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Opposition talks finally take off

Following a false start comprising numerous delays of the commencement of the anticipated unity talks between main opposition parties in Botswana, the talks have finally been instigated, albeit at the exclusion of Botswana Movement for Democracy (BMD) president, Ndaba Gaolathe, Weekend Post can reveal.

The negotiation team comprises of individual parties; Botswana Congress Party (BCP), Botswana National Front (BNF), Botswana Movement for Democracy (BMD) and Botswana Peoples Party (BPP).

Weekend Post has it on good authority that the negotiation talks between the parties were commissioned last week on the 12th September 2016 at Oasis Motel in Tlokweng township, just outside the capital city Gaborone.

It is understood that there are no mediating partners in the negotiations this time around and that Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) will be temporarily set aside to enable talks comprising individual parties to commence on a clean slate.

In fact preliminary indications suggest that there may be a new constitution, new name and the new-fangled colours which are projected to make part of the discussions and therefore the present-day UDC name may be changed if need be, particularly as there will be a new entrant being the BCP.

An impeccable source who sits in the instigated opposition negotiations table revealed that: “we are all committed and we are all pushy. Already some of the cooperating partners with the sense of urgency have drafted the governance structure and constitution of the expected new political formation and some even have submitted and more dialogue will take place and conclusions made thereafter.”

“You know we are most probable to start afresh with new constitution, name may be altered, with no UDC cards which have been the subject of debates, and existing individual parties will continue in the meantime,”he said.

It is understood that the interchanges are premised on three layers in which the first layer, which has already launched so far embraces streams which include; one team assigned to address policy issues.

Still on the stream, the other will be negotiating on the contentious subject of distribution of constituencies while the last one is intended to look at matters of governance, the constitution and power sharing arrangements.

The second layer on the talks will incorporate the central negotiating body where fiery, heated and intense debates and exchanges are anticipated to fly thick in meetings.

Information gathered suggests that the third and last layer will tackle questions of leadership of the new political collaboration formation particularly as to who becomes its president, and by extension, the president of the country if it gains power in the forthcoming 2019 General Elections.

Duma Boko and Dumelang Saleshando are seen as frontrunners in the presidential contest together with Ndaba Gaolathe. Speculations are rife that Margaret Nasha, Sidney Pilane are likely to add to the mix.

Although the UDC has been downgraded, initially the plan was to dispatch 18 team members from UDC and BCP into the negotiations. Out of the 18, it was understood that the UDC will be represented by 6 from BNF, 6 from BPP, and 6 from BMD. On the other hand BCP was also expected to send through 18 of its members to the table and was being waited on, and eventually it was arranged then that six members from each party will be enrolled in each category.

The impeccable source who was present at the 1st official meeting revealed that:“the first leg has started and will drag for the coming three weeks in which the next will follow and the overall talks are anticipated to complete end of October.”

In the commission historic meeting, BNF President Duma Boko was present together with BCP leader, Dumelang Saleshando. BPP was represented by its Secretary General Botho Seboko while party Chairman Nehemiah Modubule stood in for the BMD.

It attendance also was notably Margaret Nasha and Advocate Sidney Pilane both of whom are from the BMD fold. Perhaps in a more revealing way, BMD President, Ndaba Gaolathe was absent at the ground breaking meeting for reasons which this publication could not establish.

When justifying his absence at the momentous meeting of the opposition talks, Ndaba told this publication that during the meeting, he was attending the Parliamentary committee on statutory bodies throughout the week.

He added that him, Boko and Molapisi are not in negotiating teams. “We have delegated responsibility of discussions to various leaders within the UDC,” he said.

The BMD has been a thorn in the flesh for delayed commencement of talks owing to the internal feud and power struggle within the party between its National Executive Committee (NEC) and President and Vice president on the other side.

Indications suggest that Gaolathe does not see eye to eye with Pilane and queries his inclusion in the party negotiation team. Pilane has been roped in to represent the party on governance, constitution and power sharing category.

