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The world is becoming increasingly urbanized – UN

The 2019 United Nations Sustainable Development Goals Report indicates that the world is becoming increasingly urbanized. Since 2007, more than half the world’s population has been living in cities, and that share is projected to rise to 60 per cent by 2030.

Cities and metropolitan areas are powerhouse of economic growth-contributing about 60 per cent of global Gross Domestic Product GDP. However, they also account for about 70 per cent of global carbon emissions and over 60 per cent of resource use. Rapid urbanization is resulting in a growing number of slum dwellers, inadequate and overburdened infrastructure and services (such as waste collection and water and sanitation systems, roads and transport), worsening air pollution and unplanned urban sprawl.

To respond to those challenges, over 150 countries have developed national urban plans, with almost half of them in the implementation phase. Ensuring that those plans are well executed will help cities grow in a more sustainable and inclusive manner. According to the report, rapid urbanization and population growth rate are outpacing the construction of adequate and affordable housing. The proportion of the urban population living in slums worldwide, declined by 20 per cent between 2000 and 2014 (from 28 per cent to 23 per cent).

That positive trend recently reversed course, and the proportion grew to 23.5 per cent in 2018. The absolute number of people living in slums or informal settlements grew to over 1 billion, with 80 per cent attributed to three regions: Eastern and South-Eastern Asia (370 million), Sub-Saharan Africa (238 million) and Central and Southern Asia (227 million). An estimated 3 billion people will require adequate and affordable housing by 2030.

The reports indicated that the growing number of slum dwellers is the result of both urbanization and population growth that are outpacing the construction of new affordable homes. Adequate housing is a human right, and the absence of it negatively affects urban equity and inclusion, health and safety, and livelihood opportunities. It further noted that renewed policy attention and increased investments are needed to ensure affordable and adequate housing by 2030.

Further, the report highlighted that access to public transport is increasing, but faster progress is needed in developing countries. Public transport is an essential service for urban residents and a catalyst for economic growth and social inclusion. Moreover, with ever-increasing numbers of people moving to urban areas, the use of public transport is helping to mitigate air pollution and climate change.

According to 2018 data from 227 cities, in 78 countries, 53 per cent of urban residents had convenient access to public transport (defined as residing within 500 metres walking distance of a bus stop or a low-capacity transport system or within 1000 metres of a railway and ferry terminal). In most regions, the number of people using public transport rose by nearly 20 per cent between 2001 and 2014. Sub-Saharan Africa lagged behind, with only 18 per cent of its residents having convenient access to public transport.

In some regions with low access, informal transport modes are widely available and, in many cases, provide reliable transport. Stronger efforts are needed to ensure that sustainable transport is available for all, particularly to vulnerable populations such as women, children, seniors and persons with disabilities.  

Municipal waste, as communicated on the report, is mounting, highlighting the growing need for investment in urban infrastructure. Globally, over 2 billion people were without waste collection services, and 3 billion people lacked access to controlled waste disposal facilities, according to data collected between 2010 and 2018. The problem will only worsen as urbanization increases, income levels rise and economies become consumer-oriented. The total amount of waste generated globally is expected to double from nearly 2 billion metric tons in 2016 to about 4 billion metric tons by 2050.

The proportion of municipal solid waste collected regularly increased from 76 per cent between 2001 and 2011 to 81 per cent between 2010 and 2018. But that does not mean that it was disposed of properly. Many municipal solid waste facilities in low- and middle-income countries are open dumpsites, which contribute to air, waste, land and soil pollution, including by plastic waste, as well as emissions of greenhouse gases such as methane. Investment in waste management infrastructure is urgently needed to improve the handling of solid waste across much of the world.

In many cities, the reported said air pollution has become an unavoidable health hazard. It noted that nine out of ten urban residents in 2016 were breathing polluted air- that is, air that did not meet the World Health organization WHO air quality guidelines for annual mean levels of fine particulate matter of 10 micrograms or less per cubic metre. More than half of those people were exposed to air pollution levels at least 2, 5 times above the guideline value. Air quality worsened between 2010 and 2016 for more than 50 per cent of the world’s population. Central and Southern Asia and Sub-Saharan Africa are the two regions that saw the largest increases in particulate and mater concentrations.

