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Thursday, 18 April 2024

Boko links Masisi to NPF corruption

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The Leader of Opposition (LOO) Advocate Duma Boko has said it is about time President Mokgweetsi Masisi accounts for corruption milking this country’s economy. When responding to the Masisi’s inaugural State of Nation Address (SONA), Boko stated that the country is still swindled with corruption that need to be accounted for.

The Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) president said the current president took office when the country was mired in corruption and cruel waste of public resources arguing that the National Petroleum Fund saga is still fresh in people’s minds therefore needs to be addressed. “The state was swindled no less than 240 million pula. So far only three pawns in a grand scheme are facing prosecution,” Boko explains. 

The leader of opposition argued that the President has become a recurrent decimal in the NPF saga. He boldly pointed that Masisi should account and face up to answers Batswana long to hear when it comes to corruption. He suggested that the solution to these is a comprehensive and thorough forensic audit of the NPF with all procedures and processes related to its management and operation.

“We reject any process that would place the President in any position of control over such audit,” he said. Boko referred to the Morupule B project and how it gobbled up in excess of P 10 billion of public resources with no results to show and yet no one has been held accountable. “In excess of P300 million was thrown down the drain in Palapye’s ill-fated glass project,” Boko said. Adding on to the Morupule B project failure, Boko said that the BDP and all its Members of Parliament (MPs) have the blood of innocent citizens on their hands.

“We know that more than 10 miners committed suicide as a result of the closure of BCL. About 20 000 BCL related jobs were lost in Selibe Phikwe and thousands more people in the rest of the SPEDU region have been thrown into poverty,” he emphasised. Boko worried that the President found space in his SONA for micro projects in other areas but could not find space to openly and publicly apologize to and empathise with the people of Selibe Phikwe over the government’s termination of the mainstay of their economy.

“Government have a duty to defend jobs. Your government failed the people of Selibe Phikwe and its environs. BCL needed U$ 2 million (about P21 million) to stay afloat until the market normalised, but the government shut it down. The human cost of the decision is yet to be determined,” he pointed out. 

Government closed BCL against the advice of management and experts outside the company, without any rigorous cost-benefit analysis. Boko says at the time of closure the price of copper was US$ 2/lb., below BCL’s projected trading price. Commodities were needed to rebound and BCL needed US$ 2 million to stay afloat. Boko directly took shots at the Masisi for not being serious about fighting corruption.

“Over at the Botswana Public Officers Pension Fund, millions of worker’s pension investments have been plundered and wasted, with the President’s chief aide frequently linked to impropriety in this saga. Yet in his SONA the President speaks passively about anti-corruption. He says oversight institutions continue to enforce the rule of law. Which rule of law? ” Boko adds. Clarifying on the issue of corruption the opposition leader said corruption in the country is pervasive and institutionalised referring it to a prominent feature of the state of the nation. 

“We would like to see your government getting tough on corruption and that involves investigating all the BDP big wigs who have ever been awarded a tender by government as well as all those who have been served and continue to serve in the boards of State-owned enterprises,” he said. Boko said the country is facing a serious human development crisis and a gravely imperilled future, noting that the country is sitting on a powder keg of pervasive poverty, debilitating unemployment, deepening inequality and increasing despair.

“Nearly one in five Batswana subsist below the official poverty line. An almost equal proportion of citizens who want to work and are able to work (17.7 percent) are without a job,” Boko added. Furthermore, he condemned the rejection by the Parliament, supposedly at the instigation of Masisi, of the decent/living wage of P3000 tabled by Shaun Nthaile early this year. 

“We reaffirm our unwavering commitment to a decent /living wage of P3000. We call upon this government to commit to this decent/living wage and the pursuit of a high wage economy. It is an ethical and economic imperative for work to provide sufficient income for working people to meet essential costs of living,” Boko pleaded. In conclusion the leader of the opposition pleaded with the public to register in large numbers to vote. He said it is essential that they practice their democratic right. “To the people of this country I say please register to vote in large numbers, so you can participate in the opportunity of a lifetime,” Boko concluded.

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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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