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BUAN should extend to Selibe Phikwe



Following the demise of BCL limited which prior to that formed the economic nucleus of Selibe Phikwe, the former mining town future remains uncertain.


Former Government Legislature and cabinet Minister, now a property magnet and shrewd business tycoon, David Magang observes in his ‘’View from Mana House’’ CAN PHIKWE BE REDEEMED eloquent piece weeks ago in this publication that the concept of special economic zones, roping in the Chinese investment acumen would go a long way into saving the otherwise soon to become a ghost town.


The Selibe Phikwe Economic Revitalization strategy unveiled just 2 weeks ago during the African Industrialization Day commemoration which was lamented by President Khama’s SONA last week also suggests a big turnaround for Phikwe, commendable craft and of course well presented, however implementation still remains to be witnessed if it will be any different from other countless mega national projects and economic undertakings which chewed billions to waste.


The strategy seeks to unearth  thousands jobs in textile industry ,the same industry which axed over 2000 jobs in 2008 when investors pocketed   proceeds from tax holidays and vacated the country leaving the town more  dependent on BCL mine.


Agricultural sector and food processing which forms part of the revitalization strategy can also receive accolades for contributing to undiversified Phikwe we see today, just to name a few ,the crush of Talana Farms, collapse of Satmos dairy farms when death robbed the town one of its builders, Samuel Sono .


Now notably the deterrence of Phikwe from housing Botswana’s second university by the decision maker’s years ago evidently haunts Phikwe and government diversification efforts today. However it is not too late for such development, which undoubtedly would make a significant economic boost and complementation to the revitalization strategy.


Making an in-depth look into the revitalization strategy under the stewardship of former Bank of Botswana governor Linah Mhohlo, the strategy is encored on projects which should any little fallout on implementation occur, we are back to square one!!


The strategy also doesn’t explain how retooling and rescaling  thousands of former miners to fit into the new key sectors now being farming, manufactured parts  assembling , travel and tours businesses  just to name a few will be done. Lets asses Agriculture and food processing as well an over view on the tourism industry ignoring Manufacturing for now.


You now already beginning to locate how my heading came about, lets visit Botswana‘s premier agricultural academic institution and see if we can’t bring it into this conversation. It’s been almost a year since the Botswana College of Agriculture fully upgraded to the status of a university and attained the nomenclature of Botswana University of Agriculture& Natural Resources (BUANR).


Having gained autonomy from the University of Botswana, now that enables BUANR to independently carry out its specific mandate of becoming a world class innovation and research agricultural academic institution. The expectation is that the university should take its relevant position in providing solutions to exiting agricultural challenges.


BUANR has an obligation to provide academic research and innovative consultancy to decision makers and other stake holders towards closing up local food insecurity loophole which sends billions abroad in import bill.


We expect BUARN now that it’s no longer a faculty but a fully fleshed entity with its own budget ,to develop frameworks and carry out researches that unleashes and unlocks Botswana’s potential in Horticultural production, milk produce, Beef product diversity , leather processing and products manufacturing ,and other agricultural industries  that are currently untapped locally.


However I doubt with the current infrastructure and institutional space BUANR can rightfully carry out its mandate. I want to believe infrastructural development and institutional facilities upgrade to fully equip the agricultural institution are in the pipeline.


Building campuses or special academia centers separately from the main administration space has proven not to negatively affect the running of an academic institution in anyhow. University of Botswana does it with its research center in Maun. International academic institutions like University of Johannesburg continue to successfully make it into top 10 African universities with such campus model in place.


Considering the current institutional parameter which the university is situated, any infrastructural development in the same place would either be squeezed up or consume the practical’s area spared for farming and other practical academic undertakings.


The university will need an innovation and research center employed with expects and professional academics to facilitate robust solution seeking and also act as university link with other science, research and technology stakeholders like Botswana Innovation Hub, BITRI and other academic institutions.


Should the decision makers think along the same lines, Selebi Phikwe comes out as more qualified to host such a development ,proposing a model similar to the University of Botswana‘s Okavango Research institute in Maun or a full separate campus housing 2 or 3 relevant faculties to avoid congestion at the main campus.


Being born and bred in Phikwe my ordinary self, perhaps it is paramount that before breaking down my reasons attached to this opinion, i lay forth a disclaimer that this position is not in anyhow influenced by my sense of belonging to copper and nickel town, nor any political endeavor but solely influenced by the economic potential in the Phikwe area as well as a goodwill lame man analysis on the future outlook of our town.




