In Africa, it is almost unheard of for an opposition political party or coalition of opposition political parties to attain more than thirty percent of the popular vote.
Yet, in the 2014 general elections, while the Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) and Botswana Congress Party (BCP) attained 30% and 20.4% of the popular vote respectively, the ruling BDP garnered 46.7% of the popular vote. In terms of parliamentary seats, from a total voter turnout of 84.75%, while UDC and BCP attained 17 seats and 3 seats respectively, the ruling Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) won 37 seats, suffering an attrition of 8 seats.
The BCP suffered a decline of 1 parliamentary seat. Though it was the first time the UDC contested the general elections, its contracting parties, the Botswana National Front (BNF) and Botswana Movement for Democracy (BMD) collectively enjoyed an upsurge of 11 parliamentary seats. In 2014, therefore, the UDC and the BCP managed to attain a joint 50.4% of the popular vote and a joint 20 out of a total of 57 parliamentary seats.
Such performance was, by all standards, exceptional, especially in a country where there is no funding of political parties; where the public media’s coverage is biased in favor of the ruling party; and where the state president uses state resources, including helicopters, during electoral campaigns and rallies. In 2009 the picture was not that rosy for the opposition. the BDP had attained a popular vote of 53.26 % compared to the BNF and BCP’s 21.94% and 19.15% respectively. In terms of parliamentary seats, while the BDP had won 45 seats, the BNF and BCP had won only 6 seats and 4 seats respectively.
Clearly, there is a reason why the opposition enjoyed such an upsurge of votes in 2014. In the main, the upsurge resulted from the votes of thousands of public sector employees who were dissatisfied not only by the way they were treated by government during the 2011 public sector strike, but also by the unfavorable terms and conditions of employment generally. Undoubtedly, the opposition was also voted by many youths who, despite several government’s so-called youth empowerment programmes (e.g. Young Farmers Fund, Youth Development Fund and Youth Employment Scheme), remained unemployed.
The opposition’s vote was also positively influenced by the voices of the media and civil society who, while projecting the failures of the BDP, presented the opposition as the answer to the many problems that Batswana suffered at the hands of the BDP under former president Lieutenant General Dr. Seretse Khama Ian Khama’s reign. The BDP’s near loss of power in 2014 was also at the hands of its own -the BDP members who were dissatisfied by the way the BDP was running its affairs but had remained in the BDP when some defected and formed and/or joined the BMD.
With the BDP’s loss of the popular vote in 2014, some, especially in the opposition expected that the UDC will win the 2019 general elections. Then, such expectation or hope appeared plausible. The question is: is the expectation or hope still plausible today with about one year before the general elections?
After the 2014 general elections, rather than building on its gains the opposition experienced an erosion of its support base because of, inter alia, the conflicts within the BMD which resulted in its split in 2017, resulting in the birth of the Alliance for Progressives (AP). Truth be told. Prior to the split, the UDC failed to intervene decisively, claiming, through its leader, Honorable Advocate Duma Boko, that since the BMD is an independent entity it can not intervene in its affairs.
In my view, by so doing, the UDC failed Batswana for if it had intervened in the BMD debacle, a split, which has inarguably weakened the UDC, could have been avoided. Even after the AP split, the BMD has known no peace, with the result that the party’s leadership suspended almost its entire Youth League leadership after it publicly called for the resignation and/or expulsion of party president, Advocate Sidney Pilane, for his failure to lead the party.
Still, the UDC leadership folded its arms and did not intervene in the Youth League matter which resulted in further turbulence within the BMD, and by extension the UDC. Following the admission of the BCP into the UDC, which the BMD and Botswana Peoples Party (BPP) dispute, arguing that the current constitution recognizes only the BNF, BMD and BPP as the UDC’s contracting parties, there has been conflict between the BMD and BCP over the positions of UDC Vice President, among other things.
