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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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Masisi to make things right with Dangote

26th October 2020

High Commissioner of the Federal Government of Nigeria to Botswana, His Excellency Umar Zainab Salisu, has challenged President Dr Mokgweetsi Masisi to move swiftly and lobby Africa’s richest man, Nigerian Billionaire, Aliko Dangote to invest in Botswana.

Speaking during a meeting with President Masisi at Office of President on Thursday Zainab Salisu said Dangote has expressed massive interest in setting up billion dollar industries in Botswana.  “We have a lot of investors who wish to come and invest in Botswana , when we look at Botswana we don’t see Botswana itself , but we are lured by its geographic location , being in the centre of Southern Africa presents a good opportunity for strategic penetration into other markets of the region,” said Salisu.

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Dow wants GBV culprits isolated

26th October 2020
Unity Dow

As murder cases and violent incidents involving couples and or lovers continue to be recorded daily, Specially Elected Member of Parliament, Dr Unity Dow has called for more funding of non-governmental organizations and accelerated action from government to come up with laws that could inhibit would-be perpetrators of crimes related to Gender Based Violence (GBV).

Just after Dr Dow had deposited her views on this subject with this reporter, a young man in Molepolole opened fire on a married woman he was having an affair with; and ended her life instantly. While it is this heinous cases that get projected to the public space, the former minister argues that the secrecy culture is keeping other real GBV cases under wraps in many spaces in the country.

The former Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation said there is GBV all the time in all kinds of places. “We have become accustomed to stories of rapes, marital rapes, defilement of children, beatings and psychological violence and even killings,” she said.

Gender-based violence is a phenomenon deeply rooted in gender inequality, Dow is worried that there is absolutely no social punishment for perpetrators; they will continue to have the same friends, jobs, wives, homes, as before. Yet another factor, she said, is that there is little or no “justice” for victims of GBV.

The renowned activist said justice for GBV victims is not just the jailing of the perpetrator. “Justice for victims means an agile, victim-friendly, accessible (time, money and procedures) and restorative justice system.”

Asked what could be leading to a spike in Gender Based Violence cases or incidents, she observed that there is no one factor to which this spike can be attributed. “The most obvious factor is stress as a result of economic distress and or poverty. Poverty makes one vulnerable and open to compromises that they would otherwise not make. For perpetrators with anger management issues, economic stress leads to lashing out to those closest to them. Another factor is the disintegration of families and family values,” she opined.

According to Dow, no government anywhere in the world is doing enough, period. “We know the places and spaces where women and girls are unsafe. We know the challenges they face in their attempts to exit those spaces and places.” The former Judge of the High Court said GBV undermines the health, dignity, security and autonomy of its victims, yet it remains shrouded in the culture of silence.

Asked what could be done to arrest GBV cases, Dow said it is critical to involve and fund civil society organizations. She observed that much of the progress done in the area of women’s human rights was during the time when Botswana had strong and funded civil society organizations.

“The funding dried up when Botswana was declared a middle-income country but unfortunately external funding was not replaced by local funding,” she acknowledged.

Further Dow said relevant government institutions must be funded and strengthened.

“Thirdly, create a society in which it is not okay to humiliate, rape, beat or kill women. You create this by responding to GBV the same way we have responded to livestock theft. We need to create agile mechanisms that hear cases quickly and allow for the removal of suspected perpetrators from their homes, work places, boards, committees, etc.”

The former Minister said the much anticipated Inter-Ministerial Task Force on Gender Based Violence will have its work cut out for it. According to Dow, GBV is not just a justice issue, it’s not just a gender issue, but rather an issue that cuts across health, education, labour, economic, housing and politics. “As long as any one believes it is someone else’s problem, we will all have the problem,” she said.

In her view, Dow said every work, educational and other place must have a GBV Policy and/or Code of Conduct. “It is important that we acknowledge that the majority of men are law-abiding. The problem is their silence, in the face of injustice,” she observed.

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State ignores Butterfly P85 million suit threat

26th October 2020

The State has chosen to ignore intents by kingpins in the P100 billion scandal to sue for a combined P85 million as tables turn against the Directorate of Public Prosecution (DPP) in the matter.

Key players in the matter; the Directorate on Corruption and Economic Crime (DCEC) and Bank of Botswana (BoB) have eroded the prospects of success following the duo’s institutions’ appearance before parliamentary committees recently.

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