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Central District Chairperson tours region, presents roadmap

The Chairperson of the Central District Council (CDC) Mr Peter Williams has promised to work hard in his two year tenure to ensure that Boteti achieves the status of a township and is awarded developments the region has been longing for.

Speaking at a Kgotla meeting he addressed in Letlhakane recently, he said he had come to Letlhakane to hear residents’ grievances, exchange views as well as share his ambitions roadmap and developmental plans.

He said this was his first meeting with the residents since he assumed office as Chairperson of the vast and sparsely spread Central District.  “Our district is the biggest in Botswana and possibly in Africa with a lot of remote area dwellers, owing to that we are confronted with many challenges as such are I’m here to report to you and seek suggestions on how we can work together to take the region forward” he announced, to a fully packed Letlhakane Kgotla.

He said he is aware of the low levels of developments in Letlhakane and that the village has a sub-standard sewage system, lack of good gravel roads, unreliable water supply, salty and oftentimes unhygienic drinks water and no street lights. He assured the constituents that he had been consulting with relevant authorities to resolve those long standing grievances.

He promised that during his tenure he will lobby all those who wield influence and power to ensure that Letlhakane achieves the status of a township like Orapa and Sowa-Pan “It is about time that this village is converted into a Township that will have an autonomous structure as we see in Sowa-Pan. This is done only to ensure that developments can be delivered timely to residents, I have to admit that this village has lacked behind as compared to other mining zones” he said.

He implored the youth not to rest on their laurels and to fully utilize government programs and initiatives, saying the current government has the best interest of the youth at heart “I arrived here yesterday after addressing Kgotla meeting in Xere and Rakops and I want to tell the youth that one elderly woman complained that you are not fully utilizing the programs we have availed, another elderly lady in Xere even suggested that we should share some of the money allocated towards youth projects with the elderly, as they themselves are ready and willing to work hard to see projects to full fruition, while the youth are lacking behind” he said.

He promised that the CDC will fix internal roads and that the council had recently fixed its machines, he announced that therefore a number of roads in Letlhakane will benefited as they will be upgraded. He said he was committed to small business development in his district and owing to that the Central District Council had recently set up a task force to come up with strategies of improving small businesses as well as create employment for the youth.  

He urged the youth to work hard and preserve so that they can create employment for themselves. He also told the residents that he will be touring several select villages and all the seven Sub-districts in the central region to appraise them on developments and seek their views until there is a clear picture of his roadmap and developmental plans, he said this process will continue until the end of August.

He said poverty eradication programs, LIMID, ISPAD as well as the destitute and orphans programs in Boteti have been rolled out successfully and in his assessment were benefitting the intended beneficiaries and recipients. Saying more than 360 orphans enrolled together with over 1000 destitute persons in Letlhakane.

He said the CDC had been awarded over 652 million pula for developmental purpose and he stands ready to ensure that the money is used proficiently, to the enjoyment and enhancement of overall life for the inhabitants of the central district.

He called for delivery and efficient monitoring of government projects. He said CDC will continue to request for more funds from the central government to augment their meager resources needed to cater for the vast district. Boteti Sub-district chairperson said they also stand ready to support Mr Williams in his noble endeavor to better their district, he said all the concerns brought forward by the constituents will be considered at their next sitting.

He said the dilapidated Letlhakane hospital will be getting a facelift courtesy of Debswana mining company and that the hospital will also be revamped to add extra beds.  

For their part, residents of Letlhakane thanked the Chairperson for his visit and comprehensive presentation, the majority of those who spoke and asked questions supported the idea of Letlhakane being converted into an independent township and begged for more developments in the village.

One of the residents, Mr Michael Thanke asked that street lights be installed in the village with urgency as many people who had come to ply their trade in the mine have brought with them a lot of unsavory habits and crime, he said the police were inundated with cases of violent crime and theft.

He said Letlhakane can no longer afford to be dark when a lot of the mine employees work night shifts putting their lives in danger.  Residents also complained about slow delivery of the SHAA housing scheme, lackadaisical contribution to village development by the mines around the village as well as rampant youth unemployment which they said was a danger to peace and stability.  

The chairperson’s tour of the CDC and its constituent sub-districts has taken him to various villages in the central district which included, Xhomo, Sebina, Gweta, Nata, Masunga among others.  It will also see him traverse the length and breath of the district addressing residents to lay out his roadmap and seek for guidance during his term in office.

