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War on Waste: Plastic ban details revealed

The Department of Waste Management and Pollution Control (DWMPC) in the Ministry of Environment, Natural Resources Conversation and Tourism (MENRCT) have revealed how plastic ban will be effected. An official from the Department, Boitumelo Sechele revealed recently at a Full Council Session in Selebi Phikwe that not all plastic bags will be banned as doing so will be detrimental to public health. The ban takes effect on November 01, 2018.

She disclosed that all light-weight single use plastic carrier bags and flat plastic bag will be banned. The ban will however not affect the use of produce bags or what it called primary packaging, plastic bags of the type used for packaging unpackaged perishable food such as meat, fruits and vegetables. Other plastic bags that will be exempted from the ban include bin liners, refuse or garbage bags as well as clinical waste bags. Plastic wrappers used to protect products in shops and for transportation purposes will also be spared the ban.

Sechele stated that penalties that will be meted out to people who will contravene the new regulation will include confiscation of the carrier bag for first offenders while repeat offenders will be liable to a fine not exceeding P5000.00 or a prison term not exceeding 30 days or both. The police, authorised officers from the DWMPC and Botswana Unified Revenue Service (BURS) will be responsible for confiscating banned plastic bags from offenders and issuing of penalties, Sechele has explained.

 On how retailers and shops are affected or involved in the sale of the banned plastic carrier bags, Sechele only said consultations have been conducted with the shops and some have since stopped selling the concerned plastic bags. It seems however that penalties are only prescribed for consumer offenders while the law is silent on what penalty will be meted out to retailers and shops that will continue selling the banned plastic bags to consumers.

“The ban will however not affect the production of the banned plastic bags as producers of such plastic bags will still be selling to their other clients outside the country,” said Sechele suggesting that they may not be job losses from plastic bag manufacturers. She said the ban will also provide an opportunity for manufacturers to innovate and produce alternative carrier bags that will be environmentally friendly and supply the local market.

She explained that the decision to ban plastic bags follows several failed attempts and initiatives that were designed to control the spread of plastic carrier bags in the environment. She noted that proliferation of plastic bags in the environment continue to hurt the environment miserably. She explained that apart from polluting water and reducing the aesthetic value of the environment as they hang on trees and buildings, plastic bags aid the breeding and spread of mosquitoes. “Plastic bags due to their impervious nature hold water and thus creating a conducive environment for mosquitoes breeding which then cause a health problem as Government will have to use resources to fight malaria,” she said.

As part of fighting the managing the plastic environmental disaster, Botswana Bureau of Standards (BOBS) had introduced specifications for the plastic carrier bags and flag bags which prescribed thickness of not less than 24 microns. The ban on the use of plastic bags comes after Government had also failed to collect the Plastic Levy from local retailers who have been charging consumers to the carrier bags since the introduction of the levy in 2007 which was passed when collection logistics had not been sufficiently crafted. The levy was to be used in environment conversation initiatives.

Meanwhile Councillor Evelyn Kgodungwe pointed out that is surprising that pampers (disposable nappies) have not been included in the list of banned plastic. She said that disposable nappies have become the worst environmental disasters brought by innovation. The worse thing about disposable nappies is they are not just plastic nappies but nappies wrapping human waste and thrown away in the environment, she has said. In response, Sechele acceded that indeed disposable nappies are a new environmental headache which also needs urgent interventions to curb the disaster.

Sechele revealed that in fact “pampers is not so pampering” to the boy child as it keeps the child’s genitalia warm thereby affecting the production of healthy sperms as the boys grow up. However, this turns out to be rather controversial. A quick google search turned out insights from experts who dismiss this argument saying the period during which the boy child is in diapers, the cells responsible for the production of sperms would not have matured to start the production of sperms.

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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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