President Mokgweetsi Masisi has once again reiterated to high ranking Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) members the rationale behind opting for Member of Parliament for Boteti West, Slumber Tsogwane as his understudy despite a plethora of alternatives he had.
In the run-up to his inauguration, Masisi was cagey on revealing his choice for Vice President, with a number of BDP legislators having expressed their ambitions to occupy the position but ultimately he settled for, Tsogwane. Not only did Tsogwane get the Vice Presidency, he was also handed the party Chairmanship, the second most senior position in the party. Masisi first revealed justification for choosing the party's longest serving Member of Parliament, Tsogwane as his right hand man few weeks ago at South East Regional Congress.
Masisi said following his ascendancy to the presidency on the 1st April 2018, he told party MPs that his objective was to have a stable and united party ahead of general elections, therefore he needed someone who would define stability—a description which qualified Tsogwane for the position. “I talked to Slumber Tsogwane at 11:50 am. The party caucus was scheduled for 12:00 noon in the cabinet room. I called him and said: "Please do pass by, I want to discuss something with you," he said.
“At 11:57 I left home for office. Tsogwane was ahead of me, as the protocol dictates. I sat down with MPs and told them that politically speaking — we are 18 months to elections — we are coming from 46 percentage [popular vote in 2014], which to me is a defeat. Everything I do is to win resoundingly in 2019. So the name I pick was out of consideration for this,” explained Masisi.
"We had a tendency of not being stable. Look at Slumber [Tsogwane]. He is the definition of stability. Look at his track record from the first time he came into parliament…. he has defined stability,” Masisi said of Tsogwane. "He once became an Assistant Minister and back to backbench but he never caused any trouble. Power has not made him wayward. In parliament, if there is a very powerful defender of the BDP I don't know anyone better than Slumber Tsogwane.
"I then asked them to endorse him to be my Vice President, because I want the party to win 2019. "Tsogwane never asked for the Vice Presidency. I am the one who enticed him and he agreed, and he was endorsed by the MPs. “Only later I heard there is someone saying I promised them the Vice Presidency. There is no truth in that and do not let that to distract you." Masisi also reportedly told BDP high ranking members that Tsogwane is good choice because he is from a minority tribe, something he views as a gesture of inclusion.
“He is a very inclusive leader. He says he wanted someone who can ensure that all the tribes are included in the positions of leadership,” says a source close to the President. It is also said that Masisi wanted to consolidate the dominance of the ruling party in Boteti where Tsogwane is the legislator. “He feels for a long time the two areas have been excluded in leadership positions despite their loyalty to the party,” added a source.
Tsogwane, unlike many in the BDP, did not have any ambition for the presidency, let alone the vice presidency — with his initial plan having been to retire at the end of his current term. It was Masisi who coaxed the pint-sized legislator, who is currently the joint longest serving lawmaker in parliament — to stay for another five years.
Masisi’s choice for Tsogwane though unexpected by many democrats, has not caused any uproar chiefly because he is considered a man without controversies. “He is considered to be the ideal man for the job at the moment. Not many friends, and also without enemies,” said one influential member of the BDP. It is said many within the party were surprised by the decision to appoint Tsogwane as Vice President, impeccable sources revealed that Masisi says he long concluded that he will appoint Tsogwane his deputy.
Tsogwane, who had throughout his political career been reluctant to take up a post in the party’s central committee, surprised many when he ran for the additional member post at 2017 Tonota Congress and emerged victorious. Following his appointment as party chairman a few hours after Masisi took oath as president of Botswana last year; it grew apparent that Tsogwane was Masisi’s chosen one.
“Masisi was obviously looking for someone who is loyal, and who wouldn’t want to outshine him. Given their chemistry, Slumber [Tsogwane], was that person. Though many say he is slumbering they don’t know how strategic he is. Masisi has really loved the speech he presented at the party’s retreat in Palapye last month. Not only that, he is satisfied with his work thus far,” revealed one member of BDP Central Committee.
Even the hard to please party veterans like Daniel Kwelagobe have given a thumbs up to Masisi’s choice for Vice President in Tsogwane. “He has been in government for a very long time, he knows how government works and he has been a good member of the party,” said Kwelagobe on Tsogwane.
While many considered Tsogwane as a stop gap Vice President, Masisi has revealed to the party that he will retain him after the October elections. Many within the party thought just like the past presidents having more then two VP in their terms, Masisi is likely to have at most two with a successor VP expected after 2024 elections.Tsogwane will this year contest this year’s elections in Boteti West and his continued stay in Parliament is linked to “his intelligence, humility, hard work and the level of respect he afforded all his constituents.”
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.”