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Do our presidents retire or they resign?

Ndulamo Anthony Morima

As a tradition of the ruling Botswana Democratic Party(BDP), our presidents, since Festus Mogae, have left office on 1st April of the year preceding the year of the general elections.

There is a school of thought which opines that by so doing, the presidents voluntarily step down before the end of their constitutional term of office and that they should be commended for such a selfless act. This school of thought is premised on the belief that a president’s term of office ends after the general elections when a new president has been elected. But, is that so? We return to this question later. There is another school of thought which opines that such stepping down is not voluntary, but is mandatory because one’s term of office would have ended. We also return to this question later.

The questions are: do our presidents really voluntarily step down before the end of their constitutional term of office? Is such stepping down, if it is, an act of retirement or resignation from office? When does a president’s term of office end in terms of our constitution? 

To answer these questions we have to resort to our constitution. Section 34(1) provides that “the President shall, subject to the provisions of this section, hold office for an aggregate period of ten years beginning from the date of his first assumption of office of President after the commencement of this Act”.

Former president Festus Mogae held office from 1st April 1998 to 1st April 2008. If President Lieutenant General Dr. Seretse Khama Ian Khama retires, as he has said he will, on 1st April this year, he will have held office from 1st April 2008 to 1st April 2018.
These terms are an aggregate period of ten years beginning from the date of first assumption of office of President to the date of leaving the office, aren’t they? In my view, they are. If this is correct, does it necessarily follow that our presidents should leave office then?

Before answering this question regard should be had for section 34(3) of the constitution. It provides that “the President shall cease to hold office of President at the expiry of the period prescribed under subsection (1) of this section, or when the person elected at the next election of President following a dissolution of Parliament assumes office”. The question is: how is Parliament dissolved, when and by whom? Section 91(2) of the constitution provides that “the President may at any time dissolve Parliament.”

Section 91(3) provides that “subject to the provision of subsection (4) of this section, Parliament, unless sooner dissolved, shall continue for five years from the date of the first sitting of the National Assembly after any dissolution and shall then stand dissolved.
This is the section that the President invokes at the end of Parliament’s five year term and after issuance of the Writ of Elections.

Section 91(4) provides that “ at any time when Botswana is at war, Parliament may from time to time extend the period of five years specified in subsection (3) of this section for not more than twelve months at a time. It appears to me to be incontrovertible that at the time our presidents leave office their aggregate ten year tenure would have ended. But, there is a proviso to section 34(3), being “… or when the person elected at the next election of President following a dissolution of Parliament assumes office”.

This, in my view, means that one can leave the presidency at the end of the aggregate ten year tenure, as is currently the practice, or when the person elected at the next election of President following a dissolution of Parliament assumes office. If my understanding is correct, it means that instead of leaving office on 1st April of the year preceding the year of the general elections, as is currently the practice, the president can remain in office until the election of a new president following a dissolution of Parliament.     

Back to the questions we posited earlier. First, do our presidents really voluntarily step down before the end of their term of office? In my view, though their aggregate ten year term would have ended, they voluntarily step down because they have the option of remaining in office until the election of a new president following a dissolution of Parliament. 

Second, is such stepping down, if it is, an act of retirement or resignation from office? In my view, if one leaves office because his or her term of office has ended it is a retirement, not a resignation. No wonder former presidents are entitled to the benefits in terms of the President’s (Pensions & Retirement Benefits) Act, Cap. 02:03.

Section 3 of the President’s (Pensions & Retirement Benefits) Act, Cap. 02:03 provides that “subject to this Act, any person who has been President shall, immediately upon ceasing to hold office as such, be entitled to specific benefits. Third, does a president’s term of office end after the general elections when a new president has been elected and has assumed office? As opined above, while in terms of section 34(3) the president’s term of office ends after an aggregate ten year tenure, the same section permits one to continue in office until the election of a new president following a dissolution of Parliament.

Therefore, if president Khama wanted, for instance, he can remain in office until sometime in October 2019 when the new president has been elected during the 2019 general elections and has in fact assumed office.  But, in an effort to ensure that the incoming president ascends to the high office of president early enough to campaign for the party during the forthcoming elections, the BDP, for purely political reasons, has made an arrangement for the president to retire in terms of the first part of section 34(3).

This retirement on 1st April ensures that the state Vice President, who would have been elected the party’s president on or before 31st March, automatically succeeds the president in terms of section 35(1) of the constitution. Section 35(1) provides that “whenever the President dies, resigns or ceases to hold office, the Vice President shall assume office as President with effect from the date of death, resignation or ceasing to be president.

In my view, the exit from office after the aggregate ten year term of office, or when the person elected at the next election of President following a dissolution of Parliament assumes office, amounts to cessation of holding office by retirement, not resignation.
I opine that a president can only resign if he or she leaves office before the expiration of the aggregate ten year term or, having opted to proceed beyond the aggregate ten year term, leaves office before the election of President and his or her assumption of office following a dissolution of Parliament.

The other way in which a president can leave office is by disqualification in terms of section 34(2) of the constitution which provides that “the president shall cease to hold office of President if at any time during his tenure of office any circumstances arise that would, if he were not a member of the National Assembly, cause him to be disqualified for election thereto.

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The Daring Dozen at Bari

8th December 2020

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.

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”


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.”


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.


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)


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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