The P10 billion foreign aid from the United States government is coming to end, leaving local marginalised populations including female sex workers, homosexuals, and refugees as US government pull a plug on President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR).
PEPFAR is the U.S. Government’s initiative to support partner nations around the world in responding to HIV and AIDS. It is the largest commitment by any nation in history to combat a single disease internationally. Since PEPFAR’s inception in 2004, Botswana has received more than $954,838,751 million (about P10billion) in health assistance from the U.S. government in the fight against HIV and AIDS.
This publication has however learnt that the program which focused its services in select sites for key populations, including female sex workers, men who have sex with men, and non-citizens will as of March next year be history. Botswana was the first country in southern Africa to roll out an antiretroviral (ARV) treatment programme, which now has almost universal coverage.
However it is the only country in the region that explicitly bars refugees from its national treatment programme. South Africa, Zambia and, most recently, Namibia have all extended ARV access to their refugee populations, while other countries in the region provide access on an unofficial basis.It is not clear as to why the US has pulled a plug in a country which is hard hit by the epidemic. Sources however say the relief program was abused by the coordinators. “Poor corporate governance is the main reason the aid stops,” said an informant close to the action this week.
This now mean the government will have to foot the bills that were taken care of by the PEPFAR. Since 2004 up to date PEPFAR has invested $954,838,751 (about P10.2billion), with a total sum of $70,239,250 (about P755 million) budgeted for this year alone.
Among a number of services the relief program offered are; Antiretroviral treatment for 317,378 people. Voluntary medical male circumcision for 57,471 men. HIV testing services for 708,102 people. Care and support for 35,805 orphans, vulnerable children, and their caregivers.
Ministry of Defense, Justice and Security Permanent Secretary, Segakweng Tsiane has also confirmed before the Public Accounts Committee (PAC)that as of March 2019, PEPFAR would no longer provide finance for the treatment of refugees, leaving the ministry in limbo.
“We have a problem; we are faced with sourcing out funds for the ARV’s. Next year there will be no funding from our main source. We are working on a budget,” she said.
Botswana Network on Ethics, Law and HIV/AIDS (BONELA) Executive Director Cindy Kelemi has also registered her disappointment. “Our point has always been this was a short term thing and the government should have long integrated refugees in their mainstream program as it would be more long term,” she said. Kelemi revealed they have written to the relevant authorities as to why they stop assistance and what are the interventions in place. “But we were never replied nor consulted prior to this,” she emphasised.
BONELA which is a human rights advocacy group is concerned with the way the government handles refugees. “We are planning to work with human rights watch, the way we [Botswana] treat our foreigners’ leaves a lot to be desired,” Kelemi highlighted.
GOVT FINALLY ABSORBS ILLEGAL IMMIGRANTS
Meanwhile the government has finally succumbed to pressure from human rights advocacy giant United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) to absorb the unwanted illegal immigrants that have been incarcerated at the Francistown centre. The 164 migrants who petitioned the government in 2015 will not be provided with food rations or medical assistance. UNHCR will have to take responsibility on that regard, sources told this paper. Botswana has been blamed for not observing international treaties especially dealing with the refugees which has put them under the spotlight on numerous occasion.
Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) and some senior government officials are abuzz with reports that President Mokgweetsi Masisi has requested his Vice President, Slumber Tsogwane not to contest the next general elections in 2024.
The impacts of climate change are increasing in frequency and intensity every year and this is forecast to continue for the foreseeable future. African CEOs in the Global South are finally coming to the party on how to tackle the crisis.
Following the completion of COP27 in Egypt recently, CEOs of Africa DFIs converged in Botswana for the CEO Forum of the Association of African Development Finance Institutions. One of the key themes was on green financing and building partnerships for resource mobilization in financing SDGs in Africa
A report; “Weathering the storm; African Development Banks response to Covid-19” presented shocking findings during the seminar. Among them; African DFI’s have proven to be financially resilient, and they are fast shifting to a green transition and it’s financing.
COO, CEDA, James Moribame highlighted that; “Everyone needs food, shelter and all basic needs in general, but climate change is putting the achievement of this at bay. “It is expensive for businesses to do business, for instance; it is much challenging for the agricultural sector due to climate change, and the risks have gone up. If a famer plants crops, they should be ready for any potential natural disaster which will cost them their hard work.”
According to Moribame, Start-up businesses will forever require help if there is no change.
