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BCP wants BOPEU, BOFEPUSU to smoke peace pipe

Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) partner, the Botswana Congress Party (BCP) has taken a position on the on the perceived rivalry between Botswana Federation of Public Sector Unions (BOFEPUSU) and the Botswana Public Employees Union (BOPEU).

Things heated up when BOPEU was represented in one of the court cases by the BCP Presidential spokesperson, Martin Dingake. BCP underscores that BOFEPUSU and BOPEU cordial relations are key to good industrial relations amongst Botswana‘s workforce. In an interview this week, BCP spokesperson, who is also Member of Parliament for Selibe Phikwe West, Dithapelo Keorapetse observed with concern the ensuing volatile industrial relations especially in the public service.

“We have noted particularly the rivalry between BOFEPUSU affiliated unions and BOPEU which culminated in protracted court battles about the Public Service Bargaining Council (PSBC) and 3%/4% salary increment,” he said. According to Keorapetse, the BCP seeks to make it clear that it has resolved not to take a side of either BOFEPUSU or BOPEU. “We are of the view that it is in the best interest of the public service industrial relations that the two formations work together for purposes of collective bargaining.”

According to BCP, only the employer, being the government, stands to benefit from the stand off and the animosity that exists between BOFEPUSU and BOPEU. “Just as the BCP has heeded the call from trade unions to cooperate with other opposition parties in the interest of democracy and Batswana, we encourage not only BOFEPUSU and BOPEU to work together but we also employ the two big federations, being BOFEPUSU and BFTU to join forces for better working conditions of the workers,” said Keorapetse.

“Labour Unions and federations cooperation is just as important as opposition cooperation. It is not helping for BOFEPUSU and BOPEU to be fighting at the door of the PSBC, the duo and other recognized public sector unions should dialogue and engage the government on an inclusive and workable mechanism of participation at the PSBC,” he added. Keorapetse said the BCP believes the current PSBC Constitution has to be reviewed in the interests of civil servants and their unions and federations.

“The government has undermined the PSBC and collective bargaining efforts and has therefore abetted acerbic industrial relations. An ordinary worker in Botswana under the BDP government is worse off; hostile labour laws are passed by parliament regularly, the President and his ministers issue repressive instruments like directives, rules and regulations and policy decisions and the government refuses to sign, ratify and domesticate some ILO Conventions,” emphasized the BCP spokesperson.

“Workers in the public service haven't received any meaningful salary increment for nearly a decade, except for inadequate inflationary adjustments. Against this backdrop, the organization and or unity is the weapon of the workers against a strong government and employers. Without unity and cooperation Labour unions and federations would be weakened and consequently unable to pursue the interests of their members,” said Keorapetse.


In the ongoing court cases between BOFEPUSU, BOPEU, and Government, BCP Presidential Spokesperson, Martin Dingake, a renowned Gaborone attorney, represented BOPEU in a case against BOFEPUSU, who supported the Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) in the 2014 general election.

To emphasise relations between BOFEPUSU and UDC, Advocate Duma Boko, the leader of opposition represented the Federation in the stay of execution case, which was ultimately awarded in favour of BOPEU. According to UDC members, Dingake defied principle when he represented BOPEU in a case whose intention is oppress the workers, take sides with government against BOFEPUSU.

According to the Botswana National Front Youth League (BNFYL) President (on sabbatical leave), Khumoekae Richard, opposition cadres, regardless of profession have a duty bound to defend the principle of bargaining. “It can't be right that we support any case whatsoever that undermines thousands of worker's industrial democracy, which is fulfilled through bargaining,” he says.

Motsabakedi as he is popularly known across political corridors argues that It can't be correct to have top known activists, closer to top leadership in opposition, supporting a case that would see the bargaining principle collapse of which case might have far reaching political consequences in our polity.

“In that case we creating a situation where the BDP regime would be allowed to unilaterally increase workers salaries outside bargaining council, thereby killing legitimate democratic institutions. In the future such must be avoided, and pushed away from leadership position,” said Richard.

“It will be hypocrisy and self-defeating for the opposition to condemn BDP and Khama for announcing salary increments at Moiyabana kgotla meeting, but support such a fundamentally detrimental case that would see all our efforts quashed: now wearing a different musk called profession.” But the BCP spokesperson, Keorapetse told Weekendpost that Richard’s argument does not hold water.

“That is not the issue, we’ve doctors, mechanics, shops attendants, lawyers among others who are never bothered about who their clients are. Why should a private lawyer running a practice and with professional obligation be bothered about who they represent? People raising this issue are extremely hypocritical; they conveniently forget to ask about their own party members who are either employed by BOPEU or are engaged as professionals or are doing business with BOPEU. Dingake is a private lawyer running a law firm; he's bound by the legal practitioners Act and professional ethics to represent his clients,” said Keorapetse.

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ENVIRONMENT ISSUES: Masisi asks Virginia for help

24th March 2023

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.”

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Masisi saddened by deaths of elephant attacks

24th March 2023

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.”

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Gov’t commit to injecting more funds in fighting HIV

24th March 2023

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.”

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