Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs) of northern Botswana are scheduled to assemble in Maun and Selebi Phikwe this winter to review the role of NGOs in Botswana’s development and consider issues to be discussed at the 2nd Annual Stakeholder Forum organized by the NGO Council.
At a meeting in Francistown on 25th April, a planning group met to plan the agenda for the District Dialogue. Comprising of both NGOs and Community-Based Organisation (CBOs), the meeting enjoyed the support of both government and the Botswana Coalition of Non-Governmental Organisations (BOCONGO).
The participants were welcomed by the Deputy Mayor of Francistown City, Honorable Mr. Godisang Radisigo who described himself as a strong believer in the potential of NGOs to meaningfully contribute to a better Botswana. From his welcome remarks the Assistant Mayor said NGOs should network to promote experience sharing with other organizations’ as well as providing assistance to members on issues relating to bonding, capacity building, and information dissemination.
He said effective and informed consultation is the best way of linking citizens with government in addition that he would like to see youth working in NGOs and CBOs and excelling. He said they should be challenged, especially those in major positions, in running organisations.
“Youth are dragging their feet because they are not given a chance to prove themselves and I am encouraging you to work together to achieve a common goal”, said Mr. Radisigo. He requested to include the local government in the next ASF II which will be held on the 20th to 23rd June 2017. He also said limited access to information is a major challenge in Botswana therefore involving Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development will be a step ahead since their presence will give them a true perspective of what is happening.
The Deputy Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Nationality, Immigration and Gender Affairs and Co-chair of the NGO Council, Mr Montshiwa Monty Montshiwa officially opened the meeting. In his official opening, Mr Montshiwa said “In an effort to address sustainability of NGOs, a new era of collaboration and partnership building between the Government and the NGOs was established by way of appointment of the NGO Council; a structure derived from the NGO Policy”.
The purpose of the National Non – Governmental Organisations Policy is to provide a framework to guide relations, including the institutional and administrative structure and processes for overseeing these relations. The NGO Policy represents government`s commitment to work with NGOs as the relationship has been rather informal in the past.
He defined an NGO as an apolitically formed autonomous organization that is only involved in the socio-economic development of its constituents, that possess nonprofit status and whose primary motivation is to pursue an identifiable set of interests of public, community and or group significance as defined in its constitution or deed of trust. He also stated that the NGO policy seeks to provide a framework to achieve and promote overall efficiency and effectiveness in service delivery; to promote mobilization and utilization of resources between key stakeholders in national development and to promote partnership and collaboration between NGOs, the government and other stakeholders.
NGO Council Coordinator Ms. Diana Meswele said another purpose of the meeting was to prepare for the upcoming District Dialogue fora in Maun, Kang, Molepolole and Selibe Phikwe, which will be attended by civil society, government, local authorities, private sector and other relevant partners. She said the district level meetings will seek to nurture trust and shared understanding of critical development issues in each district as well as progressively building a common platform for action across different actors.
From the feedback on the 2015 Inaugural Annual Stakeholder Forum Dr. Gaontebale Mokgosi, a Board Member of the NGO Council, stressed the aim of the forum as being to open dialogue around the need to forge a rejuvenated partnership for sustainable development between CBOs, government and the private sector.
Such a partnership will be a critical enabler to address issues of concern such as poverty and widening a gap between the rich and the poor and even unequal opportunities for children and youth. She invited the participants to review the recommendations made during the inaugural Annual Stakeholder Forum (ASF) of 2015 and reflect on the achievements made to-date in the implementation of the recommendations of ASF 1. Participants included representatives from the performing arts NGOs, Child Rights, Community-Based Natural Resources Management, District-level civil society coalitions, Nature Conservation, Botswana Council of Disabled and other indigenous groups.
When giving vote of thanks, the District Commissioner of Francistown Mrs. Chabongwa Matseka said CBOs and NGOs are the key to the development of the country as they play a significant role and shouldn’t be left behind. She said most of the people who work hard in making these organisations are striving towards winning. “From the meeting, there was harmony and that is a clear guideline of knowing what we are here for, we shall see change,” said Ms Matseka.