“There is no doubt that the Russia- Ukraine war disrupted supply chains. SMMEs have felt the most impact as some start-up businesses acquire their materials internationally, therefore as inflation peaks, this means the exchange rate rises which makes commodities expensive and challenging for SMMEs to progress. Basically, the cost of doing business has gone up. Governments are no longer able to support DFI’s.”
Moribame shared remedies to the situation, noting that; “What we need is leadership that will be able to address this. CEOs should ensure companies operate within a framework of responsible lending. They also ought to scout for opportunities that would be attractive to investors, this include investors who are willing to put money into green financing. Botswana is a prime spot for green financing due to the great opportunity that lies in solar projects. ”
Technology has been hailed as the economy of the future and thus needs to be embraced to drive operational efficiency both internally and externally.
Executive Director, bank of Industry Nigeria, Simon Aranou mentioned that for investors to pump money to climate financing in Africa, African states need to be in alignment with global standards.
“Do what meets world standards if you want money from international investors. Have a strong risk management system. Also be a good borrower, if you have a loan, honour the obligation of paying it back because this will ensure countries have a clean financial record which will then pave way for easier lending of money in the future. African states cannot just be demanding for mitigation from rich countries. Financing needs infrastructure to complement it, you cannot be seating on billions of dollars without the necessary support systems to make it work for you. Domestic resource mobilisation is key. Use public money to mobilise private money.” He said.
For his part, the Minster of Minister of Entrepreneurship, Karabo Gare enunciated that, over the past three years, governments across the world have had to readjust their priorities as the world dealt with the effects and impact of the COVID 19 pandemic both to human life and economic prosperity.
“The role of DFIs, during this tough period, which is to support governments through countercyclical measures, including funding of COVID-19 related development projects, has become more important than ever before. However, with the increasingly limited resources from governments, DFIs are now expected to mobilise resources to meet the fiscal gaps and continue to meet their developmental mandates across the various affected sectors of their economies.” Said Gare.
Letlhakeng:TotalEnergies Botswana today launched a Road Safety Campaign as part of their annual Stakeholder Relationship Management (SRM), in partnership with Unitrans, MVA Fund, TotalEnergies Letlhakeng Filling Station and the Letlhakeng Sub District Road Safety Committee during an event held in Letlhakeng under the theme, #IamTrafficToo.
The Supplier Relationship Management initiative is an undertaking by TotalEnergies through which TotalEnergie annually explores and implements social responsibility activities in communities within which we operate, by engaging key stakeholders who are aligned with the organization’s objectives. Speaking during the launch event, TotalEnergies’ Operations and HSSEQ, Patrick Thedi said, “We at TotalEnergies pride ourselves in being an industrial operator with a strategy centered on respect, listening, dialogue and stakeholder involvement, and a partner in the sustainable social and economic development of its host communities and countries. We are also very fortunate to have stakeholders who are in alignment with our organizational objectives. We assess relationships with our key stakeholders to understand their concerns and expectations as well as identify priority areas for improvement to strengthen the integration of Total Energies in the community. As our organization transitions from Total to Total Energies, we are committed to exploring sustainable initiatives that will be equally indicative of our growth and this Campaign is a step in the right direction. ”
As part of this campaign roll out, stakeholders will be refurbishing and upgrading and installing road signs around schools in the area, and generally where required. One of the objectives of the Campaign is to bring awareness and training on how to manage and share the road/parking with bulk vehicles, as the number of bulk vehicles using the Letlhakeng road to bypass Trans Kalahari increases. When welcoming guests to Letlhakeng, Kgosi Balepi said he welcomed the initiative as it will reduce the number of road incidents in the area.
Also present was District Traffic Officer ASP, Reuben Moleele, who gave a statistical overview of accidents in the region, as well as the rest of the country. Moleele applauded TotalEnergies and partners on the Campaign, especially ahead of the festive season, a time he pointed out is always one with high road statistics. The campaign name #IamTrafficToo, is a reminder to all road users, including pedestrians that they too need to be vigilant and play their part in ensuring a reduction in road incidents.
The official proceedings of the day included a handover of reflectors and stop/Go signs to the Letlhakeng Cluster from TotalEnerigies, injury prevention from tips from MVA’s Onkabetse Petlwana, as well as bulk vehicle safety tips delivered from Adolf Namate of Unitrans.
TotalEnergies, which is committed to having zero carbon emissions by 2050, has committed to rolling out the Road safety Campaign to the rest of the country in the future.