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BDP takes a leaf from UDC strategy

Ruling Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) has moved to make amends with tribal leaders in a gambit intended to pull them to their ranks and counter the opposing Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC)’s influence ahead of 2019 general elections.

Two weeks ago, BDP welcomed to its ranks Mmusi Kgafela, the young brother to Bakgatla chief, Kgafela Kgafela II. The move is intended to neutralise the influence of UDC in Kgatleng following government fallout with Bakgatla chieftainship in years leading to the 2014 general elections, reliable sources have indicated.

According to impeccable sources, BDP had made efforts to coax Batlokwa chief, Puso Gaborone to join the party and contest the upcoming bye-elections under their ticket. BDP’s efforts however were not successful, as the Batlokwa chief decided against joining active politics.

BDP secretary general, Botsalo Ntuane has however denied that the ruling party has lost the support of tribal leaders to opposition parties. “We assume Dikgosi of different communities in Botswana are apolitical until they publicly state otherwise.  So far I know of only three; Kgosi Khama IV [President Ian Khama] of BDP, Kgosi Lotlamoreng Montshioa II and Kgosi Tawana Moremi II of UDC respectively. Now BDP has Morena Mmusi. With these examples how is BDP losing support of Dikgosi?” he said.

“As for Kgosi Puso Gaborone I have no knowledge of him being recruited apart from idle bar gossip. But like any citizen he is free to join politics subject to necessary protocols,” Ntuane stated. Ntuane has however admitted that in Kgatleng, the stand-off between government and Kgatleng tribal leaders has contributed to the party’s poor showing in the 2014 general elections. He also concurred that Kgafela’s arrival could be used to enhance the party’s chance in 2019.

Kgafela is reportedly going to contest for the Mochudi West constituency, a constituency currently held by UDC’s Gilbert Mangole. In trying to make amends with Bakgatla tribe last year, Minister of Local Government and Rural Development, Slumber Tsogwane, begun a consultation process with the tribe in order to pave way for Kgosi Kgafela II’s return.  

BDP had a difficult campaigning period in 2014 in Kgatleng following the acrimonious relationship between Bakgatla paramount chief and government.  Subsequent to court battles with government, Kgafela II went on exile in South Africa, where he is currently residing.  This was not before he was de-recognised by government as the tribal leader of Bakgatla.

In the aftermath of the 2014 general elections BDP lost both constituencies with Mangole and Isaac Davids of UDC defeating Unity Dow and Rev Mpho Moruakgomo for the two constituencies respectively. Kgatleng has however been a stronghold of Botswana National Front (BNF) with Kgosi Linchwe being credited with helping in the formation of the party.  

On the other hand BDP’s traditional strongholds are in the Central district, previously known as Gammangwato Reserve during the colonial time. The Central District fell under the jurisdiction of Bangwato chieftainship, therefore BDP profited from the tribesmen goodwill when Seretse Khama founded the party in 1962.

Although BDP remains strong in the central district, the scales have been tilting in some other parts of the country. Opposition UDC have been enjoying the backing of tribal leaders in recent years, boasting two Paramount chiefs in its ranks in parliament; Kgosi Tawana II of Bakgatla and Kgosi Lotlaamoreng II of Barolong.

Prior to defecting to Botswana Movement for Democracy (BMD) in 2011, Maun West constituency had never been in the hands of opposition parties. Kgosi Tawana II who joined politics amid controversy, first tried his luck in 2003 but was vetted out from contesting. He would successfully try his luck for the second time at the 2009 general elections under a BDP ticket, but later defected to BDP’s splinter party, Botswana Movement for Democracy, which Botsalo Ntuane was among its founding members.  BMD is a member party to UDC.

In 2015, Barolong Chief, Lotlaamoreng agreed to contest a bye-election under UDC. The post was left vacant by the resignation of then MP for Goodhope-Mabule, James Matlhokgwane. Lotlaamoreng won the subsequent bye-election, defeating Eric Molale of BDP.   
The BDP has tried to use UDC gambit at Tlokweng for the incoming bye-election but was unable to convince the youthful Bakgatla chief. Tlokweng has been in the hands of opposition since its creation in 2004.

