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UDC threatens to walk-out of Parley committees

The main opposition party, Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC), is resolute and will fight to the bitter end with the ruling Botswana Democratic Party (BDP), to have an equitable and proportional representation in the Parliamentary Standing Committees.

There are 23 Parliamentary Committees from which five are Inter-Parliamentary Committees and already the latter’s members have been elected with 18 committes expected to be voted for next week. It is from the five international parliamentary committess that the UDC has read malice from their counterparts and raised a complaint.

“We have already submitted a complaint over the unequal representation of the inter-parliamentary committes in which you will have five BDP members against one of us. There should be equal and proportional representation in these committees, the BDP is ruling how can they police themselves,” UDC spokesperson on Parliamentary Reforms and Culture, Pono Moatlhodi asked rhetorically.

UDC which ammased 15 constituencies from last month’s General Elections, is unwavering in their stance and has threatened that should the BDP maintain ‘selfishness’ in other committes to be voted for next week, they will walk-out. “If our complaint fell on deaf ears, we will defintely walk out of those Standing Committees including from the inter-parliamentary committees because clearly it will be all about the BDP. But remember we were all voted for by Batswana to oversee their assets,” Moatlhodi who is also the opposition whip threatened.

The 2014-19 Parliament had a bad start owing to the selection of committee members. Back then, all the 20 UDC members walked out of the committees as a way of protest to show their displeaure on biased committee selection. The then Speaker of the National Assembly, Gladys Kokorwe refused to soften her stance, leaving opposition only with Public Accounts Commitee, to Chair. The Standing Orders compels that the PAC be Chaired by an opposition member.

 “If they do like what happened in the past we will even write to some of the international organisations so that they know that there is unfair practice in Botswana, despite being hailed as a shining example of democracy. That way, we know that they will not be allowed to have  a say in those events,” posited Moatlhodi who is representing Tonota constituency at the National Assembly.

The selection was made this past Thursday, with the results expected to be out on Friday (yesterday). This week all the legislators wishing to be in any of the 18 committees, submitted their names to the National Assembly Secretariat for consideration. The voting is done by the August House accross the political divide.

As is, the BDP which has 38 MPs plus six that were Specially Elected as Members of Parliament (SEMP) has 18 members eligible to seat in the committees. On the other hand, UDC has 15 while Botswana Patriotic Front (BPF) has 3, with Alliance for Progressives (AP) with a single member. It is from this corner that UDC wants reasonable representation.

Apart from unfair representation, the UDC laments that it is Batswana or Parliamentary business that will suffer the most. This, Moatlhodi says, is because if a member for instance is sitting in five committes and they (committees) clash, the other one will be at a disadvantage.
Following the protests immedeately after the 2014 elections, the BDP through its then Chief Whip, Fedilis Molao compromised so that the National Assembly business could not be compromised. Out of 18 Standing Committes BDP got 9 while the remaining 9 was divided between UDC and Botswana Congress Party (BCP) MPs. The storm was over, and business continued. This could be what Moatlhodi is hoping for this term.

While the opposition is adamant that it has a case to abandon Parliamentary committees, the BDP on the other hand, is of the view that the opposition should understand that they are a party in power. The BDP has always been of the view that the commitee representation numbers should reflect the number of one’s seats in Parliament. The BDP Chief Whip, Liakat Kablay told this publication that they are likely to have  a 50-50 representation but revealed that it is all about democracy as those with many members will win.

The Botswana Parliament is created by Section 57 of the Constitution and it is composed of the President and the National Assembly. The role of Parliament is to make laws as stipulated in Section 86 of the Constitution, which states that: ‘Parliament shall have the power to make laws for the peace, order and good government of Botswana.’ In this way it means Parliament exercises legislative powers as one of its core mandates. In addition, Parliament performs functions such as representation, scrutiny and oversight

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Fighting vulture poisoning in KAZA region.

3rd February 2023
As a response to avert vulture poisoning currently going on in Botswana and KAZA region, Birdlife Botswana has collaborated with three other partners (BirdWatch Zambia, BirdLife International & Birdlife Zimbabwe) to tackle wildlife poisoning which by extension negatively affect vulture populations.

The Director of Birdlife Botswana, Motshereganyi Virat Kootshositse has revealed in an interview that the project which is funded by European Union’s main goal is to reduce poisoning related vultures’ death and consequently other wildlife species death within the KAZA region.

He highlighted that Chobe district in Botswana has been selected as a pilot site as it has experienced rampant incidents of vulture poisoning for the past few months. In August this year at least 50 endangered white backed vultures were reported dead at Chobe National Park, Botswana after feeding on a buffalo carcass laced with poison.  In November this year again 43 white backed vultures were found dead and two alive after feeding on a zebra suspected to have poisoned.  Other selected pilots’ sites are Kafue in Zambia and Hwange in Zimbabwe.

