Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) President, Lt Gen Dr Ian Khama has embarked on a mission to restore the party’s attractiveness before he retires from the presidency in 2018.
Khama is worried that his once indomitable party will possibly lose office come 2019. The poor performance in the 2014 general elections and the subsequent by-elections losses have given Khama more reasons to worry about the party.
Since August 2015, according to party Secretary General, Botsalo Ntuane, the president has been engaged in a series of mobilisation activities across the country. The activities include meetings with the Central Committee, regional tours, branch visits and other team building functions.
“So far President Khama has chaired over 39 BDP activities in a period of ten months. On Sunday he was part of the Central Committee Retreat and yesterday he chaired Central Committee meeting,” he said.
Speaking during a press conference in Gaborone this week, Ntuane further said that Khama was expected yesterday (Friday) to have led a team building activity in Mahalapye for all BDP Councillors and MPs at which he expected all 41 MPs and 430 councillors of the BDP to be in attendance.
Khama is also expected to address the Gaborone Region today (Saturday), which will mark his 41st event since August last year.
“The BDP means business as evidenced by these activities and many others,” said Ntuane.
Khama took over the reins as party and state president in 2008 from Festus Mogae, with the BDP having garnered a 50.6 percent popular vote and 44 parliamentary seats in the 2004 general elections. Khama then led BDP to an increased 52.3 percent popular vote in the 2009 general elections, taking advantage of the disarray in opposition Botswana National Front (BNF). BDP also increased parliamentary seats to 45.
However, a few months after the general elections, BDP split, resulting in the formation of Botswana Movement for Democracy (BMD) in May 2010. The formation of BMD was subsequent to squabbles in the party central committee, which had resulted in then party Secretary General, the now late Gomolemo Motswaledi being suspended from the party and as party parliamentary candidate for Gaborone Central.
The split, coupled with the 2011 public servant Industrial strike and formation of the Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) saw Khama leading BDP to its worst electoral performance since independence, with the party garnering 46.7 percent of the popular vote in the 2014 general elections, and saw then combined opposition increasing its presence to an unprecedented 20 seats in parliament.
“President Khama is on a mission to revitalise and mobilise the party structures at all levels in every single constituency and ward in the country,” Ntuane later told Weekend Post.
“This is a marathon assignment and is set to go on. He is positioning the party well in advance to retain government in 2019.”
By the time BDP meets for the 2017 Elective Congress, it would have already met in two special congresses in between party ordinary congresses. Following the 2015 Mmadinare Congress, where a new central committee was elected, BDP convened a special congress which was held at Limkokwing University in Gaborone. It was at this special congress that President Khama announced the Economic Stimulus Programme (ESP).
The 2017 BDP Congress will be President Khama’s last as party leader, therefore he is hastening to use the time between now and then to fix BDP and position it, in a way to preserve his legacy.
This year, BDP will also converge for another special congress where particular attention will be on government business and necessarily intervention by the party. Party delegates will also be updated on the political and electoral reforms by the Public Education and Elections Committee (PEEC). The PEEC, chaired by party stalwart Gaotlhaetse Matlhabaphiri was mandated with exploring the possibility of re-looking at political and electoral reforms by the Central Committee which was one of the resolutions of the Mmadinare Congress .
Some of the initiatives brought by Khama include appointing BDP MPs to look after constituencies which were won by opposition in the last general elections. The idea behind the initiative was to establish party presence in those constituencies so that BDP members and structures remain informed about parliamentary business.
With the advent of COVID-19, mental health and psychosocial has become a major concern around the world. There is significant increase in the rates of stress, anxiety and depression globally.
In creating awareness and support on mental health and psychosocial support, the Ministry of Local Government & Rural Development, through the Department of Social Protection (DSP) hosted a virtual regional mental health and Psychosocial Support Forum (MHPSS).
The MHPSS Forum brings together stakeholders from different sectors providing Mental Health and Psychosocial Support services particularly to children, youth, families and the workforce, as well as Academia, International Cooperating Partners, Community Implementing Partners and the media.
It aims to facilitate learning, information exchange and advocacy to promote mainstreaming of Mental Health and Psycho-Social Support (PSS) into policies, programmes, services and funding priorities for children and youth in Botswana.
The event is a partnership between The Ministry of Local Government & Rural Development, through the Department of Social Protection (DSP), and the Regional Psychosocial Support Initiative (REPSSI), with Project Concern International Botswana (PCI) and Marang Child Care Network Trust (MCCNT).
The event is held every two years, and Botswana started hosting the Forum in 2014. The theme for this year is ‘Innovate, Integrate, Thrive,’ which prompts us to find new ways to survive the COVID-19 pandemic which we can mainstream into our daily activities.
The Northern Regional Forum in Mahalapye was held on 17-19 August 2021 while the Southern Regional Forum in Ghanzi, was from 21-23 September 2021. Findings from both regions will be presented at the National Forum to be held in Kasane on 12-14 October 2021. The event is held in collaboration with local authorities in each region.
