Minister of Transport and Communications, Tshenolo Mabeo and Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) Member of Parliament (MP) for Francistown East, Buti Billy have laid the blame for BR Express false start on opposition parties’ Parliamentarians.
Billy said that the,“BR Express malfunction might be a result of a political sabotage as some opposition Parliamentarians are celebrating the misfortune as it is a gain to their side and it is important for the Minister to observe that.”
Even when opposition MP’s leapt in consternation for Billy to withdraw his remarks, the Francistowner would not budge and continued that, “I think they are also happy that with my clever eye I managed to realise that they are happy.”
Billy also said that, “I do not think the train security is enough and if an individual inputs water instead of diesel how would we know that it is water?” he probed. He also said that the malfunction warrants a proper investigation into what actually transpired.
Minister Mabeo also said that the fact that Gaborone Central MP Dr Phenyo Butale as well as Opposition Chief Whip Wynter Mmolotsi made allegations to the effect that the BR Express is second hand was suspect and said Facebook accounts that have been propagating such news might actually be theirs.
“I am suspicious because the utterances that you have just made to the effect that BR Express is not new are being propagated on Facebook so it might actually be your accounts,” Mabeo jabbed.
Mabeo also said that he has witnessed the train in the manufacturing process and contrary to floating opinion BR Express is in point of fact a first-hand train.
The minister said BR Express went haywire between Mahalapye and Palapye after the power van engines which supply power for the air conditioners, lights and rest rooms shut down.
He said that investigations would later uncover that diesel in the power car was contaminated with water and the cause is still being investigated.
Mabeo continued that the fuel was drained from the fuel tanks in Francistown and Gaborone and when the problem persisted the train was grounded, resulting in the cancellation of the northbound voyage.
He said that Botswana Railways then bused people who had already bought tickets to their destinations and reimbursed a further 146 passengers.
He continued that Botswana Railways has continued to send coaches to Mafikeng every day since the 25th of March where Transnet has a workshop and that both train sets are still at a commissioning stage and have not yet been issued with a final acceptance certificate.
Nata/Gweta MP Polson Majaga also cast his doubts on the security of the train saying that the stops that it makes in the many stations leaves it vulnerable to saboteurs in the traditional transport sector.
The procurement of BR Express coaches has been ceaselessly marred by allegations of corruption and it has been revealed that Directorate on Corruption and Economic Crime (DCEC) have investigated BR and some top executives have had their gadgets confiscated while they spent a night in jail.
“This serves to confirm that the Directorate on Corruption and Economic Crime (DCEC) is currently conducting investigations on Botswana Railways. The investigations have been ongoing for more than a week now,” Botswana Railways CEO Dominic Ntwaagae wrote in a memo to his staff in the first week of March.
He continued: “We wish to inform staff that as an organisation, being owned by government, it is expected and appreciated that from time to time government agencies mandated to carry out such exercises may visit us to ensure that processes and procedures are dully followed,” Ntwaagae further expressed in his ‘call for calm’ memo to staff.
He further indicated that his organisation should be held to account in all its dealings vowing to be supportive to “the ongoing investigations, to clear all allegations of corruption against the organisation”.
BR Express was launched amid pomp and fanfare on the 22nd of March and the malfunctioning episode has become a source of embarrassment to the ruling BDP government as it appears to confirm a trend of failed state mega-projects.
In an era where the advocacy for the rights and inclusion of marginal groups, especially individuals beset with profound and multiple impairments, grows more fervent, the Ministry of Education and Skills Development is actively devising schemes to integrate these individuals comprehensively.
Embarking on a pioneering venture, heralded by the Minister Douglas Letsholathebe, the establishment of a novel facility designated for individuals faced with disabilities is on the horizon, set to inaugurate in Maun by mid-2024.
This forthcoming entity, bestowed with the title “Maun Center for Learners with Severe and Multiple Disabilities,” is set to emerge as a sanctuary for those grappling with intense and diverse disabilities in the expanse of the Ngamiland District. Its mission extends beyond serving as a haven; it aims to elevate educational standards and secure outstanding scholastic achievements for this special cohort.
With palpable optimism, Dr. Letsholathebe heralds that this sanctuary, a collective effort of the ministry’s allies, is constructed and awaits its ceremonial launch in the June of 2024, marking a significant epoch in the winter season.
“Construction of the Maun Center for Learners with Severe and Multiple Disabilities has concluded, now in the stewardship of my Ministry. We are poised for its operational unveiling come June 2024,” Dr. Letsholathebe revealed, signaling a new chapter of assurance.
The Government of the Republic of Botswana is steadfast in elevating the status of individuals with disabilities, fostering an environment where their rights are fervently protected and upheld.
Echoing this commitment, the recent adoption of the Persons Living with Disabilities Act marks a historic stride. Its foremost objective is the establishment of the National Disability Coordinating Office alongside the National Disability Council, aligning with the mandates of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD). This movement is expected to significantly influence the integration of disability-centric issues.
Moreover, this legislative framework is set to fortify ongoing initiatives, increasing the economic participation of disabled individuals, thereby enhancing their living conditions and steering them towards securing a life marked by dignity and fulfillment.
