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Batlokwa snub Gaborones elitist land plans

Batlokwa Paramount Chief, Kgosi Puso Gaborone was left disappointed after his morafe rejected the proposed revised Tlokweng development plan during a consultative Kgotla meeting to get feedback on the plan.

The morafe’s contention is that there is simply not enough land to accommodate the said developments. According to the morafe, priority should be given to their land needs as most of them do not have residential plots. At a second consecutive meeting, they made it known that they are not interested in the revised plan, pointing out that they already feel that they have been robbed of residential land; and that the developments that have already been effected albeit not benefiting them but have instead enriched some elites.

When presenting the overview of the plan, Kgosi Gaborone indicated that he was aware that his morafe is against the plan, following the Kgotla meeting held on May 5th this year. The chief indicated that he was aware that the main objection from morafe is the failure to allocate them residential plots. Kgosi Gaborone said while he understood his morafe’s grievances, they should also consider developments that should be made at the village as it experiences growth.

He added: “We should not speak like people who don’t have direction and vision; the land issue which majority of morafe has raised is a clear concern but as the population keeps growing there should be developments in the village so that adequate services can be availed to the growing population as well.”

However, members of the morafe stood their ground, not shying away from differing with their leader.  One resident, Ms Moitaletsi Katse stated that the development has only impoverished Batlokwa. “The period within which the development plan was formulated in short period of time is cause for concern, how has the plan benefited us before? We are saying no to this plan because our kids don’t have land, we have been robbed of too much land before and we are landless in our own ancestral land meanwhile there are the rich whose status keeps growing at the detriment of the poor.”  

A resident Mr. Abel Lekoko who is also a Project Management Practitioner and Tlokweng farmer’s committee association highlighted that the plan was formulated without putting Batlokwa’s needs first, and is all about “taking away land and not about development anymore”. This proposed plan will take away what Batlokwa has now (land) and will continue to be beggars in our own land, therefore the consultants must do what is called Environmental Impact Analysis, not Environmental Impact Assessment as it is the case with the plan,” he said.

He further decried that the plan focuses more on developing the environment but it does not entail what impact it will bring on the people and does not include a budget for compensation to compensate those whose land will be repossessed. As the controversial plan has not excluded the current Batlokwa farming land, farmers also came out with guns blazing to reject the proposed plan which will see some of the agriculture land being repossessed to make way for developments. One farmer Ishmael Seitshiro resisted the idea of annexing the ploughing and communal grazing land adding that farming land should remain as it is as it has remained before during the tenure of the great founding fathers of Tlokweng.

Meanwhile, University of Botswana lecturer Dr Letshwiti Tutwane differed with his tribesmen on the issue. He said that the proposed developments were necessary to the village, although he stated that he does not support farm land being repossessed. Further, he blasted the land board for misleading the morafe about the availability of land and raising their hopes by putting them on waiting lists whilst there is no land at all. Tutwane recently announced he would be contesting for the BNF primaries for Parliament for the Tlokweng Constituency to be held at the end of next month (June).

Batlokwa have also proposed that a task force team be sent to the government to negotiate about buying or repossessing portion of land from the Ruretse farm owned by the Khama family and some from business Moghul Derrick Brink and such land should be allocated to Batlokwa as residential plots. They also insisted that president Masisi should be called to address the issue of land shortage in Tlokweng with immediate effect.

In conclusion, Kgosi Gaborone assured his morafe that there will be compensation for the land which will be used for the said developments. “I assure that there is compensation for the land that will be repossessed with consultation procedure with owners, and the compensation will be calculated based on the market value of the land taken”.

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ENVIRONMENT ISSUES: Masisi asks Virginia for help

24th March 2023

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.”

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Masisi saddened by deaths of elephant attacks

24th March 2023

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.”

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Gov’t commit to injecting more funds in fighting HIV

24th March 2023

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.”

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