In low- and middle-income countries, the air quality of 97 per cent of cities with more than 100 thousand inhabitants did not meet the air quality guidelines in 2016, compared to 49 per cent in high-income countries. Ambient air pollution from traffic, industry, power generation, waste burning and residential fuel combustion, combined with household air pollution, poses a major threat to both human health and efforts to curb climate change. More than 90 per cent of air pollution related deaths occur in low- and middle-income countries, mainly in Asia and Africa.

In that report, it was shared that open public spaces make cities more inclusive, but many residents are not within easy walking distance of them. A connective matrix of streets and public spaces forms the skeleton of the city upon which everything else rests. Where public space is inadequate, poorly designed or privatised, the city becomes increasingly segregated. Investment in networks of streets and open public spaces improved productivity, livelihoods and access to markets, jobs and public services, especially in countries where over half of the urban workforce is informal.


Based on 2018 data from 220 cities, in 77 countries, few cities have been able to implement a system of open public spaces that covers entire urban areas- that is, within easy reach of all residents. Findings show that the average share of the population within 400 metres walking distance of an open public space is around 31 per cent, with a huge variations among cities (from a low of 5 per cent to a high of 90 per cent). A low percentage does not necessarily mean that an inadequate share of land is open public space, but rather that the distribution of such spaces across the city is uneven.

Meanwhile, the report indicated that inequality within and among countries is a persistent cause of concern, despite progress in some areas. It shared that income inequality continues to rise in many parts of the world, even as the poorest 40 per cent of the population in most countries experience income growth. Greater focus is needed to reduce income and other inequalities, including those related to labour market access and trade. Specifically, additional efforts are needed to further increase zero-tariff access for exports from poorer countries, and to provide technical assistance to LDCs and small island developing states seeking to benefit from preferential trade status.

Data show mixed progress on the sharing of prosperity within countries. To gauge whether the poorest people in a country are participating in economic progress, the report said, it is useful to compare the growth of household income, or consumption of the poorest 40 per cent with that of the population as a whole. That provides one indication of whether overall prosperity is being shared with the bottom 40 per cent of the income ladder in a country.

In 92 countries with comparable data over the period 2011 to 2016, the results were mixed. In 69 countries, the poorest 40 per cent saw their income grow, but with large variations among countries. In 50 of those 69 countries, income growth in the poorest 40 per cent of the population was faster than the national average. Notably, however, the bottom 40 per cent still received less than 25 per cent of overall income. In many countries, an increasing share of income goes to the top 1 per cent.

Data measuring household income for that analysis were limited. Only 13 countries in Sub-Saharan Africa had data on income growth for the most recent period. That points to the on-going need for improved data collection and statistical capacity-building, especially in the poorest countries. The report underlined that rich and poor countries alike can benefit from policies promoting equality and inclusivity. It shared that an important development of objective for many countries is easing inequality and addressing social inclusion.

One indicator of relative poverty and inequality is the share of people living below 50 per cent of the median income level. An analysis of data from 10 high- and low income countries showed that the median country had 14 per cent of the population with income levels below that threshold. The most unequal country had 26 per cent below that threshold, and the most equal country had 3 per cent. But both rich and poor countries have high and low levels of inequality. Income inequality is not strongly correlated with either poverty of affluence, suggesting that policies promoting equality and inclusivity have universal relevance.

Countries with a high proportion of non-performing loans need to attend to the health of their banking systems; this is according to the report. It stressed that the stability of a country’s financial system is key to efficiently allocating resources, managing risks, and ensuring that macroeconomic objectives that benefit all are met. One measure of financial stability is the share of non-performing loans in relation to total loans to depositors in a banking system.

An analysis of 138 countries from 2010 to 2017 showed that, in half of the countries, non-performing loans made up less than 5 per cent of total loans. In 207, more than one quarter of the countries showed a higher percentage of non-performing loans, 10 per cent or more, and four countries showed a proportion higher than 30 per cent. A high proportion of non-performing loans usually affects profitability and undermines the broader business environment, which can have consequences for economic growth, unemployment and other factors affecting inequality.

