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CEDA wins employee dismissal lawsuit in Guma matter

Citizen Entrepreneurial Development Agency (CEDA), has this week emerged victorious in a case in which its former employee, Primrose Solomon was suing for unfair dismissal and praying for reinstatement or compensation.

When delivering the verdict on Tuesday this week, Industrial Court Judge, Isaac Bahuma resolved that Solomon’s dismissal was procedurally fair. “This case is about applicant’s claim for reinstatement and compensation based on her contention that the dismissal was unfair. The Court has made a finding that the respondent has proved on a balance of probabilities that applicant misconducted herself in handling the URB application,” reads the judgement. “The Court also found that the disciplinary process proceeding the applicant’s dismissal was fair. Consequently the applicant’s claim has to fail and Court so finds.”  

Solomon, who was Portfolio Executive in Structured Finance Department at CEDA was dismissed from the organisation on the 26th of February 2018, owing to her handling of an application for short term finance by United Refineries Botswana (Pty) Ltd, a company co-owned by former Tati East Member of Parliament, Samson Guma.

The court heard that on the 14th of November 2017, James Moribame, who is Head of Structured Finance of which Solomon was under, received an application from URB (Pty) Ltd, for a short term facility of P9.2 million as well as restructuring of their interest in the non-performing loans.  

The application was handed to Solomon for appraisal of which she raised red flags among others; URB had a credit facility of P30 million which they were failing to service; URB was trading at a gross loss, the cost of raw materials exceeded market price; URB had no audited accounts since inception; URB had violated its share agreement with CEDA by diluting the latter’s shares; URB was not tax compliant; URB was technically insolvent and was facing closure by FNBB (P25 million) and BDC (P15 837 868.62).

Despite the red flags, Moribame gave Solomon a go ahead to appraise the application with the view of recommending funding, but the latter could not do as requested within the stipulated time [5 days for short-term finance]. This resulted in Moribame, out of exasperation instructing Solomon to hand over the task to another colleague, Aobakwe Mokgethi who then delivered the task the same day.

After completion of appraisal of URB application, Mokgethi sent the appraisal to Management Committee for consideration. The document was copied to Solomon, who in turn sent an email detailing the red flags which were ‘ignored by her colleague’ during appraisal.
The application however did not succeed because URB had reached CEDA threshold of P30 million and also that then Minister of Investment, Trade and Industry, Vincent Seretse refused to give a waiver.

On the 19th of December 2017, Moribame generated a report in which he accused Solomon of having promised on different occasions to submit the report, but failing to do so, resulting in him giving wrong information to management that the report was ready when it was not.
The report resulted in Solomon being charged, subsequently appearing before the disciplinary hearing, which concluded on her dismissal on the 26 of February 2018.  

Solomon, considered the dismissal unfair, and approached Industrial Court to seek relief. In seeking the relief, Solomon said the dismissal was not merely a result of how she handled the URB issue, but because of previous issues in which CEDA CEO had given her an ultimatum to either resign or face disciplinary action.

Solomon had accused Thamane of having acted negligently by failing to bring to the attention an application to management for consideration. Thamane, according to Solomon, was so incensed by the accusation, a justification which Solomon contended that it led to her expulsion and that the URB issue was the scapegoat.

The court however, arrived to the conclusion that there was no evidence to prove the link between what had happened earlier to the URB disciplinary action, which the court concluded it was fair and procedural, therefore upholding CEDA’s decision to dismiss Solomon from work.
According to the evidence, given by CEDA Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Thabo Thamane, and other CEDA senior executives who were subpoenaed by the court, Solomon was dismissed for misconduct relating to handing of URB matter, of which the court agreed. 

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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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