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UDC problems can’t solved in 21 Days!


The provenance of the BCP quagmire can be traced back to the 2014 General elections outcome which not only shocked the BCP rank and file but obliterated their confidence leaving only a vacuum to be later occupied by fear and uncertainty.

Obviously the dismal showing at the polls further accentuated by the loss of our Leader Cde Dumelang Saleshando was ascribed to our absence in the opposition coalition the UDC which had made history winning 17 parliamentary seats. As a consequence, BCP joined UDC and things instead of improving became worse. With hindsight not being part of the umbrella in 2014 was a mistake, but joining it post 2014 was an even fatal mistake, the first since of Adam at the Garden of Eden.

That the BCP is a party at crossroads has never been clearer. The impasse in the UDC due to the constitution, BCP's membership inter alia is an outlandish situation for kgololo. BCP prides itself with order, organisational harmony and policies that resonate with wishes and aspirations of Batswana.

For the party to be embroiled in protracted conflicts bringing uncertainty and anxiety to its members is unprecedented and embarrassing to be polite. It is time the BCP acknowledges that the UDC they thought they joined is not the one of today, its time they acknowledge that Advocates for Change is actually Advocates for Chaos.

The horse has bolted, ITS OVER, pull out of this toxic cohabitation and live to fight another day. In the onset, we made painful concessions, relegating the party to the north and effectively rendering it a regional party, we only have 1 constituency in the south of Botswana and also 1 in the cities being Francistown East.

We opted not to miss the forest for the trees as State power was a reality under the pre Pilane UDC. Now with hopes of state power extinguished, our membership of the coalition being questioned and denied what in God's name are we doing in the UDC? Only insanity can occlude a man from walking away after being turned down by a woman for two years.

It’s been almost 2 years since the Oasis Motel press conference announcing the BCP’s entry into the Umbrella yet we still are (apparently) not recognized by the constitution. The UDC VP Advocate Pilane's political turpitude leaves Satan Jealous. The way he stole BMD with dogs, security agents and of course the constitution was as diabolic as it was egregious and should have served as an augury of what’s to come. 

He is a man on a mission, a destructive mission and care less of eventual casualties. He does not care if the Umbrella burns provided he becomes President of the ashes. By being entangled with this 'constitutional despot' the BCP is not just playing with fire, it is literally soaking matches in gasoline.

Pilane has nothing to lose, he will relish at the prospect of a protracted court battle which will not only delay the 2019 General elections campaign but impugn the character and credibility of the UDC. It is hard to put a dog on a leash once you have put a crown on its head, thus it is futile not to mention perilous for the BCP to believe it can tame or even deal with this man. We have a lot to lose and time is our chief enemy.

Then there is Hon Boko, the UDC leader. We can all accept that the political 'bromance' between Duma and Dums was as fleeting as it was insincere. The BNF leader is deceptive and untrustworthy, his vagaries ever since the infamous BMD Matshekge congress exposes a man at best captured or at worst uninterested in changing government.

This is the same man who promulgated that UDC has the power to replace a weak candidate of a contracting party by a stronger candidate from another contracting party, we all watched in dismay when a weak BMD candidate cost UDC victory at Moshupa/Manyana. Hitherto, BMD has no candidates in some constituencies and weak candidates in others including suspended BDP youth wing members and the UDC leader has not acted.

It seems he long took Cde Saleshando's advice, 'To best remain silent'. How he managed to inveigle BCP leaders by signing a disputed constitution 5 months later is inexplicable but more inexplicable is how the BCP and BNF conferences could not decipher that the last minute constitution was intended to placate them and circumvent a resolution of pulling out of the beleaguered coalition.

The BCP is in a quandary, the trauma of 2014 is still fresh, and the fear of walking out of UDC and being branded enemies of unity is palpable. Doubt is the biggest enemy of man, fear is the biggest enemy of a party. The fear has blinded the BCP to even the obvious. First, we are said to be not inside the UDC hence we can never be accused of pulling out from a coalition we were never part of. The UDC VP, who is actually its defacto leader has said that repeatedly on national radio accompanied by his chairman.

