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BOFEPUSU, BFTU unite against Essential services move

The unions lobby MPs to vote against amendment bill

The Botswana Federation of Public Sectors Union (BOFEPUSU) and the Botswana Federation of Trade Union (BFTU) have put aside their differences, and intend to focus their energies on stopping government from passing the Trade Disputes Amendment bill, which is currently before parliament.

The two unions’ animosity has spanned over years, since the formation of BOFEPUSU, established by public sector unions for the purpose of the bargaining council. However, the formation of BOFEPUSU saw some unions de-affiliating from BFTU in favour of the former.

While BOFEPUSU has enjoyed a massive membership compared to BFTU, the latter enjoyed the eminence of being recognised by the International Labour Organization (ILO) as a federation representing unions in Botswana. BOFEPUSU had in the past accused BFTU of misrepresenting workers at the ILO by not reporting ill-treatment subjected to workers by the government of Botswana.

This week, in a rare occasion the two unions were able to share the table to discuss the matter affecting the workers in Botswana. Although the two unions were cagey on revealing if any agreement was reached to end the ‘cold war’ on each other, the officials’ posture signalled that the two former arch-rivals could be on a rekindled relationship.

The Secretary General of BFTU, Gadzani Mhotsha firmly expressed that it was in the interest of workers for all unions in Botswana to unite or find a common ground to work together. “Going forward government could no longer divide the workers,” he stated.

Tobokani Rari, the BOFEPUSU Secretary General also said the decision to address a joint press conference by the two unions was collaboration and shows the beginning of good things, “Everything has where it starts, and it’s not the first time we work together on an issue of common ground,” Rari stated.

The issue of BOFEPUSU and BFTU animosity has not been helped by the fact that the Botswana Public Employees Union (BOPEU), an affiliate of BOFEPUSU has since last year had a troublesome relationship with the Federation. There were efforts by BOPEU leadership to consider ditching BOFEPUSU for BFTU, but the proposal was rejected by delegates at the 2014 Palapye Convention.

BOPEU President, Andrew Motsamai has also publicly stated that his union will start engaging BFTU for collaboration and condemned BOFEPUSU for sidelining BFTU. Motsamai said at a press conference earlier this year that the animosity playing on between BOFEPUSU and BFTU was not helping workers but disadvantaging them.

This week’s impromptu press conference was called on after the two unions learnt about the Trade Dispute Amendment bill which has been put before MPs to be debated and adopted by the current session of parliament. The two unions are opposed to Section 46 and 47 of the Act, which will make scores of government employees’ essential services providers, therefore preventing them from engaging on strikes.

Rari said they are not entirely opposed to the contents of the bill and noted that there are good things which the bill will bring but was uncompromising on the issue of workers being denied their right to withdraw their labour in an event that the employer and unions could not reach an agreement on issues of their welfare. “Workers cannot be denied their fundamental right to strike even if it means that there are allowances that comes with workers being essential services,” said Rari.

Rari said if efforts to lobby MPs failed to produce results, the two unions will report the BDP to ILO to call for its intervention. BOFEPUSU and BFTU have written a letter to the Whips of the political parties represented in parliament including the BDP requesting to address the caucus and inform them about the implication of this amendment bill if passed.

The two unions also submitted a letter to the office of the Speaker of the National Assembly, requesting that they be given opportunity to present at the General Assembly to MPs about the proposed amendment.   

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Fighting vulture poisoning in KAZA region.

3rd February 2023
As a response to avert vulture poisoning currently going on in Botswana and KAZA region, Birdlife Botswana has collaborated with three other partners (BirdWatch Zambia, BirdLife International & Birdlife Zimbabwe) to tackle wildlife poisoning which by extension negatively affect vulture populations.

The Director of Birdlife Botswana, Motshereganyi Virat Kootshositse has revealed in an interview that the project which is funded by European Union’s main goal is to reduce poisoning related vultures’ death and consequently other wildlife species death within the KAZA region.

He highlighted that Chobe district in Botswana has been selected as a pilot site as it has experienced rampant incidents of vulture poisoning for the past few months. In August this year at least 50 endangered white backed vultures were reported dead at Chobe National Park, Botswana after feeding on a buffalo carcass laced with poison.  In November this year again 43 white backed vultures were found dead and two alive after feeding on a zebra suspected to have poisoned.  Other selected pilots’ sites are Kafue in Zambia and Hwange in Zimbabwe.

