Boitekanelo College represents the aspirations of economic diversification, citizen empowerment, quality education, employment creation, and human resource development – all in one basket!
This is one project Botswana should pride herself with in bridging the education gap as well as domesticating healthcare training.
In life most people have dreams of achieving epic things in their lifetimes but the dreams remain just that: dreams. However a very small segment of people will usually cross the Rubicon and do all that is necessary to achieve what they believe is their life purpose, changing lives in the process.
Way back in the early 2000s when there was an acute shortage of healthcare workers and the cruel hand of the HIV/AIDS was showing its hand, young medical doctors, Tiro Mampane and Gagoitsewe Saleshando set out to help Government plug the gap that existed by creating a new pool of healthcare workers that would serve all industries.
In a an exclusive interview this week, Dr Mampane, who worked at Princess Marina Hospital two years before going into private practice, decided to venture into healthcare business after ‘getting bored’ with the medical aspect of his work and in turn, went into the business side of it.
Mampane said that having been trained outside Botswana’s borders, together with Dr Saleshando, they were exposed to healthcare environments that were defined, with different role players doing work within the sector that they were trained for, unlike in Botswana where nurses are burdened with nearly all duties that are to be performed in a healthcare environment.
“All the programmes that we introduce are industry driven, we go out to the industry, including the mines because we do not want our students to be unemployed; we do a lot of stakeholder engagement. Our advantage is that it is a well fact that worldwide, ratio of health care providers to people needing the services is not enough and that is the need that we are addressing, unlike maybe other programmes offered at other institutions, which are possibly flooded with graduates.”
Mampane said: So far, we have close to 40 of our graduates at Gaborone Private Hospital and also about 40 at Bokamoso Private Hospital and private practices also use our graduates.”
“We are even training for Zambia and we will be receiving more students soon. The need for healthcare services is pronounced all over, even in the first world countries. In our industry confidentiality is very important,” said Mampane highlighting the need for properly trained administrators, and auxiliary services providers in a healthcare system, to know the right etiquette, professionalism and confidentiality, adding that healthcare sometimes starts right from the time a patient makes a call to the care giver, in an emergency situation.
“When we started our business, we didn’t even have trained paramedics in this country and emergency care operators were hiring just anybody,” said Mampane.
“Just to share with other entrepreneurs, you must know that even if you have this big dream, don’t say that you will start with that big dream otherwise you will never start; you have to start small knowing where you want to be one day.”
According to Mampane, winners are those who start, otherwise you will always plan. “So we started with one programme and very few employees but I can tell you that right now we employ over 200 people, we have two campuses and we are offering courses for certificates, diplomas and degrees,” said Mampane, emphatically.
Mampane said that indeed, the perception in Botswana towards Batswana who come up with solutions for problems that exist in the country and present them to Government, is very different from when you arrive in the country as a foreigner, particularly if you are white.
“We had a hard time getting accreditation from the then BOTA: they saw us as these young boys and they could not really understand what we are trying to do and it was that time that the perception was that young people get financial assistance and immediately buy expensive cars. However, it is important to mention that right now they are very supportive.”
The most important factors for doing business, according to Mampane, besides dedication and commitment, are stakeholder engagement.
Boitekanelo College is a mammoth achievement by any terms. All the linkages for success were present, including: a real need for healthcare workers and administrators, both in Botswana, the region and Africa as a whole; the promoters of the vision, Drs Mampane and Saleshando, were willing to draw expertise from other professions and give rewards that were commensurate with the input; Government as a facilitator, finally listened to the concept and gave all the support.
Dr Tiro Mampane told WeekendPost that it was very difficult to get the attention of authorities, such as the Ministry of Health as well as the authoriser of trainers, the then Botswana Training Authority, now Botswana Qualifications Authority. “If you want to go fast travel alone; but if you want to travel far, go with others,” said Mampane, quoting a famous philosopher.
Mampane said that they did not have finance as is common with nearly all start ups but they got help from angel investors, particularly one Wendy Mookodi, who he still holds in high regard. He said that they were not afraid to recruit from established institutions, professionals who would bring their expertise to make the venture a success.
After eight years of being in existence, a P40 million pula campus facility in Tlokweng, two annual global healthcare conferences, a near complete school of nursing and over 2000 graduates later, the next frontier for the College to acquire University status, something that Dr Mampane says was College is well placed to do that after three years: “In terms of the number of faculties and students, we qualify to be a university; as for the number of years in existence, we will be in a position to be a university in three years time. In fact we have that strategy in place to become a university at that time,” said Dr Mampane.
Mampane also said that as an institution, they have acquired a 12 hectare piece of land in Mogoditshane and are awaiting necessary approvals to build a campus with a training hospital, student accommodation and other facilities, by the year 2020.
As a parting shot, Mampane expressed his thankfulness for having been given the opportunity by Government to carry the mantle in healthcare education hence the reason to employ a majority of Batswana, which stands at 98 percent at Boitekanelo College.
