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Gov’t blames farmers for repeated FMD outbreaks

Acting Assistant Minister of Agriculture, Fidelis Molao

In a dramatic turn of events, the government has shifted blame on the Ngamiland farmers for their role in the continued Foot and Mouth Disease (FMD) outbreaks in the area.

Ngamiland farmers had accused the government for manufacturing and infecting their cattle with FMD, in a bid to forcefully remove them from the district, to pave way for tourism activity in that area. The government has instead come back to say the farmers are the ones at fault since they do not play their roles of vaccinating their cattle and controlling their movement.  

President Ian Khama who recently addressed Kgotla meetings in Maun expressed disappointment and concern, regarding the farmers’ ineffectiveness in working with government in its effort to control FMD in the Ngamiland. He revealed that Government spends almost P20 million annually in Ngamiland alone to fight the FMD outbreaks.

Khama’s concern follows another FMD outbreak announcement by the Ministry of Agriculture. The ministry confirmed that during a usual check routine inspection of cattle for trade, some livestock were found with lesions apparently due to FMD in the Kareng area within Maxembo and Lekurutshe crushes.

Subsequently a surveillance carried out between 10th March and 15th March 2015 has so far cumulatively revealed 59 cases of FMD in areas of Maxembo, Mokgalo and Motopi II reflecting 13, 11 35 of FMD cases respectively.

On Tuesday, Acting Assistant Minister of Agriculture, Fidelis Molao also remonstrated before the North West District Council (NWDC) that it had become apparent that among major contributing factors of the FMD outbreaks is that farmers were not playing their role fairly well. He expressed that in order for government to succeed on FMD management a joint effort between Ministry of Agriculture and farmers was crucial.

Molao explained that if farmers continued to snub cattle vaccinations, efforts by government to control the disease will remain unsuccessful. He went on to reveal that further inspections by his Ministry showed that in one particular crush, out of the 118 cattle inspected only six had proof of vaccination against FMD from the recent campaign translating to only seven percent of them.

Molao highlighted that upon the recent outbreak, during their ring vaccination that runs for 28 days they discovered other FMD cases and the number had increased to 85 of which 45 cattle did not have the last vaccination brand.

The acting Assistant Minister further told the council that vaccinations statistics in the district were at 57 percent, compared to the average coverage of 85 percent.
“We must admit that still on the ongoing vaccination, overall coverage is not as good as it should be,” he complained.

For his part, NWDC chairman Reaboka Mbulawa told the council that the frequent FMD outbreaks were a sign of lack of prudence by Ngamiland farmers. He explained that the scenario calls for district leadership to take a robust and collective action towards the eradication of FMD.

“The council proposes a district action plan named FMD Operation Restore the District which is a 24 months plan that would help battle the disease. Sensitization on the plan will start midyear,” he revealed.

BMC Abattoir

Meanwhile claims made by the acting Assistant Minister that Botswana Meat Commission (BMC) Maun Abattoir had started the process of increasing the throughput (kill per day) by automating the overhead rail contradicted an earlier statement by BMC Maun abattoir plant Manager Mothobi Mothobi.

Mothobi told WeekendPost in an interview that due to the small capacity of the abattoir and use of manual manpower it would be impossible for the plant to accommodate an extra number of cattle to be slaughtered per day.

Acting assistant Minister had however told the North West District Council that the government expects to increase the abattoir slaughtering capacity from 100 to 120 head per day. He further added that the capacity could also be increased to 180 head per day if a double shift is operated.

Meanwhile this publication has learnt that Maun abattoir is still far from reaching slaughtering of 180 head per day.  It is understood that the current number the abattoir could take in per day is 95 cattle. In 2012 the abattoir managed to slaughter 60 per day, in 2013 the number increased to 80. Last year it also increased to 90 and this year there has only been a slight increase to 95 head per day.

Claims made by the Minister comes after it was revealed that to help decrease the spread of FMD there is need to reduce the number of cattle from areas where there is an outbreak by slaughtering more cattle per day. Report indicates that Ngamiland remains the district with the largest number of cattle, the district has a capacity of around 450 000 of cattle.

The recent outbreak has also affected the trading opportunity that was reaching final agreements between Botswana and Thailand.  The two countries were reported to have had a concluding deal to trade both live cattle and meat to Thailand. The deal was cut off short by the recent outbreak from Kareng area as Thailand saw the deal as an FMD threat to them.

“This opportunity was going to assist in improving the marketing of cattle and livelihoods of Batswana,” stressed Molao.

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Transgender persons in Botswana live a miserable life

23rd November 2020
Transgender persons

An international report complied in South Africa dubbed ‘Legal Gender Recognition in Botswana’ says that the transgender and gender non-conforming people in Botswana live a miserable life. The community experiences higher levels of discrimination, violence and ill health.

In this report, it has been indicated that this is because their gender identity, which does not conform to narrowly define societal norms, renders them more vulnerable. Gender identity is a social determinant of health, which means that it is a factor that influences people’s health via their social context, their communities and their experiences of social exclusion. The Ministry of Health and Wellness has recognized this, and transgender people are considered a vulnerable population under the Botswana Second National Strategic Framework for HIV and AIDS 2010-2017.

