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Mokaila shows BR CEO the door

The Botswana Railways Chief Executive Officer, Dominic Ntwaagae will leave the employ of the organisation this coming Monday. The Minister of Transport and Communications, Kitso Mokaila is fuming after the BR management failed to obey an instruction to ground trains this week. After Ntwaaagae and his team failed to follow the instruction a locomotive derailed due to floods between Lobatse and Ramotswa.

On the 22nd of February Mokaila was forced to make an impromptu meeting to the BR capital in Mahalapye to reprimand the CEO and his team for failing to take instructions and rolling the already cash strapped parastatals into costs. He told the BR management that he will be appointing a new board by Monday so that by end of next week some critical decisions are taken at the parastatal. Cabinet has already approved a new Board.

Mokaila had communicated with the Board and the BR executive through a group whatsup that all trains must be grounded this week but the instruction was not followed and there was an accident. BR has been experiencing a number of freak accident involving locomotives and wagons since 2014.


Three locomotives derailed in December 2015 and the company needs about P35 million ton repair them. In 2016, two locomotives also derailed after they collided with a stationary wagon and BR needs about P15 million to repair them. The latest accident which occurred between Lobatse and Ramotswa recorded big damages to locomotive, wagons and the rail line and estimated costs of repair are in the region of P100 million.  

In the process Ntwaagae, whose contract was expected to end on March 31st this year, has had to suspend a couple of officials as punishment for the accident. Currently, Director Engineering and Safety manager are serving suspension because of the Capricorn derailment. They were suspended last year.

The Botswana Railways board has been accused of being indecisive because it has on a number of occasions failed to act against management.  Minister Mokaila is known for his boldness when it comes to demanding accountability hence the BR executive and board are on their toes at the moment.

The current CEO, Ntwaagae has presided over these unfortunate events at BR. He has also been at the centre of the controversial acquisition of passenger train coaches from South Africa when Tshenolo Mabeo was still Minister of Transport and Communications. There were questions raised with the standard and quality of the wagons.


Although the issue just died a natural death, there was no definite conclusion and address to the allegations. As part of the procurement of coaches and locomotives, BR is expecting a delivery in October this year from the United States of America. At one point the Board and Minister Mabeo were at loggerheads over the Ntwaagae’s future at Botswana Railways and the Minister prevailed hence saving the CEO.

While Batswana have welcomed the re-introduction of the passenger train, an expensive undertaking for Botswana Railways, Ntwaagae found himself grappling with rising costs of operating the company. This publication learns that there is dire need to improve level crossing protection because there is a concern regarding frequency of collisions between trains and vehicular traffic at level crossings country wide.


In order to mitigate this risk and protect the general public BR feels there is need to enhance safety at level crossings by providing additional protection, beside the standard Stop sign and St Andrews sign. The additional protection in the form of sirens and flash lights for rural level crossings; and sirens, flash lights and boom gates (beckons) for urban crossings was conjured in 2007 but was only partially implemented. The estimated cost for this work was P11.25 million over a five year period.

Ntwaagae has also been facing another challenge of improving bridges to cater for increase in flow rate resulting from drainage improvements on the road side, a direct cause of this week’s accident. BR is aware that current bridges need to be upgraded to withstand the anticipated flow rates in order to lessen the impact of washaways during the rainy season. In 2007, Botswana Railways had wanted to upgrade eight bridges over a five year period at the cost of P80 million.


It is evident that there are areas that are prone to washaways within the railway network and at the time it was concluded that the entire railway system requires drainage improvement, but very little was done during Ntwaagae’s reign.  A P60 million budget was cut for provision of sufficient culverts, natural drainage systems and drainage mitres.

Botswana Railways needs serious yard upgrades because there are a number of track related derailments in the major yards such as Lobatse, Ramotswa, Gaborone, Pilane, Mahalapye, Palapye, Serule, and Francistown. BR had planned to procure track maintenance equipment in order to maintain railway track to modern standards in line with best practice, for a long time BR relied on leasing from private sector companies.


In 2007 they needed P35 million over a five year period to buy the equipment. BR is yet to fully acquire all the track maintenance equipment needed.It remains to be seen as to how long Ntwaagae will continue holding by a thread at Botswana Railways.


The Botswana Railways is currently in the process of appointing a new Chief Executive Officer. After the position was advertised, five candidates have been shortlisted for the position. Ntwaagae had applied but could not make the cut. It is understood that of the five shortlisted candidates, one is currently serving under Ntwaagae. The outgoing CEO had also suspended the BR Legal unit manager accusing him of convening sub committees of the Board despite the fact that there was literally no Board.

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Local tennis team upbeat ahead of Billie Jean King cup

29th May 2023

With almost two weeks until the 2023 Billie Jean King Cup, which will be staged in Kenya from June 12-17, 2023, the Botswana Tennis Association (BTA) ladies’ team coach, Ernest Seleke, is optimistic about reaching greater heights.

Billie Jean King Cup, or the BJK Cup, is a premier international team competition in women’s tennis, launched as the Federation Cup to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the International Tennis Federation (ITF). The BJK Cup is the world’s largest annual women’s international team sports competition in terms of the number of nations that compete.

The finals will feature 12 teams (Botswana, Burundi, Ghana, Kenya, Seychelles, Morocco, Namibia, Nigeria, Tunisia, Mauritius, Zimbabwe, and the Democratic Republic of Congo) competing in the four round-robin groups of three. The four group winners will qualify for the semifinals, and the 2023 Billie Jean King Cup will be crowned after the completion of the knockout phase.

