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Ndaba will be retained as President Modubule

BMD President, Ndaba Gaolathe

“Even if we go for an election tomorrow we are still going to retain Ndaba as President of the Botswana Movement for Democracy (BMD)”, declared the chairman of the BMD, Nehemiah Modubule who is embroiled in a bitter war of words with his Vice President Wynter Mmolotsi and his President, Ndaba Gaolathe.

In a tell all interview Modubule said as the NEC they are very clear that Ndaba Gaolathe should remain President especially during this phase of negotiation talks within the Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC).

“We have never thought of removing Ndaba, what I am aware of is that at the last congress Wynter Mmolotsi had wanted to challenge the president and we shot his ambition down. It is surprising that today he claims to be Ndaba Gaolathe’s saviour,” reasons Modubule.  

The BMD chairman said they are very clear on the issue of the Special Congress – we do not support the idea but it is up to the party members to decide willingly without any coercing from the leadership.

SPECIAL CONGRESS OR NOT?

“You see when you start pushing for a special congress because you are angry at someone, it does not help. This kind of a special congress has the potential to divide the party. We are calling for reconciliation because in our view a special congress will not solve BMD problems, it can only worsen them,” he said.

Modubule continued:  Why not engage an arbitrator to help us reconcile? We have seen what the approach of special congresses does to political parties – we know of the Botswana Congress Party (BCP) debacle of 1998; we know about the Kathleen Letshabo and Otsweletse Moupo developments after the Molepolole Botswana National Front (BNF) congress; We are alive to the Kenneth Koma and Woto splits. We should not act blind to obvious facts – said Modubule.  

“But if the members of the BMD want a special congress, we will give it to them. If anyone wants to challenge Gaolathe for the position of President of the BMD we will not stop them from doing so, we are a democratic party.”

Modubule explained that the party meets ordinarily every two years but a one third of existing constituencies can request for a special congress. He emphasised that it is important to follow the process when demanding a special congress. He said he is against the idea of leaders touring the country urging people to demand a special congress.

The BMD NEC also has the powers to summon a special congress.

“No one has convinced me personally as to why the party needs a special congress. At one of the meetings, the vice president, Mmolotsi was complaining that decisions were being taken by the majority rule and consensus. I do not know how he wants decisions to be taken on a democratic set up,” said Modubule.  

THE HOT POTATO OF PILANE MEMBERSHIP

Modubule agrees that Sidney Pilane’s application for BMD membership was the genesis of the current hullaballoo and he is still surprised that it is the case. But he explained that the NEC has the power to revoke membership of any member if there are valid reasons to do so. He said as things stand nothing formal has come to the BMD office to nullify Pilane’s membership.

After Pilane pursuit for the position at the High Court bench as a Judge collapsed, he returned to the BMD and approached Gaborone North branch to apply for BMD membership and he was accepted after paying P1000 for his old membership number, explained Modubule. But after the application was accepted, Sennye Kono, the deputy secretary general returned the application demanding minutes of the meeting that accepted Pilane’s membership.

“Before the minutes were availed the branch members received a text message from the area Member of Parliament, Haskins Nkaigwa instructing them not to accept Pilane’s membership and he told them that he was instructed by secretary general, Wynter Mmolotsi,” Modubule said. The branch heeded the instruction and rejection Pilane on a second attempt, but when Pilane asked for minutes of the meeting that rejected him or the reasons advanced against him, they failed to avail them. According to Modubule, Pilane proceeded to apply for membership in Mochudi West where he was accepted.

There was a spring of sporadic protests against his membership and a three man team was dispatched to investigate the circumstances surrounding Pilane’s return to the BMD, they produced a preliminary report which was rejected on the basis that it was not endorsed by all the three, the NEC asked for a fully endorsed report but it has failed to come.  

In exploring the mysteries around Pilane’s membership application, Modubule recalls that some had argued that he should not have applied for membership in Mochudi West and that he should have waited for Gaborone North; others questioned his loyalty to the BMD because he had left it, but Modubule points out that this is not an issue because the BMD constitution allows members to take a break if they so wish.

The BMD chairperson said he is aware that there are those who poke at Pilane’s decision to represent Isaac Kgosi on one of the allegations that were levelled against the latter. He said he finds nothing wrong with Pilane – an advocate – offering his professional services to a client. “What kind of a democracy are we going to run if we will not allow people to make choices. If that is what we intend to do – then Batswana will have made a mistake of voting for us,” said Modubule.

