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El-Halabi lands UN (WHO) top post

Ministry of Health and Wellness (MoHW) Permanent Secretary Shenaaz El- Halabi was this week clearing her desk at government enclave after having served for 24 years. Her next stop is Geneva, Switzerland for a plum post with the World Health Organisation (WHO) headquarters.

Halabi joins another Motswana woman in the mould of Dr. Matshidiso Moeti who made history by becoming the first woman to serve as a WHO Regional Director for Africa. WeekendPost has it on good authority that Halabi, who talks health issues with zeal, had not applied for the top post but was instead head hunted and selected by a new team of leadership at WHO as the global organization is currently undergoing restructuring to bring in new brooms and expertise.

“Yes, I am actually leaving Botswana government (MoHW) to join United Nations (UN) specifically the World Health Organisation (WHO). I will be starting on the 4th of December in my new job as an Advisor in the office of the WHO Director General that will be at Geneva. The job entails; advising and looking at the global health issues affecting several countries.” Halabi insisted that WHO is where world health policies are being developed, of course, in connotation with member states.

While she will taking up a global post, she is not worried as she has always worked with other countries (in government and even Southern African Development Community (SADC) countries) and others, “but now I will be specifically focusing on global health issues at that level.”

According to Halabi, this is a great opportunity for not only her personal development but for Botswana as well. She highlighted that these are not positions that you take for granted as being in these positions also mean that you will be an ambassador of Botswana as a whole. “It will also put and market Botswana at a higher level,” she maintained to this publication.

“This position is also important to Botswana. It’s also putting the country in the forefront. It’s also to say when you are selected in these positions, probably they look at where you are coming from, and in our case as Botswana when you look at our health indicators, Botswana is doing very well,” she asserted. She added:”So, I think I was also selected not based on who I am only, but also because of my country which is not doing badly in terms of the health indicators and as it’s exemplary as we keep getting accolades.”
She also pointed out that this will help Botswana because she can benchmark on the best practices from other countries.

A savingram from Hazel Reaitsanye who was acting for PS to MoHW staff members states that “this communiqué serves to officially inform you that the permanent Secretary for Ministry of Health and Wellness Ms Shenaaz El-Halabi is retiring from public service on the 30th November 2017.” “We therefore thank her for the valuable contribution she has made to this country during her stay in this ministry and wish her best of luck in her next endeavour,” it states.  

When asked whether she may have been pushed she quickly dismissed the suggestions: “No, no not at all. I am simply retiring at my own volition. It is a voluntary “early” retirement for me as I look forward to join WHO.” In her own words, Halabi stated that she joined the then Ministry of Health (government) in 1993 starting as a Health Research(er) on C3 government salary scale and progressed with other posts.

Holding an MPH from Boston University School of Public Health, she held several senior positions in the ministry including Director of Public Health as well as contributing to delivering several health research, policy development, monitoring and evaluation projects focused strengthening the country’s health system and improving health outcomes. Halabi was appointed Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Health on 5th April 2015. Prior to this appointment Ms. El-Halabi was the Deputy Permanent Secretary, Preventative Services.

“I think I have done my share. I have been involved in major initiatives that have been undertaken by this particular Ministry and it’s good to change and I think it’s also good to learn new things and most importantly it’s good to move on.”

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DPP halts JSC, Judge’s back to work plan

25th January 2021

The Directorate of Public Prosecutions (DPP)’s decision to reject and appeal the High Court’s verdict on a case involving High Court Judge, Dr Zein Kebonang has frustrated the Judicial Service Commission (JSC) and Judge Kebonang’s back to work discussions.

JSC and Kebonang have been in constant discussions over the latter’s return to work following a ruling by a High Court panel of judges clearing him of any wrong doing in the National Petroleum Fund criminal case filed by the DPP. However the finalization of the matter has been hanged on whether the DPP will appeal the matter or not – the prosecution body has since appealed.

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BDP rejects Saleshando payment proposal

25th January 2021
MP saleshando

Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) top brass has declined a request by Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) to negotiate the legal fees occasioned by 2019 general elections petition in which the latter disputed in court the outcome of the elections.

