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The tale of a knightsbridge housekeeper

Stuart White

The World in Black-N-White

In days gone by it used to be said that ‘behind every successful man was a good woman’. Today those words would be considered both sexist and patronising since it assumes that only men are capable of career success, whilst women are relegated to ensuring that his home and leisure life runs as smoothly as possible, courtesy of ‘the little woman’, another patronising term for a housewife.

Add to that the adage that ‘a woman’s place is in the home’ and that sums up how life was only a few years ago.  A woman could get a job – nursing or secretarial say, then in the fullness of time marry a doctor or her boss, resign and become a full-time wife and mother where she would be expected to turn her hand to running a household, raising the children and generally managing the home. 

If she was also careful with money and clever at stretching the family budget that was considered an added bonus, just as well since she would probably be running everything on a shoestring, just enough to cover housekeeping and childcare needs whilst the head of the household and major breadwinner would handle big finance matters and major purchases.

Now, thrift in any household is still an asset.  The world has moved on, women now feature as prominently in the workforce as men and families where both parents work full-time is very much the norm.   But though a joint income helps the overall economic situation it also brings added expenses such as childcare, not to mention running two cars, two working wardrobes and a host of other hidden costs.; so even with a double income, the household budget has to be controlled and planned so that all bills are paid and debts are met to ensure that your lifestyle is properly funded and at the end of the year the books balance. 

As Charles Dickens’ character Mr. Micawber so cleverly states it ‘Annual income twenty pounds, annual expenditure nineteen pounds, nineteen shillings and six (pence), result happiness.  Annual income twenty pounds, annual expenditure twenty pounds ought and six, result misery.’

I wonder what that frugal, thrifty man would have made of the banker’s wife who has hit the headlines this week with her ability to magically stretch her husband’s modest income by several thousand percent?  Azerbaijani national Mrs Zamira Hajiyeva spent more than £16m (P400m) at the famous London department store, Harrods, over the course of a decade, as well as purchasing two properties worth a combined £22m (P550m). 

This prodigious spending spree is all the more remarkable considering that her husband’s income as the former Chairman of the country’s national Bank of Azerbaijan, was a mere £54,000 (P810,000) per annum.  Sadly spouse Jahangir Hajiyeva is now serving time in his native country for fraud and embezzlement after being convicted in 2016 and sentenced to 15 years in prison. 

Also wanted by the local police, his wife quickly and quietly moved to London where she and her daughter are now enjoying a lavish lifestyle and where, presumably to facilitate her shopaholic habit, Mrs. Hajiyeva  paid £11.5 (P280m) for a luxury home a short walk away from her favourite Knightsbridge store in which it is recorded that on one visit alone she blew more than £150,000 (P3,750,000) on items of Boucheron and Cartier jewellery, paying for the purchases using the 35 credit cards issued to her by her husband’s bank.

Meanwhile Mrs Hajiyeva’s daughter, who was at school in London, had shares worth more than £15 million (P450m) , paying dividends of a further £1m  (P15m a year).  The family also had a £32 million (P820m) private jet, a Gulfstream G550, financed by a company linked to Mr Hajiyev.  His wife’s second property acquisition was a a prestigious country golf club, that was purchased in 2013 for £10.5 million (P160m)  by a Guernsey-based company over which Mrs Hajiyeva is said to have exerted ‘significant control.

Talk about stretching your budget!

Well, it seems she may have to do exactly that since she has been ordered to prove the source of her wealth is legitimate or risk losing her lovely Knightsbridge home.  Under new UK anti-corruption laws, Zamira Hajiyeva was named in February  as the first person subject to Unexplained Wealth Orders (UWOs) by the National Crime Agency (NCA) after the High Court lifted an anonymity order preventing reporting of the case.   

They required Mrs Hajiyeva to explain how she had obtained the funds to purchase the £22 million-worth of properties. Jonathan Hall QC, counsel for the NCA, outlined Mrs Hajiyeva’s luxury lifestyle, saying it was a sign that she was spending illicitly obtained money.  He added that some of the credit cards she used had been issued by her husband’s bank and that the ‘extraordinary nature’ of her spending was ‘strongly suggestive of spending money that did not belong’ to her.

Her husband, he said, was a state employee and that ‘it is very unlikely that such a position would have generated sufficient income to fund the acquisition of the property’. Documents produced in court showed Mr Hajiyev had a modest salary from 2001 to 2008 of between £22,000 and £54,000 (P330,000 & P810,000) But in a statement submitted to court, Mrs Hajiyeva said he had substantial means and was independently wealthy when they married in 1997.

‘He was very well-off when we married and had accumulated capital and wealth since the early 1990s,’ she said. ‘I understand, but have no way of evidencing the fact, that he had a number of business interests before joining the bank, and he maintained those investments. He also had a substantial portfolio of shares in the bank, and was always very proud that the bank was doing so well….As to the purchase of the property, this was my husband’s responsibility…I… had no knowledge of any of the payments made to purchase the property, our family home, their source, or any other detail.’

Her lawyers claimed the NCA was wrong to characterise Mr Hajiyev as a low-paid state employee and that he had earned his money legitimately as a businessman. ‘He was a fat-cat international banker who went to Davos as part of his activities,’ said James Lewis QC, representing Mrs Hajiyeva. ‘He was a well-known international banker at a commercial bank. He is not a civil servant any more than the chairman of RBS.’ (Royal Bank of Scotland)

Mrs. Hajieva’s identity become known last week when Mr Justice Supperstone  discharged an anonymity order, preventing identification of her  and her husband, their country of origin, the bank Mr Hajiyev worked for and the two properties under question.  On Tuesday, Lord Justice Sales dismissed an application to extend the anonymity order, ruling that “no good case” had been made for its extension.

Meanwhile Mrs Hajiyeva continues to deny any wrongdoing and is fighting to hold onto the properties covered by the order.  In a statement, her lawyers said: “The decision of the High Court upholding the grant of an Unexplained Wealth Order against Zamira Hajiyeva does not and should not be taken to imply any wrong-doing, whether on her part or that of her husband….. 

The NCA's case is that the UWO is part of an investigative process, not a criminal procedure, and it does not involve the finding of any criminal offence….On Mrs Hajiyeva's behalf, an application for permission to appeal against the order of Mr Justice Supperstone was filed on 8 October 2018….Mrs Hajiyeva has made clear her intention to engage fully in the judicial process and will present her case to the court as appropriate through her lawyers. She will, therefore, make no further comment at this time.”

So we await with interest Mrs. Hajiyeva’s chapter and verse on the fiduciary equivalent of Jesus and the five loaves and two fishes and none more keenly, I suspect, than the government of Azerbaijan one of whose citizens appears to have got through the GDP of a small country is very short order: a small country like, say, Azerbaijan!  As for Mrs. Hajiyeva, she, no doubt, will be hoping that in her case the term ‘housekeeping’ will taken quite literally.  After all, it is very close to the shops.

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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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