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MPs, Fako declare windfall for UB staff

Fako feared BIUST enticing salary would destroy UB

University of Botswana (UB) teaching and support staff this month got a morale boost following the decision to hike their salaries by an unprecedented 35 percent, following strong advocacy by Members of Parliament and their Vice Chancellor, Professor Thabo Fako.

After revelations about the salary disparity at the two state owned high learning institutions; University of Botswana (UB) and Botswana International University of Science and Technology (BIUST), UB announced that its teaching staff will now get a handsome 35 percent increase; a development aimed at appeasing the UB teaching staff.

Some in the UB staff will also get 35 percent of salary as housing allowance. The increases are effective this month hence they are smiling all the way to the bank. The University of Botswana Council approved the increases this month.

Assistant Minister of Education and Skills Development (MoESD) Kgotla Autlwetse revealed to Parliament before it concluded its busiess for the session, “the devastating difference between academics salaries at UB and BIUST”.

The MPs who were clearly not amused by the status quo also learned that low salaries had a negative impact on UB as lecturers resigned en-mass from the university in pursuit of greener pastures at BIUST.

Autlwetse told parliament that UB pays lecturers between P16,975 and P29,164 per month, while BIUST  pays P32,060 monthly. Parliament also learnt that BIUST can pay up to 40 percent of the salary as supplementation.

“The University of Botswana pays between P25,546 to P32,525 per month to senior lecturers, while Botswana International University of Science and Technology pays their senior lecturers P39,695 per month,” Autlwetse told parliament.
Parliament was informed by the Assistant Minister that associate professors at UB get paid between P30,936 and P35,532 per month, while BIUST pays them P49,969.

The issue of BIUST and UB salary disparities was brought to the attention of Parliament through Dithapelo Keorapetse, a Member of Parliament for Selebi Phikwe West and former University of Botswana academic. There was a concern from MPs that the BIUST academic staff was entitled to lucrative allowances including the housing allowance.

Professor Fako also vented his disdain with the status quo ante recently at a consultative forum in which he invited all political parties represented in parliament to discuss the status of UB. Fako warned that the creation of new institution, notably BIUST was going to destroy UB, unless there was intervention to rescue the institution. Fako was certainly not amused by the quitting of academic staff from UB to join BIUST, which for a while looked like it would destabilise the university.

Fako was also not impressed with the verity that, government had totally diverted its attention from the UB to focus only on BIUST despite the university (UB) having played a massive role in contributing to the country’s human resource.  Fako asserted that BIUST was receiving substantive grants on annual basis from government, while UB was not getting the same favour.

Assistant Minister Autlwetse, however shared with parliament that the UB through their council, was working on reviewing the terms and conditions for staff members and the submission was made to the ministry for determination.  In the end government gave the nod to the recommendations made by the council to increase the academic staff salary by 35 percent.

Government had initially tried to play down the situation regarding the salary disparities by stating that the development was a result of BIUST being a new institution, therefore determined to attract skilled teaching staff to its ranks.
Another matter which Fako had wanted to be attended to was immigration law, which he said prohibits the university from recruiting skilled academics from foreign countries.

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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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