Now I believe we beginning to comprehend where BUANR could fit in the revitalization equation. Setting up an academic institution in Selibe Phikwe, let alone an innovation and research center will go a long way in complementing the efforts of other stakeholders in turning the Phikwe area into Botswana‘s major industrial city and transforming the region into a premier sight for innovative and technology companies, SPEDU would surely approve of this sentiment, at least from what I gathered at their new brand launch months ago.


Basically complementing the revitalization strategy with capacity building and skills development. Automatically a development such as an institution comes with infrastructural erection thus  temporary employment creation, that on its own brings about the diversity in jobs availability, which Selibe Phikwe currently desperately needs credit to the obvious reasons of Nigel Dixon Warren-the terminator.




Putting up BUANR campus in Phikwe would not only benefit the Selibe Phikwe region and its people, but would also bring about great efficiency in the service delivery and well resourced execution of mandate for the Agricultural academy itself.


The region sits comfortably at the centre of well positioned dams availing abundant water for agricultural practical’s. From the far south sits the newly opened Lotsane Dam in Maunatla, sailing through the Thune dam in the east south of Selibe Phikwe , the Dikgathong Dam in the North eastern side right on the Motloutse basin and off course the traditional Letsibogo on the northwestern top of the SPEDU region.


These resources together with the fertile soil around the region gives the BUANR a great environment to carry out their agricultural research , experiments ,studies and academic capacity building that is substantiated with practicals and actual physical undertakings , thus turning it into a world class agricultural university that produces readymade and industrial graduates.


As we expect BUANR to promote commercial and techno-based methods of agricultural practice , I think there is no better region to provide such environment ,taking into consideration the existing facilities like NAFTRC’s National Agro-Processing Plant , renewed and re-motivated SPEDU , and the Linah Mhohlo uphill task ,BUANR would complement this efforts with research , innovative and academic techno based expertise turning the Phikwe region into Botswana’s bread basket and eventually reducing the national import bill brought by food insecurity, and ofcource saving our town from turning into Botswana’s Detroit as David Magang would put it.




Furthermore Selibe Phikwe is engulfed in a naturally resourced parameter rich in environmental diversity. The Limpopo River, Motloutse, Thuli Block and Platjan brings about an interesting ecosystem with indigenous tree spices, undisturbed forestry and variety of wildlife, aquatic plants and animals ,something which also translate to great tourism potential aswell.


With the little information I have about the thresh hold of BUANR areas of academia, great environment in Bobirwa constituency, Tsetsebjwe natural forests, Lentswe le Moriti vegetations and Sheerwood Ranges is more than enough for the execution of BUANR mandates as far as student science and research practical’s are concerned ,at least for the Natural Resources nomenclature .


Generally Selibe Phikwe and the whole SPEDU region is rich in agricultural potential and natural resources that could be unleashed to cultivate wealth and economic transformation and diversification which  eventually comes with thousands jobs for the people living in the area hence maintaining Mhohlo’s reputation of successful national assignment record!!!


Arguably one would question my silence about livestock and animal husbandry potential of the region, well that can be blamed on the FMD outbreak that hit our zone years back, but sipping from the BMC records of few years back, one would learn that before Foot N Mouth outbreak, the zone 7 which enclaves Selibe Phikwe was one of the highest producers of good quality cattle’s, at least from communal farms.


And my sources at the Ministry of Agriculture revealed to my knowledge hungry person that the authorities are in a processes of reviewing the zone, giving hope that soon the region will be open for European Market intake as matter of fact President Khama confirmed it on Monday(SONA).


Perhaps the placing of a research institution here in Phikwe would extent an expert help to resurrecting the region’s cattle supply to BMC,so is the Botswana Vaccine Institute ,I would like to invite them to prospect extending their services here in Phikwe more so that reports suggests they are planning to expand commercially and factory wise, Minister  Ralotsia’s visit to France earlier this year informs that.


Now getting into Conclusion, esteemed readers of the this ‘Insightful publication’ let me note that The Botswana University of Agriculture and Natural Resource now has a role to play as an academic and research think tank for environmental policies to “”Ministry of Natural Resources & Wildlife-’’’ as well as agricultural policy crafting to its mother ministry which now has a direct task of improving Botswana’s food security.


