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Bye bye ski khama, welcome fg mogae

Kesitegile Gobotswang (PhD)
BCP Vice President

When the former President Seretse Khama Ian Khama ascended to the Presidency, there was a great sense of excitement and jubilation.  The man was likened to Messiah. One Member of Parliament from the ruling Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) even suggested that he looked like Jesus Christ.  I can vividly recall receiving a phone call from one committed cadre of the Botswana Congress Party (BCP) expressing profound concern that with Khama the opposition will be annihilated. His argument was that we would be rendered irrelevant as Khama implements BCP policies.  Today similar sentiments are being expressed in relation to President Mokgweetsi Masisi.  

When Khama’s term came to an end on April 1st, 2018 I resisted the temptation to ask my good friend what he would say because the Khama era was a disaster for this country from all spheres. Under his leadership BDP recorded the lowest popular vote (47%). To his credit Khama delivered his road map during his inaugural address. He came up with the slogan of 4Ds which later became 5Ds. Initially he set himself an ambitious target of eradicating poverty. When he realized that such a goal was unattainable he shifted focus to eradicate abject poverty.  Unfortunately his initiatives failed miserably to extricate people from poverty. Instead his strategy perpetuated a dependency syndrome.  Batswana were virtually reduced to a nation of beggars.

With the current President the nation eagerly awaits his road map 100 days since he occupied the highest office.  Under pressure to show vision Masisi opted for an easy way out. Like Donald Trump he resorted to undoing his predecessor’s policies to the delight of his supporters and some citizens who are desperate for change.  Pressing the ‘undo’ button takes the country to pre-April 1, 2008 thus reinstating the Festus Gontebanye Mogae’s administration. A close examination of the President’s reckless moves shows a clear intention to cause maximum embarrassment and humiliation to former President Khama.  

One of the early indications of what to expect was in the composition of a new cabinet. Of great interest to the public was how he will deal with powerful individuals linked to corrupt activities. When it was announced that Prince Maele, the Minister of Land, Water and Sanitation and Sadique Kebonang, Minister of Minerals, Green Technology and Energy Security were dropped from Cabinet there was a general sense of hope that the new Administration will deal with corruption in a decisive way.

Many were pleasantly surprised when Isaac Kgosi the most feared Director General of Directorate of Intelligence and Security Services (DISS) was fired. However, questions remain as to why other powerful individuals linked to corruption and abuse of public office were spared. It was a good move to withdraw arms of war from the Department of Wildlife anti-poaching units yet it is proving to be an impossibility to ask those who have the Botswana Defence Force (BDF) missing spy equipment to return it to its rightful place.

In our view these cosmetic changes must be understood in the context of internal power battles within the ruling BDP. It is a struggle between the incoming and outgoing power blocks. As the BDP Secretary General Mpho Balopi would say, it is their time to eat. Kgosi is being used as scape goat. The truth is that the former DISS Director General was a product of a rotten piece of legislation of which the Masisi government is unwilling to change.

If government is serious about bringing meaningful reforms the law that established the DISS must be discarded forthwith.  A forensic audit ought to be conducted to examine DISS operations since it was formed so that transgressions of the past are not repeated. Such a complex mission must be headed by a competent independent minded Judge.  

Of all the institutions the Judiciary has experienced the worst deterioration during the first 100 days of Masisi’s Presidency.  Government interference on the selection of Judges to preside over a politically charged case in which the BCP was challenging his Presidency as unconstitutional clearly demonstrated Masisi’s intention in undermining the independence of the Judiciary and the rule of law.  In addition, the controversial appointment of the Chief Justice and the Vice Chancellor of the University of Botswana smacks of passion for mediocrity and nepotism.  The meddling of the Executive in the Judiciary under the BDP is legendary.


If the recent decision to move the Financial Intelligence Agency (FIA) to the Office of the President is anything to go by, the concentration of power in the Presidency will remain unchanged under Masisi. Currently all key oversight institutions are under the Office of the President. These include the DISS, Office of the Ombudsman, Directorate of Corruption and Economic Crime (DCEC), and Directorate of Public Prosecution (DPP).  

President Masisi has hinted that government will introduce the Declaration of Assets and Liabilities Bill. In Botswana the critical issue is not so much the absence of laws and oversight institutions but their weaknesses and ineffectiveness.  Besides there are no timelines on promises made. Masisi may turn out to be a habitual blunderer. I mean how does one have this number of blunders in 100 days?  He declared Joao Salbany a prohibited immigrant but quickly reversed the decision.
 

Salbay is a prominent fearless human rights lawyer who has been practicing in Botswana but has since been denied a work permit for unexplained reasons.  Surprisingly Masisi appears unwilling to discard sections of the notorious law that opens it to abuse.  Under the current draconian immigration law foreign investors, religious leaders, academics and journalists will remain unprotected and vulnerable. He restrained Khama from using state owned choppers only to allow him to use the Presidential Jet on a joy ride to Mozambique. In less than 100 days in office the President had already changed his cabinet line-up to name but a few.

Masisi has been conspicuously mum over a number of critical issues of national concern such as the introduction of the controversial electronic voting machines (EVMs), P350 million stolen from the National Petroleum Fund (NPF), P430 million diverted from the road levy, and the purchase of Gripen Fighter jets. He has been silent about the obvious threat to pension funds. The depleted NPF would lead to uncontrollable escalation in petrol prices, rising transport costs as well as increased prices of basic commodities.
 

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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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