Khama rejects Magang led BDP delegation
Former President Lt Gen Ian Khama has rejected the inclusion of former cabinet minister, David Magang in the Elders Council meant to reconcile him with his predecessor Mokgweetsi Masisi following big fallout between the two.
Elders Council met with Khama for the first time this week to lay the ground for reconciliation efforts. It is at this meeting that Khama, who was not willing to bend told the council that he would not want to engage with a committee which includes Magang, whom he believes is biased against him. Khama is reportedly not impressed by the comments attributed to Magang in one of the local publications, where the Phakalane supremo was taking a swipe at the former President.
Magang was quoted indicating that ‘never in the history of Botswana has a president retired with benefits and pension, and still wants to go back as is the case with Khama.’ The remarks have reportedly infuriated Khama, and he now believes Magang is not the right person to talk about reconciliation. Magang has however expressed ignorance at Khama’s alleged protest over his inclusion in the delegation.
“My relationship with him is okay, as far as I know, but you will never know what your younger brother is thinking about you. If he does not want me, I will visit him at his place. Certainly, he will also visit me at my place one day,” said Magang.
The two have never been best of buddies, with a close examination of their relationship indicating two men who are always on the opposite sides.
It is believed that Magang and Khama have never been best allies since Khama was appointed Vice President in 1998. In 1998 following the retirement of President Sir Ketumile Quett Masire, it was widely expected that Festus Mogae, who took over the reigns as President would appoint Magang as his deputy. Mogae however bypassed Magang to nominate the then BDF Commander, Khama. The visibly disenchanted Magang retired from politics two years later to focus on his businesses.
Khama’s detest of the Magangs was not helped by his early relationship with party youth wing upon his entry into politics. Magang’s eldest son, Lesang Magang, and then leader of BDP youth wing publicly criticised the decision by President Mogae to grant Khama a year long sabbatical leave. In 2015, the rocky relationship expressed itself again when President Khama and his cabinet snubbed the launch of Magang’s “Delusions of Grandeur Vol 2” book.
It was revealed that Khama was not impressed by the first book, “Delusions of Grandeur Vol 1” in which he looks down upon the country’s success story. Magang stated in the first edition that Botswana is not and has never been a prosperous country and that its economic acumen is overrated, a statement that has enraged Khama’s government. Few weeks after snubbing Magang’s book launch, Khama however attended, with other former cabinet ministers and past presidents, the launch of the late Vice President Lt Gen Mompati Merafhe’s memoir.
THE KHAMA, MASISI RECONCILIATION MEETING
Although Elder Council met Khama for a preliminary meeting this week, where he demanded to know ‘the real agenda of meeting,’ the two former confidantes are yet to meet face-to-face. It is anticipated that once Khama has warmed-up to the idea, the two will be brought together at table to kiss and make up. Magang has revealed to this publication that the meeting is yet to take place due to Masisi’s commitments. Masisi travelled to China during the week.
“We have not met with the two [Khama and Masisi] because, as you know, Masisi is out of the country. But surely we will meet once he arrives. For now, I cannot say when we would meet,” said Magang. This publication is informed that the elders stepped in after the party central committee decided to no longer sponsor the idea of Masisi meeting Khama because the latter is junior to the former.
It is believed that Khama, in response, has also taken a hardline stance. Not only to the party but went further, as he was initially not willing to meet with the party’s elders committee who are also concerned by the fallout between the former confidantes. Article 24.2 of the BDP constitution says the mandate of the Elders Council includes investigations, arbitration and reconciliation of differences and disputes where necessary within the party structure and or members.
For a while Masisi and Khama’s fallout has proven problematic, forcing the old guard to try convincing the duo to smoke peace pipe. Following this fallout, a decision was taken by the party in a meeting between Masisi and BDP fellows including cabinet ministers, legislators and Central Committee members. The meeting was initiated by Masisi to deliver a message of gratitude to his party members for his first 100 days in office.
This week sources shared with this publication that the meeting between Khama, Masisi and the veterans made a breakthrough. The meeting was to be chaired by the party elders among them Patrick Balopi, David Magang, Dr Gaositwe Chiepe and Ponatshego Kedikilwe. There are however a conflicting reasons as to why Khama was reluctant to meet the Elders Council.
“He could not make it to the meeting because he is very busy with some of his initiatives and other duties as a Kgosi. This is not to say he will never meet them but when the time is right or his schedule allows he will definitely make it, he is still a bonafide member of the party,” a source close to the matter told this publication prior to the meeting. While Khama’s ‘commitments’ are the main reason according to a source, other observers argue that Khama, a well-known disciplinarian will did not want to honour the meeting.
He has rejected both Mogae and Sir Ketumile Masire in 2011 when they tried to mediate during the historic Industrial strike which dragged for months. This nonetheless is not bothering the party’s old guard as they are expected to persistently summon the two until the matter is closed. The fear is that, should the fallout continue, it may harm the party’s electoral prospects next year. BDP will assemble for the elective congresses next July and the two leaders’ rivalry is likely to play out.
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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.”