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Friday, 19 April 2024

Masisi to counsel VP hopefuls

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Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) legislators have unanimously advised President Mokgweetsi Masisi to call all those who were interested in the position of the Vice President for a ‘counselling’ session to avoid divisions and sabotage within the party, WeekendPost has established.

This week the party met at the Office of the President for their weekly meeting with two main points on the agenda – VP nomination and selection of cabinet. As it was somehow expected the name of Boteti West MP Slumber Tsogwane was suggested by the president.

Although it is said no one from the party opposed Tsogwane’s nomination and in fact all backed the president’s decision, some were also eyeing the position. The three other names, sources within the party say, were Pelonomi Venson Moitoi, Samson Moyo Guma and Nonofo Molefhi who were hoping to be appointed to the seat.

It is said after the nomination, Sadique Kebonang after accepting Tsogwane’s name pleaded with Masisi to organize a closed session meeting with those who had their eye on the Vice Presidency, but had their dreams shattered. This was agreed to by all MPs. Masisi was reportedly full of jokes at the meeting to make the seemingly uneasy legislators relax, he asked the democrats who wished to assist him to raise their hands, but no one obliged.

“No one raised hands though we knew those who harboured ambitions to become VP. It wouldn’t look good for them because the name was already out and it would appear like they were pulling to a different direction, and they instead chose to support Tsogwane,” said a BDP MP.

Another BDP legislator confirmed this, “Masisi was asked to talk to some of our members who had expectations to be VP to calm them down and to prevent them acting in a manner harmful to the party following the decision. This was spearheaded by Sadique and everyone agreed to that because it would curb possible infightings, divisions and sabotage which could work against the party in future. Mind you, those who had aspirations are party heavy weights that can influence the party structures if they are not engaged over this,” a source told this publication on Thursday this week.

While BDP MPs never had qualms with Tsogwane’s nomination, some had expected either Venson-Moitoi or Guma Moyo to be nominated for possible appointment as Vice President. “Considering how Moyo defended him at the Tonota congress we thought it was clear that he would nominate him as his Vice President. The same applies to Venson-Moitoi, she was  second choice in our hearts, but luck was not on her side. As for Molefhi we didn’t expect much of him as VP because as you may recall they were enemies going to the last year’s congress,” stated another BDP source that was present at the Wednesday morning meeting.

CABINET RESHUFFLE

As expected the cabinet reshuffle on Wednesday has also left the party divided with MPs questioning the criterion used for selection of Ministers. Prior to this, Masisi was cautioned by the party to be careful as to who assumes which ministerial post to avoid appointing persons linked to possible corruption and other questionable behaviours which could cost the party.

The removal of three ministers; Prince Maele, Edwin Batshu and Kebonang has left eyebrows raised within the party. While Batshu’s ejection is the one making noise it is said weeks before being sworn in as President, “Masisi asked everyone who wouldn’t want to be in the cabinet to clearly state that,” a source highlighted. All the while it was not clear as to whether this trio approached Masisi requesting not to be in the cabinet.

The BDP MPs are said to questioning the criterion used for cabinet selection. “It should be clear if it depends on the most senior in parliament, capability or the discretion of His Excellency. Molao has been assistant minister we thought he would ascend, but now Ngaka Ngaka has taken over, Goya (Moiseraele) has been assisting but now Bogolo [Kenewendo] has taken over.”

The MPs who spoke to this publication on condition of anonymity went to question the appointment of Bagalatia Arone as Minister of Basic Education. “This will divide the party, he has just defected and he has been given the portfolio while some have been here defending the party but got nothing for their sweat. It is not like we are bitter or anything we are just stating the facts,” asserted one of the MPs.

The party Chief Whip, Liakat Kablay said the party remains very united and no one questioned the decision by the President. “We will support them to excel in the different Ministries including the VP because at the end of day the bigger picture is the party and Batswana.”

