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On papgeld child maintenance and ATM fathers

Keletso Thobega

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My dear reader, the other day I was at a certain store minding my own business when a man and woman nearby exchanged verbal missiles. I suspect that if the situation permitted, the lady would have shoved the hem of her dress into her knickers and plummeted that man with angry fists. I understand that the man was with a le-14 and this other woman who is his baby mama, cornered him and asked why he was gallivanting with a youngling when his own child did not have nappies and milk.

We can laugh about that but that is a common situation in Botswana. There are some men who do not want to take responsibility and seem to think children grow like trees. We all know at least one man who is an occasional father or has apparently denied paternity. I once heard from the grapevine that some chap had denied paternity and went on with his life as if nothing had happened. I still shudder when I see this chap and wonder if he knows what kind of bad luck he is attracting. Men who own up to their responsibilities are not foolish. The thing with a child is that you are either in or out. You cannot be a parent when and if it suits you. It is simple; if you don’t want a child, keep your legs closed or use contraceptive. Gone are the days when siring offspring in every corner showed that someone is a “real man”. In actual fact that shows being irresponsible and immature.

Papgeld (child maintenance) issues are often contentious. Ke raa, gatwe makau a nna hela a sekisiwa mo spacing mo. Some of them don’t want to cough up maintenance or even claim to be earning less to avoid paying the required amount. I don’t understand where some men think women get money. Perhaps it is the frustrations of single-handedly raising a child that leads to some women denying their baby daddies the right to see their children. Why would you want to see and spend time with a child whose upkeep you do not contribute towards?
Funny enough, some men often accuse their baby mamas of using the money meant for their children for their own personal stuff like their hair, make-up and nice time. If that is the case, why don’t these men apply for custody and take care of the children themselves?

Strangely, absent or irresponsible fathers often “miraculously” remember that they have children when the child is grown up; or when the mother gets married and he comes and spoils the mood arguing that he “wants his child.” Sadly, it is often the children who suffer when parents fight through the courts. The problem with this culture of paying maintenance is that it creates the idea that a child needs only money to grow. Not true. While money is an important part of raising a child, love, affection as well as emotional and physical support are also important. There is no compensation for adequate care, attention, affirmation and love.

Money alone is not enough. I find it strange that some men need to be reminded to and taught how to take care of their children. Surely if you conceive a child you should be in a position to take responsibility. Gatwe motho wa teng fa a dira ngwana, o tla bo a ja monate e ka re o palame pitse, a herola matlho a bo a kua e ka re podi. Fa gotwe ngwana ke oo motho wa teng o shadikanya matlho e ka re tshwene e kgamilwe ke mmupudi. Tlerere!

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Bureaucracy impedes youth empowerment – Tshekedi

Keikantse Lesemela

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Minister of Youth Empowerment, Sports and Culture Development, Tshekedi Khama said government’s bureaucracy hinders youth participation in economic development.

Speaking during the Youth Awards on Saturday, Khama explained that the society has adopted the word bureaucracy and they live with it. “This word has contradicting terms with the way the youth think, this confirms the space between the youth and how we deliver. The honour is on us to deliver an enabling environment, we talk so much, we have had discussions in pitsos,”

He pointed out that, financial institutions have difficult regulations that hinder youth to access funding for their respective businesses. “When a youth approaches a financial institution, the first question would be where is your pay slip?, secondly, what security do you have? And they will say it’s bank regulations. We live in the bureaucracies of these regulations and it has become our DNA,” said Khama.

Over the years, government has introduced programmes that promote youth entrepreneurship, which include financing, capacity building, market access and marketing an outreach. Currently, the ministry is reviewing the Youth Development Fund to improve training of beneficiaries and encourage consortia and cooperatives.

Recently, when presenting the budget for the Ministry, Khama highlighted that the youth cohort constitutes the majority of the population and this is supposed to present the country with an opportunity to harness the demographic dividend. “Their energy, educational level and technology skills should be exploited to propel our country forward,” he said.

He also indicated that the youth is faced with socio-economic challenges including unemployment, poverty, substance abuse and HIV/AIDS. “Therefore we must intervene to give them the best possible opportunities to achieve their dreams and help our country realize the ideals of vision 2036.”

Meanwhile, government disburses P120 million yearly as funding to youth enterprises and about 919 businesses have been funded in the last financial year. The youth have raised a lot of challenges in doing business, including high rentals for operating space, low market access owing to tight competition and limited production capacities.

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Have a clear succession plan for peaceful transition

Matshediso Fologang

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How have we as a people treated succession? Though in our society succession has always been determined along patriarchal lineage, traditional leadership succession has not always been smooth.

There are known stories where families broke up in a battle for succession. Immediately in my mind comes the last split of the Ba-ga-Malete in 1892. The succession was based on the bravery and not on the strength being the first born child. Throughout Botswana many merafe have a history of succession that didn’t follow the rigidity of patriarchy.

Batswana as a people believe that talk is far better than war. Ntwakgolo ke ya molomo. We are a people who would spend a whole lot of time openly discussing a matter before a decision could be reached. Discussions on any matter put before a gathering of family, clan and morafe was never finalised without thorough discussion. All present regardless of their economic strength participated fully without hindrance. Decisions thereat were reached through consensus. Traditional leaders would skilfully announce the collective decision arrived at.

The good thing about this method of allowing all to participate – Mafoko a kgotla mantle otlhe and the Mmualebe bua gore monalentle a tswe lagwe – was basically premised on the principle of what our current crop of men and women who have read big books would call “participatory democracy.” Democracy therefore has never been an imported phenomenon amongst Batswana. Democracy has always been in our DNA. Regarding succession therefore it has always been based on the consensus of the majority.

The leader though selected among the royal family, his character also played an important role in determining his suitability. As we embraced western type democracy we have in our different political homes defined our succession plans. As a nation we have defined our processes of succession. In the age and era where, unlike in our tradition, we have written these, we do not therefore rely on memories. Our forebears relied on memories and nothing was ever in black and white.

However, our forebears knew succession if not properly handled could bring strife and instability amongst morafe. We were then not part of a collective of nations and therefore what transpired in our little morafe did not necessarily impact our relations with other merafe that much. If not handled well it could create a loophole for other merafe to wage a war against the morafe .

If any such person who had been overlooked for whatever reason felt strongly about such decision, he would either remain part of the morafe as a junior leader or migrate with his supporters. Peace would prevail. Even those who had held fort for their younger siblings would want to hand over a united morafe to his successor.

In modern society, a predecessor takes pride in the performance of his choice of successor. Travelling through history one envies the succession of Kgosi Ketshwerebothata Ikaneng and Mokgosi III and that of Kgosi Mmusi and Linchwe II. Such were Batswana leaders who worked together for the better interest of the merafe they led. What now and whither peace and love for the downtrodden?

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