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Friday, 19 April 2024

Dibeela, Boko face-off over Transitional Report

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Botswana National Front (BNF) President, Advocate Duma Boko will face-off with his deputy, Reverend Dr Prince Dibeela over the Transitional Team Report the latter chaired following the application of Botswana Congress Party (BCP) to join the Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC).

The committee has created a stir within UDC, with some party officials questioning its authority following suspicions that its contents will not be accepted by some of the cooperating partners. Lebang Mpotokwane, one of the convenors of the UDC confirmed to this publication that the committee met to discuss the nitty-gritty of the report. Also in attendance were Botswana Peoples Party (BPP) executive led by President, Motlatsi Molapisi as well as head of secretariat, Hildah Sibisibi.

Dibeela’s committee comprised of former Speaker of the National Assembly, Margaret Nasha, former Botswana National Front (BNF) parliamentary candidate for the then Gaborone South constituency, Moses Bantsi and former BNF Secretary General, Tapiso Kgosikoma among others. “We are hoping to meet again next week to conclude the discussion of the report,” said Mpotokwane. “Once we are done with the report its outcomes will be shared with the media.” This publication however understands that the meeting has not been well received within the UDC with President Boko declining to participate in the meeting. This publication has it on good authority that Boko believes that the subject of the meeting is academic since BCP is already a member of the UDC, while Dibeela and his team believe otherwise.

The issue of convenors who were the vital cog in the formation of UDC, is also divisive with some seeing them as surplus to requirements in the new UDC.  The convenors of UDC who are Dibeela, Rev Dr Cosmos Moenga, Emang Maphanyane and Lebang Mpotokwane used to sit in UDC meetings. The initially agreement was that, they will continue being part of the meeting until UDC holds its first congress. Insiders indicate that the BNF leader who did not attend the meeting will be furnished with the report next week after the conclusions.  

Forming integral part of the report is the allocation of responsibilities among the cooperating partners. The initial structure gave BNF the Presidency, and the Treasurer; BMD was given the Secretary General, Youth League Presidency, and the Women’s Youth League Presidency; while the BPP was handed the party chairmanship. Following the Oasis Motel meeting earlier this year in which the BCP was announced as part of the UDC coalition, Boko then told the media that he will have two deputies one from the BMD and the other from the BCP. However, Dibeela’s team was tasked with splitting responsibilities among the two vice presidents. The new UDC does not have a secretary general, with responsibilities under this portfolio now allocated to the two vice presidents.  

The Dibeela Transitional Report has rubbed wounds within the evidently faction ridden coalition, with the others along with the convenors believed to be sympathetic to embattled BMD President Ndaba Gaolathe. In the recent weeks, UDC has been thrown into turmoil in the past few weeks owing to the BMD crisis and the emerging disgruntlement within the BNF central committee. Contacted for comment, the UDC spokesperson, Moeti Mohwasa said he is constrained to comment on the Dibeela meeting which took place during the week because as far as he is concerned it was not a UDC meeting.

“What I know is that BCP has formally joined the UDC and the issue of 1st and 2nd Vice President does not arise,” he said. Mohwasa said all matters were agreed prior to the announcement and what was remaining is a mere formality. Dibeela report indicates that “the UDC shall within a year following the 2019 general elections commence the consultative process that must lead to it becoming a unitary political party. Upon the foregoing event occurring, this constitution shall be amended accordingly to comply with the legal requirements of establishing such a party.”

UDC Chairman, Molapisi has reiterated that the meeting was legal and sanctioned by Boko on the 23rd of February 2017. According to Molapisi the purpose of the meeting was to discussed Dibeela report which has since been handed to Gaolathe and Boko.

