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Runing Scared

Looks like we’re on a slow crawl back to business, hopefully the start of regaining a semblance of order and familiarity when those deserted streets, closed shops and traffic-free roads will be naught but a memory. But before the new normal, lets reflect.

From a business perspective we have learned a considerable amount in a very short time: we have learned that future thinking is an essential component of business, along with agility – as organisations were forced to rapidly change their business models. I used to urge clients to interview remotely and they would say it could not be done and now managers who two months ago did not know what Zoom was, are now in virtual meetings every day as if it’s as familiar as using the phone.

Inevitably there have been changes and realisations on a personal level too. Change can force you to look at things in a new light and challenge your current beliefs, values, and knowledge. There are things which we do in life that are important to us, not just as activities or hobbies but because they extend way deeper than that and become integral values.

I myself spent the best part of my adult life running. I was never a great runner if you are measuring competitiveness and ability but I did a few marathons, even an ultra-marathon, but all very modest and fun achievements. I ran everyday. I loved to run. I loved calling myself a runner. I loved associating with runners.  I even wore Nike running glasses casually –  it felt like I was the real deal!  It was my passion.

I cannot pinpoint the exact moment that I stopped. I recall continual, crippling discomfort when I ran and, because I had Degenerative Disc Disease (don’t be fooled by the big name – it’s as common as wrinkles in older people). I discerned that a condition caused by wear and tear and aging would be ill-served by pounding the pavement and with this  I concluded I had to stop.

That was hard because some of the happiest times in my life have been when my running was going well and some of my greatest revelations have come when running. Running was both a companion and teacher. It taught me resilience, meditation, working through pain and discipline. Running taught me that every hill eventually ends, pain is temporary and how easy it is to be in the moment when it is just yourself, with body working with breathing on the road.

My language changed to I used to run, I loved running and when I ran. I tried to fill the vacuum with gym and yoga and although I really like yoga, it has always felt like a poor second best. There has always been something that I got out of distance running that I have been unable to replicate elsewhere. I was envious of others who could run, often feeling a pang of loss and envy when I saw others running.

During lockdown it hit home that life is short and everything can change overnight. The impermanence of life felt illuminated and although there was not a single’ eureka’ moment, my musing took me to the question ‘why did you stop running? The answer I found was because I believed I could not anymore.

No doctor’s diagnosis, no proof positive, just an untested belief and one that made me quite dissatisfied. I was only one Google away from “can you run with DDD?”, a question I had never asked but when I did found a positive answer.

At the same time my state of mind and thinking was being influenced by a Dutch extreme athlete called Wim Hof, noted for his ability to withstand freezing temperatures and who holds the world record for a barefoot half-marathon on ice and snow and for climbing Kilimanjaro in two days wearing only shorts and shoes! As I have run both a half marathon and climbed Kilimanjaro, albeit suitably clothed, I was intrigued by my kindred spirit.

Known as the Iceman, Hof proved that we can voluntarily influence our automatic nervous system, something previously thought impossible. And before you think that he is unique and a freak of nature to be able to do this, he proved that through his methods of mindfulness, breathing and exposure to cold,  he could get others to have the same control and achieve the same results. The power of mind over matter demonstrably personified.

So, I started running again and so far, so good. I don’t deny it’s humbling as my speed is gone and no amount of wishful thinking will change that. It’s a struggle but one of those pleasurable struggles, like trying to finish every last morsel of your gateau. While I am not young anymore, the muscular memory is still there and it’s just awesome to be running again. So, I can run with DDD.  Is my back still sore? Yes. Can I feel the stiffness and pain?  Yes. But I get to do what I love again and is it any worse? No!

This is not just about mind over matter its about changing the constantly running stories we tell ourselves about who we are, what we deserve, what we need, what we can do (or can’t). You can’t play the R Keely song ‘I believe I Can Fly’ and then meditate and expect it to happen, because that’s not practical. But how often do we envy freedom looking through the bars of an open cage? How many lies do we tell ourselves about what we can and cannot do? How many opportunities are we missing because we are finding reasons why we should not instead of why we should? How many of our passions have we killed when the reasons are not justified?

I will be grateful for the lockdown for giving me back my true joie de vivre and letting me literally run free.  How about you?

