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Botswana needs new economic direction

The president of Alliance for Progressives (AP), Ndaba Gaolathe has said that through the implementation of a robust Local Economic Development (LED) framework, the City of Francistown can be turned into a self-sustaining city with its own local government playing a central role in its economic development. Gaolathe made these remarks in Francistown recently where he was launching their council candidate for the upcoming Moselewapula Ward bye-election.

Gaolathe argued that a realistic LED strategy when properly implemented, should aim at localising sustainable development goals at district level to build self-sustaining local governments benefiting from available economic resources in various localities. Gaolathe who is regarded a guru of economics and finance, steered clear of freedom square politics unlike speakers before him who focused on attacking their opponents in other political parties.

He chose instead to focus on explaining an economic path that his party wishes for Batswana, thereby canvassing a line of thinking that their council candidate, Odireleng Ditshotlo is expected to take to council. He pointed out that his party advocates for a shift in economic development model to adopt an approach that will promote and strengthen local governments to be in control of the local economy in their various districts. Gaolathe said that LED is a useful approach for investment where partnerships can be forged with different investors across different sectors to unlock economic value from the available resources in different regions.

Gaolathe likened Francistown to Bloemfontein, the capital city of the Province of Free State in South Africa. Bloemfontein is also the judicial capital of South Africa. The AP president suggested that the City of Francistown can also be allocated important services in a similar fashion and so with other places. He pointed out that Botswana needs strategies that will support decentralisation of services from central government while at the same time strengthening service distribution at local government. He emphasised that it was time local authorities shifted focus from just provision of services and delivery to taking a central role in economic development.

He stressed that service delivery must be rendered with a developmental focus in mind as local authorities are supposed to create and facilitate enabling environments to attract investors who will set up businesses to boost the local economy. Because of this role, Gaolathe emphasised the importance of taking seriously the work of local government. He noted further that for councils to be able to facilitate robust local economies, they first formulate and implement interventions that will make them attractive places not only to do business but also as safe places to live in.

He remarked that understanding the LED approach can bring about enterprise development interventions as well as interventions that can help alleviate poverty. Gaolathe explained that this new direction will help local authorities to be able to conduct assessments to establish the state of the economy in their respective localities and develop problem-solving strategies to address the identified weaknesses within each local economy.

“We must embrace the Local Economic Development approach to diversifying our local economies, as this type of approach can help local authorities to realise the full economic potential of different regions,” said Ndaba. The AP leader emphasised the need to institutionalise LED in local authorities as a fundamental factor in the creation of sustainable economies. He said councils must be supported to develop implementable and enabling policies, adding that LED is being recognised in other governments in the region as a strategic enabler for socio-economic development. Gaolathe explained that it is the mandate of the local government to promote social and economic development in their respective areas.

He noted however that to achieve the LED objectives, there is need for transformative leadership that takes seriously the plight of the plight, a leadership with policy makers with a different mind-set to champion the shift from service delivery to being enablers of economic development. He pleaded with the people of Moselewapula Ward and the vast Francistown West constituency to rally behind Alliance for Progressives as it the only party with the calibre of leaders that can bring to the table, transformational interventions that the economy of their city needs.

He further pleaded with residents of the ward to ensure that their candidate, Ditshotlo emerges the victor on the day of the election. Moselewapula Ward vacancy was created by the death of Lechedzani Modenga of Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) who won the ward in the 2014 General Election. Ditshotlo also contested the 2014 elections as a Botswana Movement for Democracy (BMD) under the Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC). 

Reuben Ketlhoilwe of Botswana Congress Party (BCP) who also lost to the late Modenga in 2014 will represent UDC while BDP will be represented by Gilbert Boikhutso who won party primaries amidst accusations of voter trafficking. Gilbert was launched on the same day as the AP candidate last Saturday, with their base adjacent to each other.

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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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