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UDC rejects disgruntled BCP members…

UDC halts recruiting from BCP

The Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) has taken a decision not to entertain recruitment of members from the opposition Botswana Congress Party (BCP) with the view of protecting and respecting the imminent cooperation talks. The ruling Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) predatory attitude towards the BCP has drawn it closer to UDC.

With BCP facing instability in recent times, party members have been decamping in search of new political homes amid disagreement with party leadership over a lot of issues. The bone of contention has been the delicate issue of opposition cooperation.

UDC president Duma Boko revealed recently at a press briefing that they have now adopted a cautious stand when dealing with recruitment of new members to avoid poaching from the BCP. The Leader of the Opposition said the party has deliberately taken that stand to avoid fuelling enmity between UDC and BCP.

Boko said at this point UDC will not celebrate the instability of BCP but will rather advise those members seeking to join UDC to go back to the party and find a solution. The Gaborone Bonnington North lawmaker said there is a tendency of members attacking the former party once they exchange party colours which he said will not be healthy for UDC-BCP relationship.

Boko, who is also the President of Botswana National Front (BNF) said the UDC will rejoice only in welcoming BDP members into their fold, and said that should be the focus of the party going forward. Boko is adamant that very soon the two parties will be able to sit in a negotiation table and commence the cooperation talks once again.

The first step towards opposition unity will be the signing of the Memorandum of Agreement on bye-elections for the two parties to pledge support for one another in the event that a council or parliamentary seat falls vacant and results in a call for a bye-election. The two parties will support the party which got better votes between themselves in that ward or constituency in the general elections.

BCP rejected UDC’s request not to contest in the recent Goodhope-Mabule bye-election citing the latter’s last minute request as the reason for disapproval. However, UDC went on to reclaim the constituency with a landslide victory.

BCP spokesperson and Member of Parliament Dithapelo Keorapetse this week issued a statement confirming that BCP will not contest the upcoming Boswelatlou Ward bye-election in Lobatse. Keorapetse also emphasised that BCP will assist in the best way to make sure UDC retains the seat.

Keorapetse said the decision taken by party leadership is a culmination of both parties’ attempts to forge relations that will usher in an amicable working relationship between the BCP and the UDC. “We hope that this is a step in the right direction as both parties are currently working on a Memorandum of Understanding for the bye-elections across the country, a big step for envisaged opposition cooperation leading to 2019 general elections,” read the statement.

Keorapetse was part of the pro-UDC cooperation faction which won all the Central Committee seats in last month’s elective congress held in Kanye. His team comprised of among others Vice President Dr Kesitegile Gobotswang and Secretary General Kentse Rammidi.

The Selibe Phikwe legislator said BCP believes it is BDP which should be a prime target and encouraged BCP members to have an obligation to do what they have to do to ensure that the opposition retain its seats.

The Boswelatlou Ward bye election will be the first to contest opposition parties undergo with a clear endorsement of each other since last year’s general elections. Despite the new development, opposition was able to win all the five bye-elections held so far even where they contested against each other. BCP has won two council seats, while UDC has been able to win two council seats as well as the recent Goodhope-Mabule parliamentary seat.

The cooperation of opposition parties will spell doom for the ruling party, which despite the status quo ante was not able to benefit from opposition vote splitting in the past general elections.   

UDC will be in pole position to reclaim the Boswelatlou Ward, not only because it won the Ward in last year’s general elections but because of the support that it will benefit from BCP.

UDC won the constituency with a slim margin of two votes through Kabelo Sebako who has since resigned. Sebako garnered 278 votes against Zubeida Raphael of BDP’s 276 votes while Shimane Thelo of BCP got 93 votes. A total of 652 people voted in the ward, and 5 of the casts were spoilt.

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Mental health concern amid COVID-19 pandemic 

24th September 2021
Mental Health

With the advent of COVID-19, mental health and psychosocial has become a major concern around the world. There is   significant increase in the rates of stress, anxiety and depression globally.

In creating awareness and support on mental health and psychosocial support, the Ministry of Local Government & Rural Development, through the Department of Social Protection (DSP) hosted a virtual regional mental health and Psychosocial Support Forum (MHPSS).

The MHPSS Forum brings together stakeholders from different sectors providing Mental Health and Psychosocial Support services particularly to children, youth, families and the workforce, as well as Academia, International Cooperating Partners, Community Implementing Partners and the media.

It aims to facilitate learning, information exchange and advocacy to promote mainstreaming of Mental Health and Psycho-Social Support (PSS) into policies, programmes, services and funding priorities for children and youth in Botswana.

The event is a partnership between The Ministry of Local Government & Rural Development, through the Department of Social Protection (DSP), and the Regional Psychosocial Support Initiative (REPSSI), with Project Concern International Botswana (PCI) and Marang Child Care Network Trust (MCCNT).

The event is held every two years, and Botswana started hosting the Forum in 2014. The theme for this year is ‘Innovate, Integrate, Thrive,’ which prompts us to find new ways to survive the COVID-19 pandemic which we can mainstream into our daily activities.