 

This is not just about mind over matter its about changing the constantly running stories we tell ourselves about who we are, what we deserve, what we need, what we can do (or can’t). You can’t play the R Keely song ‘I believe I Can Fly’ and then meditate and expect it to happen, because that’s not practical. But how often do we envy freedom looking through the bars of an open cage? How many lies do we tell ourselves about what we can and cannot do? How many opportunities are we missing because we are finding reasons why we should not instead of why we should? How many of our passions have we killed when the reasons are not justified?

 

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ISRAELITE RULE IN EGYPT

26th May 2020
Jacob’s Ladder

Abrahamic Dynasty reign In Northern Egypt for 500 Years

While General Abraham was busy fending off the Sumerian invaders, General Atiku,  his wife, Queen Seheratawy Intef (Sarah), the Pharaoh of Egypt, was coming under siege.

It seems Abraham had miscalculated, General: the Hykso rule over all Egypt was not secure yet. For in 2040 BC, about a year after Abraham left Egypt, Mentuhotep II, the heir to the deposed Mentuhotep I of southern Egypt, overthrew Sarah in an essentially bloodless coup de tat. It was more of a palace coup than a blood-and-gall ousting.

What most certainly happened, General, was that Mentuhotep II endeared himself to Sarah, her maternal aunt, and before Sarah knew what was cooking, she had been taken down from the pedestal of power. It was back to square one, whereby indigenous Egyptians were again masters of their own political destiny.

But Sarah, General, had balls, pardon the misplaced metaphor. Instead of fleeing Egypt altogether, she held out in northern Egypt amongst the Hyksos to rally her people for a renewed putsch. Meanwhile, General Abraham was on his way over to try and salvage the situation, with a formidable army in tow.

True to his reputation as the greatest military general of his day, he managed to repel Mentuhotep II’s forces from northern Egypt. Yet as mighty as he was, this time Abraham wasn’t able to unseat Mentuhotep II from the Thebes throne. As such, he had no option but to content himself with the repossession only of northern Egypt, which he ruled jointly with his wife at least for the next 24 years.

The Hyksos, later to be known as Israelites, General, were to rule northern Egypt for the next 500 years or so directly, and the whole of Egypt indirectly at some stage thereafter all the way to part of the time of King David as we shall elucidate in the next instalment.

ISAAC AND JACOB WERE EGYPTIAN PHARAOHS

Although the Bible, General, does not expressly state that the biblical patriarchs from Abraham to David were actually pharaohs of northern Egypt, it does furnish some hints when one reads between the lines. The Bible, General, is not a straightforward informational corpus: it is partly and substantially written in code.

It’s a pity that the pulpit men of Christendom are completely clueless as to this fact, as a result of which their interpretation of “scripture” is woefully erroneous. What they say almost completely has no correlation with the underlying and intended message of biblical passages. What a tragicomedy!

Exactly how long Abraham ruled northern Egypt is not certain, General.  But we know that according to Egyptian annals, he was succeeded by Shesi (also known as Salitis), who was in turn succeeded by Pharaoh Yakuber. Shesi was the way the name Isaac (Yishaq in Hebrew) was pronounced in ancient Egypt, though as Pharaoh he was referred to as Pharaoh Mehibre II. The name Isaac had connotations of laughter as per GENESIS 18:15, 21:5-6.

It literally means “will laugh”. It arose, so we’re told, because the notion of Isaac’s mother Sarah conceiving him at age 90 was indeed a laughing matter. That interpretation, sadly, is a concoction General.  Isaac was cause for laughter simply because he was not the biological son of Abraham but that of Pharaoh Mentuhotep I. Properly translated, with the aid of its rendering in some Sumerian-like African languages such as Setswana for instance, Isaac (Itshege) means “laugh at yourself”.

For what? For his illegitimacy. Even the Talmud, the Jewish commentaries and interpretive writings that are looked upon as only second in authority to the Old Testament, state categorically that when born, Isaac did not look like Abraham at all. But since he was the legal heir to Abraham being the eldest son of Abraham’s half-sister-wife, Isaac had the automatic right of accession to Abraham’s throne. That was how he became Pharaoh Shesi.

