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Tshekedi Khama called to account

Chairman of Parliamentary Committee on Statutory Bodies and Enterprises, Samson Guma, has summoned Minister of Environment, Wildlife and Tourism,   Tshekedi Khama, to appear before the committee next week Monday, to explain his involvement in the opening of the controversial Dubai office.

Khama is further expected to explain to the committee, the reason behind non-existence of Board of Directors at Botswana Tourism Organisation (BTO), which could have rendered the organisation to operate outside the law.

This development comes in the wake of startling revelations by the BTO Chief Executive Officer Brian Dithebe, that the opening of Dubai office, which will cost government P17 million over a period of three years was done without proper market research and due diligence.

Dithebe revealed to the committee earlier this week that the office was opened because BTO “received an instruction from Ministry to open the office in Dubai.”

The committee was informed that Khama travelled to Dubai with BTO Marketing Executive, Julian Blackbeared, to sign a contract with a company called Gafa Media, that will promote Botswana as a destination. According to the agreement, a Motswana would be attached to Dubai office so that they understudy them as part and parcel of the contract.

Guma then stated that the signing of the contract by BTO and Gafa Media was a violation of Public Procurement Assets Disposal Board (PPADB) procedures, by directly signing the contract without any tendering or other selection means provided for by the PPADB Act.

Guma is not impressed with the fact that Khama could have acted illegally by directly giving instruction to staff of BTO to sign the opening of the office. According to the BTO Act, the board of directors shall be the governing body of Botswana Tourism Organisation.

However, Dithebe informed the committee that, presently, BTO is operating without Board of Directors because the minister has not replaced those whose terms had expired. 

“We had six to seven Board members last year for which their terms expired, the last one was in November last year,” he revealed to the committee.

“We had six months before then, written to the Ministry notifying them that in November the last members would be having their term expiring; hoping that the process would have been kick-started well in advance for BTO Board to be fully constituted. Since then we have not had a Board until now,” Dithebe further revealed.

Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Environment, Wildlife and Tourism, Elias Magosi, who was also summoned before the committee to explain the BTO organisation corroborated Dithebe’s testimony and said that it is indeed true that the organisation have been running without a board because the minister has not appointed one.

Magosi, who holds monthly and quarterly meetings with CEO of BTO, further revealed that they had advised the minister about the situation, but Khama has since informed him that he is still looking for “right people” to appoint to the board.

Magosi also distanced himself from association with the opening of Dubai office, telling the committee that he is not aware of any meeting, in his presence which discussed such matter. Magosi also expressed that he is not part of the instruction from the Ministry sent to BTO neither has he seen the letter sent to the organisation.

Guma expressed his concern that the fact that BTO is operating without a board, yet being a body corporate, is a deliberate move by minister Tshekedi to preserve the status quo.  Guma said, there is no provision in the Act which countenance a situation where BTO will operate without Board of Directors.

The BTO Act states that, members of the Board other than the chairperson shall hold office for a period not exceeding three years, and shall be eligible for reappointment for a further term of three years.  The Act further states that the chairperson of the board shall hold office for a period not exceeding five years and shall also be eligible for reappointment.

The Act also gives the minister the power to fill the vacancy should a board member resign before expiry of his term.

In the meantime, the committee is to establish if Khama is acting within the law by allowing the BTO to operate with the Board of Directors, whether his direct involvement in giving instructions to staff of BTO is not a violation of BTO Act, which recognise the Board as the only governing body of the Botswana Tourism Organisation.

Guma said there is no provision in the Act which allow for non-existence of the Board and what shall happen in that event.

Committee member, Pius Mokgware, who is also Member of Parliament for Gabane-Mmankgodi said the action of BTO in the past nine months without the Board could be illegal. Mokgware said though the Board is appointed and takes the instruction from the minister, the act specifically state that, the board shall make decisions of BTO affairs.

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ILO Launches Media Toolkit on Reporting on Labour Migration

5th July 2024

Cape Town: The International Labour Organization (ILO), in collaboration with the International Organization for Migration, launched the Southern African Migration Management Project (SAMM) media toolkit on reporting on labour migration within the Southern African Development Community (SADC) region last week. This toolkit is designed to guide journalists and media professionals in balanced and factual reporting on labour migration, thereby enhancing the quality and media coverage of migration issues within the SADC region.

Furthermore, the toolkit aims to advocate for behavioural changes among migrant workers, employer organizations, trade unions, civil society organizations, governments, and policymakers to improve conditions for migrants and reduce exploitative practices.

At the official launch, Gloria Moreno Fontes, SAMM Project Manager, stated that the toolkit aims to support the United Nations’ “Together, Respect, Security, and Dignity for All Refugees and Migrants” campaign, launched in 2016 by the UN Secretary-General. According to Fontes, the UN Together campaign seeks to promote global action against non-discrimination and address the rising problem of xenophobia against migrants and refugees. TOGETHER is a growing coalition of Member States, private sector entities, civil society representatives, and individuals committed to combating hate speech, changing negative narratives on migration, and strengthening social cohesion between host communities and refugees and migrants.

“Worldwide, migrants are still too often victims of racist, discriminatory, and xenophobic attacks. The media often promotes a toxic public narrative on migration and reinforces stigmatization through the inclusion of xenophobic and discriminatory messages,” Fontes highlighted.

She further noted that the press often portrays migrants as criminals, illegals, and as “stealing jobs from national workers.” She emphasized that migrants frequently become scapegoats during economic recessions, making it essential to change negative perceptions and attitudes through evidence- or fact-based journalism that helps eliminate public misconceptions.

