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Gaborone Dam and Morupule B: Disasters and Delusions of our time?

It never amazes me to see how our leaders take Batswana for granted without any shadow of shame or remorse. For many years Batswana have accepted any word from government as gospel truth. It seems the government has used this as a license to legitimise peddling of untruths to the nation. 

We can no longer accept government word as gospel truth, it never was. If we continue to do this, all of us, will at the end be guilty of taking this great country down the road to self destruction. We must be resolute and stop turning a blind eye when our resources are being grossly mismanaged by a leadership that has become viciously manipulative and devoid of all honesty in its public discourse.


The minister of minerals, energy and water resources and his senior officials have been on national TV and radio repeatedly telling us and the world that climate change was responsible for drying up the Gaborone Dam. They have also been telling us and the world that all is well at Morupule B, that the Morupule B contractor is sorting out few teething problems with boilers and soon we will be getting our 600 mega watts from that plant. This untruth has been peddled relentlessly since 2012.

Increasingly though, everyone except perhaps the government is feeling the pinch and is aware that Morupule B is not performing and it is unlikely in the short term to perform to expectations. The government and its senior officials, however, seem to be living in another planet where for them shortage of power is not a daily debilitating challenge.


The minister and his officials are saying annual rainfall in the catchment area; the greater Gaborone has been declining from an average of 500 mm to 300 mm due to climate change. This cannot be further from the truth. Not only is talking of such marked drop in rain fall the height of dishonesty, it is also mischievous and foolhardy to attribute it to climate change.  I will show you why the government is not telling the truth later.  The government is misleading the unsuspecting nation and uses a real life threatening phenomenon to cover its reckless disregard for good governance and accountability.

The world knows the truth about climate change and its impacts. Drying of the Gaborone Dam even by any stretch of imagination cannot be said to be due to climate change. The drying of the dam like I have said before in another submission is due to the government reckless and dangerous disregard for our delicate environment and our future generations.


The government has over time shamefully allowed 200 small dams to be built by their powerful friends on the rivers that discharge into the Gaborone dam. The government continues to fail to explain how and why these dams where built in the first place. The government fails to tell the nation, what the total capacity of these dams is and what the impact on the flow to the Gaborone Dam is.

The government will not tell the nation how much water is lost in these dams due to evaporative losses and seepage. The government will not show the nation the environmental studies done before these dams where constructed. The government is simply failing to account and to take responsibility. In their desperate attempts to further mislead Batswana recently they have said the 200 dams are silt traps, meant to prevent silting on the Gaborone dam. What hogwash!


In addition, the government has shamefully allowed the construction industry to build Gaborone and the greater Gaborone infrastructures using sand mined from these same rivers literally and inadvertently ‘draining life’ out of these rivers. The government is on record, saying, ‘there is nothing they can do to stop sand mining as they need the country developed by mining these rivers’, this was recently said by a senior government official on BTV.

How shameful coming from a government that is supposed to be so caring and passionate about protection of the environment to the extent that our president would rather attend an international environmental meeting than to attend an international  or even a regional  leadership conference where international relations and businesses are discussed. We all want development, but these developments must be done sustainably without jeopardising the future of this great nation.


There are a number of quarries that can provide all the building materials requirements around the country. By allowing river sand mining, government is actually stifling the growth of the quarrying industry and by extension stifling national development and economic diversification. Our government has become irresponsible beyond measure and this must be strongly condemned by all who care for this country.


To add salt to a festering wound, government through its weak monitoring and enforcement apparatus has inadvertently allowed unscrupulous business interests to dump industrial waste in these same rivers, further expediting the ‘death’ of these rivers.  

We ought to be ashamed as a country that we have allowed these environmental atrocities to continue for so long unchallenged. We must now remove the blinkers to see evil and remove the ear plugs to hear evil and with all our might take action to redress the ills we have allowed to visit our country.


The three evils stated above have unfortunately conspired to dry up the Gaborone Dam, resulting in the massive water rationing that we have to endure three times a week in Gaborone.  Minister, climate change is not responsible for this mess!  The government must simply accept the blame, own up and come up with a solid remedial action plan to redress these evils.

The man made disaster, if it is allowed to continue will dry more dams in the future. In the next few years those dams in the north  that are now providing water to almost the whole country, which dams government is also unwisely trying to use for irrigated agricultural purposes will also dry up and we shall without shame blame ‘climate change’. It is time for us Batswana to wake up and be real before it is too late.


