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BCP opts legal route to address Botswanas woes

The Botswana Congress Party (BCP) has decided to mount a legal challenge against the government on a number of contentious issues. Prominent among the issues is the introduction of the Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs) and the planned Air Botswana Privatization.

Speaking at the party national conference in Francistown, party leader, Dumelang Saleshando the introduction of EVMs and the other changes made to the electoral laws must be challenged. He observed that it is important to protect the integrity of the country’s electoral process. “Members of the public through Kgotla meetings have told the IEC that they reject the EVM in its entirety but it is clear that the IEC in alliance with the executive has decided that public opinion does not matter and the EVM will be forced down our throats. It should also be noted that the IEC has not subjected the procurement process of the EVM to a competitive bidding process as is the norm. This adds to our suspicion that there is more than meets the eye with the EVM project,” he said.

Air Botswana privatization

The BCP president noted that there are other issues of national interest that the party has been contemplating taking to the courts including the Air Botswana privatization. He said for many years Air Botswana has been flouted as a candidate for privatization. “In 2007, following recommendations to cabinet by the then Presidential Business and Economic Advisory Council, government hastily engaged in a process to sell Air Botswana to Air Link of South Africa. A Parliamentary motion to halt the process was not adequate to halt the process. It was only when the BCP issued notice to sue that government retreated.” He noted that more recently, President Lt Gen Ian Khama issued a directive for Air Botswana to be sold to Wilderness Safari, a company in which he has financial interest. In essence, the President was to become both the seller and the buyer of Air Botswana.

Sale of Morupule B power plant

Saleshando said billions of pula have been invested into the construction of the Morupule Power plant. He indicated that there have been reports suggesting that this plant may be sold. When national resources are disposed in a secretive manner, this can only be aimed at concealing corruption. “We have been closely following developments around Morupule B and will take government to court should we establish that government intends to proceed with the sale,” said Saleshando. 

Self- Inflicted Harm medical policy

The BCP President also laid a charge against the Ministry of Health and Wellness which recently circulated a savingram on “Removal of Medical Cover for Self-Inflicted Harm”.  He said the instruction to medical personnel was for them to discriminate patients on the basis of their lifestyle. Saleshando said his party will be challenging the formulation of this policy as it offends both the constitution as well as the ethical conduct of medical personnel.

Construction at Mosu

“In 2014, we lodged a complaint with the Office of the Ombudsman regarding the alleged use of public resources in the construction of a private home for the President. The Ombudsman chose to ignore the issue until her retirement. We have held meetings with the recently appointed Ombudsman who has promised to investigate and report back to us. There is need to consider legal options as the findings of the Ombudsman are not considered binding,” observed Saleshando.

He said it is important for the BCP to pursue these cases to safeguard the public goods against wanton looting. Saleshando noted that the amendment of the retired presidents’ pension law was a firm confirmation that the appetite by the BDP leadership to grab what they can get from State coffers is unlimited. He is of the view that this will only get worse as we approach elections and the realization that their days in government are numbered.


However Saleshando shared the challenges that will come as a result of going to court route to deal with these issues: “Court cases are expensive though imperative at times. The party is in the process of exploring opportunities for collaboration with organizations that share our concern about the issues we want to pursue through the courts. We will also be appealing to the business community as well as the larger public to contribute financially for the court cases.

 

To this end, we have opened an account with Rahim Khan Attorneys for public contributions and pledge to fully account to the public for the funds they will hopefully contribute. Special thanks to the team of attorneys who have been handling all the legal issues on behalf of the party at no charge for their services. We do however need to raise funds and cushion them against excessive costs for their law firms.”

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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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