Of late, especially since His Excellency the President, Dr. Mokgweetsi Eric Keabetswe Masisi, assumed power, there has been several instances or demeanors which, by all standards, show lack of respect for the presidency and the President.
It is needless to state the presidency is a constitutional office, it being established in terms of section 30 of the Constitution of Botswana which provides that ‘there shall be a President of the Republic of Botswana who shall be Head of State.’ Though they do not form part of the presidency per se, the offices of the First President and Former Presidents are also constitutional offices which deserve respect. In terms of section 30 of the Constitution of Botswana, the president is the Head of State. This effectively makes him or her synonymous with the state, especially in the eyes of the international community.
It, therefore, follows that a nation which disrespects its presidency effectively disrespects itself and lowers its own esteem in the eyes of the international community. Respect for the presidency is a duty that all of us have regardless of party affiliation, class or socio-economic status. It is a constitutional imperative into which we are all enjoined to breathe life. Ordinarily, there is nothing wrong with nick names, but one becomes uncomfortable when the President is called with a nickname, especially one which can easily be used to demean his or her person.
I have always been uncomfortable with H.E Dr. Masisi being called by the nick name ‘Sisboy’. Firstly, he is not a boy, but a grown man with a family. Secondly, the name has sometimes been used in a derogatory manner, especially in social media. Therefore, while the name may work for him politically since it gives an impression that he is an easy-going person, especially among the youth, it is honestly not befitting for a person holding the high Office of President.
Of course, it is H.E Dr. Masisi himself who, while he was still Minister of Presidential Affairs and Public Administration, referred to himself as lelope, a boot licker. But it becomes concerning when he is continually referred to as lelope, especially when that is taken out of the context in which he used the word at the time.
Recently, following media reports that a helicopter transporting H.E Dr. Masisi and other persons had to make priority landing in Francis town, the Member of Parliament (MP) for Selibe Phikwe West, Honourable Dithapelo Koorapetse, made averments to the effect that H.E Dr. Masisi wanted to commit suicide. Politics aside, such a statement shows disrespect for not only H.E Dr. Masisi himself, but also the presidency and, by implication, the country because the president, as Head of State, represents the country.
This unfortunate statement had the potential to affect Botswana economically since the country’s economic outlook could be downgraded because investors would regard our country as unstable. Understandably, Honourable Koorapetse suffered a backlash from several people from across the political divide through social media. I am, however, disappointed that instead of just condemning his statement, some hurled insults at him. I may have missed it, but I have not seen an apology from Honourable Koorapetse. If he has not yet apologized, he may well be advised to apologize for to err is human.
I must hasten to state that calling for people to exercise respect and restraint in dealing with the presidency does not mean people should be denied the right to exercise their freedom of speech and expression. People, including such Opposition politicians as Honourable Koorapetse, can still exercise their freedom of speech and expression without showing contempt for the presidency.
I am reluctant to say this because it may be construed wrongly, but I have to say it. Assessed objectively, some statements that have been uttered or published in relation to the president could easily fall within the realm of compromising national security, something which could result in criminal charges. It goes without saying that such an eventuality must be avoided at all costs, for if it happens it will, no doubt, give rise to talk that people are persecuted for exercising their freedom of speech and expression.
It becomes even more precarious if a politician, like Honourable Koorapetse, is involved because if the state charges them, it can easily be accused of political intolerance and persecution, especially now that we are in the run-up to the general elections. Of course, as has happened before, some state agencies may, in an effort to appease the President, abuse their powers, and charge even those who exercise their rights in a bona fide way. Thankfully, our courts would quash such action as they have done before.
As stated before, though they do not form part of the presidency per se, the offices of the First President and Former Presidents also deserve respect. Thankfully, no disrespect has been shown to our First President, the late Sir. Seretse Khama. Regrettably, the same cannot be said about our former presidents, especially H.E Dr. Masisi’s predecessor, Lietenant General Dr. Seretse Khama Ian Khama.
Insults and racist slurs have been hurled at him through social media, especially since his conflict with H.E Dr. Masisi became heightened. He has even been referred to merely as ‘Ian’ in intonations and contexts which could only suggest racism. I was, however, heartened, when H.E Dr. Masisi condemned those who insult Dr. Khama, reaffirming the notion that he should be respected not only because he is a human being, but also because he is a former president.
When he was still the people’s favourite, referring to him as ‘Ian’ was only regarded as affectionate, but today it is sometimes used as a derogatory name. It is for this reason that I detest H.E Dr. Masisi being referred to as ‘Sisboy’ because while the name may be used affectionately today, it may, in future, be used in a disparaging way when he is no longer the peoples’ darling. Respect for the presidency and the President should, however, not only come from the citizens. It should also come from the presidency and the President himself.
Put differently, in as much as the citizens are expected to respect the presidency and the President personally, the presidency and the President also have a duty to respect the citizens. The Setswana adage ‘susu ilela suswana gore suswana a tle a go ilele’ cannot have been more apt for, normally, respect begets respect.
I pray to God that this will not be construed as giving an excuse for those who disrespect the presidency and the President, but I must state that in some instances the presidency and the President have not acted in a manner that shows that ‘ba ilela suswana gore suswana a tle a ba ilele.’ Such statements that H.E Dr. Masisi has become known for as ‘lo mo siele metsi’ and ‘go tshamekelwa ko dipipiring’ may be entertaining to some, but are unpresidential, to say the least.
I was saddened when H.E Dr. Masisi, during his party’s launch of its Parliamentary candidate for Lobatse constituency, Dr. Thapelo Matsheka, in Lobatse last weekend, reportedly invited the Botswana Movement for Democracy(BMD)’s Nehemiah Modubule to join the Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) ‘gore atle a phailelwe.’ Expectedly, following such utterance social media became abuzz with responses, most of which bordered on insults and other affronts of like nature.
I say expectedly because the phrase ‘go phailela’ is often used to mean the extension of sexual favors in gratuitous ways. H.E Dr. Masisi, himself gifted in Setswana language, knows that and he should never have used the phrase in that context. Even those who interpreted the phrase conservatively, understood H.E Dr. Masisi to have been insinuating that if Nehemiah Modubule joins the BDP he will be favored with government tenders, something which suggests corruption.
H.E Dr. Masisi, knowing full well that there is an impression that the BDP often uses government tenders to induce those from the Opposition to defect to the BDP, should never have uttered such words. As you may well be aware, more disdainful statements have been made against H.E Dr. Masisi and Dr. Khama. I have elected not to cite them to avoid giving them more publicity. For all a country’s citizens, despite their differences, respect for the presidency and the President should be a constitutional imperative worth defending like all aspects of democracy are worth defending and dying for.
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.