This publication is made aware that UDC Vice President Dumelang Saleshando was left with an egg on his face after the BDP big wigs, comprising of party Chairman Slumber Tsogwane and Secretary General Mpho Balopi rejected his plea.

“He was told that this is a legal matter and therefore their (UDC) lawyer should engage ours (BDP) for negotiations because it is way far from our jurisdiction,” BDP Head of Communications, Kagelelo Kentse, told this publication.

This spelt doom for the main opposition party and Saleshando who seems not to have confidence and that the UDC lawyers have the dexterity to negotiate these kind of matters. It is not clear whether Saleshando requested UDC lawyer Boingotlo Toteng to sit at the table with Bogopa Manewe, Tobedza and Co, who are representing the BDP to strike a deal as per the BDP top echelons suggested.

“From my understanding, the matter is dealt with politically as the two parties are negotiating how to resolve it, but by far nothing has come to me on the matter. So I believe they are still substantively engaging each other,” Toteng said briefly in an interview on Thursday.

UDC petitioners saddled with costs after mounting an unprecedented legal suit before the court to try and overturn BDP’s October 2019 victory. The participants in the legal matter involves 15 parliamentary candidates’ and nine councillors. The UDC petitioned the court and contested the outcome of the elections citing “irregularities in some of the constituencies”.

In a brief ruling in January 2020, Judge President Ian Kirby on behalf of a five-member panel said: “We have no jurisdiction to entertain these appeals. These appeals must be struck out each with costs including costs of counsel”. This was a second blow to the UDC in about a month after their 2019 appeals were dismissed by the High Court a day before Christmas Day.

This week BDP attorneys decided to attach UDC petitioners’ property in a bid to settle the debts. UDC President Duma Boko is among those that will see their property being attached with 14 of his party members. “We have attached some and we are on course. So far, Dr. Mpho Pheko (who contested Gaborone Central) and that of Dr, Micus Chimbombi (who contested Kgalagadi South) will have their assets being sold on the 5th of February 2021,” BDP attorney Basimane Bogopa said.

Asked whether they met with UDC lawyers to try solve the matter, Bogopa said no and added. “Remember we are trying to raise the client’s funds, so after these two others will follow. Right now we are just prioritising those from Court of Appeal, as soon as the high court is done with taxation we will attach.”

Saleshando, when contacted about the outcomes of the meeting with the BDP, told WeekendPost that: “It would not be proper and procedural for me to tell you about the meeting outcomes before I share with UDC National Executive Committee (NEC), so I will have to brief them first.”

UDC NEC will meet on the 20th of next month to deal with a number of thorny issues including settling the legal fees. Negotiations with other opposition parties- Alliance for Progressives and Botswana Patriotic Front (BPF) are also on the agenda.

Currently, UDC has raised P44 238 of the P565 000 needed to cover bills from the Court of Appeal (CoA). This is the amount in a UDC trust account which is paltry funds equating 7.8 per cent of the overall required money. In the past despite the petitioners maintaining that there was promise to assist them to settle legal fees, UDC Spokesperson, Moeti Mohwasa then said the party has never agreed in no way to help them.

“We have just been put in debt by someone,” one of the petitioners told this publication in the past. “President’s (Duma Boko) message was clear at the beginning that money has been sourced somewhere to help with the whole process but now we are here there is nothing and we are just running around trying to make ends meet and pay,” added the petitioner in an interview
UDC NEC has in December last year directed all the 57 constituencies to each raise a minimum of P10, 000. The funds will be used to settle debts that are currently engulfing the petitioners with Sheriffs, who are already hovering around ready to attach their assets.

The petitioners, despite the party intervention, have every right to worry. “This is so because ‘the deadline for this initiative (P10, 000 per constituency) is the end of the first quarter of this year (2021),” a period in which the sheriffs would have long auctioned the properties.

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Boko-Khama axis viewed with suspicion

25th January 2021

President of the Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) Duma Boko’s alliance with former President Lt Gen Ian Khama continues to unsettle some quarters within the opposition collective, who believe the duo, if not managed, will once again result in an unsuccessful bid for government in 2024.

While Khama has denied that he has undeclared preference to have Boko remaining as leader of UDC, many believe that the two have a common programme, while other opposition leaders remain on the side-lines.

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