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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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UDC founder warns against merger

19th October 2020
Ex UDC Convener: Mpotokwane

Lebang Mpotokwane, one of the conveners who presided over the opposition cooperation talks that resulted in the formation of the Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC), has advised against changing the current umbrella model in favour of a merger as proposed by others.

The Botswana Congress Party (BCP) leader, Dumelang Saleshando recently went public to propose that UDC should consider merging of all opposition parties, including Alliance for Progressives (AP) and Botswana Patriotic Front (BNF).

Saleshando has been vehemently opposed by Botswana National Front (BNF), which is in favour of maintaining the current model.  BNF’s position has been favoured by the founding father of UDC, who warned that it will be too early to ditch the current model.

“UDC should be well developed to promote the spirit of togetherness on members and the members should be taught so that the merger is developed gradually. They should approach it cautiously. If they feel they are ready, they can, but it would not be a good idea,” Mpotokwane told WeekendPost this week.

Mpotokwane and Emang Maphanyane are the two men who have since 2003 began a long journey of uniting opposition parties in a bid to dethrone the ruling Botswana Democratic Party (BCP) as they felt it needed a strong opposition to avoid complacency.

Tonota born Mpotokwane is however disappointed on how they have been ejected from participating in the last edition of talks ahead of the 2019 general elections in which BCP was brought on board.  However, despite the ejection, Mpotokwane is not resentful to the opposition collective.

He said the vision of opposition unity was to ultimately merge the opposition parties but he believes time has not arrived yet to pursue that path. “The bigger picture was a total merger and we agreed that with three independent parties, members might be against merger eventuality so the current model should be used until a point where they are now together for as long as possible,” he said.

“UDC should gradually perform better in elections and gain confidence. They should not rush the merger. We have been meeting since 2003, but if they rush it might cause endless problems. If they are ready they can anyway,” he advised. For now the constituent parties of the umbrella have been exchanging salvos with others (BCP and BNF).

“There are good reasons for and against merging the parties. Personally, I am in favour of merging the parties (including AP and BPF) into a single formation but I know it’s a complex mission that will have its own challenges,” Saleshando said when he made his position known a week ago.

“Good luck to those advocating for a merger, it will be interesting to observe the tactics they will use to lure the BPF into a merger,” former BNF councillor for Borakalalo Ward and former BNF Youth League Secretary General, Arafat Khan, opined in relation to BCP’s proposed position.

Mpotokwane, who is currently out in the cold from the UDC since he was ejected from the party’s NEC in 2017, said the current bickering and the expected negotiations with other parties need the presence of conveners.

“We did not belong to any party as conveners so we were objective in our submissions. If party propose any progressive idea we will support, if it is not we will not, so I would agree that even now conveners might be key for neutrality to avoid biasness,” he observed. Despite being abandoned, Mpotokwane said he will always be around to assist if at all he is needed.

“If they want help I will be there, I have always been clear about it, but surely I will ask few questions before accepting that role,” he said. UDC is expected to begin cooperation talks with both AP and BPF either this week or next weekend for both upcoming bye-elections (halted by Covid-19) and 2024 general elections and it is revealed that there will be no conveners this time around.

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BDP attaches Boko’s property

19th October 2020

The Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) moved through its lawyers to attach the property of Umbrella for Democratic (UDC) President Duma Boko and other former parliamentary contestants who failed in their court bid to overturn the 2019 general elections in 14 constituencies.

WeekendPost has established that this week, Deputy Sheriffs were commissioned by Bogopa Manewe Tobedza and Company who represented the BDP, to attach the properties of UDC elections contents in a bid to recover costs.  High Court has issued a writ of execution against all petitioners, a process that has set in motion the cost recovery measures.

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COVID-19 exposes decay in the education system

19th October 2020
Education Systm

Botswana Sectors of Teachers Union (BOSETU) says COVID-19 as a pandemic has negatively affected the education sector by deeply disrupting the education system. The intermittent lockdowns have resulted in the halting of teaching and learning in schools.

The union indicated that the education system was caught napping and badly exposed when it came to the use of Information System (IT), technological platforms and issues of digitalisation.

“COVID-19 exposed glaring inefficiencies and deficiencies when it came to the use of ITC in schools. In view of the foregoing, we challenge government as BOSETU to invest in school ITC, technology and digitalization,” says BOSETU President Kinston Radikolo during a press conference on Tuesday.

As a consequence, the union is calling on government to prioritise education in her budgeting to provide technological infrastructure and equipment including provision of tablets to students and teachers.

“Government should invest vigorously in internet connectivity in schools and teacher’s residences if the concept of flexi-hours and virtual learning were to be achieved and have desired results,” Radikolo said.

Radikolo told journalists that COVID-19 is likely to negatively affect final year results saying that the students would sit for the final examinations having not covered enough ground in terms of curriculum coverage.

“This is so because there wasn’t any catch up plan that was put in place to recover the lost time by students. We warn that this year’s final examination results would dwindle,” he said.

The Union, which is an affiliate of Botswana Federation of Public, Private and Parastatal Union (BOFEPUSU), also indicated that COVID-19’s presence as a pandemic has complicated the role of a teacher in a school environment, saying a teacher’s role has not only transcended beyond just facilitating teaching and learning, but rather, a teacher in this COVID-19 era, is also called upon to enforce the COVID-19 preventative protocols in the school environment.

“This is an additional role in the duty of a teacher that needs to be recognized by the employers. Teachers by virtue of working in a congested school environment have become highly exposed and vulnerable to COVID-19, hence the reason why BOSETU would like teachers to be regarded as the frontline workers with respect to COVID-19,” says Radikolo.

BOSETU noted that the pandemic has in large scales found its way into most of the school environments, as in thus far more than 50 schools have been affected by COVID-19. The Union says this is quite a worrying phenomenon.

“As we indicated before when we queried that schools were not ready for re-opening, it has now come to pass that our fears were not far-fetched. This goes out to tell that there is deficiency in our schools when it comes to putting in place preventative protocols. In our schools, hygiene is compromised by mere absence of sanitizers, few hand-washing stations, absence of social distancing in classes,” the Union leader said.

Furthermore, Radikolo stressed that the shifting system drastically increased the workload for teachers especially in secondary schools. He says teachers in these schools experience very high loads to an extent that some of them end up teaching up to sixty four periods per week, adding that this has not only fatigued teachers, but has also negatively affected their performance and the quality of teaching.

In what the Union sees as failure to uphold and honour collective agreements by government, owing to the shift system introduced at primary schools, government is still in some instances refusing to honour an agreement with the Unions to hire more teachers to take up the extra classes.

“BOSETU notes with disgruntlement the use of pre-school teachers to teach in the mainstream schools with due regard for their specific areas of training and their job descriptions. This in our view is a variation of the terms of employment of the said teachers,” says Radikolo.

The Union has called on government to forthwith remedy this situation and hire more teachers to alleviate this otherwise unhealthy situation. BOSETU also expressed concerns of some school administrators who continuously run institutions with iron fists and in a totalitarian way.

“We have a few such hot spot schools which the Union has brought to attention the Ministry officials such as Maoka JSS, Artesia JSS, and Dukwi JSS. We are worried that the Ministry becomes sluggish in taking action against such errant school administration. In instances where action is taken, such school administrators are transferred and rotated around schools.”

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