BDP petitions Tsogwane over Ngaka
Storm clouds are gathering for the Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) in the Takatokwane constituency with party members already signing a petition seeking to reverse the decision to grant the incumbent Member of Parliament a re-run.
The incumbent MP Ngaka Ngaka who is also the Minister of Tertiary Education, Research, Science and Technology (MOTE) lost against rival Friction Leuwe in the August held primary elections. Ngaka had appealed the results citing some irregularities. Last week the party Central Committee ordered a re-run for the constituency on Ditshegwane and Motokwe wards. This has been met with resistance from the constituency with party members saying the decision was pre-meditated hence it should never see the light of the day.
Already, sources say, the petition is doing rounds in the constituency to reverse the decision, threatening not vote in the next year’s general elections should the party not accede to their demands. It is said the petition vows that failure by the party to work with the other structures they will vote the opposition which will be represented by Botswana National Front (BNF)’s Filbert Nagafela. “I just collected the letter ordering the re-run, and yes members are against the decision and they are saying they will not vote,” Leuwe said.
“There was a meeting this past weekend where they told me their intentions and I pleaded with them to respect the party decision,” he added when asked about the petition. The unhappy members argue that Ngaka who is an additional member of the BDP Central Committee, long knew about a re-run and he mobilised his campaign team on the two wards billed for the contest. “When he said there will be a re-run we dismissed that, but it appears he was told from one of the CC meetings,” pointed out a source.
The petition was initially expected to be given to party Chairman Slumber Tsogwane who has since directed that it must be sent to party Secretary General, Mpho Balopi. “True, I did talk to Chairman and said the letter should be brought to Balopi who will then present the matter at a CC meeting,” said Leuwe. Though Leuwe could not reveal much of what they talked about with Tsogwane, it is said the latter called for calm and promised to visit the constituency as party will be the biggest loser should the members insist on their intent.
For his part Ngaka has revealed that he is not aware of the petition and he is just mobilising the voters as he warms up to the re-run. “I am running around the constituency luring voters,” he said. “I only learnt about the re-run after a central committee meeting on Wednesday last week so it is not true that I could have known about it in advance,” he said in a telephone interview. Other sources however agree with the party decision to grant a re-run as a number of primary election rules and regulations were breached.
“People who were not in the voters roll were allowed to vote while those who registered could not and others who do not reside in the constituency voted. So there were a number of irregularities which points back to the whole Primary elections system,” shared a party member in the region. Prior to the elections, Ngaka had lodged a protest: “I did protest because there were lots of irregularities regarding elections. The region assessed the merits of my case and then forwarded to the appeals board who then took the decision,” he said.
OTHER REGIONS OKAY BDP DECISION
Meanwhile other regions where re-runs have been ordered agree with the party. They point out to breach of rules and regulations guiding the primary elections as the main factor. From Bobonong, Thatayaone Ditirwa who is the branch chairman says the party did all well. “We have written a number of letters disputing the results and we are glad they listened to us. Starting from former President Lt Gen Dr Seretse Khama Ian Khama’s scathing attack to the bullying that happened on the Election Day we are happy.”
The constituency will see rivals Shaw Kgathi and Francisco Kgoboko lock horns again. Kgalagadi North’s Kerakile Leshophe also concurred with the party. “Only MP appealed after the elections but we never heard anything from councilors so we are surprised as to how they got re-runs. But the mayhem that occurred is from the party office,” he said. This re-run will see cabinet minister Itumeleng Moipisi facing-off with businesswoman, Talita Monnakgotla.
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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.”