Kootshositse further explained they have established a national and regional Wildlife Poisoning Committee. He added that as for the national committee they have engaged various departments such as Crop Productions, Agro Chemicals, Department of Veterinary Services, Department of Wildlife and National Parks and other NGOs such as Raptors Botswana to come together and find a long-lasting solution to address wildlife poisoning in Botswana. ‘Let’s have a strategy or a plan together to tackle wildlife poisoning,’ he stated

He also decried that there is gap in the availability of data about vulture poisoning or wildlife in general. ‘If we have a central point for data, it will help in terms of reporting and advocacy’, he stated

He added that the regional committee comprises of law enforcement officers such as BDF and Botswana police, village leadership such as Village Development Committee and Kgosi. ‘We need to join hand together and protect the wildlife we have as this will increase our profile for conservation and this alone enhances our visitation and boost our local economy,’ he noted

Kootshositse noted that Birdlife together with DWNP also addressed series of meeting in some villages in the Chobe region recently. The purpose of kgotla meetings was to raise awareness on the conservation and protection of vultures in Chobe West communities.

‘After realizing that vulture poisoning in the Chobe areas become frequent, we realise that we need to do something about it.  ‘We did a public awareness by addressing several kgotla meetings in some villages in the Chobe west,’ he stated

He noted that next year they are going to have another round of consultations around the Chobe areas and the approach is to engage the community into planning process. ‘Residents should be part of the plan of actions and we are working with farmers committee in the areas to address vulture poisoning in the area, ‘he added

He added that they have found out that some common reasons for poisoning wildlife are farmers targeting predators such as lions in retaliation to killing of their livestock. Another common incident cross border poaching in the Chobe area as poachers will kills an elephant and poison its carcass targeting vultures because of their aerial circling alerting authorities about poaching activities.

Kootshositse noted that in the last cases it was disheartening the incidents occurred three months apart. He added that for the first time they found that some of the body parts of some vultures were missing. He added harvesting of body parts of vultures is not a common practice in Botswana, although it is used in some parts of Africa. ‘We suspect that someone took advantage of the availability of carcasses and started harvesting their body parts,’

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Giant in the making: Everton Mlalazi

3rd February 2023

The music industry is at a point where artists are jostling for space because there are so many aspirants trying to get their big break, thus creating stiff competition.

In the music business it’s about talent and positioning. You need to be at the right place at the right time with the right people around you to propel you forward.
Against all odds, Everton Mlalazi has managed to takeover the gospel scene effortlessly.
To him, it’s more than just a breakthrough to stardom, but a passion as well as mission directly appointed by the Lord.

Within a short space of 2 years after having decided to persue a solo career, Mlalazi has already made it into international music scene, with his music receiving considerable play on several gospel television and radio stations in Botswana including other regional stations like Trace Africa, One Gospel, Metro FM in South Africa, Hope FM in Kenya and literally all broadcast stations in Zimbabwe.

It doesn’t only stop there, as the musician has already been nominated 2 times and 2 awards which are Bulawayo Arts Awards (BAA) best Male artists 2022, StarFM listerners Choice Award, Best Newcomer 2021 and ZIMA Best Contemporary Gospel 2022, MLA awards Best Male artist & Best Gospel Artist 2022.

Everton’s inspiration stems from his ultimate passion and desire to lead people into Godly ways and it seems it’s only getting started.
The man is a gospel artist to put on your radar.

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African countries call on WHO to increase funding

2nd February 2023

Minister of Health Dr Edwin Dikoloti says Africa member states call on World Health Organization (WHO) to ensure equitable resource allocation for 2024-2025. Dr Dikoloti was speaking this week at the WHO Executive Board Meeting in Geneva, Switzerland.

He said countries agreed that there is need to address the budget and funding imbalances by increasing the programme budget share of countries and regions to 75% for the next year.

“The proposed budget for 2024-2025 marks an important milestone as it is the first in Programme Budget in which country offices will be allocated more than half of the total budget for the biennium. We highly welcome this approach which will enable the organization to deliver on its mandate while fulfilling the expectations for transparency, efficiency and accountability.”

The Botswana Health Minister commended member states on the extension of the General Programme of Work (GPD 13) and the Secretariat work to monitor the progress towards the triple billion targets, and the health-related SDGs.

“We welcome the Director’s general proposed five priorities which have crystalized into the “five Ps” that are aligned with the GPW 13 extension. Impact can only be achieved through close coordination with, and support to national health authorities. As such, the strengthening of country offices is instrumental, with particular focus on strengthening national health systems and on promoting more equitable access to health services.”

According to Dr Dikoloti, the majority of countries with UHC index that is below the global median are in the WHO Africa region. “For that, we call on the WHO to enhance capacity at the regional and national levels in order to accelerate progress. Currently, the regional office needs both technical and financial support in order to effectively address and support country needs.”

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