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Venson-Moitoi invokes Mogae in defence of Khama

Minister for International Affairs and Cooperation, Pelonomi Venson-Moitoi has said that President Ian Khama’s no show at African Union (AU) and United Nations (UN) summits draws its roots from former President, Festus Mogae’s globetrotting escapades.


Moitoi suggested that Khama’s absenteeism from AU and UN was as a result of him caving in to media pressure and public opinion of the Mogae era. She stated that Khama then decided that since the Mogae administration had a strong pivot toward international affairs, the fourth presidency will be grounded at home, attending to domestic and regional affairs.


“What I would like to remind you of what we were saying during the argument, Rre Mogae used to be called the absent president during his term, so when president Khama came into office, he said, because of Mogae’s stigma, I would pay attention to home and to SADC and I will assign my Vice President to AU and the UN,” Moitoi explained.


She however said that Khama would only attend to continental and world summits that dealt only with environmental issues. Moitoi further conceded that in the election of the AU Commission Chairperson and its Commissioners, it was difficult to explain this concept to other states.


She further defended Khama stating: “Yes my president was not there, but there were people whose presidents were there, they didn’t win either. So the question is, do you win because your president is there? And the answer is clearly no!” She also added: “Maybe it would have helped, but it doesn’t make any difference whether the president was there or not.”


Moitoi who is Member of Parliament for Serowe South constituency further noted that, after viewing the curricula vitae of her opponents she knew hers was competitive and that if it was just about applying for the job, without the politics at play, she could have won. “It had nothing to do with who the best person was; it was who the politics wanted on the day. I have absolutely no regrets and I have learnt a lot,” she reiterated.


Moitoi also highlighted that, the country would not be affected by the statement that states would now be represented by either vice presidents or prime ministers, as stated by new chairperson of the bloc, Moussa Faki Mahamat. According to Moitoi, the belief that her loss was due to Khama’s absence at AU was a mere excuse put forth by other African states to undermine her candidacy.  


“If you studied the politics at AU this time around you will understand the reasons for the vote, so the fact that President Khama was not there had nothing to do with how they voted, they had to find an excuse. They didn’t have any reason to reject us.” Moitoi also blamed the media for influencing the Khama administration’s diplomatic thinking, stating that: “what you portray as the media is what the world knows of us. We are in this together and it always comes back to bite all of us.”


She further continued: “The problem with explaining it is that you knew at home why he didn’t go, because the former president was always away. You (media) even parodied the situation by drawing Mogae in the newspapers.” Moitoi also said that when the next leader changes approach, the media will still complain.


“I’m sorry, but we have to make up our minds. Sometimes we confuse ourselves and our leaders. Something is going to crash, somewhere. I don’t blame him (Khama) and as far as I’m concerned I qualified for the job.” She also stated that they were caught in a catch 22 situation because; even if Khama had attended the election, “they would have said he has come this time around because his candidate was contesting.”


Moitoi reiterated that Khama was in full support of her candidacy saying that she continued earning her salary and had another cabinet minister acting in her place. She also stated that even though she had not been availed direct cash to fund her campaign, the government sponsored her official continental assignments which she also used to campaign. She also revealed that Botswana does not have a blueprint for financing Batswana who step up for international contests.


“We didn’t have it and it was very difficult to craft it when I was the candidate. It would have looked wrong because it would have looked like I was tailor-making it for myself. The next day you were going to write (media) that the blueprint was crafted because I was contesting.” Moitoi also confirmed that she will be standing down when her term ends in 2019 and she will be approaching her future with an open mind. However, when asked about Zimbabwean President, Robert Mugabe’s comments on her defeat, she stated:


“Rre Mugabe le tautona wa rona ke motho le rraagwe ba na le go gakololana ka fa ba gakollanang ka teng,jaanong ga ke tsene thata mo go tsone. Yo mongwe o a bo a utlwisitswe ke yo mongwe botlhoko a bo a mo tika ka lefoko.” Loosely translated she said,” Mugabe and our president are like father and son so I’m not going to comment on that .They have ways through which they advise each other. The other will lob a harsh word when aggrieved by another.” She said seemingly referring to Mugabe.

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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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