged, overspent or just threw caution to the winds during the festive holidays. Unfortunately we now have to face reality if we had been somewhat carefree with our spending and our budgets are looking bleak – because the New Year brings with it the usual school fees, books, uniforms and other expenses.

Regardless of whom we are, from the day we come out of the womb we are destined for the tomb, there is no getting away from that fact. It is for this reason that we need to undergo an introspection of our lives to see if we live our lives in congruence with our religious faith and beliefs. Let’s look at a spiritual reawakening from within in order that we learn to take control of our mind, body and soul so that our lives return to those eternal values that were part of our upbringing, our religious beliefs, and human character. We must learn to free ourselves from being slaves of this material world so that we begin to live a life that brings us closer to our Lord and Creator.

We can start in a small way by changing our inner self to have a more positive outlook in life; how about being friendlier, showing kindness, controlling our tempers, jealousy, showing humility, patience and other positive personal traits. These and other qualities bring about a much needed change to our lives.

However change has to come from within; it is only when we can love ourselves will we be able to love others; we can touch the hearts of others only once we have opened our own hearts. If we can’t care for ourselves, how can we care about others? If we don’t feel good, how can we do good? If we don’t trust ourselves, how can we trust others? If we are incapable of finding peace within ourselves, it is pointless to search elsewhere. Believe it or not but a change of heart can change everything.

The Quran advises: ‘Verily, never will Allah change the condition of a people until they change it themselves with their own souls’. (Quran 13:11). ‘Whoever works righteousness and has faith, verily to him We will give a new life, a life that is good and pure…’ Quran 16:v97

Many of us should try looking forward positively to this New Year with excitement, renewed energy, and hope for a better life, hoping that it will bring us peace and comfort, happiness and most of all a change in our lives, our hearts, minds and souls.
Whilst it is common for many to have made our resolutions for our worldly things and desires, but how many of us have made a resolution to turn our lives around onto the path of righteousness and finding the guiding light to salvation?

Yes we need to remind ourselves to think seriously about those changes in our lives before it is too late. Just for a start, how many of our family members, friends and other people whom we knew passed on last year? Just like us they had their wishes, dreams and ambitions but when to death came knocking at their door,  there was no holding it back, whether they were believers or non- believers. We are fortunate to still be alive and to be able to take life’s lessons since we still have the opportunity to reawaken and turn around our lives if we have not been sincere and faithful in our beliefs.

This reawakening cannot happen overnight but with a conscious daily effort to make small changes so as not to be overwhelmed by the changes. Let us sincerely seek the Hand of our Creator and ask for His Guidance with sincerity. The Qur’an reminds us ‘nor say anything, I shall be sure to do so and so tomorrow without adding “Insha Allah” ( if Allah so Wills)’ (Qur’an 18: 23). The Bible similarly echoes: “you don’t even know what your life will be tomorrow.

You are like a puff of smoke, which appears for a moment and then disappears. What you should say is this ‘if the Lord is willing, we will live and do this or that’.” (James 4: 14-16). "Be not conformed to this world; but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect will of God" (Romans 12:2).
 If we try to follow any one of the suggestions below, one for each day of the week, and start all over again, we will see a definite change in our character before long.

This year I will seek to be closer to my Lord, remember Him with Prayer, pray in the best manner I can, seek His forgiveness, follow His way. “Verily in the remembrance of Allah do hearts find rest”(Quran  13:28)

This year I will be grateful and thankful to the Lord for all the Blessings that He has Bestowed upon me. “And if you count the graces of Allah never could you be able to count them” (Quran 16:18) “So hold that which I have given you and be grateful”(Quran 7.144)

This year I will strive to walk in the path of righteousness, plant goodness in my heart to get rid of pride, jealousy, hatred and hypocrisy. “Let not your hatred of others make you swerve to wrong and depart from justice” (Quran 5:8). “If any one does a righteous deed. It is to the benefit of his soul; if he does evil it works against his own soul”. (Quran 45:15)

