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Khama berates Masisi cabinet

Former President Lt Gen Ian Khama has responded to the recent utterances by President Mokgweetsi Masisi calling for his return to the ruling Botswana Democratic Party (BDP), saying cabinet ministers are making it impossible due to their continued ‘’attacks and insults” on him and his family.

Masisi had called for Khama to return to the BDP during the Gaborone Bonnington North parliamentary candidate launch last weekend, arguing that the opposition is ‘using him and they do not like him.’ Khama however is not impressed by Masisi’s demeanour, calling it ‘unfortunate and misleading the nation’ because he is contradicting what his Ministers are preaching. Khama is of the view that if at all there was any likelihoods of him returning to BDP and reconciling with President Masisi, then the current cabinet is making it unattainable by their continued attack and insults on his family.

“Ba a mo senyetsa ene Masisi [They are spoiling everything for him],” Khama told WeekendPost. Khama also took a swipe at Masisi for going public at rallies without addressing him first. He said such statements are only aimed at misleading the nation because Masisi refused to meet him several times when Directorate of Intelligence and Security (DIS) Director General Brigadier Peter Magosi tried to mediate and called for the meeting between the two.

According to Khama it is Masisi who refused on all accounts while he was willing to meet him. Khama, who is the Patron of the newly formed Botswana Patriotic Front (BPF) said Masisi’s statements came in as a shock and confusing because he cannot be preaching the opposite of his cabinet. According to Khama this is another one of their untruths saying this is not a genuine call from President Masisi.

A few weeks ago both Khama and his young brother Tshekedi Khama lashed at BDP for not reprimanding Member of Parliament for Sefhare-Ramokgonami Dorcas Makgato who allegedly made remarks that were viewed and interpreted as foul language undermining their father and BDP founder, the late Sir Seretse Khama. The former President called on the party to take action against Makgato or else her utterances represent the position of the party but BDP has remained silent on the matter.

Responding to some comments that were uttered by Makgato, Khama said they are angry as a family and disappointed in someone of Makgato’s position to insult their parents. “This goes even beyond the BDP. When you visit other countries my father tend to be held in high esteem and clearly this woman does not feel the same way.”

Khama continued: “She said what she said wearing BDP colours, at a BDP press conference, as a BDP Chairperson of the BDP Women’s Wing and a minister in the BDP government. So she was actually speaking on behalf of the BDP when she said that.” Earlier in an interview with this publication former President Ian Khama had indicated that a return to the ruling BDP is possible in future even though he could not tell the time frames.

Khama said he could not return now because their agenda is to unseat Masisi and his team of untrustworthy Ministers. Khama also made it public that he will in due course undertake his powers and influence as Paramount Chief of Ga- MmaNgwato to cajole his younger brother Tshekedi Khama to join the newly formed party Botswana Patriotic Front (BPF). Tshekedi was among the MPs who were expected to join BPF soon after its formation but Tshekedi has preferred to keep his ministerial position under Mokgweetsi Masisi’s government.

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Gov’t urged to stimulate economies until 2021

29th September 2020
Gov’t-urged-to-stimulate-economies-until-2021-Women-are-amongst-the-most-vulnerable-and-hard-hit-groups,-including-migrants,-young-people-and-informal-workers

The latest edition of the International Labour Organisation (ILO) Monitor shows the continuing and devastating impacts of the pandemic on jobs and labour income since early 2020, and the massive disruptions in the labour market that will persist into the fourth quarter of this year.

ILO analysts argue that policymakers will need to maintain support to employment and incomes over the coming months and well into 2021, and to address key challenges.

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Debswana seeks to revive Palapye Glass Plant

29th September 2020
Debswana

Botswana’s flagship mining company, Debswana is currently engaging various stakeholders with a view to put the currently abandoned Palapye Glass project plant into good use. 

The glass manufacturing plant was left as a white elephant, midway into construction, following the liquidation of its holding company Fengyue Glass Manufacturing Botswana.

Last week, when responding to a question from Member of Parliament for Selibe Phikwe East Kgoberego Nkawana,  on the status of Palapye Glass Project, Assistant Minister of Investment, Trade & Industry Molebatsi Molebatsi told Parliament that Debswana is one of the companies interested in utilizing the project facility to establish a glass manufacturing factory.

Responding to a questionnaire from Weekendpost regarding the matter on Thursday, Debswana Corporate Affairs Manager Agatha Sejoe said, Debswana is currently assisting Somarelang Tikologo, an environmental watch NGO to develop a business case to set up a glass manufacturing plant in Botswana.

Debswana has in the past funded Somarelang Tikologo to run a glass crushing business, the two organizations are now contemplating ways of expanding the business from just crushing glasses to completing the whole recycling process by setting up  the re-manufacturing component locally.

Currently the crushed glass produced by Somarelang Tikologo is exported  in its entirety to  glass manufacturing plants in South Africa.

“Debswana believes that rather than to continue to export crushed glass to South Africa, there is an opportunity to establish a glass crushing and manufacturing plant in Botswana and create jobs and secondary businesses in Botswana” Sejoe said .

She explained that Debswana, in partnership with Somarelang Tikologo and Local Enterprise Authority (LEA), have made a preliminary enquiry on the availability of the glass plant from Botswana Development Corporation.