The spiritual leader of UDC Johnson Motshwarakgole has also asserted the same aphorism and not to be out shined, the convenors of UDC were recently enjoying their 20 mins of fame that they so year for on radio  averring that BCP is not part of UDC. The only leader who we naively believe can defend our situation is conspicuous by his silence and was rumored out of the country when the knives were and are still out for us.

Secondly, there is already a party which quit the UDC in Alliance for Progressives (AP) lead by Hon Ndaba Gaolathe. The AP has never been bashed for their stand and seem to have found favor with key union leaders. By dumping this unholy union we will be assuming the position already occupied by AP, we can never be isolated alas 2014. Thus I fail to see how we will be crucified for a position another party is being lauded for. That will be taking hypocrisy to the zenith level by our 4th estate. Lastly and most importantly, the UDC of today is not the UDC of 2014.

It no longer has the support of both the private press and BOFEPUSU, it houses a hugely unpopular leader in Advocate Pilane who is not only distrusted by Batswana but also unwanted by them and it’s less a vital cog in its machinery in the form of Hon Gaolathe and his lieutenants. The recent success in bye elections by the UDC ought to be credited to the presence of BCP, we bring the most numbers in the coalition yet we get fed crumbs, get disrespected, our leader frustrated and ridiculed by a man leading a shell. How long is the BCP prepared to endure this journey to nowhere and mortification. It is time to choose the correct path out of this crossroads, which is the only path at our disposal in all honesty. PULL OUT, and live to fight another day.

The BCP is a party born from severe labor pains to a hostile political environment. Fighting a cultist figure in Dr Koma, the party was shunned by both BNF and BDP, A paradoxical alliance was forged between the ruling party and main opposition crystallizing in a motion to ban floor crossing by then MP Gladys Kokorwe. The motion was disingenuous, it was meant to kill baby BCP in its crib rather than to right a wrong hence the non-implementation of the motion to date.

With such odds stacked against it, the BCP persevered and grew to be a key player in our politics. It can be concluded that the BCP is now the single largest opposition party in the country commanding over 20% popular vote. The time is now for Kgololo to disinter that assiduity, bravery and self confidence in its mission, vision and policies that allowed it to weather the storm it faced at its infancy and become the fastest growing party in our land.

The BCP members jealously love and protect their party, they are loyal to their brand, a brand which has been besmirched and soiled for far too long. Painfully for them the leadership's plans to restore the BCP to its rightful place as the party of choice has been desultory at best.
The BCP must forget about UDC membership. If it couldn't be fixed in 2 years it won’t be in 21 days. It’s never late to mend. The BCP must PULL OUT from this toxic alliance and ready itself for going solo in the upcoming General elections. Dignity, peace and tranquility must reign again in the Lime movement.

Ishmael Jackson Koko writes from Gaborone Central

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Botswana to Become a Vaccinated Nation: Pandemic Anxiety Over?

30th March 2021


This is a question that should seriously exercise the mind of every Botswana citizen and every science researcher, every health worker and every political leader political.

The Covid-19 currently defines our lives and poses a direct threat to every aspect and every part of national safety, security and general well-being. This disease has become a normative part of human life throughout the world.

The first part of the struggle against the murderous depredation of this disease was to protect personal life through restrictive health injunctions and protocols; the worst possibly being human isolation and masks that hid our sorrows and lamentations through thin veils. We suffered that humiliation with grace and I believe as a nation we did a great job.

Now the vaccines are here, ushering us into the second phase of this war against the plague; and we are asking ourselves, is this science-driven fight against Covid-19 spell the end of pandemic anxiety? Is the health nightmare coming to an end? What happy lives lie ahead? Is this the time for celebration or caution? As the Non State Actors, we have being struggling with these questions for months.

We have published our thoughts and feelings, and our research reviews and thorough reading of both the local and international impacts of this rampaging viral invasion in local newspapers and social media platforms.