Motlhatlosi Kgosintwa works for the Kalahari Conservation Society
The Minister of Foreign Affairs, Dr. Lemogang Kwape says Botswana has not taken any position regarding the killing of a renowned human rights lawyer, Thulani Maseko, who was gunned down at his house in Mbabane, Eswatini.
In a brief interview with WeekendPost, Dr Kwape said Botswana has not yet taken any position regarding his death. He said the purported incident should be thoroughly probed before Botswana can form an opinion based on the findings of the inquiries.
â€śBotswana generally condemns any killing of human life by all means,â€ť says Dr. Kwape. He wouldnâ€™t want to be dragged on whether Botswana will support the suspension of Eswatini from SADC.
â€śWe will be guided by SADC organ Troika if they can be an emergency meeting. I am not sure when the meeting will be called by Namibian president,â€ś he said.
However, the Namibian president Hage Geingob notes with deep concern reports coming out of Eswatini about the killing of Mr. Maseko. In a statement, he called upon the â€śGovernment of the Kingdom of Eswatini to ensure that the killing of Maseko is swiftly, transparently and comprehensively investigated, and that any or all persons suspected of committing this heinous crime are brought to justice.â€ť
Maseko was chairperson of the Multi-Stakeholder Forum which was established as a coalition of non-State actors to advocate for a process of national political dialogue aimed at resolving the security and political challenges confronting the Kingdom.
â€śSADC expresses its deepest and heartfelt condolences to the family of Mr. Maseko, his friends, colleagues, and to the people of the Kingdom of Eswatini for the loss of Mr. Maseko. In this context, SADC further calls upon the people of the Kingdom of Eswatini to remain calm, exercise due care and consideration whilst the appropriate structures conduct the investigations and bring the matter to completion,â€ť the statement says.
Geingob reiterated the need for peaceful resolution of the political and security challenges affecting the country.
Meanwhile political activists are calling on SADC to suspend Eswatini from the block including the African Union as well.
State prosecutor, Seeletso Ookeditse revealed before the Broadhurst Magistrate Jobbie Moilatshimo that the third accused involved in the murder of Barulaganye Aston, has interfered with the State witnesses again.
The second and third accused (Lefty Kosie and Outlwile Aston) were previously accused of interference when they were caught in possession of cellphones in prison. They were further accused of planning to kill the deceasedâ€™s brother, who is currently the guardian to the children of the deceased.
Ookeditse indicated that Outlwile had earlier went to challenge the magistrateâ€™s decision of denying him bail at the High Court before Judge Michael Motlhabi.
â€śThe third accused approached the High Court and made a bail application, which was dismissed on the same day,â€ť Ookeditse said.
However, even after the High Court verdict on their bail application, the duo (Kosie and Aston) has once again applied for bail this week.
Ookeditse plead with the court to stop the accused from abusing the court process.
â€śYesterday, Directorate of Public Prosecutions (DPP) received papers of his bail application filed before the Broadhurst Magistrates Court. However, the papers do not speak to changed circumstances, therefore this back and forth about bail must be put to a stop,â€ť said the State prosecutor.
While giving evidence before court, the Investigations Officer, Detective Inspector Quite Zhalamonto, said his investigations have proved that there is interference continuing regarding the accused trio.
He told the court that on the 12thÂ of January 2023, he received a report from Thato Aston, who is the son of the accused and the deceased. The son had alleged to the Investigation Officer that he received a call from one Phillip Molwantwa.
According to Zhalamonto, Thato revealed that Molwatwa indicated that he was from prison on a visit to the Outlwile Aston and went on to ask where he was staying and where his siblings (Astonâ€™s children) are staying.
â€śThato revealed that Phillip went on to ask if he or his siblings saw their father murdering their mother, and he was referring to the crime scene. Thato told me that he, however, refused to answer the questions as he was afraid especially because he was asked about where him and his siblings stay,â€ť said Zhalamonto.
