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Workplace politics and “bully” bosses

Keletso Thobega

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Earlier this year I attended a seminar on wellness and the workplace and one panellist remarked that bullying is wide in workplaces. The panellist noted that bullying negatively affects many employees’ health and insinuated that bosses are often to blame.

There was a lot of murmurs of approval from some attendants with one lady exclaiming: “Batho ba ba re tshwenya!” Uhu… Di reng di bosso?! There is no denying that emotional, verbal, psychological and even sexual abuse is common in workplaces. We spend a lot of time at work and naturally what happens at work affects you more than you can imagine: mentally, intellectually, physically and emotionally.

A lot of stuff happens in the workplace, from the competition, jealousy, bickering, tiffs, ego and personality clashes, and even witchcraft and love affairs. Anyone would agree that some workplace happenings have the hallmarks of a television drama or soapy. I have dealt with the usual workplace dramas – the hate, sexism, fall-outs, misunderstandings but no major issues with bosses or colleagues. I am a busy chick; I have a life, and prefer to spend my time and energy on useful engagements. I won’t claim to be perfect but I am generally amiable and treat people the way they are and consciously toe the line to avoid personal run-ins. It is said that the ability to observe without evaluating is the highest form of intelligence.

At the end of the day, we all have different bottom lines but the success of the organisation should be a common interest; some of these other small things are honestly irrelevant. The one necessary skill for the workplace often overlooked is efficient communication and people skills. To get far, you have to be humble. But in reality, dealing with people is not always a walk in the park. As much as I concede that there are terrible bosses out there, there are horrid employees too. It can be a tall order for any boss who manages adults and has to address punctuality, productivity and efficiency. The differences in personality can create clashes and squabbles.

It is in the realm of the workplace that I noticed that age has no correlation with maturity whatsoever! But when all is said and done, most of you would agree that professionalism in the workplace is crucial… and also avoid burning bridges, especially in a small society such as Botswana. There is also the perception that women make horrible bosses. I did my own personal survey and established that most people said they would prefer male bosses. How amusing! Gender bias runs deep. I find that such views are rooted in sexism. I have had two or three female supervisors and worked with women. While I won’t deny that some women have “issues”, people are people. I have come across men who also have “issues”; it is about the person.

Almost everyone has a crazy boss story to share. There is a common saying that people leave bosses not jobs. I agree. It is unfortunate that some people tend to get too “excitable” when they are in positions of leadership and power and take advantage of their positions to “over assert” their powers. I have heard of some bosses who bully their juniors, overworking them, using them to get ahead and psychologically abusing them. Some apparently go as low as to send their subordinates on errands unrelated to work. Gatwe motho wa modimo o kgona go romiwa manyonyomane ka tea break. Akanya hela o kgabile ka marokgwe a CBD a kalelang, o ipoleletse gore wa go ijela bana strong a bo o romiwa legwinya… aaah!

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Ag, shame Kgathi!

Ernest Moloi

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How the mighty have fallen! This past weekend’s Botswana Democratic Party’s Bulela Ditswe primary elections were a demonstration of democracy in action. We need to get accustomed to the painful truth that in life you win some, you lose some!

But somehow, we have built a culture that of anti-change, we equate change with collapse, destruction or maybe it’s because we fear the unknown. Like our good MELS president would say, you move from the known to the unknown, but somehow that statement rings hollow for him considering the length of time he’s been MELS’ president!
Domkrag has been in power for over 50 uninterrupted years. By now it should have built a critical mass, a pool of leaders from which to select in the wards, cells, branches and regions. Democracy is a work in progress, being perfected every time.

Like our late former Vice President the General, Mompati Merafhe would say, “No one has a monopoly of knowledge.” The BDP must take heed of this counsel if it is to survive post Bulela Ditswe. The Old Guard must remember, and take the cue from people like the Mother of the House, Mma Venson-Moitoi, who has served this country diligently but is wise to know when it is time to hand the baton to others in this relay called politics.

In the same vein, the Young Turks, in their brash and radical ways must learn that there’s absolutely nothing new under the sun! They must learn to bide their time and do their bit when their turn comes. They should never think they are reinventing the wheel. Like we’ve said, democracy, like any other political system, is a work in progress.
But the vainglorious and big-headed don’t see this. They are self-centred, conceited and arrogant. They despise the mass of their people. They neglect their constituencies, only visiting them when elections are due and thereafter go on with their lives without a care in the world!