With the Southern side of Botswana housing the main campuses of both the BUANR , University of Botswana and other research institutions like NAFTRC, already Okavango Research Center(Maun) covering the far northern side ,and Palapye enjoying the housing of BUIST, Selibe Phikwe is now better placed to host an extension of the agricultural academy , should funds and developmental plans permit. I rest my case.


Rearabilwe Ramaphane is 2015 Alumni of Fredrich Ebert Stiftung Leadership program. Chairman of Innovative Youth Organization, Selibe Phikwe based researcher and freelance publisher .He writes here in his own personal capacity – 75525191


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Internal party-democracy under pressure

21st June 2022

British novelist, W. Somerset Maugham once opined: “If a nation values anything more than freedom, it will lose its freedom; and the irony of it is that if it is comfort or money that it values more, it will lose that too.”

The truism in these words cannot be underestimated, especially when contextualizing against the political developments in Botswana. We have become a nation that does not value democracy, yet nothing represent freedom more than democracy. In fact, we desire, and value winning power or clinging to power more than anything else, even if it harms the democratic credentials of our political institutions. This is happening across political parties — ruling and opposition.

As far as democracy is concerned, we are regressing. We are becoming worse-off than we were in the past. If not arrested, Botswana will lose its status as among few democratic nations in the Africa. Ironically, Botswana was the first country in Africa to embrace democracy, and has held elections every five years without fail since independence.

We were once viewed as the shining example of Africa. Those accolades are not worth it any more. Young democracies such as South Africa, with strong institutions, deserves to be exalted. Botswana has lost faith in democracy, and we will pay a price for it. It is a slippery slope to dictatorship, which will bring among other excess, assault on civil liberties and human rights violations.

Former President, Festus Mogae once stated that Botswana’s democracy will only become authentic, when a different party, other than the Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) wins elections, and when the President of such party is not from Serowe.

Although many may not publicly care to admit, Mogae’s assertion is true. BDP has over the years projected itself as a dyed-in-the-wool proponent of democracy, but the moment its stay in power became threatened and uncertain, it started behaving in a manner that is at variance with democratic values.  This has been happening over the years now, and the situation is getting worse by the day.

Recently, the BDP party leadership has been preaching compromise and consensus candidates for 2024 general elections. Essentially, the leadership has lost faith in the Bulela Ditswe dispensation, which has been used to selected party candidates for council and parliament since 2003. The leadership is discouraging democracy because they believe primary elections threaten party unity. It is a strange assertion indeed.

Bulela Ditswe was an enrichment of internal party democracy in the sense that it replaced the previous method of selection of candidates known as Committee of 18, in which a branch committee made of 18 people endorsed the representatives. While it is true that political contest can divide, the ruling party should be investing in political education and strengthening in its primary elections processes. Democracy does not come cheap or easy, but it is valuable.

Any unity that we desire so much at the expense of democracy is not true unity. Like W. Somerset Maugham said, democracy would be lost in the process, and ultimately, even the unity that was desired would eventually be lost too. Any solution that sacrifice democracy would not bring any results in the long run, except misery.

We have seen that also in opposition ranks. The Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) recently indicated that its incumbent Members of Parliament (MPs) should not be challenged for their seats. While BDP is sacrificing democracy to stay in power, UDC is sacrificing democracy to win power. It is a scary reality given the fact that both parties – ruling and opposition — have embraced this position and believe democracy is the hindrance to their political ambitions.

These current reality points to one thing; our political parties have lost faith in democracy. They desire power more than, the purpose of power itself. It is also a crisis of leadership across the political divide, where we have seen dissenting views being met with persecution. We have seen perverting of political process endorsed by those in echelons of power to manipulate political outcomes in their favour.

Democracy should not be optional, it should be mandatory. Any leader proposing curtailing of democracy should be viewed with suspicion, and his adventures should be rejected before it is too late. Members of political parties, as subscribers of democracy, should collectively rise to the occasion to save their democracy from self-interest that is becoming prevalent among Botswana political parties.

The so-called compromise candidates, only benefits the leadership because it creates comforts for them. But for members, and for the nation, it is causing damage by reversing the gains that have been made over the years. We should reject leaders who only preach democracy in word, but are hesitant to practice it.

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The Big Deal About Piracy

21st June 2022

Piracy of all kinds continues to have a massive impact on the global creative industry and the economies of the countries where it thrives.

One of the biggest misconceptions around piracy is that an individual consumer’s piracy activities, especially in a market the size of Botswana’s, is only a drop in the pool of potential losses to the different sectors of the economy piracy affects.

