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.
In a classic and shocking case of disgrace and dishonour to this country, the law enforcement agencies are currently struggling to cover up a damaging and humiliating scandal of having conspired to forge the signature of a Palapye Chief Magistrate, Rebecca Motsamai in an unlawful acquisition of the much-publicised 2019 warrant of arrest against Isaac Kgosi, the former director of the Directorate of Intelligence Services (DIS).
The cloak-and-dagger arrest was led by the DIS director, Brigadier Peter Magosi supported by the Botswana Police, Botswana Defence Force (BDF), with the Botswana Unified Revenue Services (BURS) which accused Kgosi of tax evasion, in the backseat.
Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) constituent members are struggling to reach an agreement over the allocation of wards for the imminent ward by-elections across the country.
Despite a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC), Botswana Patriotic Front (BPF) and Alliance for Progressives (AP) are said to be active, but the nitty-gritties are far from being settled.
The eight bye-elections will be a precursor of a somewhat delayed finalisation of the brittle MoU. The three parties want to draw a plan on how and who will contest in each of the available wards.
This publication has gathered that the negotiations will not be a run off the mill because there is already an impasse between the Botswana Congress Party (BCP) which is a UDC constituent and AP (currently negotiating to join umbrella).
The by-elections joint committee met last week at Cresta President Hotel in a bid to finalise allocation but nothing tangible came out of the gathering, sources say.
The cause of the stalemate according to those close to events, is the Metsimotlhabe Ward which the two parties have set their eyes on.
In 2019, he ward was won by Botswana Democratic Party’s (BDP) Andrew Sebobi who unfortunately died in a tragic accident in February last year.
Sebobi had convincingly won by 1 109 votes in the last elections; and was trailed by Sephuthi Thelo of the UDC trailed him with 631 votes; while Alliance for Progressives’ Innocent Moamogwe got 371 votes.
Thelo is a BCP candidate and as per UDC norm, incumbency prevails meaning that the BCP will contest since they were runners up. On the other hand, AP has also raised its hand for the same.
“AP asked for it on the basis that they have a good candidate but BCP did not agree to that request also arguing they have a better contestant,” one UDC member confided to this publication.
Notwithstanding Metsimotlhabe Ward squabble, it is said the by-election talks are almost a done deal, with Botswana National Front (BNF) tipped to take Boseja South ward in Mochudi East constituency. Botswana Patriotic Front (BPF) will be awarded Tamasane Ward in Lerala/Maunatlala constituency, sources say.
“But the agreement has to be closed by National Executive Committee (NEC),” emphasized the informant.
The NEC is said to have been cautioned not to back the wrong horse but rather rate with reason and facts.
UDC President, Duma Boko has told this publication that, “allocation is complete with two wards already awarded but with only one yet to be finalized,” he could not dwell into much details as to which party got what and the reasons for the delay in finalisation.
Chairperson of the by-elections committee, Dr. Phenyo Butale responded to this publication regarding the matter: “As AP we contested and as you may be aware we signed the MoU with UDC and BPF to collaborate on bye-elections. The opposition candidate for all bye-elections will be agreed by these parties and that process is still ongoing,” he said when asked if AP is interested on the ward and how far with the talks on bye-elections.
Butale, a former Gaborone Central Member of Parliament, who is also AP Secretary General continued to say, “As the chairperson of the bye-elections committee we are still seized with that matter. We should also do some consultations with the local structures. Once the process is complete we will issue a notice for now we cannot talk about the other two while the other is still pending the other one”.
Butale further clarified: “There is no such thing as AP and BCP not in agreement. It is an issue of signatories discussing and determining the opposition candidates across the three wards.”
Apart from the three wards, there are five more council wards that UDC is yet to allocate to cooperating partners.
FROM PALAPYE MEET: BPP CAUTION NEC MEMBERS
With the UDC cheerful from last weekend’s meeting in Palapye, the meeting however was very tense on the side of both BCP and BNF, with only BPP flexing its muscle and even lashing out.
BCP going into the meeting, had promised to ask difficult questions to the UDC NEC.