It is understood that this does not sit well with some BMD cadres including the president. In earnest they believe that Gaolathe is being side-lined at the negotiations which have now taken full force.

Meanwhile when reached for comment UDC Secretary General, Moeti Mohwasa confirmed that indeed the talks have started although he could not divulge more details.

“Yes it is true we have started the talks but we will update you soon on the matter,” he told this publication briefly.

Mohwasa shared sentiments that BCP Publicity Secretary, Dithapelo Keorapetse concurred when asked by this publication if they have gotten the ball rolling as far as unity talks are concerned.

He said: “yes we have commenced.” The BCP mouth piece added that they should be given peace and time to continue with the talks composedly. 

Meanwhile local Political Analyst, Leonard Sesa said that Batswana expected a lot in terms of opposition cooperation before and after the 2014 general Elections but they may have been disappointed as they bore no fruits. 

While he averred that the talks could have started earlier, he however commended them that at long last they have officially set foot on the paddle.

“If indeed the talks have arrived, it’s a good move. BCP banks on the talks while UDC indeed must move forward, and am hopeful they may bear good results this time around,” Sesa highlighted.

The academic cautioned that it is good for the opposition especially after numerous delays that they have moved a step forward particularly as he pointed out that the ruling Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) has started campaigning and coming up with strategies to triumph again in the next general Elections.

According to Sesa, all opposition parties’ committees must be up and running and involved; “And since we are talking about different people with different minds, there may be need for counselling to the members well on time especially those against the cooperation if it indeed comes to pass and contest next elections as one unit.”

The UB Political analyst also asserted that the cooperation, however, will not come easy and there has to be serious sacrifices made between the UDC/BCP, while conceding that at the end and going forward it will give the ruling BDP a run for its money and enhance competitive democracy.

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Masisi to dump Tsogwane?

28th November 2022

Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) and some senior government officials are abuzz with reports that President Mokgweetsi Masisi has requested his Vice President, Slumber Tsogwane not to contest the next general elections in 2024.

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African DFIs gear to combat climate change

25th November 2022

The impacts of climate change are increasing in frequency and intensity every year and this is forecast to continue for the foreseeable future. African CEOs in the Global South are finally coming to the party on how to tackle the crisis.

Following the completion of COP27 in Egypt recently, CEOs of Africa DFIs converged in Botswana for the CEO Forum of the Association of African Development Finance Institutions. One of the key themes was on green financing and building partnerships for resource mobilization in financing SDGs in Africa

A report; “Weathering the storm; African Development Banks response to Covid-19” presented shocking findings during the seminar. Among them; African DFI’s have proven to be financially resilient, and they are fast shifting to a green transition and it’s financing.

COO, CEDA, James Moribame highlighted that; “Everyone needs food, shelter and all basic needs in general, but climate change is putting the achievement of this at bay. “It is expensive for businesses to do business, for instance; it is much challenging for the agricultural sector due to climate change, and the risks have gone up. If a famer plants crops, they should be ready for any potential natural disaster which will cost them their hard work.”

According to Moribame, Start-up businesses will forever require help if there is no change.

“There is no doubt that the Russia- Ukraine war disrupted supply chains. SMMEs have felt the most impact as some start-up businesses acquire their materials internationally, therefore as inflation peaks, this means the exchange rate rises which makes commodities expensive and challenging for SMMEs to progress. Basically, the cost of doing business has gone up. Governments are no longer able to support DFI’s.”

Moribame shared remedies to the situation, noting that; “What we need is leadership that will be able to address this. CEOs should ensure companies operate within a framework of responsible lending. They also ought to scout for opportunities that would be attractive to investors, this include investors who are willing to put money into green financing. Botswana is a prime spot for green financing due to the great opportunity that lies in solar projects. ”

Technology has been hailed as the economy of the future and thus needs to be embraced to drive operational efficiency both internally and externally.

