According to the 2018 Ibrahim Index of African Governance (IIAG), Botswana scored 21.1%; 69.6%; 70.7%; 75.0%, 0%, 58.3% and 86.3% for promotion of gender equality, women’s political representation, gender parity in primary and lower secondary school, women’s labour force participation, workplace gender equality, representation of women in the judiciary, laws on violence against women and women’s political empowerment respectively.
She attained positions 51; 25; 21; 1; 44; 12; and 13 respectively. Overall, in Gender, Botswana scored 54.4%, taking position 29, but considering the 10-year average of 2008 to 2017 she had an increasing deterioration of -8.2. This is not surprising. Since independence in 1966, Botswana has never had a female President nor Vice President. Today, out of a cabinet of seventeen ministers only three are women. Of the fifty-seven elected Members of Parliament (MPs) only three are women.
As has been the case with previous Parliaments, despite the low number of elected female MPs, the President did not take advantage of the provision for Specially Elected Members of Parliament (SEMPs) to appoint more women. Regrettably, of the six SEMPs only two are women. It is only as regards the position of Speaker of the National Assembly that women have had a fair chance in Botswana’s political arena. Both the current Speaker, Honourable Gladys Kokorwe, and her predecessor, Honourable Dr. Margret Nasha, are women.
It is, therefore, not surprising that Dr. Pelonomi Venson-Moitoi’s announcement that she intends contesting the Botswana Democratic Party (BDP)’s forthcoming presidential elections was met with such venom, even from women themselves. Though there is no evidence that suggests that His Excellency the President, Dr. Mokgweetsi Keabetswe Eric Masisi’s decision to drop her was motivated by gender discrimination, one wonders whether he would have reacted in the manner he did if it were a man who stated an intention to challenge him.
The danger with patriarchy is that it brain washes its victims, women, to the extent that they end up suffering from self-doubt and self-discrimination. It even lowers their self-esteem and makes them regard themselves with indignation. Also, its perpetrators often have seemingly good reasons to perpetuate it. For instance, they would argue that women are not yet ready to assume certain positions since they still need grooming by men. Others portray the few women who attempt to break the ceiling of patriarchy as power hungry.
When such women’s marriages fail, for instance, they are blamed, the claim being that it is because they could not submit themselves to their husbands that their marriages failed. It is never the men’s fault. Words like o ithaya are lelwapa ke ko Palamenteng are often uttered. In my view, the claim that Dr. Venson-Moitoi deserved to be dropped because if she had the interests of the party at heart she would not have acted as she did since her action can only further divide the party is a lame pretext. The real reason behind this claim is sexism and nothing else.
When there were rumors that the Botswana Democratic Party (BDP)’s New Jerusalema faction associated with former president Lieutenant General Dr. Seretse Khama Ian Khama intended to field former cabinet minister, Neo Moroka, to challenge His Excellency the President, Dr. Mokgweetsi Keabetswe Eric Masisi, for the party presidency no body raised this argument. In politics, if people were to wait until factionalism is no more before they could contest elections they would never contest because factionalism has almost become synonymous with politics.
Besides, politics, like many of life’s undertakings, is a game of opportunities and if contesting now when there is this divide within the BDP is opportune for Dr. Venson-Moitoi let it be. Who does not take advantage of opportunities in life? Didn’t H.E Dr. Masisi himself take advantage of Dr. Khama’s discomfort with some senior members of the party to endear himself to Dr. Khama which saw him appointed Vice President?
Didn’t he abandon Dr. Khama after he ascended to the presidency because he knew that will endear him to a significant part of the population which was against Dr. Khama’s rule? Others argue that because Dr. Venson-Moitoi had stated that she will be retiring from politics at the end of the current Parliament, it is hypocritical for her to be now stating her intention to contest the party presidency.
As argued above, politics, like many of life’s undertakings, is a game of opportunities. Dr. Venson-Moitoi may have made the decision to retire then because of prevailing circumstances at the time. Nothing stops her from changing her mind in view of the current political environment, which has changed significantly.
Didn’t His Honour the Vice President, Slumber Tsogwane, announce his intention to retire from politics. Didn’t he change his mind when the vice presidency came his way. Does he talk of retirement anymore? Why is it an issue when it is Dr. Venson-Moitoi? Is it because she is a woman? Some claim that the only reason Dr. Venson-Moitoi is making a U-turn is that she is an opportunist who wants to take advantage of the rift between Dr. Khama and H.E Dr. Masisi, questioning why she never contested the presidency during Dr. Khama’s tenure.
