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Tick Tock – The Clocks Ticking

IQBAL EBRAHIM

UNDERSTANDING ISLAM

The sad reality is that regardless of who we are, old or young, rich or poor, the high and mighty or just a ‘commoner’, the clock is running down on our lives on this earth. Every breath that we take may be our last; no one knows when and how but, our lives on this earth will one day come to an end.

The Qur’an says; “Every living thing must taste death and surely each will then be recompensed on the Day of Resurrection, so whosoever is saved from the Fire will be admitted to Paradise, such indeed gain the ultimate goal. And what is the life of this world except a provision of vanity. Wherever you are death will surely overtake you”. Verse 3:184 and 4:78.

Among the Biblical verses: ‘Let us eat and drink for tomorrow we die’ (1Cor. 15; 32). “A time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up what is planted; a time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to breakdown, and a time to build up; a time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn…..’ (Ecclesiastes 3: 1 – 22)

Let us embark on that journey that will be starting point to changing our lives so that we live a life as ordered by our Creator. Let us daily remind ourselves of the inevitability of death, it is only then that we will see our foolish worldly ways and consider changing them so that we find the way to the path of Our Lord. We need to change our lifestyles and even it may seem difficult we can start with the ‘small’ and daily things in our lives. We usually open a savings account at the bank to save money for our old age, but why don’t we also open a parallel ‘savings account’ to ‘deposit’ our good deeds so that they stand for us when the day of Judgement arrives?

It is therefore incumbent upon us to ensure that we live our lives in the manner as directed by our Lord and Creator. Let us embark on that journey that will be starting point of changing our lives so that we live a life as ordered by our Creator. Let us daily remind ourselves of the inevitability of death, it is only then that we will see our foolish worldly ways and consider changing them so that we find the way to the path of Our Lord. We need to change our lifestyles and even it may seem difficult we can start with the ‘small’ and daily things in our lives.

It is not too late to start – regardless of our age or time spent on this earth. Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) said; ’Take benefit of: your youth before your old age, your health before your sickness, your wealth before your poverty, your free-time before your preoccupation, and your life before your death.’

We have been granted great Blessings from the Almighty and it is up to us to ensure that we recognize those blessings and live a life in a manner which Pleases Allah. ‘So bring to remembrance the benefits you have received from Allah, and refrain from evil and mischief on the earth’ (Qur’an 7: 74)

Youth before old age

One of the things that most of us take for granted is our youth. When we are young we believe that we have a long life ahead of us so, why worry about doing it today there’s always tomorrow. We pay scant attention to religion and see it as something that we will start ‘practising’ as we get older. We should remember that people do not just magically become ‘good’ overnight; often, we find that bad habits of our youth follow us into our old age and are harder to dump.

Health before sickness

Even if we are blessed with a long life, how can we be sure that we will have the health both physical and mental to practice righteousness? We often take our health for granted and we often don’t realise is that our health is a blessing from Allah. When we are in good health, we take it for granted and seldom appreciate it. We should take advantage of our good health before we are overcome with illness or disability. It is only when we fall ill that we realise what a great blessing we had and how we let it go to waste by not practicing our religion as we know we could and should have done.

Wealth before poverty

Wealth is another blessing granted to us by Allah. Wealth does not necessarily mean that we have large amounts of savings, or that we can afford a huge house, a top-of-the-range car, fancy clothing and other worldly desirables. When we compare ourselves with people that have a lot more worldly possessions than we do, we often seem to overlook the simpler things such as a roof over our head clothes on our backs and food in our homes make us amongst the world’s wealthier people

There are millions of people in the world today that don’t have a roof over their heads, clean water to drink, and they don’t know where their next meal will be coming from. These are the people that we need to be helping with our wealth. Even a small donation can go a long way.

We should give as much as we can in the way of Allah, and we are assured of the rewards for doing so by Allah: ‘The likeness of those who spend their money for Allah’s sake, is as the likeness of a grain (of corn), it grows seven ears, every single ear has a hundred grains, and Allah multiplies (increases the reward) for whom He wills, and Allah cares for all and He knows all things.’. (Qur’an 2: 261)

Free time before preoccupation

Islam encourages us to make the most of our time, and to spend as much of it as possible in the way of Allah. We should utilise the time we have available to do as much good as we can, because before we know it, this time will have passed. We should use the time we have to do as much in the way of Allah as possible, because as time passes, we will have a lot more things to worry about, like jobs, homes and families – things that at present we aren’t necessarily worried about.

If we think that finding the time to practise our faith is difficult now, what will we do when life really starts to pick up pace? The concept of time is also important in Islam: ‘By (the token of) Time. Verily Man is in loss, except such as have faith and do righteous deeds, and in the mutual teaching of truth, of patience and constancy.’ (Qur’an 103: 1-3).

 Life before death

The last thing that we have been advised to take advantage of is our life before our death. Every night when we go to sleep, without realising it, we enter a state ‘semi death’ because rarely do we know what goes on around us. When we wake up, it is only because Allah has blessed us by returning our ‘life’ and granting us the opportunity to worship Him for at least one more day. Upon waking up in the morning we do not fully appreciate how great a blessing it is to be given another chance.

We don’t fully appreciate that at some point – and only the Almighty knows – when our life will be taken away from us for good, leaving no second chance, no opportunity to make up for the wrongs we have done, and no turning back time. We should savour every moment and use it to our best advantage in pleasing Allah in order to achieve our goal of Heaven. ‘He Who created life and death, that He may try which of you is the best in deed… (Qur’an 67: 2)

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Is COVID-19 Flogging an Already Dead Economic Horse?

9th September 2020

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.

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Union of Blue Bloods

9th September 2020

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.

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Security Sector Private Bills: What are they about?

9th September 2020

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.

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