Zhalamonto alluded to the court that he then went to Orange to confirm the communication between Thato and Molwantwa where he found the case.
â€śI have arrested Philip yesterday and when I interviewed him, he did not deny that he knows Aston and that he has indeed called Thato and asked questions as to where him and his siblings resides even though he failed to give reasons for asking such questions,â€ť Zhalamonto told the court.
He further revealed that Molwantwa indicated that he had received a call from an unknown man who refused to reveal himself.
â€śPhillip told me that the unknown man said he was sent by the accused (Aston), and that Aston had instructed him to tell me to check if there was still some money in his bank accounts, and he also wanted to know where the kids were residing, the unknown man even asked him to meet at Main Mallâ€ť the Investigation Officer told the court.
He further informed the court that he is working tirelessly to identify the â€śunknown callerâ€ť and the route of the cell number.
Furthermore, the fourth accused,Â Kebaleboge Ntsebe, has revealed to the court through a letter that she was abused and tortured by the Botswana Police Services. She wrote in her letter that she suffered miscarriage as a result of being beaten by the police.
Ntsebe is on bail, while a bail ruling for Aston and Kosie will be delivered on the 6thÂ of next month
Cattle farmers from Eretsha and Habu in the Ngamiland district, supported by the Community Based Trade (CBT) project, recently generated over P300 000.00 for sales of 42 cattle to the Botswana Meat Commission (BMC) in Maun. This milestone was achieved through support from various stakeholders in conservation, commodity-based trade and the government, in collaboration with farmers. Ordinarily, these farmers would not have made this direct sale since the area is a designated Foot and Mouth Disease (FMD) Red Zone.
Traditional livestock farming contributes toward livelihoods and formal employment in the North-West District (Ngamiland) of Botswana. However, primarily due to the increase in FMD outbreaks over the past two decades and predation by wildlife, the viability of livestock agriculture as a source of income has declined in the region. This has led to a greater risk of poverty and food insecurity. Access across the Okavango River (prior to the construction of a bridge) restricted access for farmers in Eretsha. This lack of access hampered sales of cattle beyond Shakawe, further discouraging farmers from investing in proper livestock management practices. This resulted in negative environmental impacts, poor livestock health and productivity.
To address this challenge, farmers are working with a consortium led by Conservation International (CI), with funding secured from the European Union (EU) to pilot a CBT beef project. The project focuses on supporting and enabling communal farmers to comply with standards and regulations that will improve their chances to access markets. An opportunity to earn higher income from cattle sales could incentivize the adoption of restorative rangelands management practices by farmers.
â€śWe spend a lot of money getting our cattle to Makalamabedi quarantine site, the herder spends on average two months taking care of the cattle before they are taken into quarantine â€“ that needs money. All these costs lead to us getting less money from BMC,â€ť said one of the farmers in the programme, Mr Monnaleso Mosanga.
Farmers that participate in the project agree for their cattle to be herded and kraaled communally by fulltime professional herders (eco-rangers). At the core of this pilot is the use of predator-proof bomas (cattle kraals), planned grazing systems and mobile quarantine bomas (electrified enclosures) for the cattle, facilitated in support with the Department of Veterinary Services. The first successful exit from the mobile quarantine bomas in the Habu and Eretsha villages, in December 2022, saw cattle quarantined on-site and directly transported to BMC in Maun. Farmers received almost double the average sales within this region, as costs including transportation to quarantine sites, herderâ€™s fees and other associated costs incurred before qualifying for BMC sales were no longer included.
“This pilot mobile quarantine is leveraging the techniques and protocols we are using at our current permanent quarantine sites, and we are still observing the results of the project. The outcome of this pilot will be presented to the World Organisation of Animal Health to assess its effectiveness and potentially be approved to be used elsewhere,â€ť said Dr Odireleng Thololwane, the Principal Veterinary Officer (Maun).