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Boko may be rejected as Presidential candidate

The rivalry between Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) president, Advocate Duma Boko and Botswana Movement for Democracy (BMD) president, Dr Sidney Pilane played out at the magistrate court this Friday at a hearing where the latter wants the former and his wife to be struck off the Voters’ roll for violating section 67 of the constitution.

Pilane is acting under the instructions of one John Keemenao Siele who is adamant that Boko is not a resident of Phase II in Gaborone as he purports rather his principal residence is Tlokweng. According to Pilane, Boko and his lawyers are well aware that what is alleged before the court is true.  Pilane is also representing another complainant who wants another UDC candidate, Haskins Nkaingwa struck off the roll in Gaborone North because he is not a resident there. Pilane is most likely to also contest as a Parliamentary candidate in Gaborone North.

Boko's lawyer, attorney Dick Bayford this week asked presiding magistrate, Mogi Paya for a postponement to a later date. Allegations against the leader of Opposition (LOO) if argued successfully in court may make him ineligible to contest for election at the Bonninton North constituency allegedly because it is not his principal residence. This could also mean that Boko will not run as a Presidential candidate against Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) leader, Dr Mokgweetsi Masisi and Alliance for Progressives (AP) president Ndaba Gaolathe.

Parallel to the case against Boko, AP leader, Ndaba Gaolathe also has eight more cases challenging his eligibility to run as a candidate in Gaborone Bonnington South. Last week he won two cases and pledged not to seek costs from those who questioned his principal residence as per section 67 of the constitution.

Meanwhile, Boko’s lawyer, Bayford told the magistrate that they need more time to advice themselves on the matter, so as to safeguard Boko's rights under the prevailing circumstances. The UDC President’s lawyer had also questioned the process through which some of the evidence against Boko was gathered, at one point referring to a subpoena to the clerk of the National Assembly as “fraudulent”.

The complainant against Boko had solicited information about Boko from the National assembly and was denied because of the privileges of privacy extended to Members of Parliament but when the substantive clerk went on a trip, according to Bayford information was accessed through an Acting officer. Further information on Boko has been retrieved from the Botswana Unified Revenue Services (BURS) and from Water Utilities Corporation (WUC). Bayford explained that they had to understand Boko’s case in the context of Botswana democracy, “because if he is struck off the roll he will not run for Parliament or Presidency as the leader of the main opposition party.”

Pilane did not object the postponement because "We want them to come prepared, fully prepared." However he dismissed Bayford’s arguments insisting that Boko was a voter just like all other Batswana. “All that is being raised is irrelevant, what matters is the law,” he said. Pilane is of the view that Boko is not special, he must be subjected to the same laws as all other citizens.

Pilane advised presiding Magistrate Mogi Paya not to be intimidated at the hearing. He said: "Please don't be intimidated by the attempt to make him (Boko) special because he is not. He is a voter just like you and me, it is only in that capacity that he is before you. He is not above the law. He is as subject to the law as you and me. The position he holds is irrelevant in this debate." Boko’s case has been postponed to a later date, and Pilane has indicated that all the evidence they gathered was to ensure that they assist the magistrate in determining the outcome of the trial.

Uyapo Ndadi, a renowned Gaborone attorney representing AP leader Ndaba Gaolathe in a similar matter has pointed out that stakes are high in these election. He said the objections have grave consequences, because the Magistrate’s decision is final and not subject to appeal.
 “For example, if the objector succeeds against Rre Boko by getting his name removed from the voters roll, then he will not be able eligible to run as an MP and as President, because for one to do so, they must be registered to vote.”

John Siele the objector in the Boko case, has lodged a case against Alliance for Progressives Gaborone Bonnington North parliamentary candidate, Dr Kaelo Molefhe before court. Siele is a registered as an independent candidate for Moselewapula ward council seat. In a similar fashion Siele argues that Molefhe is registered to vote in the upcoming elections using a physical address said not to be his principal residential place. The claim is alleged to be contrary to the Electoral Act.

Meanwhile Pilane and Boko will tussle again in court on August 29 in a matter where the BMD is praying with the court to reverse the UDC decision to expel it from the coalition. The panel of judges will preside over the matter. Bayford is representing the UDC again on the matter.

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ENVIRONMENT ISSUES: Masisi asks Virginia for help

24th March 2023

President Mokgweetsi Masisi says the issue of sustainable natural resources management has always been an important part of Botswana’s national development agenda.

Masisi was speaking this week on the occasion of a public lecture at Virginia Polytechnic, under theme, “Merging Conservation, Democracy and Sustainable Development in Botswana.”

Botswana, according to Masisi, holds the view that the environment is fragile and as such, must be managed and given the utmost protection to enable the achievement of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

“It is necessary that we engage one another in the interchange of ideas, perspectives, visualizations of social futures, and considerations of possible strategies and courses of action for sustainable development,” said Masisi.

On the other hand, dialogue, in the form of rigorous democratic discourse among stakeholders presents another basis for reconfiguring how people act on their environments, with a view to conserving its resources that “we require to meet our socio-economic development needs on a sustainable basis,” Masisi told attendees at the public lecture.

He said government has a keen interest in understanding the epidemiology and ecology of diseases of both domestic and wild animals. “It is our national interest to forestall the dire consequences of animal diseases on our communities livelihoods.”

President Masisi hoped that both Botswana and Virginia could help each other in curbing contagious diseases of wildlife.

“We believe that Virginia Tech can reasonably share their experiences, research insights and advances in veterinary sciences and medicines, to help us build capacity for knowledge creation and improve efforts of managing and containing contagious diseases of wildlife. The ground is fertile for entering into such a mutually beneficial partnership.”

