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You surely kept us on tenterhooks my dear Jan.

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Dear January

Allow me to pass my condolences on the sudden passing of your bosom buddy December of 2018 with whom you conspired to eat and drink us off our hard-earned money.

The way things were going with that December lad – the parties, credit card-swiping, the cheating, the picnics, the beer, the recklessness, the adultery, the show off – he was never going to last longer and it is no wonder he is now gone and sadly forgotten after that sudden death that happened at the height of exaggerated excitement and jubilation.

I’m awed though, at the frenzy and pomp that met your baton take-over. For a moment everyone had suddenly forgotten that the blissful December of double salaries and fruition of metshelo was gone – and in was you Jan, bringing with you the burden of reality, where the rough financial reckoning of school fees, job hunting, debts, loan applications and the daylight robbery that is ‘development fees’ stare us all in the face.

Now as has happened to your elder brothers who lived in the years past, here you are – lonely, despondent and uneventful as ever, with very little carousing to shout about as all the glitz and swag of 2018 went away with the dearly-departed December.But I must say I am impressed at your improvisation, ensuring that even as you bring with you these agonising regulars, you are not as boring as your other January brothers of the past.

You of the 2019 generation have ensured we remain on tenterhooks with each passing day of your being. There is so much to consume in a very short space of time thanks to your warmth and calm following the December craze. I mean, from the word go you were lit with intriguing stories of Hollywood proportions. From the circus of Kamal Jacobs and his blood-sucking cheerleaders to the blockbuster arrest of Isaac Kgosi, you, dear Jan, have dished more than we can chew and swallow already.

You have in a short span of your life already shown us things we never could have thought would ever visit our peaceful country. December never really knew what your pregnancy carried, and now dikgang le ditiragalo tsa gago di matsorotsoro. I mean, way back in the infancy of your being, we were entertained by the circus that involved that Kamal chap who chanced on Sisiboy and reportedly acting in the interests of the new Israelis of New Jerusalem and their godfather Kgosikgolo in their bid to test the waters on whether or not the legitimacy of the sitting president could be challenged.

The guy was brave.
Or perhaps even foolish, knowing that his godfather had long set that notorious presidential immunity precedent through the Motswaledi case. Of course his lawyers made away with his money – kana bone they were bound to pocket handsomely whether Kamal won or lost. He should have known better, even after he was given hope that he could get things his way.
The circus continued when it emerged Kgosikgolo and his lawyers were now distancing themselves from his case. I guess wherever he is he must be cursing your barrenness and wishing you disappear fast to herald a more hopeful February.

Never one to disappoint, January, you dished even more of this unfolding plot to oust SisiBoy. We learnt of the millionaires in South Africa who were willing to financially back efforts to dispose of the sitting president.

It surely looks like these guys are hellbent on running this country through a captured presidency. I remember that December revelation of some Venson-Moitoi woman who laid bare her intentions of taking over party and state presidency come this July. I tell you that woman is not acting out of genuine motives. A cabal of those with selfish interests is using her. Not the MmaV I know. That’s why I feel that after SisiBoy, we are going to be run by a captured President who will be serving the interests of somebody else and not those of the nation. It actually got worse when it was also announced at the height of your continuing reign, dear January, that Kgosikgolo too, was out on a fundraising mission in London – just to ensure his grand plan to oust the sitting president is well-oiled and will not encounter financial hiccups.

Assuming the funds eventually help remove Masisi, the financiers will be expecting their cut in the deal, and our land could be sold for a song. Le ene Sisiboy must be having a dangerously-inflated confidence. Where does he get the nerve to go on a private visit to Mozambique while his enemies at home are plotting his downfall? Unless maybe he was out there on a truly private mission to seek a counter attacking strategy and plan from his counterparts who are known to have fought fierce territorial battles to protect the presidency against marauding rebels.

And talking about rebels, it was again this month, January, that we learnt of a plot to expel BPP from the UDC for what is deemed some rebellious conduct. I hear they cannot be fully trusted as they have been sympathetic to the BMD. I just do not understand how this UDC thing works really – in the recent past they expelled BMD after denying for months that they were plotting that expulsion. Similarly, they are denying they will be expelling the BPP as well and given their history of denials, I shudder to think where we will be in the coming months with regards to this obscure party of the north.

As things go, I am afraid one of these months the UDC is going to expel either BCP or BNF or even both. It is a party slowly feeding on its body parts and I pray that their denial of wanting to expel the BPP holds water. We can’t afford a hollow UDC that could soon be competing against its original component parties instead of consolidating efforts to defeat the crumbling BDP. It was this month that we again learnt of this BDP’s imminent loss of Shima Monageng who is believed to be on his way to Ndaba’s purple movement. I bet he will promptly become their parliamentary candidate in Molepolole. Kana ko AP when you join, you are assured of a council or parliamentary seat.

