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UDC hopes to cash on Khama/Masisi feud

Opposition Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) has hinted that it’s on the wings like vultures waiting to pounce on its prey. The party says this in relation to the internal bickering in the ruling Botswana Democratic Change (BDP) between President Mokgweetsi Masisi and immediate ex-president Lt. Gen. Ian Khama.

Masisi was Khama’s chosen Vice President and endorsed by parliament. They are currently not in good terms and do not see eye-to-eye just over three months following the exchange of baton between the two. When reading into the dispute, observers contend that the deteriorated relationship between the duo is borne out of the suspicion that Khama, believes that Masisi may have renegade on what was agreed by the two men.

Others posit that Khama may have wanted to rule from the grave as is common with some former presidents who have a soft spot for power. Khama who is still influential and commands lot of respect as now Bangwato paramount chief – the most popular tribe in Botswana – has re-entered the political field.

Already he has de-campaigned Minister of Justice Defence and Security who doubles as Bobonong legislator, Shaw Kgathi while indirectly endorsing his competitor, Francisco Kgoboko at an Agricultural show event in Bobonong. Kgathi will face Kgoboko at BDP primary elections which have since been postponed.

It is understood that Khama’s next political target may be Minister of Basic Education Bagalatia Arone who blamed Khama administration for the current mess in the education sector in the country. It is still unclear who may follow afterwards in the BDP battalion of law makers. Apart from the political feud, Masisi has denied Khama aircrafts mode in his official travels few times this is understood to have not gone well with the former president.

President Masisi also recently released a savingram that would starve Khama access/publicity in the state broadcaster Botswana television (Btv). Masisi has also made handful drastic reversals to most of Khama’s brainchild policies, programs and approach to governance.
 It appears, while he was his VP and endorsed most of his decisions, Masisi’s blueprint will be more consultation as opposed to Khama’s presumed ‘totalitarianism.’

While the Khama/Masisi feud is playing out in public gallery, the opposition coalition although currently in tatters too, say they are watching with keen interest the developments in the BDP top echelons of power – with much admiration. Speaking to Weekend Post in an interview this week on the BDP fights particularly Khama/Masisi bad blood the UDC spokesperson Moeti Mohwasa said the BDP is already on a downward spiral in terms of the popular vote.

“The BDP is already on its knees – with or without the internal challenges at the BDP. We are poised to win the 2019 General Elections. For the first time in the history of this country, we are ruled by a minority government. They contested the last elections united but couldn’t cross the 50% mark. Ever since 1969 General Elections the BDP has been on downward trajectory,” he asserted when asked how UDC may benefit from Khama/Masisi cat fight.  

Mohwasa continued to point out that the BDP will lose next elections because “it is a given that disunity in any organisation compromises its optimal performance. Just like it happened to the opposition in 1999. The BNF performed badly in 2009 because of divisions.” When this reporter posed a question in relation to how UDC will benefit from the BDP infightings whilst itself UDC is also shaking as far as the affiliate parties are concerned he said “No. We are working around the clock to resolve them.”

Meanwhile a legislator who seemed to be still in Khama’s good books is his long time friend and cabinet Minister of Youth Empowerment, Sport and Culture Development and legislator for Tonota Thapelo Olopeng. Khama was spotted attending a kgotla meeting in one of his subjects as a Bangwato paramount Chief in Mandunyane.

Masisi’s inner relationship with Olopeng is still unclear. It appears like at this stage leading to the 2019 General Elections it will be a roller coaster and a marvel to watch in the political scene in the country, but only time will tell which party will emerge victorious despite all the influential factors put forward before then.

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Gov’t urged to stimulate economies until 2021

29th September 2020
Gov’t-urged-to-stimulate-economies-until-2021-Women-are-amongst-the-most-vulnerable-and-hard-hit-groups,-including-migrants,-young-people-and-informal-workers

The latest edition of the International Labour Organisation (ILO) Monitor shows the continuing and devastating impacts of the pandemic on jobs and labour income since early 2020, and the massive disruptions in the labour market that will persist into the fourth quarter of this year.

ILO analysts argue that policymakers will need to maintain support to employment and incomes over the coming months and well into 2021, and to address key challenges.

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Debswana seeks to revive Palapye Glass Plant

29th September 2020
Debswana

Botswana’s flagship mining company, Debswana is currently engaging various stakeholders with a view to put the currently abandoned Palapye Glass project plant into good use. 

The glass manufacturing plant was left as a white elephant, midway into construction, following the liquidation of its holding company Fengyue Glass Manufacturing Botswana.

Last week, when responding to a question from Member of Parliament for Selibe Phikwe East Kgoberego Nkawana,  on the status of Palapye Glass Project, Assistant Minister of Investment, Trade & Industry Molebatsi Molebatsi told Parliament that Debswana is one of the companies interested in utilizing the project facility to establish a glass manufacturing factory.

Responding to a questionnaire from Weekendpost regarding the matter on Thursday, Debswana Corporate Affairs Manager Agatha Sejoe said, Debswana is currently assisting Somarelang Tikologo, an environmental watch NGO to develop a business case to set up a glass manufacturing plant in Botswana.

Debswana has in the past funded Somarelang Tikologo to run a glass crushing business, the two organizations are now contemplating ways of expanding the business from just crushing glasses to completing the whole recycling process by setting up  the re-manufacturing component locally.

Currently the crushed glass produced by Somarelang Tikologo is exported  in its entirety to  glass manufacturing plants in South Africa.