Globally, the share of national output used to remunerate workers is declining; this has been shared by the report. The share of national income that goes to labour is one indication of whether economic growth will translate into higher incomes for workers over time. Increased national income can lead to improved living standards, but that depends on its contribution across aspects of production, including labour, capital and land.

The report noted that globally, the share of national income going to labour has shown a downward trend since 2004. That means that the share of national output used to remunerate workers has declined. The decrease was temporarily reversed during the global financial crisis of 2008-2009 due to a sudden contraction in GDP. Central and Southern Asia and Europe and Northern America were the main drivers of the declining global labour share.

Between 2004 and 2017, the adjusted labour share of GDP decreased by more than 5 percentage points in Central and Southern Asia, from 51.2 per cent to 45.8 per cent, and close to 2 percentage points in Europe and Northern America, from 59.6 per cent to 57.6. Conversely, in Latin America and the Caribbean, the labour income share increased from 48.4 to 50.5 per cent during the same period.

It was further communicated that lower-income countries continue to benefit from preferential trade status. Duty-free access continued to increase for exports from LDCs, small island developing states and developing regions at large. LDCs saw that the biggest benefits: coverage of duty-free treatment increased by 5.5 percentage points between 2016 and 2017, reaching 65.6 per cent of exports. About 51 per cent of exports from developing regions have now become eligible for duty-free treatment.

At the sector level, improvements in the treatment of LCDs were primarily due to growing duty-free access for agricultural and industrial products. However, such access for LDCs and other developing countries is not automatic at customs checkpoints. Exporters need to comply with rules-of-origin certification processes to benefit from preferential treatment. Those procedures the report said can be costly and time-consuming for small and medium sized enterprises, lowering their incentive to apply for preferential treatment.

In conclusion, the report stressed that policies to facilitate orderly, safe, regular and responsible migration are widespread, but far from universal. It underlined that the majority of countries have policies that facilitate the orderly, safe, regular and responsible migration and mobility of people. Yet significant differences can be found across the six policy domains of this indicator.

For each domain, more than half of the 105 countries with available data have a comprehensive set of policy measures, meaning that they reported having migration policy measures for 80 per cent or more of the subcategories of each domain. Migrant rights and socioeconomic well-being are the areas demonstrating the largest policy gaps, with over 40 per cent of countries lacking a comprehensive set of measures in those domains. Policies to promote cooperation and partnerships and to facilitate safe, orderly and regular migration are the most widespread, with more than three quarters of countries reporting a wide range of such measures.

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Minister Kgafela begs self-exiled brother to return

4th August 2021
Kgafela

A heartfelt message of good wishes from Minister Mmusi Kgafela to his self-exiled brother and Bakgatla paramount chief, Kgafela Kgafela II, this week urged the latter to consider calls for his return to Botswana to visit his tribe and family.

“On behalf of our father’s people, your people, I wish to inform you that Bakgatla are thinking of you, and they miss you dearly. They request that you should find time to visit them. Please come to Botswana to spend some time with them, to see and greet them,” said Mmusi as part of his 50 years birthday message to Kgafela Kgafela II, who has vowed never to set foot in Botswana.

However, Mmusi Kgafela did not shed light on how his brother will deal with the arrest warrant, which triggers once he sets foot in Botswana.

The Bakgatla Kgosikgolo, who went on a self-imposed exile in 2012 to South Africa, faces a decade-old-plus warrant of arrest issued by the Village magistrate court after his non-appearance in Court over criminal charges relating to flogging of his subjects. Kgafela described the charges as ‘political persecution’ before jetting out to his second home in South Africa, Moruleng, where he is also a Chief.

Asked over his views on the complications around the warrant of arrest, Mmusi, a lawyer by training, said, “what people need to understand is that a warrant of arrest is not a prison sentence.”

He continued: “There is a need for reconciliation and discussions to put all these issues behind us. We need to move on. What I have also realized is that the state is not keen on pursuing the matter as they have not sought his extradition,” he said.

