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Parliament rejects UDC MPs, they plan mass Protests

UDC MPs to address town/city hall meetings countrywide

Opposition Members of Parliament (MPs) intend to embark on mass demonstration across the country in protest against shortage of fresh water and frequent electricity cuts. The proposed demonstrations follow a failed bid to pass a motion calling on government to give the water and electricity shortfalls on SOS status.

The MPs specifically those of the Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) held their first meeting at the civic centre in Gaborone. The meetings will be held nationwide in town halls to discuss the utility crisis with the electorates in an effort to force the Executive to come up with better solutions to this problem.

The Jwaneng/Mabutsane legislator, Shawn Nthaile said the mobilisation of the masses will culminate into a protest petition that would be presented to Parliament at the end of the meetings.

“Our people are not happy. They do not have water and electricity. Our people can no longer express their views through their representatives and we are taking this matter back to the people so that we can carry them with us. We challenge every Motswana who supports civil liberties to come forward. We will continue with the mass action every week that will culminate into a protest petition that will be presented to Parliament,” Nthaile stated during a media briefing in Gaborone this week.

The opposition attempt to get a Parliamentary investigation on the problem was rejected by the majority members of the ruling Botswana Democratic party (BDP) on Tuesday. However the opposition which has a total number of 19 MPs against 41 members of the BDP including 4 specially elected members have vowed to become a challenge to the majority by way of forcing national debate on the matter through the backing of the masses.

“We will march, push and force Parliament to prioritise water and power and put them on the highest agenda table. It is necessary to force this dialogue because our people lack clarity as to what led to the situation, what are the possible solutions and what will be the cost. We have to force this national dialogue in every sector of the society,” Gaolathe explained their plan.

Although some in the BDP are of the view that the opposition is only building their campaign topic ahead of the Goodhope-Mabule by elections, the UDC contends that even if it the subject could be used to convince the masses to rally behind it, the fact of the matter is that people livelihoods are at stake.

One Member of Parliament, Gilbert Mangole of Mochudi West told Parliament that at least one young person was burnt to death after living a candle burning following a power cut. Another MP, Haskins Nkaigwa of Gaborone North alleged that he witnessed an patient dying at Princess Marina hospital in the emergency care unit (ICU) following a power cut. He alleged the generators could not quickly switch on immediately after the power cut.

“Students have been affected, exams are not written, the security and safety of the people is under threat because they are always darkness,” Nkaigwa pointed out in part.

Although the Minister of Minerals, Energy and Water Resources tried to convince Parliament that he is doing all within his power to bring the situation back to normal, the opposition maintains that the problem is now beyond him and requires efforts of all stakeholders.

As it is a known fact that the power crisis is escalated by the continued failure of the Multibillion Pula Morupule power plants the Chinese Embassy in Gaborone has also attempted to help Botswana government explain as to how they intend solving the power crisis.

“ China fully understands the importance of Morupule B power plant project to people’s livelihood and economic development of Botswana, and feels very distressed that the project constructed by a Chinese company cannot be fully operational till today, although the causes are very complicated.

Relevant authorities of the Chinese government have already interviewed the accountable officials of the Chinese company several times, demanding them to come up with a feasible rehabilitation plan and to cooperate with Botswana side to fix the failures completely and as soon as possible. The two sides shall work together to solve this problem as soon as possible,” the Embassy explained this week as the debate raged on in Parliament.

Meanwhile the Botswana Power Corporation continues to ration power supply as they issue load shedding schedule every now and then.

The Botswana Water Utilities Corporation has also indicated that Water would continue to be scarce in the Southern Parts of the country. Unless the Southern regions receives heavy rainfalls in the coming rain season, the South, especially Gaborone will have to wait until the year of the next general elections, 2019 to receive the long promised water from the North which are to be carried through the expensive North South Water Carrier.
According to the WUC, the construction of the over 365km North South Carrier Scheme Project will reach Gaborone in 2019.

“The Over 365 Km North South Carrier Scheme Project II (NSC II) is progressing well. This is a pipeline that will transport water from the newly constructed 400MCM Dikgatlhong Dam in the north to the south of the country to augment supply. Construction of the 78km bulk raw water pipeline from Break Pressure Tank I (BPTI) near Letsibogo Dam to Moralane is completed. The next phase of the project which involves the construction of the 78km from Moralane to Palapye is ongoing and will be completed in the 2014/15 financial year. The scheduled completion date for the NCS II Project to reach Gaborone is 2019.”

