Miss Botswana is a national beauty pageant in country formed in 1964 and holds a membership license of the most prominent beauty pageant Miss World. The pageantry runs parallel with the history of the country.
Even though there had been beauty contests conducted in various villages around the country in the early 1960s, the first Miss Botswana beauty contest was in 1967, conducted as part of Botswana independence celebrations. At the time, it was determined that the colourful first beauty event was going to ‘pick a perfect representative of the nation’s modern womanhood. Theresa Rantao satisfactorily met those requirements. She became the winner of the Miss Botswana 1967. Earlier in 1964, Veronica Magosi of Lobatse won the Miss Bechunaland crown. The following year, the crown was won by Lydia Tiyo.
Botswana made its debut at Miss World in 1972. Traditionally, the winner of Miss Botswana represents the country at Miss World. Taking you down the memory lane, Emma Wareus was crowned Miss World 2010, and she became the first Miss Botswana to place Top 3 at Miss World beauty pageant. She was the 1st runner up, subsequently becoming Miss World Africa. Karabo Sampson garnered the title in 2011, and she placed Miss World Top 20.
Miss Botswana 2012 and 2013 titles were scooped by Tapiwa Preston and Rosemary Keofitlhetse respectively. Seneo Mabengano won the title in 2015 and Thata Kenosi was Miss Botswana 2016. Nicole Gaelebale who placed Miss World Top 40 got the title in 2017, and 2018 it was scooped by Moitshepi Elias who then handed it over to Oweditse Phirinyane last year, who is currently the reigning Miss Botswana.
Oweditse just landed in the country few weeks ago from the 69th edition of Miss World which was held in London. For the past 10 years, Miss Botswana queens have been failing drastically to bring the crown home, or at least to place Top 20, in fact, the last placement in Top 20 was in 2011. Well, Mpule Kwelagobe was crowned Miss Universe 1999, but that is news for another day. Rumours say Botswana doesn’t hold the Miss Universe license, but some say a certain gentleman has the license and he is actually refusing to hand it over. I am still hunting him down, to get to understand why he feels fine with something we need for the sake of this country’s beauty pageants industry.
Anyway, in an exclusive interview with Weekend Life, beauty pageant enthusiast and analyst, who is also a public relations practitioner Morekolodi Smith said for the past decade, Botswana queens lacked preparation and the organisers have not figured out the formula. He says they are failing to figure out the formula for the Miss Botswana queens to place in the Miss World pageant.
‘’Out of the forty plus women that represented Botswana at Miss World, only one made it to Top 3, which is Miss Botswana 2010 Emma Wareus. I don’t know if I can say Botswana is a one hit wonder or what, but those that had been representing Botswana had no burning desire to bring glory to this country. Many of them lack the premium beauty that can appeal the Miss World judging panel.
In Miss World, there are fast track events, Top Model, Sport, Multimedia, Talent, Head-to-Head challenge as well as the most prize of them all Beauty with a Purpose. Botswana representatives were just basic and they were not a complete package. If I remember well, Emma Wareus made it to Top 20 Top Model and Top 20 beach fashion. She is the first Miss Botswana to place in two fast tracks and even performed Dances of the World’’ he said
Smith stressed that Miss Botswana judges do not know the Miss World competition format and the judging criteria. ‘’They are not industry experts and the competition does not give the audience the insider of the competition. Personally I don’t understand the Miss Botswana competition format, how judges select finalists without having fast track events. The judges are not doing a great job at all. Miss Botswana needs a runway coach, who will teach contestants cat walking skills and for them to have great stage personality.
The pageant also needs someone who will coach contestants on question and answer segment and interviews. A panel of judges should be there to judge every round of competition’’ Smith told Weekend Life. He advised that Miss Botswana pageant take place earlier so as to afford the queen enough time to get prepared for the intense Miss World competition, saying that the queen should make a greater impact here that should also be documented.
‘’She should travel the country and fundraise some charity events and the organisers need to work more on the pageant’s publicity, Miss Botswana should be hyped. This is a national competition; it needs a very creative director, production as well as the competition format. The production also has to have a concept that reflects Botswana. What they have been doing for the past 50 years is just basic’’
Further, Smith underlined that a panel of judges should be industry experts, such as sportsmen or women who know what it is like to represent a country, image architects who well know fashion trends and sense of style, former Miss Botswana queens, magazine editors as well as social media influencers. ‘’I would like to see Miss Botswana pageant execute the exact Miss World competition format. I want to see fast track events, head to head challenge, top model, sport, multimedia, talent and the people’s choice. It would be nice to see winners of these special events secure endorsement deals with some of the local brands, or corporates even.
