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Botswana makes it to the bad boys league!

Politicians wielding a toxic, dehumanizing “us vs them” rhetoric are creating a more divided and dangerous world, warned Amnesty International this week as it launched its annual assessment of human rights around the world. Interestingly, Botswana features this year, not as the cleanest student in class, but is featured along all the other rogues.


Deprose Muchena, Southern Africa Regional Director, warns increased criminalization of dissent threatens the rule of law across the region. The report, The State of the World’s Human Rights, delivers the most comprehensive analysis of the state of human rights around the world, covering 159 countries including 10 in Southern Africa. It warns that punishment of dissenting views and politically-motivated attacks on peaceful protests and the right to freedom of expression are on the rise in countries such as Botswana, South Africa, Zambia and Zimbabwe.


Botswana is featured prominently in the Amnesty International report because Youth activist Tlamelo Tsurupe was arrested after protesting against youth unemployment in front of Parliament. “From #FeesMustFall in South Africa, to #ThisFlag in Zimbabwe and the #UnemploymentMovement in Botswana; 2016 was a difficult year for human rights defenders and activists in the region. Politicians have attempted to label people demanding their rights as criminals, constantly intimidating, harassing and jailing them simply for making legitimate demands for their human rights to be respected,” said Deprose Muchena, Amnesty International’s Regional Director for Southern Africa.


“Divisive fear-mongering has become a dangerous force in world affairs. Whether it is leaders like Trump and Duterte or prominent regional figures like Herman Mashaba, more and more politicians are wielding a toxic agenda that hounds, scapegoats and dehumanizes entire groups of people.


“Today’s politics of demonization shamelessly peddles a dangerous idea that those who are demanding their rights through peaceful protests are a threat to national security and that they are advancing a foreign sponsored agenda. In Zimbabwe, Pastor Evan Mawarire is being persecuted simply for demanding accountability.

In South Africa, University students asking for their constitutionally enshrined right to education were met with excessive use of force by the police. In Swaziland, Bheki Makhubu was harassed simply for calling for an independent judiciary, and in Botswana, young people were branded troublemakers for asking for jobs.” Politics of demonization drives global pushback on human rights


Seismic political shifts in 2016 exposed the potential of hateful rhetoric to unleash the dark side of human nature. The global trend of angrier and more divisive politics was exemplified by Donald Trump’s poisonous campaign rhetoric, but political leaders in various parts of the world, including in Southern Africa, also wagered their future power on narratives of fear, blame and division.


This rhetoric is having an increasingly pervasive impact on policy and action. In 2016, governments pushed through deals that undermine the right to claim asylum, passed laws that violate free expression, increased draconian police powers, and turned a blind eye to war crimes. South Africa was one of three African countries to announce withdrawal from the International Criminal Court, effectively prioritizing diplomacy with Sudanese President Al-Bashir over justice for the victims of the grave crimes he is alleged to have committed.


Governments also turned on refugees and migrants; often an easy target for scapegoating. Amnesty International’s Annual Report documents how 36 countries violated international law by unlawfully sending refugees back to a country where their rights were at risk.
In December 2016, the Mayor of Johannesburg, Herman Mashaba, accused migrants in the city of being criminals without providing any evidence.

 

US President Donald Trump put his hateful xenophobic pre-election rhetoric into action by signing an executive order in an attempt to prevent refugees from seeking resettlement in the USA; blocking people fleeing conflict and persecution from war-torn countries such as Syria from seeking safe haven in the country. Elsewhere, Angola, Botswana, China, Egypt, Ethiopia, India, Iran, Thailand and Turkey carried out massive crackdowns.


In Zambia, authorities cracked down on independent media outlets including by shutting down The Post newspaper and intimidating and harassing journalists. In South Africa and Zimbabwe, peaceful protests were shut down and stifled. “Clearly something is wrong when a government refuses to listen to the demands of its people and instead deploys police using excessive force. Politicians must stop persecuting human rights defenders and activists who exercise their right to freedom of expression. Regional and international human rights obligations and commitments must move from paper to action,” said Deprose Muchena.


“In 2016, the targeting of human rights defenders and activists had a chilling effect on human rights in the region. A culture of respect for human rights cannot be established when people are unhappy and marginalized in the running of their own countries. Public officials have to be held accountable when their actions violate human rights.”

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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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