Mr Peter Williams ascended to the leadership of the  Central District Council eight month ago taking over from long time CDC chairperson Mr Lesego Raditanka whom he beat by 91 to 81 votes. The CDC has a total of 174 councilors, a few of them had accompanied Mr Williams on his journey, he promised to work diligently together with his team to ensure unhindered delivery of service to Boteti.

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Botswana still weighing in on Maseko’s assassination

27th January 2023

The Minister of Foreign Affairs, Dr. Lemogang Kwape says Botswana has not taken any position regarding the killing of a renowned human rights lawyer, Thulani Maseko, who was gunned down at his house in Mbabane, Eswatini.

In a brief interview with WeekendPost, Dr Kwape said Botswana has not yet taken any position regarding his death. He said the purported incident should be thoroughly probed before Botswana can form an opinion based on the findings of the inquiries.

“Botswana generally condemns any killing of human life by all means,” says Dr. Kwape. He wouldn’t want to be dragged on whether Botswana will support the suspension of Eswatini from SADC.

“We will be guided by SADC organ Troika if they can be an emergency meeting. I am not sure when the meeting will be called by Namibian president,“ he said.

However, the Namibian president Hage Geingob notes with deep concern reports coming out of Eswatini about the killing of Mr. Maseko. In a statement, he called upon the “Government of the Kingdom of Eswatini to ensure that the killing of Maseko is swiftly, transparently and comprehensively investigated, and that any or all persons suspected of committing this heinous crime are brought to justice.”

Maseko was chairperson of the Multi-Stakeholder Forum which was established as a coalition of non-State actors to advocate for a process of national political dialogue aimed at resolving the security and political challenges confronting the Kingdom.

“SADC expresses its deepest and heartfelt condolences to the family of Mr. Maseko, his friends, colleagues, and to the people of the Kingdom of Eswatini for the loss of Mr. Maseko. In this context, SADC further calls upon the people of the Kingdom of Eswatini to remain calm, exercise due care and consideration whilst the appropriate structures conduct the investigations and bring the matter to completion,” the statement says.

Geingob reiterated the need for peaceful resolution of the political and security challenges affecting the country.

Meanwhile political activists are calling on SADC to suspend Eswatini from the block including the African Union as well.

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Kopong Murder: Accused interferes with witnesses again!

27th January 2023

State prosecutor, Seeletso Ookeditse revealed before the Broadhurst Magistrate Jobbie Moilatshimo that the third accused involved in the murder of Barulaganye Aston, has interfered with the State witnesses again.

The second and third accused (Lefty Kosie and Outlwile Aston) were previously accused of interference when they were caught in possession of cellphones in prison. They were further accused of planning to kill the deceased’s brother, who is currently the guardian to the children of the deceased.

Ookeditse indicated that Outlwile had earlier went to challenge the magistrate’s decision of denying him bail at the High Court before Judge Michael Motlhabi.

“The third accused approached the High Court and made a bail application, which was dismissed on the same day,” Ookeditse said.

However, even after the High Court verdict on their bail application, the duo (Kosie and Aston) has once again applied for bail this week.

Ookeditse plead with the court to stop the accused from abusing the court process.

“Yesterday, Directorate of Public Prosecutions (DPP) received papers of his bail application filed before the Broadhurst Magistrates Court. However, the papers do not speak to changed circumstances, therefore this back and forth about bail must be put to a stop,” said the State prosecutor.

While giving evidence before court, the Investigations Officer, Detective Inspector Quite Zhalamonto, said his investigations have proved that there is interference continuing regarding the accused trio.

He told the court that on the 12th of January 2023, he received a report from Thato Aston, who is the son of the accused and the deceased. The son had alleged to the Investigation Officer that he received a call from one Phillip Molwantwa.

According to Zhalamonto, Thato revealed that Molwatwa indicated that he was from prison on a visit to the Outlwile Aston and went on to ask where he was staying and where his siblings (Aston’s children) are staying.

“Thato revealed that Phillip went on to ask if he or his siblings saw their father murdering their mother, and he was referring to the crime scene. Thato told me that he, however, refused to answer the questions as he was afraid especially because he was asked about where him and his siblings stay,” said Zhalamonto.

Zhalamonto alluded to the court that he then went to Orange to confirm the communication between Thato and Molwantwa where he found the case.

“I have arrested Philip yesterday and when I interviewed him, he did not deny that he knows Aston and that he has indeed called Thato and asked questions as to where him and his siblings resides even though he failed to give reasons for asking such questions,” Zhalamonto told the court.

