Former President Lt Gen Ian Khama has lashed out at Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) members including President Mokgweetsi Masisi for misleading people in an attempt to create impression that reconciliation was agreed in Palapye.
Khama who had lunch, met and shook hands with his successor for the first time since 1st April 2018, said Masisi’s lunch invitation was nothing but a mind’s eye to deceive democrats. He is of the view that Masisi’s lunch invitation was only meant to join him at his table but nothing transpired thereafter. The two men never had a conversation in regard to the recent appalling state of the party, and the stand-off between the duo will continue.
Regarding the alleged dinner and the photos that circulated on social media where they were seen laughing together with party Treasurer Satar Dada, Khama said it was coincidental. They did not have dinner together, in fact they attended the same wedding event together which involves Choppies CEO Ramachandran Ottapatthu’s daughter. The former president said they did not even sit at the same table as paraded on social media.
“It was not a planned meeting as part of reconciliation, it was just coincidence,” said Khama. Allegations suggest that while at Palapye in a closed session meeting where only accredited members of the party were allowed, Khama came late and he refused a chair he was given but rather choose to sit where he intended. However, Khama was quick to dismiss those allegations saying he came late and did not want to disrupt the proceedings and sat at the back but was later ushered to his allocated sit in front.
“This is the same incident like the June congress where I did not come on time and decided to sit at the back,” he said. The former president who has since had a fallout with his successor immediately after taking over also took the opportunity to lash at some individuals who continue to propagate rumors on plots to assassinate President Masisi and challenged everyone with information to come forward.
“These are the same people who talked about false allegations about a coupe d’état which was going to be orchestrated by the Israelis. That was totally ridiculous and it was a lot of nonsense. There is nothing like that at all, I am confident that having lived in this country for so many years, there would not be people in our ranks as Batswana who would do that,” he said.
He continued to say this is an orchestrated and deliberate propaganda put out by some people who want to create sympathy for him to suggest his life is under threat. Khama said using these allegations which he termed as ‘fake news’ to try to find a reason to go after opponents pretending that there is some kind of threat which does not exist is going to have some very serious consequences for the reputation of Botswana as a peaceful, stable country.
He said coups and assassinations are things that we hear about in other countries not in Botswana and we have never had this situations before, questioning why is it happening now. Former president Khama said these people who continue to peddle such lies should be called to order. Khama who had an intimate meeting with Namibian president Hage Geingob last week could not divulge the details of the meeting.
He only chose to say the meeting was successful and confidential however allegations are rife that Geingob, the current Chairman of SADC who was on a working visit to SADC Secretariat in Gaborone, Botswana was also tasked with choreographing a reconciliation exercise between the two men. It is alleged that the Namibian president was also tasked with convincing Khama to persuade Pelonomi Venson- Moitoi to step down on the presidential race. Geingob is believed to be a close ally of former president Khama.
“I regret, I don’t feel I should reveal what we discussed because out of courtesy to him, it was a private meeting. All I can confirm is yes indeed we did meet and we had a discussion. Exactly what we talked about I would really have to revert to him to reveal or allow me to reveal. I would feel uncomfortable to reveal what we discussed in a private meeting,” Khama said. In regard to Venson- Moitoi’s presidential bid, Khama said he is not shaken and still put his weight behind her.
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,” he said. 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 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,” he contended.
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. On his longtime ally and the current Minister of Tourism Kitso Mokaila abandoning him for Masisi, former president Khama said he is someone he has associated with for some years from his days at Botswana Defence Force (BDF). He said he rescued his political career when he was rejected by his constituents and made him specially elected and Minister.
“But that does not necessary mean he owes me anything, he is free to support whoever he want. I was even sitting next to him in Palapye but in that environment we did not discuss anything and that was just a chance meeting”.
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.”