In light of historical evidence, individuals bearing disabilities have consistently encountered significant obstacles in securing employment, often finding themselves at the margins of the workforce. Constraints to equitable employment opportunities compared to their non-disabled counterparts were a common plight.
A substantial portion of employers harbor reservations about integrating people with disabilities into their workplaces, fearing potential complications. Only a select few are open to the idea of employing individuals with disabilities. Consequently, these individuals face heightened unemployment rates and a lack of social support, exacerbating their vulnerability to economic hardship. The International Labour Organisation (ILO), along with the nation of Botswana, champions the cause of workplace inclusion for people with disabilities.
Statistics from Botswana’s multi-topic survey for the fourth quarter of 2021 underscore the situation. The labor force comprising individuals with disabilities saw an uptick to 11,553 from 8,649 in just a year. Among these, 4,313 were males and 7,240 were females. The unemployed tally stood at 2,195, against 9,358 who were employed. A notable majority resided in Urban Villages, with the remainder spread across rural locales and cities.
During this quarter, individuals with disabilities accounted for approximately 1.3 percent (9,358 persons) of the overall 717,418 employed populace, marking a significant increase from the previous year. The distribution of employed persons with disabilities across various areas also saw changes, with urban regions employing a majority, followed by rural areas and cities.
The report further delves into the occupational landscape for people with disabilities, noting a predominant employment in service/sales roles over elementary positions – a contrast to the broader employment data.
Despite a reduction in unemployment figures for individuals with disabilities from the preceding year, the unemployment rate stands at a worrying 19.0 percent, with disparities between genders. Urban areas house the majority of the unemployed, with rural areas and cities following suit.
Unemployment across different age groups reveals a balanced distribution, highlighting a widespread issue across the demographic spectrum. This paints a vivid picture of the ongoing challenges and gradual progress within the sphere of employment for people with disabilities.
Majority of employers are still hesitant to employ people with disabilities because they believe they may bring problems in the workplace. Only a few employers are willing to hire workers with disabilities. This as a result makes people living with disability to be affected by high unemployment and insufficient social protection which then further increases their risk of poverty. The International Labour Organisation (ILO) is advocating for the inclusion of people with disability in the world of work and Botswana as a country too is advocating for their inclusion in the workplaces.
According to statistics Botswana, multi-topic survey quarter 4, 2021 labour force module report, the total labour force for people with disability was estimated at 11,553 persons, an increase of 2,904 persons over a period of twelve months (from 8,649 persons recorded in Q4 2020). From this total, 4,313 persons were males while 7,240 were females. In addition, 2,195 persons were unemployed whereas 9,358 persons were employed. Furthermore, the data showed the majority of labour force with disability were in Urban Villages (6,185), 3,708 were in rural areas and 1,661 in Cities & Towns.
The essence of community and local flair reigns supreme as St Louis Lager takes a bold step with its ambitious “Hype the Homegrown” Initiative, designed to bolster the visibility and support for local artists and home-based brands, weaving them into the fabric of mainstream success through revolutionary partnerships.
The launchpad for this endeavor has been set with a plethora of creative projects. Among them, a musical odyssey titled “The Journey,” featuring the fusion of local House and Pop virtuoso Hanceford Magapatona, widely celebrated as Han C. Enriching the project further are talents like the visionary Producer Flex the Ninja and the RnB Phenom, Priscilla K, whose track “Away” has captured hearts. This six-track EP, ripe with local genius, is up for grabs across all streaming services, inviting listeners to a world of Botswana’s finest.
But “Hype the Homegrown” transcends the bounds of musical exploration, delving into the realms of fashion and lifestyle, stitching a dynamic collaboration with Collections by B.K. Proctor. This venture, rooted in 100% local ownership by the trailblazing Rapper and Entrepreneur Bokang βBKβ Proctor alongside Digital Maverick, Fifi Wale, showcases a vibrant melding of St Louis Lager and Collections by BK Proctor insignias across a series of street-savvy sneakers and tees. These exclusive pieces have hit the shelves at the Collections by BK Proctor boutiques within the bustling hubs of Gaborone Fairgrounds Mall, Grand Palm, and Toro Junction Mall in Francistown.
Unveiled by the marketing maestro of Kgalagadi Breweries Limited, Gaamanngwe Ramokgothwane, this initiative not only shines a spotlight on KBL’s enduring commitment to the arts but also underscores the wealth of creativity brewing within Botswana, deserving of grand stages and accolades. Ramokgothwane passionately advocates for a collective embrace of this homegrown brilliance, positioning “Hype the Homegrown” as not merely a campaign but a clarion call to action for institutions far and wide to champion and elevate local talent.
Echoing this sentiment, KBL’s steward Carlos Bernitt envisions a future where these artisans not only sparkle locally but also etch their mark on the global canvas, all through the unified backing of Batswana. With “Hype the Homegrown,” a legacy of innovation, creativity, and inspiration is in the making.
The Deputy Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Trade and Industry, Seipati Olweny, acknowledged this campaign as a turning point for the creative community. She stressed the indispensable role of local talent in crafting Botswana’s cultural tapestry and stimulating economic diversification, pledging unwavering support from the ministry towards this collective journey of uplifting local flair.