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Can BDP MPs and Councillors sponsor Dr. Moitoi’s presidential bid?

NDULAMO ANTHONY MORIMA
EAGLE WATCH

Dr. Pelonomi Venson Moitoi’s decision to challenge His Excellency the President Dr. Mokgweetsi Eric Keabetswe Masisi for the Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) presidency has no doubt thrown the spanners into the works.

It is not only the BDP presidency which is at stake here. The state presidency is at stake because in terms of Article 34.1.3 of the BDP Constitution (“the Constitution”), “the President of the Party shall, when the Party is in power, be State President.” If H.E Dr. Masisi loses the Party’s presidential elections, he will attain the unenviable records of being the shortest serving BDP President and the shortest serving State president. But, most painfully for him, the former president, Lieutenant General Dr. Seretse Khama Ian Khama would have prevailed following their feud which has been festering since he assumed office.  

On the other hand, if Dr. Venson Moitoi wins she will attain such enviable records as being the first to challenge for the presidency and win; the first BDP female president and the first female State president. Indeed, her name will, forever, be etched in our country’s history. Because it will be the first time since the birth of the Party that a sitting President of the Party is challenged, it has raised several constitutional questions within the BDP.

Last week we discussed the question whether the elections for the President of the Party should be through bloc voting or they should be by secret ballot at a National Congress. Article 29.1 of the BDP constitution provides that “when the Party is in power, the President of the Party shall be elected by secret ballot at a National Congress of the Party called by the Central Committee during every General Election Year…”

We concluded that the plain interpretation of Article 29.1 is that since the BDP is in power and this year, 2019, is a general election year, the Central Committee is obliged to call a National Congress of the Party at which the President of the Party shall be elected by secret ballot.  With H.E Dr. Masisi leading Dr. Venson Moitoi in as far as regional nominations are concerned, another constitutional question has arisen, namely whether Dr. Venson Moitoi can still make it to the presidential election slate at the forthcoming National Congress.

In terms of the BDP constitution, there are two ways in which one can be a lawful candidate for the party’s presidential elections. This is either through Article 29.2 or Article 29.3. Article 29.2 provides that “Each Region may nominate and submit one name of an aspirant candidate in good standing from any Region to the Secretary General not less than twenty-four hours before the commencement of the National Congress.” This is the route through which H.E Dr. Masisi seems set to reach the presidential election slate.

Article 29.3 provides that “Any other member in good standing of the Party may submit their name as an aspirant Candidate for the post of President of the Party to the Secretary General of the Party, not less than twenty-four hours before commencement of the applicable National Congress upon being sponsored, in writing, by not less than fifty delegates to the National Congress.” This is the only route through which Dr. Venson Moitoi may reach the election slate.

Yet, Dr. Venson Moitoi’s detractors claim that not even this route is available to her. This, they say, is because Members of Parliament and Councillors, who are her last hope in terms of sponsoring her as per Article 29.3, cannot sponsor her since they lack such mandate because they are not delegates from regions and branches.

Before we express an opinion on this view, we need to elucidate the provisions of Article 29.3. In terms hereof, if Dr. Venson Moitoi is a member of the BDP in good standing she will submit her name as an aspirant Candidate for the post of President of the Party to the Secretary General of the Party, not less than twenty-four hours before commencement of the applicable National Congress upon being sponsored, in writing, by not less than fifty delegates to the National Congress.       

There is no doubt that Dr. Venson Moitoi is a member of the BDP in good standing. There is also no doubt that she will submit her name as an aspirant Candidate for the post of President of the Party to the Secretary General of the Party. The question is: can Members of Parliament and Councillors validly and lawfully sponsor her? To answer this question, we need to determine whether Members of Parliament and Councillors are delegates to the National Congress.

Article 26.4 provides a list of the officers and/or bodies that are entitled to attend the National Congress. Those entitled to attend the National Congress are all members of the National Council; eight delegates from each Branch selected in accordance with the rules made by the Central Committee; all Councillors; and four observers per Constituency in terms of Articles 26.4.1; 26.4.2; 26.4.3 and 26.4.5 respectively. The latter have no voting rights.

Members of the National Council are members of the Central Committee; Members of Parliament who are members of the Party; all Regional Chairpersons and Secretaries; All Branch Chairpersons and Secretaries; all members of the Inner Executive Committee of the Youth Wing of the Party; all members of the Inner Executive Committee of the Women’s Wing  Committee of the Party; One Councillor from each Branch and members of the sub-committees of the Central Committee as per Articles 27.3.1; 27.3.2; 27.3.3; 27.3.4; 27.3.5; 27.3.6; 27.3.7   and 27.3.8 respectively. The latter have no voting rights.

In terms of Articles 26.4.3 and 27.3.2, therefore, Members of Parliament and Councillors are entitled to attend the National Congress. In other words, they are delegates to the National Congress. As is the case with all other members of the National Council, the delegation of Members of Parliament and Councillors to the National Congress is not by Regions and Branches, but is by law, that is, it is in terms of the Constitution itself.

The fact that Members of Parliament and Councillors are constitutional delegates does not grant them less status and/or rights and obligations compared to delegates from Regions and Branches. In fact, legally speaking, all delegates to the National Congress, and indeed to any other structure of the Party, are constitutional delegates because it is the Constitution which makes provision for who shall attend the National Congress and/or any other structure of the Party.

Consequently, even when party members, at Regional and Branch level, purport to delegate a member to the National Congress or any party structure and/or forum, they are, in effect, merely breathing life to the delegation already conferred by the Constitution.  Therefore, even the eight delegates from each Branch selected in accordance with the rules made by the Central Committee and the four observers per Constituency are constitutional delegates with the same rights and obligations as Members of Parliament and Councillors.

In any event, it would be an absurdity if the BDP Constitution were to be interpreted to exclude such integral members of the Party as Members of Parliament and Councillors from sponsoring a candidate for such a pivotal position as president of the Party. Inarguably, the purpose of the BDP Constitution, read as a whole, is to give all the Party’s structures and membership the right to participate in the election of the Party’s office bearers, either by sponsorship or voting.

Limiting such right for Members of Parliament and Councillors would be an unreasonable and unjustifiable limitation liable to be set aside as unconstitutional to the extent it violates the letter and spirit of the Constitution. In conclusion, therefore, it can be safely concluded that Members of Parliament and Councillors can, as part of the fifty delegates to the National Congress, in writing, sponsor Dr. Venson Moitoi should she seek to rely on Article 29.3 to reach the presidential election slate. 

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The Daring Dozen at Bari

8th December 2020
JEFF---Batswana-smoke-unit

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.

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”

UNDERSTANDING

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.”

COMMITMENT

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.

ACCEPTANCE

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.

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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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