When someone sitting in Gaborone, Botswana logs onto an illegal site to download King Richard online, they don’t imagine that their one download will do anything to the production house’s pocket or make a dent in the actors’ net worth. At best, the sensitivity towards this illegal pirating activity likely only exists when contemplating going about pirating a local musician’s music or a short film produced locally.

The ripple effects of piracy at whatever scale reach far beyond what the average consumer could ever imagine. Figures released by software security and media technology company, Irdeto, show that users in five major African territories made approximately 17,4 million total visits to the top 10 identified piracy sites on the internet.

The economic impact of this on the creative industry alone soars to between 40 and 97.1 billion dollars, according a 2022 Dataprot study. In addition, they estimate that “illegally streamed copyrighted content consumes 24% of global bandwidth”.

As Botswana’s creative industry remains relatively slight on the scale of comparison to industries such as Nollywood and Nilewood where the creative industry contributes a huge proportion to West and East Africa’s respective GDPs, that does not imply that piracy activities in Botswana do not have a similar impact on our economy and the ability of our creative industry to grow.

When individuals make decisions to illegally consume content via internet streaming sites they believe they are saving money for themselves in the name of enjoying content they desire to consume. Although this is a personal choice that remains the prerogative of the consumer, looking beyond the fact that streaming on illegal content sites is piracy, the ripple effect of this decision also has an endless trail of impact where funds which could be used to grow the local creative industry through increased consumption, and revenue which would otherwise be fed back into Botswana’s economy are being diverted.

“Why can’t our local creative industry grow?” “Why don’t we see more home-grown films and shows in Botswana?” are questions constantly posed by those who consume television content in Botswana. The answer to this lies largely in the fact that Botswana’s local content needs an audience in order for it to grow. It needs support from government and entities which are in a position to fund and help the industry scale greater heights.

Any organisational body willing to support and grow the local creative industry needs to exist and operate in an economy which can support its mandates. Content piracy is a cycle that can only be alleviated when consumers make wiser decisions around what they consume and how.

This goes beyond eradicating piracy activities in so far as television content is concerned. This extends to the importation and trade in counterfeit goods, resale of goods and services not intended for resale across the border, outside its jurisdiction, and more. All of these activities stunt the growth of an economy and make it nearly impossible for industries and sectors to propel themselves to places where they can positively impact society and reinvest into the country’s economy.

So what can be done to turn the tide here in Botswana in order to see our local production houses gain the momentum required to produce more, license more and expand their horizons? While those who enforce the law continue to work towards minimizing piracy activities, it’s imperative that as consumers we work to make their efforts easier by being mindful of how our individual actions play a role in preventing the success of our local creative networks and our economy’s growth.

Whether you are pirating a Hollywood Blockbuster, illegally streaming a popular Motswana artist’s music, or smuggling in an illegal decoder to view content restricted to South Africa only, your actions have an impact on how we as a nation will make our mark on the global landscape with local creative productions. Thembi Legwaila is Corporate Affairs Manager, MultiChoice Botswana

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Our Strength is our Unity

18th March 2022

Putin Chose War.  We Remain United with Ukraine.

U.S. Ambassador Craig L. Cloud

This is a dangerous moment for Europe and for freedom-loving people around the world.  By launching his brutal assault on the people of Ukraine, Vladimir Putin has also committed an assault on the principles that uphold global peace and democracy.  But the people of Ukraine are resilient.

They’ve had a democracy for decades, and their bravery is inspiring the world.  The United States, together with our Allies and partners across the globe, will continue to support the Ukrainian people as they defend their country.  By choosing to pay for a war instead of investing in the needs of Russians, Putin’s invasion of Ukraine will be a strategic failure for the Kremlin and ravage the future of the Russian people.

When the history of this era is written, it will show that Putin’s choice to launch an unprovoked, unjust, and premeditated attack left the West more unified and Russia exponentially weaker.

United in Our Response

This will not end well for Vladimir Putin.  Together, the United States and our Allies and partners are taking action to hold Russia accountable.  As a result of unprecedented global sanctions coordination, the United States, the United Kingdom, the European Union, Japan, and Canada have removed selected Russian banks from the SWIFT messaging system and imposed restrictive measures on the Russian Central Bank.

President Biden announced sweeping financial sanctions and stringent export controls that will damage Russia’s economy, financial system, and access to cutting-edge technology.  After Putin began his invasion, the ruble hit its weakest point in history, and the Russian stock market plunged.

