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BDP ropes in royal family in Maun battle

Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) has, after mending broken relations with the Batawana royal family decided to bring them on the bandwagon in a high intensity  battle for the two of Maun Constituencies especially Maun West.

Ever since that 2014 rage in which the BDP while campaigning for Reaboka Mbulawa verbally assaulted Kgosi Tawana, the relationship between the party and the royal family reached the all-time low. Situation subsided when the party apologised to Batawana two years later in 2016. The party going for this year’s election has changed tact and resolved to partner with the tribal leadership to revive their fortunes of winning the constituency. Last weekend’s launch of party’s Maun West constituency candidate, cleared an all along blurry picture.

The Tawana Empire was invited, with a representative from the family who is also a deputy paramount chief Bringle Dithapo who assists Regent Kealetile Moremi, as a key speaker at the event. “We have never hated the BDP in Maun; we have been working together since time immemorial. It’s only that there was a tongue slip before last elections,” Dithapo said in an interview with WeekendPost.

Before that, Dithapo at the launch told multitudes who thronged Tshwaragano Junior School that; he is saddened by President Mokgweetsi Masisi’s words that he will retire when he lose elections. “That is very sad to hear from President,” Dithapo said while showing his loyalty to Masisi and to the BDP.

Maun Administrative Authority Chairperson Mmoedi Modiegi also reiterated that as the BDP they hold Bogosi institution in high degree and they will continue to do so, not what happened in 2014. “Re ne rele ha ka 2014 go buiwa polotiki e re sa e thaloganyeng. Mme gompieno Tautona rona le bogosi re selo se le sengwe. Bogosi ke botsadi jwa rona hela jaaka le wena re itse gore o tlotla Magosi.” Dithapo has also revealed to this publication that as tribal leaders they are happy with a number of BDP initiatives including the lifting of the hunting ban and opening of Khoemacau mine among others.

“Elephants are killing our people and we can’t just watch and do nothing. The government has taken a wise decision on lifting of the ban because not only are the people’s lives taken away but agriculture is also suffering in our region due to these animals. We are also happy for the fact that a copper mine will be opening soon. As Dikgosi we have been invited to see and we believe it will also create employment and also boost North West economy,”

All these words according to the very confident Mbulawa, it is a sign that the royal family is fully behind his candidacy. “We have Bogosi’s full support as endorsed publicly by the deputy paramount chief Dithapo. His words encompassed the greater royal house that they vote, support and endorsed myself and President Masisi daylight. Kgosi Tawana is more than just a chief but also a brother as we share uncles and so blood is thicker than water in many senses,” he said in an interview with this publication.

Despite the royal family presence at Mbulawa’s launch, Tawana who is yet to endorse any candidate in the constituency was not present. It is unclear as to who will he give blessings to run the constituency. The three candidates, Mbulawa, Umbrella for Democratic Change’s Dumelang Saleshando and Alliance for Progressives’ Moalosi Sebati have not shied away that they would appreciate if the paramount chief, Tawana could endorse them. This is so because it is believed, Kgosi as a leader could swing a pendulum whatever side he wants.

In 2014 UDC’s Tawana won Maun West comfortably after garnering 7271, with Mbulawa getting 5335 and BCP‘s George Lubinda managing 2359. This time around records show that by far the constituency has managed to register 22,000 with the number expected to increase as the transfers are still ongoing. For any candidate to win they will need close to 15,000.

President Masisi has told electorates who attended the launch that as the BDP they are aware of the challenges in the region and they will rectify them very soon especially water crisis. “Everything is sorted and we want to drill 12 boreholes to curb that the only problem is we have a court case with the contractor but as soon as the case is done we will be starting the project,” Masisi assured voters.

For his part Mbulawa says he deserves to be given a mandate because he is from the Maun and he knows the challenges they face. “I have nothing but loyalty and my heart to the constituency. I am people oriented and believe in consultation and Botho as paramount. I promise great advocacy and undivided attention to serve Maun.” Mbulawa who was once North West Council Chairman says he has been assisting the constituents during the curse of lethobo as well as providing water to the people during times of dry taps.

