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BDP targets Molepolole constituencies

 Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) chairman and Vice President, Mokgweetsi Masisi has revealed that the party has launched an extensive recruitment drive in the Kweneng region to ensure that it reclaims its two constituencies from the Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC).

“We are on massive recruitment drive, and we will reclaim our [Molepolole North and Molepolole South] constituencies in 2019,” said Masisi as he welcomed Councillor Kopano Tumiso back into the party’s fold this week.  Tumiso, a councillor in Kweneng District Council (KDC) dumped BDP last year but has since returned to the party.

Masisi said the return of Tumiso forms part of the recruitment drive in the area, following recruitments of Botswana Movement for Democracy (BMD) Molepolole South party structures few weeks ago.

BDP for the first time since independence lost Molepolole constituencies to opposition, a development which saw veteran Member of Parliament, Daniel Kwelagobe’s 45 years stay in parliament being brought to an abrupt end.

Kwelagobe lost his seat to his former protégé, Dr Tlamelo Mmatli, in a move which was unexpected. Kwelagobe, who was the youngest person ever to be elected MP in Botswana at age 26, has over the years proved to be inconvincible, making him the longest serving legislator in the history of Botswana parliament. 

Meanwhile the other constituency, which was in the hands of his Barataphathi stalwart, Gaotlhaetse Mathabaphiri fell to Mohammed Khan, defeating him after trying several times to win the constituency without success.

UDC also claimed a significant number of council seats in the two Molepolole constituencies, but BDP retained control of Kweneng District Council, thanks to victories in other constituencies in the region.  

The 2014 general election will go on in history as the year which opposition made significant electoral success, registering a popular vote beyond 50 percent for the first time. Opposition seats also increased to 20, UDC gathering 17 and Botswana Congress Party (BCP) three.

In the aftermath, BDP also lost Ramotswa, Ghanzi North, Maun West and Goodhope-Mabule to opposition for the first time.

The 2014 general election has heightened political interest in the events leading to the next general elections, with the ruling party determined to reserve dismal performance in 2019.

The BDP has already held two special congresses, for the purpose of strengthening the party ahead of the 2019 general elections, in which President Ian Khama would have left office.

The party has already made a few amends at party level to place the party in better position going into the next elections. The party has taken a resolution to hold primary elections in constituencies under the ticket of the opposition as early as next year July, to give candidates ample time to canvass support in those constituencies.

BDP’s main target in its recruitment drive has been BCP and BMD. BCP has since the 2015 Kanye Congress suffered loss of its members as they resigned en masse to join the BDP, among them, stalwarts such as Lotty Manyapedza, Thato Osupile and more recently Annah Mokgethi.

Some BCP defectors do not support the party’s decision to join hands with Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) partners following last year’s congress.

Meanwhile BMD defections have been brought on by factional wars brewing inside the party owing to Sidney Pilane’s membership saga, which has divided the party.

Masisi said the situation in the opposition, BMD in particular, continues to vindicate BDP and even makes it more attractive than the opposition.

He remarked that the fact that BMD wants to go to congress to give its president powers, is an indication that it is necessary to have a president with powers like in the BDP.

He said, as a result of the proposed constitutional amendment, BDP will continue to receive its former members back into the party, because BMD will no longer be what it claimed to be when it was founded.

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ENVIRONMENT ISSUES: Masisi asks Virginia for help

24th March 2023

President Mokgweetsi Masisi says the issue of sustainable natural resources management has always been an important part of Botswana’s national development agenda.

Masisi was speaking this week on the occasion of a public lecture at Virginia Polytechnic, under theme, “Merging Conservation, Democracy and Sustainable Development in Botswana.”

Botswana, according to Masisi, holds the view that the environment is fragile and as such, must be managed and given the utmost protection to enable the achievement of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

“It is necessary that we engage one another in the interchange of ideas, perspectives, visualizations of social futures, and considerations of possible strategies and courses of action for sustainable development,” said Masisi.

On the other hand, dialogue, in the form of rigorous democratic discourse among stakeholders presents another basis for reconfiguring how people act on their environments, with a view to conserving its resources that “we require to meet our socio-economic development needs on a sustainable basis,” Masisi told attendees at the public lecture.

He said government has a keen interest in understanding the epidemiology and ecology of diseases of both domestic and wild animals. “It is our national interest to forestall the dire consequences of animal diseases on our communities livelihoods.”

President Masisi hoped that both Botswana and Virginia could help each other in curbing contagious diseases of wildlife.

“We believe that Virginia Tech can reasonably share their experiences, research insights and advances in veterinary sciences and medicines, to help us build capacity for knowledge creation and improve efforts of managing and containing contagious diseases of wildlife. The ground is fertile for entering into such a mutually beneficial partnership.”

When explaining environmental issues further, Masisi said efforts of conservation and sustainable development might at times be hampered by the emergence and recurrence of diseases when pathogens mutate and take host of more than one species.

“Water pollution also kills aquatic life, such as fish, which is one of humanity’s much deserved sources of food. In this regard, One Health Approach imposes ecological responsibility upon all of us to care for the environment and the bio-diversity therein.”

He said the production and use of animal vaccines is an important space and tool for conservation, particularly to deal with trans-border animal diseases.