Executive Director, bank of Industry Nigeria, Simon Aranou mentioned that for investors to pump money to climate financing in Africa, African states need to be in alignment with global standards.

“Do what meets world standards if you want money from international investors. Have a strong risk management system. Also be a good borrower, if you have a loan, honour the obligation of paying it back because this will ensure countries have a clean financial record which will then pave way for easier lending of money in the future. African states cannot just be demanding for mitigation from rich countries. Financing needs infrastructure to complement it, you cannot be seating on billions of dollars without the necessary support systems to make it work for you. Domestic resource mobilisation is key. Use public money to mobilise private money.” He said.

For his part, the Minster of Minister of Entrepreneurship, Karabo Gare enunciated that, over the past three years, governments across the world have had to readjust their priorities as the world dealt with the effects and impact of the COVID 19 pandemic both to human life and economic prosperity.

“The role of DFIs, during this tough period, which is to support governments through countercyclical measures, including funding of COVID-19 related development projects, has become more important than ever before. However, with the increasingly limited resources from governments, DFIs are now expected to mobilise resources to meet the fiscal gaps and continue to meet their developmental mandates across the various affected sectors of their economies.” Said Gare.

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TotalEnergies Botswana launches Road safety campaign in Letlhakeng

22nd November 2022

Letlhakeng:TotalEnergies Botswana today launched a Road Safety Campaign as part of their annual Stakeholder Relationship Management (SRM), in partnership with Unitrans, MVA Fund, TotalEnergies Letlhakeng Filling Station and the Letlhakeng Sub District Road Safety Committee during an event held in Letlhakeng under the theme, #IamTrafficToo.

The Supplier Relationship Management initiative is an undertaking by TotalEnergies through which TotalEnergie annually explores and implements social responsibility activities in communities within which we operate, by engaging key stakeholders who are aligned with the organization’s objectives. Speaking during the launch event, TotalEnergies’ Operations and HSSEQ,   Patrick Thedi said,  “We at TotalEnergies pride ourselves in being an industrial operator with a strategy centered on respect, listening, dialogue and stakeholder involvement, and a partner in the sustainable social and economic development of its host communities and countries. We are also very fortunate to have stakeholders who are in alignment with our organizational objectives. We assess relationships with our key stakeholders to understand their concerns and expectations as well as identify priority areas for improvement to strengthen the integration of Total Energies in the community. As our organization transitions from Total to Total Energies, we are committed to exploring sustainable initiatives that will be equally indicative of our growth and this Campaign is a step in the right direction. ”

As part of this campaign roll out, stakeholders  will be refurbishing and upgrading and installing road signs around schools in the area, and generally where required. One of the objectives of the Campaign is to bring awareness and training on how to manage and share the road/parking with bulk vehicles, as the number of bulk vehicles using the Letlhakeng road to bypass Trans Kalahari increases. When welcoming guests to Letlhakeng, Kgosi Balepi said he welcomed the initiative as it will reduce the number of road incidents in the area.

Also present was District Traffic Officer ASP, Reuben Moleele,  who gave a statistical overview of accidents in the region, as well as the rest of the country. Moleele applauded TotalEnergies and partners on the Campaign, especially ahead of the festive season, a time he pointed out is always one with high road statistics. The campaign name #IamTrafficToo, is a reminder to all road users, including pedestrians that they too need to be vigilant and play their part in ensuring a reduction in road incidents.

The official proceedings of the day included a handover of reflectors and stop/Go signs to the Letlhakeng Cluster from TotalEnerigies, injury prevention from tips from MVA’s Onkabetse Petlwana, as  well as  bulk vehicle safety tips delivered from Adolf Namate of Unitrans.

TotalEnergies, which is committed to having zero carbon emissions by 2050,  has committed to rolling out the Road safety Campaign to the rest of the country in the future.

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