Abraham was very much aware of Isaac’s illegitimacy but he could not disown him for fear of losing the much-needed popularity with indigenous Egyptians who knew the truth about Isaac and cherished him for being at least part-native Egyptian, what we would today call a coloured, as Mentuhotep I was fully black and Sarah was white.

So the only sensible course of action was to legitimise at least Isaac’s offspring. Like all patriarchs of the day, Isaac had several wives. The first was an Egyptian, by whom he had Esau. This, General, is not mentioned in the Bible as that would be revealing too much.

As for Isaac’s second son Jacob, General, Abraham ensured that not only did he have maternal Sumerian blood but Haran’s blood as Haran was the proper heir to Terah. So Abraham contrived for Isaac to travel to Harran, where Terah’s clan was concentrated, and meet Rebecca. Rebecca was the daughter of Betheul.

Betheul in turn was the son of Nahor, Abraham’s younger brother, and Milcah, Haran’s eldest daughter. Thus the ensuing child of Isaac and Rebecca, Jacob, was about 75 percent Sumerian and only 25 percent Egyptian. Moreover, with Haran’s blood coursing in Jacob’s veins, that was a potent enough counter punch to Lot’s bone of contention as the rightful successor to Haran and consequently Terah. That’s how clever General Abraham was, General.

It was Jacob who succeeded Isaac under the name Pharaoh Yakubher, General. Yakubher was the Egyptian equivalent of the Hebrew Yaakov. This is Jacob in English. At least four Egyptian scarab seal records attest to the reign of Pharaoh Yakubher in Egypt. In Avaris, the northern Egypt-based Hykso capital, a signet ring was found that read, “Yakov/Yakub”.

Jacob was later named Israel by Enlil-Jehovah. Once again, the Bible is silent as to the reason why: it simply said he was given the name after “wrestling with God” (GENESIS 32:22-32). What could have happened was that Israel – I-Sira-El, meaning “God’s Shield – was his given name when he was born.

The name was meant to rhyme with I-Sira-El, the ancient Hebrew name of northern Egypt, which was intended to serve as a buffer between Egypt and the Sinai Peninsula, where the all-important spaceport was located. But as Pharaoh, Israel adopted the name Yakuber, which name totally eclipsed Israel.

It is indeed telling, General, that although according to the Bible the name Israel was given to Jacob when he was an adult, it did not stick at all: he is still referred to as Jacob throughout the remainder of his life. Clearly, General, the name Jacob took pride of place because it was a throne name and not an original name.

JACOB JETS OFF TO PLANET NIBIRU

Jacob, General, reigned as Pharaoh Yakuber twice. His first tenure was interrupted by none other than he himself. Jacob had noticed that the lifespans of elite Earthlings – those who were of dynastic stock and therefore had a greater proportion of Anunnaki blood in them – were reducing largely due to intermarriages with ordinary Earthlings. He had also noted that the Anunnaki themselves were basically evergreen: although they did age, they did so rather glacially slowly and basically imperceptibly.

Troubled by such worries, Jacob, General, began to pester his god Enlil for a trip to Nibiru, the Heaven of the Bible. In doing this, he was unremitting: he supplicated, interceded, fasted. Jacob was aware that all Earthlings who had travelled to Nibiru before him, notably Adapa and Enoch, came back rejuvenated: it was like during the time they were away, for between 1800 to 3600 years, time had stood still for them.

Jacob wanted to undergo the same rejuvenation process. Jacob’s obsession with travelling to Nibiru was such that he kept dreaming about a spaceship with angels (the Anunnaki) reaching out to him to get him on-board as hinted at in GENESIS 28:10-22.

Initially, General, Enlil was reluctant. He didn’t even want to grant Jacob an audience. But through the intermediation of the likes of Nannar-Sin and Utu-Shamash, Jacob finally got to meet Enlil to personally present his case. The two met at a place known as Penuel, meaning “Facing God”.

It was not a chance meeting as Genesis would have us believe General: it was pre-arranged. No one met a god informally or in impromptu circumstances. Jacob referred to his petition to Enlil as a blessing in that a stint on Nibiru would bless him with a longer life. The incident is narrated in GENESIS 32:22-32, with some rather dramatic embellishments.

Enlil was impressed by Jacob’s tenacity and at long last caved in. Jacob, General, had figuratively speaking “wrestled with God” in order to get what he wanted. Thus it was that on an appointed day, Jacob at long last boarded a spaceship at the spaceport at Tilmun in the Sinai Peninsula and was off to Nibiru.

