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East Africa, ECOWAS gang up against Venson-Moitoi

Dr Pelonomi Venson-Moitoi’s chances of becoming the next African Union Commission chairman are fast fading as the East and West Africans have weaved a deliberate ploy to mark her out of the race come January 17th next year. This follows Venson-Moitoi’s failure to garner an absolute two-thirds majority after a third round of voting despite winning the race earlier this year. The ‘Black smoke billows’ curse may have cost Venson-Moitoi a rare golden moment and it could be for good.

Kenyan President, Uhuru Kenyatta when announcing Amb. Amina Mohamed as his country’s nominee for the AU post said the decision is in recognition of the obligation and commitment to support the African agenda.  This decision should inform Venson-Moitoi’s next move in terms of the campaign because the shape and form of her opponents is changing. The Foreign Affairs Minister has the backing of SADC albeit insinuations that President Lt Gen Dr Ian Khama’s diplomatic whoopla could hurt her standing with some of the SADC counterparts and African states.

President Khama recently called Zimbabwean President, Robert Mugabe to step down because his time was up. This was not well received by the Zimbabwe government. African statesmen generally do not comment on the affairs of their neighbours, they generally adopt silent diplomacy and most of them belong to the same league with Mugabe. 

“I am proud to offer Amb. Mohamed for the position of Chairperson of the African Union Commission (AUC), a position currently held by Her Excellency Dr. Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma of South Africa. In this regard, my administration has submitted the candidature of Amb. Mohamed for consideration at the African Union Summit in January 2017,” Kenyatta is quoted as saying the Nation publication. Kenyatta visited Botswana earlier this year at the invitation of President Khama, but his view on the “African agenda” appears parallel to that of Khama and his government.

Mohamed is Kenya’s Foreign Affairs Cabinet Secretary. She is expected to also face Agapito Mba Mokuy of Equatorial Guinea, Abdoulaye Bathily of Senegal and Botswana’s Venson-Moitoi. To demonstrate that the East Africans and the West Africans are likely to work together at the January elections, Uganda’s candidate Dr Speciosa Wandira Kazibwe, a former Vice President, whose bid the government supported with Shs1 billion has pulled out of the race.  Indications are that ECOWAS and the East African Bloc will rally behind the Kenyan candidate.

Speaking of her record, Mohamed’s country men and women paint a positive proven track record in leadership, understanding and experience in working at International Mechanisms such as the UN. They say her foreign policy management is proven to be one of the best in Africa, because she brought the Pope to Kenya. She made and played a major role in Kenya’s controversial cases at The Hague. “Her ministry has overseen several visits by world leaders to Kenya, including President Obama, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, his Indian counterpart Narendra Modi, Italy’s Matteo Renzi and Pope Francis,” one of her supporters boasted on social media. Mohamed has been in public service for 29 years and was once Kenya’s ambassador/permanent representative at the Kenyan Mission to the United Nations in Geneva. The UN secretary-general had appointed her the body's assistant secretary-general and deputy executive director at the UN Environment Programme (UNEP) in Nairobi.

Venson-Moitoi was finding it tough to win members of the ECOWAS who singularly sabotaged her almost perfect campaign in July 2016 by abstaining from the vote.  This led to the election of members of the AU Commission held in Kigali, Rwanda, in July being suspended because, after seven rounds of voting, none of the three contenders for the position of chairman obtained the required two-thirds majority. By poaching a woman candidate, who has a foreign affairs background, and further eliminating an unpopular woman candidate (Kazibwe), the anti-Venson-Moitoi team wants to match her pound for pound and even ding-dong her on goodwill. The unpopular Kazibwe was knocked out in the first round after she tailed with 11 votes. 16 West Africa states fall under their umbrella group, ECOWAS.

The post became vacant after the expiry of the term of South Africa’s Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, who had been at the commission’s helm since 2012 and did not apply for a second term.

The panel recruiting the team will by October 14 circulate the list of candidates in readiness for the election in January 2017.  A winner, according to the rules, should garner at least two-thirds of the votes by the 53 members, excluding Morocco which is just making a comeback to the continental body.

ECOWAS leaders alleged that the final three candidates were not of the right pedigree to lead the continental bloc, and chose to ambush the summit with last-minute demands spearheaded by Senegal President Mackay Sall, including for postponement of the vote. Ivory Coast and Senegal led the ECOWAS campaign to postpone the election and when they failed, Senegal presented its former Foreign Affairs minister. He could, however, not be accepted because nominations were already closed.

