Boko welcomes Pilane into the UDC fold
Charismatic Leader of the Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) Advocate Duma Gideon Boko has explained the second coming of embattled Botswana Movement for Democracy (BMD) President, Sidney Pilane as simply a matter of law taking its cause.
Pilane was elected to steer the ship of the BMD over the past weekend in a special congress sanctioned by the UDC mother body. The congress followed disputed elections at a controversial Bobonong congress which gave birth to two groups, with one later bolting out to form the Alliance for Progressives (AP).
Speaking to Weekend Post in an exclusive interview outside the national assembly building this week, the UDC leader highlighted that the coming back of Pilane into the UDC fold, by virtue of being the BMD leader, and as Vice president of the Umbrella is a mere compliance of operation of the law.
As enshrined in the party constitution, there is a provision for two VP’s which are in the form of the BMD’s contentious leader and charming Botswana Congress Party (BCP) president, Dumelang Saleshando. Boko said: “there are certain things that flow from the operation of the law” which is termed ‘ex lege’ in Latin meaning ‘by operation of law’ and that the accepting the BMD and its leader in the UDC is but an example.
“As UDC, following the disputed congress, we ordered the BMD to ‘go and conduct a proper congress and elect a leadership’ so by operation of law if such leadership has been elected, the UDC is ready to work with that leadership,” Boko said in his signature pose while stressing law jargons.
To buttress his position he added that: “it is not sentimental. It’s not a function of love nor hatred nor emotions but rather ‘ex lege’ (by operation of law). So the BMD having complied with all the injunctions and instructions of UDC and having satisfied all the entire requirements laid down, now they can see to transact duties and stake in the Umbrella (UDC) and so they are welcome.”
Boko further defended the UDC VP Pilane saying they will not pre-judge him based on what others say in relation to his alleged association with the Directorate on Intelligence and Security Services (DISS) Director General Isaac Kgosi whom he has legally represented although in his personal capacity. Although the matter pitted him against his former rivals in the BMD, Pilane has insisted that he will continue representing anyone who requires legal representation regardless of their line of work or political affiliation.
On continuing public debate on whether Pilane is credible and has integrity coupled with talks that he is not politically appealing, Boko questioned what that much talked about credibility was based on. He warned that “we are not going to pre-judge any person in the bases of biases and predilection of others. We are not going to hear about a person from that person’s lucid political rivals.”
The UDC leader also highlighted that he has not heard any electorate who has told him anything negative about, in this case Pilane, but he has listened to voters who have something negative to say about him (Boko) because they happen to be members of the ruling Botswana Democratic Party (BDP), and it is their business to critique and criticize them. These are normal and these are the stuff that we will live by as politicians, Boko pointed out.
“So it’s not going to be based on this occasion two or three people expressing misgivings about an individual (Pilane) and all of a sudden the whole world is decided against that particular individual even if it’s not correct.” According to Boko, despite Pilane matter, there are a lot of people who appreciate the UDC and the efforts that it has engaged, and who respect the integrity of a leadership that is not sentimental; not emotional; and a leadership that is very calm and measured and principled in its resolution of whatever is presented before it.
When he was asked whether he is referring to AP, he said, “no, am not saying anybody is emotional but rather that integrity is about dispassionately assessing situations and facts and coming to a reasonable conclusion and determination on those facts.” Integrity, he added that should not be driven by whether a leader hates this one or like that one. He continued: “I may like you very much but still rule against you if you are wrong or if I think you are wrong. It’s not a function of love. I don’t have anybody in mind am just stating a general principle.”
When some say Pilane will dismantle UDC as he presumably did unto BMD, Boko said he is looking forward to that and perhaps more engaging – robustly because it helps the movement go forward. Boko, who is also Botswana National Front (BNF) leader, also said it does not matter whether Pilane was part of a stream that drafted the constitution amid talks that he may have crafted it in some point to favour him.
“On reports that Pilane crafted the constitution to favour him somehow, you know let me tell you, you people don’t understand the constitution.” He said there is something called constitutionalism which exists outside the document of the constitution and which gives life to this document.
“I am a constitutional lawyer by training. So when you talk constitution you are talking to me, you are talking the stuff that I do and that I have read at Harvard School of Law at the United States and at Lund University at Sweden. So I live the constitution, I breath the constitution. I am a constitutional expert. So I don’t get fazed whenever I hear people talk about the constitution no matter who drafted it. In this case Rre Pilane. I take it and apply it and it will do what it had to do.”
The Gaborone Bonnington North lawmaker also said he hears people saying that Pilane will somehow take away something somehow (UDC presidency they say), but they should rather also ask themselves from who is he taking away this (presidency) from. He warned: “even if it may be correct that you have that kind of track record (at BMD) you must know now you dealing with different people altogether (at UDC).”
Boko further cautioned: “so when people tell me, this one is going to cause trouble (Pilane), you know I am a trouble solver and a problem solver. So if there is going to be any problem, I am happy. I am home where there are problems. I will solve the problem even if they present themselves in the shape of a human being I solve problems.”
However Pilane has stated thus far that the BNF, as was agreed from the beginning, will continue under the BNF and that he has no interest in challenging Boko, at least for now. Pilane is expected to join Boko and Saleshando in their campaign rallies across the country soon as the party prepares for a stiff competition from BDP and newly formed AP in 2019 General Elections.
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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 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.”
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.
“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.”
Gov’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.
“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.”