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Masisis Projected cabinet reshuffle

Some of the Cabinet Ministers who were appointed in November last year, might soon find themselves as mere back-benchers while others may have to acclimatize under new roles. Not only that, some back-benchers may also get promoted.

This comes as President Mokgweetsi Masisi is set to make the first cabinet reshuffle after winning elections last October, as well as increasing new Ministries, Weekendpost has established. Masisi first announced during the 2019 State of Nation Address (SONA), that in order to improve public service efficiency, Government has embarked on a rationalisation exercise of ministerial portfolio responsibilities and functions.

“Government is considering the rationalisation of Government Ministries to improve service delivery, eliminating any duplication and overlaps of responsibilities across sectors, closing any existing structural gaps as well as identifying obsolete functions,” Masisi said. “Moreover, Government will consider a re-labelling exercise of Government Ministries to make their names, easy, relevant and more meaningful to people.”

While information is still sketchy regarding the developments, informants tell this publication that the country’s leadership wants to merge Ministry of Employment, Labour Productivity and Skills Development with that of Nationality, Immigration and Gender Affairs. The former is headed by the Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) Secretary General Mpho Balopi, while the other is held by Anna Mokgethi-the lady who dethroned main opposition leader Duma Boko from Gaborone Bonnington North seat in the last elections.  

Despite merging the two ministries, President Masisi is still forging ahead with the creation of two other new Ministries.  It is expected that while pronouncing cabinet reshuffle in two months’ time, Masisi will also split both Ministry of Investment, Trade and Industry as well as Ministry of Transport and Communications. The development is said to be geared towards fulfilling the aspirations of Vision 2036 and improve ease of doing business in Botswana.

Ministry of Investment, Trade and Industry will be divided into two ministries, one of which would focus on investment and trade, while the other fragment was to focus on Small Businesses. The new ministry of Small Business Enterprises would house all the consolidated government programmes. The changes in the ministries are aimed at cultivating the culture of entrepreneurship among the locals, which is currently lacking especially in an era where unemployment continues to rocket high.

The ministry will house incubation programmes that would be intensified and land acquisition process eased. Further, this ministry will ensure the citizenry will not be denied opportunities to utilise land in beneficial ways aimed at reviving the economy. Consequently, the government wants all programmes that were aimed at providing the people with funding and technical know-how in running successful enterprises such as CEDA, LEA, YDF, LIMID including cooperatives would be reviewed, aligned to Vision 2036 and be housed under one ministry.

WeekendPost is reliably informed that Kanye North legislature Thapelo Letsholo is poised to appoint into cabinet the resultant process.  “Initially he was in President’s cabinet books but then after some hiccups (known to this publication) Masisi dropped him. But his brightness and passion when it comes to entrepreneurial issues has won the heart of the leadership and he is going to lead the Ministry,” says a source close to this publication on Thursday evening.

The expectation is the Ministry will be catered for during the current financial season. As for the Ministry of Transport and Communications’ split, it is envisaged that there would be Ministry of Communications, which would be housed under the Office of the President. The resuscitation of Transport and Communications ministry is necessitated by the critical role of infrastructure development, transportation and telecommunication networks in a working business environment, Masisi has said. It is said the major focus of the proposed changes would be to encourage local communities to work hard and own all the initiatives aimed at growing the economy.

However, six months after making the pronouncements, Masisi could be somehow contradicting himself as he is also merging two other ministries (Employment and Nationality). Sources say, the government cannot afford to increase the ministries due to financial constraints. “There is no money to accommodate more ministries and as a result the plan is to merge some of the ministries especially that of Balopi and Mokgethi, as a financial prudency tool.

The idea is to take Labour Ministry to that of Nationality, Immigration and Gender Affairs. The two that will be created will also not have a specific budget but will rather get their share from the already parent ministries.” This now leaves the two Ministers, Balopi and Mokgethi tittering on the edge, as one of them- should Masisi’s plan succeed- will now be an ordinary Member of Parliament.

Things however are looking glamorous for Balopi as there are reports suggesting that after the merger, he will be given a more senior position for ministry of Communications. This, if it is anything to go by, this would mean that Balopi is likely to pave way for Mokgethi at the consolidated ministry.

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ENVIRONMENT ISSUES: Masisi asks Virginia for help

24th March 2023

President Mokgweetsi Masisi says the issue of sustainable natural resources management has always been an important part of Botswana’s national development agenda.

Masisi was speaking this week on the occasion of a public lecture at Virginia Polytechnic, under theme, “Merging Conservation, Democracy and Sustainable Development in Botswana.”

Botswana, according to Masisi, holds the view that the environment is fragile and as such, must be managed and given the utmost protection to enable the achievement of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

“It is necessary that we engage one another in the interchange of ideas, perspectives, visualizations of social futures, and considerations of possible strategies and courses of action for sustainable development,” said Masisi.

On the other hand, dialogue, in the form of rigorous democratic discourse among stakeholders presents another basis for reconfiguring how people act on their environments, with a view to conserving its resources that “we require to meet our socio-economic development needs on a sustainable basis,” Masisi told attendees at the public lecture.

He said government has a keen interest in understanding the epidemiology and ecology of diseases of both domestic and wild animals. “It is our national interest to forestall the dire consequences of animal diseases on our communities livelihoods.”

President Masisi hoped that both Botswana and Virginia could help each other in curbing contagious diseases of wildlife.

“We believe that Virginia Tech can reasonably share their experiences, research insights and advances in veterinary sciences and medicines, to help us build capacity for knowledge creation and improve efforts of managing and containing contagious diseases of wildlife. The ground is fertile for entering into such a mutually beneficial partnership.”