The event is structured in this manner: The first day is a Special Session for Children, where children in the region will talk about the challenges they face that affect their mental health, how they cope and what they think can be done to support them.
The second day is the official opening where the lead ministry gives a keynote address, and presentations from service providers in the region. The third and last day is abstract presentations from different speakers on thematic areas under the theme.
The Southern African Science Service Centre for Climate Change and Adaptive Land Management (SASSCAL) in collaboration with the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) will hold a Hybrid GMES and Africa Regional workshop from 27 – 29 September 2021, at Safari Hotel in Windhoek, Namibia.
The Global Monitoring for Environment and Security and Africa (GMES & Africa) Initiative is a programme formed out of mutual cooperation between Africa and Europe with a focus on Earth Observation (EO) systems.
It was formed to respond to the global need to manage the environment, understand and mitigate the effects of climate change and ensure civil security by providing information to policymakers, scientists, private sector and the public. GMES and Africa aims to promote development of local capacities, institutional, human and technical resources for access to and exploitation of Earth Observation (EO) based services on an operational basis for sustainable development in Africa.
In its first phase, GMES has funded 13 consortiums in Africa. In Southern African, SASSCAL-led consortia is implementing the Wetland Monitoring and Assessment Service for Transboundary Basins in Southern Africa (WeMAST) Project while CSIR is leading the Marine and Coastal Operations for Southern Africa (MARCOSouth). SASSCAL Members of the consortium include the University of Botswana, University of Zambia, Cape Peninsula University of Technology, University of the Western Cape and Midlands State University, South African National Space Agency (SANSA) and the National Remote Sensing Centre (NRSC) of Zambia.
CSIR led consortium includes ABALOBI, Benguela Current Convention, Coastal Oceans Research and Development in the Indian Ocean, Council for Scientific and Industrial Research, National Sea Rescue Institute, University of Dar Es Salaam, University of Eduardo Mondlane and the Western Indian Ocean Marine Science Association).
The workshop will also provide an opportunity to promote and encourage mutual exchanges in terms of sharing best practices, knowledge and experiences as well as allow for the exchange of information and knowledge on new and innovative Earth Observation technologies developed under the programmes and their alignment with the region’s sustainable development strategies.
The workshop will also reveal trends in the use of earth observation data to monitor and assess wetland conditions, threats to sustainable utilisation of wetland resources as well as updating stakeholders on how climate change variability and drought is continually affecting Sub-Saharan Africa’s surface water resources.
The workshop’s envisaged outcomes will be to ensure shared knowledge and understanding of the new and innovative Earth Observation technologies, and their application to society. Expected to visit is a broader pool of international delegates from the two continents (Europe and Africa) both physically and virtual.
This includes the member countries policy makers, line ministers from the SADC countries, public and private sector stakeholders, implementers, Basin Commissions, researchers, and any other stakeholders whose activities are related to coastal areas, rivers, and their ecosystems.
Some vendors have been misled Vendors thrive on households goods and fresh produce
Despite the previous false allegations that the Tobacco Control Bill will lead to several 20 000 vendors across the country losing their jobs, several local vendors have expressed that they are ready for the bill and because vendors sell mostly household goods
“This is something that we openly accept and receive as street vendors, the problem is some of our counterparts were misled and made to believe that we will not be allowed to sell cigarettes on our stalls.
Some of us got to understand that the bill states that we have to be licensed to sell cigarettes, we are not supposed to sell them to children under the age of 18 years of age and eliminating the selling of single sticks. We understand that this agenda is meant to develop a healthy nation but not take us down,” said Mbimbi Tau a vendor who operates from Mogoditshane.
The Tobacco Control Bill has been passed in several countries and street vendors are operating properly without any challenges faced. Tau further mentioned that there is no way that the Tobacco Control Bill will affect their business operations, all they have to do as vendors are to get the required documentation and do what the bill requires.
Another vendor Busani Selalame who operates from Gaborone Bonnington North was not shy to express his support towards the Tobacco Control Bill, “the problem is that some people within our sector have been misled and now they think that the bill is meant to take our operations down and completely stop selling cigarettes.
I support the fact that we are not supposed to sell cigarettes to children who are under the age of 18 years of age this has always been wrong, as parents we should be cautious of such and ensure that our children are disassociated with cigarettes,” said Selalame.
The Tobacco Control Bill prohibits advertising, promotion and sponsorship by the tobacco industry to prevent messages, cues, and other inducements to begin using tobacco, especially among the youth, to reassure users to continue their use, or that otherwise undermine quitting.
Renowned economist Bakang Ntshingane is of the view that since vendors sell household goods and fresh produce they are likely to keep on making profits despite what the Tobacco Control Bill comes with. He further stated that the Tobacco Control Bill will not be of harm on the local economy since the country does not manufacture or produce any tobacco related products.