From that time onwards, General, a spaceship became known as Jacob’s Ladder and the planet Nibiru acquired an alternative name – the Star of Jacob. But did Jacob blast off to Nibiru alone or was accompanied by other fellow Earthlings, General?

JACOB WENT TO NIBIRU WITH FAMILY!

Who held fort for Jacob whilst he was visiting the planet of the gods, General?

According to Egyptian records, General, Pharaoh Yakuber was succeeded by Pharaoh Apepi I. Since a King was always succeeded by his firstborn son with the seniormost wife, and new kings typically used a throne name different from their given name, Pharaoh Apepi I was arguably Reuben, Jacob’s eldest son with his seniormost wife Leah (theoretically speaking, that is, as Rachel, Leah’s younger sister and Jacob’s second wife, would in fact have been Jacob’s first wife had Laban, the two ladies’ father, not tricked him into hitching Leah first).

Exactly when did Jacob become Pharaoh of northern Egypt, General? When did he leave for Nibiru and for how long was he there? That, sadly, cannot be established for certain. Even the regnal periods that are indicated by the otherwise authoritative online encyclopaedia, Wikipedia, are all speculative: there’s no single, incontrovertible source on the subject.

With regard to Jacob, Wikipedia itself candidly admits that “it is difficult to date his reign precisely and even the dynasty to which he belonged is uncertain”. The ancient historian Manetho, General, informs us that the Hyksos ruled Egypt for a period of 511 years. If Abraham first captured northern Egypt in 2047, then the Hykso rule ended sometime in 1530 BC.

Abraham was 175 years old when he died. Since he was born in 2123 BC, that makes the year 1948 BC the year of his death. Isaac was born during Abraham’s first 7 years in Egypt. We can tentatively place his birth in 2045 BC. He is said to have lived for 180 years, meaning he died in 1865 BC.

But we don’t know exactly when Abraham handed over to Isaac nor when Isaac handed over to Jacob, General. It was not always that kings died in office: sometimes they simply abdicated and passed the baton to their heirs for one reason or the other.

On his part, Jacob was born in 1963 BC. If, for argument’s sake, he ascended to the throne at his father’s death, he must have been just under 100 years. It explains, General, why he would have wanted to travel to Nibiru – to arrest the pace of his age so that he could enjoy a much lengthier life in power.

At the time the Hyksos were expelled from Egypt, Jacob was alive. This was circa 1530 BC, meaning Jacob was over 400 years old. Equally intriguing is the fact that even his older kids – Simeon, Levi, Judah – were all alive and must have been 300 years-plus. These ages simply were not tenable at the time: lifespans had been progressively reducing since the time of Adapa, so that King David lived for only 70 years.

So what can we deduce from these unseemly ages of the Jacobite clan during a phase of time when lifespans were dwindling, General? Simple: Jacob travelled to Nibiru with members of his family! The only one of his kids who remained was Reuben as his role as Pharaoh was crucial. Indeed, when, General, you read the Bible, you will find that Reuben is not dwelt upon in any appreciable detail: his profile seemed to have been eclipsed by those of his younger brothers, notably Simeon, Levi, Judah, and Joseph. This is because by the time his younger brothers returned from Nibiru and as young men still, Reuben was long dead and even had several generations of grandchildren. That’s why the names of the pharaohs who succeeded him (about 24 in total) sound very unfamiliar.

JACOB’S SONS LIQUIDATE SOUTHERN PHARAOH

Jacob and his kids were not away from Earth for very long, General: in Earthly terms, they were not gone for more than 300 years probably. From the same Egyptian annals, General, we can deduce quite conclusively that Jacob re-assumed his throne upon his return.

For toward the end of Hykso rule in Egypt, we see the names Pharaoh Anathar; Pharaoh Yakobaam (Yakuber in other spellings); and Pharaoh Apepi II. Pharaoh Anathar was obviously a descendent of Reuben. Pharaoh Yakobaam was the returned Jacob. Pharaoh Apepi II was of course another descendent of Reuben, whom Jacob handed over to after voluntarily stepping down, most likely due to creeping age.

