Whether we are rich or poor, the high and the mighty or just a commoner, our final call will be death. This is because we have an unseen ‘companion’ close to us called death. Therefore each and every one of us life should be seen as and counted as the most precious of all gifts even though its loss can be and is grievous to those around us, no one can doubt that just as surely as every human being and living thing embarks on this life involuntarily to spend some time in this temporary guesthouse which we call the world, but that day will surely arrive.
In the end each and every one will ultimately be confronted with death when our time is up in this world. The Qur’an and every religious Scripture and belief mentions the inevitability of the end of our life’s journey, the end of life in this world through death. The Qur’an says; “Every living thing must taste death and surely each will then be recompensed on the Day of Resurrection, so whosoever is saved from the Fire will be admitted to Paradise, such indeed gain the ultimate goal. And what is the life of this world except a provision of vanity. Wherever you are death will surely overtake you”. Verse 3:184 and 4:78.
Among the Biblical verses: ‘Let us eat and drink for tomorrow we die’ (1Cor. 15; 32). “A time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up what is planted; a time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to breakdown, and a time to build up; a time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn…..’ (Ecclesiastes 3: 1 – 22)
Many of us in our daily lives try not to think about the inevitability of death, this is quite natural to put such thoughts aside. This could be because we lack the awareness or possibly because of the absence of faith and our failure to grasp the nature of death. This in turn creates fear and insecurity in many of us for we see death as a terrible nightmare rather than the fact that our existence will come to an end one day or the other. But if we remain faithful to our beliefs and resist from breaking the Laws of Allah and repent we will feel more comfortable.
“Those who indulge in evil and those who do not mend their wrongful ways tend to fear death more than others” (Qur’an 62-7.) “And these will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.” (Matthew 25: 46). “And just as it is appointed for man to die once, and after that comes judgment.” (Hebrews 9: 27)
The fact is that what we need to appreciate and understand that life is not restricted to this present worldly existence of ours; from the moment we are born to the moment of our death. In Islam and in all religions there are basically three stages to our existence:
In the first stage we have the life of this physical world in which we live in. In this life we have to lead a life that is in line with our religious beliefs, teachings and commands of our Lord and Creator. As humans we are very fortunate to have been granted with the power of reasoning, conscience and instinct to distinguish between what is right and what is wrong. As such we can either accrue good or evil deeds by virtue of this Blessing that has been dispensed by Almighty Allah.
The next stage is upon death from our physical life of this earth and the transit stage between our existence on this earth in the physical sense and resurrection in the Hereafter. The Hereafter is the state in which the mortal life / condition of a human being is dissolved and the soul and body are separated. The body is buried and the soul is without the body is not able to do anything to accrue good and evil.
Then we come to the final stage, this is at the time of resurrection, the time of the Day of Reckoning and judgment, where we will receive recompense based on our worldly actions and life in this world. This will be the deciding moment for our final abode, the torment of hell or Heavenly Peace. We therefore need to start preparing for those times.
The Holy Prophet Mohammed (pbuh) said: ‘No person will pass the Day of Judgment without being questioned about: our youth and what we did through it; our knowledge and what we did with it; our wealth how we acquired and spent it; and his body how he used or abused it.’
He further said: ‘Only those foolish ones hoard for this world who have no real intellect, for only such consider this world as a real abode who have no true abode.’ And: ‘A dead person is followed to his grave by three things, two of which return and one remains; his relatives, his property and his deeds follow him to the grave; the relatives and property return, while his deeds remain with him.’
Allah says in the Holy Qur’an: “Does man not know that we have created him from a mere drop of sperm injected in the womb? He then becomes a persistent disputer. He forgets the process of his own creation, but challenges the Supreme Being. He asks how a person shall be revived after his bones have decayed and who has the power to revive him. Tell him, He, Who created creation the first time will indeed be able to revive them”. (Qur’an 36: 78-80).
We need to change our lifestyles and even it may seem difficult we can start with the ‘small’ and daily things in our lives. We usually open a savings account at the bank to save money for our old age, but why don’t we also open a parallel ‘savings account’ to ‘deposit’ our good deeds so that they stand for us when the day of Judgement arrives?
Faith and piety are the starting points in our lives that will change our outlook. Allah has reminded all creation that the standard defining human excellence is Taqwa (Piety) – a quality that springs forth and emanates from our internal purity of intention which then expresses itself through our righteous conduct.
The highest expression of faith is “that you love for humanity that which you love for yourself and despise for humanity that which you dislike for yourself.” “Whatever we have is a gift from Allah and it is an Amanat (trust). The more we have the greater responsibility and accountability we are entrusted with. With knowledge we teach and we guide, with wealth we help and relieve, with authority we dispense justice and with faith we establish and show goodness.”
Let us embark on that journey that will be starting point of changing our lives so that we live a life as ordered by our Creator. Let us daily remind ourselves of the inevitability of death, it is only then that we will see our foolish worldly ways and consider changing them so that we find the way to the path of Our Lord.
The Central Bank has by way of its Monetary Policy Statement informed us that the Botswana economy is likely to contract by 8.9 percent over the course of the year 2020.