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Nigerians, Zimbabweans apply for Chema Chema Fund

16th April 2024

Fronting activities, where locals are used as a front for foreign-owned businesses, have been a long-standing issue in Botswana. These activities not only undermine the government’s efforts to promote local businesses but also deprive Batswana of opportunities for economic empowerment, officials say. The Ministry of Trade and Industry has warned of heavy penalties for those involved in fronting activities especially in relation to the latest popular government initiative dubbed Chema Chema.

According to the Ministry, the Industrial Development Act of 2019 clearly outlines the consequences of engaging in fronting activities. The fines of up to P50,000 for first-time offenders and P20,000 plus a two-year jail term for repeat offenders send a strong message that the government is serious about cracking down on this illegal practice. These penalties are meant to deter individuals from participating in fronting activities and to protect the integrity of local industries.

“It is disheartening to hear reports of collaboration between foreigners and locals to exploit government initiatives such as the Chema Chema Fund. This fund, administered by CEDA and LEA, is meant to support informal traders and low-income earners in Botswana. However, when fronting activities come into play, the intended beneficiaries are sidelined, and the funds are misused for personal gain.” It has been discovered that foreign nationals predominantly of Zimbabwean and Nigerian origin use unsuspecting Batswana to attempt to access the Chema Chema Fund. It is understood that they approach these Batswana under the guise of drafting business plans for them or simply coming up with ‘bankable business ideas that qualify for Chema Chema.’

Observers say the Chema Chema Fund has the potential to uplift the lives of many Batswana who are struggling to make ends meet. They argue that it is crucial that these funds are used for their intended purpose and not siphoned off through illegal activities such as fronting. The Ministry says the warning it issued serves as a reminder to all stakeholders involved in the administration of these funds to ensure transparency and accountability in their disbursement.

One local commentator said it is important to highlight the impact of fronting activities on the local economy and the livelihoods of Batswana. He said by using locals as a front for foreign-owned businesses, opportunities for local entrepreneurs are stifled, and the economic empowerment of Batswana is hindered. The Ministry’s warning of heavy penalties is a call to action for all stakeholders to work together to eliminate fronting activities and promote a level playing field for local businesses.

Meanwhile, the Ministry of Trade and Industry’s warning of heavy penalties for fronting activities is a necessary step to protect the integrity of local industries and promote economic empowerment for Batswana. “It is imperative that all stakeholders comply with regulations and work towards a transparent and accountable business environment. By upholding the law and cracking down on illegal activities, we can ensure a fair and prosperous future for all Batswana.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Merck Foundation and African First Ladies mark World Health Day 2024

15th April 2024

Merck Foundation, the philanthropic arm of Merck KGaA Germany marks “World Health Day” 2024 together with Africa’s First Ladies who are also Ambassadors of MerckFoundation “More Than a Mother” Campaign through their Scholarship and Capacity Building Program. Senator, Dr. Rasha Kelej, CEO of Merck Foundation emphasized, “At Merck Foundation, we mark World Health Day every single day of the year over the past 12 years, by building healthcare capacity and transforming patient care across Africa, Asia and beyond.

I am proud to share that Merck Foundation has provided over 1740 scholarships to aspiring young doctors from 52 countries, in 44 critical and underserved medical specialties such as Oncology, Diabetes, Preventative Cardiovascular Medicine, Endocrinology, Sexual and Reproductive Medicine, Acute Medicine, Respiratory Medicine, Embryology & Fertility specialty, Gastroenterology, Dermatology, Psychiatry, Emergency and Resuscitation Medicine, Critical Care, Pediatric Emergency Medicine, Neonatal Medicine, Advanced Surgical Practice, Pain Management, General Surgery, Clinical Microbiology and infectious diseases, Internal Medicine, Trauma & Orthopedics, Neurosurgery, Neurology, Cardiology, Stroke Medicine, Care of the Older Person, Family Medicine, Pediatrics and Child Health, Obesity & Weight Management, Women’s Health, Biotechnology in ART and many more”.