Along with the United Kingdom and European Union, the United States imposed sanctions on the architects of this war, including Putin himself.

By moving in close coordination with a powerful coalition of Allies and partners representing more than half of the global economy, we have magnified the impact of our actions to impose maximum costs on Putin and his regime.  In response to Putin’s war of choice, we will limit Russia’s ability to do business in U.S. dollars.

We will stunt Russia’s ability to finance and grow its military.  We will impair Russia’s ability to compete in the global economy.  And we are prepared to do more.

In addition to economic penalties, this week President Biden authorized an additional $1 billion over the $350 million of security assistance he recently approved, and a $650 million in 2021, to immediately help Ukraine defend itself, bringing America’s total security assistance to Ukraine over the past year to $2 billion.

We also stand ready to defend our NATO Allies.  President Biden has coordinated with Allied governments to position thousands of additional forces in Germany and Poland as part of our commitment to NATO’s collective defense.

He authorized the deployment of ground and air forces already stationed in Europe to NATO’s eastern and southeastern flanks:  Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, and Romania.  Our Allies have also added their own forces and capabilities to ensure our collective defense.  There should be no doubt about the readiness of the greatest military Alliance in the history of the world:  NATO is more united than ever.

The United States has also coordinated with major oil-producing and consuming countries to underscore our common interest in securing global energy supplies.  We are working with energy companies to surge their capacity to supply energy to the market, particularly as prices increase.

Putin’s Unprovoked and Premeditated War

This was an attack that Vladimir Putin has planned for a long time.  He methodically moved more than 150,000 troops and military equipment to Ukraine’s border.  He moved blood supplies into position and built field hospitals, demonstrating his intentions all along.

He rejected every good-faith effort by the United States and our Allies and partners to address his fabricated security concerns and to avoid needless conflict and human suffering by engaging in diplomacy and dialogue.

Putin executed his playbook exactly as we had warned he would do.  We saw Russia’s proxies increase their shelling in the Donbas.  We saw the Russian government launch cyber-operations against Ukraine.  We saw staged political theater in Moscow and heard outlandish and baseless claims made about Ukraine in an attempt to justify Russia’s aggression.

Russia continues to justify its military aggression by falsely claiming the need to stop “genocide” in Ukraine – despite there being no evidence that genocide was occurring there.  We saw Russia use these tactics before when they invaded Ukraine in 2014 and Georgia in 2008.

And then, at almost the very same moment the United Nations Security Council was meeting to stand up for Ukraine’s sovereignty and forestall disaster, Putin launched his invasion in violation of international law.  Missiles began to rain down, striking historic cities across Ukraine.  Then came air raids, columns of tanks, and battalions of troops, all riding a renewed wave of disinformation and outright lies.

We have been transparent with the world.  We declassified our intelligence about Russia’s plans so there could be no confusion and no cover up.  Putin is the aggressor.  Putin chose this war.  And now his people will bear the consequences of his decision to invest in war rather than in them.

Transatlantic Unity and Resolve Stronger Than Ever

Putin’s goal of dividing the West has failed.  In the face of one of the most significant challenges to European security and democratic ideals since World War II, the United States and our Allies and partners have joined together in solidarity.  We have united, coordinating intensively to engage as one with Russia and Ukraine, provided assistance to Ukraine, developed a broad response, and reaffirmed our commitment to NATO.

Putin has failed to divide us.  Putin has failed to undermine our shared belief in the fundamental right of sovereign nations to choose their destiny and their allies.  And Putin will fail to erase the proud nation of Ukraine.

The next few days, weeks, and months will be incredibly difficult for the people of Ukraine.  Putin has unleashed great suffering on them.  But the Ukrainian people have known 30 years of independence, and they have repeatedly shown they will not tolerate anyone who tries to take their country backwards.

The world is watching this conflict closely, and if Russian forces commit atrocities, we will explore all international mechanisms that could be used to bring those responsible – whether members of the military or their civilian leadership – to account.

Putin’s aggression against Ukraine will cost Russia profoundly, both economically and strategically.  The Russian people deserve better from their government than the immense cost to their future that this invasion has precipitated.

Liberty, democracy, and human dignity are forces far more powerful than fear and oppression.  In the contest between democracy and autocracy, between sovereignty and subjugation, make no mistake:  Freedom will prevail.

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