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Dikgosi clash over Bogosi Act review

The Balopi Commission of 2000 and the Bogosi Act of 2008 caused an old-school tribal divide among members of Ntlo Ya Dikgosi this week as the tribal leaders affirmed their vote for a motion agitating for a review of the Bogosi Act of 2008.

In a stretched three day deliberation on a motion proposed by Kgosi Galeakanye Modise of Sefhare/Tswapong area, “requesting Government to make a holistic review of the Bogosi Act”, the tribesmen contended that it contains traces of tribal and stately subjugation, gulfs of disparity in statuses of the DiKgosi, fuels power struggles, is ambiguous and vague with potential to throw confusion into the institution among others concerns.

Dikgosi, Kgari Sechele of Bakwena and Sediegeng Kgamane of Bangwato both from the so called main tribes, were the prime antagonists to the motion.

Kgosi Kgari of the Bakwena described the current Bogosi Act as, “straight forward and consistent with the laws of the country.”

On the other end, Kgosi Kgamane of the Bamangwato rose in fierce opposition to the motion calling for a review of the Act and its sections. During the debate members called for equating of ranks and eminences of the members of the house.

During his interventions Kgosi Kgamane chided Kgosi Maruje of Masunga declaring that the latter’s presentation deduced from the Balopi Commission is a divisive attack laced with hatred and hints of tribalism. Kgosi Maruje stood his ground indicating that he only referenced on the Balopi Commission. He said, “these are results of a Presidential Commission and I can’t stoop to that level and absolve myself from that (argument).”

The Dikgosi said that the constitution and the Bogosi Act show that other chiefs of the so called minority tribes in the North East, Gantsi, Kgalagadi, and Chobe, whose tribes were initially believed had no paramount chiefs are addressed as Dikgosana and having a 3 level hierarchy which translates in their positions being equivalent to lesser positions and status in the chieftaincy structure in comparison with the so called main tribes.

This in turn would mean that other tribal territories such as the Bamangwato regions have three more superior multi level leadership positions above other regions, being the Paramount Chief, Deputy Chief, and Senior Sub Tribal Authority.

Furthermore, Kgamane also opposed the call to end the Bogosana description saying that it is a designation that the current DiKgosi and their fore bearers found in the institution. The emotive and combative Kgamane reasoned that such a designation meant the position of Bogosana meant the occupation and not the individual.

Kgamane, who virtually engaged in a tit-for-tat war of words with Kgosi Maruje Masunga advocated for the Bamangwato to be “left alone with their traditional Chieftainship organisation” to which other members of the house cried foul saying it undermined the seemingly lawful chieftainship organisation of other tribes. Kgamane responded in agitation that, “it is our culture and I ask that our tradition be left as it is, in peace.”

Kgosi Modise outlined 14 sections of the constitution which he said were strikingly ambiguous and vague. Modise outlined section 25(1) that states that, ‘subject to provisions of Subsection (2), a person shall be guilty of an offence if he or she commits any act with intent to undermine the lawful power and authority of a Kgosi.’ Modise said his contention is that the word ‘undermine’ as used in the section is not defined in the definitions section of the Act thus making the extent of the parameters of its application vague.

The Dikgosi also argued that the Bogosi Act confers too many laws on the Minister. Kgosi David Toto of Kgalagadi South backed the motion mover in his displeasure with section 21(1) which says ‘a Kgosi may after consultation with the people of the area and with approval of the minister appoint a person as his or her Moemela Kgosi in respect of any area of his or her tribal territory or tribal area and may in a like manner terminate the appointment.

The members of the Ntlo ya Dikgosi said the current Bogosi Act of 2008 has not fully fixed the anomalies of the scrapped Chieftainship Act of 1987 that perpetuated oppression and tribal inequality. A majority of members of the Ntlo ya Dikgosi said that while changes have been made, vestiges of the old system are still alive and well because only in paper the titles of the DiKgosi have been equated while they are still addressed the old way. It has also emerged that the so called Dikgosi of the main tribes are bought expensive personal Special Utility Vehicles (SUV’s), appointed personal secretaries and paid salaries not at par with other chiefs.

Assistant Minister of Local Government Frans Van Der Westhuizen concurred with the vote of the Ntlo ya Dikgosi that the 7 year old Act “needs to be reviewed to consider amendments are necessary.”

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ENVIRONMENT ISSUES: Masisi asks Virginia for help

24th March 2023

President Mokgweetsi Masisi says the issue of sustainable natural resources management has always been an important part of Botswana’s national development agenda.

Masisi was speaking this week on the occasion of a public lecture at Virginia Polytechnic, under theme, “Merging Conservation, Democracy and Sustainable Development in Botswana.”

Botswana, according to Masisi, holds the view that the environment is fragile and as such, must be managed and given the utmost protection to enable the achievement of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

“It is necessary that we engage one another in the interchange of ideas, perspectives, visualizations of social futures, and considerations of possible strategies and courses of action for sustainable development,” said Masisi.

On the other hand, dialogue, in the form of rigorous democratic discourse among stakeholders presents another basis for reconfiguring how people act on their environments, with a view to conserving its resources that “we require to meet our socio-economic development needs on a sustainable basis,” Masisi told attendees at the public lecture.

He said government has a keen interest in understanding the epidemiology and ecology of diseases of both domestic and wild animals. “It is our national interest to forestall the dire consequences of animal diseases on our communities livelihoods.”

President Masisi hoped that both Botswana and Virginia could help each other in curbing contagious diseases of wildlife.

“We believe that Virginia Tech can reasonably share their experiences, research insights and advances in veterinary sciences and medicines, to help us build capacity for knowledge creation and improve efforts of managing and containing contagious diseases of wildlife. The ground is fertile for entering into such a mutually beneficial partnership.”