I think it is only the government, the minister and his officials that believe all is well at Morupule B.  The whole world knows that Morupule B is a disaster and it will never reach its maximum capacity of 600 megawatts. The whole world knows that if we do not stop Morupule B now and re build it, we are waiting for a time bomb that will explode very soon possibly resulting in major infrastructural damages including possible loss of life. Our government would rather than own up, wait to see whether indeed the bomb is real. 

When this disaster strikes, the government will blame ‘climate change’ or no, this time the poor Chinese contractor will carry the blame; a contractor that was knowingly given a job by our government that they had no capacity to implement; a contractor that was given a green field and never supervised by government during the construction phase; a contractor who has been given P600 million vat exemption by our government; a contractor that is now the reason we are having  load shedding and living in the dark after spending over P15 billion  of our  hard earned money on this plant believing that the plant will provide power self sufficiency by 2012. Yes disasters and delusions of our time!!


The government has forgotten that they told Batswana and the world that by 2012, Botswana will be self sufficient in power supply, that Botswana will no longer need any power from ESKOM by 2012. The same government is now telling Botswana and the world that by 2019 we will be self sufficient in power supply. They are not even saying why this was not achieved in 2012 as promised.  They take us for fools. We must not accept this anymore?


Climate change is a serious phenomenon which should not be trivilised by anybody especially our government, who should know better. Climate change requires international response to cap global warming by reducing global carbon emissions by increasingly using renewable energy sources, like solar, bio mass and other such technologies that are friendly to the environment.

We have heard and seen mind boggling evidence of climate change, glaciers melting down due to increasing temperatures, sea levels changing, unexplained devastating changes in the weather resulting in loss of life and massive destruction of property etc, but we will be lying if we say we have seen evidence of climate change in Botswana. We have since the ‘beginning of time’ always experienced erratic rainfall patterns and high temperatures.


It is not true from the annual rainfall statistics that rainfall has dropped from an average of 500 mm to 300mm in the greater Gaborone. We cannot take isolated rainfall figures and making sweeping statements about climate change. This is wrong and irresponsible.

The above graph has been constructed from raw rainfall data from the department of meteorology. This is just one typical example of annual rainfall since 1980 in Gaborone and the pattern is similar around Gaborone and indeed around the country.

This is typical cyclic nature of rainfall patterns in Botswana since time immemorial. When we design our dams and when we ‘plan’ our plans, we must base these on our natural rainfall pattern reality. This pattern has nothing to do with climate change. I am sure if you go back another 34 years you will find the same pattern.


Let us all stand up and challenge our leaders. They must not take us for granted any more. They must tell us the truth so that we can help them move this country forward.


Bernard Busani   E-mail:  bernard.busani@gmail.com:  Cell: 71751440

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Elected officials should guard against personal interest

23rd September 2020

Parliament was this week once again seized with matters that concern them and borders on conflict of interest and abuse of privilege.

The two matters are; review of MPs benefits as well as President Mokgweetsi Masisi’s participation in the bidding for Banyana Farms. For the latter, it should not come as a surprise that President Masisi succeeded in bid.

The President’s business interests have also been in the forefront. While President Masisi is entitled as a citizen to participate in a various businesses in the country or abroad, it is morally deficient for him to participate in a bidding process that is handled by the government he leads. By the virtue of his presidency, Masisi is the head of government and head of State.

Not long ago, former President Festus Mogae suggested that elected officials should consider using blind trust to manage their business interests once they are elected to public office. Though blind trusts are expensive, they are the best way of ensuring confidence in those that serve in public office.

A blind trust is a trust established by the owner (or trustor) giving another party (the trustee) full control of the trust. Blind trusts are often established in situations where individuals want to avoid conflicts of interest between their employment and investments.

The trustee has full discretion over the assets and investments while being charged with managing the assets and any income generated in the trust.

The trustor can terminate the trust, but otherwise exercises no control over the actions taken within the trust and receives no reports from the trustees while the blind trust is in force.

Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) Secretary General, Mpho Balopi, has defended President Masisi’s participation in business and in the Banyana Farms bidding. His contention is that, the practise even obtained during the administration of previous presidents.

The President is the most influential figure in the country. His role is representative and he enjoys a plethora of privileges. He is not an ordinary citizen. The President should therefore be mindful of this fact.

We should as a nation continue to thrive for improvement of our laws with the viewing of enhancing good governance. We should accept perpetuation of certain practices on the bases that they are a norm. MPs are custodians of good governance and they should measure up to the demands of their responsibility.

Parliament should not be spared for its role in countenancing these developments. Parliament is charged with the mandate of making laws and providing oversight, but for them to make laws that are meant solely for their benefits as MPs is unethical and from a governance point of view, wrong.