In 2017, the then Minister of Defence, Justice, and Security, Shaw Kgathi, told Parliament that the arrest warrant issued against Bakgatla Kgosi-kgolo is still valid.

“….because a Court order once issued remains valid and enforceable unless it is rescinded by the Court that issued it, in this case being Village Magistrate Court. It may also be revoked by a higher court being the High Court or the Court of Appeal,” Kgathi said.

As things stand, the Government will arrest Bakgatla Kgosi Kgafela II if he crosses over to Botswana, Parliament heard.

Kgathi responded to a question by the then Mochudi West Member of Parliament, Gilbert Mangole, who wanted to know if the arrest warrant imposed on Kgafela was still valid.  Further, he wanted clarity on what it would take for the Government to trigger the removal of the warrant to enable Kgosi to visit his tribe in Botswana if he so wishes.

Could Mmusi be under pressure to facilitate Kgafela’s return?

Although Mmusi denies the claim, some royal sources opine that he (Mmusi) is under pressure to help President Dr. Mokgweetsi Masisi fulfill his 2019 electoral campaign pledge to the tribe. The President had pledged that he would “not rest until their chief, Kgosi Kgafela Kgafela II, is back home.”

Mmusi, however, says Masisi has not personally engaged him on Kgafela.

Kgafela’s former lawyer, Advocate Sydney Pilane, has in the past told this publication that he suspects that as the leader of the BDP, President Masisi hopes that if he brings Kgosi Kgafela back, BaKgatla may be grateful to the BDP, and benefits might accrue in consequence.

While Mmusi says the matter will need to be discussed and dealt with, private attorney Kgosiitsile Ngakaagae who was prosecuting Kgafela, warned that there is nothing to address or facilitate.

“There is no need for political intervention. Kgosi Kgafela is officially a fugitive from Justice. It’s for the Directorate of Public Prosecutions (DPP) to issue a nolle prosequi (we shall no longer prosecute) to enable his return. Constitutionally the DPP cannot be dictated to by politicians. The matter is beyond the President unless he violates the DPP’s constitutional mandate,” charged Ngakaagae.

“An arrest is intended to bring someone to Court. Secondly, a party who has become aware that a warrant has been issued against them can apply to Court before it is implemented for it to be discharged.”

The only option for the state currently, which the state is reluctant to pursue, is to drop the charges and withdraw the warrant of arrest or decide on a deliberate non-enforcement of the warrant, according to lawyers who spoke to this publication.

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The secrecy behind BDF deployment budget

4th August 2021
President Masisi & BDF

In South Africa, President Cyril Ramaphosa recently told his parliament that the deployment of his army to Mozambique had cost close to a billion rand, with the exact figure placed at R984,368, 057. On the other hand, the Botswana government is yet to say a word on their budget concerning the deployment.

In his National Assembly report tabled last week Tuesday, Ramaphosa said:

“This serves to inform the National Assembly that I have authorized the employment of 1,495 members of the South African National Defence Force (SANDF) for service in fulfillment of an international obligation towards SADC, to assist Mozambique combat acts of terrorism and violent extremists in the Caba Delgado province. This deployment had cost close to a billion rand, with the exact figure placed at R984,368,057.”

The soldiers, he said, are expected to remain there for the next three months.

Botswana, however, is yet to publicize its expenditure. Asked by this publication over why they have not and whether they will, the Minister of Defence, Justice, and Security, Kagiso Mmusi, said they would when the time is right.

“As you may be aware, nobody planned for this. It was not budgeted for. We had to take our BDF resources to Mozambique, and we are still doing our calculations. We also need to replace what we took from the BDF to Mozambique,” he said.

This week, President Dr. Mokgweetsi Masisi revealed that the Southern African Development Community (SADC) and the Botswana government would share the sustainment of the Mozambique military combat deployment. SADC has given Botswana its share to use according to its needs.

The costs in such deployments are typically categorized into three parts-boots on the ground or handling the system, equipment, and operational sustenance logistics.

It is unknown how much combat pay, danger pay, or sustenance allowance the soldiers will get upon return. However, President Masisi has assured the soldiers that they will get their money.

