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BDP big guns exit Air Botswana board

Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) prominent members have been dropped from Air Botswana board as government initiate a process to clean-up various public enterprises boards. The decision has been taken by Ministry of Transport and Communications (MTC) Permanent Secretary (PS) Kabelo Ebineng.

While appearing before the Public Accounts Committee (PAC), the Ministry’s permanent secretary revealed that a decision has been taken to overhaul all the boards of parastatals under his ministry and will remove all those who are politically active. MTC has nine parastatals under its watch and only Air Botswana board is dominated by the ruling BDP elites. This, as per Ebineng’s statement at PAC, will be a thing of the past as they are compromised in their decision making.


This week the development was confirmed by Air Botswana General Manager, Agnes Khunwane when appearing before the Parliamentary Committee on Statutory Bodies and State Enterprises. Air Botswana board is currently chaired by Lt Gen Tebogo Masire who is the BDP Central Committee additional member; he is assisted by Bernard Bolele who is now the BDP parliamentary candidate for Mahalapye West.

 The board is also made-up of BDP Secretary General, Mpho Balopi who is also Gaborone North parliamentary candidate. “Yes it will include Bolele, Balopi and Masire. We have even noted that. I will advise accordingly,” Khunwane responded when committee chairperson Samson Moyo Guma asked if this overhauling will affect her board. This saw another committee member Dr Phenyo Butale saying the system of appointing cronies is untidy.

“It is quite untidy to have people who are politically exposed in the boards even to the position of chairperson. We have one person in so many boards. This should be communicated as a weakness and we are underutilizing the talent we have in this country. Meritocracy is the system we should go back to.”  

Balopi and Bolele have seen off their tenures and will not have them extended. “The process is still ongoing to replace the board members whose tenure expired; the appointment to the board is done by the minister”. The decision not to have political active members on the board is to avoid biasness in the decisions taken by boards. With the board limping it has been advised that the minister fast-track the appointment of the boards so the parastatal can ride smoothly.

NEW AIRCRAFTS ON THE WAY

Khunwane has revealed that they are re-fleeting with new two ATR 72-600 and two 70 seater jets. “We expect the first ATR on the first week of November and the other one first week of December. They are more efficient than the current ones because it can go to up to 2100 feet”. As for the jets, Khunwane said she is not sure of the exact dates when they will arrive as there are still more issues to sort.”

The ATR has cost Air Botswana P380 million. The airline manager says they have traded three of their existing ATR 42-500, 172-500 and augmented the P290 million they received from government to purchase new fleet. “We are buying directly from ATR, and the jets from regional one there is no middleman,” Khunwane added.

The decision to buy the four aircrafts according to Khunwane is in line with the national airline’s conservative strategy. “We should conserve the routes we operate on and make ourselves profitable before growing; we can only introduce new routes in conjunction with other airlines.”

Air Botswana which has been hard hit by financial doldrums says their biggest challenge has been maintenance costs which dominated their costs at over 45%. Now with the new fleet it is expected that it will be water under the bridge. The airline has lost a number of pilots in the past as it is not able to pay as high as competitors. Air Botswana as per the strategy is anticipating being self-sustainable before the year 2020.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        

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Fighting vulture poisoning in KAZA region.

3rd February 2023
As a response to avert vulture poisoning currently going on in Botswana and KAZA region, Birdlife Botswana has collaborated with three other partners (BirdWatch Zambia, BirdLife International & Birdlife Zimbabwe) to tackle wildlife poisoning which by extension negatively affect vulture populations.

The Director of Birdlife Botswana, Motshereganyi Virat Kootshositse has revealed in an interview that the project which is funded by European Union’s main goal is to reduce poisoning related vultures’ death and consequently other wildlife species death within the KAZA region.

He highlighted that Chobe district in Botswana has been selected as a pilot site as it has experienced rampant incidents of vulture poisoning for the past few months. In August this year at least 50 endangered white backed vultures were reported dead at Chobe National Park, Botswana after feeding on a buffalo carcass laced with poison.  In November this year again 43 white backed vultures were found dead and two alive after feeding on a zebra suspected to have poisoned.  Other selected pilots’ sites are Kafue in Zambia and Hwange in Zimbabwe.

