Botswana’s confidential plan for Zimbabwe crisis
While the sudden takeover of power by the military had seemingly caused panic and anxiety amongst Zimbabweans, the Botswana government had secretly prepared for the possible crisis and put measures in place to deal with the situation.
A plan was hatched whose objective was to guide government agencies in responding comprehensively to the envisaged influx of immigrants from Zimbabwe. But things took a quick turn when soldiers and Zimbabwe clerics negotiated with former strong man, Robert Mugabe to step down and hand over to his disposed former deputy Emerson Mnangagwa. The army general who led the army to the capital Harare, General Constatine Chiwega has since been appointed Vice President.
According to a confidential report from the Office of the President labeled ‘Emergency Preparedness and response plan for the possible influx of immigrants in Botswana’, there was no plausible prospect of resolving the crises in the foreseeable future.
“The cumulative effect can be expected to reach a breaking point sooner or later, resulting in what could be a political melt-down. This eventually could lead to a sudden surge of immigrants into Botswana,” states the document. A total of 1500 soldiers were dispatched along the border front with Zimbabwe.
The document also narrates that as a country that would be immediately affected, Botswana had to make an emergency contingency plan that would address the situation and ensure she is not caught unaware. The groups of people that were catered for were the new Zimbabwean refugees; Zimbabwean refugees already in Botswana; persons who were refugees from third countries in Zimbabwe; third country nationalities, illegal immigrants from Zimbabwe residents in Botswana and Batswana living in Zimbabwe.
The document reveals that Botswana anticipated close to 5000people to enter Botswana during the crisis period, but there was a problem, “there are currently no facilities available to handle the envisaged 5000 immigrants,” noted the document which addressed the situation in Zimbabwe then.
Botswana had prepared to receive all refugees coming from Zimbabwe without exception. The report further states that the situation in Zimbabwe remains volatile until a lasting solution is achieved. The Botswana Police service had also deployed its personnel and resources to strategic points at the border area with Zimbabwe.
When there was an expected influx of refugees from Zimbabwe into Botswana in 2008 a multi-sectoral Contingency Plan was developed to guide the implementation of preparedness and emergency response. “The motivation at the time was informed by the controversial land appropriation by the Zimbabwe Government, the contentious general elections, worsening economic downturn and the resultant political instability.”
The Botswana Government had observed that since 2008, the problems have been mounting in Zimbabwe and this coupled with the political stabilization intervention by the military could culminate in the surge of people fleeing the country. Botswana as a neighboring country to Zimbabwe and sharing the border could face an influx of immigrants if the situation deteriorate. Therefore it is important to prepare to respond to any possible influx,” observed the strategists behind the latest plan.
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ENVIRONMENT ISSUES: Masisi asks Virginia for help
President Mokgweetsi Masisi says the issue of sustainable natural resources management has always been an important part of Botswanaâ€™s national development agenda.
Masisi was speaking this week on the occasion of a public lecture at Virginia Polytechnic, under theme, â€śMerging Conservation, Democracy and Sustainable Development in Botswana.â€ť
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).
â€śIt 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,â€ť 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 â€śwe require to meet our socio-economic development needs on a sustainable basis,â€ť 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. â€śIt is our national interest to forestall the dire consequences of animal diseases on our communities livelihoods.â€ť
President Masisi hoped that both Botswana and Virginia could help each other in curbing contagious diseases of wildlife.
â€śWe 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.â€ť
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.
â€śWater pollution also kills aquatic life, such as fish, which is one of humanityâ€™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.â€ť
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.
â€śIn 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 â€śWe need more capacitation to deal with and contain other types of microbial that affect both animals and human health.â€ť
Masisi saddened by deaths of elephant attacks
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.
â€śCommunities 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.â€ť
In 2018, Nthobogang Samokwaseâ€™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 couldnâ€™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 elephantâ€™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. â€śThis has been possible due to progressive conservation policies, partnerships with the communities, and investment in wildlife management programmes.â€ť
In order to benefit further from wildlife, Masisi indicated that government has re-introduced controlled hunting in 2019 after a four-year pause. â€śThe 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.â€ť
He stressed that for conservation to succeed, the local people must be involved and derive benefits from the natural resources within their localities.
â€śThere 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.â€ť
Masisi stated that Botswana is open to collaborative opportunities, â€śparticularly 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.â€ť
Govâ€™t commit to injecting more funds in fighting HIV
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.
â€śIt 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.â€ť
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 â€śwe reach the elimination of HIV and AIDS as a public health threat by 20230,â€ť he said.
â€śI 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.â€ť
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.
â€śThere 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.â€ť
â€śThese 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.â€ť
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.
â€śThese 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 countryâ€™s response to the HIV and AIDS pandemic.â€ť