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Registrar’s decision: blessing in disguise for the UDC

Ndulamo Anthony Morima
EAGLE WATCH

After a long wait, this week, the Registrar of Societies communicated his decision to refuse to accept the proposed amendments to the constitution of the Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC).

Contrary to many people’s expectations, the reason for the declination was not the objection submitted to the Registrar by the Botswana Movement for Democracy (BMD) and Botswana People’s Party (BPP), but that the UDC is not a political party, but a coalition of political parties. Expectedly, the Registrar’s decision has elicited mixed reactions from the public and the Opposition. While some think that the Registrar’s decision smells of political influence, others believe the Registrar is merely doing his job.

Speaking to Duma fm’s Donald Badisa Seberane on 16th August, the UDC Publicity Secretary, Moeti Mohwasa, wondered why the Registrar did not decline to register the UDC in 2014 and is only raising issues today less than a year before the general elections. Mohwasa also wondered why, in 2014, the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) recognised the UDC as a political party, registering its logo and its candidates for both local and national elections if it was not a political party as the Registrar purports.

He also wondered why Parliament has, since the 2014 general elections, recognized the UDC as an Opposition political party in Parliament, recognizing its president, Advocate Honourable Duma Boko, as the Leader of the Opposition in Parliament and its Members of Parliament (MPs) as such. But, does the fact that the Registrar accepted the registration of the UDC in 2014 mean that when he, today, realizes that an error was committed, he should not seek to correct it? Should an administrative functionary be bound by an earlier decision even if it is wrong?

In my view, the Registrar, and indeed any government functionary, has a legal duty to correct its decision if, upon new insight, it realizes that it had erred. Even courts of law set aside decisions they earlier took in error. Other people opine that the Registrar had no business in going beyond the complaint submitted to him by the BMD and the BPP, namely the lack of agreement on the amendments by the UDC’s contracting partners.

According to them, the fact that the Registrar went beyond the complaint shows that he has a political agenda, that being to destabilize the UDC and ensure the Botswana Democratic Party (BDP)’s victory in 2019. A government functionary whose duty is the protection of the Constitution of the country and the observance of all the laws of the land has a duty to, upon realization of an anomaly, correct it despite the fact that it has not been brought to him by any person.

Therefore, that the Registrar registered the UDC in 2014 is neither here nor there. The same applies to the fact that the IEC and Parliament have always recognised the UDC. Similarly, the fact that in declining the UDC’s amendments the Registrar acted on his own motion is neither here nor there. It does not make the decision less valid or unlawful.

In my view, considering the woes that the UDC has suffered since the 2014 general elections, largely because of the conflicts within the BMD, the Registrar’s decision may be a blessing in disguise for the UDC or the Botswana National Front (BNF) and the Botswana Congress Party (BCP). It would be recalled that at their July conferences the BNF and the BCP resolved to enter into a bilateral relationship for the 2019 general elections if the UDC would not have resolved its problems by mid-August this year.

At the time, I opined that the BNF and BCP had caucused on the resolutions prior to their conferences. I also opined that the BNF and BCP made the resolution knowing full well that it is unattainable so that it uses the failure to resolve the UDC debacle as an excuse for leaving the UDC. This, in my view, was a way of dumping the recalcitrant BMD and its ally the BPP. Arguably, it was also a way of opening up a door to work with the Alliance for Progressives (AP), something which would not happen for as long as the BMD and the BPP are part of the UDC.

It is in this regard that I am of the view that the Registrar’s refusal to accept the amendments to the UDC constitution is a blessing in disguise for the UDC or the BNF and BCP. The BNF and BCP’s claims of being heartbroken as a result of the decision may, therefore, not be genuine. If the reason for the Registrar’s refusal were the objections from the BMD and BPP there would be ire tractable conflict between the BNF and BCP on the one hand and the BMD and BPP on the other.

These conflicts would likely result in litigation, with winners and losers, something which would further polarize the UDC contracting partners, resulting in the inevitable collapse of the UDC possibly before the 2019 general elections. If the Registrar had accepted the amendments, the BMD and the BPP were likely going to approach the courts to review his decision, something which would result in a protracted legal battle much to the delight of the BDP which is also currently suffering internal strife because of the Khama and Masisi feud.

In my view, the Registrar’s decision gives an easy and respectable escape for the BNF and BCP. They can easily convince their members that given the time remaining before the 2019 general elections challenging the Registrar’s decision in the courts would delay their campaigns. They can also manipulate their members by claiming, falsely of course, that even if they went to the courts they are unlikely to succeed because the courts are biased in favour of the ruling BDP. Some have already suggested this by claiming that the Registrar made this decision because of political influence.  

After all, the BNF and BCP leadership already have the mandate to enter into a bilateral relationship for the 2019 general elections if the UDC problems are not resolved by mid-August, which deadline has lapsed. In any event, there are those who believe that for as long as Advocate Sydney Pilane, whom they accuse of being a BDP operative planted to destabilize the Opposition, is part of the UDC it cannot win the 2019 general elections.

It would, therefore, be easy for the BNF and BCP leadership to convince such people to leave the UDC and enter into a bilateral relationship which is after all a resolution of the parties’ respective conferences. It, however, remains to be seen how the UDC will react to the Registrar’s decision.

Already, the fact that about two days after the decision was taken there was no emergency meeting called to discuss the matter shows that it may not be that much of a concern to the UDC or at least the BNF and BCP.If the matter were indeed taken seriously by now an emergency Central Committee meeting would have been called; press releases would have been issued and legal action against the Registrar would have been threatened.      

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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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