Jacob’s bequest of the throne to Apepi II was a sticking point, General. Simeon and Levi, who followed immediately after Reuben, were ambitious types. They too wanted to rule. But with the throne of northern Egypt already occupied, their hands were tied. However, there was a tantalising allure down south – the Thebes throne.

Thebes was the capital city of southern Egypt, which at the time was ruled by a black Pharaoh known as Seqenenre Tao II. The two brothers reckoned that if they were to ever have a chance of ruling Egypt, they should hatch a scheme to depose and kill Tao. That way, one of them, Simeon since he was older, would take over as Pharaoh of southern Egypt whilst Apepi would continue to rule northern Egypt.

In the final analysis, it wouldn’t make much of a difference as Egypt would still be ruled by the Hyksos and the clan of Jacob though from two fronts. Simeon and Levi did manage to bring their scheme to fruition, General. They did get at Tao and assassinate him. Exactly how they did that is a matter of speculation as nobody knows for sure how they pulled it off.

There are all sorts of theories, General,  but what we do know for certain is that Tao had a very short reign and his body, which is preserved in the Cairo Museum, had two or three deep and vicious head wounds. He obviously must have been killed at close quarters, either by Simeon and Levi directly (disguised as dignitaries from northern Egypt in the manner their great grandfather Abraham did) or their agent.

HYKSO-ISRAELITES EJECTED FROM EGYPT

Sadly, General, the assassination of Pharaoh Seqenenre Tao II backfired horrendously: the two Jacobite brothers were unable to incite a popular uprising to catapult them to power and so they fled back to northern Egypt after they had done the deed.

In fact, the successor to Tao, his son Kamose, was so furious he vowed he would never rest until the Hyksos were driven out of Egypt. Kamose accordingly waged relentless war against Apepi II. He did die in the process and his mother took over to hold fort for his minor younger brother Ahmose.

When Ahmose acceded to the throne upon attaining the age of majority, he too pounced on the Hyksos with a vengeance in continuation from where his late brother had left off. It was Ahmose who succeeded in expelling the Hyksos from Egypt and united the country circa 1525 BC.

Manetho writes of the above development thus, General: “These people, whom we have before named kings, and called Shepherds (Hyksos) also, and their descendants kept possession of Egypt 511 years.

After these, the kings of Thebes (Kamose and Ahmose) and the other parts of Egypt made an insurrection against the Shepherds, and that there a terrible and long war was made between them … The Shepherds were subdued, and were indeed driven out of other parts of Egypt, but were shut up in a place that contained ten thousand acres. This place was named Avaris (their capital) …

“… The Shepherds built a wall round all this place, which was a large and a strong wall, and this in order to keep all their possessions and their prey within a place of strength, but Thummosis (Ahmose) made an attempt to take them by force and by siege, with 480,000 men to lie rotund about them. But that, upon his despair of taking the place by that siege, they came to a composition (compact) with them, that they should leave Egypt, and go, without any harm to be done to them, whithersoever they would.

“After this composition was made, the Shepherds went away with their whole families and effects, not fewer in number than 240,000, and took their journey from Egypt, through the wilderness, for Syria. But that as they were in fear of the Assyrians, who had then the dominion over Asia, they built (actually developed as it was already in existence) a city in that country which is now called Judea, and that large enough to contain this great number of men, and called it Jerusalem.”

The Hykso expulsion from Egypt in 1525 BC, General, marked the first exodus of the Israelites from that country. Note that not all the Israelites left Egypt: about 240,000 remained in Avaris alone. They were known as Israelites not because they were named after Jacob but because their domain, northern Egypt, was known as I-Sira-El.

NEXT WEEK: THE “STAR” KNOWN AS DAVID

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Covid-19 Response: Why Should a Financially Robust Debswana Cry Wolf?

26th May 2020
Randlord Nicky

The great Roman Stoic philosopher, statesman, dramatist, and satirist Seneca once said, “Whatever we give to the wretched, we lend to our own fortune”. Are individuals or institutions of substance of our day heedful of this altruistic moral? Are their acts of benefaction no more than a PR stunt?

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It’s not yet Uhuru, but Botswana has done well in fighting COVID-19!

26th May 2020

Though the fight has not yet been won, it is worth noting that Botswana has, so far, done well in its fight against COVID-19.