Discussing the importance of balanced reporting and combating hate speech, United Nations Information Center (UNIC) Director Masimba Tafirenyika remarked that journalists hold the power to shape public opinion and influence societal norms. He continued, noting that the practice not only ensures a well-informed public but also upholds the democratic values of fairness and justice.

“Alongside balanced reporting, the rise of hate speech, especially on digital platforms, presents a growing threat to social cohesion and democratic values. Hate speech undermines social harmony and can incite violence, discrimination, and prejudice,” Tafirenyika noted.

According to the UNIC Director, balanced reporting builds public trust in the media as audiences perceive journalists as fair and unbiased, thus making them more likely to trust the information presented. He added that this trust is crucial for the media to uphold democracy, as it empowers citizens to engage in informed debate and hold their leaders accountable.

However, Tafirenyika pointed out that the media landscape in Southern Africa, with a few exceptions, is often marred by political interference, economic pressures, and, in some cases, self-censorship. “These factors can lead to biased reporting, where certain voices are amplified while others are marginalized. When media outlets become mouthpieces for political agendas, the public’s trust in journalism is eroded, and the democratic process is undermined. Therefore, it is essential for journalists and media organizations to adhere to ethical standards of fairness, accuracy, and impartiality,” the UNIC Director noted.

He further highlighted that hate speech poses a significant threat to social cohesion and stability, especially in Southern Africa. “The digital age has amplified the reach and impact of hate speech. Social media platforms, while offering opportunities for free expression and civic engagement, also provide a breeding ground for hate speech,” Tafirenyika concluded.

 

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CEO Africa Roundtable: Mnangagwa advocates for technological embrace

17th June 2024

The CEO Africa Roundtable has emerged as a pivotal platform for shaping national, regional, and international development dialogues through public-private engagements. At the annual CEO Africa Roundtable event held in Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe, President Emmerson Mnangagwa exhorted business leaders to embrace technology and leverage indigenous solutions to stimulate Africa’s economic growth.

Mnangagwa highlighted that the presence of delegates from across the continent signifies the business community’s confidence in Zimbabwe’s trade and investment environment, as well as in the broader regional (SADC) and continental markets.

Addressing the theme, “The Future of Africa: Modernize, Reshape, and Grow,” President Mnangagwa asserted that this theme aligns with Africa’s developmental aspirations, emphasizing the need “to innovate in order to increase production and productivity, as espoused in the African Union’s Agenda 2063: The Africa We Want.”

He remarked that the Roundtable provides its members with a valuable platform for networking, gaining expert insights, sharing experiences regarding the local business environment, and proposing policy recommendations aimed at enhancing the business operating environment.

The President lauded the CEO Africa Roundtable and its partners for organizing focused discussions, dialogue sessions, and innovative platforms tailored to various key economic sectors as part of the event.

“Innovation and the use of information communication technology are critical enablers as we traverse the journey towards modernizing and reshaping the African continent’s economic landscape,” Mnangagwa stated.

According to Mnangagwa, the world is on the cusp of a technological revolution that is transforming how “we work and relate to one another.” He noted that this shift involves a fusion of technologies that blur the lines between the physical, digital, and biological spheres.

This technological disruption is affecting every industry, hence Mnangagwa urged business leaders and policymakers to capitalize on the fourth industrial revolution, which holds the potential to elevate global income levels and enhance the quality of life for populations worldwide.

President Mnangagwa challenged African business leaders to be innovative, embrace their identities, and devise homegrown solutions. He asserted that Africans possess the platform and intelligence to elevate the continent’s economy to greater heights.

Earlier, CEO Africa Roundtable Chairman Oswell Binha indicated that the platform is expanding across Africa. He welcomed the addition of three new chapters in Botswana, Malawi, and Zambia. He further noted that more chapters will be introduced as part of efforts to foster collaboration among African businesses, harnessing the principles of the Africa Free Trade Area and regional integration. Over 300 delegates from across Africa attended the CEO Roundtable event in Victoria Falls.

 

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BOTSWANA PARTICIPATES IN CEO AFRICA ROUNDTABLE SUMMIT

16th June 2024

At the prestigious CEO Africa Roundtable Summit held in Victoria Falls, Botswana was represented by the Chairperson of the CEO Africa Roundtable Botswana Chapter, Tryphinah Dongwana-Kenalemang, and her deputy, Aubrey Lute. This annual convergence, themed “The Future of Africa: Modernize, Reshape, and Grow,” drew luminaries from across the continent.

Over 300 Chief Executive Officers (CEOs) and business Executives attended the Summit.

Dongwana-Kenalemang elaborated on the significance of Botswana’s attendance, emphasizing that it served as a benchmarking exercise in preparation for hosting a similar event in Botswana. She underscored the imperative for African nations to collaborate and exchange trade insights, thereby unlocking a wealth of opportunities.

The CEO Africa Roundtable is dedicated to fostering economic growth and sustainable development across the continent. Its objectives include promoting intra-African trade, driving innovation, and forging strategic partnerships. The platform enables business leaders to share knowledge, engage in high-level dialogue, and influence policy-making.

The genesis of the Botswana Chapter’s relationship with the CEO Africa Roundtable dates back to their initial encounter at the US-Africa Business Summit in July 2023, held in Gaborone. This seminal meeting laid the groundwork for ongoing collaboration and mutual support in advancing Africa’s economic future.

 

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