When explaining environmental issues further, Masisi said efforts of conservation and sustainable development might at times be hampered by the emergence and recurrence of diseases when pathogens mutate and take host of more than one species.

“Water pollution also kills aquatic life, such as fish, which is one of humanity’s much deserved sources of food. In this regard, One Health Approach imposes ecological responsibility upon all of us to care for the environment and the bio-diversity therein.”

He said the production and use of animal vaccines is an important space and tool for conservation, particularly to deal with trans-border animal diseases.

“In Botswana, our 43-year-old national premier pharmaceutical institution called Botswana Vaccine Institute has played its role well. Through its successful production of highly efficacious Foot and Mouth vaccines, the country is able to contain this disease as well as supply vaccines to other countries in the sub-region.:

He has however declared that there is need for more help, saying “We need more capacitation to deal with and contain other types of microbial that affect both animals and human health.”

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Masisi saddened by deaths of elephant attacks

24th March 2023

President Mokgweetsi Masisi has expressed a strong worry over elephants killing people in Botswana. When speaking in Virginia this week, Masisi said it is unfortunate that Batswana have paid a price with their own blood through being attacked by elephants.

“Communities also suffer unimaginable economic losses yearly when their crops are eaten by the elephants. In spite of such incidents of human-elephant conflict, our people embrace living together with the animals. They fully understand wildlife conservation and its economic benefits in tourism.”

In 2018, Nthobogang Samokwase’s father was attacked by an elephant when travelling from the fields, where he stayed during the cropping season.

It was reported that the man couldn’t run because of his age. He was found trampled by the elephant and was pronounced dead upon arrival at the hospital.

In the same year, in Maun, a 57-year-old British woman was attacked by an elephant at Boro and died upon arrival at the hospital. The woman was with her Motswana partner, and were walking dogs in the evening.

Last month, a Durban woman named Carly Marshall survived an elephant attack while on holiday in the bush in Botswana. She was stabbed by one of the elephant’s tucks through the chest and was left with bruises. Marshall also suffered several fractured ribs from the ordeal.

President Masisi Botswana has the largest population of African elephants in the world, totaling more than 130 000. “This has been possible due to progressive conservation policies, partnerships with the communities, and investment in wildlife management programmes.”

In order to benefit further from wildlife, Masisi indicated that government has re-introduced controlled hunting in 2019 after a four-year pause. “The re-introduction of hunting was done in an open, transparent and democratic way, giving the communities an opportunity to air their views. The funds from the sale of hunting quota goes towards community development and elephant conservation.”

He stressed that for conservation to succeed, the local people must be involved and derive benefits from the natural resources within their localities.

“There must be open and transparent consultations which involve all sectors of the society. It is against this backdrop that as a country, we lead the continent on merging conservation, democracy and sustainable development.”

Masisi stated that Botswana is open to collaborative opportunities, “particularly with identifiable partners such as Virginia Tech, in other essential areas such as conservation, and the study of the interplay among the ecology of diseases of wild animals and plants, and their effects on human health and socio-economic development.”

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Gov’t commit to injecting more funds in fighting HIV

24th March 2023

Minister for State President Kabo Morwaeng says government will continue to make resources available in terms of financial allocations and human capital to ensure that Botswana achieves the ideal of eradicating HIV and AIDS as a public health threat by 2030.

Morwaeng was speaking this morning in Gaborone at the High-Level Advocacy event to accelerate HIV Prevention in Botswana. He said the National AIDS and Health Promotion Agency (NAPHA), in partnership with UNAIDS, UN agencies, the Global Fund and PEPFAR, have started a process of developing transition readiness plan for sustainability of HIV prevention and treatment programmes.

“It is important for us, as a country that has had a fair share of donor support in the response to an epidemic such as HIV and AIDS, to look beyond the period when the level of assistance would have reduced, or ceased, thus calling for domestic financing for all areas which were on donor support.”

Morwaeng said this is important as the such a plan will guarantee that all the gains accrued from the response with donor support will be sustained until the end when “we reach the elimination of HIV and AIDS as a public health threat by 20230,” he said.

“I commit to continue support efforts towards strengthened HIV prevention, accentuating HIV primary prevention and treatment as prevention towards Zero New Infections, Zero Stigma, Discrimination and Zero AIDS related death, to end AIDS in Botswana.”

He reiterated that government commits to tackle legislative, policy and programming challenges that act as barriers to the achievement of the goal of ending AIDS as a public health threat.

In the financial year 2022/2023, a total of 119 Civil Society Organizations, including Faith Based Organizations, were contracted with an amount of P100 million to implement HIV and NCDs prevention activities throughout the country, and the money was drawn from the Consolidated Fund.

Through an upcoming HIV Prevention Symposium, technical stakeholders will use outcomes to develop the Botswana HIV Prevention Acceleration Road Map for 2023-2025.

Morwaeng stated that government will support and ensure that Botswana plays its part achieving the road map. He said there is need to put hands on the deck to ensure that Botswana sustains progress made so far in the fight against HIV and AIDS.

“There are tremendous achievements thus far to, reach and surpass the UNAIDS fast track targets of 95%- 95%- 95% by the year 2025. As reflected by the BAIS preliminary results of 2021, we now stand at 95- 98- 98 against the set targets.”

“These achievements challenge us to now shift our gears and strive to know who are the remaining 5% for those aware of their HIV status, 2% of enrolment on treatment by those aware of their status and 2% of viral suppression by those on treatment.”

Explaining this further, Morwaeng said shift in gears should extend to coming up with robust strategies of determining where these remaining people are as well as how they will be reached with the necessary services.

“These are just some of the many variables that are required to ensure that as a country, we are well positioned to reaching the last mile of our country’s response to the HIV and AIDS pandemic.”

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