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Bangwaketse not amused by Khama‘s kgotla politics

Outgoing president Lt General Dr Seretse Khama Ian Khama seems to have rubbed some of Bangwaketse morafe the wrong way when he chose to speak politics in their Kgotla during his farewell visit to the Bangwaketse capital this week Tuesday.

The morafe is not pleased that Khama whose days as state president are numbered turned their main kgotla into a political ground, and particularly that he made advances at a Umbrella Democratic Change (UDC) Member of Parliament (MP) who was at the same farewell meeting.

The BDP leader during his address cajoled Kanye South legislator, Abram Kesupile, asking him to rejoin the Botswana Democratic Party. Prior to that Khama had conceded that it was not allowed that he spoke politics in the kgotla, however insisting that he could not hold back the urge to recruit Kesupile. Khama told the fully packed kgotla that he wanted Kesupile to rejoin his party and return home. According to Khama, Kesupile’s being in the opposition was as a result of him being in ‘lost’ as he really belonged with the BDP.

“Ke leboga mopalamente Kesupile go bua sentle ka nna, ke nale regret lefa resa tshwanela go bua dipolotiki mo kgotleng, regret ke gore okile wane onale rona obo ore tlogela mme ke batla gore o boele mo gae pele ke tlogela tiro.” (I thank MP Kesupile for speaking so well of me, and though we are not supposed to speak politics in the Kgotla, I have my regrets, which is that you used to be with us but you left. I want you to come back home before I retire).

Khama went on to say that he will approach Kesupile to rejoin the ruling party as he will have ample time after his retirement to show Kesupile the way to retrace his footsteps. For some, Khama‘s politicking was a sign of disrespect as the president obviously knew he was not supposed to bring politics in the kgotla setup. One Kanye resident who is also a tribal leader told WeekendPost in the sidelines of the kgotla meeting that the president’s actions have the potential of making their kgotla lose its respect and integrity. “It is very surprising what the president did. We are not used to that kind of thing where political discussions are brought up in the kgotla, we don’t have a problem with politics but they are not to be brought up in the kgotla anymore.”

Another resident, who is also a UDC follower expressed concern about the conduct and stated that, had Khama recruited Kesupile to his party in any other set up there would have not been a problem, but the problem arises when he chooses to use the kgotla for that. He said that the kgotla should be turned into a freedom square by anyone. “Bangwaketse main Kgotla has been one of the most respected areas over the years but if now politicians can come and talk their politics in it, it loses that attached respect, it is not good and I am expecting our dikgosi to condemn this, it should never happen again in future,” the unhappy resident said.

When reached for comment about the president‘s remarks, Kesupile said UDC members should rest assured that he will not be shaken despite Khama’ s public courting of him to BDP. The soft spoken legislator pointed out that he has been aware of the ruling party’s being interested in him and said ‘‘I am not surprised about what he (Khama) said in front of the multitudes of Bangwaketse because they (BDP) have been courting me for some time and I will not join them.”

Kesupile said for now, he is committed to the UDC because he is in the position he is in because of the Botswana National Front ticket and he has been delegated by the people who he will not betray at all by joining BDP. “Nna ke romilwe ke ma BNF kafa tlase ga UDC ebile ga nkake ka tsewa ke phefo ka nna mo Domkrag, nyaa ga gona sepe seo.”

He also pointed out that he has been approached by three current cabinet ministers before and he turned them all down. He added that he knew that Khama was serious when he said he would approach him again in person and he is sure he would turn him down too. At the meeting, Khama told Kanye villagers that their water shortage crisis will be dealt with as the village will be connected to the North-South carrier project with the process to begin this year. He was responding to a plea by Kgosi Malope II who indicated that the village was faced with water supply challenges, and called on the government to rectify the issue.

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Veteran journalist Karima Brown succumbs to COVID-19

4th March 2021
Karima-Brown

South Africa’s veteran journalist and broadcaster, Karima Brown has died on Thursday morning from COVID-19 related complications.