Some, in this category, claim that Dr. Venson-Moitoi is motivated by tribalism since she cannot live with the fact that a none-MoNgwato is a state president, claiming that she had hoped that Tshekedi Khama II would succeed Khama. Regrettably, the tribalism card is often used by people who do not necessarily believe in tribal parity, but merely use it as a sympathy or scare tactic. In this case, some sexists are using the tribal card to hide their real motive which is gender discrimination.
For the many years that Dr. Venson-Moitoi has served Batswana she has never exhibited a grain of tribalism. She can, therefore, not be accused of tribalism now when she wants to contest the BDP presidency, a hitherto male preserve. Others claim that Dr. Venson-Moitoi is an opportunist who wants to take advantage of the gender ticket to rise to the presidency. Deplorably, some, including women in politics, chastise her for being used by men to meet their political objectives.
It is regrettable that when a woman wants to contest for high office, she is accused of being used by men. Which men? In fact, this is an insult to women because it creates an impression that women are weak and only stand up when they are used by men. This cannot be correct.
This same argument was used against former cabinet minister, Tebelelo Seretse, when she, in 2009, challenged party veteran and former MP for Molepolole South, Daniel Kwelagobe for the party chairpersonship. The same condescending attitude was used against her in 2015 when she challenged H.E Dr. Masisi for the party chairpersonship.
â€¨Dr. Venson-Moitoi has also suffered the same wrath before. This is when she, in 2012, contested and lost the party chairpersonship against former Assistant Minister of Finance & Development Planning and MP for Tati East, Honourable Samson Guma Moyo who later abdicated the chairpersonship after serving for a few months. What is even more disappointing is that some women, including Opposition activists, have joined in this self-denigration. But, like I said, we may pardon them because they are victims of the evil of patriarchy.
As a sign of utter desperation some are even claiming that the fact that Dr. Venson-Moitoi is attracting support from some countries and foreign based organizations is a threat to national security. But, has anyone ever questioned the source of funding for male contestants? I wonder whether there would be such a debate if it were a male who had indicated an intention to challenge H.E Dr. Masisi. They may not say it publicly, but many of those who are so fearlessly opposed to Dr. Venson-Moitoi’s decision are doing that for no other reason but gender stereotypes.
There is a saying in South Africa which avers that, “the White man has no kin: his kin is money”. The saying rings very true considering what Mayer Amschel Rothschild – he of the planet’s wealthiest family – once said, that, “Permit me to issue and control the money of a nation, and I care not who makes its laws!”
To the white man, the dollar sign looms so large in his optics that it was precisely the reason he appropriated Africa towards the end of the 19th century. The idea was to develop his continent, Europe, at the same rate as he underdeveloped Africa. Yet he was driven as much by economic imperatives as by sheer greed and prejudice.
A “pagan” King violates the Jewish Temple by setting up an idol in the Holy of Holies
Why, General Atiku, has the Judean setting (present-day Israel/Palestine) being the focus of so much geopolitical fervour over the ages when it is so resource-poor and is not even that agriculturally fecund being a virtual desert? Why have all the superpowers of history locked horns over it since days immemorial?
Just a ‘teaser’: we are all complaining of the ‘hot weather’ and ‘heat’ – but think about it, is this a reminder / warning from the Almighty that if we find this weather ‘hot’ can you imagine what the ‘fires of hell’ will be like should we get there?
Let us take this as a reminder and a ‘warning’ that we should change our lifestyles so that we follow in the path of righteousness and that which our Lord has directed. Failing this we will face the ‘fire of hell’ which undoubtedly will be many times worse than what we are facing on this earth.
Because as humans we have been favoured and bestowed with the power of intellect thus we enjoy greatness over other creation, coupled with a greater responsibility. Should that responsibility be misused then only on the Day of Reckoning will he know we will live in joy or in grief forever.
Since the dawn of creation Allah has sent down thousands of messengers, dozens of Divine Books but only ONE universal Message to humanity. That message of Divine Revelation and guidance is clear, unambiguous and eternal:
Allah is One, He is Master and Creator of the universe and of mankind and to Him is due all worship and obedience.
