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Thursday, 18 April 2024

Matlhabaphiri back in the mix


He will head the Political education office

Gaotlhaetse Matlhabaphiri will work with Botsalo Ntuane after the former was appointed chairperson of the Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) Political Education Committee (PEEC) this week.

Ntuane is the new secretary general of the ruling party.  The two wrestled each other for the same position at the just ended BDP congress in Mmadinare.

President Lt Gen Ian Khama, through powers vested in him by the BDP constitution, brought back two former secretary generals in Mpho Balopi, the immediate past; and Thato Kwerepe, as appointed members of the central committee. Though Kwerepe represents the North West region, his institutional memory of the BDP office will still be tapped into.

But Balopi is expected to be very critical as an immediate past secretary general.

Though Ntuane finds himself sandwiched, some say this could be a plus for him as the party tries to establish a winning formula ahead of the 2019 general elections.   But the main act in this matrix, Matlhabaphiri is expected to resuscitate the party’s ailing structures across the country.

Those who pushed for Matlhabaphiri’s failed bid to be voted secretary general sold his grassroots mastery of politics, they pointed to the known facts that he was instrumental in setting BDP choirs across the country, and that he has been there before, he knows where to find people who can make the party structures effective again. At some stage some proposed that Ntuane should pull out and deputise Matlhabaphiri, but at the time Ntuane was miles ahead in his campaign.

The naming of Matlhabaphiri as chairman of the PEEC committee is instructive that Ntuane will not have the office all to himself. He will be forced to only act on consensus decisions of the central committee. It is evident also that Ntuane’s campaign team members have not been included in the sub-committees. 

Therefore, the reform agenda was a campaign gimmick and could have remained in Mmadinare. Matlhabaphiri takes over from Mephato Reatile whose tenure was not very fruitful for the BDP, and it is understood that he preferred that a different party member be assigned the portfolio this time around.

As the chairperson of the BDP’s political education and election committee, Reatile was a political kingpin within the ruling party. His most colourful moment was when he ensured victory for Ngaka Ngaka in a Takatokwane bye-election.

Thapelo Fish Pabalinga has been returned to the Publicity and International Relations Committee this time as its chairman. He takes over from Minister of Justice Defence and Security, Shaw Kgathi who is now the deputy secretary general.

Pabalinga, the Managing Director of Leapfrog has first-hand experience on issues of publicity and branding, though some may doubt his political grasp of the rural BDP, he may be what the doctor ordered to ensure that the BDP remains relevant to the young professionals and youth voters.  

Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Relations, Dr Pelonomi Venson-Moitoi will chair the party’s Labour Committee. This is a very critical committee in todays’ politics because it is playing an advisory role between the party and labour unions.

It is expected to hit the ground running as the party and by extension government may find itself dousing fires that would come as a result to the proposed amendment of the Trade Dispute Bill. Venson-Moitoi is seen a conciliatory candidate for the post and may be acceptable to most unions.

Meanwhile Matlhabaphiri is expected to complement both Ntuane and chairman, Vice President Mokgweetsi Masisi. Ntuane a well-respected administrator may find Matlhabaphiri helpful when it comes to spearheading the structures campaign.

Though the two politicians came head to head in the campaign for the position of secretary general, they have been political friends for most of the course. But pundits are adamant that Ntuane’s 22 points reform agenda will not find room under the current climate, because he is more of a loner on that note.

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Nigerians, Zimbabweans apply for Chema Chema Fund

16th April 2024

Fronting activities, where locals are used as a front for foreign-owned businesses, have been a long-standing issue in Botswana. These activities not only undermine the government’s efforts to promote local businesses but also deprive Batswana of opportunities for economic empowerment, officials say. The Ministry of Trade and Industry has warned of heavy penalties for those involved in fronting activities especially in relation to the latest popular government initiative dubbed Chema Chema.

According to the Ministry, the Industrial Development Act of 2019 clearly outlines the consequences of engaging in fronting activities. The fines of up to P50,000 for first-time offenders and P20,000 plus a two-year jail term for repeat offenders send a strong message that the government is serious about cracking down on this illegal practice. These penalties are meant to deter individuals from participating in fronting activities and to protect the integrity of local industries.

“It is disheartening to hear reports of collaboration between foreigners and locals to exploit government initiatives such as the Chema Chema Fund. This fund, administered by CEDA and LEA, is meant to support informal traders and low-income earners in Botswana. However, when fronting activities come into play, the intended beneficiaries are sidelined, and the funds are misused for personal gain.” It has been discovered that foreign nationals predominantly of Zimbabwean and Nigerian origin use unsuspecting Batswana to attempt to access the Chema Chema Fund. It is understood that they approach these Batswana under the guise of drafting business plans for them or simply coming up with ‘bankable business ideas that qualify for Chema Chema.’

Observers say the Chema Chema Fund has the potential to uplift the lives of many Batswana who are struggling to make ends meet. They argue that it is crucial that these funds are used for their intended purpose and not siphoned off through illegal activities such as fronting. The Ministry says the warning it issued serves as a reminder to all stakeholders involved in the administration of these funds to ensure transparency and accountability in their disbursement.

One local commentator said it is important to highlight the impact of fronting activities on the local economy and the livelihoods of Batswana. He said by using locals as a front for foreign-owned businesses, opportunities for local entrepreneurs are stifled, and the economic empowerment of Batswana is hindered. The Ministry’s warning of heavy penalties is a call to action for all stakeholders to work together to eliminate fronting activities and promote a level playing field for local businesses.

