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New Trade policies to clamp on South African suppliers

The recent decisions by government of Botswana impose restrictions on importation of goods will clamp down on South Africa, which is Botswana’s major trade partner among its neighbouring countries.

Recently Botswana invoked the Control of Goods, Prices and Other Charges Act and restricted the importation of bottled water as well as cement.  The regulations restrict importation of bottled water in small quantities and only allows for 10 litres or more. The regulations were gazetted on the 6th of April this year and will come into force at the beginning of August. “This will go a long way in ensuring the sustainability of the water bottling sector and assisting in the national diversification,” revealed Minister of Investment, Trade and Industry, Bogolo Kenewendo.

The Ministry of Trade is also in the process of assisting the cement industry by restricting importation of cement following an analysis that showed that the sector has the potential to create employment for the citizens and contribute to economic diversification. “The proposed restrictions will require that 70 percent of cement be sourced from local manufacturing companies and 30 percent be imported,” he said.

“The importation of cement will be done through the issuance of import permit after the importer has submitted evidence that indeed they have satisfied the 70 percent requirement.” The implementation is envisaged to come into force on the 1st of September this year. Government has also taken the decision to put restrictions on importation of salt of less than 100kg and exportation of Scrap Metal before satisfying the local demand. 

Information gathered indicates that Botswana's major imports from South Africa include Mineral Products, Machinery and Precious metals making up the top three exports to Botswana. Other significant imports from South Africa to Botswana include Prepared foodstuffs, Chemicals, Vehicles and Products from Iron and Steel.

According to South African Market Insights, total exports to Botswana in 2017 amounted to over P30 billion.

Meanwhile, on the flipside the total Botswana exports to South African amounted to just over P3 billion, which leaves Botswana with a trade deficit with South Africa of more than P26 billion. Botswana also recently took a decision to refuse to offer exemption for licenses in businesses which are reserved for citizens in the retail sector. The decision has created a conflict between government and South African retailers.

Despite these trade decisions being likely to affect South Africa companies, in 2017 at a ruling Botswana Democratic Party (BDP), luncheon then African National Congress (ANC) Secretary General Gwede Mantashe gave thumbs up to then Minister of Investment, Trade and Industry, Vincent Seretse’s policy to reserve certain retail businesses for Batswana, which has seen the dominant South African retailers being put on the sidelines.

 The policy has seen the clash between property owners and South African retailers, who feel hard done by the policy.  “I do not have a problem with that if it is meant to empower the citizens [of Botswana]. In South Africa we have localisation policy which we encourage businesses to buy from our people. If you have a small farmer where do you expect them to sell?”said Mantashe who has since been appointed Minister of Minerals in that country.

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People with Disabilities Face Barriers to Political Participation in Botswana

23rd February 2024

Individuals challenged by disabilities encounter formidable obstacles when endeavoring to partake in political processes within the context of Botswana. Political involvement, a cornerstone of democratic governance, empowers citizens to shape the legislative landscape that impacts their daily existence. Despite Botswana’s reputation for upholding democratic ideals, recent insights unveil a troubling reality – those with disabilities find themselves marginalized in the realm of politics, contending with substantial barriers obstructing the exercise of their democratic liberties.

A recent inquiry in Botswana unveiled a panorama where individuals with disabilities confront hurdles in navigating the political arena, their involvement often restricted to the basic act of voting. Voices emerged from the study, underscoring the critical necessity of fostering environments that are accessible and welcoming, affording individuals with disabilities the active engagement they rightfully deserve in political processes. Noteworthy was the account of a participant grappling with physical impairments, shedding light on the glaring absence of ramps at polling stations and the urgent call for enhanced support mechanisms to ensure an equitable electoral participation.

The echoes reverberating from these narratives serve as poignant reminders of the entrenched obstacles impeding the full integration of individuals with disabilities into the democratic tapestry. The inaccessibility of polling stations and the glaring absence of provisions tailored to the needs of persons with disabilities loom large as formidable barricades to their political engagement. Particularly pronounced is the plight of those grappling with severe impairments and intellectual challenges, who face even steeper hurdles in seizing political participation opportunities, often grappling with feelings of isolation and exclusion from the political discourse.

