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Friday, 19 April 2024

BDP considers scrapping off elections

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There is a strong belief and eventuality that the Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) will hold the upcoming July elective congress without elections. This is only if the party structures and members could buy the idea which is sponsored by party Central Committee (CC) to consider a compromise as opposed to going for elections.

The BDP constitution, since 1995 reforms explicitly through article 29.1 that when the party is in power, the President of the Party shall be elected by secret ballot at a National Congress of the party called by Central Committee during every general elections year. However, ever since the reforms, none of the previous presidents have been challenged for party leadership, rather they have enjoyed the backing of the party structures and endorsed unopposed.

This is year, the tradition and the norm have been altered after former cabinet minister, Pelonomi Venson-Moitoi indicated her desire, as provided for by the constitution, to challenge the incumbent for the party presidency. Venson-Moitoi’s candidature comes in the wake of power struggle involving Masisi and his predecessor, Lt Gen Ian Khama, a fallout which many believe may cost the ruling party power at the polls scheduled for October this year.

This has resulted in the pro-Masisi camp proposing for a compromise that will see Venson-Moitoi withdrawing from the race to support the incumbent. To make his intentions clear, Masisi has met with party’s regional chairperson to sell the idea. BDP which has been in power since independence finds itself fighting unusual battle of factions anchored on two influential axis-President Masisi and his predecessor Lt Gen Ian Khama.

This has left the party polarised and even unsure of how to heal the deep wounds resulting from recent squabbles. However, the party as a way of addressing these wounds has managed to convince both the Youth Wing and the Women’s Wing not to have elections, but have congresses only were a list of compromise candidates will be endorsed.  This decision is hailed as a step in the right direction but democrats believe the bigger picture is the national congress slated for July.

The 18 member central committee, sources say, has had phrases of ‘compromise and unity’ dominating most of their latest meetings. “The idea for now it is still at early stages, but the thought is why can’t we have a congress and not have elections. We have to ask from the members of the party about this because they own this party and can decide whatever they want. It is not like the suggestion of the CC is final,” shared a source this week.

It is said that despite being at the infancy stage, the party leadership is resolute that it is possible that the members will give the proposal thumb up. Already President Masisi had called a meeting with all the regional chairpersons to sell them this idea among other things. The meeting according to those who attended was a “routine gathering with the president to engage on a number of issues within the party and would not dwell much on the details as we still have to brief regional members,” said Gaborone region chairperson MacDonald Peloetletse.

Other democrats nonetheless say the meeting was purely to sell the idea to regional leaders who will share with their members before giving the leadership a reply. According to the drafted script for the congress, after all the formal requisites including the reports presentation, Masisi will then throw the idea before the members about compromise and not have elections. Should it pass it would leave the current committee holding the fort until 2021, if members disagree then elections will be on.

“The idea not to have elections is premised on the fact that we have elections this year and as a party aiming to win the elections convincingly we need to be united like never. It is well documented that after these kinds of events, punctuated with internal elections the party is left divided no matter the results,” said a chairperson who preferred to be masked said. “It is possible for that but if at all is there it will be discussed at the right forum because the members are the ones who can decide that,” Kweneng regional chairperson Motlhophi Leo said.

All the party chairperson this publication contacted are not ready to disclose the contents of the meeting saying they are still to share with party members whatever they discussed. For now President Masisi will become the first BDP sitting leader to be challenged at the congress. Long-time cabinet minister Pelonomi Venson Moitoi has raised her hand for the same party presidency. The incumbent committee mostly dominated by “Cava” faction associates will face off with “New Jerusalem” which is still assembled behind the scenes, according to those closer to actions.

WeekendPost is informed that next weekend’s retreat in Palapye will be used to further test the waters as to whether all the party structures including veterans council could buy into that idea. “The retreat is intended to create dialogue on the preparation and readiness of the party for the 2019 general elections," a letter from party secretary general Mpho Balopi states. Former Presidents Khama and Festus Mogae have also been invited.