Media reports from the neighbouring country say Brown had been hospitalized and on a ventilator.

Brown anchored eNCA’s The Fix and was a regular political analyst on the eNCA channel.

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Botswana imports in numbers

1st March 2021
Botswana-imports

For so many years, Botswana has been trying to be a self-sufficient country that is able to provide its citizens with locally produced food products. Through appropriate collaborations with parastatals such as CEDA, ISPAAD and LEA, government introduced initiatives such as the Horticulture Impact Accelerator Subsidy-IAS and other funding facilities to facilitate horticultural farmers to increase production levels.

Now that COVID-19 took over and disrupted the food value chain across all economies, Botswana government introduced these initiatives to reduce the import bill by enhancing local market and relieve horticultural farmers from loses or impacts associated with the pandemic.

In more concerted efforts to curb these food crises in the country, government extended the ploughing period for the Southern part of Botswana. The extension was due to the late start of rains in the Southern part of the country.

Last week the Ministry of Agriculture extended the ploughing period for the Northern part of the country, mainly because of rains recently experienced in the country. With these decisions taken urgently, government optimizes food security and reliance on local food production.

When pigs fly, Botswana will be able to produce food to feed its people. This is evident by the numbers released by Statistics Botswana on imports recorded in November 2020, on their International Merchandise Trade Statistics for the month under review.

The numbers say Botswana continues to import most of its food from neighbouring South Africa. Not only that, Batswana relies on South Africa to have something to smoke, to drink and even use as machinery.

According to data from Statistics Botswana, the country’s total imports amounted to P6.881 Million. Diamonds contributed to the total imports at 33%, which is equivalent to P2.3 Million. This was followed by food, beverages and tobacco, machinery and electrical equipment which stood at P912 Million and P790 Million respectively.

Most of these commodities were imported from The Southern African Customs Union (SACU). The Union supplied Botswana with imports valued at over P4.8 Million of Botswana’s imports for the month under review (November 2020). The top most imported commodity group from SACU region was food, beverages and tobacco, with a contribution of P864 Million, which is likely to be around 18.1% of the total imports from the region.

Diamonds and fuel, according to these statistics, contributed 16.0%, or P766 Million and 13.5% or P645 Million respectively. Botswana also showed a strong and desperate reliance on neighbouring South Africa for important commodities. Even though the borders between the two countries in order to curb the spread of the COVID-19 virus, government took a decision to open border gates for essential services which included the transportation of commodities such as food.

Imports from South Africa recorded in November 2020 stood at P4.615 Million, which accounted for 67.1% of total imports during the month under review. Still from that country, Botswana bought food, beverages and tobacco worth P844 Million (18.3%), diamonds, machinery and fuel worth P758 Million, P601 Million and P562 Million respectively.

Botswana also imported chemicals and rubber products that made a contribution of 11.7% (P542.2 Million) to total imports from South Africa during the month under review, (November 2020).

The European Union also came to Botswana’s rescue in the previous year. Botswana received imports worth P698.3 Million from the EU, accounting for 10.1% of the total imports during the same month. The major group commodity imported from the EU was diamonds, accounting for 86.9% (P606.6 Million), of imports from the Union. Belgium was the major source of imports from the EU, at 8.9% (P609.1 Million) of total imports during the period under review.

Meanwhile, Minister of Finance and Economic Development Thapelo Matsheka says an improvement in exports and commodity prices will drive growth in Sub-Saharan Africa. Growth in the region is anticipated to recover modestly to 3.2% in 2021. Matsheka said this when delivering the Annual Budget Speech virtually in Gaborone on the 1st of February 2021.

He said implementation of the African Continental Free Trade Area Agreement (AfCFTA), which became operational in January 2021, could reduce the region’s vulnerability to global disruptions, as well as deepen trade and economic integration.

“This could also help boost competition and productivity. Successful implementation of AfCFTA will, of necessity, require Member States to eliminate both tariffs and non-tariff barriers, and generally make it easier to do business and invest across borders.”