Kootshositse further explained they have established a national and regional Wildlife Poisoning Committee. He added that as for the national committee they have engaged various departments such as Crop Productions, Agro Chemicals, Department of Veterinary Services, Department of Wildlife and National Parks and other NGOs such as Raptors Botswana to come together and find a long-lasting solution to address wildlife poisoning in Botswana. ‘Let’s have a strategy or a plan together to tackle wildlife poisoning,’ he stated

He also decried that there is gap in the availability of data about vulture poisoning or wildlife in general. ‘If we have a central point for data, it will help in terms of reporting and advocacy’, he stated

He added that the regional committee comprises of law enforcement officers such as BDF and Botswana police, village leadership such as Village Development Committee and Kgosi. ‘We need to join hand together and protect the wildlife we have as this will increase our profile for conservation and this alone enhances our visitation and boost our local economy,’ he noted

Kootshositse noted that Birdlife together with DWNP also addressed series of meeting in some villages in the Chobe region recently. The purpose of kgotla meetings was to raise awareness on the conservation and protection of vultures in Chobe West communities.

‘After realizing that vulture poisoning in the Chobe areas become frequent, we realise that we need to do something about it.  ‘We did a public awareness by addressing several kgotla meetings in some villages in the Chobe west,’ he stated

He noted that next year they are going to have another round of consultations around the Chobe areas and the approach is to engage the community into planning process. ‘Residents should be part of the plan of actions and we are working with farmers committee in the areas to address vulture poisoning in the area, ‘he added

He added that they have found out that some common reasons for poisoning wildlife are farmers targeting predators such as lions in retaliation to killing of their livestock. Another common incident cross border poaching in the Chobe area as poachers will kills an elephant and poison its carcass targeting vultures because of their aerial circling alerting authorities about poaching activities.

Kootshositse noted that in the last cases it was disheartening the incidents occurred three months apart. He added that for the first time they found that some of the body parts of some vultures were missing. He added harvesting of body parts of vultures is not a common practice in Botswana, although it is used in some parts of Africa. ‘We suspect that someone took advantage of the availability of carcasses and started harvesting their body parts,’

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Giant in the making: Everton Mlalazi

3rd February 2023

The music industry is at a point where artists are jostling for space because there are so many aspirants trying to get their big break, thus creating stiff competition.

In the music business it’s about talent and positioning. You need to be at the right place at the right time with the right people around you to propel you forward.
Against all odds, Everton Mlalazi has managed to takeover the gospel scene effortlessly.
To him, it’s more than just a breakthrough to stardom, but a passion as well as mission directly appointed by the Lord.

Within a short space of 2 years after having decided to persue a solo career, Mlalazi has already made it into international music scene, with his music receiving considerable play on several gospel television and radio stations in Botswana including other regional stations like Trace Africa, One Gospel, Metro FM in South Africa, Hope FM in Kenya and literally all broadcast stations in Zimbabwe.

It doesn’t only stop there, as the musician has already been nominated 2 times and 2 awards which are Bulawayo Arts Awards (BAA) best Male artists 2022, StarFM listerners Choice Award, Best Newcomer 2021 and ZIMA Best Contemporary Gospel 2022, MLA awards Best Male artist & Best Gospel Artist 2022.

Everton’s inspiration stems from his ultimate passion and desire to lead people into Godly ways and it seems it’s only getting started.
The man is a gospel artist to put on your radar.

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African countries call on WHO to increase funding

2nd February 2023

Minister of Health Dr Edwin Dikoloti says Africa member states call on World Health Organization (WHO) to ensure equitable resource allocation for 2024-2025. Dr Dikoloti was speaking this week at the WHO Executive Board Meeting in Geneva, Switzerland.

He said countries agreed that there is need to address the budget and funding imbalances by increasing the programme budget share of countries and regions to 75% for the next year.

“The proposed budget for 2024-2025 marks an important milestone as it is the first in Programme Budget in which country offices will be allocated more than half of the total budget for the biennium. We highly welcome this approach which will enable the organization to deliver on its mandate while fulfilling the expectations for transparency, efficiency and accountability.”

The Botswana Health Minister commended member states on the extension of the General Programme of Work (GPD 13) and the Secretariat work to monitor the progress towards the triple billion targets, and the health-related SDGs.

“We welcome the Director’s general proposed five priorities which have crystalized into the “five Ps” that are aligned with the GPW 13 extension. Impact can only be achieved through close coordination with, and support to national health authorities. As such, the strengthening of country offices is instrumental, with particular focus on strengthening national health systems and on promoting more equitable access to health services.”

According to Dr Dikoloti, the majority of countries with UHC index that is below the global median are in the WHO Africa region. “For that, we call on the WHO to enhance capacity at the regional and national levels in order to accelerate progress. Currently, the regional office needs both technical and financial support in order to effectively address and support country needs.”

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