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Malope II pours cold water on P400 million varsity

In what can only be described as a bizarre development, Bangwaketse Paramount Chief Kgosikgolo Malope Gaseitsiwe II has rejected a proposal to construct a technical university in Kanye.

The university proposal team comprises various tribesmen, academics and powerful business magnates as well as top politician who also helped craft the state-of-the-art technical university; whose construction plans are ready.

When completed the university will help bridge the skills gap and mismatch by offering students training in, among others, tannery (leather), food processing, woodwork, welding, mining and other artisan skills.

WeekendPost has unearthed information that a heated discussion is brewing ‘behind closed doors’ among key stakeholders – and at the core of conflict is the site for the multimillion Pula institution.

It is understood that on one hand the university proposal team is convinced that the place known as Kanye “showground” is central and in a prime area and in close proximity to available amenities like water and electricity.

But to the shock of the team, the traditional leadership is stoutly opposed to the building of the technical institution at the showground – despite the place having been a white elephant for almost 20 years as the once famed Kanye Show has literally been on its deathbed.

This publication has learnt that the university proposal team has already sourced funds to the tune of P400 million from the European Union (EU) for the project.

“The EU is ready, in the twinkling of an eye, to sponsor the project as early as at the crack of dawn of 2016.   

The team believed and still believes that the university should be built at the showground and gave many reasons, including its strategic location but Kgosi Malope stuck to his guns, insisting that the technical university should not temper with the showground, and he instead advised them to look elsewhere,” an insider who was present at the meeting with Kgosi Malope told this publication.

It is understood too that things came to a head when Malope literally threw out the proposal as he was adamant that the showground must be kept exclusively for Kanye Show while the team felt that the university could still be built within its boundaries at the same site.

The donors, who have partnered with the team under Public Private Partnership (PPP), regard Kanye as the ideal location for the university given the recent closure of the Rural Industries Innovation Centre (RIIC).

RIIC was said to benefit the new technical university students as they would have access to the equipment, which is currently lying idle at the organization’s premises.

Developer also believe that the village population will also grow as students and workers alike from other parts of the country will flock to Kanye in search of new life and opportunities at the establishment.

“The increased population will boost the economy of Kanye and subsequently of the country through an increased purchasing power and rental charges for property owners,” the source further pointed out.

When reached for comment, Kgosi Malope confirmed to Weekend Post the meeting he had with the proposed university committee although he was quick to point out that the matter was still internal.

“Where did you get this information? The matter should not have been shared with the media,” he said.

Cagey with the details he said: “Nothing really has been agreed on whether to construct the university at the showground or not. There is an ongoing consultation with the university team.”

However, sources indicate that the Bangwaketse supreme chief was non-committal on the issue and suggested that he should instead call the morafe to advise him on the matter.

“Personally he sounded having deep rooted reservations about taking the institution to the showground and rather preferred a different place.”

There are inherent and entrenched fears that the institution may encroach on village stadium which was supposed to be constructed at the same showground.

Although showground is ideal because it has abundant space it was sequentially elongated and later ceded to Mheelo, which is almost on the “outskirts” of Kanye.

This publication has gathered that failure to build the university at the showground site will be a setback as the institution proposal team believes it will be a special way of honouring Kgosi Malope II’s grandfather – the progressive Kgosi Kgolo Bathoen Gaseitsiwe II who believed in modern developments at the expense of tribal myths and rituals.

Kgosi Kgolo Bathoen is still held in high esteem by many for his practical philosophy of bringing countless developments to his people and therefore the team maintains that building the university in his domain will be a great way of paying homage to the fallen hero.

However, indications are that his grandson will need more convincing to release the showground for the proposed university.

This publication has been informed that the technical university will not only train students in skills but will also create employment opportunities for those who will build the institution and resultant support staff on the university campus.

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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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Unions brace for showdown as demands for 15% pay hike intensify

15th April 2024

As tensions mount between public service unions and the government, the prospect of a major strike looms large. The unions, representing hundreds of thousands of workers across the country, are demanding a 15% pay increase, arguing that public sector employees have been undercompensated for years. The government, however, has so far refused to accede to the unions’ demands, setting the stage for a potential confrontation that could have far-reaching implications for both public services and the broader economy.

There are fears that public service unions may embark on industrial action should their members give the leadership of the unions the greenlight to do so as they push for a 15 percent salary hike. This comes amid reports that pressure is mounting on government to increase salaries for five Cooperating Unions (BLLAHWU, BOPEU, BONU, BOSETU, BTU). The latest development is likely to escalate tensions between the two parties.

