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BDP veterans back Isaac Kgosi

A collective of past Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) MPs, ministers and high ranking officials have emerged out of the woods expressing dissatisfaction at the management style of President Mokgweetsi Masisi.

The seasoned members have decried what they have termed ‘his hyper attitude’ when dealing with party members saying it can leave the party in deep divisions going to the 2019 elections. The party’s old guards unlike the nation who in the past weeks have hailed the president as a reformer, particularly following the axing of former Directorate on Intelligence and Security Services (DISS) boss, Isaac Kgosi,  say the President should be careful not to immediately do away with his predecessor’s inner circle.

“It should be well thought of, as it could endanger his authority. This guy (Kgosi) has a lot of information and he is still powerful and can do everything he wants to jeopardize Masisi’s rule. So the advice could have been, get into the game, absorb the pressure and then do whatever after familiarizing yourself with the dynamics,” a source said.

Further, the veterans who held a casual meeting sometime last week believe Masisi is making the opposition stronger, although it appears he may be strengthening the ruling party. Their argument emanates from the appointment of Bagalatia Arone as the Minister of Basic Education. “This is frustrating to those who have been with the party through thick and thin, the expectation was someone from the team could have been given the portfolio rather than a new person, what does this mean, paying defectors with cabinet positions?” said one activist of the party. Arone joined the party last year from opposition party BCP.

“Kgosi has never been tested at the courts of law and those are just allegations and the President saw it fit to change the guard informed by whatever information he had, whether right or wrong,” former minister Daniel Kwelagobe highlighted. He added, “Maybe he was doing the nation’s wishes.”

It is not Arone’s appointment that has rubbed the old guards the wrong way, as Kenewendo’s too, irks them. “You should have strong ministers’ comrade, those that can protect you when the chips are down. Not what we are seeing, this is politics, ija!” another party old-guard reportedly said at the casual meeting. While the veterans see in principle that Masisi could have buried political differences, they maintain he should understand that politics is a deadly game.

There is growing concern among them that Masisi, who has managed to recruit back Kentse Rammidi to the party, could award him with a ministerial post. “This indirectly, is saying to the current BDP activists and MPs that they are not good enough. On the other hand telling opposition members they have what it takes to come in and take positions of authority,” said an informant who did not want to be named. “While it is true that others may feel like they are being sidelined, everyone who is a party member qualifies for the ministerial position just like anyone,” Kwelagobe added.

The appointment of ex-opposition die-hards like Rammidi reaffirms what Leader of Opposition, Duma Boko has said in the past. Boko said, unlike the BDP which has reached ‘sunk-base’, UDC as an alternative party is based on competency. “You see the BDP appoints cronies and friends, failing to appoint competent people because they are not in their party. So that is why we want the best candidates that will lead government authorities.”

Should Masisi continue this way, the veterans believe they might sponsor a plot to oust him in the next congress as the party could be deeply divided going to the next elections. “We will see after August (primary elections) that is when we will take a stand whether to summon him or any other available route. But for sure we will have to see people who can bring power in 2019 winning the primaries,” another present member asserted.

Another issue of concern to the veterans and MPs is the elevation of specially elected MPs to cabinet. According to the backbenchers, only those who have been democratically elected should be eligible for nomination in ministerial positions. “They don’t know the pains of campaigning and being grilled by constituents for failing them. When you call them to visit your constituency they are reluctant some may tell you that there is no money, like really? So if someone who knows how rough it gets in politics, they may not hesitate to visit when you call them since they understand the plight.”

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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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