More significantly, we have successfully organised workshops about the impact of the pandemic on society and the economy and the last workshop invited a panel of health experts, professionals, and public administers to advance this social dialogue as part of our commitment to the tripartite engagement we enjoy working with Government of Botswana, Civil Society and Development partners. These workshops are virtual and open to all Batswana, foreign diplomatic missions based in Gaborone, UN agencies located in Gaborone and international academic researchers and professional health experts and specialists.

The mark of Covid-19 on our nation is a painful one, a tragedy shared by the entire human race, but still a contextually painful experience. Our response is fraught with grave difficulties; limited resources, limited time, and the urgency to not only save lives but also avert economic ruin and a bleak future for all who survive. Several vaccines are already in the  market.

Parts of the world are already doing the best they can to trunk the pestilential march of this disease by rolling out mass-vaccinations campaigns that promise to evict this health menace and nightmare from their public lives. Botswana, like much of Africa, is still up in the disreputable, and, unenviable, preventative social melee of masked interactions, metered distances, contactless commerce.

We remain very much at the mercy of a marauding virus that daily runs amuck with earth shattering implications for the economy and human lives. And the battle against both infections and transmissions is proving to be difficult, in terms of finance, institutional capacities and resource mobilization. How are we prepared as government, and as citizens, to embrace the impending mass-vaccinations? What are the chances of us  succeeding at this last-ditch effort to defeat the virus? What are the most pressing obstacles?

Does the work of vaccines spell an end to the pandemic anxieties?

Our panellists addressed the current state of mass-vaccination preparedness at the Botswana national level. What resources are available? What are the financial, institutional and administrative operational challenges (costs and supply chains, delivery, distribution, administering the vaccine on time, surveillance and security of vaccines?) What is being done to overcome them, or what can be done to overcome them? What do public assessments of preparedness tell us at the local community levels? How strong is the political will and direction? How long can we expect the whole exercise to last? At what point should we start seeing tangible results of the mass-vaccination campaign?

They also addressed the challenges of the anticipated emerging Vaccinated Society. How to fight the myths of vaccines and the superstitions about histories of human immunizations? What exactly is being done to grow robust local confidence in the science of vaccinations and the vaccines themselves? More significantly, how to square these campaigns vis-vis personal rights, moral/religious obligations?

What messages are being sent out in these regards and how are Batswana responding? What about issues of justice and equality? Will we get the necessary vaccines to everyone who wants them? What is being done to ensure no deserving person is left behind?

They also addressed issues of health data. To accomplish this mass-vaccination campaign and do everything right we need accurate and complete data. Poor data already makes it very hard to just cope with the disease. What is being done to improve data for the mass-vaccination campaign? How is this data being collected, aggregated and prepared for real life situation/applications throughout Botswana in the coming campaign?

We know in America, for example, general reporting and treatment of health data at the beginning of vaccinations was so poor, so chaotic and so scattered mainstream newspapers like The Atlantic, Washington Post and the New York Times had to step in, working very closely with civil society organizations, to rescue the situation. What data-related issues are still problematic in Botswana?

To be specific, what kind of Covid-19 data is being taken now to ready the whole country for an effective and efficient mass-vaccination program?

Batswana must be made aware that the  end part of vaccination will just mark the beginning of a long journey to health recovery and national redemption; that in many ways Covid-19 vaccination is just another step toward the many efforts in abeyance to fight this health pandemic, the road ahead is still long and painful.

For this purpose, and to highlight the significance of this observation we tasked our panellists with  the arduous imperative of  analysing the impact of mass-vaccination on society and the economy alongside the pressing issues of post-Covid-19 national health surveillance and rehabilitation programs.

Research suggests the aftermath of Covid-19 vaccination is going to be just as difficult and uncertain world as the present reality in many ways, and that caution should prevail over celebration, at least for a long time. The disease itself is projected to linger around for some time after all these mass-vaccination campaigns unless an effort is made to vaccinate everyone to the last reported case, every nation succeeds beyond herd immunity, and cure is found for Covid-19 disease. Many people are going to continue in need of medications, psychological and psychiatric services and therapy.

