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Bobirwa projects key to SPEDU region recovery

Development of Bobirwa constituency which forms part of the economically crushed SPEDU region is integral to the revitalization of the eastern margin after the closure of the BCL mine. This was revealed by area Member of Parliament, Shaw Kgathi during his state of the constituency address last week.


According to Kgathi who is also Minister of Defence, Justice and Security, the Selibe Phikwe Economic revitalization strategy which is implemented by the regional economic diversification agency, SPEDU consists of Agriculture and Tourism development, something which he noted his constituency houses confidently.


“This area has 26 tourism centres largely found in the Tuli Block and this presents a lot of employment opportunities in the area from tourist attraction places,” he said. The ruling Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) legislator further told attendants that tourism attraction facilities are being set up in Thune dam. Kgathi added that hotels, lodges and other recreational facilities are being planned to be setup around the dam, “Our constituency is very important to SPEDU efforts, at the dams, water spots and tourism will take place to lure visitors and tourists to the places.”


Kgathi revealed that Bobirwa Constituency will have a major role in SPEDU‘s agricultural production efforts adding that the availability of water in Thune dam will go a long way in turning the region into the country’s bread basket. “I have visited Talana farms recently and the farm is coming back to life employing hundreds of our constituents.’’


An independent investor is reported to have already began taking over operations at the once multi million pula fresh produce and was tilling 500 hectares and will employ 250 people at full production. His worship, the Mayor of Selibe Phikwe, Amogelang Mojuta told WeekendPost this past week that Selibe Phikwe started the New Year on a high note of economic revival. “What happened last year happened, we cannot change it, and as we wait on the report from the liquidator we continue working tirelessly to revive our town,” the youthful Mayor said.


According to Mojuta, the biggest turn around in Phikwe will be electronic parts assembly plants which will complement agricultural processing and tourism efforts to create hundreds of jobs. Mojuta further noted that Selebi Phikwe Town Council is on a process to have the town’s stadium upgraded so as to host major events.


“We are looking at uplifting our stadium which will soon be officially named after our legend, Sam Sono, to a bigger one that would cary a larger capacity of attendants so we can start hosting major events like Botswana Games,” he explained. The BDP specially elected councilor also told this publication that he’s advocating for  a sport auditorium in the town to promote indoor sporting activities like karate and table tennis which he said can help keep youngsters busy and away from criminal activities.


“As BCL is nowhere to be found, it is now in our hands to develop our town, government has availed so many opportunities now for residents around Phikwe in the SPEDU region to tap into, from cooperative societies, funds under CEDA, YDF and so forth,’’ said Mojuta.


He said a fish farm will also be setup in Mmadinare. In an interesting revelation the Mayor told this publication that government is in processes to inject millions into Pula steel, to keep the plant alive after the crush of its mother company BCL Investment. “Pula Steel Plant which SPEDU played a pivotal role in its establishment will upgrade its production, CEDA has pledged to assist the Steel refinery and manufacturing company financially to help the organization reach its full potential,” said Mojuta.


On other issues concerning the Bobirwa constituency the former Minister of Youth, Shaw Kgathi who has been the area MP since 2004 revealed that Bobonong internal roads are under assessment and at tender stage. He said the assessment team was assessing all houses within a 100 metre radius of the construction of the road and storm water drainage. Minister Kgathi said the resealing of Bobonong-Lekkerpoet road was at 93 percent completion stage while dry grading of several roads was also ongoing.


He further boasted about Plaatjan Border Bridge under the project management of SPEDU which he observed would be a commercial bridge that would ease movement and enhance trade in the area. Kgathi revealed that reports indicate that YDF had funded 24 beneficiaries to the tune of P2.2 million from 53 applicants in the area.

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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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