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UNICEF: 63 % Batswana children live in poverty

Sixty-three percent of Botswana’s children are not able to access numerous social programmes put in place by government to benefit them, UNICEF Representative, Julianna Lindsey revealed this week. Lindsey was delivering her concept note for the commemoration for the Day of African Child Thursday evening in Gaborone.

“Unfortunately, while the overall ratio (poverty reduction rate) stands at 19 percent, 26 percent of children live in income poverty. More worrying is that 63 percent of children under 18 experience non-monetary poverty. 31 percent are stunted, which reduces cognitive ability and ultimately hurts Botswana’s economic growth prospects,” Lindsey explained.

By non-monetary poverty, Lindsey was referring to accesses to basic services such as, education, health and others. “It is not enough to measure poverty by money,” she stated. She further noted that some children in the country experience different types of crises, including HIV and sexual exploitation among others.

“Botswana is blessed not to have any active conflict or war. I’ve worked in war-torn countries and seen the horrific impact on children’s lives. It is truly a joy to be in a country like Botswana that is peaceful and calm. This is a tremendous testament to the character and values of the citizens of this country. Sadly while outright war does not exist, some children in Botswana still experience different types of crises and UNICEF is committed to supporting the Government as well as civil society, communities, and families to address these issues,” she pointed out.

She mentioned teenage pregnancy as one problem that is prevalent in Botswana. “Some of these teens do not become pregnant by choice. To be precise, some were raped or they were involved in exploitative sexual relationships. While I am devastated at how widespread this issue is, I am encouraged that a wide range of groups in Botswana are starting to talk about the issue,” she stated before adding that, “this is not a political or partisan issue.”

According to her, men have to be helped to understand that it is wrong to abuse girls or to take advantage of their vulnerability and the girls have to be helped to have the courage and confidence to avoid involvement in these relationships and to speak out when they are abused.

“While the Government provides services, communities provide stability and strength of character, which is essential for little children to grow into strong citizens,” she pointed out.

HIV is another major crisis that continues to plague the country and Lindsay called on families, communities and the civil societies to continue addressing this issue.  The 2013 AIDS impact survey IV indicated that HIV prevalence among young people aged 15-24 years was estimated at 7.9% amounting to 20, 700 young people living with HIV with prevalence rate going up as soon as they reach age of 19 and above.

Meanwhile former Minister of Local Government and Rural Development, Peter Siele, who now sits in the Presidential Inspectorate team, did not deny UNICEF’s findings. He said the government is well aware of the concerns hence it has empowered the department of Social Services d to access and offer relief and social security where it is due.

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Khan: Boko, Masisi are fake politicians

18th January 2021
Masisi & Boko

While there is no hard-and-fast rule in politics, former Molepolole North Member of Parliament, Mohamed Khan says populism acts in the body politic have forced him to quit active partisan politics. He brands this ancient ascription of politics as fake and says it lowers the moral compass of the society.

Khan who finally tasted political victory in the 2014 elections after numerous failed attempts, has decided to leave the ‘dirty game’, and on his way out he characteristically lashed at the current political leaders; including his own party president, Advocate Duma Boko. “I arrived at this decision because I have noticed that there are no genuine politics and politicians. The current leaders, Boko and President Dr Mokgweetsi Masisi are fake politicians who are just practicing populist politics to feed their egos,” he said.

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Ookeditse rejects lobby for BPF top post

18th January 2021
LAWRENCE-OOKEDITSE

Former Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) parliamentary hopeful, Lawrence Ookeditse has rejected the idea of taking up a crucial role in the Botswana Patriotic Front (BPF) Central Committee following his arrival in the party this week. According to sources close to development, BPF power brokers are coaxing Ookeditse to take up the secretary general position, left vacant by death of Roseline Panzirah-Matshome in November 2020.

Ookeditse’s arrival at BPF is projected to cause conflicts, as some believe they are being overlooked, in favour of a new arrival. The former ruling party strategist has however ruled out the possibility of serving in the party central committee as secretary general, and committed that he will turn down the overture if availed to him by party leadership.

Ookeditse, nevertheless, has indicated that if offered another opportunity to serve in a different capacity, he will gladly accept. “I still need to learn the party, how it functions and all its structures; I must be guided, but given any responsibility I will serve the party as long as it is not the SG position.”

“I joined the BPF with a clear conscious, to further advance my voice and the interests of the constituents of Nata/Gweta which I believe the BDP is no longer capable to execute.” Ookeditse speaks of abject poverty in his constituency and prevalent unemployment among the youth, issues he hopes his new home will prioritise.

He dismissed further allegations that he resigned from the BDP because he was not rewarded for his efforts towards the 2019 general elections. After losing in the BDP primaries in 2018, Ookeditse said, he was offered a job in government but declined to take the post due to his political ambitions. Ookeditse stated that he rejected the offer because, working for government clashed with his political journey.

He insists there are many activists who are more deserving than him; he could have chosen to take up the opportunity that was before him but his conscious for the entire populace’s wellbeing held him back. Ookeditse said there many people in the party who also contributed towards party success, asserting that he only left the BDP because he was concerned about the greater good of the majority not individualism purposes.

According to observers, Ookeditse has been enticed by the prospects of contesting Nata/Gweta constituency in the 2024 general election, following the party’s impressive performance in the last general elections. Nata/Gweta which is a traditional BDP stronghold saw its numbers shrinking to a margin of 1568. BDP represented by Polson Majaga garnered 4754, while BPF which had fielded Joe Linga received 3186 with UDC coming a distant with 1442 votes.

There are reports that Linga will pave way for Ookeditse to contest the constituency in 2024 and the latter is upbeat about the prospects of being elected to parliament. Despite Ookeditse dismissing reports that he is eying the secretary general position, insiders argue that the position will be availed to him nevertheless.

Alternative favourite for the position is Vuyo Notha who is the party Deputy Secretary General. Notha has since assumed duties of the secretariat office on the interim basis. BPF politburo is expected to meet on 25th of January 2020, where the vacancy will be filled.

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BDP cancels MPs retreat

18th January 2021
President Masisi

Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) big wigs have decided to cancel a retreat with the party legislators this weekend owing to increasing numbers of Covid-19 cases. The meeting was billed for this weekend at a place that was to be confirmed, however a communique from the party this past Tuesday reversed the highly anticipated meeting.

“We received a communication this week that the meeting will not go as planned because of rapid spread of Covid-19,” one member of the party Central Committee confirmed to this publication.
The gathering was to follow the first of its kind held late last year at party Treasurer Satar Dada’s place.

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