This year I will try to control my temper, I will try to refrain from vain talk, foul language and obscenities. I will try not to backbite. “Woe to every kind of scandalmonger and backbiter (Quran 104:1) “….For Allah does not love the arrogant and vainglorious” (Quran 4:36)

This year I will treat people with respect, be kind to them, smile at them, talk to them in a respectful manner. “Then he will be of those who believe, and enjoin patience, constancy and self-restraint and enjoin deeds of kindness and compassion” (Quran 90:17) “ Treat with kindness your parents and kindred, and orphans and those in need, speak fair to  people……(Quran 2:83)

This year I will try to help others, to visit the sick, to feed a hungry person and I will be merciful to the elderly and needy. “And do good to parents, kinsfolk, orphans, those in need, neighbours who are near, neighbours who are strangers, the wayfarer….”(Quran 4:36)

This year I will try to tone down my behaviour, and ensuring that I am moderate in my walk, talk and actions. “And swell not your cheek with pride, nor walk in insolence through the earth, be moderate in your pace, and lower your voice, for the harshest sounds without doubt is the braying of an ass” (Qur’an 31: 18-19)

Life is like a Book. Some chapters are sad, some are happy and some are exciting, but if you never turn the page, you will never know what the next chapter has in store for you – so turn a page today. Similarly our New Year Book is thick and voluminous but with all its pages blank. Therefore it is up to us to write upon each day’s page things that at the end of the year we can look upon with happiness and rejoicing rather than regret. Let us pray that the New Year brings Blessings of peace, joy and happiness in our lives and into our hearts so that this world becomes a better place.

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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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The Era of “The Diplomat”

30th November 2020

Youngest Maccabees scion Jonathan takes over after Judas and leads for 18 years

Going hand-in-glove with the politics at play in Judea in the countdown to the AD era, General Atiku, was the contention for the priesthood. You will be aware, General, that politics and religion among the Jews interlocked. If there wasn’t a formal and sovereign Jewish King, there of necessity had to be a High Priest at any given point in time.

Initially, every High Priest was from the tribe of Levi as per the stipulation of the Torah. At some stage, however, colonisers of Judah imposed their own hand-picked High Priests who were not ethnic Levites. One such High Priest was Menelaus of the tribe of Benjamin.

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Land Board appointments of party activists is political corruption

30th November 2020

Parliament has rejected a motion by Leader of Opposition (LOO) calling for the reversing of the recent appointments of ruling party activists to various Land Boards across the country. The motion also called for the appointment of young and qualified Batswana with tertiary education qualifications.

The ruling party could not allow that motion to be adopted for many reasons discussed below. Why did the LOO table this motion? Why was it negated? Why are Land Boards so important that a ruling party felt compelled to deploy its functionaries to the leadership and membership positions?

Prior to the motion, there was a LOO parliamentary question on these appointments. The Speaker threw a spanner in the works by ruling that availing a list of applicants to determine who qualified and who didn’t would violate the rights of those citizens. This has completely obliterated oversight attempts by Parliament on the matter.

How can parliament ascertain the veracity of the claim without the names of applicants? The opposition seeks to challenge this decision in court.  It would also be difficult in the future for Ministers and government officials to obey instructions by investigative Parliamentary Committees to summon evidence which include list of persons. It would be a bad precedent if the decision is not reviewed and set aside by the Business Advisory Committee or a Court of law.

Prior to independence, Dikgosi allocated land for residential and agricultural purposes. At independence, land tenures in Botswana became freehold, state land and tribal land. Before 1968, tribal land, which is land belonging to different tribes, dating back to pre-independence, was allocated and administered by Dikgosi under Customary Law. Dikgosi are currently merely ‘land overseers’, a responsibility that can be delegated. Land overseers assist the Land Boards by confirming the vacancy or availability for occupation of land applied for.

Post-independence, the country was managed through modern law and customary law, a system developed during colonialism. Land was allocated for agricultural purposes such as ploughing and grazing and most importantly for residential use. Over time some land was allocated for commercial purpose. In terms of the law, sinking of boreholes and development of wells was permitted and farmers had some rights over such developed water resources.