Kootshositse further explained they have established a national and regional Wildlife Poisoning Committee. He added that as for the national committee they have engaged various departments such as Crop Productions, Agro Chemicals, Department of Veterinary Services, Department of Wildlife and National Parks and other NGOs such as Raptors Botswana to come together and find a long-lasting solution to address wildlife poisoning in Botswana. ‘Let’s have a strategy or a plan together to tackle wildlife poisoning,’ he stated

He also decried that there is gap in the availability of data about vulture poisoning or wildlife in general. ‘If we have a central point for data, it will help in terms of reporting and advocacy’, he stated

He added that the regional committee comprises of law enforcement officers such as BDF and Botswana police, village leadership such as Village Development Committee and Kgosi. ‘We need to join hand together and protect the wildlife we have as this will increase our profile for conservation and this alone enhances our visitation and boost our local economy,’ he noted

Kootshositse noted that Birdlife together with DWNP also addressed series of meeting in some villages in the Chobe region recently. The purpose of kgotla meetings was to raise awareness on the conservation and protection of vultures in Chobe West communities.

‘After realizing that vulture poisoning in the Chobe areas become frequent, we realise that we need to do something about it.  ‘We did a public awareness by addressing several kgotla meetings in some villages in the Chobe west,’ he stated

He noted that next year they are going to have another round of consultations around the Chobe areas and the approach is to engage the community into planning process. ‘Residents should be part of the plan of actions and we are working with farmers committee in the areas to address vulture poisoning in the area, ‘he added

He added that they have found out that some common reasons for poisoning wildlife are farmers targeting predators such as lions in retaliation to killing of their livestock. Another common incident cross border poaching in the Chobe area as poachers will kills an elephant and poison its carcass targeting vultures because of their aerial circling alerting authorities about poaching activities.

Kootshositse noted that in the last cases it was disheartening the incidents occurred three months apart. He added that for the first time they found that some of the body parts of some vultures were missing. He added harvesting of body parts of vultures is not a common practice in Botswana, although it is used in some parts of Africa. ‘We suspect that someone took advantage of the availability of carcasses and started harvesting their body parts,’

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Giant in the making: Everton Mlalazi

3rd February 2023

The music industry is at a point where artists are jostling for space because there are so many aspirants trying to get their big break, thus creating stiff competition.

In the music business it’s about talent and positioning. You need to be at the right place at the right time with the right people around you to propel you forward.
Against all odds, Everton Mlalazi has managed to takeover the gospel scene effortlessly.
To him, it’s more than just a breakthrough to stardom, but a passion as well as mission directly appointed by the Lord.

Within a short space of 2 years after having decided to persue a solo career, Mlalazi has already made it into international music scene, with his music receiving considerable play on several gospel television and radio stations in Botswana including other regional stations like Trace Africa, One Gospel, Metro FM in South Africa, Hope FM in Kenya and literally all broadcast stations in Zimbabwe.

It doesn’t only stop there, as the musician has already been nominated 2 times and 2 awards which are Bulawayo Arts Awards (BAA) best Male artists 2022, StarFM listerners Choice Award, Best Newcomer 2021 and ZIMA Best Contemporary Gospel 2022, MLA awards Best Male artist & Best Gospel Artist 2022.

Everton’s inspiration stems from his ultimate passion and desire to lead people into Godly ways and it seems it’s only getting started.
The man is a gospel artist to put on your radar.

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African countries call on WHO to increase funding

2nd February 2023

Minister of Health Dr Edwin Dikoloti says Africa member states call on World Health Organization (WHO) to ensure equitable resource allocation for 2024-2025. Dr Dikoloti was speaking this week at the WHO Executive Board Meeting in Geneva, Switzerland.

He said countries agreed that there is need to address the budget and funding imbalances by increasing the programme budget share of countries and regions to 75% for the next year.

“The proposed budget for 2024-2025 marks an important milestone as it is the first in Programme Budget in which country offices will be allocated more than half of the total budget for the biennium. We highly welcome this approach which will enable the organization to deliver on its mandate while fulfilling the expectations for transparency, efficiency and accountability.”

The Botswana Health Minister commended member states on the extension of the General Programme of Work (GPD 13) and the Secretariat work to monitor the progress towards the triple billion targets, and the health-related SDGs.

“We welcome the Director’s general proposed five priorities which have crystalized into the “five Ps” that are aligned with the GPW 13 extension. Impact can only be achieved through close coordination with, and support to national health authorities. As such, the strengthening of country offices is instrumental, with particular focus on strengthening national health systems and on promoting more equitable access to health services.”

According to Dr Dikoloti, the majority of countries with UHC index that is below the global median are in the WHO Africa region. “For that, we call on the WHO to enhance capacity at the regional and national levels in order to accelerate progress. Currently, the regional office needs both technical and financial support in order to effectively address and support country needs.”

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