Meanwhile, the Ministry of Trade and Industry’s warning of heavy penalties for fronting activities is a necessary step to protect the integrity of local industries and promote economic empowerment for Batswana. “It is imperative that all stakeholders comply with regulations and work towards a transparent and accountable business environment. By upholding the law and cracking down on illegal activities, we can ensure a fair and prosperous future for all Batswana.”










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Merck Foundation and African First Ladies mark World Health Day 2024

15th April 2024

Merck Foundation, the philanthropic arm of Merck KGaA Germany marks “World Health Day” 2024 together with Africa’s First Ladies who are also Ambassadors of MerckFoundation “More Than a Mother” Campaign through their Scholarship and Capacity Building Program. Senator, Dr. Rasha Kelej, CEO of Merck Foundation emphasized, “At Merck Foundation, we mark World Health Day every single day of the year over the past 12 years, by building healthcare capacity and transforming patient care across Africa, Asia and beyond.

I am proud to share that Merck Foundation has provided over 1740 scholarships to aspiring young doctors from 52 countries, in 44 critical and underserved medical specialties such as Oncology, Diabetes, Preventative Cardiovascular Medicine, Endocrinology, Sexual and Reproductive Medicine, Acute Medicine, Respiratory Medicine, Embryology & Fertility specialty, Gastroenterology, Dermatology, Psychiatry, Emergency and Resuscitation Medicine, Critical Care, Pediatric Emergency Medicine, Neonatal Medicine, Advanced Surgical Practice, Pain Management, General Surgery, Clinical Microbiology and infectious diseases, Internal Medicine, Trauma & Orthopedics, Neurosurgery, Neurology, Cardiology, Stroke Medicine, Care of the Older Person, Family Medicine, Pediatrics and Child Health, Obesity & Weight Management, Women’s Health, Biotechnology in ART and many more”.

As per the available data, Africa has only 34.6% of the required doctors, nurses, and midwives. It is projected that by 2030, Africa would need additional 6.1 million doctors, nurses, and midwives*. “For Example, before the start of the Merck Foundation programs in 2012; there was not a single Oncologist, Fertility or Reproductive care specialists, Diabetologist, Respiratory or ICU specialist in many countries such as The Gambia, Liberia, Sierra Leone, Central African Republic, Guinea, Burundi, Niger, Chad, Ethiopia, Namibia among others. We are certainly creating historic legacy in Africa, and also beyond. Together with our partners like Africa’s First Ladies, Ministries of Health, Gender, Education and Communication, we are impacting the lives of people in the most disadvantaged communities in Africa and beyond.”, added Senator Dr. Kelej. Merck Foundation works closely with their Ambassadors, the African First Ladies and local partners such as; Ministries of Health, Education, Information & Communication, Gender, Academia, Research Institutions, Media and Art in building healthcare capacity and addressing health, social & economic challenges in developing countries and under-served communities. “I strongly believe that training healthcare providers and building professional healthcare capacity is the right strategy to improve access to equitable and quality at health care in Africa.

Therefore, I am happy to announce the Call for Applications for 2024 Scholarships for young doctors with special focus on female doctors for our online one-year diploma and two year master degree in 44 critical and underserved medical specialties, which includes both Online Diploma programs and On-Site Fellowship and clinical training programs. The applications are invited through the Office of our Ambassadors and long-term partners, The First Ladies of Africa and Ministry of Health of each country.” shared Dr . Kelej. “Our aim is to improve the overall health and wellbeing of people by building healthcare capacity across Africa, Asia and other developing countries. We are strongly committed to transforming patientcare landscape through our scholarships program”, concluded Senator Kelej.

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Interpol fugitive escapes from Botswana

15th April 2024

John Isaak Ndovi, a Tanzanian national embroiled in controversy and pursued under a red notice by the International Criminal Police Organization (Interpol), has mysteriously vanished, bypassing a scheduled bail hearing at the Extension 2 Magistrate Court in Gaborone. Previously apprehended by Botswana law enforcement at the Tlokweng border post several months earlier, his escape has ignited serious concerns.

Accused of pilfering assets worth in excess of P1 million, an amount translating to roughly 30,000 Omani Riyals, Ndovi has become a figure of paramount interest, especially to the authorities in the Sultanate of Oman, nestled in the far reaches of Asia.

The unsettling news of his disappearance surfaced following his failure to present himself at the Extension 2 Magistrate Court the preceding week. Speculation abounds that Ndovi may have sought refuge in South Africa in a bid to elude capture, prompting a widespread mobilization of law enforcement agencies to ascertain his current location.

In an official communiqué, Detective Senior Assistant Police Commissioner Selebatso Mokgosi of Interpol Gaborone disclosed Ndovi’s apprehension last September at the Tlokweng border, a capture made possible through the vigilant issuance of the Interpol red notice.

At 36, Ndovi is implicated in a case of alleged home invasion in Oman. Despite the non-existence of an extradition treaty between Botswana and Oman, Nomsa Moatswi, the Director of the Directorate of Public Prosecution (DPP), emphasized that the lack of formal extradition agreements does not hinder her office’s ability to entertain extradition requests. She highlighted the adoption of international cooperation norms, advocating for collaboration through the lenses of international comity and reciprocity.

Moatswi disclosed the intensified effort by law enforcement to locate Ndovi following his no-show in court, and pointed to Botswana’s track record of extraditing two international fugitives from France and Zimbabwe in the previous year as evidence of the country’s relentless pursuit of legal integrity.

When probed about the potential implications of Ndovi’s case on Botswana’s forthcoming evaluation by the Financial Action Task Force (FATF), Moatswi reserved her speculations. She acknowledged the criticality of steering clear of blacklisting, suggesting that this singular case is unlikely to feature prominently in the FATF’s assessment criteria.


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