He has sent humanity Divine Revelation and guidance through His Messengers and His Books.
As death is inevitable in this world, equally is our resurrection in the Hereafter where everyone will face the consequences of their belief, unbelief and conduct in this temporal world.
This is the basic message, teaching and belief of every religion and without doubt we will all be called to account for our lives in this world and the manner in which we conducted ourselves, will be rewarded thereafter, the consequences of which may be joy forever for some or grief forever for others.
“It is He [Allah] Who created Death and Life, that He may try which of you is best in deeds and He is Exalted in Might, Oft-Forgiving.” (Qur’an: 67: 2)
In Islam the teachings of the Qur’an and the Last and Final Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) give clear guidance to the believer on how to live a life in this world so as to achieve success in the Hereafter.
‘If any do wish for the transitory things of this life, We readily grant them, such things as We will, to such persons as We will…… those who wish for the things of the Hereafter and strive for them with all due striving, and have faith, they are the ones whose striving is acceptable to Allah’ (Qur’an 17: 18-19)
In this world when a person sets out on a journey towards our Maker (Allah), he finds two paths, one leading to God and the other path to different destinations. A sincere and faithful believer will always try to find the right path and to live by the Divine injunctions, laws and code that his religion lays down. This requires us to live in harmony with the will of the Creator, in harmony with our own selves, and with the needs of the rest of creation. Unfortunately we have a tendency at times to toy with Divine Law and to surrender it to the laws of man and in the process to translate and interpret them into what fits in with our lifestyle of today.
If we are to use the intellect and the freedom of choice bestowed to us by God Almighty and follow His guidance, we will then live consciously in a state of “submission’ to Him, thus we will be virtuous. On the other hand when we ignore our Creators injunctions we work against the natural order, we tend to create discord, injustice and evil – and we become one without guidance. Therefore it is the intellect and the freedom of choice given to us that we are fully responsible for whatever we do.
However, it would be foolish for us to think of ourselves as totally independent and self-sufficient. If a person thinks in this manner, we become proud and. We will be inclined to become ungrateful for the bounties that we enjoy – the air that we breathe and the food we eat to sustain us, the eyes and ears we use to perceive the world around us, the tongue and lips we use to express our needs, wants and our inner most feelings and emotions. And being ungrateful, we will be inclined to forget or to reject the truth of the existence of God Almighty.
Unfortunately, people have varying views with regards to what the most important characteristic of a person is: for some it is the colour of his skin; for others, it is his economic situation – whether he is wealthy or poor; others think it is his , social or political standing, whether he is ruler or ruled; for others it is his social standing as an aristocrat, middle or working class; yet for some is his birth place and the language he speaks or the tribe he belongs to, etc..
‘Do men think that they will be left alone on saying “We believe”, and they will not be tested? We tested those before them, and Allah will certainly those who are true and those who are false’. (Quran 29: 2-3)
In Islam, these have no significance rather they are merely taken as signs of the creative power of God to enable people to recognise one another. The Almighty declares “O Mankind! Indeed we have created you as male and female, and have placed you in nations and tribes that you may have mutual recognition. However, the most honourable of you, in the sight of Allah is the one who is most God-conscious” (Qur’an: 49: 13)
Hence, the most important characteristic of a person is whether he is conscious of his Creator, believes in Him and through that consciousness submits to Him at all times and in all circumstances.
According to the Islamic view man is created by Allah in a pure state, free from sin. He also created us with the capacity or power to do both good and evil. He gave us the freedom to choose between doing good or evil. The good and evil therefore is connected with mankind’s freedom of choice and responsibility for their actions. “Good” may be whatever is pleasing to Allah and therefore beneficial to us. Whereas “Bad/evil” may be whatever incurs the anger of God and is therefore harmful to man.
‘By the soul, and the proportion and order given to it; And its enlightenment as to its wrong and its right – truly he that succeeds that purifies it, and he fails that corrupts it….. (Quran 91: 7-10)
Therefore one of mankind’s main tasks is to keep away from and ward off evil. This is why Taqwa, piety and God consciousness is repeatedly mentioned in the Qur’an as the most important quality a person should develop in this regard. This means one must be conscious at all times not to over step the limits set by God. It works as a defence against evil and temptation by keeping a person within the boundaries of piety.