In a recent study that shed light on the lived experiences of transgender and gender non-conforming people in Botswana, transgender persons often experience discrimination because of their gender identity and expression. The study was conducted by the University of Cape Town, LEGABIBO, BONELA, as well as Rainbow Identity Association and approved by the Health Ministry as well as the University of Botswana.

Of the 77 transgender and gender non-conforming people who participated in the study, less than half were employed. Two thirds, which is approximately 67% said that they did not have sufficient funds to cover their everyday needs. Two in five had hidden health concerns from their healthcare provider because they were afraid to disclose their gender identity.

More than half said that because of their gender identity, they had been treated disrespectfully at a healthcare facility (55%), almost half (46%) said they had been insulted at a healthcare facility, and one quarter (25%) had been denied healthcare because of their gender identity.

At the same time, the ‘Are we doing right’ study suggests that transgender and non-conforming people might be at higher risks of experiencing violence and mental ill-health, compared to the general population. More than half had experienced verbal embarrassment because of their gender identity, 48% had experienced physical violence and more than one third (38%) had experienced sexual violence.

The study showed that mental health concerns were high among transgender and gender non-conforming people in Botswana. Half of the transgender and gender non-conforming study participants (53%) showed signs of depression. Between one in four and one in six showed signs of moderate or severe anxiety (22% among transgender women, 24% among transgender men and 17% among gender non-conforming people).

Further, the study revealed that many had attempted suicide: one in three transgender women (32%), more than one in three transgender men (35%) and three in five gender non-conforming people (61%).

International research, as well as research from Botswana, suggests that not being able to change one’s gender marker has a negative impact on access to healthcare and mental health and wellbeing. The study further showed that one in four transgender people in Botswana (25%) had been denied access to healthcare. This is, at least in part, linked to not being able to change one’s gender marker in the identity documents, and thus not having an identity document that matches one’s gender identity and gender expression.

In its Assessment of Legal and Regulatory Framework for HIV, AIDS and Tuberculosis, the Health Ministry noted that “transgender persons in Botswana are unable to access identity documents that reflect their gender identity, which is a barrier to health services, including in the context of HIV. In one documented case, a transwoman’s identity card did not reflect her gender identity- her identity card photo indicated she was ‘male’. When she presented her identity card at a health facility, a health worker called the police who took her into custody.”

The necessity of a correct national identity document goes beyond healthcare. The High Court of Botswana explains that “the national identity document plays a pivotal role in every Motswana’s daily life, as it links him or her with any service they require from various institutions. Most activities in the country require every Motswana to produce their identity document, for identification purposes of receiving services.”

According to the Legal Gender Recognition in Botswana report, this effectively means that transgender, whose gender identity and expression is likely to be different from the sex assigned to them at birth and from what is recorded on their identity document, cannot access services without risk of denial or discrimination, or accusations of fraud.

In this context, gays and lesbians advocacy group LEGABIBO has called on government through the Department of Civil and National Registration to urgently implement the High Court rulings on gender marker changes. As stated by the High Court in the ND vs Attorney General of Botswana judgement, identity cards (Omang) play an important role in the life of every Motswana. Refusal and or delay to issue a Motswana with an Omang is denying them to live a complete and full-filing life with dignity and violates their privacy and freedom of expression.

The judgement clarified that persons can change their gender marker as per the National Registrations Act, so changing the gender marker is legally possible. There is no need for a court order. It further said the person’s gender is self-identified, there is no need to consult medical doctors.

LEGABIBO also called on government to develop regulations that specify administrative procedure to change one’s gender marker, and observing self-determination process. Further, the group looks out for government to ensure members of the transgender community are engaged in the development of regulations.

“We call on this Department of Civil and National Registration to ensure that the gender marker change under the National Registration Act is aligned to the Births and Deaths Registry Act to avoid court order.

Meanwhile, a gay man in Lobatse, Moabi Mokenke was recently viciously killed after being sexually violated in the streets of Peleng, shockingly by his neighbourhood folks. The youthful lad, likely to be 29-years old, met his fate on his way home, from the wearisome Di a Bowa taverns situated in the much populated township of Peleng Central.

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Khato Civils fights back, dares detractors

23rd November 2020

CEO of Khato Civils Mongezi Mnyani has come out of the silence and is going all way guns blazing against the company’s adversaries who he said are hell-bent on tarnishing his company’s image and “hard-earned good name”

Speaking to WeekendPost from South Africa, Mnyani said it is now time for him to speak out or act against his detractors. Khato Civils has done several projects across Africa. Khato Civils, a construction company and its affiliate engineering company, South Zambezi have executed a number of world class projects in South Africa, Malawi and now recently here in Botswana.

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UDC petitioners turn to Saleshando

23rd November 2020
Dumelang Saleshando

About ten (10) Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) parliamentary candidates who lost the 2019 general election and petitioned results this week met with UDC Vice President, Dumelang Saleshando to discuss the way forward concerning the quandary that is the legal fees put before them by Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) lawyers.

For a while now, UDC petitioners who are facing the wrath of quizzical sheriffs have demanded audience with UDC National Executive Committee (NEC) but in vain. However after the long wait for a tete-a-tete with the UDC, the petitioners met with Saleshando accompanied by other NEC members including Dr. Kesitegile Gobotswang, Reverend Mpho Dibeela and Dennis Alexander.

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