On a separate matter, Modubule explained that Pilane is not representing Samson Guma Moyo in his suit against Haskins Nkaigwa. He said the lawyers engaged by Moyo had wanted to instruct Pilane as an advocate and he declined the offer.  He said he could not be pitted against his political colleague.  

According to Modubule, Pilane’s problems started when he challenged the late Gomolemo Motswaledi for the presidency of the BMD. He insisted that the party was democratic and there was nothing wrong with contesting for leadership.

“After he lost the presidency he continued to be close to Motswaledi and the latter had no problem with him because he continued to seek advice from him even after Pilane left the party to pursue the position of a judge,” said Modubule.

Modubule is of the view that some people are not comfortable with Pilane’s return because they think he wants to challenge Ndaba Gaolathe because he once challenged Motswaledi.  

ON WYNTER MMOLOTSI BEING FIRED

There was a meeting on Monday which was convened by people who were angry at reports that there are plans to expel some members of the Executive Committee from the party. They wanted to know if such reports were true and what we were doing about the situation. The party members said Mmolotsi should be fired from the party and they blame him for all the troubles in the BMD. They further instructed us to go on a countrywide tour to meet up with members and lobby for support.

WHY MODUBULE JOINED BMD

The BMD chairman said he joined the party because of its pragmatic approach to issues – it was not aligned to any existing ideologies, he said. “The BMD professed that all ideas will be taken on board and they came up with a very liberal constitution which gave power to the collective and not an individual.” Modubule indicated that the BMD’s late leader, Gomolemo Motswaledi was one of the main reasons he joined the party because he was a loving and intelligent person. He has been courting me from my BNF days, he engaged me as if I was one of their own, that is when he was still at the ruling BDP.

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ENVIRONMENT ISSUES: Masisi asks Virginia for help

24th March 2023

President Mokgweetsi Masisi says the issue of sustainable natural resources management has always been an important part of Botswana’s national development agenda.

Masisi was speaking this week on the occasion of a public lecture at Virginia Polytechnic, under theme, “Merging Conservation, Democracy and Sustainable Development in Botswana.”

Botswana, according to Masisi, holds the view that the environment is fragile and as such, must be managed and given the utmost protection to enable the achievement of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

“It is necessary that we engage one another in the interchange of ideas, perspectives, visualizations of social futures, and considerations of possible strategies and courses of action for sustainable development,” said Masisi.

On the other hand, dialogue, in the form of rigorous democratic discourse among stakeholders presents another basis for reconfiguring how people act on their environments, with a view to conserving its resources that “we require to meet our socio-economic development needs on a sustainable basis,” Masisi told attendees at the public lecture.

He said government has a keen interest in understanding the epidemiology and ecology of diseases of both domestic and wild animals. “It is our national interest to forestall the dire consequences of animal diseases on our communities livelihoods.”

President Masisi hoped that both Botswana and Virginia could help each other in curbing contagious diseases of wildlife.

“We believe that Virginia Tech can reasonably share their experiences, research insights and advances in veterinary sciences and medicines, to help us build capacity for knowledge creation and improve efforts of managing and containing contagious diseases of wildlife. The ground is fertile for entering into such a mutually beneficial partnership.”

When explaining environmental issues further, Masisi said efforts of conservation and sustainable development might at times be hampered by the emergence and recurrence of diseases when pathogens mutate and take host of more than one species.

“Water pollution also kills aquatic life, such as fish, which is one of humanity’s much deserved sources of food. In this regard, One Health Approach imposes ecological responsibility upon all of us to care for the environment and the bio-diversity therein.”

He said the production and use of animal vaccines is an important space and tool for conservation, particularly to deal with trans-border animal diseases.

“In Botswana, our 43-year-old national premier pharmaceutical institution called Botswana Vaccine Institute has played its role well. Through its successful production of highly efficacious Foot and Mouth vaccines, the country is able to contain this disease as well as supply vaccines to other countries in the sub-region.:

He has however declared that there is need for more help, saying “We need more capacitation to deal with and contain other types of microbial that affect both animals and human health.”

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Masisi saddened by deaths of elephant attacks

24th March 2023

President Mokgweetsi Masisi has expressed a strong worry over elephants killing people in Botswana. When speaking in Virginia this week, Masisi said it is unfortunate that Batswana have paid a price with their own blood through being attacked by elephants.

“Communities also suffer unimaginable economic losses yearly when their crops are eaten by the elephants. In spite of such incidents of human-elephant conflict, our people embrace living together with the animals. They fully understand wildlife conservation and its economic benefits in tourism.”

