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Arafat Khan to invite Malema into the country, again

Botswana National Front’s (BNF), Secretary General Arafat Khan


Botswana National Front’s (BNF) firebrand Secretary General Arafat Khan has revealed that he once more intends to invite South African Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) leader, Julius Malema into the country.

Khan says the reason for his intent is to fulfil a pledge he made to his Borakalalo ward electorate to bring in the EFF Commander In Chief (CIC) before the 2014 general election, where Malema and his clique of EFF top brass were slapped with Visa requirements that effectively obstructed their visit into the country.

Malema was barred from coming into the country on the 12th of September 2014, a day before he was scheduled to publicly endorse Khan in Borakalalo despite having a diplomatic passport as a South African Member of Parliament, and told to apply again or appeal the snub after 8 months.

Khan described the requirement as, “an unreasonable and demeaning scheme that targets international friends of opposition (parties) requiring they awfully forfeit their fate to government in order to be granted entry into the country.”  

Khan also assures that they come armed with a new tack after the South African local elections and should they encounter the might of the system’s resistance, he will seek recourse with the courts of law to compel the immigration department to reveal reasons for the barring of individuals associated with opposition parties.

Khan also sheds light on his notorious close association with the ruling Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) Secretary General Botsalo Ntuane, saying that they have been friends for so long and he now considers him “a dear brother.”He also continues that their friendship of 10 years has allowed them opportunity to know each other’s true political convictions adding, “He knows me as much as I know him and we do not even talk about recruiting each other but banter over side-line issues such as football.”

He also goes on to say that contrary to popular belief he is not any close to BNF and Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) leader Duma Boko. This is despite Khan remaining the only council candidate who has had his municipal bid launched by the party president in the run up to the 2014 general election. Boko also went on to helm the guest speakership task at his subsequent electoral victory festivity at his ward in May 2015. He continues to state that he does not even have Boko’s mobile contacts and neither thinks the popular opposition leader has his.

Khan says that he simply defends Boko the same way he has always done with former BNF leader Otsweletse Moupo. He continues to say that even though he has his own political differences with Boko he can never in a million years be seen at odds or contradicting him on public fora. He also in a momentary sign of wonder states that, “I think Boko has done well for the movement by bringing the fractured opposition movements together and I sincerely think he deserves re-election because he currently remains the only suitable leader to lead the movement.

He also reasons that it is the first time BNF gets to enjoy unbridled stability in a long time and with the Botswana Congress Party (BCP) inside the opposition bloc there remains little doubt that the establishment will be toppled in 2019.

Khan also sheds light on the late Botswana Movement for Democracy (BMD) leader Gomolemo Motswaledi describing him as “a dear friend of mine and a very unassuming politician.”

He says he first came across the expressive and likeable BMD leader in 2003 at a Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) rally in Molepolole North and in no time they had befriended each other. Motswaledi more or less attained the status of martyrdom in the theatre of opposition politics and among the peasantry following his death 2 months before the 2014 general election in a freak automobile accident in the locality of Pitsane in Borolong.

Khan continues to describe him as a highly principled politico who sacrificed a lot for his political convictions and says he remains absolutely won over, without a shadow of doubt in his mind that Motswaledi never harboured any notion of retracing his steps back to the BDP which he once served as secretary general before being expelled. He also says that BNF founder Dr Kenneth Koma must be smiling in his grave because he has always been an ardent agitator of opposition unity in the country.

Khan also says that he is exiting youth league politics with a clear conscience to focus on his ward, his life and business and will also not be contesting any central committee position in the coming elective congress. He also denies having his hand pulling the strings of youth politics he claims to be leaving behind, in bid to influence his successive youth league leadership. Khan denies knowing if former student leader Kago Mokotedi will be contesting the BNF youth league presidency since the nomination process is not yet open, but swiftly moves to describe Mokotedi as a one of the most outstanding youth leaders of his life and his party.

Khan declares that, “I have not yet endorsed anyone’s candidacy and at present I’m not sure if I will, but if I do I will endorse someone with the right talent and capabilities to catapult UDC to greater heights.

