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Thursday, 18 April 2024

Boko takes swipe at Pilane


UDC President; Duma Boko

Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) leader, Duma Boko took a seeming snide swing at embattled Botswana Movement for Democracy (BMD) co-founder, Advocate Sydney Pilane at the commemoration of  the life of late Dr Kenneth Koma in Mahalapye last weekend.

Boko lectured the varied assembly of BNF political hardliners and the church of St John Christians on the worth of integrity and truth, saying for one to understand their people in their societies they have to appreciate integrity and truth.

Boko who appeared to be mounting a thinly veiled assault on the embattled former BMD presidential hopeful who sat a few meters across said that, “many of us here when they pass through tribulations they flip and turn on their convictions and what they represent.These are the type of things we see and the quality of leaders we have who cannot stand for the truth and what they represent, but surprisingly they want to be viewed the same way they used to be seen,” Boko charged as the audience cringed.

He highlighted the life of Dr Koma who strapped 5 academic degrees under his belt in courses ranging from English and psychology, Law through to French, Economics and Philosophy as well as Politics as a life example to be emulated as he had shunned schemes by the founding President Sir Seretse Khama to catapult him to either the Vice Presidency, University of Botswana vice chancellorship or representative of the country at the United Nations in New York, despite easily being one of the country’s most learned and gifted men in the colonial and post colonial times.

Boko continued that many people set off running when they hear about positions and become ecstatic when they are praised for their riches and wealth and that people become confused and run after them, esteeming and extolling them for the riches they posses, “many people like to get excited with this.”

He continued saying that people should put Batswana first and not become intoxicated by the pursuit of the riches of life but seek to be in the service of the people.

Boko also remarked that some people just want positions for their own individualistic gain. He continued highlighting that local radio stations even air sound clips of local politicians at regular intervals and carry out in depth dissections and analyses on topics of conversation at hand and would always revert to them when the concerned individuals change track and course later on.

Pilane had received a frosty and sceptical reception at two of the three BNF events at the weekend and could not be seen at the last one.

Pilane quit BMD after succumbing to the late Gomolemo Motswaledi in elections for party presidency in 2010 while reports claimed he was eyeing a top job as High Court judge. Motswaledi died in an automobile accident en route from neighbouring South Africa two months before the general elections.

The deep pocketed barrister is also said to have big-heartedly bankrolled political campaigns of BMD politicians in the past general elections as well as for the Gantsi elective congress where his supposed alliance reigned supreme. Some of those he is said to have sponsored include current BMD Secretary General Gilbert Mangole.

He was recently rejected by the party he helped form in the Gaborone North constituency apparently over fears that he comes as a destabilising factor to the party. A prominent Member of Parliament and an anti-Pilane campaigner told this publication that they have got wind of information that Pilane is harbouring ambitions to contest for the presidency of BMD against Ndaba Gaolathe and ultimately of the UDC against Duma Boko.

Pilane was subsequently readmitted into the BMD fold in the Kgatleng west constituency helmed by Mangole, an incident that ignited a publicised wrangling in the media sphere pitting BMD president Gaolathe and his deputy Wynter Mmolotsi against party chairman Nehemiah Modubule and Secretary General Gilbert Mangole on the other side of the fence, which the parties involved have since de-escalated, atleast in the media sphere.

NB: In our last edition we carried a headline ‘Boko to quit UDC should he lose 2019 elections’, the fact of the matter is that Boko remarked of quitting the Presidency not the party. We apologise for error.

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Nigerians, Zimbabweans apply for Chema Chema Fund

16th April 2024

Fronting activities, where locals are used as a front for foreign-owned businesses, have been a long-standing issue in Botswana. These activities not only undermine the government’s efforts to promote local businesses but also deprive Batswana of opportunities for economic empowerment, officials say. The Ministry of Trade and Industry has warned of heavy penalties for those involved in fronting activities especially in relation to the latest popular government initiative dubbed Chema Chema.

According to the Ministry, the Industrial Development Act of 2019 clearly outlines the consequences of engaging in fronting activities. The fines of up to P50,000 for first-time offenders and P20,000 plus a two-year jail term for repeat offenders send a strong message that the government is serious about cracking down on this illegal practice. These penalties are meant to deter individuals from participating in fronting activities and to protect the integrity of local industries.

“It is disheartening to hear reports of collaboration between foreigners and locals to exploit government initiatives such as the Chema Chema Fund. This fund, administered by CEDA and LEA, is meant to support informal traders and low-income earners in Botswana. However, when fronting activities come into play, the intended beneficiaries are sidelined, and the funds are misused for personal gain.” It has been discovered that foreign nationals predominantly of Zimbabwean and Nigerian origin use unsuspecting Batswana to attempt to access the Chema Chema Fund. It is understood that they approach these Batswana under the guise of drafting business plans for them or simply coming up with ‘bankable business ideas that qualify for Chema Chema.’

Observers say the Chema Chema Fund has the potential to uplift the lives of many Batswana who are struggling to make ends meet. They argue that it is crucial that these funds are used for their intended purpose and not siphoned off through illegal activities such as fronting. The Ministry says the warning it issued serves as a reminder to all stakeholders involved in the administration of these funds to ensure transparency and accountability in their disbursement.

One local commentator said it is important to highlight the impact of fronting activities on the local economy and the livelihoods of Batswana. He said by using locals as a front for foreign-owned businesses, opportunities for local entrepreneurs are stifled, and the economic empowerment of Batswana is hindered. The Ministry’s warning of heavy penalties is a call to action for all stakeholders to work together to eliminate fronting activities and promote a level playing field for local businesses.