Responding to why the queens have been failing at Miss World, Smith confidently indicated that it’s because they are not a comprehensive package and lack of preparation. He highlighted that Miss World crown is the ultimate prize but there is sport, talent and top model amongst others. ‘’The Asians, Philippines, Thailand and others are dominating pageants because they are prepared. A well prepared queen can at least advance in one of the fast tracks.
Miss Botswana queens have nothing to offer, they are not hard-core competitors because they are not prepared. They are failing because the pageant is held very late, that is two months before the Miss World. There is no time to do beauty with a purpose project, no time to design an exquisite evening gown and no one wins Miss World with just three weeks to prepare. The organization is also failing the queens’’
Smith said it is absurd for a queen to go compete in Miss World without a rigid beauty with a purpose project that is the heart and soul of the Miss World. There is so much that a Miss Botswana can do to help disadvantaged communities, Smith said. ‘’We still have areas in Botswana where people don’t have access to clean purified water, some are salty.
A project can be done to set a purifying plantation. Mophane worm is on the edge of extinction so a project can be done to set out hatcheries. The public also needs to be involved to assist Miss Botswana queen complete her projects and its critical the organization intensely recruit volunteers’’ In his own words, Smith feels Miss Botswana crown is obnoxious. ‘’The pageant has to unveil a new proper crown, not a tiara, even if they can replicate the Miss World crown, it’s still fine’’
Lebang Mpotokwane, one of the conveners who presided over the opposition cooperation talks that resulted in the formation of the Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC), has advised against changing the current umbrella model in favour of a merger as proposed by others.
The Botswana Congress Party (BCP) leader, Dumelang Saleshando recently went public to propose that UDC should consider merging of all opposition parties, including Alliance for Progressives (AP) and Botswana Patriotic Front (BNF).
Saleshando has been vehemently opposed by Botswana National Front (BNF), which is in favour of maintaining the current model. BNF’s position has been favoured by the founding father of UDC, who warned that it will be too early to ditch the current model.
“UDC should be well developed to promote the spirit of togetherness on members and the members should be taught so that the merger is developed gradually. They should approach it cautiously. If they feel they are ready, they can, but it would not be a good idea,” Mpotokwane told WeekendPost this week.
Mpotokwane and Emang Maphanyane are the two men who have since 2003 began a long journey of uniting opposition parties in a bid to dethrone the ruling Botswana Democratic Party (BCP) as they felt it needed a strong opposition to avoid complacency.
Tonota born Mpotokwane is however disappointed on how they have been ejected from participating in the last edition of talks ahead of the 2019 general elections in which BCP was brought on board. However, despite the ejection, Mpotokwane is not resentful to the opposition collective.
He said the vision of opposition unity was to ultimately merge the opposition parties but he believes time has not arrived yet to pursue that path. “The bigger picture was a total merger and we agreed that with three independent parties, members might be against merger eventuality so the current model should be used until a point where they are now together for as long as possible,” he said.
“UDC should gradually perform better in elections and gain confidence. They should not rush the merger. We have been meeting since 2003, but if they rush it might cause endless problems. If they are ready they can anyway,” he advised. For now the constituent parties of the umbrella have been exchanging salvos with others (BCP and BNF).
“There are good reasons for and against merging the parties. Personally, I am in favour of merging the parties (including AP and BPF) into a single formation but I know it’s a complex mission that will have its own challenges,” Saleshando said when he made his position known a week ago.
“Good luck to those advocating for a merger, it will be interesting to observe the tactics they will use to lure the BPF into a merger,” former BNF councillor for Borakalalo Ward and former BNF Youth League Secretary General, Arafat Khan, opined in relation to BCP’s proposed position.
Mpotokwane, who is currently out in the cold from the UDC since he was ejected from the party’s NEC in 2017, said the current bickering and the expected negotiations with other parties need the presence of conveners.
“We did not belong to any party as conveners so we were objective in our submissions. If party propose any progressive idea we will support, if it is not we will not, so I would agree that even now conveners might be key for neutrality to avoid biasness,” he observed. Despite being abandoned, Mpotokwane said he will always be around to assist if at all he is needed.
