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Khama approves budget for Venson-Moitoi AU re-run

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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Veteran journalist Karima Brown succumbs to COVID-19

4th March 2021
Karima-Brown

South Africa’s veteran journalist and broadcaster, Karima Brown has died on Thursday morning from COVID-19 related complications.

Media reports from the neighbouring country say Brown had been hospitalized and on a ventilator.

Brown anchored eNCA’s The Fix and was a regular political analyst on the eNCA channel.

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Botswana imports in numbers

1st March 2021
Botswana-imports

For so many years, Botswana has been trying to be a self-sufficient country that is able to provide its citizens with locally produced food products. Through appropriate collaborations with parastatals such as CEDA, ISPAAD and LEA, government introduced initiatives such as the Horticulture Impact Accelerator Subsidy-IAS and other funding facilities to facilitate horticultural farmers to increase production levels.

Now that COVID-19 took over and disrupted the food value chain across all economies, Botswana government introduced these initiatives to reduce the import bill by enhancing local market and relieve horticultural farmers from loses or impacts associated with the pandemic.

In more concerted efforts to curb these food crises in the country, government extended the ploughing period for the Southern part of Botswana. The extension was due to the late start of rains in the Southern part of the country.

Last week the Ministry of Agriculture extended the ploughing period for the Northern part of the country, mainly because of rains recently experienced in the country. With these decisions taken urgently, government optimizes food security and reliance on local food production.

When pigs fly, Botswana will be able to produce food to feed its people. This is evident by the numbers released by Statistics Botswana on imports recorded in November 2020, on their International Merchandise Trade Statistics for the month under review.

The numbers say Botswana continues to import most of its food from neighbouring South Africa. Not only that, Batswana relies on South Africa to have something to smoke, to drink and even use as machinery.

According to data from Statistics Botswana, the country’s total imports amounted to P6.881 Million. Diamonds contributed to the total imports at 33%, which is equivalent to P2.3 Million. This was followed by food, beverages and tobacco, machinery and electrical equipment which stood at P912 Million and P790 Million respectively.

Most of these commodities were imported from The Southern African Customs Union (SACU). The Union supplied Botswana with imports valued at over P4.8 Million of Botswana’s imports for the month under review (November 2020). The top most imported commodity group from SACU region was food, beverages and tobacco, with a contribution of P864 Million, which is likely to be around 18.1% of the total imports from the region.

Diamonds and fuel, according to these statistics, contributed 16.0%, or P766 Million and 13.5% or P645 Million respectively. Botswana also showed a strong and desperate reliance on neighbouring South Africa for important commodities. Even though the borders between the two countries in order to curb the spread of the COVID-19 virus, government took a decision to open border gates for essential services which included the transportation of commodities such as food.

Imports from South Africa recorded in November 2020 stood at P4.615 Million, which accounted for 67.1% of total imports during the month under review. Still from that country, Botswana bought food, beverages and tobacco worth P844 Million (18.3%), diamonds, machinery and fuel worth P758 Million, P601 Million and P562 Million respectively.

Botswana also imported chemicals and rubber products that made a contribution of 11.7% (P542.2 Million) to total imports from South Africa during the month under review, (November 2020).

The European Union also came to Botswana’s rescue in the previous year. Botswana received imports worth P698.3 Million from the EU, accounting for 10.1% of the total imports during the same month. The major group commodity imported from the EU was diamonds, accounting for 86.9% (P606.6 Million), of imports from the Union. Belgium was the major source of imports from the EU, at 8.9% (P609.1 Million) of total imports during the period under review.

Meanwhile, Minister of Finance and Economic Development Thapelo Matsheka says an improvement in exports and commodity prices will drive growth in Sub-Saharan Africa. Growth in the region is anticipated to recover modestly to 3.2% in 2021. Matsheka said this when delivering the Annual Budget Speech virtually in Gaborone on the 1st of February 2021.

He said implementation of the African Continental Free Trade Area Agreement (AfCFTA), which became operational in January 2021, could reduce the region’s vulnerability to global disruptions, as well as deepen trade and economic integration.