When explaining environmental issues further, Masisi said efforts of conservation and sustainable development might at times be hampered by the emergence and recurrence of diseases when pathogens mutate and take host of more than one species.

“Water pollution also kills aquatic life, such as fish, which is one of humanity’s much deserved sources of food. In this regard, One Health Approach imposes ecological responsibility upon all of us to care for the environment and the bio-diversity therein.”

He said the production and use of animal vaccines is an important space and tool for conservation, particularly to deal with trans-border animal diseases.

“In Botswana, our 43-year-old national premier pharmaceutical institution called Botswana Vaccine Institute has played its role well. Through its successful production of highly efficacious Foot and Mouth vaccines, the country is able to contain this disease as well as supply vaccines to other countries in the sub-region.:

He has however declared that there is need for more help, saying “We need more capacitation to deal with and contain other types of microbial that affect both animals and human health.”

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Masisi saddened by deaths of elephant attacks

24th March 2023

President Mokgweetsi Masisi has expressed a strong worry over elephants killing people in Botswana. When speaking in Virginia this week, Masisi said it is unfortunate that Batswana have paid a price with their own blood through being attacked by elephants.

“Communities also suffer unimaginable economic losses yearly when their crops are eaten by the elephants. In spite of such incidents of human-elephant conflict, our people embrace living together with the animals. They fully understand wildlife conservation and its economic benefits in tourism.”

In 2018, Nthobogang Samokwase’s father was attacked by an elephant when travelling from the fields, where he stayed during the cropping season.

It was reported that the man couldn’t run because of his age. He was found trampled by the elephant and was pronounced dead upon arrival at the hospital.

In the same year, in Maun, a 57-year-old British woman was attacked by an elephant at Boro and died upon arrival at the hospital. The woman was with her Motswana partner, and were walking dogs in the evening.

Last month, a Durban woman named Carly Marshall survived an elephant attack while on holiday in the bush in Botswana. She was stabbed by one of the elephant’s tucks through the chest and was left with bruises. Marshall also suffered several fractured ribs from the ordeal.

President Masisi Botswana has the largest population of African elephants in the world, totaling more than 130 000. “This has been possible due to progressive conservation policies, partnerships with the communities, and investment in wildlife management programmes.”

In order to benefit further from wildlife, Masisi indicated that government has re-introduced controlled hunting in 2019 after a four-year pause. “The re-introduction of hunting was done in an open, transparent and democratic way, giving the communities an opportunity to air their views. The funds from the sale of hunting quota goes towards community development and elephant conservation.”

He stressed that for conservation to succeed, the local people must be involved and derive benefits from the natural resources within their localities.

“There must be open and transparent consultations which involve all sectors of the society. It is against this backdrop that as a country, we lead the continent on merging conservation, democracy and sustainable development.”

Masisi stated that Botswana is open to collaborative opportunities, “particularly with identifiable partners such as Virginia Tech, in other essential areas such as conservation, and the study of the interplay among the ecology of diseases of wild animals and plants, and their effects on human health and socio-economic development.”

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Gov’t commit to injecting more funds in fighting HIV

24th March 2023

Minister for State President Kabo Morwaeng says government will continue to make resources available in terms of financial allocations and human capital to ensure that Botswana achieves the ideal of eradicating HIV and AIDS as a public health threat by 2030.

Morwaeng was speaking this morning in Gaborone at the High-Level Advocacy event to accelerate HIV Prevention in Botswana. He said the National AIDS and Health Promotion Agency (NAPHA), in partnership with UNAIDS, UN agencies, the Global Fund and PEPFAR, have started a process of developing transition readiness plan for sustainability of HIV prevention and treatment programmes.

“It is important for us, as a country that has had a fair share of donor support in the response to an epidemic such as HIV and AIDS, to look beyond the period when the level of assistance would have reduced, or ceased, thus calling for domestic financing for all areas which were on donor support.”

Morwaeng said this is important as the such a plan will guarantee that all the gains accrued from the response with donor support will be sustained until the end when “we reach the elimination of HIV and AIDS as a public health threat by 20230,” he said.

“I commit to continue support efforts towards strengthened HIV prevention, accentuating HIV primary prevention and treatment as prevention towards Zero New Infections, Zero Stigma, Discrimination and Zero AIDS related death, to end AIDS in Botswana.”

He reiterated that government commits to tackle legislative, policy and programming challenges that act as barriers to the achievement of the goal of ending AIDS as a public health threat.

In the financial year 2022/2023, a total of 119 Civil Society Organizations, including Faith Based Organizations, were contracted with an amount of P100 million to implement HIV and NCDs prevention activities throughout the country, and the money was drawn from the Consolidated Fund.

Through an upcoming HIV Prevention Symposium, technical stakeholders will use outcomes to develop the Botswana HIV Prevention Acceleration Road Map for 2023-2025.

Morwaeng stated that government will support and ensure that Botswana plays its part achieving the road map. He said there is need to put hands on the deck to ensure that Botswana sustains progress made so far in the fight against HIV and AIDS.

“There are tremendous achievements thus far to, reach and surpass the UNAIDS fast track targets of 95%- 95%- 95% by the year 2025. As reflected by the BAIS preliminary results of 2021, we now stand at 95- 98- 98 against the set targets.”

“These achievements challenge us to now shift our gears and strive to know who are the remaining 5% for those aware of their HIV status, 2% of enrolment on treatment by those aware of their status and 2% of viral suppression by those on treatment.”

Explaining this further, Morwaeng said shift in gears should extend to coming up with robust strategies of determining where these remaining people are as well as how they will be reached with the necessary services.

“These are just some of the many variables that are required to ensure that as a country, we are well positioned to reaching the last mile of our country’s response to the HIV and AIDS pandemic.”

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