Calls for decisive action cascade forth, urging the establishment of more inclusive and accessible political ecosystems that embrace individuals with disabilities in Botswana. Government bodies and concerned stakeholders are urged to prioritize the enactment of laws and policies designed to safeguard the political rights of individuals with disabilities. Furthermore, initiatives geared towards enhancing awareness and education on political processes and rights for this segment of society must be spearheaded, alongside the adoption of inclusive measures within political institutions and party structures.

By dismantling these barriers and nurturing a political landscape that is truly inclusive, Botswana can earnestly uphold its democratic ethos and afford every citizen, including those with disabilities, a substantive opportunity to partake in the political fabric of the nation.

 

 

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Neo Kirchway- Defying the odds

23rd February 2024

In the heartwarming tale of Neo Kirchway, a beacon of inspiration emerges, shining brightly amid life’s adversities.

Defying the constraints of destiny, Neo Kirchway, a resilient Motswana soul now thriving in the United States, stands tall despite the absence of her lower limbs. With unwavering determination, she tends to her cherished family – a loving husband and four children – engaging in the daily symphony of household tasks with remarkable grace.

Neo’s indomitable spirit traces back to the fateful year of 1994, a time when medical intervention called for the amputation of her curled legs. Embracing this pivotal juncture with unwavering courage and the blessing of her mother, she ventured forth into a world adorned with prosthetic legs, eager to script a tale of triumph.

Venturing beyond borders, Neo’s journey led her to the embrace of the United States, where serendipity intertwined her fate with that of her soulmate, Garrett Kirchway. Together, this harmonious duo navigates the ebbs and flows of life, their bond fortified by unwavering love and unyielding support.

In a bid to illuminate paths and embolden hearts, Neo leverages the digital realm, crafting a sanctuary of empowerment on her YouTube channel. Brimming with authenticity and raw emotion, her videos chronicle the tapestry of her daily life, serving as a testament to resilience and the unwavering human spirit.

Amidst the digital cosmos, Neo, affectionately known as “KirchBaby,” reigns supreme, a luminary in the hearts of 658,000 enraptured subscribers. Through her captivating content, she not only navigates the mundane tasks of cooking, cleaning, and childcare but also dances with celestial grace, a testament to her boundless spirit and unyielding zest for life.

In the cathedral of Neo Kirchway’s narrative, resilience reigns supreme, echoing a universal truth – that amidst life’s gales, the human spirit, when kindled by hope and fortitude, emerges as a beacon of light, illuminating even the darkest of paths.

 

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Inequalities Faced by Individuals with Disabilities

22nd February 2024

The government’s efforts to integrate individuals with disabilities in Botswana society are being hampered by budgetary constraints. Those with disabilities face inequalities in budgetary allocations in the health and education sectors. For instance, it is reported that the government allocates higher budgetary funds to the general health sector, while marginal allocations are proposed for the development and implementation of the National Primary Health Care guidelines and Standards for those with Disabilities. This shows that in terms of budgetary solutions, the government’s proposed initiatives in improving the health and well-being of those with disabilities remain futile as there is not enough money going towards disability-specific health programs. On the other hand, limited budgetary allocations to the Special Education Unit also are a primary contributor to the inequalities faced by children with disabilities. The government only provides for the employment of 15 teachers with qualifications in special education despite the large numbers of children with intellectual disabilities that are in need of special education throughout Botswana. Such disproportional allocation of resources inhibits the capacity to provide affordable and accessible assisted technology and residential support services for those with disabilities. Given the fact that a different amount of resources have been availed to the education and health sectors, the general understanding is that the government is not doing enough to ensure that adequate resources are distributed to disability-specific programs and facilities such as barrier-free environments, residential homes, and special education schools for children with disabilities.

 

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