The IMF paints an even gloomier picture – a shrinkage of the order of 9.6 percent. That translates to just under $2 billion hived off from the overall economic yield given our average GDP of roughly $18 billion a year. In Pula terms, this is about P23 billion less goods and services produced in the country and you and I have a good guess as to what such a sum can do in terms of job creation and sustainability, boosting tax revenue, succouring both recurrent and development expenditure, and on the whole keeping our teeny-weeny economy in relatively good nick.
Joseph’s and Judah’s family lines conjoin to produce lineal seed
Just to recap, General Atiku, the Israelites were not headed for uncharted territory. The Promised Land teemed with Canaanites, Hittites, Amorites, Perizzites, Hivites, and Jebusites. These nations were not simply going to cut and run when they saw columns of battle-ready Israelites approach: they were going to fight to the death.
Parliament has begun debates on three related Private Members Bills on the conditions of service of members of the Security Sector.
The Bills are Prisons (Amendment) Bill, 2019, Police (Amendment) Bill, 2019 and Botswana Defence Force (Amendment) Bill, 2019. The Bills seek to amend the three statutes so that officers are placed on full salaries when on interdictions or suspensions whilst facing disciplinary boards or courts of law.
In terms of the Public Service Act, 2008 which took effect in 2010, civil servants who are indicted are paid full salary and not a portion of their emolument. Section 35(3) of the Act specifically provides that “An employee’s salary shall not be withheld during the period of his or her suspension”.
However, when parliament reformed the public service law to allow civil servants to unionize, among other things, and extended the said protection of their salaries, the process was not completed. When the House conferred the benefit on civil servants, members of the disciplined forces were left out by not accordingly amending the laws regulating their employment.
The Bills stated above seeks to ask Parliament to also include members of the forces on the said benefit. It is unfair not to include soldiers or military officers, police officers and prison waders in the benefit. Paying an officer who is facing either external or internal charges full pay is in line with the notion of ei incumbit probation qui dicit, non qui negat or the presumption of innocence; that the burden of proof is on the one who declares, not on one who denies.
The officers facing charges, either internal disciplinary or criminal charges before the courts, must be presumed innocent until proven otherwise. Paying them a portion of their salary is penalty and therefore arbitrary. Punishment by way of loss of income or anything should come as a result of a finding on the guilt by a competent court of law, tribunal or disciplinary board.
What was the rationale behind this reform in 2008 when the Public Service Act was adopted? First it was the presumption of innocence until proven otherwise.
The presumption of innocence is the legal principle that one is considered “innocent until proven guilty”. In terms of the constitution and other laws of Botswana, the presumption of innocence is a legal right of the accused in a criminal trial, and it is an international human right under the UN’s Universal Declaration of Human Rights, Article 11.
Withholding a civil servant’s salary because they are accused of an internal disciplinary offense or a criminal offense in the courts of law, was seen as punishment before a decision by a tribunal, disciplinary board or a court of law actually finds someone culpable. Parliament in its wisdom decided that no one deserves this premature punishment.
Secondly, it was considered that people’s lives got destroyed by withholding of financial benefits during internal or judicial trials. Protection of wages is very important for any worker. Workers commit their salaries, they pay mortgages, car loans, insurances, schools fees for children and other things. When public servants were experiencing salary cuts because of interdictions, they lost their homes, cars and their children’s future.
They plummeted into instant destitution. People lost their livelihoods. Families crumbled. What was disheartening was that in many cases, these workers are ultimately exonerated by the courts or disciplinary tribunals. When they are cleared, the harm suffered is usually irreparable. Even if one is reimbursed all their dues, it is difficult to almost impossible to get one’s life back to normal.
There is a reasoning that members of the security sector should be held to very high standards of discipline and moral compass. This is true. However, other more senior public servants such as judges, permanent secretary to the President and ministers have faced suspensions, interdictions and or criminal charges in the courts but were placed on full salaries.
The yardstick against which security sector officers are held cannot be higher than the aforementioned public officials. It just wouldn’t make sense. They are in charge of the security and operate in a very sensitive area, but cannot in anyway be held to higher standards that prosecutors, magistrates, judges, ministers and even senior officials such as permanent secretaries.
Moreover, jail guards, police officers and soldiers, have unique harsh punishments which deter many of them from committing misdemeanors and serious crimes. So, the argument that if the suspension or interdiction with full pay is introduced it would open floodgates of lawlessness is illogical.
Security Sector members work in very difficult conditions. Sometimes this drives them into depression and other emotional conditions. The truth is that many seldom receive proper and adequate counseling or such related therapies. They see horrifying scenes whilst on duty. Jail guards double as hangmen/women.
Detectives attend to autopsies on cases they are dealing with. Traffic police officers are usually the first at accident scenes. Soldiers fight and kill poachers. In all these cases, their minds are troubled. They are human. These conditions also play a part in their behaviors. They are actually more deserving to be paid full salaries when they’re facing allegations of misconduct.
To withhold up to 50 percent of the police, prison workers and the military officers’ salaries during their interdiction or suspensions from work is punitive, insensitive and prejudicial as we do not do the same for other employees employed by the government.
The rest enjoy their full salaries when they are at home and it is for a good reason as no one should be made to suffer before being found blameworthy. The ruling party seems to have taken a position to negate the Bills and the collective opposition argue in the affirmative. The debate have just began and will continue next week Thursday, a day designated for Private Bills.