Meanwhile, the Ministry of Trade and Industry’s warning of heavy penalties for fronting activities is a necessary step to protect the integrity of local industries and promote economic empowerment for Batswana. “It is imperative that all stakeholders comply with regulations and work towards a transparent and accountable business environment. By upholding the law and cracking down on illegal activities, we can ensure a fair and prosperous future for all Batswana.”










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Merck Foundation and African First Ladies mark World Health Day 2024

15th April 2024

Merck Foundation, the philanthropic arm of Merck KGaA Germany marks “World Health Day” 2024 together with Africa’s First Ladies who are also Ambassadors of MerckFoundation “More Than a Mother” Campaign through their Scholarship and Capacity Building Program. Senator, Dr. Rasha Kelej, CEO of Merck Foundation emphasized, “At Merck Foundation, we mark World Health Day every single day of the year over the past 12 years, by building healthcare capacity and transforming patient care across Africa, Asia and beyond.

I am proud to share that Merck Foundation has provided over 1740 scholarships to aspiring young doctors from 52 countries, in 44 critical and underserved medical specialties such as Oncology, Diabetes, Preventative Cardiovascular Medicine, Endocrinology, Sexual and Reproductive Medicine, Acute Medicine, Respiratory Medicine, Embryology & Fertility specialty, Gastroenterology, Dermatology, Psychiatry, Emergency and Resuscitation Medicine, Critical Care, Pediatric Emergency Medicine, Neonatal Medicine, Advanced Surgical Practice, Pain Management, General Surgery, Clinical Microbiology and infectious diseases, Internal Medicine, Trauma & Orthopedics, Neurosurgery, Neurology, Cardiology, Stroke Medicine, Care of the Older Person, Family Medicine, Pediatrics and Child Health, Obesity & Weight Management, Women’s Health, Biotechnology in ART and many more”.

As per the available data, Africa has only 34.6% of the required doctors, nurses, and midwives. It is projected that by 2030, Africa would need additional 6.1 million doctors, nurses, and midwives*. “For Example, before the start of the Merck Foundation programs in 2012; there was not a single Oncologist, Fertility or Reproductive care specialists, Diabetologist, Respiratory or ICU specialist in many countries such as The Gambia, Liberia, Sierra Leone, Central African Republic, Guinea, Burundi, Niger, Chad, Ethiopia, Namibia among others. We are certainly creating historic legacy in Africa, and also beyond. Together with our partners like Africa’s First Ladies, Ministries of Health, Gender, Education and Communication, we are impacting the lives of people in the most disadvantaged communities in Africa and beyond.”, added Senator Dr. Kelej. Merck Foundation works closely with their Ambassadors, the African First Ladies and local partners such as; Ministries of Health, Education, Information & Communication, Gender, Academia, Research Institutions, Media and Art in building healthcare capacity and addressing health, social & economic challenges in developing countries and under-served communities. “I strongly believe that training healthcare providers and building professional healthcare capacity is the right strategy to improve access to equitable and quality at health care in Africa.

Therefore, I am happy to announce the Call for Applications for 2024 Scholarships for young doctors with special focus on female doctors for our online one-year diploma and two year master degree in 44 critical and underserved medical specialties, which includes both Online Diploma programs and On-Site Fellowship and clinical training programs. The applications are invited through the Office of our Ambassadors and long-term partners, The First Ladies of Africa and Ministry of Health of each country.” shared Dr . Kelej. “Our aim is to improve the overall health and wellbeing of people by building healthcare capacity across Africa, Asia and other developing countries. We are strongly committed to transforming patientcare landscape through our scholarships program”, concluded Senator Kelej.

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Interpol fugitive escapes from Botswana

15th April 2024

John Isaak Ndovi, a Tanzanian national embroiled in controversy and pursued under a red notice by the International Criminal Police Organization (Interpol), has mysteriously vanished, bypassing a scheduled bail hearing at the Extension 2 Magistrate Court in Gaborone. Previously apprehended by Botswana law enforcement at the Tlokweng border post several months earlier, his escape has ignited serious concerns.

Accused of pilfering assets worth in excess of P1 million, an amount translating to roughly 30,000 Omani Riyals, Ndovi has become a figure of paramount interest, especially to the authorities in the Sultanate of Oman, nestled in the far reaches of Asia.

The unsettling news of his disappearance surfaced following his failure to present himself at the Extension 2 Magistrate Court the preceding week. Speculation abounds that Ndovi may have sought refuge in South Africa in a bid to elude capture, prompting a widespread mobilization of law enforcement agencies to ascertain his current location.

In an official communiqué, Detective Senior Assistant Police Commissioner Selebatso Mokgosi of Interpol Gaborone disclosed Ndovi’s apprehension last September at the Tlokweng border, a capture made possible through the vigilant issuance of the Interpol red notice.

At 36, Ndovi is implicated in a case of alleged home invasion in Oman. Despite the non-existence of an extradition treaty between Botswana and Oman, Nomsa Moatswi, the Director of the Directorate of Public Prosecution (DPP), emphasized that the lack of formal extradition agreements does not hinder her office’s ability to entertain extradition requests. She highlighted the adoption of international cooperation norms, advocating for collaboration through the lenses of international comity and reciprocity.

Moatswi disclosed the intensified effort by law enforcement to locate Ndovi following his no-show in court, and pointed to Botswana’s track record of extraditing two international fugitives from France and Zimbabwe in the previous year as evidence of the country’s relentless pursuit of legal integrity.

When probed about the potential implications of Ndovi’s case on Botswana’s forthcoming evaluation by the Financial Action Task Force (FATF), Moatswi reserved her speculations. She acknowledged the criticality of steering clear of blacklisting, suggesting that this singular case is unlikely to feature prominently in the FATF’s assessment criteria.


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