While the party is still optimistic that their suggestion will see the light of the day, it is expected to meet strong resistance.  Those subscribing to the ‘New Jerusalem’ are hell bent to ensure that elections go on as per the constitution. According to those pro-Venson-Moitoi, this decision is a tactical move by the incumbent committee to block dissenting voices, which means eroding democratic principles the party is synonymous with. On the other hand others believe this would bring peace and tranquillity to the party especially considering how politically tedious 2019 would be. Balopi in a very brief interview yesterday [yesterday] before leaving for Dominican Republic said; “It is not true, we have never hinted that.”

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Nigerians, Zimbabweans apply for Chema Chema Fund

16th April 2024

Fronting activities, where locals are used as a front for foreign-owned businesses, have been a long-standing issue in Botswana. These activities not only undermine the government’s efforts to promote local businesses but also deprive Batswana of opportunities for economic empowerment, officials say. The Ministry of Trade and Industry has warned of heavy penalties for those involved in fronting activities especially in relation to the latest popular government initiative dubbed Chema Chema.

According to the Ministry, the Industrial Development Act of 2019 clearly outlines the consequences of engaging in fronting activities. The fines of up to P50,000 for first-time offenders and P20,000 plus a two-year jail term for repeat offenders send a strong message that the government is serious about cracking down on this illegal practice. These penalties are meant to deter individuals from participating in fronting activities and to protect the integrity of local industries.

“It is disheartening to hear reports of collaboration between foreigners and locals to exploit government initiatives such as the Chema Chema Fund. This fund, administered by CEDA and LEA, is meant to support informal traders and low-income earners in Botswana. However, when fronting activities come into play, the intended beneficiaries are sidelined, and the funds are misused for personal gain.” It has been discovered that foreign nationals predominantly of Zimbabwean and Nigerian origin use unsuspecting Batswana to attempt to access the Chema Chema Fund. It is understood that they approach these Batswana under the guise of drafting business plans for them or simply coming up with ‘bankable business ideas that qualify for Chema Chema.’

Observers say the Chema Chema Fund has the potential to uplift the lives of many Batswana who are struggling to make ends meet. They argue that it is crucial that these funds are used for their intended purpose and not siphoned off through illegal activities such as fronting. The Ministry says the warning it issued serves as a reminder to all stakeholders involved in the administration of these funds to ensure transparency and accountability in their disbursement.

One local commentator said it is important to highlight the impact of fronting activities on the local economy and the livelihoods of Batswana. He said by using locals as a front for foreign-owned businesses, opportunities for local entrepreneurs are stifled, and the economic empowerment of Batswana is hindered. The Ministry’s warning of heavy penalties is a call to action for all stakeholders to work together to eliminate fronting activities and promote a level playing field for local businesses.

Meanwhile, the Ministry of Trade and Industry’s warning of heavy penalties for fronting activities is a necessary step to protect the integrity of local industries and promote economic empowerment for Batswana. “It is imperative that all stakeholders comply with regulations and work towards a transparent and accountable business environment. By upholding the law and cracking down on illegal activities, we can ensure a fair and prosperous future for all Batswana.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Merck Foundation and African First Ladies mark World Health Day 2024

15th April 2024

Merck Foundation, the philanthropic arm of Merck KGaA Germany marks “World Health Day” 2024 together with Africa’s First Ladies who are also Ambassadors of MerckFoundation “More Than a Mother” Campaign through their Scholarship and Capacity Building Program. Senator, Dr. Rasha Kelej, CEO of Merck Foundation emphasized, “At Merck Foundation, we mark World Health Day every single day of the year over the past 12 years, by building healthcare capacity and transforming patient care across Africa, Asia and beyond.

I am proud to share that Merck Foundation has provided over 1740 scholarships to aspiring young doctors from 52 countries, in 44 critical and underserved medical specialties such as Oncology, Diabetes, Preventative Cardiovascular Medicine, Endocrinology, Sexual and Reproductive Medicine, Acute Medicine, Respiratory Medicine, Embryology & Fertility specialty, Gastroenterology, Dermatology, Psychiatry, Emergency and Resuscitation Medicine, Critical Care, Pediatric Emergency Medicine, Neonatal Medicine, Advanced Surgical Practice, Pain Management, General Surgery, Clinical Microbiology and infectious diseases, Internal Medicine, Trauma & Orthopedics, Neurosurgery, Neurology, Cardiology, Stroke Medicine, Care of the Older Person, Family Medicine, Pediatrics and Child Health, Obesity & Weight Management, Women’s Health, Biotechnology in ART and many more”.

