This is the last of the two-part series wherein we discuss circumstances which, in our view, show that the Botswana Democratic Party (BDP)'s victory at the 2019 general elections is doubtful.
Last week, we considered the Lerala-Maunatlala, Serowe North, Serowe South, Serowe West, Boteti West, Bobirwa, Palapye, Mochudi West, Molepolole South, Francistown South and Gabane-Mankgodi constituencies. This, we did in view of the changes in voting patterns which may be caused by the Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC)’s debacle, which resulted in the expulsion of the Botswana Movement for Democracy (BMD) and the birth of the Alliance for Progressives (AP).
We also did this in view of the BDP’s current implosion caused by the April party presidential elections acrimony which has resulted in the expulsion of Honourable Sampson Guma Moyo and the suspension of Honourables Biggie Butale and Prince Maele. Of course, the factor which made us conclude that the BDPs 2019 victory is doubtful is the ongoing conflict between former president Lieutenant General Dr. Seretse Khama Ian Khama and His Excellency the President, Dr. Mokgweetsi Eric Keabetswe Masisi.
As you are aware, this has notably resulted in Dr. Khama and Honourable Butale as well as hundreds of their supporters resigning from the party. A new party, the Botswana Patriotic Front (BPF) is reportedly being formed as a result. It is the BPF and such Independent Candidates as Honourable Maele, who has already decided to that effect, which poses the greatest threat to the BDP’s continued rule post-2019.
This week, we discuss the possible impact of the low voter registration; the youth vote; the political realignment of trade unions and/or trade union leaders; the workers ‘vote and the Masisi factor in relation to workers. According to the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC)’s spokesperson, Osupile Maroba, this year’s voter registration exercise attracted around 933 627 voters who are eligible to vote out of the targeted 1 067 218 million. This means the IEC met 73.2% of its target.
According to Maroba, the 933 627-figure registered as follows: 753 470; 40 738 and 39 354 for the first voter registration, first supplementary registration and the second supplementary registration respectively. According to Maroba, in 2014, 824 073, out of the voting population of 1,067,218 million, had registered to vote by election time, making it 77% of their target which was about 4% higher compared to this year.
The IEC admits that the 2014 general elections were the most anticipated and turned out to be the most successful in terms of voter turnout since independence in 1966. In my view, this was because of such factors as the 2011 public sector strike; the suspected assassination of the late UDC Secretary General and BMD President, Gomolemo Motswaledi; the tyranny of the Directorate on Intelligence & Security Service (DISS) and Dr. Khama’s loss of support.
Reportedly, Maroba attributes this year’s low voter registration to a probable population growth in the country over the last few years. While that may be a factor, I believe the main reason is the ongoing conflicts bedeviling all political parties except the Alliance for Progressives (AP). The other reason is that discontentment with the ruling BDP has reduced. Consequently, the segments of our population, especially the youth and the workers, who, in 2014, may have registered in large numbers to vote for the UDC, have not registered this year.
According to the IEC, by 11th November 2018, the youth who had registered constituted only 30% of the first 750 000 people who had registered to vote. Though the IEC has not presented disaggregated data with respect to workers, it is likely that this year’s numbers will be lower than those for 2014 because the ‘moono’ phoria has, no doubt, fizzled, especially following the Botswana Public Employees Union(BOPEU)’s disaffiliation from the Botswana Federation of Public Sector Unions(BOFEPUSU).
Even BOFEPUSU itself is no longer as pro-UDC as it was in 2014. By this time in 2014, BOFEPUSU had released the so-called hit list targeting Members of Parliament (MPs) it wanted voted out, with His Excellency the President, Dr. Mokgweetsi Eric Keabetswe Masisi, top on the list. Veteran trade unionist, Johnson Motshwarakgole, is on record stating that H.E Dr. Masisi has done very well and he can vote for him, a view that is, no doubt, held by many of Motshwarakgole’s loyalists.
The Botswana Federation of Trade Unions (BFTU) too is lukewarm this year, perhaps because of BOPEU’s influence, which many regard as sympathetic to the ruling BDP. One thing is certain: there has been political realignment of trade unions and/or trade union leaders, mostly in favour of the BDP. In my view, therefore, it is not only the youth who have contributed to this year’s low voter registration. It is the workers who have lost the momentum of the 2011 public sector strike, in part because of the conflicts within the UDC, which led to the birth of the AP and the expulsion of the BMD.
The 2011 public sector strike momentum has also been lost because of the Masisi factor. Since assuming power, H.E Dr. Masisi has strived to mend relations between government and trade unions, especially BOFEPUSU. He has held meetings with trade unions, except the Botswana Landboards Local Authorities & Health Worker's Union (BLLAHWU) which reportedly declined the invitation rubbishing it as a public relations exercise. He has urged trade unions and the Directorate on Public Service Management (DPSM) to reconstitute the Public Service Bargaining Council (PSBC).
Perhaps most importantly for trade unions, this year’s salary negotiations were the smoothest in about a decade, resulting in agreed salary increases of 10% and 6% for A and B scales and C and D scales respectively for the 2019/2020 and 2020/2021 financial years. Over and above the salary increment agreement, it was agreed that the conditions of service and the findings of the PEMANDU report shall be negotiated upon by 2019 with a view to conclude a collective agreement on them.
Obviously in an attempt to gain the support of the armed forces, H.E Dr. Masisi recently introduced a new pay structure for the Botswana Defence Force(BDF), commonly called Ntlole, which was backdated to April 2012, resulting in the beneficiaries raking back pays which have reportedly had some cashing as much as P60,000 in back pays.
Of course, not all workers and trade unions have been placated by these gestures, but many, including Motshwarakgole, whose constituency of industrial class workers benefited the most, at least superficially, have been appeased enough to be prepared to vote for H.E Dr. Masisi in October 2019.
We all know that H.E Dr. Masisi will not be contesting any Parliamentary seat in 2019 since he is the BDP’s presidential candidate and there are no direct presidential elections in Botswana. So, when one says they will vote for H.E Dr. Masisi they effectively mean that they will vote for the BDP. For this reason, although last week I presented circumstances which I concluded make the BDP’s victory in 2019 doubtful, the aforegoing, coupled with the ailing Opposition, may just see the BDP through.
But already workers have began expressing discontent at the lack of progress regarding the review of conditions of service exercise conducted by PEMANDU. In fact, some workers blame BOFEPUSU for that and are totally against the idea that government and trade unions will be conducting a nationwide consultation exercise, arguing that their concerns are already known.
Ntlole itself is not without controversy. Reportedly, whilst celebrating the adjustment with other employees, BDF nurses received letters instructing them to return to the C1 salary scale they were moved to at the end of April. Their upward move was allegedly reversed because their ranks, being Non-Commissioned Officers (NCOs), do not warrant movement to C1 scale.
Ntlole is also reported to have further widened the gap between the Botswana Police Service (BPS) and the BDF salary structure, something that may bring division within the armed forces. So, H.E Dr. Masisi has about four months to deal with these issues, failing which, especially if the BPF becomes the force it says it will be, the country may, for the first time in its history, have a hung Parliament, something which can result in the UDC attaining power by entering into a coalition with other opposition political parties, especially the AP and BPF.
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.