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Nigerians, Zimbabweans apply for Chema Chema Fund

16th April 2024

Fronting activities, where locals are used as a front for foreign-owned businesses, have been a long-standing issue in Botswana. These activities not only undermine the government’s efforts to promote local businesses but also deprive Batswana of opportunities for economic empowerment, officials say. The Ministry of Trade and Industry has warned of heavy penalties for those involved in fronting activities especially in relation to the latest popular government initiative dubbed Chema Chema.

According to the Ministry, the Industrial Development Act of 2019 clearly outlines the consequences of engaging in fronting activities. The fines of up to P50,000 for first-time offenders and P20,000 plus a two-year jail term for repeat offenders send a strong message that the government is serious about cracking down on this illegal practice. These penalties are meant to deter individuals from participating in fronting activities and to protect the integrity of local industries.

“It is disheartening to hear reports of collaboration between foreigners and locals to exploit government initiatives such as the Chema Chema Fund. This fund, administered by CEDA and LEA, is meant to support informal traders and low-income earners in Botswana. However, when fronting activities come into play, the intended beneficiaries are sidelined, and the funds are misused for personal gain.” It has been discovered that foreign nationals predominantly of Zimbabwean and Nigerian origin use unsuspecting Batswana to attempt to access the Chema Chema Fund. It is understood that they approach these Batswana under the guise of drafting business plans for them or simply coming up with ‘bankable business ideas that qualify for Chema Chema.’

Observers say the Chema Chema Fund has the potential to uplift the lives of many Batswana who are struggling to make ends meet. They argue that it is crucial that these funds are used for their intended purpose and not siphoned off through illegal activities such as fronting. The Ministry says the warning it issued serves as a reminder to all stakeholders involved in the administration of these funds to ensure transparency and accountability in their disbursement.

One local commentator said it is important to highlight the impact of fronting activities on the local economy and the livelihoods of Batswana. He said by using locals as a front for foreign-owned businesses, opportunities for local entrepreneurs are stifled, and the economic empowerment of Batswana is hindered. The Ministry’s warning of heavy penalties is a call to action for all stakeholders to work together to eliminate fronting activities and promote a level playing field for local businesses.

Meanwhile, the Ministry of Trade and Industry’s warning of heavy penalties for fronting activities is a necessary step to protect the integrity of local industries and promote economic empowerment for Batswana. “It is imperative that all stakeholders comply with regulations and work towards a transparent and accountable business environment. By upholding the law and cracking down on illegal activities, we can ensure a fair and prosperous future for all Batswana.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Merck Foundation and African First Ladies mark World Health Day 2024

15th April 2024

Merck Foundation, the philanthropic arm of Merck KGaA Germany marks “World Health Day” 2024 together with Africa’s First Ladies who are also Ambassadors of MerckFoundation “More Than a Mother” Campaign through their Scholarship and Capacity Building Program. Senator, Dr. Rasha Kelej, CEO of Merck Foundation emphasized, “At Merck Foundation, we mark World Health Day every single day of the year over the past 12 years, by building healthcare capacity and transforming patient care across Africa, Asia and beyond.

I am proud to share that Merck Foundation has provided over 1740 scholarships to aspiring young doctors from 52 countries, in 44 critical and underserved medical specialties such as Oncology, Diabetes, Preventative Cardiovascular Medicine, Endocrinology, Sexual and Reproductive Medicine, Acute Medicine, Respiratory Medicine, Embryology & Fertility specialty, Gastroenterology, Dermatology, Psychiatry, Emergency and Resuscitation Medicine, Critical Care, Pediatric Emergency Medicine, Neonatal Medicine, Advanced Surgical Practice, Pain Management, General Surgery, Clinical Microbiology and infectious diseases, Internal Medicine, Trauma & Orthopedics, Neurosurgery, Neurology, Cardiology, Stroke Medicine, Care of the Older Person, Family Medicine, Pediatrics and Child Health, Obesity & Weight Management, Women’s Health, Biotechnology in ART and many more”.