The fire-breathing councillor has thus far been involved in over 30 acts of philanthropy in his ward including monetary, equipment and clothing donations.

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Veteran journalist Karima Brown succumbs to COVID-19

4th March 2021
Karima-Brown

South Africa’s veteran journalist and broadcaster, Karima Brown has died on Thursday morning from COVID-19 related complications.

Media reports from the neighbouring country say Brown had been hospitalized and on a ventilator.

Brown anchored eNCA’s The Fix and was a regular political analyst on the eNCA channel.

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Botswana imports in numbers

1st March 2021
Botswana-imports

For so many years, Botswana has been trying to be a self-sufficient country that is able to provide its citizens with locally produced food products. Through appropriate collaborations with parastatals such as CEDA, ISPAAD and LEA, government introduced initiatives such as the Horticulture Impact Accelerator Subsidy-IAS and other funding facilities to facilitate horticultural farmers to increase production levels.

Now that COVID-19 took over and disrupted the food value chain across all economies, Botswana government introduced these initiatives to reduce the import bill by enhancing local market and relieve horticultural farmers from loses or impacts associated with the pandemic.

In more concerted efforts to curb these food crises in the country, government extended the ploughing period for the Southern part of Botswana. The extension was due to the late start of rains in the Southern part of the country.

Last week the Ministry of Agriculture extended the ploughing period for the Northern part of the country, mainly because of rains recently experienced in the country. With these decisions taken urgently, government optimizes food security and reliance on local food production.

When pigs fly, Botswana will be able to produce food to feed its people. This is evident by the numbers released by Statistics Botswana on imports recorded in November 2020, on their International Merchandise Trade Statistics for the month under review.

The numbers say Botswana continues to import most of its food from neighbouring South Africa. Not only that, Batswana relies on South Africa to have something to smoke, to drink and even use as machinery.

According to data from Statistics Botswana, the country’s total imports amounted to P6.881 Million. Diamonds contributed to the total imports at 33%, which is equivalent to P2.3 Million. This was followed by food, beverages and tobacco, machinery and electrical equipment which stood at P912 Million and P790 Million respectively.

Most of these commodities were imported from The Southern African Customs Union (SACU). The Union supplied Botswana with imports valued at over P4.8 Million of Botswana’s imports for the month under review (November 2020). The top most imported commodity group from SACU region was food, beverages and tobacco, with a contribution of P864 Million, which is likely to be around 18.1% of the total imports from the region.

Diamonds and fuel, according to these statistics, contributed 16.0%, or P766 Million and 13.5% or P645 Million respectively. Botswana also showed a strong and desperate reliance on neighbouring South Africa for important commodities. Even though the borders between the two countries in order to curb the spread of the COVID-19 virus, government took a decision to open border gates for essential services which included the transportation of commodities such as food.

Imports from South Africa recorded in November 2020 stood at P4.615 Million, which accounted for 67.1% of total imports during the month under review. Still from that country, Botswana bought food, beverages and tobacco worth P844 Million (18.3%), diamonds, machinery and fuel worth P758 Million, P601 Million and P562 Million respectively.

Botswana also imported chemicals and rubber products that made a contribution of 11.7% (P542.2 Million) to total imports from South Africa during the month under review, (November 2020).

The European Union also came to Botswana’s rescue in the previous year. Botswana received imports worth P698.3 Million from the EU, accounting for 10.1% of the total imports during the same month. The major group commodity imported from the EU was diamonds, accounting for 86.9% (P606.6 Million), of imports from the Union. Belgium was the major source of imports from the EU, at 8.9% (P609.1 Million) of total imports during the period under review.

Meanwhile, Minister of Finance and Economic Development Thapelo Matsheka says an improvement in exports and commodity prices will drive growth in Sub-Saharan Africa. Growth in the region is anticipated to recover modestly to 3.2% in 2021. Matsheka said this when delivering the Annual Budget Speech virtually in Gaborone on the 1st of February 2021.

He said implementation of the African Continental Free Trade Area Agreement (AfCFTA), which became operational in January 2021, could reduce the region’s vulnerability to global disruptions, as well as deepen trade and economic integration.