“In Botswana, our 43-year-old national premier pharmaceutical institution called Botswana Vaccine Institute has played its role well. Through its successful production of highly efficacious Foot and Mouth vaccines, the country is able to contain this disease as well as supply vaccines to other countries in the sub-region.:

He has however declared that there is need for more help, saying “We need more capacitation to deal with and contain other types of microbial that affect both animals and human health.”

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Masisi saddened by deaths of elephant attacks

24th March 2023

President Mokgweetsi Masisi has expressed a strong worry over elephants killing people in Botswana. When speaking in Virginia this week, Masisi said it is unfortunate that Batswana have paid a price with their own blood through being attacked by elephants.

“Communities also suffer unimaginable economic losses yearly when their crops are eaten by the elephants. In spite of such incidents of human-elephant conflict, our people embrace living together with the animals. They fully understand wildlife conservation and its economic benefits in tourism.”

In 2018, Nthobogang Samokwase’s father was attacked by an elephant when travelling from the fields, where he stayed during the cropping season.

It was reported that the man couldn’t run because of his age. He was found trampled by the elephant and was pronounced dead upon arrival at the hospital.

In the same year, in Maun, a 57-year-old British woman was attacked by an elephant at Boro and died upon arrival at the hospital. The woman was with her Motswana partner, and were walking dogs in the evening.

Last month, a Durban woman named Carly Marshall survived an elephant attack while on holiday in the bush in Botswana. She was stabbed by one of the elephant’s tucks through the chest and was left with bruises. Marshall also suffered several fractured ribs from the ordeal.

President Masisi Botswana has the largest population of African elephants in the world, totaling more than 130 000. “This has been possible due to progressive conservation policies, partnerships with the communities, and investment in wildlife management programmes.”

In order to benefit further from wildlife, Masisi indicated that government has re-introduced controlled hunting in 2019 after a four-year pause. “The re-introduction of hunting was done in an open, transparent and democratic way, giving the communities an opportunity to air their views. The funds from the sale of hunting quota goes towards community development and elephant conservation.”

He stressed that for conservation to succeed, the local people must be involved and derive benefits from the natural resources within their localities.

“There must be open and transparent consultations which involve all sectors of the society. It is against this backdrop that as a country, we lead the continent on merging conservation, democracy and sustainable development.”

Masisi stated that Botswana is open to collaborative opportunities, “particularly with identifiable partners such as Virginia Tech, in other essential areas such as conservation, and the study of the interplay among the ecology of diseases of wild animals and plants, and their effects on human health and socio-economic development.”

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Gov’t commit to injecting more funds in fighting HIV

24th March 2023

Minister for State President Kabo Morwaeng says government will continue to make resources available in terms of financial allocations and human capital to ensure that Botswana achieves the ideal of eradicating HIV and AIDS as a public health threat by 2030.

Morwaeng was speaking this morning in Gaborone at the High-Level Advocacy event to accelerate HIV Prevention in Botswana. He said the National AIDS and Health Promotion Agency (NAPHA), in partnership with UNAIDS, UN agencies, the Global Fund and PEPFAR, have started a process of developing transition readiness plan for sustainability of HIV prevention and treatment programmes.

“It is important for us, as a country that has had a fair share of donor support in the response to an epidemic such as HIV and AIDS, to look beyond the period when the level of assistance would have reduced, or ceased, thus calling for domestic financing for all areas which were on donor support.”

Morwaeng said this is important as the such a plan will guarantee that all the gains accrued from the response with donor support will be sustained until the end when “we reach the elimination of HIV and AIDS as a public health threat by 20230,” he said.

“I commit to continue support efforts towards strengthened HIV prevention, accentuating HIV primary prevention and treatment as prevention towards Zero New Infections, Zero Stigma, Discrimination and Zero AIDS related death, to end AIDS in Botswana.”

He reiterated that government commits to tackle legislative, policy and programming challenges that act as barriers to the achievement of the goal of ending AIDS as a public health threat.

In the financial year 2022/2023, a total of 119 Civil Society Organizations, including Faith Based Organizations, were contracted with an amount of P100 million to implement HIV and NCDs prevention activities throughout the country, and the money was drawn from the Consolidated Fund.

Through an upcoming HIV Prevention Symposium, technical stakeholders will use outcomes to develop the Botswana HIV Prevention Acceleration Road Map for 2023-2025.

Morwaeng stated that government will support and ensure that Botswana plays its part achieving the road map. He said there is need to put hands on the deck to ensure that Botswana sustains progress made so far in the fight against HIV and AIDS.

“There are tremendous achievements thus far to, reach and surpass the UNAIDS fast track targets of 95%- 95%- 95% by the year 2025. As reflected by the BAIS preliminary results of 2021, we now stand at 95- 98- 98 against the set targets.”

“These achievements challenge us to now shift our gears and strive to know who are the remaining 5% for those aware of their HIV status, 2% of enrolment on treatment by those aware of their status and 2% of viral suppression by those on treatment.”

Explaining this further, Morwaeng said shift in gears should extend to coming up with robust strategies of determining where these remaining people are as well as how they will be reached with the necessary services.

“These are just some of the many variables that are required to ensure that as a country, we are well positioned to reaching the last mile of our country’s response to the HIV and AIDS pandemic.”

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