When delivering his last State-of-the-Nation Address (SONA), the then President, Lieutenant General Dr. Seretse Khama Ian Khama, stated that the prime objective of the new vision, Vision 2036, remained delivery of prosperity for all and ensuring that every Motswana enjoyed a dignified livelihood.
Vision 2036, he opined, underscores the fact that the nation must remain focused on its national development path. This is incontrovertibly true. But, it is also irrefutably true that a nation can only follow a path it not only knows, but also knows where it leads. The question is: do our people really know about Vision 2036? Do they know about the development path or agenda set by Vision 2036?
Though Vision 2016 did not become the success it should have been in terms of implementation, it was known by all. Not only did Batswana know about it. They also associated with it. Many were proud to say “Vision 2016 ke yame!”, loosely translated to mean Vision 2016 is mine. Many, even the semi-literate, knew the Vision 2016 pillars by heart. Students drew the Vision 2016 logo on the covers of their school books, on walls and on chalk boards.
Perhaps the reason people easily associated with Vision 2016’s pillars is that they were easily relatable and invoked, in a citizen, a sense of national pride and patriotism. They could be personalized. But, more than that. The pillars sounded like a dream that all enjoyed dreaming though they may never live it. Who would not want to be part of an informed and educated nation? Who would not want to live in a safe and secure nation?
Who would not want to enjoy the fruits of a prosperous, productive and innovative nation? We all want to be citizens of a compassionate, just and caring nation, don’t we? We all want to live in an open, democratic and accountable nation, don’t we? All man, including the morally deviant, aspire to live in a moral and tolerant country, don’t they? Who does not want to be a citizen of a country where unity and pride prevails; where peace and tranquillity beacons?
Vision 2016 was a people’s vision. It was developed following nationwide consultations by a Presidential Task Group, led by one of the greatest patriots this nation has ever had, the late Baledzi Gaolathe.Not only that. Its conceptualisation and development occurred during the tenure of a great leader, the late Sir Ketumile Masire. He did not champion it because it was the fashionable thing to do. No! he championed it because he believed in it and believed it would lead his people to the dream land.
Masire’s successor, Festus Mogae, another patriot of note, when taking the baton from Masire embraced Vision 2016. Consequently, his government promoted its implementation. The Vision informed the National Development Plans and budgets. State-of-the-Nation Addresses and Budget Speeches were incomplete if they lacked reference to Vision 2016. Various organizations and schools ran essay competitions based on Vision 2016. The month of September was set aside not only for Independence Day celebrations, but also as a Vision month.
Then came Khama. Instead of embracing the five national principles of 'Democracy, Development, Self-Reliance, Unity and Botho he introduced his own four, then five Ds, of Democracy, Dignity, Discipline, Development and Delivery. Unfortunately, Khama, in a desperate attempt to set his own legacy, focused on the 5Ds at the expense of not only the five national principles, but also Vision 2016. Consequently, it was only at the twilight of his tenure that he hurriedly developed Vision 2036.
The Presidential Task Team tasked with the development of Vision 2036 was only launched on 19th October 2015 but was expected to conclude the draft vision document by May 2016 so that it is adopted by the National Assembly during its sitting of July/August 2016. This was a wrong start. How can a country’s long-term Vision be drafted in seven months? Certainly, seven months cannot have been enough for the Presidential Task Team to review Vision 2016’s evaluation reports; review the Vision 2036 framework developed by the National Strategy Office and consult the public through the press, meetings, seminars and submissions by individuals and/or organizations and any other platform including electronic media.
Also, though the Presidential Task Team was diverse in terms of the various sectors of the society, e.g. youth, women, people living with disabilities, faith-based groups and sports, it was not diverse in terms of having people with dissenting views from those of government. Most Presidential Task Team members, especially high-profile members, were well known supporters of the Botswana Democratic Party (BDP). Conspicuously absent from the Presidential Task Team were prominent Opposition politicians, non-conformist academics, progressive student organizations, minority right interest groups, etc.
These people often criticize government policy not because they are not patriotic, but because they want the best for their country. They too love their Botswana and are not enemies of the state. A country’s Vision is not built on false consensus. It is built on true consensus which comes after divergent, and even dissident views, are heard. This is the essence of one of our national principles, therisano, i.e. consultation.
That is why our forefathers and foremothers said: ‘mmualebe o bua la gagwe gore mona lentle a tswe la gagwe’ and ‘mafoko a kgotla a mantle otlhe’. These adages simply call for tolerance of differing views within Tswana culture. Yet, during Vision 2036’s development some of our nation’s greatest minds were sidelined. Because Batswana were not adequately involved in Vision 2016’s evaluation exercise, Vision 2036 was founded on a defective foundation. It was not based on an honest assessment of the country’s performance in pursuit of achieving the Vision 2016 ideals.
Not even MPs who had the mandate to adopt Vision 2036, had enough time to consult their constituencies. They had only one month between the Presidential Task Team’s presentation of the draft document in May 2016 and the National Assembly’s sitting in July 2016. Can we then comfortably say Vision 2036 was legitimately adopted by the National Assembly? Does it truly reflect Batswana’s views and aspirations? Will our future generations truly inherit a people’s dream, or they will inherit a leader’s dream?
Can we comfortably say Batswana know about Vision 2036? In my view, they don’t. Whose Vision is it then? Is it for Batswana or it is for the ruling elite? Unlike Vision 2016’s pillars, Vision 2036’s pillars are dispassionate. They are detached from a citizen’s sense of being. They are mere statements which do not invoke any emotion on our people. What sense of patriotism is elicited by the mention of such barren statements as Sustainable Economic Development, Human and Social Development, Sustainable Environment and Good Governance, Peace and Security?
What about them? Do our people know Vision 2036’s motto, if there is? What is Vision 2036’s logo? Who is Vision 2036’s face? Has Khama’s successor, His Excellency the President, Dr. Mokgweetsi Masisi, embraced it? I doubt he has. If he had, it would have been the theme of his inaugural speech, but it was not. If H.E Masisi had embraced Vision 2036 it would have been the theme for this year’s SONA, but it was not.
Khama’s statement that the Sustainable Economic Development pillar would see Botswana transformed into a high-income country, where continued growth would be underpinned by a more inclusive, diversified and export led economy will remain a dream if we do not put Vision 2036 at the centre of our planning.
The same applies to the Sustainable Environment pillar. That it is predicated on the optimal use of natural resources, which is held in stewardship as God's enduring gift to past, present and future generations, as Khama opined, will remain a mirage if H.E Masisi’s government does not embrace it.How can our republic remain a bastion of freedom, security and the rule of law, as Khama opined, if very few Batswana know that good governance, peace and security is one of 2036 pillars? Where is Vision 2036?
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.