Masisi summons Gaborone South to State House
By Dave Baaitse
As the Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) prepare for its intense special congress billed for Kang next month, skeletons are beginning to tremble from the coffins as more seeds of discord break the surface.
Sources close to Tsholetsa House have revealed that this past week President Mokgweetsi Masisi summoned Gaborone South to State House with a warning stern over allegations that the constituency which is led by Meshack Mthimkhulu is secretly endorsing Pelonomi Venson- Moitoi in her presidential bid against Masisi. In a secret meeting held at the President’s residence, it is revealed that the fuming Masisi threatened to take action against anyone who is not supporting him.
However some democrats who spoke on conditions of anonymity disclosed that they are being harassed and live under concern under Masisi’s leadership. Some of the party members who continue to suffer the same fate are people who still associate themselves with former President Lt Gen Ian Khama. Sometime at the beginning of the year President Mokgweetsi Masisi called all the regions to a lunch at the State House to solicit for support and consolidate his grip on the party.
The bone of contention however is the issue of endorsing party presidential candidate. Allegations have come out widespread after the Serowe meeting of elders held two weeks back where Venson- Moitoi and former president Ian Khama attended indicating that there are some regions that have endorsed Masisi but are secretly supporting Venson- Moitoi.
When contacted for comment Gaborone South parliamentary candidate Meshack Mthikhulu denied meeting President Masisi over the matter but however admitted that there is a confusion caused by the race for regional chairperson between Lotty Manyapedza and Pelonomi Bantsi. He said the current chairperson Alfred Moatlhaping will be contesting for position of secretary thus splitting votes and bringing in factions over who is supporting who. “At the moment delegates are torn between Manyapedza and Bantsi for the chairmanship race. However Gaborone South is fully behind president Masisi,” he said.
Some party insiders say the elders meeting held in Serowe the past two weeks sent a strong message to the party and shows the split is eminent. It is alleged that some members of parliament will soon resign from the party and contest the 2019 general elections as independent candidates. A source close to the developments said if Masisi return victorious from Kang Congress, the BDP will be headed for the worst. It is alleged that some staunch party supporters are determined to vote the opposition.
The current chairperson of Gaborone South Alfred Moatlhaping said he has shown interest in contesting for the secretary since Tumy Modise will not be contesting. He said after consultation with the elders he has decided not to contest and wait till October. He however said the region is fully behind Masisi.
In his last interview with WeekendPost former President Ian Khama said he is not shaken and still put his weight behind Venson Moitoi. He said the Palapye retreat did not change anything, the situation still remains the same. “We are today, still where we were before Palapye, my position hasn’t changed. Khama said as to how the campaigns and preparations are going, he reverted this publication to the relevant people who are responsible and directly involved in that regard.
When commenting on the endorsement videos and messages circulating on social media where democrats are seen endorsing president Mokgweetsi Masisi on his presidential race against Pelonomi Venson- Moitoi, Khama said there are two things, an indication of lack of confidence in the leader and one is that they are promised something for them to do that.
“Some of them may be genuine supporters, there is no doubt but others are being enticed. I‘ve never seen it but I know in the past where people were doing it for their own personal campaigns as candidates selling themselves to the electorates but when you then organize a structure of a whole party to go and approach people to come and do videos to support, clearly it means you don’t feel confident of your own”. Khama also alluded to the fact that on the issue of primary elections, the videos are not allowed but it is silent on the event of presidential race.
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ENVIRONMENT ISSUES: Masisi asks Virginia for help
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.”
Masisi saddened by deaths of elephant attacks
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.”
Gov’t commit to injecting more funds in fighting HIV
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.”