According to Government of Botswana’s website, as at 14th May 2020, 11495 tests had been performed and resulted from which 11471 tested negative; 24 were confirmed cases; there was 1 death; there was no new confirmed case and there were 17 recoveries.

This, in my view, is an epic achievement if regard is had to several factors which we discuss herein. But before that, we give a brief timeline of COVID-19 to put the matter in its proper perspective.

On 31st December 2019, Wuhan Municipal Health Commission, reported a cluster of cases of Pneumonia in Wuhan, Hubei Province, in China. On 4th January 2020, WHO reported, through social media, that there was a cluster of Pneumonia cases – with no deaths – in Wuhan, Hubei province.

On 12th January 2020, China publicly shared the genetic sequence of COVID-19. The following day, on 13th January 2020, a case of COVID-19 was confirmed in Thailand, the first recorded case outside of China.

On 30th January 2020, WHO declared the novel coronavirus outbreak (2019-nCoV) a Public Health Emergency of International Concern (PHEIC). On 11th March 2020, WHO made the assessment that COVID-19 can be characterized as a pandemic.

On 13th March 2020, the COVID-19 Solidarity Response Fund was launched to receive donations from private individuals, corporations and institutions.

Africa’s first COVID-19 case was recorded in Egypt on 14th February 2020. On 21st March 2020, the Government of Botswana declared COVID-19 a public health emergency and introduced a number of precautionary measures in response to the pandemic.

On 30th March 2020, the Minister of Health and Wellness, Dr. Lemogang Kwape, announced Botswana’s first three cases of COVID-19. According to Dr. Kwape, the three had travelled to Britain and Thailand.

The following day, on 31st March 2020, His Excellency the President, Dr. Mokgweetsi Eric Keabetswe Masisi, declared a State of Public Emergency (SoPE) to deal with (COVID-19) in terms of section 17 of the Constitution of Botswana.

On 2nd April 2020 at midnight, Botswana entered into a lockdown, which is still on, and will, hopefully, end on 20th May 2020. Firstly, Dr. Masisi has to be commended for timeously declaring COVID-19 a public health emergency, something which resulted in the introduction of precautionary measures in response to the pandemic as recommended by WHO.

Of course, one may question why he only made such declaration on 21st March 2020 when WHO had declared it as such as far back as 30th January 2020. In my view, the fact that Africa only recorded its first case, in Egypt, on 14th February 2020, as well as the fact that there was no confirmed case locally warranted the wait and see approach.

In my view, had the declaration been made too early, the lockdown would have been longer something which would have been detrimental because anecdotal evidence suggests that countries which enter into a lockdown to early run the risk of having to lift it at a time that can put the lives of its citizens at risk.

Dr. Masisi must also be commended for not using the SoPE to contravene the Rule of Law and violate human rights as some had feared. For instance, the Legislature and the Judiciary remained functional during the SoPE. Martial law was never applied; those who were charged of offences were taken to the courts, which continued operational.

There have been few reported cases of brutality by members of the armed forces who enforced the lockdown, and when such allegations arose the President spoke strongly against them.

Parliament too remained functional. In fact, all the Emergency Powers Regulations which the President issued were passed by Parliament after intense debates which were televised for all to see. Secondly, Botswana must be commended for containing the virus and saving lives. You will be aware that since the first three cases were confirmed in Botswana on 30th March 2020, we have since had an addition of only 21 cases.

This, in my view, is an epic achievement considering the fact that we share a border with South Africa which is a COVID-19 epicentre in Africa. Not only that, we also share a porous border with Zimbabwe, a country with a multifunctional health system.

Further, since the first confirmed cases, we have had only 1 death and 17 recoveries. Of course, loss of life, even for one person, is regrettable, but the fact that out of 24 confirmed cases, only 1 person has died is quite commendable. This can only be because our screening, testing, quarantining and management system was effective.

Also commendable is the fact that, with the meagre resources at our disposal, we have been able to test 11495 people. Thirdly, government’s messaging with respect to social distancing and hygiene protocols was clear and well-articulated from the beginning.

Commendably, the messages were communicated in various indigenous languages through Botswana Television and Radio Botswana. Not only that. Sign language interpretation was also used to cater for those with hearing disabilities. Hopefully, in future a Braille will be considered for those with both hearing and visual impairments.

