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MPs scatter BDCs One million Pula, One job theory

Botswana Development corporation (BDC)’s affinity for cash hit a brick wall last week after a Parliamentary Committee rejected a request for funding of P1 billion.

What is however interesting with the request is that the Corporation revealed that it intended to create 1000 jobs with the P1 billion, a declaration that shocked most of the Members of Parliament who deliberated on the request.

It is clear that Cabinet had Okayed the BDC’s request that government guarantees the P1 billion loan from African Development Bank.

The Member of Parliament for Mmadinare, Kefentse Mzwinila had asked a simple question as to how many jobs BDC intended to generate with the P1 billion request, the answer was 1000 openings. Phenyo Butale of Gaborone Central and Guma Moyo of Tati East were not convinced either.

From a deductive perspective this meant that BDC wants P1 million for every single job it intends to create. Members of the Parliamentary committee punched holes on the quality of the projects earmarked for this P1 billion based on the failure to demonstrate quality jobs commensurate with the money requested.

BDC through the Minister of Finance and Development Planning Kenneth Matambo asked Government to guarantee the African Development Bank (ADB) loan, as the investment arm seeks to expand its investment regionally and internationally. But the Parliamentary Committee shot down the proposed investments as a sign of lack of seriousness on the part of those who came u[p with them.

The Committee also wanted to understand the reason for acquiring the loan through AFD instead of local banks.

A history of failure

BDC has a very dark history when it comes to implementation. The Corporation blew away P1 billion of taxpayers’ money on a briefcase company it had engaged to develop the Palapye Glass Project. The company properties were later auctioned by a South African company to the lowest bidder, and only P10 million was recovered.

Efforts by the BDC to sell the Fengyue Glass Plant at a much high value hit a snag recently as it failed to sell at a P58 million tag price. The highest bidder even failed to pay and the engaged auctioneer, KPMG had to run around searching for the best among under bidders to take over the failed plant’s equipment. Rudy Schuhardt of Makoro Bricks was awarded the bid at P10 million after the highest bidders failed to pay.

Lack of citizen empowerment

In addition the BDC has always been accused of failing to empower citizens comprehensibly because most of their projects are either headed by foreigners, or owned by foreigners. The current Managing Director of the BDC, Bashi Gaetsaloe had promised to transform BDC and improve on its investments, but his latest proposal of P1 billion sliced among private companies including Letshego and Baisago University College left many disappointed.

Two years into office, Gaetsaloe has returned BDC to profitability after three consecutive years of it making losses. In December last year, BDC announced a P110 million profit before tax, and P247 million profit before tax at Group level (inclusive of subsidiaries). But his recent investment decisions could dent his somewhat positive start.

Upon his arrival, he announced that the new BDC model will come with a new requirement of skills and his intention is to build a new BDC operating under an appropriate and relevant mandate and business model with the right set of skills – but this is yet to show.

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Fighting vulture poisoning in KAZA region.

3rd February 2023
As a response to avert vulture poisoning currently going on in Botswana and KAZA region, Birdlife Botswana has collaborated with three other partners (BirdWatch Zambia, BirdLife International & Birdlife Zimbabwe) to tackle wildlife poisoning which by extension negatively affect vulture populations.

The Director of Birdlife Botswana, Motshereganyi Virat Kootshositse has revealed in an interview that the project which is funded by European Union’s main goal is to reduce poisoning related vultures’ death and consequently other wildlife species death within the KAZA region.

He highlighted that Chobe district in Botswana has been selected as a pilot site as it has experienced rampant incidents of vulture poisoning for the past few months. In August this year at least 50 endangered white backed vultures were reported dead at Chobe National Park, Botswana after feeding on a buffalo carcass laced with poison.  In November this year again 43 white backed vultures were found dead and two alive after feeding on a zebra suspected to have poisoned.  Other selected pilots’ sites are Kafue in Zambia and Hwange in Zimbabwe.