There have been debates in parliament, some dating from past years, about the benefits of MPs including pension benefits. It is of course self-serving for MPs to be deliberating on their compensation and other benefits.

In the past, we have also contended that MPs are not the right people to discuss their own compensation and there has to be Special Committee set for the purpose. This is a practice in advanced democracies.

By suggesting this, we are not suggesting that MP benefits are in anyway lucrative, but we are saying, an independent body may figure out the best way of handling such issues, and even offer MPs better benefits.

In the United Kingdom for example; since 2009 following a scandal relating to abuse of office, set-up Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority (IPSA)

IPSA is responsible for: setting the level of and paying MPs’ annual salaries; paying the salaries of MPs’ staff; drawing up, reviewing, and administering an MP’s allowance scheme; providing MPs with publicly available and information relating to taxation issues; and determining the procedures for investigations and complaints relating to MPs.

Owing to what has happened in the Parliament of Botswana recently, we now need to have a way of limiting what MPs can do especially when it comes to laws that concern them. We cannot be too trusting as a nation.

MPs can abuse office for their own agendas. There is need to act swiftly to deal with the inherent conflict of interest that arise as a result of our legislative setup. A voice of reason should emerge from Parliament to address this unpleasant situation. This cannot be business as usual.

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The Corona Coronation (Part 10)

9th July 2020

Ever heard of a 666-type beast known as Fort Detrick?

Located in the US state of Maryland, about 80 km removed from Washington DC, Fort Detrick houses the US army’s top virus research laboratory. It has been identified as “home to the US Army Medical Research and Materiel Command, with its bio-defense agency, the US Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases, and  also hosts the National Cancer Institute-Frederick and the National Interagency Confederation for Biological Research and National Interagency Biodefense Campus”.

The 490-hectare campus researches the world’s deadliest pathogens, including Anthrax (in 1944, the Roosevelt administration ordered 1 million anthrax bombs from Fort Detrick), Ebola, smallpox, and … you guessed right: coronaviruses.  The facility, which carries out paid research projects for government agencies (including the CIA), universities and drug companies most of whom owned by the highly sinister military-industrial complex, employs 900 people.

Between 1945 and 1969, the sprawling complex (which has since become the US’s ”bio-defence centre” to put it mildly) was the hub of the US biological weapons programme. It was at Fort Detrick that Project MK Ultra, a top-secret CIA quest to subject   the human mind to routine robotic manipulation, a monstrosity the CIA openly owned up to in a congressional inquisition in 1975, was carried out.  In the consequent experiments, the guinea pigs comprised not only of people of the forgotten corner of America – inmates, prostitutes and the homeless but also prisoners of war and even regular US servicemen.

These unwitting participants underwent up to a 20-year-long ordeal of barbarous experiments involving psychoactive drugs (such as LSD), forced electroshocks, physical and sexual abuses, as well as a myriad of other torments. The experiments not only violated international law, but also the CIA’s own charter which forbids domestic activities. Over 180 doctors and researchers took part in these horrendous experiments and this in a country which touts itself as the most civilised on the globe!

Was the coronavirus actually manufactured at Fort Detrick (like HIV as I shall demonstrate at the appropriate time) and simply tactfully patented to other equally cacodemonic places such as the Wuhan Institute of Virology in China?

THE FORT DETRICK SCIENTISTS’ PROPHECY WAS WELL-INFORMED

 

About two years before the term novel coronavirus became a familiar feature in day-to-day banter, two scientist cryptically served advance warning of its imminence. They were Allison Totura and Sina Bavari, both researchers at Fort Detrick.

The two scientists talked of “novel highly pathogenic coronaviruses that may emerge from animal reservoir hosts”, adding, “These coronaviruses may have the potential to cause devastating pandemics due to unique features in virus biology including rapid viral replication, broad host range, cross-species transmission, person-to-person transmission, and lack of herd immunity in human populations  Associated with novel respiratory syndromes, they move from person-to-person via close contact and can result in high morbidity and mortality caused by the progression to acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS).”

All the above constitute some of the documented attributes and characteristics of the virus presently on the loose – the propagator of Covid-19. A recent clinical review of Covid-19 in The Economist seemed to bear out this prognostication when it said, “It is ARDS that sees people rushed to intensive-care units and put on ventilators”. As if sounding forth a veritable prophecy, the two scientists besought governments to start working on counter-measures there and then that could be “effective against such a virus”.