The Northern Regional Forum in Mahalapye was held on 17-19 August 2021 while the Southern Regional Forum  in  Ghanzi, was  from 21-23 September 2021. Findings from both regions will be presented at the National Forum to be held in Kasane on 12-14 October 2021. The event is held in collaboration with local authorities in each region.

The event is structured in this manner: The first day is a Special Session for Children, where children in the region will talk about the challenges they face that affect their mental health, how they cope and what they think can be done to support them.

The second day is the official opening where the lead ministry gives a keynote address, and presentations from service providers in the region. The third and last day is abstract presentations from different speakers on thematic areas under the theme.

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GMES & Africa Southern Africa to hold a Regional Stakeholder Workshop on Earth Observation Technologies

24th September 2021

The Southern African Science Service Centre for Climate Change and Adaptive Land Management (SASSCAL) in collaboration with the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) will hold a Hybrid GMES and Africa Regional workshop from 27 – 29 September 2021, at Safari Hotel in Windhoek, Namibia.

The Global Monitoring for Environment and Security and Africa (GMES & Africa) Initiative is a programme formed out of mutual cooperation between Africa and Europe with a focus on Earth Observation (EO) systems.

It was formed to respond to the global need to manage the environment, understand and mitigate the effects of climate change and ensure civil security by providing information to policymakers, scientists, private sector and the public. GMES and Africa aims to promote development of local capacities, institutional, human and technical resources for access to and exploitation of Earth Observation (EO) based services on an operational basis for sustainable development in Africa.

In its first phase, GMES has funded 13 consortiums in Africa. In Southern African, SASSCAL-led consortia is implementing the Wetland Monitoring and Assessment Service for Transboundary Basins in Southern Africa (WeMAST) Project while CSIR is leading the Marine and Coastal Operations for Southern Africa (MARCO[1]South). SASSCAL Members of the consortium include the University of Botswana, University of Zambia, Cape Peninsula University of Technology, University of the Western Cape and Midlands State University, South African National Space Agency (SANSA) and the National Remote Sensing Centre (NRSC) of Zambia.

CSIR led consortium includes ABALOBI, Benguela Current Convention, Coastal Oceans Research and Development in the Indian Ocean, Council for Scientific and Industrial Research, National Sea Rescue Institute, University of Dar Es Salaam, University of Eduardo Mondlane and the Western Indian Ocean Marine Science Association).

The workshop will also provide an opportunity to promote and encourage mutual exchanges in terms of sharing best practices, knowledge and experiences as well as allow for the exchange of information and knowledge on new and innovative Earth Observation technologies developed under the programmes and their alignment with the region’s sustainable development strategies.

The workshop will also reveal trends in the use of earth observation data to monitor and assess wetland conditions, threats to sustainable utilisation of wetland resources as well as updating stakeholders on how climate change variability and drought is continually affecting Sub-Saharan Africa’s surface water resources.

The workshop’s envisaged outcomes will be to ensure shared knowledge and understanding of the new and innovative Earth Observation technologies, and their application to society. Expected to visit is a broader pool of international delegates from the two continents (Europe and Africa) both physically and virtual.

This includes the member countries policy makers, line ministers from the SADC countries, public and private sector stakeholders, implementers, Basin Commissions, researchers, and any other stakeholders whose activities are related to coastal areas, rivers, and their ecosystems.

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Vendors ready for the Tobacco Control Bill

21st September 2021

Some vendors have been misled
Vendors thrive on households goods and fresh produce

Despite the previous false allegations that the Tobacco Control Bill will lead to several 20 000 vendors across the country losing their jobs, several local vendors have expressed that they are ready for the bill and because vendors sell mostly household goods

“This is something that we openly accept and receive as street vendors, the problem is some of our counterparts were misled and made to believe that we will not be allowed to sell cigarettes on our stalls.

Some of us got to understand that the bill states that we have to be licensed to sell cigarettes, we are not supposed to sell them to children under the age of 18 years of age and eliminating the selling of single sticks. We understand that this agenda is meant to develop a healthy nation but not take us down,” said Mbimbi Tau a vendor who operates from Mogoditshane.

The Tobacco Control Bill has been passed in several countries and street vendors are operating properly without any challenges faced. Tau further mentioned that there is no way that the Tobacco Control Bill will affect their business operations, all they have to do as vendors are to get the required documentation and do what the bill requires.

Another vendor Busani Selalame who operates from Gaborone Bonnington North was not shy to express his support towards the Tobacco Control Bill, “the problem is that some people within our sector have been misled and now they think that the bill is meant to take our operations down and completely stop selling cigarettes.

I support the fact that we are not supposed to sell cigarettes to children who are under the age of 18 years of age this has always been wrong, as parents we should be cautious of such and ensure that our children are disassociated with cigarettes,” said Selalame.

The Tobacco Control Bill prohibits advertising, promotion and sponsorship by the tobacco industry to prevent messages, cues, and other inducements to begin using tobacco, especially among the youth, to reassure users to continue their use, or that otherwise undermine quitting.

Renowned economist Bakang Ntshingane is of the view that since vendors sell household goods and fresh produce they are likely to keep on making profits despite what the Tobacco Control Bill comes with. He further stated that the Tobacco Control Bill will not be of harm on the local economy since the country does not manufacture or produce any tobacco related products.

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