Fourth, government established a COVID-19 Relief Fund and put up an investment of Two Billion Pula as seed capital, something which saw foreign governments, banks, companies, parastatals and individuals making donations and contributions to help alleviate the effects of COVID-19 on our people.

To allay the fears that the money in the Fund may be misappropriated, government has made an undertaking that it shall ensure that at the end of the COVID-19 pandemic the Fund will be audited by Independent Auditors.

Fifth, food relief. Government assessed Batswana to identify those who are in distress after which those in need would be given food hampers. It ought to be stated that there have been several complaints that in some instances it took too long to conduct assessments and to distribute the food hampers.

There have also been complaints that even when the hampers were delivered, they were short and had some rotten items. There is no doubt that some of these problems were occasioned by the fact that we do not have enough Social Welfare Officers. Shortage of transport also contributed. That notwithstanding, anecdotal evidence suggests that majority of our people received and continue to receive food hampers.

Sixth, employee protection. When the SoPE and lockdown were announced, there were fears that many employees would lose their jobs through unlawful retrenchments and dismissals.

Government must be commended because it avoided, or at least deferred, this by promulgating Regulations that prohibited the retrenchment and dismissal of employees during the SoPE. It, however, ought to be stated that some employees were retrenched and/or dismissed because it took some time before the Regulations were amended to that effect.

To cater for the companies that could not be able to continue operating because of the financial constraints occasioned by the lockdown, the Regulations permit company closure during the SoPE.

In my view, the Regulations should have also addressed such issues as forced paid leave; forced unpaid leave; reduction of salaries, etc. because they remain a source of conflict between employers and employees and will, no doubt, burden the courts in due course.

Seventh, assistance for businesses. Realising that businesses’ cashflow will be affected by the lockdown, government introduced a wage subsidy to subsidise eligible business in the payment of wages. Also, in an effort to give businesses some cash-flow relief, Government guaranteed loans by commercial banks to businesses affected by COVID-19.

Government also gave eligible businesses affected by COVID-19 access to credit to support ongoing operations in conditions where credit became more difficult to obtain. Government also gave tax concessions to businesses in eligible sectors.

Government also made an undertaking that institutions will pay Government Purchase Orders (GPOs) within five (5) days and parastatals will pay within 24 hours. Government also made an undertaking that it will pay all outstanding arrears for invoices within two (2) weeks and extended the validity period for GPOs. It also undertook to expedite VAT refunds to businesses to assist with cash flow.

The private sector also came to the party. In the financial services industry, Banks agreed to offer restructuring of loan facilities, including owner-occupied residential property mortgages and motor vehicle loans. Commercial banks offered a payment holiday for three (3) months with the option to extend to six (6) months to the affected sectors.

Banks also restructured and rescheduled regular payment obligations including life insurance premium payment, retirement fund contributions and loan instalments for at least three months. Most importantly, Batswana have to be commended for respecting the lockdown and adhering to the social distancing and hygiene protocols for if they had not done so we would have had more infections and deaths.

Our Nurses, Doctors, Social Welfare Officers, the Police and soldiers who were at the forefront of the battle deserve special commendation. Of course, we could have done better in such areas as assessments and delivery of food hampers; expeditious allocation of travel permits and establishment of a rent subsidy, but, on the whole, we did well, especially considering the size of our economy and the fact that we have never faced such a devastating pandemic.

But, the war is not over. As we move towards the lifting of the lockdown on 21st May 2020 as planned, two issues remain of concern to me. The first is the issuance of green permits which will be required for travel across zones from the 21st May 2020.

In my view, the Regulations must be amended to include, among essential travel, travel for medical reasons, travel to be with family and any other travel which the Issuing Officer may, in his or her own discretion, deem fit.

The second is the development of a COVID-19 Economic Stimulus Programme (ESP). My prayer is that when the COVID-19 ESP is developed, priority should be given to sustainable programmes as opposed to short term projects designed to gain quick political expediency as was the case in 2016.

*Ndulamo Anthony Morima, LLM(NWU); LLB(UNISA); DSE(UB); CoP (BAC); CoP (IISA) is the proprietor of Morima Attorneys. He can be contacted at 71410352 or anmorima@gmail.com

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