Is Botswana ready for this long holdout? If not, what path should we take going into the future? The Second concern is , are we going to have a single, trusted national agency charged with the  mandate to set standards for our national health data system, now that we know how real bad pandemics can be, and the value of data in quickly responding to them and mitigating impact? Finally, what is being done to curate a short history of this pandemic? A national museum of health and medicine or a Public Health Institute  in Botswana is overdue.

If we are to create strong sets of data policies and data quality standards for fighting future health pandemics it is critical that they find ideological and moral foundations in the artistic imagery and photography of the present human experience…context is essential to fighting such diseases, and to be prepared we must learn from every tragic health incident.

Our panellists answered most of these questions with distinguished intellectual clarity. We wish Batswana to join us in our second Mass-vaccination workshop.

*Oscar Motsumi:

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The women you see in the news matter. Here’s why

9th March 2021
Jane Godia

Jane Godia

Today is International Women’s Day – it’s a moment to think about how much better our news diet could be if inequities were eliminated. In 1995, when the curtains fell in one of the largest meetings that have ever brought women together to discuss women in development, it was noted that women and media remain key to development.

Twenty-six years later, the relevant “Article J” of the Beijing Platform for Action, remains unfulfilled. Its two strategic objectives with regard to Women and Media have not been met. They are
Increase the participation and access of women to expression and decision-making in and through the media and new technologies of communication

Promote a balanced and non-stereotyped portrayal of women in the media.

Today, as we mark International Women’s Day, it’s an indictment on both media owners and civil society that women remain on the periphery of news-making. They cannot claim equal space in either the structures of newsrooms or in the content produced, be that as sources of news or as the subjects of reports. Indeed, the latest figures from WAN-IFRA’s Women in News Programme show just one in five voices in news belong to women*, be they as sources, as the author or as the main character of the news report.

Some progress was evident several years back, with stand-out women being named as chief executive officers, editors in chief, managing editors and executive editors. But these gains appear short lived in most media organisations. Excitement has turned to frustration as one-step forward has been replaced with three steps backwards. In Africa, the problem is acute. The decision-making tables of media organisations remain deprived of women and where there are women, they are surrounded by men.

Few women have followed in the footsteps of Esther Kamweru, the first woman managing editor in Kenya, and indeed sub-Saharan Africa. Today’s standout women editors include Pamela Makotsi-Sittoni (Nation Media Group, Kenya), Barbara Kaija (New Vision, Uganda), Mary Mbewe (Daily Nation, Zambia), Margaret Vuchiri (The Monitor, Uganda), Joyce Shebe (Clouds, Tanzania), Tryphinah Dongwana (Weekend Post, Botswana), Joyce Mhaville (Independent Television -ITV, Tanzania) and Tuma Abdallah (Standard Newspapers,Tanzania). But they remain an exception.

The lack of balance between women and men at the table of decision making has a rollback effect on the content that is produced. A table dominated by men typically makes decisions that benefit men.

So today, International Women’s Day is a grim reminder that things are not rosy in the news business. Achieving gender balance in news and in the structure of media organisations remains a challenge. Unmet, it sees more than half of the population in our countries suffer the consequences of bias, discrimination and sexism.

The business of ignoring the other half of the population can no longer be treated as normal. It’s time that media leaders grasp the challenge, not only because it is the right thing to do, but because it also makes a whole lot of business sense: start covering women, give them space and a voice in news-making and propel them to all levels of decision making within your organisation.

We can no longer afford to imagine that it’s only men who make and sell the news and bring in the shillings to fund the media business. Women too are worthy newsmakers. In all of our societies, there are women holding decision making positions and who are now experts in once male-only domains such as engineers, doctors, scientists and researchers.

