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Olopeng to OP: The show must go on

On Wednesday night a circular savingram no 3 of 2017 Ref: OPS 4/26/5 II (101) dated 5th September 2017 titled: Holding Of Music Festivals At Stadia And Associated Public Places, authored by the Permanent Secretary to the President made rounds and went viral on social media.

The Savingram basically bans all Music Festivals at the stadia and other public places in the country. It calls on all local authorities to desist from issuing any permits for such activities in public places. “The recent incident where one young person lost her life and many other attendants lost their property during the music festival at the National Stadium on Saturday 02nd September is regrettable,” reads the directive in part. The directive continues to say the decision affects both planned and future events. “The Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development and that of Youth Empowerment, Sport and Culture Development are directed to ensure that these measures are implemented without fail.”

In response to the Savingram through the facebook platform, the Minister of Youth Empowerment, Sport and Culture Development, Thapelo Olopeng wrote, "It is my responsibility to promote, grow and protect entertainment industry in this country. We will not allow certain individuals to destroy this industry by not complying to set rules. Those who take advantage of alcohol influence to destroy property etc, will be dealt with. I'm on this issue. Give me time." Minister Olopeng also promised to hold a press conference on Monday to address the issue. Ever since he took office Olopeng has been hailed by the entertainment industry practitioners for his contribution to the arts, a seemingly deserted industry but with a lot of potential.

On many occasions the Minister has engaged with artists, fashion designers and beauty queens on issues that he deems important in taking their industry forward. This move has since seen the Miss Botswana Beauty pageant being transferred to his Ministry for better coordination and staging. In one of his engagements with industry experts, Olopeng called on artists to form the Arts Council where all their grievances can be heard and addressed accordingly. This initiative is still on the pipeline and was welcomed by artists.

Directly addressing the Savingram issue, Olopeng further said, “I'm aware of the correspondence from the Office of the President with regard to what happened at the National Stadium during the recent music festival. We all condemn what happened there”. The Savingram decision comes after an unfortunate incident that happened at the National Stadium over the past weekend. A young woman, Nametso Bogopa, who was a third year student at the University of Botswana died following a stampede at one of the gates leading into the stadium as patrons were negotiating their way into venue for the fourth installment of the Gaborone International Music and Culture Week (GIMC) on Saturday night.

An incident as narrated by the event organizer Fish Pabalinga happened after tickets were sold out, about eleven thousand tickets that were printed finished and people still forced their way through. In the process they broke down one of the gates, a group of atleast seven thousand people force their way in causing a stampede that led to the death of the young Bogopa.

Fish Pabalinga distanced himself from the said directive questioning its authenticity. He however said he followed the post he saw on facebook and Minister Olopeng’s response but cannot comment. “We are still waiting to be furnished with the document if it does exist, however if that is true it will be a sad reality”, he said in short. The directive was highly criticised on social media, many commentators said it lacked consultation and the decision was based on emotions.

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Fighting vulture poisoning in KAZA region.

3rd February 2023
As a response to avert vulture poisoning currently going on in Botswana and KAZA region, Birdlife Botswana has collaborated with three other partners (BirdWatch Zambia, BirdLife International & Birdlife Zimbabwe) to tackle wildlife poisoning which by extension negatively affect vulture populations.

The Director of Birdlife Botswana, Motshereganyi Virat Kootshositse has revealed in an interview that the project which is funded by European Union’s main goal is to reduce poisoning related vultures’ death and consequently other wildlife species death within the KAZA region.

He highlighted that Chobe district in Botswana has been selected as a pilot site as it has experienced rampant incidents of vulture poisoning for the past few months. In August this year at least 50 endangered white backed vultures were reported dead at Chobe National Park, Botswana after feeding on a buffalo carcass laced with poison.  In November this year again 43 white backed vultures were found dead and two alive after feeding on a zebra suspected to have poisoned.  Other selected pilots’ sites are Kafue in Zambia and Hwange in Zimbabwe.