When explaining environmental issues further, Masisi said efforts of conservation and sustainable development might at times be hampered by the emergence and recurrence of diseases when pathogens mutate and take host of more than one species.

“Water pollution also kills aquatic life, such as fish, which is one of humanity’s much deserved sources of food. In this regard, One Health Approach imposes ecological responsibility upon all of us to care for the environment and the bio-diversity therein.”

He said the production and use of animal vaccines is an important space and tool for conservation, particularly to deal with trans-border animal diseases.

“In Botswana, our 43-year-old national premier pharmaceutical institution called Botswana Vaccine Institute has played its role well. Through its successful production of highly efficacious Foot and Mouth vaccines, the country is able to contain this disease as well as supply vaccines to other countries in the sub-region.:

He has however declared that there is need for more help, saying “We need more capacitation to deal with and contain other types of microbial that affect both animals and human health.”

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Masisi saddened by deaths of elephant attacks

24th March 2023

President Mokgweetsi Masisi has expressed a strong worry over elephants killing people in Botswana. When speaking in Virginia this week, Masisi said it is unfortunate that Batswana have paid a price with their own blood through being attacked by elephants.

“Communities also suffer unimaginable economic losses yearly when their crops are eaten by the elephants. In spite of such incidents of human-elephant conflict, our people embrace living together with the animals. They fully understand wildlife conservation and its economic benefits in tourism.”

In 2018, Nthobogang Samokwase’s father was attacked by an elephant when travelling from the fields, where he stayed during the cropping season.

It was reported that the man couldn’t run because of his age. He was found trampled by the elephant and was pronounced dead upon arrival at the hospital.

In the same year, in Maun, a 57-year-old British woman was attacked by an elephant at Boro and died upon arrival at the hospital. The woman was with her Motswana partner, and were walking dogs in the evening.

Last month, a Durban woman named Carly Marshall survived an elephant attack while on holiday in the bush in Botswana. She was stabbed by one of the elephant’s tucks through the chest and was left with bruises. Marshall also suffered several fractured ribs from the ordeal.

President Masisi Botswana has the largest population of African elephants in the world, totaling more than 130 000. “This has been possible due to progressive conservation policies, partnerships with the communities, and investment in wildlife management programmes.”

In order to benefit further from wildlife, Masisi indicated that government has re-introduced controlled hunting in 2019 after a four-year pause. “The re-introduction of hunting was done in an open, transparent and democratic way, giving the communities an opportunity to air their views. The funds from the sale of hunting quota goes towards community development and elephant conservation.”

He stressed that for conservation to succeed, the local people must be involved and derive benefits from the natural resources within their localities.

“There must be open and transparent consultations which involve all sectors of the society. It is against this backdrop that as a country, we lead the continent on merging conservation, democracy and sustainable development.”

Masisi stated that Botswana is open to collaborative opportunities, “particularly with identifiable partners such as Virginia Tech, in other essential areas such as conservation, and the study of the interplay among the ecology of diseases of wild animals and plants, and their effects on human health and socio-economic development.”

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Gov’t commit to injecting more funds in fighting HIV

24th March 2023

Minister for State President Kabo Morwaeng says government will continue to make resources available in terms of financial allocations and human capital to ensure that Botswana achieves the ideal of eradicating HIV and AIDS as a public health threat by 2030.

Morwaeng was speaking this morning in Gaborone at the High-Level Advocacy event to accelerate HIV Prevention in Botswana. He said the National AIDS and Health Promotion Agency (NAPHA), in partnership with UNAIDS, UN agencies, the Global Fund and PEPFAR, have started a process of developing transition readiness plan for sustainability of HIV prevention and treatment programmes.

“It is important for us, as a country that has had a fair share of donor support in the response to an epidemic such as HIV and AIDS, to look beyond the period when the level of assistance would have reduced, or ceased, thus calling for domestic financing for all areas which were on donor support.”

Morwaeng said this is important as the such a plan will guarantee that all the gains accrued from the response with donor support will be sustained until the end when “we reach the elimination of HIV and AIDS as a public health threat by 20230,” he said.

“I commit to continue support efforts towards strengthened HIV prevention, accentuating HIV primary prevention and treatment as prevention towards Zero New Infections, Zero Stigma, Discrimination and Zero AIDS related death, to end AIDS in Botswana.”

He reiterated that government commits to tackle legislative, policy and programming challenges that act as barriers to the achievement of the goal of ending AIDS as a public health threat.

In the financial year 2022/2023, a total of 119 Civil Society Organizations, including Faith Based Organizations, were contracted with an amount of P100 million to implement HIV and NCDs prevention activities throughout the country, and the money was drawn from the Consolidated Fund.

Through an upcoming HIV Prevention Symposium, technical stakeholders will use outcomes to develop the Botswana HIV Prevention Acceleration Road Map for 2023-2025.

Morwaeng stated that government will support and ensure that Botswana plays its part achieving the road map. He said there is need to put hands on the deck to ensure that Botswana sustains progress made so far in the fight against HIV and AIDS.

“There are tremendous achievements thus far to, reach and surpass the UNAIDS fast track targets of 95%- 95%- 95% by the year 2025. As reflected by the BAIS preliminary results of 2021, we now stand at 95- 98- 98 against the set targets.”

“These achievements challenge us to now shift our gears and strive to know who are the remaining 5% for those aware of their HIV status, 2% of enrolment on treatment by those aware of their status and 2% of viral suppression by those on treatment.”

Explaining this further, Morwaeng said shift in gears should extend to coming up with robust strategies of determining where these remaining people are as well as how they will be reached with the necessary services.

“These are just some of the many variables that are required to ensure that as a country, we are well positioned to reaching the last mile of our country’s response to the HIV and AIDS pandemic.”

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