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Hustings & Hustlings

Stuart White

The World in Black-N-White

I am really gripped with whole Brexit thing. For me it’s the ultimate story of high drama and intrigue. Ever since that referendum result was announced and my initial shock horror response and thoughts of ‘what have we done’ (yes, I am British), I have been hooked.

I remember Nigel Farage grinning like a Cheshire Cat saying “we have got our country back” when the referendum result was announced and thinking ‘what does that mean?’.  I have been watching ever since, still unsure and like all Brits, uncertain what is going to happen – deal or no deal.  2 years on it’s still anybody’s guess.  Such is politics I suppose.

I watched Teresa Mays lengthy Prime Ministers Question Time the other day and thought ‘my God, there’s a job that no one wants’. With Brexit I am afraid it is probably a bit like the devil you do and the devil you don’t. Watching the posturing and partisan shenanigans of defend and attack has been an eye opener to what it means to be a politician. Promises, lies, confusion, break ups – it’s all there and its why I would never have Theresa May’s  job for anything but then again I don’t suppose Mrs May would be queuing in line for my job if it became vacant.

I don’t think I could be a politician because of the cut throat nature of the job. You are always under scrutiny, constantly under attack, disliked by as many as those that like you and basically have no job security. It also requires you to play a game with invisible and unspoken rules. Is it only a specific type of animal which can survive in that environment – those with political savvy? You may define that as clandestine, conspiratorial and manipulative and you won’t be the first.  But aren’t these the very skills which you need in pretty much every workplace if you are to be successful?

If you consider today’s business world which is characterised by risk, volatility, change, uncertainty etc. then these are competences which everyone needs and for some management jobs are absolutely essential.  Samuel Bacharach author of ‘Get Them On Your Side’ says political savvy is “the ability to understand what you can and cannot control, when to take action, who is going to resist your agenda, and whom you need on your side.

It’s about knowing how to map the political terrain and get others on your side, as well as lead coalitions.” He adds “at every level, businesses need people who are willing to take action and who know how to create change—people who feel secure enough to take risks in an uncertain environment. Political competence gives them the skills to do just that.” All of the areas where, I am afraid, Mrs May is failing.

Are there any organisations where playing politics is not necessary to get ahead and get things done?  Now before you think that politics is not in your repertoire or knowledge bank, appreciate that we have all grown up honing those exact skills. From children, wielding our pester power, knowing whom to manipulate to get sweets and treats or how to conspire so that we could stay up late.  And what about all our clandestine behaviour, rule bending and cover-ups which reached fever pitch as teenagers, have we not been playing politics all along?  And all that we learned at home while growing up we have brought to the organisations where we work.

Playing politics needn’t be a bad word, even though it may be associated with thoughts of backstabbing, gossiping, sucking up to the right people etc. Knowing the unwritten rules of work may be essential in getting ahead. Don't reject the idea of playing the game because some people play dirty. You can get what you want ethically and professionally, if you learn the rules of your specific organization.

Sylvia Lafair of Creative Energy Options says all you have to do is learn the rules of being politically savvy at work and offers these basic pointers which in effect are a tabulated list of Samuel Bacharach’s political savvy summary:

  • Find the gatekeepers: Keep your eyes and ears open to find the real people of influence. Often, just like any game, you need to connect with the person who shuffles the cards. That may be the one who manages the calendar and decides who gets priority with the boss. It may be someone who drives the carpool to work. It may, believe it or not, be someone who caters the fun Friday lunches from the restaurant down the road.


  • Listen at the coffee maker: Gossip is not a bad thing. It is hardwired into us for safety and survival. Titbits of information can lead you to the right person to get all the facts that you may well need for your next career move. So, get your coffee and keep your ears open.
  • Know when to shut up: Tom Cruise is the perfect example of foot in mouth disease in the film "Jerry Maguire." This oldie but goodie shows the power of knowing when and how to speak your piece. His inability to read the rule book about the right time and place earned him an invitation to leave the company.
  • Build strategic alliances: it's not about numbers, and it's not about Facebook likes; it's about gathering your own Board of Directors who will keep you informed and who can introduce you to the people you need and want to know. Think quality and diversity.
  • Trust your instincts: Learn what pushes your buttons and what to do about it. You will stand out as a leader. People will turn to you and away from the pleasers, clowns and jerks at work. Not sure of yourself? Get a coach to help make the invisible visible.

One last thing, you’ll need which is not on that list  and that’s  a very thick layer of skin.   Mrs. May’s would surely make a rhinoceros proud!

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The Daring Dozen at Bari

8th December 2020

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.

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)


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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