As per the available data, Africa has only 34.6% of the required doctors, nurses, and midwives. It is projected that by 2030, Africa would need additional 6.1 million doctors, nurses, and midwives*. “For Example, before the start of the Merck Foundation programs in 2012; there was not a single Oncologist, Fertility or Reproductive care specialists, Diabetologist, Respiratory or ICU specialist in many countries such as The Gambia, Liberia, Sierra Leone, Central African Republic, Guinea, Burundi, Niger, Chad, Ethiopia, Namibia among others. We are certainly creating historic legacy in Africa, and also beyond. Together with our partners like Africa’s First Ladies, Ministries of Health, Gender, Education and Communication, we are impacting the lives of people in the most disadvantaged communities in Africa and beyond.”, added Senator Dr. Kelej. Merck Foundation works closely with their Ambassadors, the African First Ladies and local partners such as; Ministries of Health, Education, Information & Communication, Gender, Academia, Research Institutions, Media and Art in building healthcare capacity and addressing health, social & economic challenges in developing countries and under-served communities. “I strongly believe that training healthcare providers and building professional healthcare capacity is the right strategy to improve access to equitable and quality at health care in Africa.

Therefore, I am happy to announce the Call for Applications for 2024 Scholarships for young doctors with special focus on female doctors for our online one-year diploma and two year master degree in 44 critical and underserved medical specialties, which includes both Online Diploma programs and On-Site Fellowship and clinical training programs. The applications are invited through the Office of our Ambassadors and long-term partners, The First Ladies of Africa and Ministry of Health of each country.” shared Dr . Kelej. “Our aim is to improve the overall health and wellbeing of people by building healthcare capacity across Africa, Asia and other developing countries. We are strongly committed to transforming patientcare landscape through our scholarships program”, concluded Senator Kelej.

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Interpol fugitive escapes from Botswana

15th April 2024

John Isaak Ndovi, a Tanzanian national embroiled in controversy and pursued under a red notice by the International Criminal Police Organization (Interpol), has mysteriously vanished, bypassing a scheduled bail hearing at the Extension 2 Magistrate Court in Gaborone. Previously apprehended by Botswana law enforcement at the Tlokweng border post several months earlier, his escape has ignited serious concerns.

Accused of pilfering assets worth in excess of P1 million, an amount translating to roughly 30,000 Omani Riyals, Ndovi has become a figure of paramount interest, especially to the authorities in the Sultanate of Oman, nestled in the far reaches of Asia.

The unsettling news of his disappearance surfaced following his failure to present himself at the Extension 2 Magistrate Court the preceding week. Speculation abounds that Ndovi may have sought refuge in South Africa in a bid to elude capture, prompting a widespread mobilization of law enforcement agencies to ascertain his current location.

In an official communiqué, Detective Senior Assistant Police Commissioner Selebatso Mokgosi of Interpol Gaborone disclosed Ndovi’s apprehension last September at the Tlokweng border, a capture made possible through the vigilant issuance of the Interpol red notice.

At 36, Ndovi is implicated in a case of alleged home invasion in Oman. Despite the non-existence of an extradition treaty between Botswana and Oman, Nomsa Moatswi, the Director of the Directorate of Public Prosecution (DPP), emphasized that the lack of formal extradition agreements does not hinder her office’s ability to entertain extradition requests. She highlighted the adoption of international cooperation norms, advocating for collaboration through the lenses of international comity and reciprocity.

Moatswi disclosed the intensified effort by law enforcement to locate Ndovi following his no-show in court, and pointed to Botswana’s track record of extraditing two international fugitives from France and Zimbabwe in the previous year as evidence of the country’s relentless pursuit of legal integrity.

When probed about the potential implications of Ndovi’s case on Botswana’s forthcoming evaluation by the Financial Action Task Force (FATF), Moatswi reserved her speculations. She acknowledged the criticality of steering clear of blacklisting, suggesting that this singular case is unlikely to feature prominently in the FATF’s assessment criteria.

 

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