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Great strides made as Debswana turns 50

Diamong mining giant, Debswana Mining Company has announced that it has availed over P68 million in developing various communities across the country in the last five years.

The investment in the local communities is on top of other milestone achievements that the mining company has been engaged in 50 years after the Botswana Government and De Beers went into partnership that led to the creation of Debswana. In 1969, Botswana was one of the least developed countries in Africa facing a number of challenges, but the creation of the Debswana Diamond Mining Company has seen the southern African country attaining an upper middle income status.

“Debswana has spent more than P68 million in the past five years on programmes in the fields of education, the environment, small business development, arts and culture, health, and sports development,” Albert Milton, the managing director of Debswana, said.

“Schools and other facilities in the mining areas built by Debswana are used by local people as well as employees. Teachers from the mines’ private schools help with the Government Schools Development Programme,” he added.

The partnership between De Beers and the Botswana Government has been praised globally as a leading example of a successful public-private partnership.  

Last week, the mining company held several events to celebrate the achievements that it has made in realising such a milestone success in a space of 50 years when the mining partnership was signed.  The events were held at Debswana’s mines in Jwaneng and Orapa towns, and the company’s head office in Gaborone, where the keynote speaker was President Mokgweetsi Masisi.

It is clear from what Milton said that revenue collected from collected from diamond production has been to good use – which is rare in other African countries where such investments breed massive corruption – in improving health service and diversifying the economy. Milton said the new chapter in Botswana’s economic history had resulted in Botswana’s value of rough diamonds rising annually from P11 billion to more than P55 billion.

The government has also seen to it that the health sector in the country is developed and as a result, no-one in Botswana travels more than 29km to the nearest health facility while the doctor to patient ratio one doctor to an average of 3 300 patients compared to 1967 when it was one doctor was for every 50 000 patients.

Debswana also operates two hospitals near its Orapa and Jwaneng mines, which serve an average of 150 000 people per year. In 2001, Debswana became the first company in the world to offer free anti-retroviral therapy to its employees and their spouses living with HIV/AIDS. In 2008, this facility was extended to children.

“The work that we do extends to future generations. Over the years, Debswana has turned the hopes and dreams of the communities within which we operate into reality. We have contributed to national and community initiatives in the areas of health, education, sports, biodiversity and community development,” said Milton.

When Botswana achieved its independence in 1966, only 4.8km of roads were tarred, but now part of the revenue from diamonds has been channelled to the tarring of thousands of kilometres of roads and the roads safe to use.
 The company is now the largest private sector employer in Botswana after the government with more than 5 500 employees and at least 6 000 contractors. The multiplier effect of all these employees, added to social investments, has seen a great impact on the country’s business sector.

“We are committed to continue unlocking the value of Botswana's precious natural resource to create true value for the lives of Batswana,” Milton said.
 For this rare success story to grow and for Botswana to advance, President Masisi said he wants a long-term sales pact with De Beers when the current 10 year deal ends next year.  The president also wants the great strides made increased by having more diamonds processed locally instead of being exported as rough gems.

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Khan: Boko, Masisi are fake politicians

18th January 2021
Masisi & Boko

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.

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Ookeditse rejects lobby for BPF top post

18th January 2021

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.

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BDP cancels MPs retreat

18th January 2021
President Masisi

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.

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