The Botswana government has come to the immediate humanitarian assistance of 38.300 food insecure and vulnerable people through the provision of food baskets, cash and clothing following poor harvests due to low rains experienced this year.
The figure for the food insecure and vulnerable people is 9.3 percent higher compared to last year. Rainfall distribution in the Southern Africa Development Community (SADC) region including Botswana was very poor this year and the least recorded in the region since 1981. Temperatures were also above normal resulting in poor harvests with some farmers failing to plant any crops or the planted crops failing to germinate in some areas.
These statistics are contained in the latest SADC Food Security Report; “The 2019 Synthesis Report on the State of Food and Nutrition Security in Southern Africa”. However, according to the regional body’s report, Botswana is the only country in the southern Africa region that was not seeking food aid from international aid agencies and partners. “The number of people permanently and temporarily destitute stands at 38.300, which is higher than the previous year. All these beneficiaries are assisted by the government with food baskets, cash and clothing,” the report said.
SADC noted that the aid to the vulnerable citizens, provided by the Botswana government, was due to the severe drought being experienced in the country and the entire southern African region. “A strong drought affected central and western parts of the region during the 2018/19 rainfall season. Large parts of southern Angola, northern and southern Botswana, northern Namibia, north-western South Africa, southern and western Zambia, and north-western Zimbabwe received their lowest rainfall totals since at least 1981,” the SADC report reads.
Botswana, Angola, Zimbabwe and Namibia, have since declared national drought emergencies in their respective countries. This year’s rains were delayed and erratic, resulting in reduced area of planted crop, poor germination and wilting of crops. Poor grazing and water conditions are also affecting livestock production. An estimated 41.2 million people in 13 SADC member states are as a result food insecure.
“Pervasive drought contributed to reduced cereal harvests and the associated high food and nutrition insecurity. Cereal production decreased in each of the 10 member states that provided data,” noted SADC. Meanwhile, according to the same SADC report, the percentage of children underweight in Botswana has increased by 4.3 percent and the government was also feeding the young children in needy districts with special nutritional food baskets. “Despite the prevalence of stunting decreasing in some member states, the change is not fast enough to keep pace with population growth and reduce the number of stunted children.”
SADC attributed malnutrition, (wasting – being too thin for your height) among children under the age of five years, to the quality of diets, which is very low due to the consumption of monotonous diets, lack of knowledge on appropriate feeding practices and uninformed behavioural patterns. “Overweight or obesity is also a growing challenge in the region. The prevalence of overweight in four SADC member states (Botswana – 11.2 percent, Comoros – 10.6 percent, Seychelles – 10.2 percent and South Africa – 13.3 percent), reveals an emerging problem,” SADC announced.
For immediate solutions to the crises, SADC said there was need to prioritise the emergency establishment or rehabilitation of community watering points for livestock and crops. “Shock-responsive social safety nets should be scaled up to protect the vulnerable from recurrent severe climate-related shocks. Special attention must be paid to address the additional burdens faced by women and girls.”
As a medium to long term solution in mitigating the effects of drought and malnutrition in the region, SADC encouraged member states to adopt crop and dietary diversity through growing and consumption of diversified crops and diets, including indigenous foods. “In the long term, plan for the expansion of the social services closer to the people. Develop resilience-building initiatives, including employment creation in rural areas, incorporating climate smart technologies in subsidies and conservation agriculture,” SADC recommends in its report.
While there is no hard-and-fast rule in politics, former Molepolole North Member of Parliament, Mohamed Khan says populism acts in the body politic have forced him to quit active partisan politics. He brands this ancient ascription of politics as fake and says it lowers the moral compass of the society.
Khan who finally tasted political victory in the 2014 elections after numerous failed attempts, has decided to leave the ‘dirty game’, and on his way out he characteristically lashed at the current political leaders; including his own party president, Advocate Duma Boko. “I arrived at this decision because I have noticed that there are no genuine politics and politicians. The current leaders, Boko and President Dr Mokgweetsi Masisi are fake politicians who are just practicing populist politics to feed their egos,” he said.
Former Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) parliamentary hopeful, Lawrence Ookeditse has rejected the idea of taking up a crucial role in the Botswana Patriotic Front (BPF) Central Committee following his arrival in the party this week. According to sources close to development, BPF power brokers are coaxing Ookeditse to take up the secretary general position, left vacant by death of Roseline Panzirah-Matshome in November 2020.
Ookeditse’s arrival at BPF is projected to cause conflicts, as some believe they are being overlooked, in favour of a new arrival. The former ruling party strategist has however ruled out the possibility of serving in the party central committee as secretary general, and committed that he will turn down the overture if availed to him by party leadership.
Ookeditse, nevertheless, has indicated that if offered another opportunity to serve in a different capacity, he will gladly accept. “I still need to learn the party, how it functions and all its structures; I must be guided, but given any responsibility I will serve the party as long as it is not the SG position.”
“I joined the BPF with a clear conscious, to further advance my voice and the interests of the constituents of Nata/Gweta which I believe the BDP is no longer capable to execute.” Ookeditse speaks of abject poverty in his constituency and prevalent unemployment among the youth, issues he hopes his new home will prioritise.
He dismissed further allegations that he resigned from the BDP because he was not rewarded for his efforts towards the 2019 general elections. After losing in the BDP primaries in 2018, Ookeditse said, he was offered a job in government but declined to take the post due to his political ambitions. Ookeditse stated that he rejected the offer because, working for government clashed with his political journey.
He insists there are many activists who are more deserving than him; he could have chosen to take up the opportunity that was before him but his conscious for the entire populace’s wellbeing held him back. Ookeditse said there many people in the party who also contributed towards party success, asserting that he only left the BDP because he was concerned about the greater good of the majority not individualism purposes.
According to observers, Ookeditse has been enticed by the prospects of contesting Nata/Gweta constituency in the 2024 general election, following the party’s impressive performance in the last general elections. Nata/Gweta which is a traditional BDP stronghold saw its numbers shrinking to a margin of 1568. BDP represented by Polson Majaga garnered 4754, while BPF which had fielded Joe Linga received 3186 with UDC coming a distant with 1442 votes.
There are reports that Linga will pave way for Ookeditse to contest the constituency in 2024 and the latter is upbeat about the prospects of being elected to parliament. Despite Ookeditse dismissing reports that he is eying the secretary general position, insiders argue that the position will be availed to him nevertheless.
Alternative favourite for the position is Vuyo Notha who is the party Deputy Secretary General. Notha has since assumed duties of the secretariat office on the interim basis. BPF politburo is expected to meet on 25th of January 2020, where the vacancy will be filled.
Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) big wigs have decided to cancel a retreat with the party legislators this weekend owing to increasing numbers of Covid-19 cases. The meeting was billed for this weekend at a place that was to be confirmed, however a communique from the party this past Tuesday reversed the highly anticipated meeting.
“We received a communication this week that the meeting will not go as planned because of rapid spread of Covid-19,” one member of the party Central Committee confirmed to this publication. The gathering was to follow the first of its kind held late last year at party Treasurer Satar Dada’s place.