Dr Venson-Moitoi, during the fourth and last round, polled 23 votes, which, although the highest, still fell below the 35-vote threshold to bag the job currently held by South Africa’s Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma. Ms Zuma remains in-charge until January, after which she is expected to launch a bid for the South African presidency if factors permit at her homeland.

NOTE:  ‘Black smoke billows’ – references a popular Vatican phrase when voting by cardinals in a conclave for a new Pope is inconclusive.

 

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Botswana still weighing in on Maseko’s assassination

27th January 2023

The Minister of Foreign Affairs, Dr. Lemogang Kwape says Botswana has not taken any position regarding the killing of a renowned human rights lawyer, Thulani Maseko, who was gunned down at his house in Mbabane, Eswatini.

In a brief interview with WeekendPost, Dr Kwape said Botswana has not yet taken any position regarding his death. He said the purported incident should be thoroughly probed before Botswana can form an opinion based on the findings of the inquiries.

“Botswana generally condemns any killing of human life by all means,” says Dr. Kwape. He wouldn’t want to be dragged on whether Botswana will support the suspension of Eswatini from SADC.

“We will be guided by SADC organ Troika if they can be an emergency meeting. I am not sure when the meeting will be called by Namibian president,“ he said.

However, the Namibian president Hage Geingob notes with deep concern reports coming out of Eswatini about the killing of Mr. Maseko. In a statement, he called upon the “Government of the Kingdom of Eswatini to ensure that the killing of Maseko is swiftly, transparently and comprehensively investigated, and that any or all persons suspected of committing this heinous crime are brought to justice.”

Maseko was chairperson of the Multi-Stakeholder Forum which was established as a coalition of non-State actors to advocate for a process of national political dialogue aimed at resolving the security and political challenges confronting the Kingdom.

“SADC expresses its deepest and heartfelt condolences to the family of Mr. Maseko, his friends, colleagues, and to the people of the Kingdom of Eswatini for the loss of Mr. Maseko. In this context, SADC further calls upon the people of the Kingdom of Eswatini to remain calm, exercise due care and consideration whilst the appropriate structures conduct the investigations and bring the matter to completion,” the statement says.

Geingob reiterated the need for peaceful resolution of the political and security challenges affecting the country.

Meanwhile political activists are calling on SADC to suspend Eswatini from the block including the African Union as well.

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Kopong Murder: Accused interferes with witnesses again!

27th January 2023

State prosecutor, Seeletso Ookeditse revealed before the Broadhurst Magistrate Jobbie Moilatshimo that the third accused involved in the murder of Barulaganye Aston, has interfered with the State witnesses again.

The second and third accused (Lefty Kosie and Outlwile Aston) were previously accused of interference when they were caught in possession of cellphones in prison. They were further accused of planning to kill the deceased’s brother, who is currently the guardian to the children of the deceased.

Ookeditse indicated that Outlwile had earlier went to challenge the magistrate’s decision of denying him bail at the High Court before Judge Michael Motlhabi.

“The third accused approached the High Court and made a bail application, which was dismissed on the same day,” Ookeditse said.

However, even after the High Court verdict on their bail application, the duo (Kosie and Aston) has once again applied for bail this week.

Ookeditse plead with the court to stop the accused from abusing the court process.

“Yesterday, Directorate of Public Prosecutions (DPP) received papers of his bail application filed before the Broadhurst Magistrates Court. However, the papers do not speak to changed circumstances, therefore this back and forth about bail must be put to a stop,” said the State prosecutor.

While giving evidence before court, the Investigations Officer, Detective Inspector Quite Zhalamonto, said his investigations have proved that there is interference continuing regarding the accused trio.

He told the court that on the 12th of January 2023, he received a report from Thato Aston, who is the son of the accused and the deceased. The son had alleged to the Investigation Officer that he received a call from one Phillip Molwantwa.

According to Zhalamonto, Thato revealed that Molwatwa indicated that he was from prison on a visit to the Outlwile Aston and went on to ask where he was staying and where his siblings (Aston’s children) are staying.

“Thato revealed that Phillip went on to ask if he or his siblings saw their father murdering their mother, and he was referring to the crime scene. Thato told me that he, however, refused to answer the questions as he was afraid especially because he was asked about where him and his siblings stay,” said Zhalamonto.

Zhalamonto alluded to the court that he then went to Orange to confirm the communication between Thato and Molwantwa where he found the case.

“I have arrested Philip yesterday and when I interviewed him, he did not deny that he knows Aston and that he has indeed called Thato and asked questions as to where him and his siblings resides even though he failed to give reasons for asking such questions,” Zhalamonto told the court.