Land Boards were established under Section 3 of the Tribal Land Act of 1968 with the intention to improve tribal land administration. Whilst the law was enacted in 1968, Land Boards started operating around 1970 under the Ministry of Local Government and Lands which was renamed Ministry of Lands and Housing (MLH) in 1999. These statutory bodies were a mechanism to also prune the powers of Dikgosi over tribal land. Currently, land issues fall under the Ministry of Land Management, Water and Sanitation Services.

There are 12 Main Land Boards, namely Ngwato, Kgatleng, Tlokweng, Tati, Chobe, Tawana, Malete, Rolong, Ghanzi, Kgalagadi, Kweneng and Ngwaketse Land Boards.  The Tribal Land Act of 1968 as amended in 1994 provides that the Land Boards have the powers to rescind the grant of any rights to use any land, impose restrictions on land usage and facilitate any transfer or change of use of land.

Some land administration powers have been decentralized to sub land boards. The devolved powers include inter alia common law and customary law water rights and land applications, mining, evictions and dispute resolution. However, decisions can be appealed to the land board or to the Minister who is at the apex.

So, land boards are very powerful entities in the country’s local government system. Membership to these institutions is important not only because of monetary benefits of allowances but also the power of these bodies. in terms of the law, candidates for appointment to Land Boards or Subs should be residents of the tribal areas where appointments are sought, be holders of at least Junior Certificate and not actively involved in politics.  The LOO contended that ruling party activists have been appointed in the recent appointments.

He argued that worse, some had no minimum qualifications required by the law and that some are not inhabitants of the tribal or sub tribal areas where they have been appointed. It was also pointed that some people appointed are septuagenarians and that younger qualified Batswana with degrees have been rejected.

Other arguments raised by the opposition in general were that the development was not unusual. That the ruling party is used to politically motivated appointments in parastatals, civil service, diplomatic missions, specially elected councilors and Members of Parliament (MPs), Bogosi and Land Boards. Usually these positions are distributed as patronage to activists in return for their support and loyalty to the political leadership and the party.

The ruling party contended that when the Minister or the Ministry intervened and ultimately appointed the Land Boards Chairpersons, Deputies and members , he didn’t have information, as this was not information required in the application, on who was politically active and for that reason he could not have known who to not appoint on that basis. They also argued that opposition activists have been appointed to positions in the government.

The counter argument was that there was a reason for the legal requirement of exclusion of political activists and that the government ought to have mechanisms to detect those. The whole argument of “‘we didn’t know who was politically active” was frivolous. The fact is that ruling party activists have been appointed. The opposition also argued that erstwhile activists from their ranks have been recruited through positions and that a few who are serving in public offices have either been bought or hold insignificant positions which they qualified for anyway.

Whilst people should not be excluded from public positions because of their political activism, the ruling party cannot hide the fact that they have used public positions to reward activists. Exclusion of political activists may be a violation of fundamental human or constitutional rights. But, the packing of Land Boards with the ruling party activists is clear political corruption. It seeks to sow divisions in communities and administer land in a politically biased manner.

It should be expected that the ruling party officials applying for land or change of land usage etcetera will be greatly assisted. Since land is wealth, the ruling party seeks to secure resources for its members and leaders. The appointments served to reward 2019 election primary and general elections losers and other activists who have shown loyalty to the leadership and the party.

Running a country like this has divided it in a way that may be difficult to undo. The next government may decide to reset the whole system by replacing many of government agencies leadership and management in a way that is political. In fact, it would be compelled to do so to cleanse the system.

The opposition is also pondering on approaching the courts for review of the decision to appoint party functionaries and the general violation of clearly stated terms of reference. If this can be established with evidence, the courts can set aside the decision on the basis that unqualified people have been appointed.

The political activism aspect may also not be difficult to prove as some of these people are known activists who are in party structures, at least at the time of appointment, and some were recently candidates. There is a needed for civil society organizations such as trade unions and political parties to fight some of these decisions through peaceful protests and courts.

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