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Stuart White

The World in Black-N-White

A long while back there was a British sitcom series entitled ‘The Good Life’, the basis of which revolved around a man called Tom Good.  As the series starts he is a draughtsman in a company producing plastic toys.

His work colleague and next-door neighbour, Jerry Leadbetter, is a marketing executive in the same company and the pair are both on the conventional corporate ladder.  They live in a desirable suburb of London in large, detached houses, work 9 to 5, if not longer, sucking up to the boss in order to protect and advance their careers which are financially promising. 

But Tom, it seems, is not content.  It’s his 40th birthday and he is suffering from a mid-life crisis.  He is disillusioned with the convention, corporate world, he wants a complete change and he has a plan;  Hand in his resignation, turn his large garden into a self-supporting farm, growing vegetables, rearing livestock, keeping chickens and even using animal waste material to go off-grid and produce  his own electricity.  He persuades his wife to support his idea and the basis for the series is thus established.

The Good Life in the title is a play on his surname (Good) and turning the perceived idea  of La Dolce Vita – career success, material wealth and all its accompanying trappings – upside down.  His good life was going to be one of honest toil and living entirely and quite literally off the fruits of his own labour.

The series was a huge success, due, in part, to excellent scripting and acting, but also because it tapped into something many of us have often considered – leaving the rat race behind for a simpler life, eschewing the pursuit of money and the material world and going back to nature.  Deep down, there’s a farmer or sharecropper in all of us and we’d love to abandon the ties that bind us to the world of business in favour of an idyllic existence in a rural paradise, at one with Mother Nature.  Yet for most of us it remains a dream and probably rightly so.  The reality of such a drastic lifestyle change is too massive to truly contemplate – it’s just the germ of an idea somewhere in the back of our minds and there it remains.

But the idea of a radical career change doesn’t have to mean becoming sons and daughters of the soil.  It can rather be a switch from one profession or occupation to another very different one.  We trained to be one thing, we walked down that path, enjoying the view, till one day we realised we wanted to take a different track altogether.  This realisation can build up gradually over time or it can come as a bolt from the blue but either way, your mind is made up.  You want to retrain, re-think and reverse your chosen career path because it no longer represents who you are and how you want to spend your life.   

But giving up your job has huge implications.  You may also have to give up your home;  You may need to invest your entire life savings to effect the change;  You may have to relocate, not just yourself but uproot your entire family;  In most instances it will almost certainly mean a contraction in status, both financial and social.  It is, in effect, a leap in the dark.  But if that sounds like you, here is some practical advice on how to take that next big step:

Don't get bogged down in thinking that you only have one chance to change career: "When people start talking about their "true calling" or "finding their vocation" it adds a lot of pressure to an already difficult decision. You will probably change career direction several times in your life, so try to think in terms of what you would like to try next.

Career planning tools on websites such as Prospects or TargetJobs can be useful to throw up a few ideas, but the key is to think about the kind of skills you enjoy and are good at, the environment you'd like to be in and the kind of people you want to work with. Once you've narrowed it down to two or three areas, you'll be able to do some more targeted research and start looking at specific job roles. Just remember, you can always change your mind." Tracy Johnson, career coach and founder of Brainbox Coaching

A gradual approach to changing your career can work well: "While some people want to radically reinvent their career instantly, it is more realistic to work towards a new career over time. This might mean making changes in your current job, studying a course in the evening, shadowing someone in the role, or learning new skills to make yourself more attractive to potential employers. It might also mean that you gradually move into your new career via a series of jobs rather than one giant leap – and this is important if you want to protect your salary rather than going back to entry level wages." Corinne Mills, author and managing director of Personal Career Management

You need to believe that it really can happen: "One of the hardest things with a change of career is believing that we can do this new task. We tend to think of ourselves as a photographer, an accountant or whatever. That's what seems to define us. Now we have to re-define ourselves and begin to believe it deeply inside us. Once we believe it, others will too. I would suggest you start saying to yourself and to everyone you meet that you work in [your new sector]. When I changed career, I continued to say that I was an actor who also worked as a coach, but once I started saying that I was a coach who used to be an actor, my coaching work really took off." Robin Kermode, leading European speech director and founder of Zone2

The first steps to take when thinking of changing career: "Your starting point is to really think about what's important to you in a career. What sort of working environment do you think you'll be happy in? What energises you most work-wise? And what do you naturally love doing and are good at? All these questions will help you to identify some possible avenues. Spending a bit of time thinking about yourself and what fulfils you will help you to make the right choices." Sally Bibb, founder of Engaging Minds

The Good Life was a work of fiction, but a radical career and lifestyle change can become a reality if you are truly convinced that career satisfaction now lies somewhere else.   Remember the old adage that as you grow old it’s not what you did in life that you regret the most but rather what you didn’t do!

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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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The Era of “The Diplomat”

30th November 2020
FATED “JIHADI” JOHN

Youngest Maccabees scion Jonathan takes over after Judas and leads for 18 years

Going hand-in-glove with the politics at play in Judea in the countdown to the AD era, General Atiku, was the contention for the priesthood. You will be aware, General, that politics and religion among the Jews interlocked. If there wasn’t a formal and sovereign Jewish King, there of necessity had to be a High Priest at any given point in time.

Initially, every High Priest was from the tribe of Levi as per the stipulation of the Torah. At some stage, however, colonisers of Judah imposed their own hand-picked High Priests who were not ethnic Levites. One such High Priest was Menelaus of the tribe of Benjamin.

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Land Board appointments of party activists is political corruption

30th November 2020

Parliament has rejected a motion by Leader of Opposition (LOO) calling for the reversing of the recent appointments of ruling party activists to various Land Boards across the country. The motion also called for the appointment of young and qualified Batswana with tertiary education qualifications.