 

“Discussions are still at conceptual stage and currently ongoing with all the relevant stakeholders. Based on the outcome of the feasibility study, Debswana and Somarelang Tikologo will only then establish the appropriate way forward on the matter,” added Sejoe.

Quizzed on Debswana‘s future investment plans, the company’s Lead media liaison  revealed that the mining giant continues to play a major role in various partnerships within communities in Botswana as part of its Social Performance Framework and in accordance with the Life of Mine planning.

She said currently the company is undertaking stakeholder consultations in communities within the Zone of Influence to identify sustainable partnership opportunities that can leverage on large-scale projects such as the game park assets and form an economic diversification stream through tourism.

“There are other projects in the pipeline, which fall within the ambit of community development, and these will be revealed as we implement them through the usual channels,” said Sejoe.

The Palapye glass plant currently lies unutilized and incomplete in Palapye. The glass project was conceptualized in 2007, wholly Government owned  investment arm Botswana Development Corporation( BDC) and Shanghai Fengyue Glass Company , a Chinese corporation entered into an agreement and formed Fengyue Glass Manufacturing Botswana at 43 % -57 % Shareholding whith Shanghai Fengyue holding majority shares.

Botswana Development Corporation invested a total of P511 million for its 43 % interest and a loan to the established company. Shanghai Fengyue Glass Company on the other hand invested P113 million.

After failure to fully operationalize, Fengyue Glass Manufacturing Botswana was liquidated. Botswana Development Corporation (BDC) remained with ownership of the erected plant and warehouse.

Last week Investment, Trade & Industry Junior Minister told Members of Parliament that Government through its wholly owned investment arm, BDC is in the process of breathing life to the project by opening up discussions with interested parties.

“There are companies and different parties such as Botswana Railways who showed interest on the facility for either manufacturing some components of their coaches or refurbishment or servicing of their coaches,” Molebatsi said.

He further noted that Government was coming from the fact that Botswana currently produces abundant resources and raw materials that can be used to manufacture glasses, creating much needed economic diversification and jobs for the youth.

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4IR and the agriculture sector

29th September 2020

Research from Agrilinks shows that more than 60 percent of Africa’s working population is engaged in agriculture which accounts for a third of the continent’s GDP. However, the sector is plagued by the use of outdated methods and tools, hence the need for rapid modernization.

The lack of modernized and up to date methods of farming have been a set back to the local farming sector which has attributed to the decline in production. Access to markets, new trends, better tools can be resolved through digitization and high speed information. The recent introduction of the VSAT (Very Small Aperture Terminal) technology by Botswana Telecommunications Corporation (BTC) has seen local farmers taking advantage of the development to enhance their operations.

There are signs that, the expansion of high-speed Internet coverage into settlements and rural areas has boosted the production of farming locally. Farmers use the internet to access market information, crop production farming implements and vital details that influence farming decisions.

The VSAT technology enables countrywide coverage even in the most remote parts of the country, giving farmers internet connectivity through its vast telecommunications network. Results have already started showing especially in the Kaka region which boasts of cattle ranches.  Farmers can now also access the BAITS System and Herd Cards, easily. Furthermore, computerized movement permits and new Change of Ownership documents can be printed on the spot.

The BAITS system provides a platform for farmers to provide information on their livestock.

This platform is offered online, it is used for animal registration, transfer of ownership, arrival of livestock, veterinary drug treatments and removal of dead/fallen stock.

Prior to its introduction, farmers had expressed interest in using internet and digital technology to enhance farming operations but lack of internet held them back. Five years ago a website developed for livestock farmers failed to gain traction due to poor access for those in remote areas.

“Communication has been bad in this part of the country, which led me to installing a satellite phone which is very expensive to maintain. I settled for this alternative because I am required to be in communication with the commercial world as well as my farm workers. But, since the introduction of the BTC VSAT technology, farm business operations and communication with stakeholders has since improved significantly,” said Gokatweng Coach Tshekiso, a cattle ranch farmer based in Kaka.

Through the contribution of this technologies that falls under the auspices of the Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR) it’s a matter of time Drone technology which supports numerous major applications for agriculture gets to be fully utilized by local farmers. The Drone Technology increases efficiency in certain aspects of farming. From crop monitoring to planting, livestock management, crop spraying and irrigation mapping. The VSAT and such technology will definitely work smoothly even in the most remote parts of the country.

Farmers are hopeful that with access to BAITS, they will see reduced likelihood of cattle theft because of secure identification of stolen cattle due to easy identification of stray (Matimela) cattle. In essence, there will be increased security for the Beef Export Market because customers overseas will be assured of origination and traceability of cattle therefore providing a marketing edge for Botswana beef. The network uptime on this technology is approximately 99.5%, exceeding typical terrestrial cable lines. The VSAT is designed mainly for any customer who is remote from the main grids and base stations to access voice and data services.

These technologies have the potential to have a positive impact on the productivity and profitability of the agricultural sector especially during this COVID- 19 period which has greatly disrupted the global supply chain. Through the help of 41R in agriculture, Botswana has potential to be a self- sustainable farming country.

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