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Masisi, retain Morupisi at your own peril!

Ndulamo Anthony Morima
EAGLE WATCH

Of course, in an ideal world, a change in a country’s political leadership should not necessarily result in a change in the public service since the public service is apolitical and permanent.

But, the reality is that in many countries, even in mature democracies, a change in the political leadership results in changes in the public service, especially at a Permanent Secretary (PS) level, let alone the Permanent Secretary to the President (PSP). Political leaders, the President for instance, often assume power with a vision to achieve, and often need to have someone they trust at the helm of their administration to translate the vision into popular and life changing programmes and projects.

Not only that. In some instances, the previous regime would have been tainted with allegations of such maladies as corruption and maladministration that for the new administration to have a clean break from such it needs to be seen to have new personnel, especially at PS and PSP level. In some instances, a particular administrative leader would have been embroiled in allegations of poor management, poor stakeholder relations, maladministration and corruption so much so that keeping him or her would only compromise the new regime.

When His Excellency the President, Mokgweetsi Masisi, assumed office as President he, as expected, reshuffled his cabinet, dropping some from his cabinet and redeploying others to different ministries. Not only that. He also dismissed and redeployed some high ranking public officers, including the hitherto untouchable Director General of the Directorate on Intelligence and Security Services (DISS), Isaac Kgosi.

Masisi, however, retained the Permanent Secretary to the President and Secretary to Cabinet, Carter Morupisi. This, despite the fact that he has been marred by controversy since the time he was the Director of the Directorate of Public Service Management (DPSM).
Morupisi has been PSP and Secretary to Cabinet since October 2014 after serving as DPSM Director from April 2012 to October 2014 during which time he also served as Deputy PSP and was responsible for the formulation of the human resources policy for the public service as well as administration of the terms and conditions of service for the public service.

Since then, Morupisi has been at loggerheads with trade unions, especially the Botswana Federation of Public Service Unions (BOFEPUSU) because the latter believed that he was at the center of such eye sores as the declaration of such services as teaching as essential services, the collapse of the Public Service Bargaining Council (PSBC), e.t.c.

It was as a result of his intransigence, coupled with that of the former Director of DPSM, Ruth Maphorisa, trade unionists say, that wage negotiations often became deadlocked, resulting in former President Lieutenant General Dr. Seretse Khama Ian Khama making unilateral wage increases outside the PSBC.

Trade unions also claim that it is because of Morupisi’s hate of trade unions that draconian amendments were made to the Public Service Act and the Trade Disputes Act; there was an attempt to stop the secondment of trade union Secretary Generals; GEMVAS was taken away from them, e.t.c.

Even at the Botswana Public Officers Pension Fund (BPOPF), which he chairs, Morupisi has been said to be ruling with an iron fist, with little if any regard for trade union representatives. This, despite the fact that the fund deals with pensions of employees represented by the very trade unions regarded with contempt.

According to trade unions, it is because of Morupisi that the gains that Botswana had made in labour relations since the amendment of the Public Service Act in 2008 are fast eroding to the extent that Botswana has been reported to the International Labour Organisation (ILO) on more than one occasion during his tenure.

Some have also claimed that it was during Morupisi’s tenure as Director of DPSM that we witnessed the purging of trade unionists and those regarded as anti-government through ill-advised transfers, forced early retirements, dismissals from the public service, e.t.c.
Thankfully, such progressives as Sakaeo Jane, Johannes Tshukudu and Joshua Ntopolelang were saved by our courts from such transfers, which were clearly made in bad faith with the intention to weaken the trade union movement.

Unfortunately, such progressives as the Secretary General of the Botswana Land Board & Local Authorities & Health Workers Union (BLLAHWU), Ketlhalefile Motshegwa, became sacrificial lambs. He was dismissed from the public service for an otherwise pardonable commission or omission, if any. Morupisi’s wrath has not only been suffered by trade unions, it is alleged. The stand-off between government and private media which resulted in government starving private media of advertising by parastatals and government departments has also been blamed on him.

It is because of this that BOFEPUSU, for instance, has called for the axing of Morupisi. According to them, relations between government and labour will not normalize for as long as Morupisi is still the PSP. Some in the media have also called for Morupisi’s axing also claiming that relations between government and the media will not normalize for as long as Morupisi is still the PSP and the face of the government bureaucracy.

While some in trade unions and the media celebrate the departure of Ruth Maphorisa from DPSM and Honourable Eric Molale from the Ministry of Presidential Affairs, Public Administration & Governance, they lament Morupisi’s retention. From his inaugural speech, and considering the changes he made to his cabinet and the public service, it is clear that Masisi intends to change the Botswana Democratic Party(BDP)’s fortunes at the 2019 general elections, thereby cementing his position as president.

In order to achieve this, Masisi needs to regain the confidence of labour with the hope that the workers who deserted the BDP in 2014 will vote for it in 2019. He also needs to change the hitherto negative public perception about the BDP and that he can do through a benevolent media. To achieve these, Masisi needs to mend fences with trade unions and the media. In my view, he cannot mend the fences with Morupisi still as PSP. Unfortunately, even if Morupisi can change for the better, the perception will still remain that he is anti labour and anti-media.

Though Morupisi has neither been charged with any offence nor been convicted by any court of law and remains innocent until proven guilty, allegations and/or perceptions of corruption surrounding him are not good for the Office of the President. As PSP, Morupisi is effectively the administrative President while Masisi is the political President. Therefore, while Masisi, from a visionary point of view, may have a good vision for Batswana, including labour and the media, Morupisi may dilute that at an administrative and implementation level.

Without overrating Morupisi’s influence, if this happens, Masisi’s efficacy will be undermined to the detriment of not only his presidency, but also his party’s fortunes at the 2019 general elections. One wonders whether this is a risk worth taking. In my view, it isn’t. We certainly have capable, apolitical and untainted administrators who can be appointed PSP and Secretary to Cabinet and protect the otherwise promising Masisi presidency.

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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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