Dibeela, Boko face-off over Transitional Report
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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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.”