Botswana Congress Party (BCP) Maun East parliamentary hopeful, Goretetse Kekgonegile has blasted President Mokgweetsi Masisi’s promise in the 2018 State of the Nation Address (SONA) that government is committed to the implementation of the Commodity Based Trade (CBT) in the Foot and Mouth affected areas.
CBT refers to new meat-processing value chain-based approaches including cattle quarantining which can ensure FMD derived beef is exportable to markets. Botswana and other SADC countries have adopted CBT largely seen as one of the solutions to the wildlife- cattle sector conflicts.
Masisi explained in the 2018 SONA that government in partnership with international technical partners has undertaken numerous workshops to capacitate both farmers and extension staff on the concept of CBT which provides avenue for the exportation of meat from FMD endemic areas such as Ngamiland. Masisi said CBT as adopted by Organization for Animal Health (OIE) and recognized by the World Trade Organization provides a new opportunity for the safe trade in beef and beef products for Ngamiland farmers and other FMD afflicted parts.
However, Kekgonegile stated that it is high time government walks the talk saying despite Masisi’s promise the situation on the ground is to the contrary. He said for example, DVS is lacking the budget and resources to maintain all the quarantines in Ngamiland saying if government was serious it would have made a plan and organized resources required for CBT smooth implementation.
He said: “for CBT to work quarantines are needed but DVS has no funds to maintain them. We cannot be talking CBT when we do not have a strategy how CBT will be implemented. Even the important stakeholders such as Botswana Meat Commission are clueless on what is their roles and expectations on CBT implementation. It’s just confusion all over the place.” Taking his argument further, Kekgonegile said BMC currently is forced to source cattle from Boteti and Bobirwa for slaughter at Maun abattoir as cattle sales in Ngamiland has come to a standstill due to CBT requirements.
“It is required that all the cattle slaughtered at Maun abattoir must be quarantined but quarantines are not yet working. This has led to a situation where cattle industry has come to a “forced stop forcing the BMC to look elsewhere. Yet government is saying the Maun abattoir will not be privatized for strategic reasons due to the Ngamiland situation but the abattoir is now useless to us.”
Kekgonegile further said: “Ngamiland is in a state of emergency as we speak. Farmers cannot sell their cattle to Maun abattoir due to the quarantines requirement. But the same government that is supposed to be fixing all the quarantines is not doing anything to organize money for the works. Only Makalamabedi quarantine has been partly maintained. Now the same government has given its company, BMC a permit to source cattle outside Ngamiland abandoning Ngamiland farmers.”
Kekgonegile also called for the scrapping off of the provision of Diseases of Animals Act Cap 37, 01 of 1977 that gives Department of Veterinary Services (DVS) powers to destroy cattle that stray in to the buffalo fence. This position comes after DVS recently shot dead 11 cattle that had strayed in to the Makalamabedi quarantine. Farmers are up in arms against the cattle killings, describing it as criminal act by government officials.
DVS, citing diseases act, is also accused of regular destruction of the farmers cattle that cross the buffalo fence separating communal grazing areas and Moremi Game Reserve. Responding to the recent killing of 11 cattle, Kekgonegile explained that a situation where farmers’ cattle are killed when they cross in to the buffalo fence should not be condoned as it impoverishes cattle farmers in Ngamiland. Kekgonegile said government must appreciate that there is an ongoing land stress and other environmental problems in Ngamiland that perpetuate land conflicts.
Kekgonegile stated that the emerging land realities in Ngamiland such as shrinking communal lands as a result of the commonage privatization has drastically shrunk land available for tribal grazing and exacerbated land use conflicts. He posits that however, instead of taking a holistic approach to this emerging tragedy of the commons, government continues to impose acts that favor the interests of wildlife over those of cattle. Kekgonegile explained that government must stop killing farmers cattle in the name of the animals act and come to a holistic solution.
