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I do not have keys to Gcwihaba Khama

President Lt Gen Ian Khama has refuted claims that he in possession of keys to the Gcwihaba Caves but admitting that one of the caverns is locked.

Speaking at his farewell Kgotla meeting in Maun he said the cavern was locked to protect members of the public from dangerous marauding snakes in the caverns. According to Khama, the keys are with the Department of National Museum, Monuments and Gallery.
Questions had also been raised over Khama’s enchantment with the Gcwihaba Caves in Ngamiland and how Khama have come to own an island home at Shakawe.

The last time Khama addressed a Kgotla meeting in Maun West was in 2012. Residents had for many years requested Minister Tshekedi Khama to address them on these concerns but he never came.  However as Khama nears his March 31 retirement date, governments relationship with Batawana has surprisingly radically changed.

In December last year, Tshekedi Khama, Minister of Environment and Natural Resources, conservation and Tourism finally addressed Batawana royals on some of the tribe’s concerns. The main issue on the agenda was reportedly the protracted Moremi Game reserve issue which has been a thorn between the tribe and government.  It was the first time minister Khama had addressed since the tribe had requested for a meeting with him since 2015. However a decision on the issue has not yet been finalised.

It is understood that Minister Khama in that meeting made an undertaking that Batawana will be given some tourism concessions in the Okavango Delta something many believe explains the newly found love between Kgosi Moremi, Batawana and Khama’s government.  According to a highly placed source with links to the royal family, a breakthrough has not been reached on concessions allocation to the Morafe. “It is true they promised to allocate Batawana some concessions as compensation for the Moremi Game Reserve. But we are not happy as the concessions they are promising to us are not prime tourism concessions. So the negotiations   are still on.”

At this farewell tour in Maun on Thursday afternoon Khama was showered with 30 cattle, 20 goats, 16 chickens and 1 donkey as farewell presents. He used the gathering to scorn his political nemesis for finding themselves with a humble pie to eat for spreading rumors that he was a dictator. “Where are all the people who have rumor mongering that I am a dictator who will refuse to abdicate power after serving my term.”

Meanwhile the biggest talking point coming from the meeting was the apparent newly found cooperation between Khama and Tawana Moremi. Khama promised to take Moremi to Gcwihaba Caves after their retirement. Moremi also revealed that he is retiring from politics after serving his current term.  Moremi is the Batawana Chief and Maun West Member of Parliament. Over the years, Moremi and Khama did not see eye to eye with Moremi using every available opportunity to express his disdain to Khama.  During the meeting, Moremi deviated from his norm of attacking Khama. Moremi said he always knew that Khama will hand power when his term ends contrary to what others believed. 

Moremi further expressed his admiration for Seretse Khama, Botswana’s late first president and father to the current outgoing president. He advised Ian to read extensively books about the legacy of Seretse Khama, underscoring this with a rhetorical question:” I wonder if you know Seretse Khama very well.”  Moremi further volunteered to help the outgoing president in the quest of reading and knowing, his father, Seretse Khama. 

Moremi has in the past always used his Kgotla meetings to express his discontentment with Khama’s leadership. At the centre of his discontentment has dominance of the tourism industry by foreigners. Moremi has also been known to be vocal on the ownership of Moremi Game Reserve (MGR) which is both claimed by Batawana and government. Established in the Batawana tribal land in 1962 for conservation of wildlife, MGR was transferred to government but the tribe contends that they still own the property and want to accrue some royalties from its tourism.

On another issue President Ian Khama once again fired another salvo at US president Donald Trump advising him to come for a free lesson of Ubuntu in Africa. Khama’s second blow on Trump for his infamous ‘Shithole’ description of African Countries came just days after another African leader; Yoweri Museveni of Uganda reportedly praised Trump for being frank about Africa by calling her in the vulgar name.

Khama however called Trump ‘Mr Fake news’ saying he is ‘ill-mannered’ for insulting African countries. President Khama said if Trump continues to be ill-mannered, Africans will show him how to behave. Khama opined that Trump seems to think that being the President of the most powerful nation in the world gives him powers to be disrespectful. “As a leader, you have to show humility not go around insulting others. When you we will show you your position. Khama preached the concept of Ubuntu Botho which underscores humanity to others. 

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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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