He further revealed that Molwantwa indicated that he had received a call from an unknown man who refused to reveal himself.

“Phillip told me that the unknown man said he was sent by the accused (Aston), and that Aston had instructed him to tell me to check if there was still some money in his bank accounts, and he also wanted to know where the kids were residing, the unknown man even asked him to meet at Main Mall” the Investigation Officer told the court.

He further informed the court that he is working tirelessly to identify the “unknown caller” and the route of the cell number.

Furthermore, the fourth accused, Kebaleboge Ntsebe, has revealed to the court through a letter that she was abused and tortured by the Botswana Police Services. She wrote in her letter that she suffered miscarriage as a result of being beaten by the police.

Ntsebe is on bail, while a bail ruling for Aston and Kosie will be delivered on the 6th of next month

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Ngamiland Cattle Farmers Gain Green Zone Revenue

27th January 2023

Cattle farmers from Eretsha and Habu in the Ngamiland district, supported by the Community Based Trade (CBT) project, recently generated over P300 000.00 for sales of 42 cattle to the Botswana Meat Commission (BMC) in Maun. This milestone was achieved through support from various stakeholders in conservation, commodity-based trade and the government, in collaboration with farmers. Ordinarily, these farmers would not have made this direct sale since the area is a designated Foot and Mouth Disease (FMD) Red Zone.

Traditional livestock farming contributes toward livelihoods and formal employment in the North-West District (Ngamiland) of Botswana. However, primarily due to the increase in FMD outbreaks over the past two decades and predation by wildlife, the viability of livestock agriculture as a source of income has declined in the region. This has led to a greater risk of poverty and food insecurity. Access across the Okavango River (prior to the construction of a bridge) restricted access for farmers in Eretsha. This lack of access hampered sales of cattle beyond Shakawe, further discouraging farmers from investing in proper livestock management practices. This resulted in negative environmental impacts, poor livestock health and productivity.

To address this challenge, farmers are working with a consortium led by Conservation International (CI), with funding secured from the European Union (EU) to pilot a CBT beef project. The project focuses on supporting and enabling communal farmers to comply with standards and regulations that will improve their chances to access markets. An opportunity to earn higher income from cattle sales could incentivize the adoption of restorative rangelands management practices by farmers.

These collaborative efforts being piloted in Habu and Eretsha villages also include the Pro-Nature Enterprises Project for the People of Southern Africa, funded by Agence Française de Développement (AFD) and Le Fonds français pour l’environnement mondial (FFEM). This complementary funding from AFD and FFEM supports the implementation of the Herding4Health (H4H) model and Rangeland Stewardship Agreements across four rangeland sites in Southern Africa, including Habu and Eretsha, to incentivize best practices that could offer sustainability in the long term for livelihoods, conservation and human-wildlife coexistence.

“We spend a lot of money getting our cattle to Makalamabedi quarantine site, the herder spends on average two months taking care of the cattle before they are taken into quarantine – that needs money. All these costs lead to us getting less money from BMC,” said one of the farmers in the programme, Mr Monnaleso Mosanga.

Farmers that participate in the project agree for their cattle to be herded and kraaled communally by fulltime professional herders (eco-rangers). At the core of this pilot is the use of predator-proof bomas (cattle kraals), planned grazing systems and mobile quarantine bomas (electrified enclosures) for the cattle, facilitated in support with the Department of Veterinary Services. The first successful exit from the mobile quarantine bomas in the Habu and Eretsha villages, in December 2022, saw cattle quarantined on-site and directly transported to BMC in Maun. Farmers received almost double the average sales within this region, as costs including transportation to quarantine sites, herder’s fees and other associated costs incurred before qualifying for BMC sales were no longer included.

“This pilot mobile quarantine is leveraging the techniques and protocols we are using at our current permanent quarantine sites, and we are still observing the results of the project. The outcome of this pilot will be presented to the World Organisation of Animal Health to assess its effectiveness and potentially be approved to be used elsewhere,” said Dr Odireleng Thololwane, the Principal Veterinary Officer (Maun).

Through co-financing of almost P1 billion from the Botswana government and Green Climate Fund, these interventions will be replicated, through The Ecosystem Based Adaptation and Mitigation in Botswana’s Communal Rangelands project, across the country. Both projects aim to improve the economic benefits of cattle owners and multitudes of Batswana households, while contributing to land restoration and climate change efforts by the Botswana government

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