I don’t know why Kamal couldn’t just go there and be assured of a platform to fight Matsheka ko Lobatse rather than waste his money on a lost cause. He should learn from the likes of Monageng who just kept their cool upon losing, while plotting their next move. And now when such longtime loyalists of the ruling party are jumping ship, the UDC on the other hand continues to weaken itself. Akere they recently expelled Pilane and part of his party! Now they want to finish him off with some tape and video leaks.

This January surely has a lot of tidings to digest. For some reason, that lady of the threesome fame with the city Mayor is at it again. After a recording was leaked of Pilane asking the lady to drop the rape charges against the Mayor, now the UDC in cahoots with their partners in opposition party politics are gunning for not only Pilane’s head, but also for his burial. It gets worse when the lady in question even spills the beans on the insides of how Pilane cheated his way towards winning elections to lead his party. She continues to chirrup like a city robin that one, and seeks to be forgiven for dropping the charges in the first place, yet ene o setse a jele cut ya 20grand.

They want Pilane to be prosecuted, but they are silent on what should happen with their UDC mayor chap who Pilane was protecting. Politicians! They will humble you. It shows exactly what they mean when they say in politics there are no permanent friends and enemies. Another January 2019 episode proves this. And in this instance, Isaac Kgosi will know better than to meddle in political issues, because there people you thought you knew and trusted can turn against you in an instant. Not even one of the DIS agents could at least give him a tip-off on his imminent arrest.
In fact, they are the ones who executed the arrest – on their former boss, although he claims he doesn’t know any of them. Le ene he has been a major talk of January. From tax evasions and shady dealings to his movie-perfect arrest, Kgosi has been the in-thing this January. There was a time this January, when attention was on the reactions of Kwelagobe, Kedikilwe, Mogae and Molomo on the conduct of Kgosikgolo, but Mzico’s arrest quickly overshadowed what these men had to say.

The nation was in a jubilant mood – except for the UDC leaders who expressed disdain at what they termed a Hollywood arrest. And not to be beaten in expressing his disgust was Kgosikgolo himself. This week he was telling The Argus Online that the current president is two-faced. He says he does not know the current President of Botswana whom he feels is stressed by being President; he only knows his last Vice President who was more dependable. It would have been a shocker had Kgosikgolo remained silent on the arrest of Mzico.

He wouldn’t wait for February to air his views. He wanted to be a part of these January stories as well. As a retired Number One, he is very quick to respond. In the past, things would have happened and he would have gone on his walkabouts in the bundus as if nothing was happening. He is a new man indeed.

Just like you January. Everyone is on and on about this “New year, New me” thing, and they will be making some resolutions. I wonder what Kgosikgolo’s resolution is. Obviously he told you Jan, in the privacy of his home. And I hope whatever his new year resolution is, nothing from it will be at the expense of the peace we have enjoyed all these years. Goodbye January. You have been both a handful and strangely eventful. You have been a good month, more than the others before you. We all like you for the hope you bring for us, always telling us we still have a chance.

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This lockdown is going to plunge many into depression