BCP VP and also acting Secretary General, Dr. Kesitegile Gobotswang, presented their qualms which were addressed by UDC Chairperson Motlatsi Molapisi, informants say.
It is said Molapisi is fed up and concerned by some UDC members especially those in the NEC who ‘wash party’s dirty linen in public’.
Insiders say the veteran politician cautioned the NEC members that they “will not expel any party but individuals who tarnish the image of the UDC.”
It is not the first time BPP play a paternalistic role as it once expressed its discontent with BCP in 2020, saying it should never wash UDC linen in public.
At first it is said, BPP, the oldest political formation in Botswana, claims disappointment on BCP stance that UDC should be democratised especially by sharing their stand with the media. Again, BPP was not happy with BCP leader Dumelang Saleshando’s decision to air his personal views on social media regarding the merger of UDC party.
Botswana Police Service (BPS) Commissioner, Keabetswe Makgophe, has of late been dousing raging fires from various quarters of society following the infiltration of the police fingerprint system by the Directorate on Intelligence and Security (DIS), WeekendPost has learnt.
Fresh information gleaned from a number of impeccable sources, points to a pitiable working relationship between the two state organs. Cause of concern is the DIS continuous big brother role to an extent that it is now interfering with other institutions’ established mandates.
BPS which works closely with the DIS has been left exasperated by the works of the institution formed in 2008. It is said, the DIS through its Information Technology (IT) experts in collusion with some at BPS forensics department managed to infiltrate the Fingerprint system.
The infiltration, according to those in the know, was for the DIS to “teach a lesson” to some who are on their radar. It is said the DIS is playing and fighting dirty to win the fights they have lost before.
By managing to hack the police finger print system, a number of renowned businessmen and other politically exposed persons found their fingers in the system. What surprised the victims is the fact that they have never been charged of any wrongdoing by the police and they were left reeling in shock to learn that their fingers are on the data-base of criminals.
In fact, some of those who their fingerprints were falsely included in the records of those on the wrong side of law learnt later when other errands demanded their fingerprints.
“We learnt later when we had to submit and buy some documents and we were very shocked,” one politician who is also a businessman confided to this publication this week.
“We then learn that there are some fabricated criminality recorded for us, as to when did we commit those remained secret to the police, but then we had to engage our lawyers on the matter and that is when we were cleared,” said the politician-cum- tenderpreneur.
The lawyers have confirmed engaging the police and that the matters were settled in a gentlemen’s agreement and concluded.
All these happened behind the scenes with the police top brass oblivious only to be confronted by the irked lot, police sources also add. The victimized group who most of them have been fighting lengthy battles with the DIS read malice and did not blink when it was revealed that these were done by the DIS.
“And it was clear that they (DIS) are the ones in this dirty war which we don’t understand. Remember when we sue, it will be the Police at the courts not the DIS and that is why we agreed to a ceasefire more so they also requested that be kept under carpet,” said the victim.
Nonetheless, the Police through its spokesperson Assistant Commissioner, Dipheko Motube, briefly said: “we do not have any system that has been hacked.” On the other hand DIS mouthpiece Edward Robert was not in office this week to comment on the matter.
Reports however say DIS boss, Peter Magosi, who most of the victims accuse of the job, is said to have met his police counterpart Makgophe to put the matter to bed.
COVID-19 RAVAGES POLICE
As frontline workers, Police have not escaped the wrath of Covid-19. Already the numbers of those infected has reached the highest of high and they suggest that they be priorities on vaccine rollout.
“Our job is complicated, firstly we arrest including those who are non-compliant to Covid protocols and we go to accidents and many more. These put us at risk and it seems our superiors are not bothered,” said one police officer this week.
The cops further complain about that working spaces are small, as such expose them to contact the virus.
“Some tests positive and go for quarantine while the rest of the unit will be left without even test carried out. If at all the bosses are serious all the police officers should every now and then be subjected to testing or else we will be no more because of the virus,” added another officer based in Gaborone.
The government has since placed teachers on the priority list for the vaccines, it remains to be seen whether the police, who also man road blocks, will be considered.
“But our bosses should convince the country leadership about this, if not then we are doomed,” concluded a more senior officer.