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What happened to Masisi’s ‘consultation’ on the Declaration of Assets and Liabilities Bill?

NDULAMO ANTHONY MORIMA
EAGLE WATCH

Last week, I promised that this week I will compare Botswana’s Declaration of Assets and Liabilities Bill with that of other countries, not only in Africa but the world over. When the promise was made, it was hoped that the Parliamentary debate on the Bill will still be ongoing by now. It was, therefore, hoped that such comparison would assist in the debate and would, hopefully, influence the outcome of the debate.

However, as you are aware, the ruling Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) used its Parliamentary majority and rushed the Bill through the law making stages and passed it in the dead of night despite reservations, especially by the Opposition in Parliament. The cut-throat manner in which the BDP passed the Bill was reminiscent of the passage of the Intelligence and Security Services Bill, whose passage the Opposition in Parliament boycotted, leaving the BDP to pass it alone.

One could see that the BDP Members of Parliament (MPs) were acting on instructions to pass the Bill before Parliament was dissolved. Of course, such instructions often come from the party’s Parliamentary Caucus, but this time it was clear that they came from the President himself. It is common knowledge that the Intelligence and Security Services Act has been very divisive and has cost our country a lot, especially in as far as national unity and stability are concerned.

In my view, one of the reasons why former president, Lieutenant General Dr. Seretse Khama Ian Khama, is so unpopular is the Intelligence and Security Services Act in terms of which the infamous former Director General of the Directorate on Intelligence & Security Services (DISS), Colonel Isaac Kgosi, was appointed. Of course, considering the fact that the merits of the Declaration of Assets and Liabilities Bill far outweigh its demerits, it cannot be compared to the Intelligence and Security Services Act, but the way in which it was rushed through Parliament raises eye brows.

This is especially true considering the fact that one of the highly contested aspects of the Bill, i.e. the authority to which declarations will be made, is so critical that it has the potential to render the Bill ineffectual. It is incontrovertible that when all is said and done, the most important element of declaration of assets and liabilities bill is the system’s integrity. So, when many MPs, albeit in the minority and mainly from the Opposition, expressed reservation with respect to the provision that declarations will be made to the Director of the Directorate on Corruption and Economic Crime (DCEC), the BDP should have listened.

It is incontrovertible that these reservations were not without basis. The concern is that the Director of the DCEC is partial authority since he or she is appointed by the President, acting alone, on terms and conditions determined only by him or her. His Excellency the President, Dr. Mokgweetsi Eric Keabetswe Masisi, a self-declared proponent of consultation, should have been concerned at the opposition to the Bill by the Opposition which has long called for the Bill’s enactment.

Of course, some in the Opposition could have been playing politics by opposing the BDP- sponsored Bill so that they deny the BDP of political victory, but the concerns were not only from the Opposition, they were also raised by civil society, the media and political analysts.  
Consequently, while H.E Dr. Masisi deserves commendation for delivering on his promise, it is the Bill’s rushed passage that, in my view, diminishes his achievement.

As you are aware, this Bill was first materially brought to Parliament by a BDP Legislator, former MP Joy Phumaphi, about twenty years ago. Since then, Opposition MPs, including former Legislator, Dumelang Saleshando, have attempted to table the Bill through the Private Member’s Bill procedure, but their efforts were thwarted by the BDP, for purely political motives. H.E Dr. Masisi had been in office for one year three months when the Bill was passed. He had, during his inaugural speech in April 2018, promised to table the Bill by the end of 2018, but he did not.

Therefore, one cannot help but wonder why the BDP, which had failed to pass the Bill for more than twenty years, was in such a hurry to pass the Bill that it passed it in the dead of night, to the exclusion of the Opposition. H.E Dr. Masisi is on record apologising to Batswana for passing, during Dr. Khama’s era, the amendments to the Act on former Presidents’ Pension & Retirement benefits in the dead of night despite opposition from the Opposition, but he has done exactly what Dr. Khama did.

In my view, it is not unreasonable to conclude that, in rushing the Bill through Parliament, the BDP and H.E Dr. Masisi himself were motivated more by political expediency than national interest. This thought is not far-fetched, especially considering the fact that general elections are only about two (2) months away. Of course, it would be disingenuous for one to argue that the Bill, as it is, serves no national interest, but, in my view, national interest would have been better served if more consultation had been made so that the Bill is improved.

It would appear that H.E Dr. Masisi’s quest to deliver this Bill, which had eluded his party for the past twenty (20) years, blurred his judgment to the extent that he compromised one of the principles he has said underpins his leadership style-consultation. What harm could have been caused if the BDP had delayed the Bill and subjected it to public and Parliamentary scrutiny, especially that it touches on a very emotive issue-corruption. The BDP could still win the forthcoming general elections without the Bill. After all, the majority of its voters, especially those in rural arears, know nothing about the importance of a Declaration of Assets & Liabilities Bill.

In my view, there is nothing at stake which could have compelled the BDP or H.E Dr. Masisi to take such a political risk by abdicating a principle as cardinal as consultation. Consultation, like all virtues, should not only be upheld when it is convenient to do so. They should be upheld at all times. So, even if H.E Dr. Masisi anticipated that some of the provisions in the Declaration of Assets & Liabilities Bill would face opposition, he should still have subjected it to public scrutiny.


The president of the Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) and Leader of the Opposition in Parliament, Honourable Advocate Duma Boko, held a public lecture regarding the Bill. Following the lecture, many Batswana commented on the Bill during radio shows, but before they knew what happened the Bill was passed by Parliament. Many will never know when the President assents to the Bill to make it into law.  

Granted, there is no legal requirement for public consultations in our law making process, but if H.E Dr. Masisi truly believes in consultation, he does not need such law to uphold the virtue of consultation, especially in the passage of such a fundamental piece of legislation as the one on Declaration of Assets & Liabilities Bill. If he has not already done so, it is almost a given that H.E Dr. Masisi will assent to the Bill, making it law. But he should know that the manner in which the Bill was passed may haunt his presidency and hurt his legacy just like the Intelligence and Security Services Act did for Dr. Khama.

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The Daring Dozen at Bari

8th December 2020
JEFF---Batswana-smoke-unit

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.

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A Strong Marriage Bond Needs Two

8th December 2020

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”

UNDERSTANDING

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.”

COMMITMENT

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.

ACCEPTANCE

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.

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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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