In today’s world there seems to be less thankfulness and more of a don’t-care attitude bordering on thanklessness. However if we were to just stop to think about the bounties and blessings that we enjoy not only as a country but as individuals we will begin to appreciate our lives. Were we just to look around and see the suffering throughout the world and look closer to home, around us, there are problems everywhere. We may not want to notice them but they are there.
From the beginning of Man's creation, gratefulness and thankfulness to our Creator, Allah was highlighted. In the Quran, after the creation of Adam all the Angels bowed to Adam except Satan who refused to do so. When chastised by Allah and cast out from Heaven, Satan said, ‘I will lie in wait for them…I will assault them from before them and from behind them, and from the right and their left, and You (Allah) shall not find gratitude in most of them for Your mercies.’ (Quran 7:17)
There are many verses in the Quran and other religious scriptures like the Bible that stress the importance of our showing gratefulness to our Lord and Creator. But as the above verse reflects: Satan has gotten hold of us because all we tend to be less grateful of what we have and concern ourselves with what we don’t have.
The very fact that we got up this morning, had something to eat, have clothes to wear, water to bathe ourselves, that we have homes to shelter us from the elements, that we have our health etc., etc., these are all favours from our Lord and Creator. We should take none of it for granted, or become arrogant enough to believe that we have any of them because of our own efforts. Unfortunately as mere mortals we tend to concentrate more on what we don’t have and are forget what we have been blessed with. We are troubled by a lack of wealth, yet we have the key to happiness and many blessings that we should be thankful for. ‘And if you count the favours and graces of Allah, never will you be able to number them. Verily, man is given up to injustice and ingratitude.’ (Quran 14:34)
We tend to overlook the favours of Allah upon us, health, safety, nourishment, clothing, air, and water – these all point to the world being ours, yet we do not realize it. We possess many of the things that life has to offer, yet we remain ignorant and maybe some of us, arrogant. This is a serious illness in many of us, and we have been given the cure by Prophet Muhammed (Pbuh). He reminded us that in terms of worldly things if we always look to those who are less fortunate than us, this will keep us thankful. Therefore the best way to stay thankful to Allah is to count His Favours in our lives every day. ‘They recognize the grace of Allah, yet they deny it.’ (Qur'an 16:83)
Thankfulness frees the heart from greed, jealousy and envy. When we are thankful to Allah, we remain mindful of Him and His continuous Mercy toward us, and this in return makes us better persons, calms us, humbles us and improves our characters. ‘We have shown him the way: whether he be grateful or ungrateful, rests on his will.’ (Quran 76:3).
As Muslims we have also been informed been guided to offer prayers of thankfulness day in and day out. Many people wonder as to why Muslims offer prayers five times daily. This is a practical demonstration of our thankfulness, and it is in compliance of this Quranic verse that we offer the obligatory five-times daily prayers. This is because Allah asks us to express our thankfulness to Him by offering the five-time prayers: ‘Celebrate constantly the praises of your Lord, before the rising of the sun, and before its setting; yes celebrate them for part of the hours of the night, and at the sides of the day; that you may have spiritual joy’ (Quran 20 ; 130)
Further Allah says: ‘Therefore remember Me, I will remember you, And be thankful to Me, and do not be ungrateful to Me. (Quran 2:152). Hence the five-time daily prayers are a significant reminder that each time we pray, we fulfil our obligation to thank Allah for having made us the best of His creations.â€¨But it is also a reminder for a person to reflect on Allah’s benevolence in having created him / her as a human being. As a result we owe a debt to the Creator which we can hardly repay except by offering prayers to Allah. The actions of our five time prayers consist of standing up, bowing with hands on the knees and then sitting down on our knees, then bowing down with our forehead touching the ground indicating our humility and lowliness before Allah.
Unfortunately, we have fallen into that trap of Satan, and have become so caught up in our daily lives, that we very rarely take the time to reflect on the Favours of Allah and to thank Him for them all. We are so busy conducting our daily lives that we forget who is really in-charge, and from where our daily sustenance comes.
We have become so immersed in the ‘if I only had’ syndrome; If I only had a bigger house, a better car, more money, a better job, if I only had a happier marriage. We are constantly focusing on the things we don't have, instead of being grateful to Allah for the things we do have.
We forget about our good health, think about it; can you picture yourself trying to walk without feet? We sleep soundly on our comfy bed while many people sleep on the floor, or even outdoors because they have no home. Don’t forget that we fill ourselves with both, delicious dishes and cool drinks / water while that pleasure of good food and drink is impossible for some, due to poverty sickness and disease.
Look around and see the hungry people walking around bare foot, searching dustbins looking for something to eat, torn clothing; the elderly folk who totter around with the help of walking sticks; the wheel chair bound; the blind, the sick and the lame; consider our faculties of hearing and seeing with which we have been blessed while others are blind or deaf. What about those who have to carry buckets of water to use at home, when we just have to open the tap; the list is endless. When we see their suffering it should be a reminder to us to be thankful for all the ‘little things’ in our lives that we take for granted. This should be a stark reminder to remember and to thank the Almighty for our Blessings.
Despite the blessings of daily food, water, easy sleep, and good health, we remain despondent and depressed. ‘Then which of the blessings of your Lord will you deny?’ (Quran 55:13). I am sure that if we search deep within ourselves we are aware that our Blessings are from our Maker but we prefer not to think about it: ‘They recognize the grace of Allah, yet they deny it.’ (Qur'an 16:83)
The faithful are thankful people and the unfaithful are ungrateful people. The Quran spells it out for us: ‘Show (thy) gratitude to Allah. Any who is grateful does so to the profit of his own soul; but if any is ungrateful, verily Allah is free of all wants, worthy of all praise.’ (31:12). ‘And remember when your Lord proclaimed, If ye are grateful, I will add more favours unto you; but if ye show ingratitude, truly My torment is terrible indeed.’ (14:7)
The Central Bank has by way of its Monetary Policy Statement informed us that the Botswana economy is likely to contract by 8.9 percent over the course of the year 2020.