Other projects that the WUC is working on include several borehole such as the Masama Well-Field that is expected to inject the water into the south of the country. When fully operational, the well-fields will supply 60 Milli liters a day. The project is ongoing and its completion date is 2014/15 financial year.

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Botswana still weighing in on Maseko’s assassination

27th January 2023

The Minister of Foreign Affairs, Dr. Lemogang Kwape says Botswana has not taken any position regarding the killing of a renowned human rights lawyer, Thulani Maseko, who was gunned down at his house in Mbabane, Eswatini.

In a brief interview with WeekendPost, Dr Kwape said Botswana has not yet taken any position regarding his death. He said the purported incident should be thoroughly probed before Botswana can form an opinion based on the findings of the inquiries.

“Botswana generally condemns any killing of human life by all means,” says Dr. Kwape. He wouldn’t want to be dragged on whether Botswana will support the suspension of Eswatini from SADC.

“We will be guided by SADC organ Troika if they can be an emergency meeting. I am not sure when the meeting will be called by Namibian president,“ he said.

However, the Namibian president Hage Geingob notes with deep concern reports coming out of Eswatini about the killing of Mr. Maseko. In a statement, he called upon the “Government of the Kingdom of Eswatini to ensure that the killing of Maseko is swiftly, transparently and comprehensively investigated, and that any or all persons suspected of committing this heinous crime are brought to justice.”

Maseko was chairperson of the Multi-Stakeholder Forum which was established as a coalition of non-State actors to advocate for a process of national political dialogue aimed at resolving the security and political challenges confronting the Kingdom.

“SADC expresses its deepest and heartfelt condolences to the family of Mr. Maseko, his friends, colleagues, and to the people of the Kingdom of Eswatini for the loss of Mr. Maseko. In this context, SADC further calls upon the people of the Kingdom of Eswatini to remain calm, exercise due care and consideration whilst the appropriate structures conduct the investigations and bring the matter to completion,” the statement says.

Geingob reiterated the need for peaceful resolution of the political and security challenges affecting the country.

Meanwhile political activists are calling on SADC to suspend Eswatini from the block including the African Union as well.

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Kopong Murder: Accused interferes with witnesses again!

27th January 2023

State prosecutor, Seeletso Ookeditse revealed before the Broadhurst Magistrate Jobbie Moilatshimo that the third accused involved in the murder of Barulaganye Aston, has interfered with the State witnesses again.

The second and third accused (Lefty Kosie and Outlwile Aston) were previously accused of interference when they were caught in possession of cellphones in prison. They were further accused of planning to kill the deceased’s brother, who is currently the guardian to the children of the deceased.

Ookeditse indicated that Outlwile had earlier went to challenge the magistrate’s decision of denying him bail at the High Court before Judge Michael Motlhabi.

“The third accused approached the High Court and made a bail application, which was dismissed on the same day,” Ookeditse said.

However, even after the High Court verdict on their bail application, the duo (Kosie and Aston) has once again applied for bail this week.

Ookeditse plead with the court to stop the accused from abusing the court process.

“Yesterday, Directorate of Public Prosecutions (DPP) received papers of his bail application filed before the Broadhurst Magistrates Court. However, the papers do not speak to changed circumstances, therefore this back and forth about bail must be put to a stop,” said the State prosecutor.

While giving evidence before court, the Investigations Officer, Detective Inspector Quite Zhalamonto, said his investigations have proved that there is interference continuing regarding the accused trio.

He told the court that on the 12th of January 2023, he received a report from Thato Aston, who is the son of the accused and the deceased. The son had alleged to the Investigation Officer that he received a call from one Phillip Molwantwa.

According to Zhalamonto, Thato revealed that Molwatwa indicated that he was from prison on a visit to the Outlwile Aston and went on to ask where he was staying and where his siblings (Aston’s children) are staying.

“Thato revealed that Phillip went on to ask if he or his siblings saw their father murdering their mother, and he was referring to the crime scene. Thato told me that he, however, refused to answer the questions as he was afraid especially because he was asked about where him and his siblings stay,” said Zhalamonto.

Zhalamonto alluded to the court that he then went to Orange to confirm the communication between Thato and Molwantwa where he found the case.

“I have arrested Philip yesterday and when I interviewed him, he did not deny that he knows Aston and that he has indeed called Thato and asked questions as to where him and his siblings resides even though he failed to give reasons for asking such questions,” Zhalamonto told the court.

