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BDP defends Govt silence on Burundi

Burundi President, Pierre Nkurunziza

Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) Secretary General, Botsalo Ntuane has defended Botswana’s silence with regard to its stand on Burundi affairs despite its renowned decisive condemnation of human rights violations.  

Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation has not issued or stated Botswana’s position on the ongoing Burundi amid reports of the country losing interest in the affairs of the African Union (AU). “I cannot speak for the ministry, but remember President Lt Gen Ian Khama after his inauguration as SADC Chairman spoke against events in Burundi,” he said. “In that sense he was representing party and government sentiment.”  

Ntuane told this publication that it is impossible for Botswana to lose interest in the affairs of either Southern African Development Committee (SADC) or AU. “The day Botswana loses interest in AU, SADC or any continental body will be the day it ceases to be an African country,”

“Ordinarily as BDP we dont respond on foreign policy matters. We defer to government to make pronouncements on such matters but we are very clear on the situation in Burundi,” he said.
“BDP is opposed to any term extensions beyond the prescribed two terms. We don’t support term extensions.”

Viewed as an epitome of peace and democracy, Botswana has been known for its uncompromising hard-line stand in condemning human rights violations, a praise it earned during the reign of Lieutenant General Mompati Merafhe and Phandu Skelemani as foreign affairs ministers.

Ntuane expressed that BDP believe “3 termism” is regressive and reverses the gains Africa has made over the years in its democratisation drive. “Look at what is happening to Burundi after a period of peace and stability; all because of political greed and the notion that countries cannot survive if certain leaders are not in charge,”  he stated.

The BDP secretary general also explained that the party condemn the violence perpetrated against opponents of the 3rd term in that country and wish for a speedy resolution to the crisis. “But any resolution cannot happen without addressing President Nkurunziza's ill-advised 3 term,” he remarked.

Pierre Nkurunziza, a former rebel, prompted demonstrations when he announced in April 2015 that he would run for a contentious third term, a development which is against the 2005 peace deal that ceased the a decade civil war which resulted in the death of about 300,000 lives.

Nkurunziza has rejected AU’s intervention measures to bring 5000 troops to Burundi to restore peace and stability to the country. Nkurinziza threaten to respond to such development with attack for not respect his country’s borders.

Botswana had in the past maintained its foreign policy of speaking against gross human rights violations which resulted in fall-outs with governments such of Zimbabwe.

In 2008, Botswana boycotted South African Development Committee (SADC) summit owing to the fact that ‘illegitimate’ Zimbabwean president Robert Mugabe was invited to be part of the summit. Botswana had publicly announced that it did not recognise Mugabe as the legitimate president of Zimbabwe following his victory in an election that was widely condemned as a sham.

Botswana would later change its stance and embraced Mugabe after a compromise deal allowed both Mugabe and Morgan Tsvangarai to form government of national unity.

Botswana has also pledged to arrest Sudan president Omar Al Bashir and hand him to ICC should he come to Botswana. This often placed Botswana at loggerhead with other African countries.

In 2013, following the bloody Kenya presidential elections, Skelemani stated that newly elected president Uhuru Kenyatta would not be allowed to set foot in Botswana if did not honour the ICC and answer to crime against humanity charges laid against him.

Skelemani’s remarks would cause some stir and threaten Botswana’s diplomatic relations Botswana would again make up and apologised to Kenyatta for its earlier remarks. Kenyatta would then later visit Botswana in an effort to bolster relations.

Recently Botswana is feeling increasingly isolated after breaking ranks with a lot of African countries on the decision of AU members state to pull out from the International Criminal Court.
The 54 nation AU has urged its members to "speak with one voice" against criminal proceedings at the ICC instituted on sitting presidents AU member states.

Last year at United Nations summit Vice President Mokgweetsi Masisi reaffirmed Botswana’s unwavering support and commitment to the ICC and what it stands for.
Botswana remains the sole country in SADC which is against pulling out of ICC.

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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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