This week, we are concluding the series through which we considered whether or not His Excellency the President, Dr. Mokgweetsi Eric Keabetswe Masisi, is delivering on his inaugural speech promises, commitments and undertakings.
Last week dealt with H.E Dr. Masisi’s assurance to Batswana that through such programmes as Integrated Support Programme for Arable Agricultural Development (ISPAAD) and the Livestock Management and Infrastructure Development (LIMID), his government will continue to strive for and intensify the commercialisation of the agricultural sector.
We also dealt with his promise that his government will continue to monitor adherence to the Tourism Regulations of 1996 to accommodate the reservation of some license category for citizens which will subsequently increase their participation in tourism. We also dealt with H.E Dr. Masisi undertaking that his government will, additionally, rejuvenate the capacity of citizens to participate more meaningfully in the tourism sector, stating that steps will be taken to ensure that game farming, as an enterprise, is promoted so that it becomes attractive and profitable.
We also dealt with H.E Dr. Masisi’s promise to table, before Parliament, specific legislation on declaration of assets and liabilities. We also dealt with H.E Dr. Masisi’s reaffirmation that government will continue the HIV and AIDS interventions by combining treatment, care and support, stating that a rejuvenated attention on the major determinants of our national health practices including the manner of response to HIV and AIDS will be given.
This week, we deal with H.E Dr. Masisi’s promise that, in line with the National Spatial Plan 2036, government will accelerate the function of spatial planning and access to land in order to give meaning to the aspirations of Batswana, especially the youth, stating that government will continue giving priority to the Youth when allocating land for agriculture and business purposes. We also deal with H.E Dr. Masisi’s affirmation that Botswana will continue upholding the principles of the rule of law, good governance, respect for human rights and separation of powers between the Executive, the Judiciary and the Legislature.
We also deal with his promise to maintain a neutral, apolitical and professional public service as one of the elements that Botswana prides herself with, urging all Batswana to be vigilant in order to maintain the peace and security that this country has enjoyed for more than five decades. We also deal with H.E Dr. Masisi’s promise to be steadfast in the fight against corruption, stating that that is imperative if we are to safeguard the hopes and dreams of all Batswana for current and future generations.
We also deal with his undertaking to continue strengthening oversight institutions and exacting the full might of the law to ensure that the fight against corruption in all its forms and manifestations is won. We also deal with H.E Dr. Masisi’s commitment that though Botswana is a small country, in terms of population, he will ensure that she continues to play an important role in the promotion of such global issues as respect for human rights, democracy, good governance, the rule of law, as well as the maintenance of international peace and security.
We also deal with his commitment to ensure that the conduct of Botswana’s foreign relations contributes to national development and the improvement of the living standards of our people, promising that, under his leadership, our relations with other countries will be enhanced for the benefit of Botswana and her economy.
We also deal with H.E Dr. Masisi’s promise that Botswana will continue contributing to regional efforts aimed at consolidating democracy, peace and security in the SADC region and beyond, stating that he will do his utmost to continually grow confidence in and of governance through a combination of new legislation, ethical codes and demonstrable and efficacious behaviours.
First, his promise that, in line with the National Spatial Plan 2036, government will accelerate the function of spatial planning and access to land in order to give meaning to the aspirations of Batswana. This is one area that H.E Dr. Masisi must prioritise if he is to have a lasting legacy for thousands of Batswana fail to realize their dreams because of lack of land. As it is, only the middle class and the rich are able to buy land since thousands are still on the Land Board’s waiting lists.
Second, his affirmation that Botswana will continue upholding the principles of the rule of law, good governance, respect for human rights and separation of powers. Thankfully, since rising to power H.E Dr. Masisi has not conducted himself or his government in a manner that is offensive to the rule of law, good governance, respect for human rights and separation of powers.
Third, his promise to maintain a neutral, apolitical and professional public service. While Botswana’s public service is largely apolitical, especially at the lower echelons, the same cannot be said about it at the Permanent Secretary level. The Permanent Secretary to the President (PSP), Carter Morupisi, for instance, is a known BDP sympathiser. Naturally, those serving under him align with the BDP in order to gain his favour.