Matsheka, who is also a Member of Parliament for Lobatse, an ailing town which houses the struggling biggest meat processing company in the country- Botswana Meat Commission, (BMC), said the Southern African Customs Union (SACU) recognizes the need to prioritize the key processes required for the implementation of the AfCFTA.

“The revised SACU Tariff Offer, which comprises 5,988 product lines with agreed Rules of Origin, representing 77% of the SACU Tariff Book, was submitted to the African Union Commission (AUC) in November 2020. The government is in the process of evaluating the tariff offers of other AfCFTA members prior to ratification, following which Botswana’s participation in AfCFTA will come to effect.”

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Sheila Tlou: On why women don’t get votes

1st March 2021
Sheila Tlou

BARAPEDI KEDIKILWE

Women continue to shadow men in politics – stereotypes such as ‘behind every successful man there is a woman’ cast the notion that women cannot lead. The 2019 general election recorded one of Botswana’s worst performances when it comes to women participation in parliamentary democracy with only three women elected to parliament.

Botswana’s former Minister of Health, Professor Sheila Tlou who is currently the Co-Chair, Global HIV Prevention Coalition & Nursing Now and an HIV, Gender & Human Rights Activist is not amused by the status quo. Tlou attributes this dilemma facing women to a number of factors, which she is convinced influence the voting patterns of Batswana when it comes to women politicians.

Professor Tlou plugs the party level voting systems as the first hindrance that blocks women from ascending to power. According to the former Minister of Health, there is inadequate amount of professionalism due to corrupt internal party structures affecting the voters roll and ultimately leading to voter apathy for those who end up struck off the voters rolls under dubious circumstances.

Tlou also stated that women’s campaigns are often clean; whilst men put to play the ‘politics is dirty metaphor using financial muscle to buy voters into voting for them without taking into consideration their abilities and credibility. The biggest hurdle according to Tlou is the fallacy that ‘Women cannot lead’, which is also perpetuated by other women who discourage people from voting for women.

There are numerous factors put on the table when scrutinizing a woman, she can be either too old, or too young, or her marital status can be used against her. An unmarried woman is labelled as a failure and questioned on how she intends on being a leader when she failed to have a home. The list is endless including slut shaming women who have either been through a divorce or on to their second marriages, Tlou observed.

The only way that voters can be emancipated from this mentality according to Tlou is through a robust voter education campaign tailor made to run continuously and not be left to the eve of elections as it is usually done. She further stated that the current crop of women in parliament must show case their abilities and magnify them – this will help make it clear that they too are worthy of votes.

And to women intending to run for office, Tlou encouraged them not to wait for the eleventh hour to show their interest and rather start in community mobilisation projects as early as possible so that the constituents can get to know them and their abilities prior to the election date.

Youthful Botswana National Front (BNF) leader and feminist, Resego Kgosidintsi blames women’s mentality towards one another which emanates from the fact that women have been socialised from a tender age that they cannot be leaders hence they find it difficult to vote for each other.

Kgosidintsi further states that, “Women do not have enough economic resources to stage effective campaigns. They are deemed as the natural care givers and would rather divert their funds towards raising children and building homes over buying campaign materials.”

Meanwhile, Vice President of the Alliance for Progressives (AP), Wynter Mmolotsi agrees that women’s participation in politics in Botswana remains a challenge. To address this Mmolotsi suggested that there should be constituencies reserved for women candidates only so that the outcome regardless of the party should deliver a woman Member of Parliament.

Mmolotsi further suggested that Botswana should ditch the First Past the Post system of election and opt for the proportional representation where contesting parties will dutifully list able women as their representatives in parliament.

On why women do not get elected, Mmolotsi explained that he had heard first hand from voters that they are reluctant to vote for women since they have limited access to them once they have won; unlike their male counterparts who have proven to be available night or day.

The pre-historic awarding of gender roles relegating women to be pregnant and barefoot at home and the man to be out there fending for the family has disadvantaged women in political and other professional careers.

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