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Media have a Role in Accelerating Harm Reduction Adoption

8th December 2022

African Scientists and Experts Call for the adoption of a Harm Reduction in approach in Public Health Strategies and Tobacco Control. Media have a critical role to play in accelerating Harm Reduction efforts by informing and sensitizing cigarette smokers on the availability and benefits of alternative, potentially lower risk products to cigarretes. Traditional cessation and smoking prevention norms are not the only ways that smokers who cannot or don’t’ want to quit can make healthier choices that cause less harm to themselves and those around them.

This was said during the 2nd Harm Reduction Exchange conference for African journalists held in Nairobi, Kenya on the 1st of December 2022. Speaking at the Harm Reduction Exchange Conference, Integra Africa Principal Dr. Tendai Mhizha emphasized the role that journalists and media houses should play in handling misinformation and disinformation in tobacco harm reduction discourse that is actually perpetuating the death and disease caused by people continuing to smoke combustible cigarettes. “There has been a lot of disinformation surrounding the topic of nicotine and the alleged negative effects that e-cigarettes have on public health.

This has led to policies that disfavour risk reduces products and narratives that completely deny their benefits. The media have the difficult responsibility to curb the scourge of disinformation and misinformation on harm reduction just like on other socio-political stances that are prescriptive and do not uphold consumers’ right to healthier lifestyle choices,” Dr Mhizha said.

The Harm Reduction Exchange cast a spotlight on alternative ways to reduce harm among tobacco smokers. Held under the theme Harm Reduction: Making a difference in Africa, the conference focused on the progress being made through harm reduction strategies in all fields related to public health such as drug and alcohol abuse, excessive sugar consumption, skin lightening and other addictive and behavioral practices. A wide array of harm reduction strategies and initiatives that are deployed towards reducing unnecessary deaths through non-communicable diseases were presented and discussed.

On his part, Prof. Abdoul Kassé, a world renowned and awarded Oncologist and a Professor of Surgery at the Cancer Institute in Senegal, said that Harm Reduction is a powerful public A Summary of the HR Exchange 30th November  1st December 2022 health tool that has the potential to reduce cancer by 30% and should be at the centre of all public health development strategies. Harm reduction, he said, has already benefited many people in public health and is the most viable alternative in tobacco control.

It applies to areas where there is a need to reduce the harm associated with a practice or consumption of a substance that is overused in society leading to increased morbidity and mortality. “Innovative Harm Reduction initiatives will help to keep more Africans alive. Tobacco Harm Reduction initiatives, including the use of popular e-cigarettes, nicotine patches and chewing gums, have continued to generate a lot of misunderstanding in both the public health community and in the media. However, there is evidence that the use of potentially less harmful alternatives than cigarettes for those who are not willing or cannot give up smoking with currently approved methods may be a solution, not necessarily the best for everyone but by far better than continuous smoking.

Where cessation repeatedly fails, switching to less harmful products is expected to result in benefits for many smokers,” Prof. Abdoul Kassé said. Similarly, views were expressed by Kenya’s Dr. Vivian Manyeki who said tobacco Harm Reduction has a solid scientific and medical basis, and it has a lot of promise as a public health measure to assist millions of smokers. “Many smokers are unable, or at least unwilling, to achieve cessation through complete nicotine and tobacco abstinence. They continue smoking despite the very real and obvious adverse health consequences and against the multiple public health campaigns. Conventional smoking cessation proposals should be complemented with alternative but more realistic options through Harm Reduction,” Dr. Manyeki said.

Tobacco Harm Reduction was introduced to mitigate the damage caused by cigarette smoking—the most dangerous form of tobacco use, and the leading cause of preventable diseases, including cardiovascular disease, lung cancer, and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. “Nicotine has an addictive potential but plays a minor role in smoking-related morbidity and mortality. Across the world, there is growing interest among experts in novel approaches towards tobacco control and there is an ongoing discussion that reducing the negative effects of smoking can be also achieved by tobacco harm reduction,” Dr. Kgosi Letlape, an ophthalmologist and President of Africa Medical Association and the president of the Association of Medical Councils of Africa, said.