“This could also help boost competition and productivity. Successful implementation of AfCFTA will, of necessity, require Member States to eliminate both tariffs and non-tariff barriers, and generally make it easier to do business and invest across borders.”

Matsheka, who is also a Member of Parliament for Lobatse, an ailing town which houses the struggling biggest meat processing company in the country- Botswana Meat Commission, (BMC), said the Southern African Customs Union (SACU) recognizes the need to prioritize the key processes required for the implementation of the AfCFTA.

“The revised SACU Tariff Offer, which comprises 5,988 product lines with agreed Rules of Origin, representing 77% of the SACU Tariff Book, was submitted to the African Union Commission (AUC) in November 2020. The government is in the process of evaluating the tariff offers of other AfCFTA members prior to ratification, following which Botswana’s participation in AfCFTA will come to effect.”

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Sheila Tlou: On why women don’t get votes

1st March 2021
Sheila Tlou

BARAPEDI KEDIKILWE

Women continue to shadow men in politics – stereotypes such as ‘behind every successful man there is a woman’ cast the notion that women cannot lead. The 2019 general election recorded one of Botswana’s worst performances when it comes to women participation in parliamentary democracy with only three women elected to parliament.

Botswana’s former Minister of Health, Professor Sheila Tlou who is currently the Co-Chair, Global HIV Prevention Coalition & Nursing Now and an HIV, Gender & Human Rights Activist is not amused by the status quo. Tlou attributes this dilemma facing women to a number of factors, which she is convinced influence the voting patterns of Batswana when it comes to women politicians.

Professor Tlou plugs the party level voting systems as the first hindrance that blocks women from ascending to power. According to the former Minister of Health, there is inadequate amount of professionalism due to corrupt internal party structures affecting the voters roll and ultimately leading to voter apathy for those who end up struck off the voters rolls under dubious circumstances.

Tlou also stated that women’s campaigns are often clean; whilst men put to play the ‘politics is dirty metaphor using financial muscle to buy voters into voting for them without taking into consideration their abilities and credibility. The biggest hurdle according to Tlou is the fallacy that ‘Women cannot lead’, which is also perpetuated by other women who discourage people from voting for women.

There are numerous factors put on the table when scrutinizing a woman, she can be either too old, or too young, or her marital status can be used against her. An unmarried woman is labelled as a failure and questioned on how she intends on being a leader when she failed to have a home. The list is endless including slut shaming women who have either been through a divorce or on to their second marriages, Tlou observed.

The only way that voters can be emancipated from this mentality according to Tlou is through a robust voter education campaign tailor made to run continuously and not be left to the eve of elections as it is usually done. She further stated that the current crop of women in parliament must show case their abilities and magnify them – this will help make it clear that they too are worthy of votes.

And to women intending to run for office, Tlou encouraged them not to wait for the eleventh hour to show their interest and rather start in community mobilisation projects as early as possible so that the constituents can get to know them and their abilities prior to the election date.

Youthful Botswana National Front (BNF) leader and feminist, Resego Kgosidintsi blames women’s mentality towards one another which emanates from the fact that women have been socialised from a tender age that they cannot be leaders hence they find it difficult to vote for each other.

Kgosidintsi further states that, “Women do not have enough economic resources to stage effective campaigns. They are deemed as the natural care givers and would rather divert their funds towards raising children and building homes over buying campaign materials.”

Meanwhile, Vice President of the Alliance for Progressives (AP), Wynter Mmolotsi agrees that women’s participation in politics in Botswana remains a challenge. To address this Mmolotsi suggested that there should be constituencies reserved for women candidates only so that the outcome regardless of the party should deliver a woman Member of Parliament.

Mmolotsi further suggested that Botswana should ditch the First Past the Post system of election and opt for the proportional representation where contesting parties will dutifully list able women as their representatives in parliament.

On why women do not get elected, Mmolotsi explained that he had heard first hand from voters that they are reluctant to vote for women since they have limited access to them once they have won; unlike their male counterparts who have proven to be available night or day.

The pre-historic awarding of gender roles relegating women to be pregnant and barefoot at home and the man to be out there fending for the family has disadvantaged women in political and other professional careers.

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