According to the coordinator of the five unions, Ketlhalefile Motshegwa, the leadership of the unions would hold country wide mass workers rallies/meetings on the 22nd – 24th April 2024, to update and consult public servants on adjourned salary negotiations with Government through Directorate of  Public Service Management (DPSM).

The rallies come after the unions had proposed 15% salary increment to cushion workers against purchasing power but could failed to reach a positive outcome with the government.

“Believing that workers as creators of wealth, deserve a stake in redistribution of benefits the economy, the   Unions in their proposal are pushing for equity,” said Motshegwa.

He said a key objective of compensation administration is to ensure internal & external equity in the payment of salary & other benefits. “Internal equity refers to the payment of equal compensation for jobs of similar nature and worth within the organisation. The Employer Party’s Position Paper is silent on this key principle despite recent developments that violate it,” he said.  Another issue, Motshegwa explained is relates to protection of workers welfare.

“As a matter of human rights, wages should be sufficient to accord the worker and his/her household an acceptable standard of living. Further, wage adjustments should protect workers’ welfare. This means protecting real wages from erosion by inflation. The Employer party does not address this most critical of issues even though the Union Party explicitly raised it,” he said. Regarding motivation and staff morale, Motshegwa said wage setting is also fundamentally about motivating workers.

“It matters not only what workers are offered but also how internal relativities are affected. Workers can be demotivated not only by low salary adjustments but also by discriminatory treatment,” said Motshegwa.

PERSPECTIVE

At the heart of the dispute is a fundamental question: do public sector workers deserve a significantly higher wage than they currently receive? Unions argue that public servants are essential to the functioning of society, and that they have been systematically undermined by years of austerity measures. They point to recent pay increases in the private sector, which have significantly outpaced public sector wages, as evidence of a growing disparity that needs to be addressed.

The government, for its part, has historically been reluctant to grant substantial pay increases to public sector workers, citing concerns about fiscal sustainability and the need to balance budgets. In its view, the current wage demands represent an unsustainable burden that could jeopardize the provision of essential public services.

The stakes could not be higher for both sides. For the unions, a successful wage campaign could be a transformative moment, reaffirming the power of collective bargaining and the essential role of public sector workers. It could also strengthen the hand of labor movements across the country, emboldening workers to demand better wages and working conditions in other sectors.

For the government, a major strike would be a political and economic nightmare, disrupting vital services and potentially triggering a broader crisis of confidence in its ability to govern. It would also put enormous pressure on the government to find a way to resolve the dispute, potentially leading to concessions that could set a precedent for future wage demands in the public sector.

As the deadline for the current round of negotiations approaches, the tension is palpable. Unions are stepping up their efforts to mobilize support among their members and the public at large, painting a stark picture of the consequences of further wage stagnation. They are organizing mass rallies and strike votes, aiming to put maximum pressure on the government to back down.

The government, for its part, is digging in its heels, issuing stern warnings about the economic and political fallout of a major strike. It is exploring options for maintaining essential services in the event of a strike, such as bringing in temporary workers or invoking emergency powers.

As the nation preplies for the momentous decision that lies ahead, one thing is certain: the public sector unions are not backing down. They have made their demands clear, and they are prepared to fight for what they believe is their rightful due. The government, for its part, is equally resolved, ready to defend its position at all costs. The stage is set for a showdown that will determine the fate of public sector workers, the labor movement, and the very future of our society.

The question remains: will the government’s austerity agenda prevail, or will the demands of the workers ultimately carry the day? The answer will shape the course of history, and the world will be watching as this epic battle unfolds. The stakes could not be higher, and the nation holds its breath in anticipation of the momentous decision that lies ahead.

The public sector unions know that their fight is not just about themselves. It is about the millions of people they serve, the patients they care for, the students they teach, and the infrastructure they maintain. It is about the dignity and respect of every public servant, and the fundamental right of workers to a fair day’s wage for a fair day’s work.

The government, for its part, is well aware of the potential consequences of a major strike. It knows that a disruption of public services would erode confidence in its ability to govern, and that a prolonged battle with the unions would be a political and economic nightmare. It is therefore unlikely to back down without a fight.

The stage is set for a confrontation that will test the mettle of both sides. The unions will push for everything they can get, knowing that their bargaining power is at its peak. The government, meanwhile, will dig in its heels, determined to defend its position at all costs. The outcome of this battle will determine the future of public services, the labor movement, and perhaps even the direction of the country itself.

 

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