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BDP Chief Whip rejects Nominated Councillors

Newly-elected Chief Whip of the ruling Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) and Member of Parliament for Letlhakeng/Lephephe, Liakat Kablay has criticised the specially elected Council dispensation calling for its immediate abolishment.

This comes a few days after Kablay was chosen by President Mokgweetsi Masisi as Government Chief Whip and dully endorsed by the BDP caucus, to continue from where he left off during his previous term in the portfolio.  The Minister of Local Government and Rural Development, Eric Molale has this week in accordance with Section 13 Sub Section 1 and 2 of the Local Government Act of 2012, approved Specially Nominated Councillors.

A total of 119 Councillors have been specially nominated for the 57 constituencies across the country for the 2019-2024 term. Among the notable names for specially elected Councillors are; BDP Gaborone region Chairman Lotty Manyepedza, BDP Francistown South 2019 Parliamentary contender Modiri Jojo Lucas, former Good Hope/Mabule MP campaign manager Fankie Motsaathebe, former Assistant Minister Oliphant Mfa and immediate former Serowe South lawmaker candidate Lesedi Phuthego.

According to Kablay, the provision for specially elected councillors has been and is continuing to divide the party and therefore it must be obliterated.  “What are they going to do that the elected councillors cannot do on their own? Now, people and party loyalists are fighting us over this every election year as they feel entitled to be selected after working tirelessly for the party,” the BDP three time MP lambasted. 

He continued: “from my constituency alone I think around 200 expressed their interest but only 2 were chosen by the Minister as the law prescribes. The remaining 198 often put the burden and blame on me as an MP to say I didn’t consider them although they have been working for the party or probably have certain skills and expertise needed in the specially elected councillors.” When they feel dissatisfied, the lawmaker pointed out that they then tarnish the image of the party. “It causes divisions and this brings the party into disrepute,” he insisted to this publication.

Kablay, however observed that most of the primary elections losers were not roped in but instead many from outside were and that is possibly why a great number of the party faithfuls are fuming as they have been left out. To address this, the BDP backbencher asserted that he will soon bring and table a motion at Parliament on the scrapping of the dispensation. But of course before that, he added that he will consult with his colleagues at the party caucus to squash this specially elected councillors’ allowance. 

“It’s a waste of time and resources being splashed on over 130 specially elected Councillors,” he justified as part of his reasons for advocating for its scrapping.  The then Assistant Minister of Local Government and Rural Development, Botlogile Tshireletso, has told the previous Parliament sitting that there were 113 nominated councillors in total and their salaries per year added up to P78,933,16.00 (P78 million).

“Botswana spends at least P6, 577, 746.00 (P6 million) on nominated councillors across the country as their salaries per month,” she stated adding that their projected gratuity stood at P 9,866,646.00.  Botlogile stressed the point that the councillors are not nominated according to party affiliation, therefore she could not say with certainty how many belong to each party/part in Botswana. The Specially elected councillors’ number has, following the 2019 General Elections, escalated to more than 130, which means more money to be footed at the tax payers’ expense. 

The BDP Chief Whip’s call comes after other BDP heavy weights such as former Vice President, Dr. Ponatshego Kedikilwe, who have also in the past strongly spoken against the practice.  In the 9th Parliament, Kedikilwe tabled a motion in Parliament calling for the system to be scrapped, as it had diverted from its intended purpose and instead has been turned into a patronage exercise aimed at rewarding BDP activists.

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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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