As per the available data, Africa has only 34.6% of the required doctors, nurses, and midwives. It is projected that by 2030, Africa would need additional 6.1 million doctors, nurses, and midwives*. “For Example, before the start of the Merck Foundation programs in 2012; there was not a single Oncologist, Fertility or Reproductive care specialists, Diabetologist, Respiratory or ICU specialist in many countries such as The Gambia, Liberia, Sierra Leone, Central African Republic, Guinea, Burundi, Niger, Chad, Ethiopia, Namibia among others. We are certainly creating historic legacy in Africa, and also beyond. Together with our partners like Africa’s First Ladies, Ministries of Health, Gender, Education and Communication, we are impacting the lives of people in the most disadvantaged communities in Africa and beyond.”, added Senator Dr. Kelej. Merck Foundation works closely with their Ambassadors, the African First Ladies and local partners such as; Ministries of Health, Education, Information & Communication, Gender, Academia, Research Institutions, Media and Art in building healthcare capacity and addressing health, social & economic challenges in developing countries and under-served communities. “I strongly believe that training healthcare providers and building professional healthcare capacity is the right strategy to improve access to equitable and quality at health care in Africa.

Therefore, I am happy to announce the Call for Applications for 2024 Scholarships for young doctors with special focus on female doctors for our online one-year diploma and two year master degree in 44 critical and underserved medical specialties, which includes both Online Diploma programs and On-Site Fellowship and clinical training programs. The applications are invited through the Office of our Ambassadors and long-term partners, The First Ladies of Africa and Ministry of Health of each country.” shared Dr . Kelej. “Our aim is to improve the overall health and wellbeing of people by building healthcare capacity across Africa, Asia and other developing countries. We are strongly committed to transforming patientcare landscape through our scholarships program”, concluded Senator Kelej.

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Interpol fugitive escapes from Botswana

15th April 2024

John Isaak Ndovi, a Tanzanian national embroiled in controversy and pursued under a red notice by the International Criminal Police Organization (Interpol), has mysteriously vanished, bypassing a scheduled bail hearing at the Extension 2 Magistrate Court in Gaborone. Previously apprehended by Botswana law enforcement at the Tlokweng border post several months earlier, his escape has ignited serious concerns.

Accused of pilfering assets worth in excess of P1 million, an amount translating to roughly 30,000 Omani Riyals, Ndovi has become a figure of paramount interest, especially to the authorities in the Sultanate of Oman, nestled in the far reaches of Asia.

The unsettling news of his disappearance surfaced following his failure to present himself at the Extension 2 Magistrate Court the preceding week. Speculation abounds that Ndovi may have sought refuge in South Africa in a bid to elude capture, prompting a widespread mobilization of law enforcement agencies to ascertain his current location.

In an official communiqué, Detective Senior Assistant Police Commissioner Selebatso Mokgosi of Interpol Gaborone disclosed Ndovi’s apprehension last September at the Tlokweng border, a capture made possible through the vigilant issuance of the Interpol red notice.

At 36, Ndovi is implicated in a case of alleged home invasion in Oman. Despite the non-existence of an extradition treaty between Botswana and Oman, Nomsa Moatswi, the Director of the Directorate of Public Prosecution (DPP), emphasized that the lack of formal extradition agreements does not hinder her office’s ability to entertain extradition requests. She highlighted the adoption of international cooperation norms, advocating for collaboration through the lenses of international comity and reciprocity.

Moatswi disclosed the intensified effort by law enforcement to locate Ndovi following his no-show in court, and pointed to Botswana’s track record of extraditing two international fugitives from France and Zimbabwe in the previous year as evidence of the country’s relentless pursuit of legal integrity.

When probed about the potential implications of Ndovi’s case on Botswana’s forthcoming evaluation by the Financial Action Task Force (FATF), Moatswi reserved her speculations. She acknowledged the criticality of steering clear of blacklisting, suggesting that this singular case is unlikely to feature prominently in the FATF’s assessment criteria.

 

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