Well, it was not by sheer happenstance that Tortura and Bavari turned out to have been so incredibly and ominously prescient. They had it on good authority, having witnessed at ringside what the virus was capable of in the context of their own laboratory.  The gory scenario they painted for us came not from secondary sources but from the proverbial horse’s mouth folks.

CDC’S RECKLESS ADMISSION

In March this year, Robert Redfield, the US  Director for the Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC),  told the House of Representatives’ Oversight Committee that it had transpired that some members of the American populace  who were certified as having died of influenza  turned out to have harboured the novel coronavirus per posthumous analysis of their tissue.

Redfield was not pressed to elaborate but the message was loud and clear – Covid-19 had been doing the rounds in the US much earlier than it was generally supposed and that the extent to which it was mistaken for flu was by far much more commonplace than was openly admitted. An outspoken Chinese diplomat, Zhao Lijian, seized on this rather casual revelation and insisted that the US disclose further information, exercise transparency on coronavirus cases and provide an explanation to the public.

But that was not all the beef Zhao had with the US. He further charged that the coronavirus was possibly transplanted to China by the US: whether inadvertently or by deliberate design he did not say.  Zhao pointed to the Military World Games of October 2019, in which US army representatives took part, as the context in which the coronavirus irrupted into China. Did the allegation ring hollow or there was a ring of truth to it?

THE BENASSIE FACTOR

The Military World Games, an Olympic-style spectrum of competitive action, are held every four years. The 2019 episode took place in Wuhan, China. The 7th such, the games ran from October 18 to October 27.  The US contingent comprised of 17 teams of over 280 athletes, plus an innumerable other staff members. Altogether, over 9000 athletes from 110 countries were on hand to showcase their athletic mettle in more than 27 sports. All NATO countries were present, with Africa on its part represented by 30 countries who included Botswana, Egypt, Kenya, Zambia, and Zimbabwe.

Besides the singular number of participants, the event notched up a whole array of firsts. One report spelt them out thus: “The first time the games were staged outside of military bases, the first time the games were all held in the same city, the first time an Athletes’ Village was constructed, the first time TV and VR systems were powered by 5G telecom technology, and the first use of all-round volunteer services for each delegation.”

Now, here is the clincher: the location of the guest house for the US team was located in the immediate neighbourhood of the Wuhan Seafood Market, the place the Chinese authorities to this day contend was the diffusion point of the coronavirus. But there is more: according to some reports, the person who allegedly but unwittingly transmitted the virus to the people milling about the market – Patient Zero of Covid-19 – was one Maatie Benassie.

Benassie, 52, is a security officer of Sergeant First Class rank at the Fort Belvoir military base in Virginia and took part in the 50-mile cycling road race in the same competitions. In the final lap, she was accidentally knocked down by a fellow contestant and sustained a fractured rib and a concussion though she soldiered on and completed the race with the agonising adversity.  Inevitably, she saw a bit of time in a local health facility.   According to information dug up by George Webb, an investigative journalist based in Washington DC,     Benassie would later test positive for Covid-19 at the Fort Belvoir Community Hospital.

Incidentally, Benassie apparently passed on the virus to other US soldiers at the games, who were hospitalised right there in China before they were airlifted back to the US. The US government straightaway prohibited the publicising of details on the matter under the time-honoured excuse of “national security interests”, which raised eyebrows as a matter-of-course. As if that was not fishy enough, the US out of the blue tightened Chinese visas to the US at the conclusion of the games.

The rest, as they say, is history: two months later, Covid-19 had taken hold on China territory.  “From that date onwards,” said one report, “one to five new cases were reported each day. By December 15, the total number of infections stood at 27 — the first double-digit daily rise was reported on December 17 — and by December 20, the total number of confirmed cases had reached 60.”

TWO CURIOUS RESEARCH HALTINGS

Is it a coincidence that all the US soldiers who fell ill at the Wuhan games did their preparatory training at the Fort Belvoir military base, only a 15-minutes’  drive from Fort Detrick?

That Fort Detrick is a plain-sight perpetrator of pathogenic evils is evidenced by a number of highly suspicious happenings concerning it. Remember the 2001 anthrax mailing attacks on government and media houses which killed five people right on US territory? The two principal suspects who puzzlingly were never charged, worked as microbiologists at Fort Detrick. Of the two, Bruce Ivins, who was the more culpable, died in 2008 of “suicide”. For “suicide”, read “elimination”, probably because he was in the process of spilling the beans and therefore cast the US government in a stigmatically diabolical light. Indeed, the following year, all research projects at Fort Detrick were suspended on grounds that the institute was “storing pathogens not listed   in its database”. The real truth was likely much more reprehensible.