The ruling party could not allow that motion to be adopted for many reasons discussed below. Why did the LOO table this motion? Why was it negated? Why are Land Boards so important that a ruling party felt compelled to deploy its functionaries to the leadership and membership positions?

Prior to the motion, there was a LOO parliamentary question on these appointments. The Speaker threw a spanner in the works by ruling that availing a list of applicants to determine who qualified and who didn’t would violate the rights of those citizens. This has completely obliterated oversight attempts by Parliament on the matter.

How can parliament ascertain the veracity of the claim without the names of applicants? The opposition seeks to challenge this decision in court.  It would also be difficult in the future for Ministers and government officials to obey instructions by investigative Parliamentary Committees to summon evidence which include list of persons. It would be a bad precedent if the decision is not reviewed and set aside by the Business Advisory Committee or a Court of law.

Prior to independence, Dikgosi allocated land for residential and agricultural purposes. At independence, land tenures in Botswana became freehold, state land and tribal land. Before 1968, tribal land, which is land belonging to different tribes, dating back to pre-independence, was allocated and administered by Dikgosi under Customary Law. Dikgosi are currently merely ‘land overseers’, a responsibility that can be delegated. Land overseers assist the Land Boards by confirming the vacancy or availability for occupation of land applied for.

Post-independence, the country was managed through modern law and customary law, a system developed during colonialism. Land was allocated for agricultural purposes such as ploughing and grazing and most importantly for residential use. Over time some land was allocated for commercial purpose. In terms of the law, sinking of boreholes and development of wells was permitted and farmers had some rights over such developed water resources.

Land Boards were established under Section 3 of the Tribal Land Act of 1968 with the intention to improve tribal land administration. Whilst the law was enacted in 1968, Land Boards started operating around 1970 under the Ministry of Local Government and Lands which was renamed Ministry of Lands and Housing (MLH) in 1999. These statutory bodies were a mechanism to also prune the powers of Dikgosi over tribal land. Currently, land issues fall under the Ministry of Land Management, Water and Sanitation Services.

There are 12 Main Land Boards, namely Ngwato, Kgatleng, Tlokweng, Tati, Chobe, Tawana, Malete, Rolong, Ghanzi, Kgalagadi, Kweneng and Ngwaketse Land Boards.  The Tribal Land Act of 1968 as amended in 1994 provides that the Land Boards have the powers to rescind the grant of any rights to use any land, impose restrictions on land usage and facilitate any transfer or change of use of land.

Some land administration powers have been decentralized to sub land boards. The devolved powers include inter alia common law and customary law water rights and land applications, mining, evictions and dispute resolution. However, decisions can be appealed to the land board or to the Minister who is at the apex.

So, land boards are very powerful entities in the country’s local government system. Membership to these institutions is important not only because of monetary benefits of allowances but also the power of these bodies. in terms of the law, candidates for appointment to Land Boards or Subs should be residents of the tribal areas where appointments are sought, be holders of at least Junior Certificate and not actively involved in politics.  The LOO contended that ruling party activists have been appointed in the recent appointments.

He argued that worse, some had no minimum qualifications required by the law and that some are not inhabitants of the tribal or sub tribal areas where they have been appointed. It was also pointed that some people appointed are septuagenarians and that younger qualified Batswana with degrees have been rejected.

Other arguments raised by the opposition in general were that the development was not unusual. That the ruling party is used to politically motivated appointments in parastatals, civil service, diplomatic missions, specially elected councilors and Members of Parliament (MPs), Bogosi and Land Boards. Usually these positions are distributed as patronage to activists in return for their support and loyalty to the political leadership and the party.

The ruling party contended that when the Minister or the Ministry intervened and ultimately appointed the Land Boards Chairpersons, Deputies and members , he didn’t have information, as this was not information required in the application, on who was politically active and for that reason he could not have known who to not appoint on that basis. They also argued that opposition activists have been appointed to positions in the government.

The counter argument was that there was a reason for the legal requirement of exclusion of political activists and that the government ought to have mechanisms to detect those. The whole argument of “‘we didn’t know who was politically active” was frivolous. The fact is that ruling party activists have been appointed. The opposition also argued that erstwhile activists from their ranks have been recruited through positions and that a few who are serving in public offices have either been bought or hold insignificant positions which they qualified for anyway.

Whilst people should not be excluded from public positions because of their political activism, the ruling party cannot hide the fact that they have used public positions to reward activists. Exclusion of political activists may be a violation of fundamental human or constitutional rights. But, the packing of Land Boards with the ruling party activists is clear political corruption. It seeks to sow divisions in communities and administer land in a politically biased manner.

It should be expected that the ruling party officials applying for land or change of land usage etcetera will be greatly assisted. Since land is wealth, the ruling party seeks to secure resources for its members and leaders. The appointments served to reward 2019 election primary and general elections losers and other activists who have shown loyalty to the leadership and the party.

Running a country like this has divided it in a way that may be difficult to undo. The next government may decide to reset the whole system by replacing many of government agencies leadership and management in a way that is political. In fact, it would be compelled to do so to cleanse the system.

The opposition is also pondering on approaching the courts for review of the decision to appoint party functionaries and the general violation of clearly stated terms of reference. If this can be established with evidence, the courts can set aside the decision on the basis that unqualified people have been appointed.

The political activism aspect may also not be difficult to prove as some of these people are known activists who are in party structures, at least at the time of appointment, and some were recently candidates. There is a needed for civil society organizations such as trade unions and political parties to fight some of these decisions through peaceful protests and courts.

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