Rather than dealing with the dispute decidedly, the UDC has been reticent, with some blaming the UDC’s reticence on Honorable Advocate Boko’s friendly relationship with the BCP leader, Dumelang Saleshando. This further caused divisions within the UDC. The divisions were exacerbated when Honorable Advocate Boko with Saleshando submitted, to the exclusion of Advocate Pilane and BPP president, Motlatsi Molapisi, the new UDC constitution for registration with the Registrar of Societies, something which the BMD and BPP opposed and wrote to the Registrar disowning the constitution.
It is common knowledge that the Registrar has since declined to register the constitution giving as one of the reasons for his declination the fact that the UDC is not an entity capable of registration under the Societies Act. This, even to a lay person, is a serious decision since it has implications on whether or not the UDC can, in its current form, lawfully contest elections in 2019. In fact, some have even opined that the BDP could approach the courts and seek to invalidate the election of all Members of Parliament (MPs) and Councilors who were elected under the UDC ticket in 2014.
Therefore, many thought that the UDC would, naturally, approach the courts to apply for a review of the Registrar’s decision. But, the UDC has to date, about two months after the decision was taken, not acted as such, breeding uncertainty among its members. There is another matter that shows the UDC’s failure to act. There has been disputes regarding constituency allocations to the contracting parties.
Some, especially in the BNF and BCP, are arguing that since the BMD was allocated constituencies on the basis of its strength before the AP split, now that its strength has been eroded following the split some of the constituencies allocated to it should be returned for reallocation. This matter is so serious that, at its conference in July this year, the BNF resolved that if the issue is not resolved the BNF should take the constituencies allocated to the BMD which it is entitled to by virtue of its 2014 electoral performance.
The situation in the UDC is so dire that at their July conferences, the BNF and the BCP resolved that if the conflicts within the UDC would not be resolved by mid-August, the BNF and the BCP should enter into a bilateral cooperation for the 2019 general elections. Today, it is mid-September, and the situation in the UDC is as bad as ever, if not worse, but nothing has been done to implement the conference resolution despite the fact that only one year remains before the 2019 general elections.
There has also been talk that the UDC or the BNF and BCP have taken a decision to expel Advocate Pilane from the UDC and nothing has happened in that regard. These debacles, which are mainly caused by the BMD, have caused the UDC to lose focus of agitating for its 2014 manifesto. Consequently, few Batswana know what the UDC stands for because its MPs have not done enough in terms of moving motions and asking questions in Parliament in line with the manifesto.
Some have even opined that the way the UDC leadership has been quite regarding national issues may make one think that they are compromised, e.g. through involvement in corruption, and fear being exposed should they comment on such matters. In its online edition of 17th September 2018, the Sunday Standard, under its column, The Watchdog, described the UDC best. It said “When it comes to lethargy, ineptitude and disorderliness, leaders of the UDC can proudly congratulate themselves for achieving what none us of thought possible only a few years back …”
Then writer continued to say “…The party, or whatever it is called, is no longer able to convene meetings. Even worse, it is no longer able to implement its own decisions. Umbrella for Democratic Change leaders do not speak with confidence on any national issues…” I agree. In the meantime, the ascension of His Excellency the President, Mokgweetsi Eric Keabetswe Masisi, to the presidency has given new life to the BDP, further reducing the UDC’s chances of attaining state power in 2019.
Though the Masisi factor will no doubt contribute to the BDP’s victory in 2019, UDC’s loss will mainly be because of its own failures and the extent to which it has failed Batswana. Its loss will be as a result of several own goals. The UDC has even failed to perform one simple task-releasing the report on the circumstances surrounding the late Gomolemo Motswaledi’s death in a car accident. It is as a result of these failures, many of which are elementary, that the UDC has lost a significant portion of its support base. One only needs to read newspapers and listen to the radio to reach that conclusion.
The private media, trade unions, including the Botswana Federation of Public Sector Unions (BOFEPUSU), and civil society are no longer as anti-BDP and pro-UDC. On the contrary, many are praising H.E Masisi for returning their Botswana to them and would, in all likelihood, vote for the BDP in 2019.
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.
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”
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.”
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.
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.
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.