Despite approving a 4 percent salary hike and delinking members of the National Assembly from the public service structure resulting in an increment of 11 percent, President Dr Mokgweetsi Masisi has rejected a number of proposals put forward by legislators aimed at improving their conditions of service.
Legislators are said to have made sharp demands to the president’s appointed commission that was intended to review legislators’ salaries and conditions of service. At the top of the demands apart from salary hike, Members of Parliament wanted to be given P500 000 as a start-up every five years after the elections. This they say was going to avert dependency on donors and stumbling to service electorates as it is the case currently.
Furthermore the proposals wanted councilors to also be given P250 000 at the beginning of their term so that they would be able to push their communal work with diligence. Unfortunately all these felt in deaf ears of the president who according to sources told the legislators that while it is a valid point the government cannot afford that bill though it is once off. Not only did he rebuff those, MPs also requested that they be given night out allowance like other servants do. Masisi also shot down this proposal.
If Masisi could have approved that demand MPs alone at the beginning of their terms were to gobble P28.5 million from government coffers. On the other hand councilors were to cost P325 million. Not only that the MPs also put it before president that transport is a concern to them and it is a need that compromise their work as they are not able to frequently visit electorates especially in far flung areas like CKGR. “I am even failing to visit my constituent in CKGR because I need an off-road car which I cannot afford and this compromises my service,” Gantsi North MP Noah Salakae said.
The concerns by Salakae were also shared by some BDP members who had the privilege to discuss this at the presence of Masisi. “MPs wanted a 50-50 car scheme in which government pays half and they also pay half of the amount of the car they want, but because of the economic climate that could not be approved but it is still under consideration. Maybe after the elections it will be fully implemented because it is a thorn on most representatives here,” BDP’s Liakat Kablay who was in the MPs welfare committee told this publication.
Not only is the economic climate a factor but Masisi was weary of public outrage approval of MP demands would have caused as already there is disapproval regarding the increment. For a long time MPs transport has always been a hot potato to the fact that they even demanded to be given official cars just like ministers. “BDP let us down we could have long blocked the approval of budget if it was not promised that we will get this but as you know they were intimidated and all sort of stuff and here we are,” concerned Mochudi East MP Molebatsi Molebatsi said.
The National Assembly salaries and allowances amendment bill was debated with so much vigor and passion with MPs across the political divide unanimously agreeing in everything regarding their welfare. The amendment will also see MPs travelling with their spouse on international trips. “It started with Duma Boko this week and others will also follow as time goes on. There have been complaints from the members that we don’t value family or marriage so that has been corrected,” committee member Kablay added.
Former MPs who have felt rejected have been included in the amendment bill. A 20 percent cost of living will be given to them every month to live a dignified life as they are former leaders who laid foundation to this nation. “We are however still considering for the former MPs to get 20 percent of MP’s salary as a cost of living but a well drafted law will be effected hopefully by the July sitting,” Minister of Presidential Affairs, Governance and Public Administration Nonofo Molefhi said.
Last year the MPs were given a 4 percent increase which brought an MP’s monthly salary to P23, 786 per month which is P285, 432. 20 per annum. Further constituency allowances were also hiked for the members to serve voters diligently. Before then in 2015 they were also given a 6 percent increase. In the latest increment constituency allowance has been increased by 50 percent while fixed allowances communication and hospitality allowances by 10 percent. Sitting allowance has been increased to P450.00.
Botswana MPs reports have always maintained that they are one of the lowest paid in the continent and the world. Former MP David Magang has reiterated that the legislators salary is just peanuts and “peanuts attract monkeys.” Nigerian MPs are among the highest paid in the continent and the world. In addition to basic salary, they get a string of allowances in the form of hardship allowance, constituency, furniture, newspaper, wardrobe, recess allowance, accommodation, utilities, domestic staff and entertainment allowances. Kenyan MPs, are the second highest paid in the world. Ghana is also cited as paying politicians well. South African MPs now earn R 1, 1 million a year excluding other benefits.
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.”