Tobacco cessation is a key factor in the prevention of cardiovascular diseases and cancer. Abstinence from tobacco smoking is one of the primary goals for health promotion and management globally but it is unachievable in a huge amount of cases. This task remains unaccomplished despite extensive public campaigns on the health dangers of tobacco smoking. Thus, the development of novel strategies to reduce smoking is imperative. Moreover, the use of innovations in smoking products has been currently adopted by several smokers to reduce the health risks of smoking.

“The Harm Reduction approach prevents drug-related deaths and overdose fatalities and is the only way out for addicts. In the same way these alternative technologies can reduce tobacco harm and accelerate the journey to a smoke-free world as they reduce exposure to toxicants,” Bernice Apondi, A Policy Manager at Voices of Community Action and Leadership Kenya (VOCAL-Kenya), said.

During the Harm Reduction Exchange, journalists drawn from Southern, West and East African countries, including: Nigeria, Botswana, Ethiopia, Kenya, Lesotho, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, Rwanda, Eswatini, Tanzania, Uganda, South Africa, Zambia, and Zimbabwe debated and set forth several resolutions in regards to the present and future as well as the challenges and progress made in Harm Reduction,and science-led regulation.

The Harm Reduction Exchange brought together high-level policy makers, physicians, scientists and health policy experts with media stakeholders from Africa in a lively mix of speeches, presentations, and panel discussions. The key note speakers included Prof Abdoul Aziz Kasse, Ms Bernice Opondi, Joseph Magero, Jonathan Fell, Chimwemwe Ngoma, Clive Bates, Dr. Kgosi Letlape, Dr. Vivian Manyeki and Dr. Tendai Mhizha.


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Over 2 000 civil servants interdicted

6th December 2022

Over 2,000 civil servants in the public sector have been interdicted for a variety of reasons, the majority of which are criminal in nature.

According to reports, some officers have been under interdiction for more than two years because such matters are still being investigated. Information reaching WeekendPost shows that local government, particularly councils, has the highest number of suspended officers.

In its annual report, the Directorate on Corruption and Economic Crime (DCEC) revealed that councils lead in corrupt activities throughout the country, and dozens of council employees are being investigated for alleged corrupt activities. It is also reported that disciplined forces, including the Botswana Defence Force (BDF), police, and prisons, and the Directorate of Intelligence and Security (DIS) have suspended a significant number of officers.

The Ministry of Education and Skills Development has also recorded a good number of teachers who have implicated in love relationships with students, while some are accused of impregnating students both in primary and secondary school. Regional education officers have been tasked to investigate such matters and are believed to be far from completion as some students are dragging their feet in assisting the investigations to be completed.

This year, Mmadinare Senior Secondary reportedly had the highest number of pregnancies, especially among form five students who were later forcibly expelled from school. Responding to this publication’s queries, Permanent Secretary to the Office of the President Emma Peloetletse said, “as you might be aware, I am currently addressing public servants across the length and breadth of our beautiful republic. Due to your detailed enquiry, I am not able to respond within your schedule,” she said.

She said some of the issues raised need verification of facts, some are still under investigation while some are still before the courts of law.

Meanwhile, it is close to six months since the Police Commissioner Keabetwe Makgophe, Director General of the Directorate on Corruption and Economic Crime (DCEC) Tymon Katlholo and the Deputy Director of the DIS Tefo Kgothane were suspended from their official duties on various charges.

Efforts to solicit comment from trade unions were futile at the time of going to press.

Some suspended officers who opted for anonymity claimed that they have close to two years while on suspension. One stated that the investigations that led him to be suspended have not been completed.

“It is heartbreaking that at this time the investigations have not been completed,” he told WeekendPost, adding that “when a person is suspended, they get their salary fully without fail until the matter is resolved”.

Makgophe, Katlholo and Kgothane are the three most high-ranking government officials that are under interdiction.

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Masisi to dump Tsogwane?

28th November 2022

Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) and some senior government officials are abuzz with reports that President Mokgweetsi Masisi has requested his Vice President, Slumber Tsogwane not to contest the next general elections in 2024.

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