Worse still, their political parties also influence this attitude in that in some instances candidates are selected in Gaborone and dispatched to go and represent their respective native villages. This is not good enough and can never be a solution. We need home-bred leaders, we cannot be importing leaders from Gaborone! My best wishes go to all the runners-up in the past weekend’s primary elections. These men and women showed character. Certainly I feel very sorry for Shaw Kgathi because he was de-campaigned by BaNgwato Kgosi, Ian Khama. I am afraid this is a clear indication that BaNgwato hegemony in some parts of Central District remains entrenched even in the 21st Century.

But, the victor must tread carefully. I think it’s too early to raise Champagne glasses! A fractured BDP may become easy picking for Botswana Congress Party in 2019 in this constituency especially if UDC comes to the party! My sympathies also go to Biggie Butale and Tirelo ‘Scania’ Mukokomani in Tati West who I understand were floored by a Young Turk, the president of the BDP Youth Wing, Simon Mavange! I think both gentlemen can still be useful in other enterprises outside politics!

There was also my good friend Itumeleng Moipisi in Kgalagadi North losing to transport magnate, Talita Monnakgotla. I am not sure why Talita would want to go into politics, all I know is that she’s a savvy businesswoman, but as for Moipisi, I think we have lost a wise man in government. I won’t say anything about Nonofho Molefi. We all know the mastermind behind his demise. He dug the pit that would swallow him up the day he dared to challenge then Vice President, now President Mokgweetsi Masisi for the chairmanship of the ruling party.

When all is said and done, I am very happy with the outcome. I know some are worried that too many loyalists of former president Ian Khama have won and that this could somehow resuscitate his hopes of gaining influence in his father’s party and ultimately government if BDP wins in 2019.As for me, I say the sun has set on Khama’s political career. He must just continue with his charitable and altruistic cause. It fits him perfectly especially that he’s also a Kgosi. He must steer clear of dirty politics and do all within his power to dignify the seat of tribal power!

After all is he not the one that taught us this dictum? BaKgatla will be celebrating KgosiKgolo Kgafela’s 10th Anniversary this September in Moruleng and I suppose in Mochudi. It would be an honour to have Kgosi Khama grace this occasion; after all he is the one that installed Kgafela back in 2008 and draped him in a leopard’s skin!

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Of today’s men sharing beer with women and children

Matshediso Fologang

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The world in which I grew up is no more. This weekend I met with my boys – most of whom are now senior citizens – at the usual Motswere tree. I am not known to imbibe in alcoholic beverages of any kind, but every time I find myself with these boys, each will have brought himself a bottle.

Where we are all very broke, we contribute towards the drinks using the motshelo model. We make contributions to be used to purchase a few litres of traditional beer commonly known as maswe a dinala in Ramotswa, or mukuru as in Serowe. These meetings with the boys have become regular and because I am always there, a lot of people who are not my close friends have always wrongly assumed I also take the stuff.

As we have always done without fail, we were at the Motswere tree again recently. The mood this time was triggered by an activity at Tashy’s Gardens near Boatle. The Speaker of the National Assembly was host to the CPA Africa Region Conference in Gaborone. As part of the activities they were treated for a culture day at the gardens. Our culture has this thing of bringing us together through music and dance. Also in our tradition, there is always a lot of eating. Actually we like our Basotho cousins who believe that “mokete yo o senang nama ga se mokete,” literally meaning that a feast without meat is no feast at all.

Eating at this CPA outing was in typical African fashion. The diverse nature of our society through food, music and dance was on display to the excitement of the guests. Groups from across the length and breadth of this wonderful country were there to display their talents and styles. Truly the CPA Africa Region delegates went back mesmerized. This is however what was in our minds this weekend at Motswere tree. It was just a coincidence that we the boys from that area were part of the traditional groups specifically asked to entertain the guests. In our group we always have to end the day with lots of bojalwa, which was in oversupply on the day.

On the day, quite interestingly, my guys waived a lot of ‘protocol observed’ in the consumption of the holy fawn stuff. In the days of our growing up, young maidens could not sit amongst men to freely drink. We have as a group agreed that we should accommodate modern things. Some young ladies joined us and asked that we fill their bottles with the bojalwa. It was just wonderful that there was no single objection to this. Women and mostly from our neighbours South Africa, wanted to taste the local traditional beer. The stuff was frothing which is always considered good. All and sundry praised the stuff as the best.

As the day ended, we the Motswere boys asked for an extra provision of 60 litres of the bojalwa. We then ferried it to our secluded Motswere place, where we would later spend the evening freely singing our traditional festive music. Despite having allowed women earlier to freely drink during the day at our fort, we resorted to our practice of not sharing bojalwa with children and women. It will take us long to understand gender neutrality at Motswere tree.

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