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Friday, 19 April 2024

Khama approves budget for Venson-Moitoi AU re-run

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Dr Pelonomi Venson-Moitoi

Botswana’s candidate for the Chairmanship of African Union, Dr Pelonomi Venson-Moitoi has revealed that President Lt Gen Dr Ian Khama has approved a second budget to allow her to cavass support for the position in the January 2017 re-run.

She said that she intends to stay put and run the full course in the African Union race.

Venson-Moitoi collected 23 votes instead of the required 35 while 28 members abstained. She revealed that she travelled to Maputo, Mozambique on Thursday to meet with regional cabinet and foreign affairs ministers to discuss her re-run. The Maputo trip is in preparation of the coming Southern African Development Community (SADC) summit in Swaziland scheduled for the end of August where she will seek to renew her mandate.

The elections were postponed to January 2017 because none of the three candidates could muster the required two thirds majority.

Venson-Moitoi further said that she will up her campaign at the Economic Community of West African Nations (ECOWAS) region, which formed a bulwark against her candidacy.

The Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation Minister further said that a possibility that there will be another candidate is ever present and she will not be surprised, because she proceeded to Kigali after going through primary selections in the SADC region.

She said the next step is to seek an endorsement in Swaziland. She further said that she does not doubt President Lt Gen Dr Ian Khama’s trust in her  more so that he has even proceeded to order that a budget for her be drawn up for the anticipated second round.

“I don’t understand in what way the president has to show trust. I have gone to Kigali to run and came back and I’m still working as a minister. He hasn’t said get out of my office. That shows support and trust,” Moitoi said.

She however declined to reveal how she will reverse her fortunes in January because she does not: “trust the people who will read what you write.”

Said Venson-Moitoi: “I do have a plan; I do have ideas about what I should do, but I choose to play my cards close to my chest.”

She further said that the race for AU had multiple dynamics and her campaign was being told a lot of things. “First they didn’t want this and then they didn’t want that. We were being told Botswana doesn’t deserve this and that I am a good candidate and that doesn’t make sense.”

In a candid disclosure, Venson-Moitoi said that she came from Kigali a better person than before and has learned a lot. She continued that continental contests such as hers are not done in vain because there is always some experience to be gained.

She further revealed that she has come to realise that: “perceptions actually do count, personal contacts carry a certain weight and that endurance has its value in one’s own life which is why I will see this contest through.”

Regarding interminable speculation that South Africa is not supporting her standing, Venson-Moitoi said that she however believes their word of support and as far as she has seen; the South Africans have been displaying their support.

“They said they support us and I want to believe them. The report came from South Africa, they are on our side, they were with us in Kigali, they were campaigning with us at our meetings and I would want to believe that.”

She further said that while the ECOWAS region revolted against her candidacy, her campaign had done what was necessary, including sending a delegation of ministers to the region which nevertheless somersaulted on its pledge at the election.

Venson-Moitoi said that there was “something that happened” that they didn’t foresee. She further said that even some of those that they had formed close bonds with and sitting together side by side, still flipped at voting time, even asking the Botswana campaign how the abstain button is pressed.

She also said that by next week after her trip to Mozambique her campaign will have already grasped the drift of the race and the number of new aspirants.

African states argued that voting Venson-Moitoi will be tantamount to rewarding Botswana with the highest position in the African Union, while President Khama has never made any attempt to attend any of its summits.

Continental observers also viewed voting in Uganda’s former vice president, Dr. Specioza Kazibwe and Equatorial Guinea’s foreign minister, Agapito Mokuy as amounting to justifying autocratic dictatorships in the continent.

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Nigerians, Zimbabweans apply for Chema Chema Fund

16th April 2024

Fronting activities, where locals are used as a front for foreign-owned businesses, have been a long-standing issue in Botswana. These activities not only undermine the government’s efforts to promote local businesses but also deprive Batswana of opportunities for economic empowerment, officials say. The Ministry of Trade and Industry has warned of heavy penalties for those involved in fronting activities especially in relation to the latest popular government initiative dubbed Chema Chema.

According to the Ministry, the Industrial Development Act of 2019 clearly outlines the consequences of engaging in fronting activities. The fines of up to P50,000 for first-time offenders and P20,000 plus a two-year jail term for repeat offenders send a strong message that the government is serious about cracking down on this illegal practice. These penalties are meant to deter individuals from participating in fronting activities and to protect the integrity of local industries.

“It is disheartening to hear reports of collaboration between foreigners and locals to exploit government initiatives such as the Chema Chema Fund. This fund, administered by CEDA and LEA, is meant to support informal traders and low-income earners in Botswana. However, when fronting activities come into play, the intended beneficiaries are sidelined, and the funds are misused for personal gain.” It has been discovered that foreign nationals predominantly of Zimbabwean and Nigerian origin use unsuspecting Batswana to attempt to access the Chema Chema Fund. It is understood that they approach these Batswana under the guise of drafting business plans for them or simply coming up with ‘bankable business ideas that qualify for Chema Chema.’

Observers say the Chema Chema Fund has the potential to uplift the lives of many Batswana who are struggling to make ends meet. They argue that it is crucial that these funds are used for their intended purpose and not siphoned off through illegal activities such as fronting. The Ministry says the warning it issued serves as a reminder to all stakeholders involved in the administration of these funds to ensure transparency and accountability in their disbursement.

One local commentator said it is important to highlight the impact of fronting activities on the local economy and the livelihoods of Batswana. He said by using locals as a front for foreign-owned businesses, opportunities for local entrepreneurs are stifled, and the economic empowerment of Batswana is hindered. The Ministry’s warning of heavy penalties is a call to action for all stakeholders to work together to eliminate fronting activities and promote a level playing field for local businesses.