“This could also help boost competition and productivity. Successful implementation of AfCFTA will, of necessity, require Member States to eliminate both tariffs and non-tariff barriers, and generally make it easier to do business and invest across borders.”

Matsheka, who is also a Member of Parliament for Lobatse, an ailing town which houses the struggling biggest meat processing company in the country- Botswana Meat Commission, (BMC), said the Southern African Customs Union (SACU) recognizes the need to prioritize the key processes required for the implementation of the AfCFTA.

“The revised SACU Tariff Offer, which comprises 5,988 product lines with agreed Rules of Origin, representing 77% of the SACU Tariff Book, was submitted to the African Union Commission (AUC) in November 2020. The government is in the process of evaluating the tariff offers of other AfCFTA members prior to ratification, following which Botswana’s participation in AfCFTA will come to effect.”

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Sheila Tlou: On why women don’t get votes

1st March 2021
Sheila Tlou

BARAPEDI KEDIKILWE

Women continue to shadow men in politics – stereotypes such as ‘behind every successful man there is a woman’ cast the notion that women cannot lead. The 2019 general election recorded one of Botswana’s worst performances when it comes to women participation in parliamentary democracy with only three women elected to parliament.

Botswana’s former Minister of Health, Professor Sheila Tlou who is currently the Co-Chair, Global HIV Prevention Coalition & Nursing Now and an HIV, Gender & Human Rights Activist is not amused by the status quo. Tlou attributes this dilemma facing women to a number of factors, which she is convinced influence the voting patterns of Batswana when it comes to women politicians.

Professor Tlou plugs the party level voting systems as the first hindrance that blocks women from ascending to power. According to the former Minister of Health, there is inadequate amount of professionalism due to corrupt internal party structures affecting the voters roll and ultimately leading to voter apathy for those who end up struck off the voters rolls under dubious circumstances.

Tlou also stated that women’s campaigns are often clean; whilst men put to play the ‘politics is dirty metaphor using financial muscle to buy voters into voting for them without taking into consideration their abilities and credibility. The biggest hurdle according to Tlou is the fallacy that ‘Women cannot lead’, which is also perpetuated by other women who discourage people from voting for women.

There are numerous factors put on the table when scrutinizing a woman, she can be either too old, or too young, or her marital status can be used against her. An unmarried woman is labelled as a failure and questioned on how she intends on being a leader when she failed to have a home. The list is endless including slut shaming women who have either been through a divorce or on to their second marriages, Tlou observed.

The only way that voters can be emancipated from this mentality according to Tlou is through a robust voter education campaign tailor made to run continuously and not be left to the eve of elections as it is usually done. She further stated that the current crop of women in parliament must show case their abilities and magnify them – this will help make it clear that they too are worthy of votes.

And to women intending to run for office, Tlou encouraged them not to wait for the eleventh hour to show their interest and rather start in community mobilisation projects as early as possible so that the constituents can get to know them and their abilities prior to the election date.

Youthful Botswana National Front (BNF) leader and feminist, Resego Kgosidintsi blames women’s mentality towards one another which emanates from the fact that women have been socialised from a tender age that they cannot be leaders hence they find it difficult to vote for each other.

Kgosidintsi further states that, “Women do not have enough economic resources to stage effective campaigns. They are deemed as the natural care givers and would rather divert their funds towards raising children and building homes over buying campaign materials.”

Meanwhile, Vice President of the Alliance for Progressives (AP), Wynter Mmolotsi agrees that women’s participation in politics in Botswana remains a challenge. To address this Mmolotsi suggested that there should be constituencies reserved for women candidates only so that the outcome regardless of the party should deliver a woman Member of Parliament.

Mmolotsi further suggested that Botswana should ditch the First Past the Post system of election and opt for the proportional representation where contesting parties will dutifully list able women as their representatives in parliament.

On why women do not get elected, Mmolotsi explained that he had heard first hand from voters that they are reluctant to vote for women since they have limited access to them once they have won; unlike their male counterparts who have proven to be available night or day.

The pre-historic awarding of gender roles relegating women to be pregnant and barefoot at home and the man to be out there fending for the family has disadvantaged women in political and other professional careers.

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