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Thursday, 18 April 2024

BDP plans to ambush Tshekedi’s launch

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A ferocious battle between Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) and Botswana Patriotic Front (BPF), to win the Serowe West constituency has drove the two parties to stage their massive launches same day next weekend, with the ruling party planning to suspend all their national activities for the launch.

President Mokgweetsi Masisi, will launch Moemedi Dijeng, while BPF through their patron, Ian Khama, will also be unveiling their new catch in Tshekedi Khama. Dijeng replaced Tshekedi as BDP candidate following the latter’s resignation from the party last week. Tshekedi was citing failure for corrective action against BDP Women Wing Chairperson Dorcas Makgato, by the party as the watershed point. He expressed grief at what Makgato said about his late father, hoping the party would have taken action but it was not to be.

Since independence, the constituency has been held by the BDP and TK’s defection to the BPF has sent a chilling warning which suggests that the BDP dominance could be over; reason being he is the younger brother to the area’s paramount chief and the royal family have been strong in most constituencies they contest in. On the other hand, the BDP has also drafted a counter plan to neutralise a possibly high tempo launch by the newly formed party.

With Masisi going to launch Dijeng, party strategists have suggested that in order for the BDP to make a statement, all constituencies should be present at the launch. Though the proposal is yet to be adopted, it looks certain that the party will implement it. Already a star rally that was to be officiated by Masisi in Maun West, on Saturday, this however has been cancelled. “He will only attend Kgosi Tawana’s birthday party in the morning then leave for Serowe afterwards to officiate at the launch,” shared a source within the party, on Thursday afternoon.
 


Other activities that have been moved to Sunday includes; Francistown West candidate Ignatius Moswaane’s launch by President Masisi and another star rally in Maun East, to be addressed by party Chairman and Vice President Slumber Tsogwane. All these have been moved to Sunday as a gesture of how serious the party intends to redeem itself in the Bangwato capital. This development has been welcomed by many within the party including cabinet ministers who even added that: “I wholly agree with this and my thought is H.E should make a directive that all MP candidates should go there to make sure that we paint Serowe red.”

If suggestion to have all MPs fails, the party is still contemplating to make another statement, “but let’s not halt all activities country-wide, we can send teams from various constituencies to boost the launch,” added another party big-wig. The defection by TK who is the son to the BDP’s founding father, Seretse Khama, has posed a threat to the ruling party, with its Campaign Manager Tebelelo Seretse admitting it will cost them. Part of the reasons BDP wants to “ambush” the BPF launch is to neutralise it and try by all means to demonstrate how strong the BDP is in the area.

All the while, there are some within the party who believe the party should not try to take BPF head on by launching on the same day. “I don’t think it is wise, if it is same day with Tshekedi, it wouldn’t look good,” advised another minister. At the time of going to print, Seretse who is National Campaigns Manager and Serowe overseer, was not available to comment as she was too busy for an interview. She however did confirm that “indeed Masisi will launch Dijeng on the 12th”.

Party Secretary General Mpho Balopi, could not talk to this publication as his mobile phone rang unanswered. In the last elections, Tshekedi won the constituency by 5401. He was followed by UDC’s Rolent Kambule, who managed 948 and Botswana Congress Party’s (BCP) Edwin Seabe garnering only 431.

The relationship between Khama and Dijeng has always been rocky ahead of the party’s primary elections. Khama had wanted Dijeng who was challenging him, to be barred from contesting, saying the latter had contravened the party’s code of conduct. TK went further to drag the party to the courts of law when ‘the party defended Dijeng’s candidacy.’

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Nigerians, Zimbabweans apply for Chema Chema Fund

16th April 2024

Fronting activities, where locals are used as a front for foreign-owned businesses, have been a long-standing issue in Botswana. These activities not only undermine the government’s efforts to promote local businesses but also deprive Batswana of opportunities for economic empowerment, officials say. The Ministry of Trade and Industry has warned of heavy penalties for those involved in fronting activities especially in relation to the latest popular government initiative dubbed Chema Chema.

According to the Ministry, the Industrial Development Act of 2019 clearly outlines the consequences of engaging in fronting activities. The fines of up to P50,000 for first-time offenders and P20,000 plus a two-year jail term for repeat offenders send a strong message that the government is serious about cracking down on this illegal practice. These penalties are meant to deter individuals from participating in fronting activities and to protect the integrity of local industries.

“It is disheartening to hear reports of collaboration between foreigners and locals to exploit government initiatives such as the Chema Chema Fund. This fund, administered by CEDA and LEA, is meant to support informal traders and low-income earners in Botswana. However, when fronting activities come into play, the intended beneficiaries are sidelined, and the funds are misused for personal gain.” It has been discovered that foreign nationals predominantly of Zimbabwean and Nigerian origin use unsuspecting Batswana to attempt to access the Chema Chema Fund. It is understood that they approach these Batswana under the guise of drafting business plans for them or simply coming up with ‘bankable business ideas that qualify for Chema Chema.’

Observers say the Chema Chema Fund has the potential to uplift the lives of many Batswana who are struggling to make ends meet. They argue that it is crucial that these funds are used for their intended purpose and not siphoned off through illegal activities such as fronting. The Ministry says the warning it issued serves as a reminder to all stakeholders involved in the administration of these funds to ensure transparency and accountability in their disbursement.

One local commentator said it is important to highlight the impact of fronting activities on the local economy and the livelihoods of Batswana. He said by using locals as a front for foreign-owned businesses, opportunities for local entrepreneurs are stifled, and the economic empowerment of Batswana is hindered. The Ministry’s warning of heavy penalties is a call to action for all stakeholders to work together to eliminate fronting activities and promote a level playing field for local businesses.