“Debswana believes that rather than to continue to export crushed glass to South Africa, there is an opportunity to establish a glass crushing and manufacturing plant in Botswana and create jobs and secondary businesses in Botswana” Sejoe said .

She explained that Debswana, in partnership with Somarelang Tikologo and Local Enterprise Authority (LEA), have made a preliminary enquiry on the availability of the glass plant from Botswana Development Corporation.

 

“Discussions are still at conceptual stage and currently ongoing with all the relevant stakeholders. Based on the outcome of the feasibility study, Debswana and Somarelang Tikologo will only then establish the appropriate way forward on the matter,” added Sejoe.

Quizzed on Debswana‘s future investment plans, the company’s Lead media liaison  revealed that the mining giant continues to play a major role in various partnerships within communities in Botswana as part of its Social Performance Framework and in accordance with the Life of Mine planning.

She said currently the company is undertaking stakeholder consultations in communities within the Zone of Influence to identify sustainable partnership opportunities that can leverage on large-scale projects such as the game park assets and form an economic diversification stream through tourism.

“There are other projects in the pipeline, which fall within the ambit of community development, and these will be revealed as we implement them through the usual channels,” said Sejoe.

The Palapye glass plant currently lies unutilized and incomplete in Palapye. The glass project was conceptualized in 2007, wholly Government owned  investment arm Botswana Development Corporation( BDC) and Shanghai Fengyue Glass Company , a Chinese corporation entered into an agreement and formed Fengyue Glass Manufacturing Botswana at 43 % -57 % Shareholding whith Shanghai Fengyue holding majority shares.

Botswana Development Corporation invested a total of P511 million for its 43 % interest and a loan to the established company. Shanghai Fengyue Glass Company on the other hand invested P113 million.

After failure to fully operationalize, Fengyue Glass Manufacturing Botswana was liquidated. Botswana Development Corporation (BDC) remained with ownership of the erected plant and warehouse.

Last week Investment, Trade & Industry Junior Minister told Members of Parliament that Government through its wholly owned investment arm, BDC is in the process of breathing life to the project by opening up discussions with interested parties.

“There are companies and different parties such as Botswana Railways who showed interest on the facility for either manufacturing some components of their coaches or refurbishment or servicing of their coaches,” Molebatsi said.

He further noted that Government was coming from the fact that Botswana currently produces abundant resources and raw materials that can be used to manufacture glasses, creating much needed economic diversification and jobs for the youth.

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4IR and the agriculture sector

29th September 2020

Research from Agrilinks shows that more than 60 percent of Africa’s working population is engaged in agriculture which accounts for a third of the continent’s GDP. However, the sector is plagued by the use of outdated methods and tools, hence the need for rapid modernization.

The lack of modernized and up to date methods of farming have been a set back to the local farming sector which has attributed to the decline in production. Access to markets, new trends, better tools can be resolved through digitization and high speed information. The recent introduction of the VSAT (Very Small Aperture Terminal) technology by Botswana Telecommunications Corporation (BTC) has seen local farmers taking advantage of the development to enhance their operations.

There are signs that, the expansion of high-speed Internet coverage into settlements and rural areas has boosted the production of farming locally. Farmers use the internet to access market information, crop production farming implements and vital details that influence farming decisions.

The VSAT technology enables countrywide coverage even in the most remote parts of the country, giving farmers internet connectivity through its vast telecommunications network. Results have already started showing especially in the Kaka region which boasts of cattle ranches.  Farmers can now also access the BAITS System and Herd Cards, easily. Furthermore, computerized movement permits and new Change of Ownership documents can be printed on the spot.

The BAITS system provides a platform for farmers to provide information on their livestock.

This platform is offered online, it is used for animal registration, transfer of ownership, arrival of livestock, veterinary drug treatments and removal of dead/fallen stock.

Prior to its introduction, farmers had expressed interest in using internet and digital technology to enhance farming operations but lack of internet held them back. Five years ago a website developed for livestock farmers failed to gain traction due to poor access for those in remote areas.

“Communication has been bad in this part of the country, which led me to installing a satellite phone which is very expensive to maintain. I settled for this alternative because I am required to be in communication with the commercial world as well as my farm workers. But, since the introduction of the BTC VSAT technology, farm business operations and communication with stakeholders has since improved significantly,” said Gokatweng Coach Tshekiso, a cattle ranch farmer based in Kaka.

Through the contribution of this technologies that falls under the auspices of the Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR) it’s a matter of time Drone technology which supports numerous major applications for agriculture gets to be fully utilized by local farmers. The Drone Technology increases efficiency in certain aspects of farming. From crop monitoring to planting, livestock management, crop spraying and irrigation mapping. The VSAT and such technology will definitely work smoothly even in the most remote parts of the country.

Farmers are hopeful that with access to BAITS, they will see reduced likelihood of cattle theft because of secure identification of stolen cattle due to easy identification of stray (Matimela) cattle. In essence, there will be increased security for the Beef Export Market because customers overseas will be assured of origination and traceability of cattle therefore providing a marketing edge for Botswana beef. The network uptime on this technology is approximately 99.5%, exceeding typical terrestrial cable lines. The VSAT is designed mainly for any customer who is remote from the main grids and base stations to access voice and data services.

These technologies have the potential to have a positive impact on the productivity and profitability of the agricultural sector especially during this COVID- 19 period which has greatly disrupted the global supply chain. Through the help of 41R in agriculture, Botswana has potential to be a self- sustainable farming country.

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