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Namibia sents unruly Dukwi refugees back to Botswana

The Botswana government and the United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) were left in shock this  past Thursday when the Namibian government took an unpopular decision to kick out refugees from the Dukwi, Botswana.

Namibia has ordered that the refugees be returned back to the hosting country, Botswana, on accusations that they were peddling politics and dividing the country.

The thirteen refugees from Dukwi who arrived in Zambezi early this week for possible repatriation were ordered to leave Namibia after some of them were engaged in political mobilisation for the United Democratic Party (UDP). The UDP was banned following a government directive on September 1st 2006 banning all the party’s meetings in Namibia.

The UDP is led by exiled political outcast, Mishake Muyongo and seeks to impose a secessionist ideologue on the residents of Zambezi.

The repatriation trip was attended by officials from the Ministry of Defence, Justice and Security as well as a delegation from the UNHCR. The Botswana government delegation was led by Augustine Makgonatsotlhe who is the Secretary of Defence, Justice and Security.

Makgonatsotlhe who told this publication that he was still on his way from the said trip from Namibia confirmed that indeed the Namibian government has taken a decision to bring back some Dukwi refugees who were seen to be politicking.

“It is true that they engaged in political utterances and activities and angered their government. It was a go and see trip which we often conduct with our partners from the UNHCR. The trip is meant to assess the environment and other issues to possible repatriation,” he said.

Makgonatsotlhe could not speculate on the future and the reparcusions of the refugees’ actions saying it was still early to say. “We are just ariving and we cannot say anything for now,” he said.
It is understood that Zambezi Regional Governor, Lawrence Sampofu decided to cancel a planned meeting with the group saying this was due to a veiled attempt by the refugees to advance their secessionist ideas and activities of the banned political project.

The Namibian government has said that the meeting was cancelled after analising the meetings conducted so far; and the views expressed and information disseminated by the refugees in concert with certain traditional authority representatives and members of the communities.

The Namibian government concluded that this is a veiled attempt by the come-and-see refugees to use this platform to continue advancing their position of secessionism and the UDP party interests.

The government further accused some of the traditional authority representatives of supporting the secessionist agenda and for being receptive to subversive sentiments expressed during the visit.

With the ‘banning’ of the UDP of exiled leader, Mishake Muyongo in 2006, Sampofu cautioned against the resuscitation of the party in Namibia which has consistently advocated for an independent region. In their first meeting with Sampofu since arriving, one of the 13 refugees on a familiarisation visit, Felix Kakula, stated they would only return home if they can come back as members of the UDP. At another meeting at the headquarters of Mafwe, chief George Simasiku Mamili on the same day similar secessionist sentiments were also repeated.

Other meetings followed at Liselo, Kasheshe and Nampengu villages on Tuesday. In these meetings some community members and traditional authority representatives reportedly shared the same sentiments, which angered the government.

The refugees were told to pack their bags and leave immediately and were escorted back to the Ngoma border post on Tuesday. More than 3 000 people fled Namibia to Botswana in 1999  in the wake of the failed attempt to secede the then Caprivi from the rest of the country.

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How to fleece P14 million from Chinese investor

27th March 2023

The modus operandi of how five men allegedly swindled a Chinese national P14 million last week continue to unravel. Highly placed sources from the intelligence, the Directorate on Corruption and Economic Crime (DCEC) and Botswana Unified Revenue Services (BURS) revealed to this publication how the whole scam was concocted.

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ENVIRONMENT ISSUES: Masisi asks Virginia for help

24th March 2023

President Mokgweetsi Masisi says the issue of sustainable natural resources management has always been an important part of Botswana’s national development agenda.

Masisi was speaking this week on the occasion of a public lecture at Virginia Polytechnic, under theme, “Merging Conservation, Democracy and Sustainable Development in Botswana.”

Botswana, according to Masisi, holds the view that the environment is fragile and as such, must be managed and given the utmost protection to enable the achievement of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

“It is necessary that we engage one another in the interchange of ideas, perspectives, visualizations of social futures, and considerations of possible strategies and courses of action for sustainable development,” said Masisi.

