25th October 2018, the day in which the Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) expelled the Botswana Movement for Democracy (BMD), will go down in history as a very significant day in Botswana’s political history.
There is no doubt that, though the decision is long overdue, it has brought hope for the multitudes of Batswana who are sympathetic to the Opposition. It is incumbent upon the leadership of the UDC and/or the Botswana National Front (BNF) and the Botswana Congress Party (BCP), should the UDC disintegrate, to ensure that these Batswana are not disappointed yet again.
That the BMD can, within thirty days, appeal the expulsion to the National Congress (NC), as indicated by UDC president, Advocate Honourable Duma Boko, is academic because the chances of the BMD succeeding in such an appeal are close to nil. The only reason the BMD would make such an appeal would be for strategic purposes. This would be for purposes of dragging the matter so that by the time it goes to the courts it would be in mid-2019, something which would delay the BNF and the BCP’s campaigns.
Truth be told, the BMD knows full well that it does not have enough following to, alone, wrestle state power from the Botswana Democratic Party (BDP). The BCP’s 2014 humiliating loss at the polls is lesson enough. Realizing that it has lost the battle, if it will, some in the BMD leadership may choose to hurt the BNF and the BCP by using the uncertainty caused by appeals and court action to minimize their prospects of success in 2019.
The UDC’s decision not to expel BMD Council candidates, allowing them to represent the UDC in 2019, is political manoeuvring at its best. It is clearly intended to sow seeds of division within the BMD. No doubt, the BMD is likely to instruct the concerned Council candidates to disregard the UDC’s decision, but some of the Council candidates are likely to, in an effort to safeguard their political futures, disregard BMD’s instruction. This may result in their expulsion from the party.
Depending on how it is handled, BMD’s expulsion will, no doubt, affect Opposition coalition politics in Botswana. It is in that regard that one hopes that following this decision, the UDC will act swiftly in dealing with its consequences. It is clear that, as it has threatened since its suspension, the BMD is likely to approach the courts with an application to set aside its expulsion. It is how the UDC responds to this almost certain litigation that, in my view, will seal the fate of the UDC and/or determine the Opposition’s performance in the 2019 general elections.
I have hitherto argued that if the BMD decides to challenge its expulsion in court, as it is likely to do, it will be counter productive for the UDC to expend its limited resources and time in opposing the application. My argument is that considering that such a court action is likely to be protracted, it may cost the UDC politically since it will lose the limited time and resources it could otherwise be using for campaigning for 2019.
In the meantime, the BDP, which is somewhat revitalised under His Excellency the President Dr. Mokgweetsi Keabetswe Eric Masisi’s presidency, will exploit the situation in its campaign for 2019. Clearly, under H.E Masisi, the BDP is stronger than it was under former president Lieutenant General Dr. Seretse Khama Ian Khama, especially at the twilight of his tenure. The UDC or the BNF/BCP bilateral cooperation can, therefore, not afford to lose their limited resources and time in fruitless litigation.
I have opined, as I still do, that if it becomes clear, from the court papers, that the imminent court battle will be protracted, the BNF and the BCP would be better served by leaving the UDC and entering into a bilateral cooperation as resolved at their conferences in July this year. I leave out the Botswana Peoples Party (BPP) because it is not clear on which side it is. In fact, if the contents of the BMD’s response to UDC’s ‘show cause’ letter are anything to go by, BPP may be on BMD’s side.
If the BNF and BCP leave the UDC, BMD will remain with an empty shell under which it cannot function as a true coalition because there can be no coalition of one political party. Even if the BPP were to remain with the BMD under the UDC, such would be a futile exercise considering the BPP’s political insignificance.
In any event, the UDC’s legal status is uncertain following the Registrar of Societies’ refusal to register the proposed amendments to the 2012 Constitution, claiming that he has no jurisdiction to regulate the UDC. This decision has not been challenged before the courts and it may haunt the UDC in 2019. Truth be told, when everything is said and done, it may well be that the BMD will dwindle into political oblivion considering that it lost many members as a result of the Alliance for Progressives (AP)’s split.
The fracas between the BMD Youth League and the party’s National Executive Committee (NEC) has also resulted in some defections. Also, following its expulsion, it may also lose members because not all the members would like to be outside the UDC. As I have argued before, the BNF/BCP bilateral cooperation will be fruitful in at least two respects. Firstly, it is likely to attract the AP back into the fold, the result of which may be a coalition.
It is not a farfetched idea that the AP may join the fold because it has always stated that for as long as the BMD is still part of the UDC, it cannot join the UDC. BMD’s expulsion may, therefore, be an incentive for it to join the coalition. From the BCP 2014 experience, the AP knows full well that outside a coalition of Opposition political parties it stands no chance in 2019. It knows that Batswana who subscribe to Opposition politics prefer Opposition political parties to be united under a coalition of some sort.
Also, politics being politics, though the BPP is currently fence sitting, it may, for political expediency, also join the BNF/BCP/AP alliance, making the Opposition coalition even stronger. Secondly, even if the BNF/BCP bilateral cooperation does not attract the AP and the BPP, considering the BNF and BCP’s traditional support base, the BNF and BCP can, within the remaining year, salvage the Opposition’s fortunes in 2019.
This is especially true because, with the BMD saga no longer a detraction, those sympathetic to the Opposition, for instance, trade unions, especially Botswana Federation of Public Sector Unions (BOFEPUSU), may be reenergised and influence some of their members to vote for the Opposition. Recently, government threw the Opposition a life line by de-recognizing public sector trade unions, action which has angered trade unions and brought back memories of the Khama era when disregard for the rights of public sector trade unions was the order of the day.
This de-recognition, which came from no way considering that until recently public sector trade unions and government have been working together to revive the defunct Public Service Bargaining Council (PSBC), can be leveraged upon by the Opposition to reignite the ‘2014 moono’ flame, especially among public servants. The other circumstance which the Opposition can leverage on, though there is limited time before the 2019 general elections, is the acrimony between H.E Dr. Masisi and Dr. Khama which have ripped the party apart.
This may result in some BDP members voting for Opposition candidates as a way of punishing those who belong to a different camp. Judging by this year’s Bulela Ditswe upsets in some constituencies, this is not a far-fetched thought. The independent candidates (mekoko) phenomena, which is likely to embattle the BDP after the party’s final verdicts with respect to this year’s Bulela Ditswe results, which have been widely appealed, may also be leveraged upon by the Opposition since that may result in vote splitting which can benefit the Opposition.
But, the Opposition can only leverage from these if its house is in order. And for its house to be in order in time for the 2019 general elections, the UDC or BNF and BCP has and/or have to close the BMD expulsion matter as soon as possible. If the UDC allows the matter to drag before the courts it will be doing exactly what the BMD or the BMD president, Advocate Sidney Pilane, wants. The courts will be like a home ground, with all its attendant advantages, for the BMD.
In conclusion, therefore, the way forward following BMD’s expulsion would be to, if the UDC or the BNF and BCP realizes that the BMD relishes a protracted legal battle, leave the BMD with an empty shell and enter into a bilateral coalition as directed by their July conferences. Chances are that if that happens, the AP, and may be the BPP, will join the BNF and BCP, the result being a formidable coalition which would, no doubt, be unparalleled by the BMD or BMD/BPP shell that would have remained masquerading as the UDC.
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.