The IMF paints an even gloomier picture – a shrinkage of the order of 9.6 percent. That translates to just under $2 billion hived off from the overall economic yield given our average GDP of roughly $18 billion a year. In Pula terms, this is about P23 billion less goods and services produced in the country and you and I have a good guess as to what such a sum can do in terms of job creation and sustainability, boosting tax revenue, succouring both recurrent and development expenditure, and on the whole keeping our teeny-weeny economy in relatively good nick.
Joseph’s and Judah’s family lines conjoin to produce lineal seed
Just to recap, General Atiku, the Israelites were not headed for uncharted territory. The Promised Land teemed with Canaanites, Hittites, Amorites, Perizzites, Hivites, and Jebusites. These nations were not simply going to cut and run when they saw columns of battle-ready Israelites approach: they were going to fight to the death.
Parliament has begun debates on three related Private Members Bills on the conditions of service of members of the Security Sector.
The Bills are Prisons (Amendment) Bill, 2019, Police (Amendment) Bill, 2019 and Botswana Defence Force (Amendment) Bill, 2019. The Bills seek to amend the three statutes so that officers are placed on full salaries when on interdictions or suspensions whilst facing disciplinary boards or courts of law.
In terms of the Public Service Act, 2008 which took effect in 2010, civil servants who are indicted are paid full salary and not a portion of their emolument. Section 35(3) of the Act specifically provides that “An employee’s salary shall not be withheld during the period of his or her suspension”.
However, when parliament reformed the public service law to allow civil servants to unionize, among other things, and extended the said protection of their salaries, the process was not completed. When the House conferred the benefit on civil servants, members of the disciplined forces were left out by not accordingly amending the laws regulating their employment.
The Bills stated above seeks to ask Parliament to also include members of the forces on the said benefit. It is unfair not to include soldiers or military officers, police officers and prison waders in the benefit. Paying an officer who is facing either external or internal charges full pay is in line with the notion of ei incumbit probation qui dicit, non qui negat or the presumption of innocence; that the burden of proof is on the one who declares, not on one who denies.
The officers facing charges, either internal disciplinary or criminal charges before the courts, must be presumed innocent until proven otherwise. Paying them a portion of their salary is penalty and therefore arbitrary. Punishment by way of loss of income or anything should come as a result of a finding on the guilt by a competent court of law, tribunal or disciplinary board.
What was the rationale behind this reform in 2008 when the Public Service Act was adopted? First it was the presumption of innocence until proven otherwise.
The presumption of innocence is the legal principle that one is considered “innocent until proven guilty”. In terms of the constitution and other laws of Botswana, the presumption of innocence is a legal right of the accused in a criminal trial, and it is an international human right under the UN’s Universal Declaration of Human Rights, Article 11.
Withholding a civil servant’s salary because they are accused of an internal disciplinary offense or a criminal offense in the courts of law, was seen as punishment before a decision by a tribunal, disciplinary board or a court of law actually finds someone culpable. Parliament in its wisdom decided that no one deserves this premature punishment.
Secondly, it was considered that people’s lives got destroyed by withholding of financial benefits during internal or judicial trials. Protection of wages is very important for any worker. Workers commit their salaries, they pay mortgages, car loans, insurances, schools fees for children and other things. When public servants were experiencing salary cuts because of interdictions, they lost their homes, cars and their children’s future.
They plummeted into instant destitution. People lost their livelihoods. Families crumbled. What was disheartening was that in many cases, these workers are ultimately exonerated by the courts or disciplinary tribunals. When they are cleared, the harm suffered is usually irreparable. Even if one is reimbursed all their dues, it is difficult to almost impossible to get one’s life back to normal.
There is a reasoning that members of the security sector should be held to very high standards of discipline and moral compass. This is true. However, other more senior public servants such as judges, permanent secretary to the President and ministers have faced suspensions, interdictions and or criminal charges in the courts but were placed on full salaries.
The yardstick against which security sector officers are held cannot be higher than the aforementioned public officials. It just wouldn’t make sense. They are in charge of the security and operate in a very sensitive area, but cannot in anyway be held to higher standards that prosecutors, magistrates, judges, ministers and even senior officials such as permanent secretaries.
Moreover, jail guards, police officers and soldiers, have unique harsh punishments which deter many of them from committing misdemeanors and serious crimes. So, the argument that if the suspension or interdiction with full pay is introduced it would open floodgates of lawlessness is illogical.
Security Sector members work in very difficult conditions. Sometimes this drives them into depression and other emotional conditions. The truth is that many seldom receive proper and adequate counseling or such related therapies. They see horrifying scenes whilst on duty. Jail guards double as hangmen/women.
Detectives attend to autopsies on cases they are dealing with. Traffic police officers are usually the first at accident scenes. Soldiers fight and kill poachers. In all these cases, their minds are troubled. They are human. These conditions also play a part in their behaviors. They are actually more deserving to be paid full salaries when they’re facing allegations of misconduct.
To withhold up to 50 percent of the police, prison workers and the military officers’ salaries during their interdiction or suspensions from work is punitive, insensitive and prejudicial as we do not do the same for other employees employed by the government.
The rest enjoy their full salaries when they are at home and it is for a good reason as no one should be made to suffer before being found blameworthy. The ruling party seems to have taken a position to negate the Bills and the collective opposition argue in the affirmative. The debate have just began and will continue next week Thursday, a day designated for Private Bills.