Closer to home, the BW Tennis team is comprised of Thato Madikwe, Leungo Monnayoo, Chelsea Chakanyuka, and Kelebogile Monnayoo. However, according to Seleke, they have not assembled the team yet as some of the players are still engaged.

“At the moment, we are depending on the players and their respective coaches in terms of training. However, I will meet up with Botswana-based players in the coming week, while the United States of America (USA) based player Madikwe will probably meet us in Kenya. Furthermore, Ekua Youri and Naledi Raguin, who are based in Spain and France respectively, will not be joining us as they will be writing their examinations,” said Seleke.

Seleke further highlighted the significance of this competition and how competitive it is. “It is a massive platform for our players to showcase their talent in tennis, and it is very competitive as countries target to get promoted to the world categories where they get to face big nations such as Spain, France, USA, and Italy. Though we are going to this tournament as underdogs because it is our second time participating, I’m confident that the girls will put in a good showing and emerge with results despite the odds,” highlighted Seleke.

Quizzed about their debut performance at the BJK Cup, he said, “I think our performance was fair considering the fact that we were newbies. We came third in our group after losing to North Macedonia and South Africa. We went on to beat Uganda, then Kenya in the playoffs. Unfortunately, we couldn’t play Burundi due to heavy rainfall and settled for the position 9/10,” he said.

For her part, team representative Leungo Monnayoo said they are working hard as they aim to do well at the tourney. “The preparations for the tourney have long begun because we practice each and every day. We want to do well, hence we need to be motivated. Furthermore, I believe in my team as we have set ourselves a big target of coming home with the trophy,” she said.

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Pep Stores donates sanitary towels to Popagano JSS

26th May 2023

The Guidance and Counseling unit at Popagano Junior Secondary School received a donation of 790 sanitary towels from Pep stores on Thursday.

When presenting the donation, Mareledi Thebeng, the Dinokaneng Area Manager, highlighted their belief in giving back to the community, as their existence depends on the communities they serve. Thebeng pointed out that research indicates one in four girls miss school every day due to the lack of basic necessities like sanitary towels. Therefore, as a company, they strive to assist in alleviating this situation. She expressed hope that this donation would help ensure uninterrupted learning for girls.

Upon receiving the donation on behalf of the students, Charity Sambire, the President of the Student Representative Council, expressed her gratitude. Sambire specifically thanked Pep Store for their generous gift, speaking on behalf of the students, especially the girl child.

She conveyed their sincere appreciation for Pep Store’s compassion and quoted the adage, “Blessed is the hand that gives.” Sambire expressed the students’ hope for Pep Stores’ prosperity, enabling them to continue supporting the students. As a gesture of gratitude, the students pledged to excel academically.

During her speech, Motlalepula Madome, the Senior Teacher in Guidance and Counseling, highlighted that many students at the school come from disadvantaged backgrounds where parents struggle to provide basic necessities. Consequently, some students miss school when they experience menstruation due to this lack.
Madome emphasized the significance of the donation in preventing the girl child from missing lessons and its potential to improve the school’s overall results. She expressed the school’s gratitude and expressed a desire for continued support from Pep Stores.

Popagano Junior Secondary School, situated in the Okavango District, holds the second position academically in the North West region. Despite its location, the school has been dedicated to achieving excellence since 2017

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Botswana misses out critical PAP committee meeting

23rd May 2023

The Pan African Parliament (PAP) committee on gender, family, youth and people with disability in its sitting considered, adopted and recommended to the plenary session the preliminary report on the framework for the model law on gender equality.

According to the last week’s media release from PAP which is sitting with its various committees until June 2nd,  the committee is following up the PAP initiative to draw up a model law on gender equality to enable national governments to harmonize, modernize and standardize their legislations to address local needs is set to be discussed in Plenary.

However, what is concerning is the fact that Botswana which is a member state missed the deliberations. Kgosi Mosadi Seboko who sat in the committee representing Botswana has since been ejected by parliament and this is a huge blow for a nation that is still battling equity and gender balance.

“Although PAP has no legislative powers it makes model laws for member states to adopt. PAP also develops protocols to be ratified by countries. The input of countries at Committee state is extremely critical. It now means the voice of Botswana is missing the discussions leading up to development of protocols or model laws,” said one of Botswana’s representative at PAP Dr. Kesitegile Gobotswang who is attending the current session.

While Botswana is missing, the committee meeting took place on the sidelines of the Sixth PAP second ordinary Session being held under the African Union Theme of the Year for 2023, “The Year of AfCFTA: Accelerating the Implementation of the African Continental Free Trade Area” in Midrand, South Africa and will run up to 2 June 2023. Chairperson of the Committee, Hon Mariam Dao-Gabala expressed satisfaction with preliminary processes undertaken so far towards the formulation of the Model Law,” a release from the PAP website reads.

“The law should be suitable to all countries whatever the predominant culture or religion is. The aim is to give an opportunity to women to participate in the economic, political and social development of the continent. Women are not well positioned and face a lot of obstacles. We are introducing the idea of equity in the Law because we cannot talk about equality without equity,” said Hon Mariam Dao-Gabala in the press statement.

The release has stated that among issues to be covered by the Model Law is the migratory movements of women. The Committee proffered that this has to be addressed at the continental level to ensure that migrant women enjoy all their rights and live with dignity in their destination country. The members of the Gender Committee undertook consultations to consolidate the contributions of the various stakeholders that will be the logical framework format for the Model Law.




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