On the contrary, those not sympathetic the BDP, especially trade union activists and leaders have suffered victimisation through unwarranted transfers and non-promotions, something which has led to some of them aligning with the BDP in order to gain favour. Fourth, his promise to be steadfast in the fight against corruption. Though he has not acceded to calls for a judicial commission of enquiry to investigate the National Petroleum Fund and Pension Fund scandals, since he assumed office a number of high-profile prosecutions involving a High Court judge and former cabinet minister have been commenced.
Also, though no charges have yet been preferred against him in relation to his alleged corrupt activities, the arrest, detention and search of former Director General of the Directorate on Intelligence & Security Services (DISS), Colonel Isaac Kgosi, have made many believe in H.E Dr. Masisi’s promise to fight corruption without fear or favour. Yet, some have been cautious in applauding him, fearing that he may be using the fight against corruption as a pretext to fight political battles in his party, the ruling Botswana Democratic Party (BDP).
This view became fortified when, during the build up to the BDP presidential elections, some BDP functionaries, mainly in the faction that supported Masisi’s challenger, Dr. Pelonomi Venson-Moitoi, were reported to be under investigation by either the DISS, Botswana Unified Revenue Service(BURS) or the Directorate on Corruption & Economic Crime(DCEC).
Fifth, his promise to ensure that Botswana continues to play an important role in the promotion of such global issues as respect for human rights, democracy, good governance, the rule of law, as well as the maintenance of international peace and security. Even under Masisi’s rule, Botswana continues to be a beacon in as far as the aforesaid tenets of democracy are concerned. It is, however, disconcerting that, in terms of the 2018 Ibrahim Index of African Governance (IIAG), she is deteriorating in good governance.
On the Rule of Law, overall, she scored 89.1%, scooping position 4, but considering the 10-year average of 2008 to 2017 she had an increasing deterioration of -5.7. On Rights, overall, she scored 54.9%, taking position 14, but considering the 10-year average of 2008 to 2017 she had an increasing deterioration of -3.4.
Of course, this is a record which H.E Dr. Masisi inherited from his predecessor, but he was part of Lieutenant General Dr. Seretse Khama Ian Khama’s government, in which he served as Vice President for about five years, during which time Botswana experienced the aforesaid deterioration. Sixth, his commitment to ensure that the conduct of Botswana’s foreign relations contributes to national development and the improvement of the living standards of our people.
If there is one thing that H.E Dr. Masisi has done well in the one year that he has been in office, it is repairing the damage that Dr. Khama had caused to our international relations and diplomacy. His reprioritisation of our relations with Southern African Development Community (SADC) member states means we can better leverage from the SADC Free Trade Area Agreement and the SADC/EU Economic Partnership Agreement. The affable relations he has reestablished with the African Union (AU) means we can better leverage from Africa’s Continental Free Trade Area Agreement.
H.E Dr. Masisi has relaunched Botswana into the world stage, potentially taking us back to the glory days of Dr. Khama’s predecessor, Festus Mogae and the late Sir Ketumile Masire in as far as international relations is concerned. Consequently, our chances of making maximum benefit from such international agreements as the World Trade Organisation Trade Facilitation Agreement and the United States sponsored African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) have become enhanced.
Since assuming office, H.E Dr. Masisi has worked tirelessly to mend bilateral relations which had soured during the Khama regime, for instance with the Peoples’ Republic of China, a relationship which, if properly nurtured, may create thousands of jobs for our people. Not only that. H.E Dr. Masisi has travelled the globe, nurturing already existing bilateral relations and creating new ones. His recent visit to Qatar is likely to bring dividends to such sectors as agriculture, beef imports, hotels, and ICT, which Ambassador Manyepedza P Lesetedi says the Qataris are interested in.
Seventh, his promise that Botswana will continue contributing to regional efforts aimed at consolidating democracy, peace and security in the SADC region and beyond. One hopes that as H.E Dr. Masisi travels the world he, behind closed doors, urges his counterparts to uphold the democratic ideal as a prerequisite for the maintenance of peace and security. Botswana’s recent statement that she is going back to the days of silent diplomacy is, however, concerning. Her silence in the face of human rights vilations by some countries, for instance, may be interpreted as approval of such.
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.