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Flag the driver’s licence, not the vehicle!

Ernest Moloi

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Someone asked on radio call-in the other day what does it profit government to flag vehicles instead of flagging drivers’ licenses? I thought his was a valid, rationale reasoning. Come to think of it, why should traffic police flag a vehicle, as if it is self-driven?

A car is just a tool, an object for man’s travel means. In our setting, whether a manual or automatic make – it is driven by a person, and for a person to drive, he/she must be licensed. Now when this individual drives a given car and encounters an accident, drives recklessly or overspeeds the traffic cop will slap the culprit driver with a fine or at worst flag the vehicle. The sad thing is that the car may not be the driver’s – it could be a company car or he/she could have borrowed it.

When the company or owner of the car goes to pay the annual registration fee, he finds, unbeknownst to him, that his vehicle has been flagged yet he never ran into any trouble with the law! But because he has to use the car, he has no alternative but to pay the fine, whilst the real culprit is left off the hook! This is not fair at all. Flagging the driver’s licence would help instil a new driving culture in our drivers – a culture of courtesy and care for one another; a culture of defensive driving and in the long haul, we would drastically reduce the numbers of road fatalities.

I say, bring it on, it’s the best thing to do. Let us join hands if you find this proper, to lobby for this change at Department of Roads Transport and Safety. On the same topic, I hear that owners of our unformal driving schools that operate under trees are catching hell all thanks to the new regulations and requirements that DRTS has imposed on driving school operators. In order to run a driving school you now need to have an office and ground allocated by the landboard! Someone whispered to me that these are tactics by some BDP fatcats who want to crowd out the ordinary people and monopolise this space. They say these hotshots pull the pursestrings and incidentally are in the business of buying and selling vehicles!

The fatcats are worried that ordinary Batswana have managed over time to eke out a living and provided for their families through these driving schools which they run at undesignated points under trees that dart the length and breadth of the country. They now want to snatch the opportunity away from them and throw these ordinary Batswana into the ranks of the unemployed so that they push the rate of joblessness much higher. Have you ever wondered where were all these drivers that we have in the country trained? Which office did they register at?

Ask your legislatior, your minister, your lawyer and judge? They all acquired their licenses from training and studying under those trees! Now, what value-add will offices make to the running of these driving schools? Perhaps we need to rethink this name – is it a driving school, academy or what really are these? If you say a school or academy it presupposes certain conditions – it supposes that the instructors employed at the school or academy must also have gone through some rigours of formal training; they must be qualified and certified!

Certainly this will throw out all the driving schools in their current shape and form to the doldrums. I suggest that government starts with empowering the owners of these schools and training (of course at a fee) the instructors employed there. This gradual transition is necessary to avoid suspicions of ill-will from Batswana, which are presently engendered by the conduct of DRTS! I understand that some 600 applications have so far been received but that only two have been approved!

If this be true, which I have no reason to believe it is not, it would be a sad day for us because it would mean that some 598 people have been rejected because they can either not afford to rent or build offices or cannot get grounds from landboards! If we really mean to talk about an inclusive economy, we must be careful not to alienate the informal sector, but instead to gradually integrate it into the mainstream of the economy, lest our pious declarations come to zilch!

Yet again, I hear some people are unable to transfer ownership of their vehicles because the DRTS and BURS have frozen issuance of blue books! What is really happening? Can we stop this madness and serve the people! If Nigerians evaded cusoms and excise tax at entry points, please don’t pass the burden of blame on the poor citizens – just deal with the culprits but for God’s sake, serve the people!

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Ebenezer!

Yvonne Mooka

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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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The thrill of being boys in the fields of plenty

Matshediso Fologang

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Boys will always be boys. This weekend after a long time I took a walk from my maternal ancestral mekgoro/ditlaagane to the southwest, much along the recently ploughed masimo. In this journey all memories of the early 1960s came to mind.

Then boys were generally a law unto themselves as they could move all over and invade the masimo and take ripe magapu and nche (water melons and sweet reed) without the owner’s consent. Such was known as “go itaya khutu.” It was never considered stealing but helping our boyish greed. This weekend as I traversed these fields with green ripening products I couldn’t help but reminisce about my youth. The things we did then?

We could just raid a field and help ourselves with whatever was ripe. Such acts were punishable by caning of the wrong doers. Still such did not deter the boys from the adventure. Such was the things the boys did with such impunity. Such acts of thuggery were only lessened by some fear of certain fields that were known to be owned by dingaka (traditional doctors) and baloi (witches). We had serious superstitious beliefs that we knew we could become crippled or die if we dared help ourselves with produce from such masimo.

Walking through these masimo, I went deeper into the area and started remembering the past like it happened yesterday. Activities I was part of just came back to mind like these happened yesterday. I recalled one such day we were herding clan cattle and goats. Around midday we realised our morning fill was no more. We were a bit hungry. How could we be hungry in the midst of plenty? Boys being boys, we raided the next nearest tshimo. We helped ourselves with water melons.

We carried our loot into the bushes nearby. We had a feast.  Just as we were ready to leave, one of us came up with a story that the old lady whose field we had raided was a moloi. It was revealed that she would find out who had stolen her melons. Panic and fear gripped us. She was going to get us all dead. She would just doctor our footprints. Such stories we had heard in our daily lives but for us to be potential victims was the worst nightmare then.

Living in a superstitious society then, the things we did then make me just laugh today when I look back. On this adventurous day we drove the cattle and goats up to the nearest hillocks. Something bad happened. As we had almost forgotten the earlier fear, we now raided the trees for indigenous fruits. We climbed up these trees to pick the fruits. One of the boys accidentally fell down and injured his back.

Being products of a superstitious clan the only explanation we could make for this accident was the curse (boloi) of the owner of the melons we had earlier stolen. The next problem we faced was to explain the visible pain our colleague endured. Tradition had it then that anyone who had fallen from a tree would eat his meals from a bed pan until he healed. We all bullied the victim not to show signs of pain.. We were cruel and it was all about being boys. Such was being boys.

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