Meanwhile, the Ministry of Trade and Industry’s warning of heavy penalties for fronting activities is a necessary step to protect the integrity of local industries and promote economic empowerment for Batswana. “It is imperative that all stakeholders comply with regulations and work towards a transparent and accountable business environment. By upholding the law and cracking down on illegal activities, we can ensure a fair and prosperous future for all Batswana.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Merck Foundation and African First Ladies mark World Health Day 2024

15th April 2024

Merck Foundation, the philanthropic arm of Merck KGaA Germany marks “World Health Day” 2024 together with Africa’s First Ladies who are also Ambassadors of MerckFoundation “More Than a Mother” Campaign through their Scholarship and Capacity Building Program. Senator, Dr. Rasha Kelej, CEO of Merck Foundation emphasized, “At Merck Foundation, we mark World Health Day every single day of the year over the past 12 years, by building healthcare capacity and transforming patient care across Africa, Asia and beyond.

I am proud to share that Merck Foundation has provided over 1740 scholarships to aspiring young doctors from 52 countries, in 44 critical and underserved medical specialties such as Oncology, Diabetes, Preventative Cardiovascular Medicine, Endocrinology, Sexual and Reproductive Medicine, Acute Medicine, Respiratory Medicine, Embryology & Fertility specialty, Gastroenterology, Dermatology, Psychiatry, Emergency and Resuscitation Medicine, Critical Care, Pediatric Emergency Medicine, Neonatal Medicine, Advanced Surgical Practice, Pain Management, General Surgery, Clinical Microbiology and infectious diseases, Internal Medicine, Trauma & Orthopedics, Neurosurgery, Neurology, Cardiology, Stroke Medicine, Care of the Older Person, Family Medicine, Pediatrics and Child Health, Obesity & Weight Management, Women’s Health, Biotechnology in ART and many more”.

As per the available data, Africa has only 34.6% of the required doctors, nurses, and midwives. It is projected that by 2030, Africa would need additional 6.1 million doctors, nurses, and midwives*. “For Example, before the start of the Merck Foundation programs in 2012; there was not a single Oncologist, Fertility or Reproductive care specialists, Diabetologist, Respiratory or ICU specialist in many countries such as The Gambia, Liberia, Sierra Leone, Central African Republic, Guinea, Burundi, Niger, Chad, Ethiopia, Namibia among others. We are certainly creating historic legacy in Africa, and also beyond. Together with our partners like Africa’s First Ladies, Ministries of Health, Gender, Education and Communication, we are impacting the lives of people in the most disadvantaged communities in Africa and beyond.”, added Senator Dr. Kelej. Merck Foundation works closely with their Ambassadors, the African First Ladies and local partners such as; Ministries of Health, Education, Information & Communication, Gender, Academia, Research Institutions, Media and Art in building healthcare capacity and addressing health, social & economic challenges in developing countries and under-served communities. “I strongly believe that training healthcare providers and building professional healthcare capacity is the right strategy to improve access to equitable and quality at health care in Africa.

Therefore, I am happy to announce the Call for Applications for 2024 Scholarships for young doctors with special focus on female doctors for our online one-year diploma and two year master degree in 44 critical and underserved medical specialties, which includes both Online Diploma programs and On-Site Fellowship and clinical training programs. The applications are invited through the Office of our Ambassadors and long-term partners, The First Ladies of Africa and Ministry of Health of each country.” shared Dr . Kelej. “Our aim is to improve the overall health and wellbeing of people by building healthcare capacity across Africa, Asia and other developing countries. We are strongly committed to transforming patientcare landscape through our scholarships program”, concluded Senator Kelej.

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Interpol fugitive escapes from Botswana

15th April 2024

John Isaak Ndovi, a Tanzanian national embroiled in controversy and pursued under a red notice by the International Criminal Police Organization (Interpol), has mysteriously vanished, bypassing a scheduled bail hearing at the Extension 2 Magistrate Court in Gaborone. Previously apprehended by Botswana law enforcement at the Tlokweng border post several months earlier, his escape has ignited serious concerns.

Accused of pilfering assets worth in excess of P1 million, an amount translating to roughly 30,000 Omani Riyals, Ndovi has become a figure of paramount interest, especially to the authorities in the Sultanate of Oman, nestled in the far reaches of Asia.

The unsettling news of his disappearance surfaced following his failure to present himself at the Extension 2 Magistrate Court the preceding week. Speculation abounds that Ndovi may have sought refuge in South Africa in a bid to elude capture, prompting a widespread mobilization of law enforcement agencies to ascertain his current location.

In an official communiqué, Detective Senior Assistant Police Commissioner Selebatso Mokgosi of Interpol Gaborone disclosed Ndovi’s apprehension last September at the Tlokweng border, a capture made possible through the vigilant issuance of the Interpol red notice.

At 36, Ndovi is implicated in a case of alleged home invasion in Oman. Despite the non-existence of an extradition treaty between Botswana and Oman, Nomsa Moatswi, the Director of the Directorate of Public Prosecution (DPP), emphasized that the lack of formal extradition agreements does not hinder her office’s ability to entertain extradition requests. She highlighted the adoption of international cooperation norms, advocating for collaboration through the lenses of international comity and reciprocity.

Moatswi disclosed the intensified effort by law enforcement to locate Ndovi following his no-show in court, and pointed to Botswana’s track record of extraditing two international fugitives from France and Zimbabwe in the previous year as evidence of the country’s relentless pursuit of legal integrity.

When probed about the potential implications of Ndovi’s case on Botswana’s forthcoming evaluation by the Financial Action Task Force (FATF), Moatswi reserved her speculations. She acknowledged the criticality of steering clear of blacklisting, suggesting that this singular case is unlikely to feature prominently in the FATF’s assessment criteria.

 

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