As the curtains close on the 11th parliament, the Deputy Speaker of the National Assembly Kagiso Molatlhegi has revealed that Tati East legislator, Samson Guma’s self-imposed exile and ultimately missing the just ended meeting remains a major highlight during his term.
Molatlhegi’s remark comes after he admitted that the soon to be dissolved parliament had a number of challenges. “This parliament had a lot of new members and most of them were young, so we had a number of challenges. That is why most of the time you will see legislators exchanging bitter words or even some thrown out of the house because of lack of cooperation,” he said. Guma left the parliament in March this year amid assassination threats and never came back. This has irked the Acting Speaker of the National Assembly, Molatlhegi.
“It is the first time I see an MP going for this long and to me this calls for the review of the standing orders. Because they [current Standing Orders] say an MP should not miss two consecutive meetings and the honourable member was here in March before he left, so he remains an MP despite the circumstances.” “But this at times is not fair to the voters because their MP miss parliamentary business which is very key. My suggestion was the 12th parliament should look onto this matter. Let’s say if you miss three weeks then you are not MP because two meetings is just a long period,” Molatlhegi told WeekendPost when recapping off the current parliament.
In terms of independence of the National Assembly, Molatlhegi observes that it is very much autonomous as demonstrated by some parliamentary sub committees stamping their authority on a number of matters. Before it closed, Finance and Estimates Committee rejected Minister of Finance and Development Planning Kenneth Mathambo’s P900 million supplementary budgets for water projects. This is what Molatlhegi is anchoring his parliamentary independence stance on.
“And we have also written to other parliaments to see how best we can work together. This will also strengthen ours. We have written to France, Mozambique and Kenya by far,” said Molatlhegi, who is also Member of Parliament for Gaborone South. There have been questions on the independence of the Botswana Parliament as it is understood that it operates under the auspices of Office of the President (OP). The just ended meeting, which closed the last session of parliament, saw 17 bills passed with and one policy (Botswana Land Policy) adopted. In terms of private members’ motions only two were approved with one negated by the house.
PARLIAMENT LIVE BROADCAST NEXT YEAR
In terms of the live broadcasting of the National Assembly, Molatlhegi said: “I believe the 12th parliament will be broadcast live. Negotiations are still ongoing and I should say we are getting there. We had a little budget and also we had to buy some equipment like cameras and mics which we could not with the P3 million we were given.” “The P3 million was never used hence it was never included this time around and its been years which means we will have to re-budget because obviously the budget should have gone up and roughly it might need P10 million but we have other partners like Office of the President who might assist.”
MOLATLHEGI READY FOR SPEAKERSHIP ROLE
Molatlhegi who has been an MP for Gaborone South for 10 years will not contest this year’s election as he has made up his mind that he will be focusing on his personal business, but he is ready to serve as the speaker if the MPs so wish. “I took a decision to focus on me and my family, but if the legislators do need my services I will definitely come, my fate lies on them to be honest,” he said. Molatlhegi rose to the deputy speakership role after 2014 elections assisting Gladys Kokorwe who is currently ill.
Kokorwe has revealed that he will not be vying for another term post-election, a factor which makes her deputy (Molatlhegi) a front-runner for the role. The Botswana Parliament is created by Section 57 of the Constitution and it is composed of the President and the National Assembly. The role of parliament is to make laws as stipulated in Section 86 of the Constitution, which states that: ‘Parliament shall have the power to make laws for the peace, order and good government of Botswana.’In this way it means Parliament exercises legislative powers as one of its core mandates. In addition, Parliament performs functions such as representation, scrutiny and oversight.
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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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.”