“When buffaloes come in to the grazing areas they are driven back and not destroyed but the same is not accorded to cattle as they are killed when they enter the buffalo fence.” He says what make the situation worse is that the buffalo fence has been destroyed by elephants and cattle freely cross in to the other side.
While there is no hard-and-fast rule in politics, former Molepolole North Member of Parliament, Mohamed Khan says populism acts in the body politic have forced him to quit active partisan politics. He brands this ancient ascription of politics as fake and says it lowers the moral compass of the society.
Khan who finally tasted political victory in the 2014 elections after numerous failed attempts, has decided to leave the ‘dirty game’, and on his way out he characteristically lashed at the current political leaders; including his own party president, Advocate Duma Boko. “I arrived at this decision because I have noticed that there are no genuine politics and politicians. The current leaders, Boko and President Dr Mokgweetsi Masisi are fake politicians who are just practicing populist politics to feed their egos,” he said.
Former Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) parliamentary hopeful, Lawrence Ookeditse has rejected the idea of taking up a crucial role in the Botswana Patriotic Front (BPF) Central Committee following his arrival in the party this week. According to sources close to development, BPF power brokers are coaxing Ookeditse to take up the secretary general position, left vacant by death of Roseline Panzirah-Matshome in November 2020.
Ookeditse’s arrival at BPF is projected to cause conflicts, as some believe they are being overlooked, in favour of a new arrival. The former ruling party strategist has however ruled out the possibility of serving in the party central committee as secretary general, and committed that he will turn down the overture if availed to him by party leadership.
Ookeditse, nevertheless, has indicated that if offered another opportunity to serve in a different capacity, he will gladly accept. “I still need to learn the party, how it functions and all its structures; I must be guided, but given any responsibility I will serve the party as long as it is not the SG position.”
“I joined the BPF with a clear conscious, to further advance my voice and the interests of the constituents of Nata/Gweta which I believe the BDP is no longer capable to execute.” Ookeditse speaks of abject poverty in his constituency and prevalent unemployment among the youth, issues he hopes his new home will prioritise.
He dismissed further allegations that he resigned from the BDP because he was not rewarded for his efforts towards the 2019 general elections. After losing in the BDP primaries in 2018, Ookeditse said, he was offered a job in government but declined to take the post due to his political ambitions. Ookeditse stated that he rejected the offer because, working for government clashed with his political journey.
He insists there are many activists who are more deserving than him; he could have chosen to take up the opportunity that was before him but his conscious for the entire populace’s wellbeing held him back. Ookeditse said there many people in the party who also contributed towards party success, asserting that he only left the BDP because he was concerned about the greater good of the majority not individualism purposes.
According to observers, Ookeditse has been enticed by the prospects of contesting Nata/Gweta constituency in the 2024 general election, following the party’s impressive performance in the last general elections. Nata/Gweta which is a traditional BDP stronghold saw its numbers shrinking to a margin of 1568. BDP represented by Polson Majaga garnered 4754, while BPF which had fielded Joe Linga received 3186 with UDC coming a distant with 1442 votes.
There are reports that Linga will pave way for Ookeditse to contest the constituency in 2024 and the latter is upbeat about the prospects of being elected to parliament. Despite Ookeditse dismissing reports that he is eying the secretary general position, insiders argue that the position will be availed to him nevertheless.
Alternative favourite for the position is Vuyo Notha who is the party Deputy Secretary General. Notha has since assumed duties of the secretariat office on the interim basis. BPF politburo is expected to meet on 25th of January 2020, where the vacancy will be filled.
Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) big wigs have decided to cancel a retreat with the party legislators this weekend owing to increasing numbers of Covid-19 cases. The meeting was billed for this weekend at a place that was to be confirmed, however a communique from the party this past Tuesday reversed the highly anticipated meeting.
“We received a communication this week that the meeting will not go as planned because of rapid spread of Covid-19,” one member of the party Central Committee confirmed to this publication. The gathering was to follow the first of its kind held late last year at party Treasurer Satar Dada’s place.