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UDC proposes P1.8 billion spending on PPPs


Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) President and Leader of Opposition in Parliament Duma Boko has challenged government to spend at least P1.1 billion in facilitating Public-Private Partnerships (PPPs) this fiscal year.

Responding to the National Budget presented by Minister of Finance and Development Planning Kenneth Matambo on Monday, Boko highlighted the need to spend P300 million for further PPP Research and Development, commercialisation and joint ventures in potential niche sectors of Botswana such as food, medicines, material sciences, coal beneficiation and solar technology.

Boko called for an additional injection of P800 million in PPPs for water drainage infrastructure and solar/bio power technologies to both harvest water and generate power effectively in communities.

The leader of Opposition wants legislation that will provide more extensive guidelines on Public Private Partnerships across sectors in the Botswana economy including PPPs for buildings, roads, research centres, power stations, agricultural projects and other initiatives through which the Government wishes to facilitate the development of our economy and social welfare.

“Deploy the PPP framework to embark on self-sustaining or profitable special projects which the private sector alone, or the Government alone, or the labour unions alone, cannot successfully achieve,” he said.

UDC also proposed for P700 million to be used to purchase more land and embark on Public Private Partnerships for the servicing of those land-parcels in-order to make more land available for the housing needs of a large number of Batswana.

Boko argued that this would significantly accelerate and expand efforts to provide serviced plots at reasonable price, especially for first time property owners.

The Gaborone Bonnington North legislator challenged government to consider other technical partners for the management of Botswana’s diamond mines other than the current De-Beers arrangement.

“We believe that it is necessary to pursue a fair-minded approach that does not unduly defer to DeBeers even where there is a possibility that there are partners that could assist Botswana generate better revenues and profits from our diamond mines,” he said.

“This posture is informed by our view that there have been companies, including one in Russia that has been able to perform admirably despite the global economic slowdown and storm against diamonds.”

Presenting an alternative to Matambo’s budget, Boko remarked that once UDC is in power they would legislate guidelines for the use and governance of public sector employee pensions and provide special incentives for investment vehicles that invest in large agriculture and agro-processing projects, as well as in key strategic sectors such as tourism, manufacturing, mineral beneficiation and services.

Boko stated urgent need to repeal the monopoly legislation of the Botswana Meat Commission, and opening up competition, with regulation in the beef sector and the establishment of a value chain of meat industries in Botswana, to generate foreign exchange and jobs for Botswana citizens.

With Ministry of Defence, Justice and Security getting a surprising fourth largest share of the national budget, Boko mentioned that the Botswana Defence Force (BDF) order of army aircraft believed to cost P1.4 billion should be cancelled.

“We would re-direct some of this money away from aircraft and towards a range of high impact uses including more improved equipment and living conditions for the army,” he noted.

The leader of opposition characterised the current investment system  as an assortment of fragmented investments on behalf of Government by various players including the Bank of Botswana, Botswana Development Corporation, Public Officers Pension Fund system and a series of public enterprises, many of whose mandates are not clear and some of which Government maintains tight operational control over.

“Our approach is to pool capital resources and strategic assets, assign clear investment mandates and targets, grant operational autonomy to the satellite of entities and encourage a culture of excellence and merit,” he said.

“These resources, if managed in this way, should bring additional net revenues to Government in the tune of billions per year, although not so in the initial three of four years in which case there will be net costs.”

Commenting on the Economic Stimulus Package (ESP), Boko said Minister Matambo broke ranks with his principals within the governing party who have hitherto sold the ESP as a bold programme to stimulate the economy and bring the good days back. “It is naïve in the extreme to think that an injection of cash into a stagnating economy could somehow engineer an economic boom,’ he said.

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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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