As per the available data, Africa has only 34.6% of the required doctors, nurses, and midwives. It is projected that by 2030, Africa would need additional 6.1 million doctors, nurses, and midwives*. “For Example, before the start of the Merck Foundation programs in 2012; there was not a single Oncologist, Fertility or Reproductive care specialists, Diabetologist, Respiratory or ICU specialist in many countries such as The Gambia, Liberia, Sierra Leone, Central African Republic, Guinea, Burundi, Niger, Chad, Ethiopia, Namibia among others. We are certainly creating historic legacy in Africa, and also beyond. Together with our partners like Africa’s First Ladies, Ministries of Health, Gender, Education and Communication, we are impacting the lives of people in the most disadvantaged communities in Africa and beyond.”, added Senator Dr. Kelej. Merck Foundation works closely with their Ambassadors, the African First Ladies and local partners such as; Ministries of Health, Education, Information & Communication, Gender, Academia, Research Institutions, Media and Art in building healthcare capacity and addressing health, social & economic challenges in developing countries and under-served communities. “I strongly believe that training healthcare providers and building professional healthcare capacity is the right strategy to improve access to equitable and quality at health care in Africa.

Therefore, I am happy to announce the Call for Applications for 2024 Scholarships for young doctors with special focus on female doctors for our online one-year diploma and two year master degree in 44 critical and underserved medical specialties, which includes both Online Diploma programs and On-Site Fellowship and clinical training programs. The applications are invited through the Office of our Ambassadors and long-term partners, The First Ladies of Africa and Ministry of Health of each country.” shared Dr . Kelej. “Our aim is to improve the overall health and wellbeing of people by building healthcare capacity across Africa, Asia and other developing countries. We are strongly committed to transforming patientcare landscape through our scholarships program”, concluded Senator Kelej.

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Interpol fugitive escapes from Botswana

15th April 2024

John Isaak Ndovi, a Tanzanian national embroiled in controversy and pursued under a red notice by the International Criminal Police Organization (Interpol), has mysteriously vanished, bypassing a scheduled bail hearing at the Extension 2 Magistrate Court in Gaborone. Previously apprehended by Botswana law enforcement at the Tlokweng border post several months earlier, his escape has ignited serious concerns.

Accused of pilfering assets worth in excess of P1 million, an amount translating to roughly 30,000 Omani Riyals, Ndovi has become a figure of paramount interest, especially to the authorities in the Sultanate of Oman, nestled in the far reaches of Asia.

The unsettling news of his disappearance surfaced following his failure to present himself at the Extension 2 Magistrate Court the preceding week. Speculation abounds that Ndovi may have sought refuge in South Africa in a bid to elude capture, prompting a widespread mobilization of law enforcement agencies to ascertain his current location.

In an official communiqué, Detective Senior Assistant Police Commissioner Selebatso Mokgosi of Interpol Gaborone disclosed Ndovi’s apprehension last September at the Tlokweng border, a capture made possible through the vigilant issuance of the Interpol red notice.

At 36, Ndovi is implicated in a case of alleged home invasion in Oman. Despite the non-existence of an extradition treaty between Botswana and Oman, Nomsa Moatswi, the Director of the Directorate of Public Prosecution (DPP), emphasized that the lack of formal extradition agreements does not hinder her office’s ability to entertain extradition requests. She highlighted the adoption of international cooperation norms, advocating for collaboration through the lenses of international comity and reciprocity.

Moatswi disclosed the intensified effort by law enforcement to locate Ndovi following his no-show in court, and pointed to Botswana’s track record of extraditing two international fugitives from France and Zimbabwe in the previous year as evidence of the country’s relentless pursuit of legal integrity.

When probed about the potential implications of Ndovi’s case on Botswana’s forthcoming evaluation by the Financial Action Task Force (FATF), Moatswi reserved her speculations. She acknowledged the criticality of steering clear of blacklisting, suggesting that this singular case is unlikely to feature prominently in the FATF’s assessment criteria.

 

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