Meanwhile, the Ministry of Trade and Industry’s warning of heavy penalties for fronting activities is a necessary step to protect the integrity of local industries and promote economic empowerment for Batswana. “It is imperative that all stakeholders comply with regulations and work towards a transparent and accountable business environment. By upholding the law and cracking down on illegal activities, we can ensure a fair and prosperous future for all Batswana.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Merck Foundation and African First Ladies mark World Health Day 2024

15th April 2024

Merck Foundation, the philanthropic arm of Merck KGaA Germany marks “World Health Day” 2024 together with Africa’s First Ladies who are also Ambassadors of MerckFoundation “More Than a Mother” Campaign through their Scholarship and Capacity Building Program. Senator, Dr. Rasha Kelej, CEO of Merck Foundation emphasized, “At Merck Foundation, we mark World Health Day every single day of the year over the past 12 years, by building healthcare capacity and transforming patient care across Africa, Asia and beyond.

I am proud to share that Merck Foundation has provided over 1740 scholarships to aspiring young doctors from 52 countries, in 44 critical and underserved medical specialties such as Oncology, Diabetes, Preventative Cardiovascular Medicine, Endocrinology, Sexual and Reproductive Medicine, Acute Medicine, Respiratory Medicine, Embryology & Fertility specialty, Gastroenterology, Dermatology, Psychiatry, Emergency and Resuscitation Medicine, Critical Care, Pediatric Emergency Medicine, Neonatal Medicine, Advanced Surgical Practice, Pain Management, General Surgery, Clinical Microbiology and infectious diseases, Internal Medicine, Trauma & Orthopedics, Neurosurgery, Neurology, Cardiology, Stroke Medicine, Care of the Older Person, Family Medicine, Pediatrics and Child Health, Obesity & Weight Management, Women’s Health, Biotechnology in ART and many more”.

As per the available data, Africa has only 34.6% of the required doctors, nurses, and midwives. It is projected that by 2030, Africa would need additional 6.1 million doctors, nurses, and midwives*. “For Example, before the start of the Merck Foundation programs in 2012; there was not a single Oncologist, Fertility or Reproductive care specialists, Diabetologist, Respiratory or ICU specialist in many countries such as The Gambia, Liberia, Sierra Leone, Central African Republic, Guinea, Burundi, Niger, Chad, Ethiopia, Namibia among others. We are certainly creating historic legacy in Africa, and also beyond. Together with our partners like Africa’s First Ladies, Ministries of Health, Gender, Education and Communication, we are impacting the lives of people in the most disadvantaged communities in Africa and beyond.”, added Senator Dr. Kelej. Merck Foundation works closely with their Ambassadors, the African First Ladies and local partners such as; Ministries of Health, Education, Information & Communication, Gender, Academia, Research Institutions, Media and Art in building healthcare capacity and addressing health, social & economic challenges in developing countries and under-served communities. “I strongly believe that training healthcare providers and building professional healthcare capacity is the right strategy to improve access to equitable and quality at health care in Africa.

Therefore, I am happy to announce the Call for Applications for 2024 Scholarships for young doctors with special focus on female doctors for our online one-year diploma and two year master degree in 44 critical and underserved medical specialties, which includes both Online Diploma programs and On-Site Fellowship and clinical training programs. The applications are invited through the Office of our Ambassadors and long-term partners, The First Ladies of Africa and Ministry of Health of each country.” shared Dr . Kelej. “Our aim is to improve the overall health and wellbeing of people by building healthcare capacity across Africa, Asia and other developing countries. We are strongly committed to transforming patientcare landscape through our scholarships program”, concluded Senator Kelej.

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Interpol fugitive escapes from Botswana

15th April 2024

John Isaak Ndovi, a Tanzanian national embroiled in controversy and pursued under a red notice by the International Criminal Police Organization (Interpol), has mysteriously vanished, bypassing a scheduled bail hearing at the Extension 2 Magistrate Court in Gaborone. Previously apprehended by Botswana law enforcement at the Tlokweng border post several months earlier, his escape has ignited serious concerns.

Accused of pilfering assets worth in excess of P1 million, an amount translating to roughly 30,000 Omani Riyals, Ndovi has become a figure of paramount interest, especially to the authorities in the Sultanate of Oman, nestled in the far reaches of Asia.

The unsettling news of his disappearance surfaced following his failure to present himself at the Extension 2 Magistrate Court the preceding week. Speculation abounds that Ndovi may have sought refuge in South Africa in a bid to elude capture, prompting a widespread mobilization of law enforcement agencies to ascertain his current location.

In an official communiqué, Detective Senior Assistant Police Commissioner Selebatso Mokgosi of Interpol Gaborone disclosed Ndovi’s apprehension last September at the Tlokweng border, a capture made possible through the vigilant issuance of the Interpol red notice.

At 36, Ndovi is implicated in a case of alleged home invasion in Oman. Despite the non-existence of an extradition treaty between Botswana and Oman, Nomsa Moatswi, the Director of the Directorate of Public Prosecution (DPP), emphasized that the lack of formal extradition agreements does not hinder her office’s ability to entertain extradition requests. She highlighted the adoption of international cooperation norms, advocating for collaboration through the lenses of international comity and reciprocity.

Moatswi disclosed the intensified effort by law enforcement to locate Ndovi following his no-show in court, and pointed to Botswana’s track record of extraditing two international fugitives from France and Zimbabwe in the previous year as evidence of the country’s relentless pursuit of legal integrity.

When probed about the potential implications of Ndovi’s case on Botswana’s forthcoming evaluation by the Financial Action Task Force (FATF), Moatswi reserved her speculations. She acknowledged the criticality of steering clear of blacklisting, suggesting that this singular case is unlikely to feature prominently in the FATF’s assessment criteria.

 

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