The Directorate of Public Prosecutions (DPP)’s decision to reject and appeal the High Court’s verdict on a case involving High Court Judge, Dr Zein Kebonang has frustrated the Judicial Service Commission (JSC) and Judge Kebonang’s back to work discussions.
JSC and Kebonang have been in constant discussions over the latter’s return to work following a ruling by a High Court panel of judges clearing him of any wrong doing in the National Petroleum Fund criminal case filed by the DPP. However the finalization of the matter has been hanged on whether the DPP will appeal the matter or not – the prosecution body has since appealed.
Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) top brass has declined a request by Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) to negotiate the legal fees occasioned by 2019 general elections petition in which the latter disputed in court the outcome of the elections.
This publication is made aware that UDC Vice President Dumelang Saleshando was left with an egg on his face after the BDP big wigs, comprising of party Chairman Slumber Tsogwane and Secretary General Mpho Balopi rejected his plea.
“He was told that this is a legal matter and therefore their (UDC) lawyer should engage ours (BDP) for negotiations because it is way far from our jurisdiction,” BDP Head of Communications, Kagelelo Kentse, told this publication.
This spelt doom for the main opposition party and Saleshando who seems not to have confidence and that the UDC lawyers have the dexterity to negotiate these kind of matters. It is not clear whether Saleshando requested UDC lawyer Boingotlo Toteng to sit at the table with Bogopa Manewe, Tobedza and Co, who are representing the BDP to strike a deal as per the BDP top echelons suggested.
“From my understanding, the matter is dealt with politically as the two parties are negotiating how to resolve it, but by far nothing has come to me on the matter. So I believe they are still substantively engaging each other,” Toteng said briefly in an interview on Thursday.
UDC petitioners saddled with costs after mounting an unprecedented legal suit before the court to try and overturn BDP’s October 2019 victory. The participants in the legal matter involves 15 parliamentary candidates’ and nine councillors. The UDC petitioned the court and contested the outcome of the elections citing “irregularities in some of the constituencies”.
In a brief ruling in January 2020, Judge President Ian Kirby on behalf of a five-member panel said: “We have no jurisdiction to entertain these appeals. These appeals must be struck out each with costs including costs of counsel”. This was a second blow to the UDC in about a month after their 2019 appeals were dismissed by the High Court a day before Christmas Day.
This week BDP attorneys decided to attach UDC petitioners’ property in a bid to settle the debts. UDC President Duma Boko is among those that will see their property being attached with 14 of his party members. “We have attached some and we are on course. So far, Dr. Mpho Pheko (who contested Gaborone Central) and that of Dr, Micus Chimbombi (who contested Kgalagadi South) will have their assets being sold on the 5th of February 2021,” BDP attorney Basimane Bogopa said.
Asked whether they met with UDC lawyers to try solve the matter, Bogopa said no and added. “Remember we are trying to raise the client’s funds, so after these two others will follow. Right now we are just prioritising those from Court of Appeal, as soon as the high court is done with taxation we will attach.”
Saleshando, when contacted about the outcomes of the meeting with the BDP, told WeekendPost that: “It would not be proper and procedural for me to tell you about the meeting outcomes before I share with UDC National Executive Committee (NEC), so I will have to brief them first.”
UDC NEC will meet on the 20th of next month to deal with a number of thorny issues including settling the legal fees. Negotiations with other opposition parties- Alliance for Progressives and Botswana Patriotic Front (BPF) are also on the agenda.
Currently, UDC has raised P44 238 of the P565 000 needed to cover bills from the Court of Appeal (CoA). This is the amount in a UDC trust account which is paltry funds equating 7.8 per cent of the overall required money. In the past despite the petitioners maintaining that there was promise to assist them to settle legal fees, UDC Spokesperson, Moeti Mohwasa then said the party has never agreed in no way to help them.
“We have just been put in debt by someone,” one of the petitioners told this publication in the past. “President’s (Duma Boko) message was clear at the beginning that money has been sourced somewhere to help with the whole process but now we are here there is nothing and we are just running around trying to make ends meet and pay,” added the petitioner in an interview UDC NEC has in December last year directed all the 57 constituencies to each raise a minimum of P10, 000. The funds will be used to settle debts that are currently engulfing the petitioners with Sheriffs, who are already hovering around ready to attach their assets.
The petitioners, despite the party intervention, have every right to worry. “This is so because ‘the deadline for this initiative (P10, 000 per constituency) is the end of the first quarter of this year (2021),” a period in which the sheriffs would have long auctioned the properties.
President of the Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) Duma Boko’s alliance with former President Lt Gen Ian Khama continues to unsettle some quarters within the opposition collective, who believe the duo, if not managed, will once again result in an unsuccessful bid for government in 2024.
While Khama has denied that he has undeclared preference to have Boko remaining as leader of UDC, many believe that the two have a common programme, while other opposition leaders remain on the side-lines.