In a historic event that put on view a public art which is an element of tourism at the Sir Seretse Khama Airport (SSKB), President Khama unveiled a multimillion pula sculpture which resembles a life-size elephant made of ivory. The sculpture is a symbol of Botswana’s position in the protection of its natural resources, particularly the management and protection of the country’s valued elephant resources.
The 2, 5 life-size elephant sculpture, made entirely of ivory tasks which are reportedly of elephants which died from natural causes will greet visitors arriving at the airport. The sculpture was designed at the cost of over P200 000 with assistance of Thapong Visual Centre artists.
While officiating at the event, president Khama said the sculpture was intended to raise the country’s collective consciousness about the plight confronting the African elephant. The most recent estimate of elephant numbers in Africa, from 2007, is between 472,000 and 600,000 and around a third of them are within the borders of Botswana.
Poaching of elephants has increased in the past three years with the rising demand for Ivory in Asia, mostly China. On average, only 38 elephants are killed by poachers in Botswana. The erection and placement of the significant sculpture at Botswana’s capital City airport is symbolic, as it represents the international dimension of the illegal ivory trade.
According to President Khama much of the ivory that leaves the borders of African elephant range states find its way out in the cargo holds of aircraft and the baggage of passengers and warned airport employees to help curb this crime.
The president commended the efforts by Prince William and the Royal Foundation, who recently set up a task force that will work to shut down the transport arteries of the criminal syndicates who run the illegal ivory trade.
Khama also called upon countries that conserve elephants—the range states—in Africa to join the Elephant Protection Initiative. Launched by the Botswana government, this project strives, among other things, to close all domestic ivory markets. “Legal ivory trade cannot and must not be used to launder the illegal ivory in the hands of the criminal syndicates,” he said.
Credit was given to the six Thapong artists who worked on the ivory sculpture which took them three full months under the coordination of one Joseph Piet.
Khama congratulated all those involved in the work. He said the elephant “will serve as a reminder to all who pass through this building that one live elephant is worth so much more than all the pieces of art made from ivory gathering dust in homes far removed from the African plains.”
MEWT Minister, Tshekedi Khama whose ministry is responsible for environmental and sustainable development was previously quoted in media reports saying that the country decided not to burn the ivory like other countries but instead put it to good use and recognise the role of elephants in the country’s biodiversity. “If we burn the ivory, it is almost like we never cared about the animals,” he had said.
Poaching of elephants is one of the biggest challenges faced by the ministry. The country however enjoys a relatively better record for protection of its wildlife against poaching.
The Government of Botswana convened a summit to discuss the plight of the African elephant with the International Union for Conservation of Nature in December 2013.
While there is no hard-and-fast rule in politics, former Molepolole North Member of Parliament, Mohamed Khan says populism acts in the body politic have forced him to quit active partisan politics. He brands this ancient ascription of politics as fake and says it lowers the moral compass of the society.
Khan who finally tasted political victory in the 2014 elections after numerous failed attempts, has decided to leave the ‘dirty game’, and on his way out he characteristically lashed at the current political leaders; including his own party president, Advocate Duma Boko. “I arrived at this decision because I have noticed that there are no genuine politics and politicians. The current leaders, Boko and President Dr Mokgweetsi Masisi are fake politicians who are just practicing populist politics to feed their egos,” he said.
Former Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) parliamentary hopeful, Lawrence Ookeditse has rejected the idea of taking up a crucial role in the Botswana Patriotic Front (BPF) Central Committee following his arrival in the party this week. According to sources close to development, BPF power brokers are coaxing Ookeditse to take up the secretary general position, left vacant by death of Roseline Panzirah-Matshome in November 2020.
Ookeditse’s arrival at BPF is projected to cause conflicts, as some believe they are being overlooked, in favour of a new arrival. The former ruling party strategist has however ruled out the possibility of serving in the party central committee as secretary general, and committed that he will turn down the overture if availed to him by party leadership.
Ookeditse, nevertheless, has indicated that if offered another opportunity to serve in a different capacity, he will gladly accept. “I still need to learn the party, how it functions and all its structures; I must be guided, but given any responsibility I will serve the party as long as it is not the SG position.”
“I joined the BPF with a clear conscious, to further advance my voice and the interests of the constituents of Nata/Gweta which I believe the BDP is no longer capable to execute.” Ookeditse speaks of abject poverty in his constituency and prevalent unemployment among the youth, issues he hopes his new home will prioritise.
He dismissed further allegations that he resigned from the BDP because he was not rewarded for his efforts towards the 2019 general elections. After losing in the BDP primaries in 2018, Ookeditse said, he was offered a job in government but declined to take the post due to his political ambitions. Ookeditse stated that he rejected the offer because, working for government clashed with his political journey.
He insists there are many activists who are more deserving than him; he could have chosen to take up the opportunity that was before him but his conscious for the entire populace’s wellbeing held him back. Ookeditse said there many people in the party who also contributed towards party success, asserting that he only left the BDP because he was concerned about the greater good of the majority not individualism purposes.
According to observers, Ookeditse has been enticed by the prospects of contesting Nata/Gweta constituency in the 2024 general election, following the party’s impressive performance in the last general elections. Nata/Gweta which is a traditional BDP stronghold saw its numbers shrinking to a margin of 1568. BDP represented by Polson Majaga garnered 4754, while BPF which had fielded Joe Linga received 3186 with UDC coming a distant with 1442 votes.
There are reports that Linga will pave way for Ookeditse to contest the constituency in 2024 and the latter is upbeat about the prospects of being elected to parliament. Despite Ookeditse dismissing reports that he is eying the secretary general position, insiders argue that the position will be availed to him nevertheless.
Alternative favourite for the position is Vuyo Notha who is the party Deputy Secretary General. Notha has since assumed duties of the secretariat office on the interim basis. BPF politburo is expected to meet on 25th of January 2020, where the vacancy will be filled.
Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) big wigs have decided to cancel a retreat with the party legislators this weekend owing to increasing numbers of Covid-19 cases. The meeting was billed for this weekend at a place that was to be confirmed, however a communique from the party this past Tuesday reversed the highly anticipated meeting.
“We received a communication this week that the meeting will not go as planned because of rapid spread of Covid-19,” one member of the party Central Committee confirmed to this publication. The gathering was to follow the first of its kind held late last year at party Treasurer Satar Dada’s place.