“If they want help I will be there, I have always been clear about it, but surely I will ask few questions before accepting that role,” he said. UDC is expected to begin cooperation talks with both AP and BPF either this week or next weekend for both upcoming bye-elections (halted by Covid-19) and 2024 general elections and it is revealed that there will be no conveners this time around.
The Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) moved through its lawyers to attach the property of Umbrella for Democratic (UDC) President Duma Boko and other former parliamentary contestants who failed in their court bid to overturn the 2019 general elections in 14 constituencies.
WeekendPost has established that this week, Deputy Sheriffs were commissioned by Bogopa Manewe Tobedza and Company who represented the BDP, to attach the properties of UDC elections contents in a bid to recover costs. High Court has issued a writ of execution against all petitioners, a process that has set in motion the cost recovery measures.
Botswana Sectors of Teachers Union (BOSETU) says COVID-19 as a pandemic has negatively affected the education sector by deeply disrupting the education system. The intermittent lockdowns have resulted in the halting of teaching and learning in schools.
The union indicated that the education system was caught napping and badly exposed when it came to the use of Information System (IT), technological platforms and issues of digitalisation.
“COVID-19 exposed glaring inefficiencies and deficiencies when it came to the use of ITC in schools. In view of the foregoing, we challenge government as BOSETU to invest in school ITC, technology and digitalization,” says BOSETU President Kinston Radikolo during a press conference on Tuesday.
As a consequence, the union is calling on government to prioritise education in her budgeting to provide technological infrastructure and equipment including provision of tablets to students and teachers.
“Government should invest vigorously in internet connectivity in schools and teacher’s residences if the concept of flexi-hours and virtual learning were to be achieved and have desired results,” Radikolo said.
Radikolo told journalists that COVID-19 is likely to negatively affect final year results saying that the students would sit for the final examinations having not covered enough ground in terms of curriculum coverage.
“This is so because there wasn’t any catch up plan that was put in place to recover the lost time by students. We warn that this year’s final examination results would dwindle,” he said.
The Union, which is an affiliate of Botswana Federation of Public, Private and Parastatal Union (BOFEPUSU), also indicated that COVID-19’s presence as a pandemic has complicated the role of a teacher in a school environment, saying a teacher’s role has not only transcended beyond just facilitating teaching and learning, but rather, a teacher in this COVID-19 era, is also called upon to enforce the COVID-19 preventative protocols in the school environment.
“This is an additional role in the duty of a teacher that needs to be recognized by the employers. Teachers by virtue of working in a congested school environment have become highly exposed and vulnerable to COVID-19, hence the reason why BOSETU would like teachers to be regarded as the frontline workers with respect to COVID-19,” says Radikolo.
BOSETU noted that the pandemic has in large scales found its way into most of the school environments, as in thus far more than 50 schools have been affected by COVID-19. The Union says this is quite a worrying phenomenon.
“As we indicated before when we queried that schools were not ready for re-opening, it has now come to pass that our fears were not far-fetched. This goes out to tell that there is deficiency in our schools when it comes to putting in place preventative protocols. In our schools, hygiene is compromised by mere absence of sanitizers, few hand-washing stations, absence of social distancing in classes,” the Union leader said.
Furthermore, Radikolo stressed that the shifting system drastically increased the workload for teachers especially in secondary schools. He says teachers in these schools experience very high loads to an extent that some of them end up teaching up to sixty four periods per week, adding that this has not only fatigued teachers, but has also negatively affected their performance and the quality of teaching.
In what the Union sees as failure to uphold and honour collective agreements by government, owing to the shift system introduced at primary schools, government is still in some instances refusing to honour an agreement with the Unions to hire more teachers to take up the extra classes.
“BOSETU notes with disgruntlement the use of pre-school teachers to teach in the mainstream schools with due regard for their specific areas of training and their job descriptions. This in our view is a variation of the terms of employment of the said teachers,” says Radikolo.
The Union has called on government to forthwith remedy this situation and hire more teachers to alleviate this otherwise unhealthy situation. BOSETU also expressed concerns of some school administrators who continuously run institutions with iron fists and in a totalitarian way.
“We have a few such hot spot schools which the Union has brought to attention the Ministry officials such as Maoka JSS, Artesia JSS, and Dukwi JSS. We are worried that the Ministry becomes sluggish in taking action against such errant school administration. In instances where action is taken, such school administrators are transferred and rotated around schools.”