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Botswana still weighing in on Maseko’s assassination

27th January 2023

The Minister of Foreign Affairs, Dr. Lemogang Kwape says Botswana has not taken any position regarding the killing of a renowned human rights lawyer, Thulani Maseko, who was gunned down at his house in Mbabane, Eswatini.

In a brief interview with WeekendPost, Dr Kwape said Botswana has not yet taken any position regarding his death. He said the purported incident should be thoroughly probed before Botswana can form an opinion based on the findings of the inquiries.

“Botswana generally condemns any killing of human life by all means,” says Dr. Kwape. He wouldn’t want to be dragged on whether Botswana will support the suspension of Eswatini from SADC.

“We will be guided by SADC organ Troika if they can be an emergency meeting. I am not sure when the meeting will be called by Namibian president,“ he said.

However, the Namibian president Hage Geingob notes with deep concern reports coming out of Eswatini about the killing of Mr. Maseko. In a statement, he called upon the “Government of the Kingdom of Eswatini to ensure that the killing of Maseko is swiftly, transparently and comprehensively investigated, and that any or all persons suspected of committing this heinous crime are brought to justice.”

Maseko was chairperson of the Multi-Stakeholder Forum which was established as a coalition of non-State actors to advocate for a process of national political dialogue aimed at resolving the security and political challenges confronting the Kingdom.

“SADC expresses its deepest and heartfelt condolences to the family of Mr. Maseko, his friends, colleagues, and to the people of the Kingdom of Eswatini for the loss of Mr. Maseko. In this context, SADC further calls upon the people of the Kingdom of Eswatini to remain calm, exercise due care and consideration whilst the appropriate structures conduct the investigations and bring the matter to completion,” the statement says.

Geingob reiterated the need for peaceful resolution of the political and security challenges affecting the country.

Meanwhile political activists are calling on SADC to suspend Eswatini from the block including the African Union as well.

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Kopong Murder: Accused interferes with witnesses again!

27th January 2023

State prosecutor, Seeletso Ookeditse revealed before the Broadhurst Magistrate Jobbie Moilatshimo that the third accused involved in the murder of Barulaganye Aston, has interfered with the State witnesses again.

The second and third accused (Lefty Kosie and Outlwile Aston) were previously accused of interference when they were caught in possession of cellphones in prison. They were further accused of planning to kill the deceased’s brother, who is currently the guardian to the children of the deceased.

Ookeditse indicated that Outlwile had earlier went to challenge the magistrate’s decision of denying him bail at the High Court before Judge Michael Motlhabi.

“The third accused approached the High Court and made a bail application, which was dismissed on the same day,” Ookeditse said.

However, even after the High Court verdict on their bail application, the duo (Kosie and Aston) has once again applied for bail this week.

Ookeditse plead with the court to stop the accused from abusing the court process.

“Yesterday, Directorate of Public Prosecutions (DPP) received papers of his bail application filed before the Broadhurst Magistrates Court. However, the papers do not speak to changed circumstances, therefore this back and forth about bail must be put to a stop,” said the State prosecutor.

While giving evidence before court, the Investigations Officer, Detective Inspector Quite Zhalamonto, said his investigations have proved that there is interference continuing regarding the accused trio.

He told the court that on the 12th of January 2023, he received a report from Thato Aston, who is the son of the accused and the deceased. The son had alleged to the Investigation Officer that he received a call from one Phillip Molwantwa.

According to Zhalamonto, Thato revealed that Molwatwa indicated that he was from prison on a visit to the Outlwile Aston and went on to ask where he was staying and where his siblings (Aston’s children) are staying.

“Thato revealed that Phillip went on to ask if he or his siblings saw their father murdering their mother, and he was referring to the crime scene. Thato told me that he, however, refused to answer the questions as he was afraid especially because he was asked about where him and his siblings stay,” said Zhalamonto.

Zhalamonto alluded to the court that he then went to Orange to confirm the communication between Thato and Molwantwa where he found the case.

“I have arrested Philip yesterday and when I interviewed him, he did not deny that he knows Aston and that he has indeed called Thato and asked questions as to where him and his siblings resides even though he failed to give reasons for asking such questions,” Zhalamonto told the court.

He further revealed that Molwantwa indicated that he had received a call from an unknown man who refused to reveal himself.