Kootshositse further explained they have established a national and regional Wildlife Poisoning Committee. He added that as for the national committee they have engaged various departments such as Crop Productions, Agro Chemicals, Department of Veterinary Services, Department of Wildlife and National Parks and other NGOs such as Raptors Botswana to come together and find a long-lasting solution to address wildlife poisoning in Botswana. ‘Let’s have a strategy or a plan together to tackle wildlife poisoning,’ he stated

He also decried that there is gap in the availability of data about vulture poisoning or wildlife in general. ‘If we have a central point for data, it will help in terms of reporting and advocacy’, he stated

He added that the regional committee comprises of law enforcement officers such as BDF and Botswana police, village leadership such as Village Development Committee and Kgosi. ‘We need to join hand together and protect the wildlife we have as this will increase our profile for conservation and this alone enhances our visitation and boost our local economy,’ he noted

Kootshositse noted that Birdlife together with DWNP also addressed series of meeting in some villages in the Chobe region recently. The purpose of kgotla meetings was to raise awareness on the conservation and protection of vultures in Chobe West communities.

‘After realizing that vulture poisoning in the Chobe areas become frequent, we realise that we need to do something about it.  ‘We did a public awareness by addressing several kgotla meetings in some villages in the Chobe west,’ he stated

He noted that next year they are going to have another round of consultations around the Chobe areas and the approach is to engage the community into planning process. ‘Residents should be part of the plan of actions and we are working with farmers committee in the areas to address vulture poisoning in the area, ‘he added

He added that they have found out that some common reasons for poisoning wildlife are farmers targeting predators such as lions in retaliation to killing of their livestock. Another common incident cross border poaching in the Chobe area as poachers will kills an elephant and poison its carcass targeting vultures because of their aerial circling alerting authorities about poaching activities.

Kootshositse noted that in the last cases it was disheartening the incidents occurred three months apart. He added that for the first time they found that some of the body parts of some vultures were missing. He added harvesting of body parts of vultures is not a common practice in Botswana, although it is used in some parts of Africa. ‘We suspect that someone took advantage of the availability of carcasses and started harvesting their body parts,’

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Giant in the making: Everton Mlalazi

3rd February 2023

The music industry is at a point where artists are jostling for space because there are so many aspirants trying to get their big break, thus creating stiff competition.

In the music business it’s about talent and positioning. You need to be at the right place at the right time with the right people around you to propel you forward.
Against all odds, Everton Mlalazi has managed to takeover the gospel scene effortlessly.
To him, it’s more than just a breakthrough to stardom, but a passion as well as mission directly appointed by the Lord.

Within a short space of 2 years after having decided to persue a solo career, Mlalazi has already made it into international music scene, with his music receiving considerable play on several gospel television and radio stations in Botswana including other regional stations like Trace Africa, One Gospel, Metro FM in South Africa, Hope FM in Kenya and literally all broadcast stations in Zimbabwe.

It doesn’t only stop there, as the musician has already been nominated 2 times and 2 awards which are Bulawayo Arts Awards (BAA) best Male artists 2022, StarFM listerners Choice Award, Best Newcomer 2021 and ZIMA Best Contemporary Gospel 2022, MLA awards Best Male artist & Best Gospel Artist 2022.

Everton’s inspiration stems from his ultimate passion and desire to lead people into Godly ways and it seems it’s only getting started.
The man is a gospel artist to put on your radar.

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African countries call on WHO to increase funding

2nd February 2023

Minister of Health Dr Edwin Dikoloti says Africa member states call on World Health Organization (WHO) to ensure equitable resource allocation for 2024-2025. Dr Dikoloti was speaking this week at the WHO Executive Board Meeting in Geneva, Switzerland.

He said countries agreed that there is need to address the budget and funding imbalances by increasing the programme budget share of countries and regions to 75% for the next year.

“The proposed budget for 2024-2025 marks an important milestone as it is the first in Programme Budget in which country offices will be allocated more than half of the total budget for the biennium. We highly welcome this approach which will enable the organization to deliver on its mandate while fulfilling the expectations for transparency, efficiency and accountability.”

The Botswana Health Minister commended member states on the extension of the General Programme of Work (GPD 13) and the Secretariat work to monitor the progress towards the triple billion targets, and the health-related SDGs.

“We welcome the Director’s general proposed five priorities which have crystalized into the “five Ps” that are aligned with the GPW 13 extension. Impact can only be achieved through close coordination with, and support to national health authorities. As such, the strengthening of country offices is instrumental, with particular focus on strengthening national health systems and on promoting more equitable access to health services.”

According to Dr Dikoloti, the majority of countries with UHC index that is below the global median are in the WHO Africa region. “For that, we call on the WHO to enhance capacity at the regional and national levels in order to accelerate progress. Currently, the regional office needs both technical and financial support in order to effectively address and support country needs.”

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