Kootshositse further explained they have established a national and regional Wildlife Poisoning Committee. He added that as for the national committee they have engaged various departments such as Crop Productions, Agro Chemicals, Department of Veterinary Services, Department of Wildlife and National Parks and other NGOs such as Raptors Botswana to come together and find a long-lasting solution to address wildlife poisoning in Botswana. ‘Let’s have a strategy or a plan together to tackle wildlife poisoning,’ he stated

He also decried that there is gap in the availability of data about vulture poisoning or wildlife in general. ‘If we have a central point for data, it will help in terms of reporting and advocacy’, he stated

He added that the regional committee comprises of law enforcement officers such as BDF and Botswana police, village leadership such as Village Development Committee and Kgosi. ‘We need to join hand together and protect the wildlife we have as this will increase our profile for conservation and this alone enhances our visitation and boost our local economy,’ he noted

Kootshositse noted that Birdlife together with DWNP also addressed series of meeting in some villages in the Chobe region recently. The purpose of kgotla meetings was to raise awareness on the conservation and protection of vultures in Chobe West communities.

‘After realizing that vulture poisoning in the Chobe areas become frequent, we realise that we need to do something about it.  ‘We did a public awareness by addressing several kgotla meetings in some villages in the Chobe west,’ he stated

He noted that next year they are going to have another round of consultations around the Chobe areas and the approach is to engage the community into planning process. ‘Residents should be part of the plan of actions and we are working with farmers committee in the areas to address vulture poisoning in the area, ‘he added

He added that they have found out that some common reasons for poisoning wildlife are farmers targeting predators such as lions in retaliation to killing of their livestock. Another common incident cross border poaching in the Chobe area as poachers will kills an elephant and poison its carcass targeting vultures because of their aerial circling alerting authorities about poaching activities.

Kootshositse noted that in the last cases it was disheartening the incidents occurred three months apart. He added that for the first time they found that some of the body parts of some vultures were missing. He added harvesting of body parts of vultures is not a common practice in Botswana, although it is used in some parts of Africa. ‘We suspect that someone took advantage of the availability of carcasses and started harvesting their body parts,’

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Giant in the making: Everton Mlalazi

3rd February 2023

The music industry is at a point where artists are jostling for space because there are so many aspirants trying to get their big break, thus creating stiff competition.

In the music business it’s about talent and positioning. You need to be at the right place at the right time with the right people around you to propel you forward.
Against all odds, Everton Mlalazi has managed to takeover the gospel scene effortlessly.
To him, it’s more than just a breakthrough to stardom, but a passion as well as mission directly appointed by the Lord.

Within a short space of 2 years after having decided to persue a solo career, Mlalazi has already made it into international music scene, with his music receiving considerable play on several gospel television and radio stations in Botswana including other regional stations like Trace Africa, One Gospel, Metro FM in South Africa, Hope FM in Kenya and literally all broadcast stations in Zimbabwe.

It doesn’t only stop there, as the musician has already been nominated 2 times and 2 awards which are Bulawayo Arts Awards (BAA) best Male artists 2022, StarFM listerners Choice Award, Best Newcomer 2021 and ZIMA Best Contemporary Gospel 2022, MLA awards Best Male artist & Best Gospel Artist 2022.

Everton’s inspiration stems from his ultimate passion and desire to lead people into Godly ways and it seems it’s only getting started.
The man is a gospel artist to put on your radar.

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African countries call on WHO to increase funding

2nd February 2023

Minister of Health Dr Edwin Dikoloti says Africa member states call on World Health Organization (WHO) to ensure equitable resource allocation for 2024-2025. Dr Dikoloti was speaking this week at the WHO Executive Board Meeting in Geneva, Switzerland.

He said countries agreed that there is need to address the budget and funding imbalances by increasing the programme budget share of countries and regions to 75% for the next year.

“The proposed budget for 2024-2025 marks an important milestone as it is the first in Programme Budget in which country offices will be allocated more than half of the total budget for the biennium. We highly welcome this approach which will enable the organization to deliver on its mandate while fulfilling the expectations for transparency, efficiency and accountability.”

The Botswana Health Minister commended member states on the extension of the General Programme of Work (GPD 13) and the Secretariat work to monitor the progress towards the triple billion targets, and the health-related SDGs.

“We welcome the Director’s general proposed five priorities which have crystalized into the “five Ps” that are aligned with the GPW 13 extension. Impact can only be achieved through close coordination with, and support to national health authorities. As such, the strengthening of country offices is instrumental, with particular focus on strengthening national health systems and on promoting more equitable access to health services.”

According to Dr Dikoloti, the majority of countries with UHC index that is below the global median are in the WHO Africa region. “For that, we call on the WHO to enhance capacity at the regional and national levels in order to accelerate progress. Currently, the regional office needs both technical and financial support in order to effectively address and support country needs.”

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