Masisi has said deployment comes when the country is faced with economic challenges that have been exacerbated to a great extent by the COVID-19 Pandemic, which is inflicting enormous health, financial, and social damage to all nations.

Botswana has sent 296 soldiers who left on Monday to Mozambique to join the SADC standby force.

Parliament fumes over being snubbed

In the 1994 Lesotho mission, the Botswana Parliament was engaged after the soldiers were long deployed. A repeat of history this week saw members of parliament grilling the executive over snubbing parliament and keeping it in the dark about the Mozambique military deployment.

Zimbabwe pledges 304 soldiers

Meanwhile, Zimbabwe has pledged 304 soldiers to the SADC Standby Force Mission in Mozambique to train an infantry battalion-size unit at a time, Defence and War Veterans Affairs Minister Oppah Muchinguri-Kashiri has said.

In a statement to journalists, Minister Muchinguri-Kashiri said the contingent would consist of 303 instructors and one specialist officer to coordinate the SADC Force Headquarters in Maputo.

Minister Muchinguri-Kashiri said that in terms of Section 214 of the Constitution of Zimbabwe, Parliament would be informed accordingly.

During the Extraordinary Summit of the 16-member regional bloc held in Maputo, Mozambique, last month, member states resolved to deploy a force to help Mozambique contain insurgency in its northern provinces where terrorists have left a trail of destruction that also threatens regional peace.

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Isaac Kgosi awarded PhD

4th August 2021
FORMER DIS BOSS: ISAAC KGOSI

Former director general of the Directorate of Intelligence Service, Isaac Kgosi has been awarded doctorate in International and Diplomatic Studies by a Slovenian institution-New University after successfully defending his doctoral dissertation last year.

The institution‘s website shows that in February 2020 Kgosi defended his dissertation titled ‘Southern African Development Community [SADC] Diplomatic Conflict Management Response for Enhancing Human Security: The Case of Mozambique.’

“Faculty of government and European Studies hereby certifies that Seabelo Isaac Kgosi born in Francistown, on 15th December 1958 completed all obligations of the international and Diplomatic Studies doctoral programme on March 22,2021. On these grounds the Faculty of Government and European Studies is conferring  upon him the scientific  title of Doctor of Science in International  and Diplomatic Studies, abbr:PhD,” reads the institution’s conferment certificate dated  O6 July 2021.

Kgosi’s thesis was a study of SADC’s mediation and diplomacy in the Mozambican conflict that is mainly between the ruling Front for the Liberation of Mozambique (Frelimo) government and forces of the National Resistance (Renamo) that was once mediated by the late former president Sir Ketumile Masire in 2016 when it re-emerged after a revival by Renamo in 2012, driven by several grievances including allegations of economic marginalisation, regional economic imbalances and breach of the 1992 Rome General Peace Accords which had ended the post-independence civil war fought from 1977 to 1992. The escalation of conflict in Mozambique in early 2016 resulted in displacement of citizens in affected areas whilst thousands of people crossed the borders into Malawi and eastern Zimbabwe as refugees.

Efforts to search for and locate the document were unsuccessful at the time of going for press.

Kgosi’s curriculum vitae suggests that he has a Diploma in Mechanical Engineering and a Masters in Intelligence and Security obtained from Brunel University, a public research university located in Uxbridge, West London, United Kingdom. The latter qualification was obtained in 2007.

It is not yet known on whether Kgosi will use his qualifications to seek employment locally or internationally, or will decide to open a consultancy firm in line with his experience and academic achievements once the dust surrounding him goes way.

The former spy chief is currently fighting to clear his name in a series of cases against the state, which accuses him of owing the tax man, capturing images of the intelligence agents, as well as their identity between the 18th and 25th February 2019 as well as the identity cards of the officers engaged in a covert operation of the DIS. He is also accused of instructing Bank of Botswana (BoB) to open three bank accounts that were used to loot public funds amounting to over P100 billion together with former president Lt Gen Ian Khama.

Kgosi has countered on all the cases demanding the evidence which links him to the crimes levelled against him, all of which the state is currently struggling to submit before the courts. The state has lost and appealed the photographs case while the P100 billion case has been described as a big lie by various institutions.

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