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Is Botswana experiencing a new dawn?

Ndulamo Anthony Morima
EAGLE WATCH

Recently, when South African President, Cyril Ramaphosa, assumed the presidency he pronounced that South Africa was at a new dawn following the dark cloud that had befallen the country under former president Jacob Zuma’s calamitous reign.

Here at home, though he did not say it in so many words, when His Excellency the President, Mokgweetsi Masisi, succeeded former president Lieutenant General Dr. Seretse Khama Ian Khama it became clear that he had the intention of ushering in a new dawn. Granted, President Khama’s reign may not meet the description of a dark cloud that befell our nation so much so that we could be yearning for a new dawn, but it was tumultuous enough that calling for a new dawn is not unwarranted.  

But, besides the cabinet reshuffle, the sacking of former Director General of the Directorate on Intelligence and Security Services (DISS), Isaac Kgosi, and the shake-up of the public service’s senior leadership can it be said that Botswana is experiencing a new dawn under the Masisi presidency? Put differently, is there hope that the myriad of issues that many Batswana complained of during the Khama regime will be addressed under the Masisi presidency? Is there hope for a new beginning?
   

It has been reported that during a recent High Level Consultative Conference (HLCC) President Mokgweetsi Masisi stated that one of his priorities is the normalization of relations with various stakeholders so that all contribute maximally to our country’s development. This is indeed a commendable decision for it is only if government admits that relations between it and some stakeholders were strained during the Khama regime that meaningful steps to rebuild the relations can be taken. 


During Khama’s tenure relations between labour and government deteriorated to their worst, culminating in the 2011 public sector strike which resulted in the dismissal of thousands of essential service employees. 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 trade unions, e.t.c.

Trade unionists, especially at the leadership level, and those regarded as anti-government were purged through ill-advised transfers, forced early retirements, dismissals from the public service, e.t.c. Khama disregarded the Public Service Bargaining Council (PSBC) and made unilateral salary increments, resulting in several disputes which culminated in the abolition of the PSBC. So, if we are to experience a new dawn one of the relations that president Masisi has to mend as a matter of priority is that between government and labour.

During the Khama era Botswana Television and Radio Botswana became more and more partisan, giving unfair coverage to the ruling Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) and mainly reporting on the Opposition when it was in the wrong. Just like trade unionists, such journalists as Joshua Ntopolelang and the late Laona Segaetsho were purged simply because government believed that they were pro-Opposition. Private media which was believed to be pro-Opposition was starved of adverts from government departments and parastatals, resulting in reduction in circulation, job losses and self-censorship.

So, if we are to experience a new dawn the other of the relations that president Masisi has to mend as a matter of priority is that between government and the private media. One hopes to see president Masisi holding regular press conferences and interviews with the private media. One also hopes to see members of the private media, at least on a rotational basis, joining the president on international trips.  
   

During the Khama regime we witnessed the militarization of the public service, with many former members of the Botswana Defence Force (BDF) appointed to head government departments and parastatals often at the expense of merit and experience. We also witnessed the weakening of the Directorate on Corruption and Economic Crime (DCEC) and a rise in corruption, with some cabinet ministers paraded before the courts though it ought to be stated that they were acquitted.

If we are to experience a new dawn the impartiality of the civil service has to be restored. Not only that. The civil service’s civilian status has to be maintained. Also, the independence of such institutions as the DCEC has to be upheld at all costs. Just recently our country was hit by the National Petroleum Fund scandal, with allegations that some cabinet ministers are involved, yet Khama refused to at least establish a Commission of Inquiry to investigate the allegations.

If we are to experience a new dawn the least we should do when faced with such allegations, which have the potential to scare away possible investors, is to establish a judicial commission of inquiry to investigate the allegations and make recommendations to the President. During his inaugural speech, Masisi promised that he will, as a matter of priority, bring a Bill of Declaration of Assets and Liabilities to Parliament. This was received with applause, and many wait with baited breaths for the Bill, especially following the recent corruption scandals.

If Masisi delivers on this promise and ultimately signs the Declaration of Assets and Liabilities Bill into law he will indeed have ushered a new dawn in as far as the fight against corruption and economic crime is concerned. Khama signed, into law, an Act allowing the use of Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs) despite the fact that most Batswana, including members of the BDP, are opposed to it. In fact, the Bill was rushed through Parliament under a certificate of urgency.

The BDP government has refused to at least hold a referendum on such issues as political party funding, Specially Elected Members of Parliament and Nominated Councillors despite the fact that many Batswana have long been advocating for such. If we are to experience a new dawn the least we should do is to reconsider the EVM law lest we cause unnecessary doubt on the results of our elections, something which will no doubt undermine our democracy.

Since independence Botswana has received international acclaim for, among other democratic credentials, the fact that we hold free and fair elections. We cannot afford to negate such an impeccable record through an unnecessary use of EVMs. Experiencing a new dawn may also require us to put to rest the question of political reforms which some have been calling for. The least that government should do is to hold a referendum so that Batswana exercise their democratic right to vote on the proposed political reforms.

Khama showed a total disregard for the Leader of the Opposition (LoO), sidelining him even when having visits by foreign heads of state and heads of government. One hopes that this will change under President Masisi though no promising signs have been shown for the two months that he has been in office.

Some have argued that it is too early to start passing judgment on the Masisi presidency. I agree. But a new dawn is seen early and expecting to see signs of a new dawn is not judgment, but well placed expectation for if there is no dawn there is no day.
Ndulamo Anthony Morima

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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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