In 2018, Nthobogang Samokwase’s father was attacked by an elephant when travelling from the fields, where he stayed during the cropping season.

It was reported that the man couldn’t run because of his age. He was found trampled by the elephant and was pronounced dead upon arrival at the hospital.

In the same year, in Maun, a 57-year-old British woman was attacked by an elephant at Boro and died upon arrival at the hospital. The woman was with her Motswana partner, and were walking dogs in the evening.

Last month, a Durban woman named Carly Marshall survived an elephant attack while on holiday in the bush in Botswana. She was stabbed by one of the elephant’s tucks through the chest and was left with bruises. Marshall also suffered several fractured ribs from the ordeal.

President Masisi Botswana has the largest population of African elephants in the world, totaling more than 130 000. “This has been possible due to progressive conservation policies, partnerships with the communities, and investment in wildlife management programmes.”

In order to benefit further from wildlife, Masisi indicated that government has re-introduced controlled hunting in 2019 after a four-year pause. “The re-introduction of hunting was done in an open, transparent and democratic way, giving the communities an opportunity to air their views. The funds from the sale of hunting quota goes towards community development and elephant conservation.”

He stressed that for conservation to succeed, the local people must be involved and derive benefits from the natural resources within their localities.

“There must be open and transparent consultations which involve all sectors of the society. It is against this backdrop that as a country, we lead the continent on merging conservation, democracy and sustainable development.”

Masisi stated that Botswana is open to collaborative opportunities, “particularly with identifiable partners such as Virginia Tech, in other essential areas such as conservation, and the study of the interplay among the ecology of diseases of wild animals and plants, and their effects on human health and socio-economic development.”

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Gov’t commit to injecting more funds in fighting HIV

24th March 2023

Minister for State President Kabo Morwaeng says government will continue to make resources available in terms of financial allocations and human capital to ensure that Botswana achieves the ideal of eradicating HIV and AIDS as a public health threat by 2030.

Morwaeng was speaking this morning in Gaborone at the High-Level Advocacy event to accelerate HIV Prevention in Botswana. He said the National AIDS and Health Promotion Agency (NAPHA), in partnership with UNAIDS, UN agencies, the Global Fund and PEPFAR, have started a process of developing transition readiness plan for sustainability of HIV prevention and treatment programmes.

“It is important for us, as a country that has had a fair share of donor support in the response to an epidemic such as HIV and AIDS, to look beyond the period when the level of assistance would have reduced, or ceased, thus calling for domestic financing for all areas which were on donor support.”

Morwaeng said this is important as the such a plan will guarantee that all the gains accrued from the response with donor support will be sustained until the end when “we reach the elimination of HIV and AIDS as a public health threat by 20230,” he said.

“I commit to continue support efforts towards strengthened HIV prevention, accentuating HIV primary prevention and treatment as prevention towards Zero New Infections, Zero Stigma, Discrimination and Zero AIDS related death, to end AIDS in Botswana.”

He reiterated that government commits to tackle legislative, policy and programming challenges that act as barriers to the achievement of the goal of ending AIDS as a public health threat.

In the financial year 2022/2023, a total of 119 Civil Society Organizations, including Faith Based Organizations, were contracted with an amount of P100 million to implement HIV and NCDs prevention activities throughout the country, and the money was drawn from the Consolidated Fund.

Through an upcoming HIV Prevention Symposium, technical stakeholders will use outcomes to develop the Botswana HIV Prevention Acceleration Road Map for 2023-2025.

Morwaeng stated that government will support and ensure that Botswana plays its part achieving the road map. He said there is need to put hands on the deck to ensure that Botswana sustains progress made so far in the fight against HIV and AIDS.

“There are tremendous achievements thus far to, reach and surpass the UNAIDS fast track targets of 95%- 95%- 95% by the year 2025. As reflected by the BAIS preliminary results of 2021, we now stand at 95- 98- 98 against the set targets.”

“These achievements challenge us to now shift our gears and strive to know who are the remaining 5% for those aware of their HIV status, 2% of enrolment on treatment by those aware of their status and 2% of viral suppression by those on treatment.”

Explaining this further, Morwaeng said shift in gears should extend to coming up with robust strategies of determining where these remaining people are as well as how they will be reached with the necessary services.

“These are just some of the many variables that are required to ensure that as a country, we are well positioned to reaching the last mile of our country’s response to the HIV and AIDS pandemic.”

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