On the other hand, dialogue, in the form of rigorous democratic discourse among stakeholders presents another basis for reconfiguring how people act on their environments, with a view to conserving its resources that “we require to meet our socio-economic development needs on a sustainable basis,” Masisi told attendees at the public lecture.

He said government has a keen interest in understanding the epidemiology and ecology of diseases of both domestic and wild animals. “It is our national interest to forestall the dire consequences of animal diseases on our communities livelihoods.”

President Masisi hoped that both Botswana and Virginia could help each other in curbing contagious diseases of wildlife.

“We believe that Virginia Tech can reasonably share their experiences, research insights and advances in veterinary sciences and medicines, to help us build capacity for knowledge creation and improve efforts of managing and containing contagious diseases of wildlife. The ground is fertile for entering into such a mutually beneficial partnership.”

When explaining environmental issues further, Masisi said efforts of conservation and sustainable development might at times be hampered by the emergence and recurrence of diseases when pathogens mutate and take host of more than one species.

“Water pollution also kills aquatic life, such as fish, which is one of humanity’s much deserved sources of food. In this regard, One Health Approach imposes ecological responsibility upon all of us to care for the environment and the bio-diversity therein.”

He said the production and use of animal vaccines is an important space and tool for conservation, particularly to deal with trans-border animal diseases.

“In Botswana, our 43-year-old national premier pharmaceutical institution called Botswana Vaccine Institute has played its role well. Through its successful production of highly efficacious Foot and Mouth vaccines, the country is able to contain this disease as well as supply vaccines to other countries in the sub-region.:

He has however declared that there is need for more help, saying “We need more capacitation to deal with and contain other types of microbial that affect both animals and human health.”

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Masisi saddened by deaths of elephant attacks

24th March 2023

President Mokgweetsi Masisi has expressed a strong worry over elephants killing people in Botswana. When speaking in Virginia this week, Masisi said it is unfortunate that Batswana have paid a price with their own blood through being attacked by elephants.

“Communities also suffer unimaginable economic losses yearly when their crops are eaten by the elephants. In spite of such incidents of human-elephant conflict, our people embrace living together with the animals. They fully understand wildlife conservation and its economic benefits in tourism.”

In 2018, Nthobogang Samokwase’s father was attacked by an elephant when travelling from the fields, where he stayed during the cropping season.

It was reported that the man couldn’t run because of his age. He was found trampled by the elephant and was pronounced dead upon arrival at the hospital.

In the same year, in Maun, a 57-year-old British woman was attacked by an elephant at Boro and died upon arrival at the hospital. The woman was with her Motswana partner, and were walking dogs in the evening.

Last month, a Durban woman named Carly Marshall survived an elephant attack while on holiday in the bush in Botswana. She was stabbed by one of the elephant’s tucks through the chest and was left with bruises. Marshall also suffered several fractured ribs from the ordeal.

President Masisi Botswana has the largest population of African elephants in the world, totaling more than 130 000. “This has been possible due to progressive conservation policies, partnerships with the communities, and investment in wildlife management programmes.”

In order to benefit further from wildlife, Masisi indicated that government has re-introduced controlled hunting in 2019 after a four-year pause. “The re-introduction of hunting was done in an open, transparent and democratic way, giving the communities an opportunity to air their views. The funds from the sale of hunting quota goes towards community development and elephant conservation.”

He stressed that for conservation to succeed, the local people must be involved and derive benefits from the natural resources within their localities.

“There must be open and transparent consultations which involve all sectors of the society. It is against this backdrop that as a country, we lead the continent on merging conservation, democracy and sustainable development.”

Masisi stated that Botswana is open to collaborative opportunities, “particularly with identifiable partners such as Virginia Tech, in other essential areas such as conservation, and the study of the interplay among the ecology of diseases of wild animals and plants, and their effects on human health and socio-economic development.”

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