He further revealed that Molwantwa indicated that he had received a call from an unknown man who refused to reveal himself.

“Phillip told me that the unknown man said he was sent by the accused (Aston), and that Aston had instructed him to tell me to check if there was still some money in his bank accounts, and he also wanted to know where the kids were residing, the unknown man even asked him to meet at Main Mall” the Investigation Officer told the court.

He further informed the court that he is working tirelessly to identify the “unknown caller” and the route of the cell number.

Furthermore, the fourth accused, Kebaleboge Ntsebe, has revealed to the court through a letter that she was abused and tortured by the Botswana Police Services. She wrote in her letter that she suffered miscarriage as a result of being beaten by the police.

Ntsebe is on bail, while a bail ruling for Aston and Kosie will be delivered on the 6th of next month

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Ngamiland Cattle Farmers Gain Green Zone Revenue

27th January 2023

Cattle farmers from Eretsha and Habu in the Ngamiland district, supported by the Community Based Trade (CBT) project, recently generated over P300 000.00 for sales of 42 cattle to the Botswana Meat Commission (BMC) in Maun. This milestone was achieved through support from various stakeholders in conservation, commodity-based trade and the government, in collaboration with farmers. Ordinarily, these farmers would not have made this direct sale since the area is a designated Foot and Mouth Disease (FMD) Red Zone.

Traditional livestock farming contributes toward livelihoods and formal employment in the North-West District (Ngamiland) of Botswana. However, primarily due to the increase in FMD outbreaks over the past two decades and predation by wildlife, the viability of livestock agriculture as a source of income has declined in the region. This has led to a greater risk of poverty and food insecurity. Access across the Okavango River (prior to the construction of a bridge) restricted access for farmers in Eretsha. This lack of access hampered sales of cattle beyond Shakawe, further discouraging farmers from investing in proper livestock management practices. This resulted in negative environmental impacts, poor livestock health and productivity.

To address this challenge, farmers are working with a consortium led by Conservation International (CI), with funding secured from the European Union (EU) to pilot a CBT beef project. The project focuses on supporting and enabling communal farmers to comply with standards and regulations that will improve their chances to access markets. An opportunity to earn higher income from cattle sales could incentivize the adoption of restorative rangelands management practices by farmers.

These collaborative efforts being piloted in Habu and Eretsha villages also include the Pro-Nature Enterprises Project for the People of Southern Africa, funded by Agence Française de Développement (AFD) and Le Fonds français pour l’environnement mondial (FFEM). This complementary funding from AFD and FFEM supports the implementation of the Herding4Health (H4H) model and Rangeland Stewardship Agreements across four rangeland sites in Southern Africa, including Habu and Eretsha, to incentivize best practices that could offer sustainability in the long term for livelihoods, conservation and human-wildlife coexistence.

“We spend a lot of money getting our cattle to Makalamabedi quarantine site, the herder spends on average two months taking care of the cattle before they are taken into quarantine – that needs money. All these costs lead to us getting less money from BMC,” said one of the farmers in the programme, Mr Monnaleso Mosanga.

Farmers that participate in the project agree for their cattle to be herded and kraaled communally by fulltime professional herders (eco-rangers). At the core of this pilot is the use of predator-proof bomas (cattle kraals), planned grazing systems and mobile quarantine bomas (electrified enclosures) for the cattle, facilitated in support with the Department of Veterinary Services. The first successful exit from the mobile quarantine bomas in the Habu and Eretsha villages, in December 2022, saw cattle quarantined on-site and directly transported to BMC in Maun. Farmers received almost double the average sales within this region, as costs including transportation to quarantine sites, herder’s fees and other associated costs incurred before qualifying for BMC sales were no longer included.

“This pilot mobile quarantine is leveraging the techniques and protocols we are using at our current permanent quarantine sites, and we are still observing the results of the project. The outcome of this pilot will be presented to the World Organisation of Animal Health to assess its effectiveness and potentially be approved to be used elsewhere,” said Dr Odireleng Thololwane, the Principal Veterinary Officer (Maun).

Through co-financing of almost P1 billion from the Botswana government and Green Climate Fund, these interventions will be replicated, through The Ecosystem Based Adaptation and Mitigation in Botswana’s Communal Rangelands project, across the country. Both projects aim to improve the economic benefits of cattle owners and multitudes of Batswana households, while contributing to land restoration and climate change efforts by the Botswana government

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