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Dear Mokgweetsi Masisi

Today, Wednesday April 1, 2020, marks exactly two years since you were sworn in as President of this republic, and I wonder how you will be celebrating this milestone while under quarantine. Kana right now we could be coming over there to celebrate with you had you not blundered by attending  that State House pool party in Namibia. Your residence would be lit this time, ree ja joy in celebration of your second anniversary since your ascendance to the highest office on the Tswana land. Knowing you, this corona thing would have been shoved aside to allow the world to know gore you are turning two years as President – even after announcing a lockdown on Tuesday. Akere wena you are often thus – you say this, you do the other. Kana gape it would be your chance to show that Namibian President gore le wena you can gather people for a celebration even amidst this state of public emergency. Akere le ene despite global warnings against international travel he decided to host a party and invited you – the result of which you are now in quarantine. I just wonder how Atsile and MmaAtsile are coping with an absent Daddy and Hubby. In fact, we haven’t heard much of our lovely First Lady since you went into quarantine – even at this odd hour when a mother-figure is needed to reassure the nation that all will be alright. O re costile motherlove Morena. Kana if it wasn’t for that reckless trip, we could be seeing her around with you. Jaanong mmanyana gatwe a seka a go atumela shem…
Anyway, it was great to see you looking fit and strong on Tuesday morning BraMEK, and we are glad you are showing no signs of infection. Kana yo mogare e bile ga o tlhaole. It doesn’t care if you are a British Prime Minister, German Chancellor or a Royal Prince. Neither does it care if you are a Head of State, or popular football star or internationally-acclaimed movie star – e ralla anyone Covid-19, rich or poor; black or white and everything in between. So seeing you looking that healthy after that risky Namibia trip has helped reassure us that within the gloom and doom of the socio-economic crisis created by the virus world-wide, there is that silver lining of remembering that it does not just infect unless invited to, and that even when it has infected one, death is not always a given. I realise however that you waited for your anniversary day to pass without impediment before you could institute the start of the lockdown tomorrow. We support your decisiveness nonetheless and promise to abide by the guidelines laid before us to boost our survival chance against this monster of a virus. I see you have even tried to do all in your power to ensure individuals and business entities do not feel the extreme wrath of this Covid-19 and the attendant lockdown. Among the things in your rescue package I see you talk of tax holidays for businesses; access to credit; immediate reconnection of water; decrease in fuel prices; an economic stimulus package; loan guarantees for businesses; restructuring of loans with banks; relaxed payment of insurance premiums for both individuals and companies; provision of a wage subsidy for citizen employees of businesses mostly affected by the virus in order to enable them to retain employees; expedited payments to business entities by government and parastatals … and other interventions intended go fokotsa manokonoko a Covid-19. Yet there are those still in tears Big MEK, who ask gore bone gatwe bone ke ba ga mang. These are the folks who live from hand to mouth, who worry that the lockdown will kill them even faster than the virus itself. Akere Tautona there are people who make an instant daily stipend from clearing the weeds, doing laundry, selling fatcakes, selling cooltime, veggies, sweets and mabudula on the streets as well as those who sell traditional beer? How do they make money for their groceries ne Tautona? What measures do you have in place for them? In your address on Tuesday morning you did not elaborate on that and I pray that by the time this letter reaches you, you would have clarified the matter. Kana these are the people who will not comply because one way or the other, they would have to go out there to hassle. I bet they were wondering who exactly you were talking to when you mentioned the issue of panic buying. You need to urgently come up with a plan for them BraMEK, otherwise they may have to choose between death by hunger and death by corona. Go riana there is one mosadimogolo in Ramotswa who was made to spill away her traditional brew last week, despite having started the fermentation process two days before Trade Minister Peggy Serame decreed that there would be no sale of alcohol. Gatwe mosadimogolo o sale a bedisa ka Tuesday before the ban on sale of alcohol was announced ka Thursday. Her brew got ready for sale on Saturday but your men of the law came hard on her, making her throw it all away. Imagine such instances BraMEK on our oldies who seem to have been left out in your disucusions ahead of the sale ban of bojwala. Others BraMEK say you never even bothered to address their worries against landlords who will still demand rent for their houses despite the tenants not going out to work and make money on the streets. There are also these chaps who depend on our absence from our homes to make a living – the ones who take advantage of our absence to break into our homes to take what they never had to sweat for. Ba re o ba bolaile because homesteads will be occupied throughout the day. They worry that with soldiers and police officers expected to be unleashed on the streets, they may have a difficult time to do any work at night. And in the case these chaps continue to work and flout the lockdown and extreme social distancing rules, what can we expect you to do with them Tautona? Could they straightaway be charged with attempted murder should they test positive for coronavirus? Akere by coming into our homes they would have exposed us to harm? And then there are the ladies of the night BraMEK, although I know you would argue that the law does not recognise them. But hey, they are there and their hassle is real. If you are going to keep their customers under lockdown, how will they survive? Kana e bile these days they are a bit sophisticated – they rent houses from which they operate, where their clients meet them for a roll in the hay. They have to make money for both the rent and their meals. If we don’t aid them they too pose a risk as they might sneak out to go and meet their clients ‘halfway’ and end up infecting each other. As I said earlier, I hope you do something about these forgotten citizens, even if it is it could mean dropping a bag of Tsabana in each household. Note also that suddenly – after you announced the lockdown – some employers out there are beginning to label their traditionally lowly-regarded workers as ‘essential service employees.’ Yet they have nothing to offer them commensurate with the new label. Others are dismissing employees already, claiming the lockdown will kill their business. And with the grounding of public transport vehicles, these companies have no plan how to get their essential service workers to the workplace. Ne kere le bone ba o ba tlhodumele Tautona. And on a more serious note, I worry about our mental health BraMEK. I tell you this lockdown is going to have its toll on the mental health of many. There is too much anxiety right now and there is a general fear of the unknown. With no light visible at the other end of the tunnel, many will be choking in there, worried about the uncertainty of everything including the well-being of relatives, the security around their jobs, the inability to attend funerals of their loved ones… resulting in rising stress levels and possible depression. Some couples will be annoying each other and expect cases of GBV to rise during this period. I hope you will look into such matters to ensure people are given some form of counselling and advice, especially through television and radio. Otherwise we thank you for acting on this lockdown thing sooner than later – although I still feel it should have come earlier. It was always going to be pointless to wait for deaths to go uncontrollably high before we could take the virus seriously. You had no choice but to put us down into extreme social distancing. Mistakes are going to happen along the way, and I hope we will help you go through correcting them amicably together without pointing fingers. And what an opportune time for bonding to happen! Parents will school their children and tertiary students will have enough time to reorganise themselves in preparation of the next time the coursework rooms open. Husbands and wives who all along did not see eye to eye will emerge from this lockdown a lot closer. And during the potentially lonely days, I hope there will be enough and clear communication to keep people at ease. For now it is Goodbye Mr President. Pass my warmest regards to my cousin Neo and her little girl. And sorry about the sleepless nights you and especially Health Minister Lems Kwape have to endure. I really feel for the poor chap; and pass this message to him that we all love him. We see what he is doing and what he is going through. Cheers for now MEK.

