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Matambo misled parliament – BOPEU

He said BURS strike had no impact on economy

Botswana Public Employees Union (BOPEU) President Andrew Motsamai has accused Minister of Finance and Development Planning Kenneth Matambo of deliberately misleading parliament with regards to the effects of industrial action by Botswana Unified Revenue Services (BURS) employees.

Motsamai told a press briefing this week that the minister was either not well informed about the situation on the ground or deliberately opted to mislead parliament. “What the Minister said confirms a rather sad trend in Government whereby at all material times, Government as the major employer would take its employees and trade unions for granted,” he said.

Matambo told parliament that the ministry of Finance and Development Planning has not yet established the actual loss to the economy and revenue collections due to the ongoing Botswana Unified Revenue Services (BURS) strike.

Motsamai said a significant number of trucks were allowed to enter and, or cross the country without the necessary customs and tax processes. He said it appears the employer is adamant that, visiting and or returning citizens may enter the country unsearched in almost all ports of entries, including our international airports.

“The information that we continue to receive, points to fact that business in general is suffering,” he lamented.  “The usual flow of goods in and outside the country has been seriously interrupted and to a large extend hampered.”

Motsamai concluded that it was not possible at this point in time, not to imagine the amount and level of potential revenue lost due to the Government and BURS Management’s attitude to the workers’ demands.
Minister Matambo informed parliament that any suggestion indicating the extent of damage to the economy as a result of the industrial action will be based on speculation.

The finance minister also quashed any suggestion that the country could have been endangered by the strike due to lack of adequate staff to man the borders during the strike. Matambo said the strike had a minimal impact on security since law enforcement agencies, being the police and immigration departments continued to provide services uninterrupted.

Matambo was responding to a question brought before him by MP for Gaborone Bonnington South Ndaba Gaolathe who wanted the minister to update and brief parliament on the strike, including provision of an assessment on the potential negative impact on the economy and security of Botswana to date.

BURS employees went on strike countrywide two weeks ago following failure to reach an agreement between BURS management and BOPEU, a union representing the workers who were on strike.

Motsamai revealed this week that BOPEU leadership had consulted striking workers and agreed on new tactics to continue frustrating the employer. “Going forward we now intent to embark on an action short of a strike whereat, the industrial action will assume a combination of a go-slow, a sit in, a work to rule approach as well as a two days once a month of total withdrawal of labour,” he said.

The BOEPU president said the change in tactics on their side is based on their desire to mitigate the possible adverse effects experienced by Batswana and visitors going in and out of our ports of entries. “We would not want to assume a similar position of aloofness on the basis that we can pay salaries of the striking workers for the lost days during the strike at the expense of nation,” he said.

BOPEU also announced that they set-up a strike fund four years ago to pay its members during the time when they are on strike and affirmed that what they will be able to pay members who are on strike.

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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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