In 2014, there was a mini local pandemic in the US which killed thousands of people and which the mainstream media were not gutsy enough to report. It arose following the weaponisation at Fort Detrick of the H7N9 virus, prompting the Obama administration to at once declare a moratorium on the research and withdraw funding.

The Trump administration, however, which has a pathological fixation on undoing practically all the good Obama did, reinstated the research under new rigorous guidelines in 2017. But since old habits die hard, the new guidelines were flouted at will, leading to another shutdown of the whole research gamut at the institute in August 2019.  This, nonetheless, was not wholesale as other areas of research, such as experiments to make bird flu more transmissible and which had begun in 2012, proceeded apace. As one commentator pointedly wondered aloud, was it really necessary to study how to make H5N1, which causes a type of bird flu with an eye-popping mortality rate, more transmissible?

Consistent with its character, the CDC was not prepared to furnish particulars upon issuing the cease and desist order, citing “national security reasons”. Could the real reason have been the manufacture of the novel coronavirus courtesy of a tip-off by the more scrupulous scientists?

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Masisi faces ultimate test of his presidency

9th July 2020

President Mokgweetsi Masisi may have breathed a huge sigh of relief when he emerged victorious in last year’s 2019 general elections, but the ultimate test of his presidency has only just begun.

From COVID-19 pandemic effects; disenchanted unemployed youth, deteriorating diplomatic relations with neighbouring South Africa as well as emerging instability within the ruling party — Masisi has a lot to resolve in the next few years.

Last week we started an unwanted cold war with Botswana’s main trade partner, South Africa, in what we consider an ill-conceived move. Never, in the history of this country has Botswana shown South Africa a cold shoulder – particularly since the fall of the apartheid regime.

It is without a doubt that our country’s survival depends on having good relations with South Africa. As the Chairperson of African National Congress (ANC), Gwede Mantashe once said, a good relationship between Botswana and South Africa is not optional but necessary.

No matter how aggrieved we feel, we should never engage in a diplomatic war — with due respect to other neighbours— with South Africa. We will never gain anything from starting a diplomatic war with South Africa.

In fact, doing so will imperil our economy, given that majority of businesses in the retail sector and services sector are South African companies.

Former cabinet minister and Phakalane Estates proprietor, David Magang once opined that Botswana’s poor manufacturing sector and importation of more than 80 percent of the foodstuffs from South Africa, effectively renders Botswana a neo-colony of the former.

Magang’s statement may look demeaning, but that is the truth, and all sorts of examples can be produced to support that. Perhaps it is time to realise that as a nation, we are not independent enough to behave the way we do. And for God’s sake, we are a landlocked country!

Recently, the effects of COVID-19 have exposed the fragility of our economy; the devastating pleas of the unemployed and the uncertainty of the future. Botswana’s two mainstay source of income; diamonds and tourism have been hit hard. Going forward, there is a need to chart a new pathway, and surely it is not an easy task.

The ground is becoming fertile for uprisings that are not desirable in any country. That the government has not responded positively to the rising unemployment challenge is the truth, and very soon as a nation we will wake up to this reality.

The magnitude of the problem is so serious that citizens are running out of patience. The government on the other hand has not done much to instil confidence by assuring the populace that there is a plan.

The general feeling is that, not much will change, hence some sections of the society, will try to use other means to ensure that their demands are taken into consideration. Botswana might have enjoyed peace and stability in the past, but there is guarantee that, under the current circumstances, the status quo will be maintained.

It is evident that, increasingly, indigenous citizens are becoming resentful of naturalised and other foreign nationals. Many believe naturalised citizens, especially those of Indian origin, are the major beneficiaries in the economy, while the rest of the society is side-lined.

The resentfulness is likely to intensify going forward. We needed not to be heading in this direction. We needed not to be racist in our approach but when the pleas of the large section of the society are ignored, this is bound to happen.

It is should be the intention of every government that seeks to strive on non-racialism to ensure that there is shared prosperity. Share prosperity is the only way to make people of different races in one society to embrace each other, however, we have failed in this respect.

Masisi’s task goes beyond just delivering jobs and building a nation that we all desire, but he also has an immediate task of achieving stability within his own party. The matter is so serious that, there are threats of defection by a number of MPs, and if he does not arrest this, his government may collapse before completing the five year mandate.

The problems extend to the party itself, where Masisi found himself at war with his Secretary General, Mpho Balopi. The war is not just the fight for Central Committee position, but forms part of the succession plan.

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