They can be deliberately picked out to share their perspectives and expertise and bring balance to the profile of experts quoted on our news pages. Media is the prism through which society sees itself and women are an untapped audience. So, as we celebrate International Women’s Day, let us embrace diversity, which yields better news content and business products, and in so doing eliminate sexism. We know that actions and attitudes that discriminate against people based on their gender is bad for business.

As media, the challenge is ours. We need to consciously embrace and reach the commitments made 26 years ago when the Beijing Platform for Action was signed globally. As the news consuming public, you have a role to play too. Hold your news organization to account and make sure they deliver balanced news that reflects the voices of all of society.

Jane Godia is a gender development and media expert who serves as the Africa Director of Women in News programme.  
WOMEN IN NEWS is WAN-IFRA’s ground-breaking programme to increase women’s leadership and voices in the news. It does so by equipping women journalists and editors with the skills, strategies, and support networks to take on greater leadership positions within their media.

Jane Godia, Director, Africa, Women in News

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Why is the media so afraid to talk about sexual harassment?

9th March 2021


The eve of International Women’s Day presents an opportunity for us to think about gender equality and the long and often frustrating march toward societies that are truly equal.

As media, we are uniquely placed to drive forward this reflection and discussion. But while focusing on the challenges of gender in society, we owe it to our staff and the communities we serve to also take a hard look at the obstacles within our own organisations.

I’m talking specifically about the scourge of sexual harassment. It’s likely to have happened in your newsroom. It has likely happened to a member of your team. It happens to all genders but is disproportionately directed at women. It happens in every industry, regardless of country, culture or context. This is because sexual harassment is driven by power, not sex. Wherever you have imbalances in power, you have individuals who are at risk of sexual harassment, and those who abuse this power.

I’ve been sexually harassed. The many journalists and editors, friends and family members who I have spoken to over the years on this subject have also been harassed. Yet it is still hard for leaders to recognize that this could be happening within their newsrooms and boardrooms. Why does it continue to be such a taboo?

Counting the cost of sexual harassment

Sexual harassment is, simply put, bad for business. It can harm your corporate reputation. It is a drain on the productivity of staff and managers. Maintaining and building trust in your brand is an absolute imperative for media organisations globally. If and when a case gets out of control or is badly handled – this can directly impact your bottom line.

It is for this reason that WAN-IFRA Women in News has put eliminating sexual harassment as a top priority in our work around gender equality in the media sector. This might seem at odds with the current climate where social interactions are fewer and remote work scenarios are in place in many newsrooms and businesses. But one only needs to tune into the news to know that the abuse of power, manifested as verbal, physical or online harassment, is alive and well.

Preliminary results from an ongoing Women in News research study into the issue of sexual harassment polling hundreds of journalists in Sub-Saharan Africa and Southeast Asia indicate that more than 1 in 3 women media professionals have been physically harassed, and just under 50% have been verbally harassed. Just over 15% of men in African newsrooms reported being physically harassed, and slightly less than 1 in 4 reports being verbally harassed. The numbers for male media professionals in Southeast Asia are slightly higher than a quarter on both forms of harassment.

The first step in confronting sexual harassment is to talk about it. We need to strip away the stigma and discomfort around having open conversations about what sexual harassment is and isn’t. Media managers, it is entirely in your power to create dynamics in your own teams that are free from sexual harassment.

Publishers and CEOs, you set the organisational culture in your media company.

By being vocal in recognising that it happens everywhere, and communicating to your employees that you will not tolerate sexual harassment of any kind, you send a powerful message to your teams, and publicly. With these actions, you will help us overcome the legacy of silence around this topic, and in doing so take an important first step to create media environments that truly embrace equality.

Melanie Walker is Executive Director of Media Development of the World Association of News Publishers (WAN-IFRA). She is a creator of Women in News, WAN-IFRA’s ground-breaking programme to increase women’s leadership and voices in the news. It does so by equipping women journalists and editors with the skills, strategies, and support networks to take on greater leadership positions within their media.

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