“Phillip told me that the unknown man said he was sent by the accused (Aston), and that Aston had instructed him to tell me to check if there was still some money in his bank accounts, and he also wanted to know where the kids were residing, the unknown man even asked him to meet at Main Mall” the Investigation Officer told the court.

He further informed the court that he is working tirelessly to identify the “unknown caller” and the route of the cell number.

Furthermore, the fourth accused, Kebaleboge Ntsebe, has revealed to the court through a letter that she was abused and tortured by the Botswana Police Services. She wrote in her letter that she suffered miscarriage as a result of being beaten by the police.

Ntsebe is on bail, while a bail ruling for Aston and Kosie will be delivered on the 6th of next month

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Ngamiland Cattle Farmers Gain Green Zone Revenue

27th January 2023

Cattle farmers from Eretsha and Habu in the Ngamiland district, supported by the Community Based Trade (CBT) project, recently generated over P300 000.00 for sales of 42 cattle to the Botswana Meat Commission (BMC) in Maun. This milestone was achieved through support from various stakeholders in conservation, commodity-based trade and the government, in collaboration with farmers. Ordinarily, these farmers would not have made this direct sale since the area is a designated Foot and Mouth Disease (FMD) Red Zone.

Traditional livestock farming contributes toward livelihoods and formal employment in the North-West District (Ngamiland) of Botswana. However, primarily due to the increase in FMD outbreaks over the past two decades and predation by wildlife, the viability of livestock agriculture as a source of income has declined in the region. This has led to a greater risk of poverty and food insecurity. Access across the Okavango River (prior to the construction of a bridge) restricted access for farmers in Eretsha. This lack of access hampered sales of cattle beyond Shakawe, further discouraging farmers from investing in proper livestock management practices. This resulted in negative environmental impacts, poor livestock health and productivity.

To address this challenge, farmers are working with a consortium led by Conservation International (CI), with funding secured from the European Union (EU) to pilot a CBT beef project. The project focuses on supporting and enabling communal farmers to comply with standards and regulations that will improve their chances to access markets. An opportunity to earn higher income from cattle sales could incentivize the adoption of restorative rangelands management practices by farmers.

These collaborative efforts being piloted in Habu and Eretsha villages also include the Pro-Nature Enterprises Project for the People of Southern Africa, funded by Agence Française de Développement (AFD) and Le Fonds français pour l’environnement mondial (FFEM). This complementary funding from AFD and FFEM supports the implementation of the Herding4Health (H4H) model and Rangeland Stewardship Agreements across four rangeland sites in Southern Africa, including Habu and Eretsha, to incentivize best practices that could offer sustainability in the long term for livelihoods, conservation and human-wildlife coexistence.

“We spend a lot of money getting our cattle to Makalamabedi quarantine site, the herder spends on average two months taking care of the cattle before they are taken into quarantine – that needs money. All these costs lead to us getting less money from BMC,” said one of the farmers in the programme, Mr Monnaleso Mosanga.

Farmers that participate in the project agree for their cattle to be herded and kraaled communally by fulltime professional herders (eco-rangers). At the core of this pilot is the use of predator-proof bomas (cattle kraals), planned grazing systems and mobile quarantine bomas (electrified enclosures) for the cattle, facilitated in support with the Department of Veterinary Services. The first successful exit from the mobile quarantine bomas in the Habu and Eretsha villages, in December 2022, saw cattle quarantined on-site and directly transported to BMC in Maun. Farmers received almost double the average sales within this region, as costs including transportation to quarantine sites, herder’s fees and other associated costs incurred before qualifying for BMC sales were no longer included.

“This pilot mobile quarantine is leveraging the techniques and protocols we are using at our current permanent quarantine sites, and we are still observing the results of the project. The outcome of this pilot will be presented to the World Organisation of Animal Health to assess its effectiveness and potentially be approved to be used elsewhere,” said Dr Odireleng Thololwane, the Principal Veterinary Officer (Maun).

Through co-financing of almost P1 billion from the Botswana government and Green Climate Fund, these interventions will be replicated, through The Ecosystem Based Adaptation and Mitigation in Botswana’s Communal Rangelands project, across the country. Both projects aim to improve the economic benefits of cattle owners and multitudes of Batswana households, while contributing to land restoration and climate change efforts by the Botswana government

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