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Ebenezer!

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This year marks my 10th year as an employee of The Botswana Guardian and The Midweek Sun newspapers, under the CBET Pty Ltd company.

I still remember one afternoon of 2010 when I was in Francistown. I was waiting for my graduation from the University of Botswana where I did Bachelor of Media Studies. I had just started a freelancing job with Mmegi in the Ghetto when one of the Guardian/Sun managers Tlotlo Mbazo called me offering a job opportunity. See, during our time, UB newspaper- then known as The UB Horizon was hyped and big.

We distributed it across newsrooms in the country. In addition to this, one of my former Journalism lecturers Julia Cass had advised us to always cut our articles and keep portfolios and later send them across media houses for opportunities. So when MmaMbazo called me about an opportunity that had come up, I knew she had seen my work that I had submitted a few months before closing at UB.

Coming into the Guardian/Sun newsroom the first days was exciting yet challenging at the same time. I found many male colleagues that were also very loud and pushy. Intimidating. At times, annoying. Some were old, reminding me of the set up in international newsrooms where journalists are older. The 24 year-old me then was timid and emotional…but zealous and curious. I was impressed however by the female journos that oozed energy and passion.

The truth about the media industry is that there was a time when it was male-dominated. Women were thrown into light beats and strong ones were tackled by males. Though it was the case with Guardian/Sun then, seeing the likes of Phemelo Ramaribeng nee Ramasu pursue News was encouraging. Her human interest stories to a larger extent  contributed to my love for Human Rights issues.

I worked under the leadership of great men who all shaped my career in special ways. The likes of peculiar Mpho Dibeela who has since gone into newspaper ownership; Mike Mothibi, the sophisticated writer with a passion for farming; courageous Abraham Motsokono who called a spade a spade and not a big spoon; fatherly Ernest Moloi who helped build resilience in me; Mbazo, woman of the board who leads tenderly but with a stern posture; Justice Kavahematui with a very calm demeanor; Joe Brown-Tlhaselo the perfectionist who pays attention to every detail in the paper – in fact it was Joe-Brown who welcomed me the first day by offering me a chair and lunch! And then there is  Boitshepo Balozwi, my editor-turned-friend who every now and then blesses me with pearls of wisdom when ‘the devil wants to lie,’ as well as Dikarabo Ramadubu, our moving encyclopaedia.

Still under this list falls Beatrice Mbulawa, the magnificent General Manager who came with a unique style of managing a media house as a finance-steel lady. Joel Konopo and Ntibinyane Ntibinyane have always been deep hence their now establishment of the bullish INK Centre for Investigative Journalism. In 2012, they took me to Amabunghane Centre for Investigative Journalism in South Africa where my mindset changed altogether. That was an investment that I will always use in my Journalism. Douglas Tsiako also deserves recognition for always believing in me. Special mention of Ditiro Motlhabane for always putting me on my toes about my stories as my News Editor.

My colleagues across every department in The Guardian/Sun throughout the decade, both new and old, have been fascinating. The team is a rare, winning breed. Group dynamics is as real as it gets but I can say unfazed, that I learn a lot from every single individual in our newsroom. The energy here is right. It’s amazing.

So much can be said about my decade in our newsroom. Perhaps, my number one lesson is that of servitude. Journalists are servants. They should serve. At church we say EBENEZER – Thus far the Lord has brought me. Thank you.

Facebook/Instagram: Yvonne Tshepang Mooka
LinkedIn: Yvonne Mooka
Twitter: @yvonnemooka
Email: yvonnequeen2003@gmail.com

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