He further revealed that Molwantwa indicated that he had received a call from an unknown man who refused to reveal himself.

“Phillip told me that the unknown man said he was sent by the accused (Aston), and that Aston had instructed him to tell me to check if there was still some money in his bank accounts, and he also wanted to know where the kids were residing, the unknown man even asked him to meet at Main Mall” the Investigation Officer told the court.

He further informed the court that he is working tirelessly to identify the “unknown caller” and the route of the cell number.

Furthermore, the fourth accused, Kebaleboge Ntsebe, has revealed to the court through a letter that she was abused and tortured by the Botswana Police Services. She wrote in her letter that she suffered miscarriage as a result of being beaten by the police.

Ntsebe is on bail, while a bail ruling for Aston and Kosie will be delivered on the 6th of next month

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Ngamiland Cattle Farmers Gain Green Zone Revenue

27th January 2023

Cattle farmers from Eretsha and Habu in the Ngamiland district, supported by the Community Based Trade (CBT) project, recently generated over P300 000.00 for sales of 42 cattle to the Botswana Meat Commission (BMC) in Maun. This milestone was achieved through support from various stakeholders in conservation, commodity-based trade and the government, in collaboration with farmers. Ordinarily, these farmers would not have made this direct sale since the area is a designated Foot and Mouth Disease (FMD) Red Zone.

Traditional livestock farming contributes toward livelihoods and formal employment in the North-West District (Ngamiland) of Botswana. However, primarily due to the increase in FMD outbreaks over the past two decades and predation by wildlife, the viability of livestock agriculture as a source of income has declined in the region. This has led to a greater risk of poverty and food insecurity. Access across the Okavango River (prior to the construction of a bridge) restricted access for farmers in Eretsha. This lack of access hampered sales of cattle beyond Shakawe, further discouraging farmers from investing in proper livestock management practices. This resulted in negative environmental impacts, poor livestock health and productivity.

To address this challenge, farmers are working with a consortium led by Conservation International (CI), with funding secured from the European Union (EU) to pilot a CBT beef project. The project focuses on supporting and enabling communal farmers to comply with standards and regulations that will improve their chances to access markets. An opportunity to earn higher income from cattle sales could incentivize the adoption of restorative rangelands management practices by farmers.

These collaborative efforts being piloted in Habu and Eretsha villages also include the Pro-Nature Enterprises Project for the People of Southern Africa, funded by Agence Française de Développement (AFD) and Le Fonds français pour l’environnement mondial (FFEM). This complementary funding from AFD and FFEM supports the implementation of the Herding4Health (H4H) model and Rangeland Stewardship Agreements across four rangeland sites in Southern Africa, including Habu and Eretsha, to incentivize best practices that could offer sustainability in the long term for livelihoods, conservation and human-wildlife coexistence.

“We spend a lot of money getting our cattle to Makalamabedi quarantine site, the herder spends on average two months taking care of the cattle before they are taken into quarantine – that needs money. All these costs lead to us getting less money from BMC,” said one of the farmers in the programme, Mr Monnaleso Mosanga.

Farmers that participate in the project agree for their cattle to be herded and kraaled communally by fulltime professional herders (eco-rangers). At the core of this pilot is the use of predator-proof bomas (cattle kraals), planned grazing systems and mobile quarantine bomas (electrified enclosures) for the cattle, facilitated in support with the Department of Veterinary Services. The first successful exit from the mobile quarantine bomas in the Habu and Eretsha villages, in December 2022, saw cattle quarantined on-site and directly transported to BMC in Maun. Farmers received almost double the average sales within this region, as costs including transportation to quarantine sites, herder’s fees and other associated costs incurred before qualifying for BMC sales were no longer included.

“This pilot mobile quarantine is leveraging the techniques and protocols we are using at our current permanent quarantine sites, and we are still observing the results of the project. The outcome of this pilot will be presented to the World Organisation of Animal Health to assess its effectiveness and potentially be approved to be used elsewhere,” said Dr Odireleng Thololwane, the Principal Veterinary Officer (Maun).

Through co-financing of almost P1 billion from the Botswana government and Green Climate Fund, these interventions will be replicated, through The Ecosystem Based Adaptation and Mitigation in Botswana’s Communal Rangelands project, across the country. Both projects aim to improve the economic benefits of cattle owners and multitudes of Batswana households, while contributing to land restoration and climate change efforts by the Botswana government

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