UDC finally splits
The opposition Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) has finally resolved to expel the embattled Botswana Movement for Democracy (BMD) and its leader Sidney Pilane. The party reached the consensus this week at a meeting summoned by new bilateral partners Botswana National Front (BNF) and Botswana Congress Party (BCP).
At the said meeting the two parties have already sidelined and excluded the “insignificant” BMD and Botswana Peoples Party (BPP). The meeting was initially intended to discuss registration for the next General Elections in 2019 but the hot potato issue of the controversial BMD leader, Pilane ended up cropping up and dominating the discussion. Both BNF and BCP agreed on the bilateral tours and they started with party members from Gaborone, Mochudi and Ramotswa.
In the coming weeks they will be engaging Kweneng, Southern and eventually other parts of the country in which the Secretary Generals of the two parties are leading the engagements countrywide to take notes for decision making. “Basically the people are saying that Pilane, and not just Pilane, but also the entire BMD should be expelled from the UDC. They say if Pilane is a problem then why does the party (BMD) not take action or distance itself from him?” an immaculate source who preferred anonymity and sat at the top table during the discussions told Weekend Post shortly after the meeting.
He continued: “and that people are not willing to register to vote the entire party (UDC) because they have absolutely no confidence in Pilane and BMD therefore automatically dragging the UDC in it. So that was the message. Almost everybody was saying that (Pilane should go).” The party (UDC) was in its endevour to do something to tap up the morale of the people particularly electorates in preparation for the upcoming elections.
When approached for a comment after the meeting, UDC spokesperson Moeti Mohwasa also confirmed that people were calling for expulsion of Pilane and the BMD. “The principle was basically that expel Pilane first and then the BNF and BCP will see how they will work together in the next elections and under whichever arrangement. They can choose to remain in the UDC or form another new arrangement. We will see when we get there at the right time,” Mohwasa stated.
According to Mohwasa, he also didn’t totally agree with the notion that the UDC cannot expel the BMD, and even at the last congress at Boipuso hall he said to have differed. “Because any logical situation you cannot have entrance into any arrangement and without exit. There is nothing like you come and get locked in. It’s totally impossible,” he pointed out.
The UDC mouthpiece also clarified that they are not pulling out from the UDC, but expelling Pilane. He continued: the problem that has caused the delay is that we have invested so much in the UDC project adding that “it is a brand.” Mohwasa also observed that “if you were to look at the old constitution that it was said to be implemented especially during the transition it is clear that a misbehaving member can be punished or action taken against them including being expelled if it warrants so. So that argument by Pilane that it cannot is misleading and doesn’t hold water.”
Currently, he said UDC President Boko is looking at the issue of new constitution which was rejected by Registrar of Societies. We have engaged the legal services of Attorneys Leburu and Toteng to look into it, he highlighted. While Weekend Post was engaging the UDC mouthpiece, one young lady who is member of the BNF emerging from the meeting also told Mohwasa that “comrade you see this glow that I have; you see this weight that I have gained, you get that when you cut ties with Pilane you just glow, try it, it works, I am telling you,” she said as she walked away illustrating the extent in which members believe the UDC should expel the BMD leader.
While Mohwasa did not respond to the party member he told this publication that “they don’t even have a problem with the BPP. The problem is not the size of the party but the behavior of the party leadership like that of BMD.” When asked on whether the party is ready to tussle it out in court following the decision to expel Pilane, he said there are aware of the time factor, and that Pilane may drag them to court and they remain ready for that.
He went on to justify the bilateral meetings that expelled Pilane: “you know if we motivated the BNF and BCP members then we have taken care of our support base because to be honest BMD doesn’t have the numbers. This is also bearing in mind that the BMD under Ndaba Gaolathe also had no strong numbers and the situation got worse after the party split to form AP.”
According to Mohwasa who after attacking BMD, neither would spare AP separately saying “AP is not even worth mentioning because they are not part of the UDC. In fact I think the earlier people start counseling themselves that AP won’t be part of the UDC in the next elections the better.” The BNF Secretary General pointed out “we can see by the party (AP) posture that given the way they are busy fielding candidates just get to show you they have made up their minds to go it alone. They are getting themselves out there ready for 2019.”
When quizzed on what form the BNF and BCP intend to work under which arrangement he answered “the issue of BNF, BCP pact is still on negotiations and we are discussing it while under UDC arrangement. People believe that we can salvage the UDC and we will do exactly that.” He justified that there is nothing wrong with holding bilateral meetings among UDC members like we as BNF are doing with BCP without other contracting parties.
Mohwasa said after listening to the wishes of the party members they will raise the issues with the UDC leadership since they have executive powers. BNF president Duma Boko and BCP president Dumelang Saleshando will also run other sessions concurrently through political rallies. Meanwhile Chillyboy Rakgare was also expelled from the closed meeting because of his frequent outbursts on the UDC leader Boko and with rumours hanging over his head that he destined to the ruling Botswana Democratic Party (BDP).
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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.”