Members of Parliament (MPs) from the ranks of opposition have dismissed the proposed bill before parliament to transform the Botswana College of Agriculture into a fully fledged university to be known as Botswana University of Agriculture and Natural Resources.
Debating the proposed bill this week, opposition MPs were doubtful on whether the transformation will bring better results, owing to the scandals which ensnared the much hyped Botswana International University of Science and Technology (BIUST).
Debating the bill, MP for Gaborone Bonnington South Ndaba Gaolathe expressed concern over whether the university would not degenerate to a situation similar to one experienced by BIUST and as a result bring no meaningful contribution to the country’s economy.
BIUST became the centre of attention amid controversies which ensnared the university leading to resignation, expulsion and internal strife involving high profile members of the university. Gaolathe said the status of university comes with certain high governance standards demand and said government should be willing not to compromise if it were to succeed.
Gaolathe also warned government that the appointment of key people tasked with running of the proposed university should be based purely on excellence rather nepotism, a bad phenomenon which he said has engulfed appointments of key people in government and quasi-government institutions.
MP for Gaborone Central Dr Phenyo Butale said he’s concerned on whether the proposed university will be a fully functioning university or just a change of status. Dr Butale expressed his disappoint that BCA is being transformed into a mainstream university instead of a research oriented university. “Do we need another mainstream university or do we need a research oriented university,” Dr Butale posed.
Dr Butale said it would have made better sense if government considered transforming BCA into a research oriented university so that Botswana will have the privilege of joining other international research oriented universities for dialogue over a variety of issues. Dr Butale said Botswana would then have a chance of becoming a school of excellence on issues of agriculture.
Dr Butale also expressed his concern with intimidation of academics by government officials for holding a divergent view from those of government. “Without academic freedom, scholars will not be able to help you with well-informed and researched information,” he said.
Okavango MP Bagalatia Arone said the introduction of university will have no significant impact if the problems of foot and mouth remain unresolved. The same sentiments were shared by MP for Maun West Tawana Moremi.
Botswana Police Service (BPS) has indicated concern about the ongoing trend where the general public falls victim to criminals purporting to be police officers.
According to BPS Assistant Commissioner, Dipheko Motube, the criminals target individuals at shopping malls and Automated Teller Machines (ATMs) where upon approaching the unsuspecting individual the criminals would pretend to have picked a substantial amount of money and they would make a proposal to the victims that the money is counted and shared in an isolated place.
“On the way, as they stop at the isolated place, they would start to count and sharing of the money, a criminal syndicate claiming to be Criminal Investigation Department (CID) officer investigating a case of stolen money will approach them,” said Motube in a statement.
The Commissioner indicated that the fake police officers would instruct the victims to hand over all the cash they have in their possession, including bank cards and Personal Identification Number (PIN), the perpetrators would then proceed to withdraw money from the victim’s bank account.
Motube also revealed that they are also investigating a case in which a 69 year old Motswana woman from Molepolole- who is a victim of the scam- lost over P62 000 last week Friday to the said perpetrators.
“The Criminal syndicate introduced themselves as CID officers investigating a case of robbery where a man accompanying the woman was the suspect.’’
They subsequently went to the woman’s place and took cash amounting to over P12 000 and further swindled amount of P50 000 from the woman’s bank account under the pretext of the further investigations.
In addition, Motube said they are currently investigating the matter and therefore warned the public to be vigilant of such characters and further reminds the public that no police officer would ask for bank cards and PINs during the investigations.
Botswana Congress Party (BCP) leadership walked out of Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) National Executive Committee (NEC) meeting this week on account of being targeted by other cooperating partners.
UDC meet for the first time since 2020 after previous futile attempts, but the meeting turned into a circus after other members of the executive pushed for BCP to explain its role in media statements that disparate either UDC and/or contracting parties.
The Director General of the Directorate on Corruption and Economic Crimes (DCEC), Tymon Katlholo’s spirited fight against the contentious transfers of his management team has forced the Office of the President to rescind the controversial decision. However, some insiders suggest that the reversal of the transfers may have left some interested parties with bruised egos and nursing red wounds.
The transfers were seen by observers as a badly calculated move to emasculate the DCEC which is seen as defiant against certain objectionable objectives by certain law enforcement agencies – who are proven decisionists with very little regard for the law and principle.