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Botswana remains safest haven for investors, politicians

Botswana remains the world’s safest country and ranks better than the United States of America and England in terms of political stability and terrorism attacks is concerned.

The leading international risk management firm Aon Plc has released its 2014 Terrorism and Political Risk Maps, which has reaffirmed that the country is still the world's safest destinations for tourism, business and investment.

“The country risk level remains at negligible. There is a low threat of terrorism as Risk Advisory has not recorded any terrorist attacks and there have been no official announcements of disruptions to major plots in Botswana.

Civil commotion is rare and when it has occurred has been localised and generally peaceful. The effective response of security forces further reduces the risk of the outbreak of riots and protests. The government is stable and country's borders are relatively well secured. As such, there are no perils marked on the country,” reads the synopsis of on the map.

The Political Risk Map measures commercial governance issues such as security of exchange transfers, legal and regulatory risk, political interference, sovereign non-payment and supply chain developments for countries outside of the OECD club of high income industrial economies.

The 2014 survey therefore measured the risk of political violence to international business in 200 countries and territories, based on three icons indicating the forms of political violence which are likely to be encountered. The icons included terrorism and sabotage, strikes, riots, civil commotion and malicious damage, political insurrection, revolution, rebellion, mutiny, coup d'etat, war and civil war.

Botswana along with another African country, Namibia was among the 20 jurisdictions worldwide who ranked in AON's category for "negligible risk" in terms of the potential for acts of terrorism and civil unrest.

The two country’s rankings come despite the fact that Africa as a whole, along with the Middle East, was rated as the world's most unstable regions.

Businesses often use AON risk mapping in assessing whether or not to invest in a country and below is how other countries which share the borders with Botswana were graded.

The overall score for Zimbabwe has been lowered from high to medium. This follows peaceful elections in July 2013 and a significantly reduced risk of rebellion or other armed opposition to the government. The threat of terrorism remains low. Risk Advisory has not recorded any terrorist attacks or plots in the country in the past 12 months.

Although there were no significantly incidents of electoral violence around the election, protests over a range of issues including service delivery and independence veterans' rights have occurred with some resulting in violent confrontations with police. As such, a civil commotion peril is retained.

Zambia remains a low risk environment in 2014 due to the low threat of terrorism and minimal risk of armed conflict. Risk Advisory has not recorded any terrorist attacks or plots in Zambia in the past 12 months and there are no identifiable active terrorist groups operating in the country.

However, a civil commotion peril was retained due to regular outbursts of civil commotion in 2013, most notably outbreaks of fighting between supporters of rival factions of the ruling PF party in Lusaka. However, this appears highly unlikely to escalate into an armed opposition to the government and increase the risk of insurrection.

South Africa
The overall country risk score for South Africa has been reduced from medium to low. Risk Advisory has not recorded any terrorist attacks or plots in the country over the past 12 months. There are no identifiable, active groups operating in the country. As such, these factors indicate that the terrorism threat is low.

There is a minimal risk of armed conflict and coups due to the stability of the government, good relations with neighbouring states, and strong, established democratic institutions. A civil commotion peril is retained however as strikes and protests continue to cause significant business and travel disruption in major cities and in the mining regions.

The overall country risk score has been reduced from high to medium. This is to reflect the relatively stable security environment. Risk Advisory has not recorded any terrorist attacks or plots in the country in recent years and there is a decreased risk of insurrection. However, civil commotion and violence during protests remain a risk, as demonstrated by violence around demonstrations and involving opposition supporters during the past two years.

The country risk level for Namibia remains at negligible. This is due to a low risk of strikes, riots and malicious damage, a negligible risk of armed conflict and a low terrorism threat. Risk Advisory has not recorded any terrorist attacks or plots in Namibia and there are no identifiable active groups operating within its borders.

The government under President Hifikepunye Pohamba remains stable with few challenges to the political system. Risk Advisory has not seen reports of widespread, violent or disruptive protests in the country over the past 12 months and as such, there are no perils marked on Namibia.

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UDC founder warns against merger

19th October 2020
Ex UDC Convener: Mpotokwane

Lebang Mpotokwane, one of the conveners who presided over the opposition cooperation talks that resulted in the formation of the Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC), has advised against changing the current umbrella model in favour of a merger as proposed by others.

The Botswana Congress Party (BCP) leader, Dumelang Saleshando recently went public to propose that UDC should consider merging of all opposition parties, including Alliance for Progressives (AP) and Botswana Patriotic Front (BNF).

Saleshando has been vehemently opposed by Botswana National Front (BNF), which is in favour of maintaining the current model.  BNF’s position has been favoured by the founding father of UDC, who warned that it will be too early to ditch the current model.

“UDC should be well developed to promote the spirit of togetherness on members and the members should be taught so that the merger is developed gradually. They should approach it cautiously. If they feel they are ready, they can, but it would not be a good idea,” Mpotokwane told WeekendPost this week.

Mpotokwane and Emang Maphanyane are the two men who have since 2003 began a long journey of uniting opposition parties in a bid to dethrone the ruling Botswana Democratic Party (BCP) as they felt it needed a strong opposition to avoid complacency.

Tonota born Mpotokwane is however disappointed on how they have been ejected from participating in the last edition of talks ahead of the 2019 general elections in which BCP was brought on board.  However, despite the ejection, Mpotokwane is not resentful to the opposition collective.

He said the vision of opposition unity was to ultimately merge the opposition parties but he believes time has not arrived yet to pursue that path. “The bigger picture was a total merger and we agreed that with three independent parties, members might be against merger eventuality so the current model should be used until a point where they are now together for as long as possible,” he said.

“UDC should gradually perform better in elections and gain confidence. They should not rush the merger. We have been meeting since 2003, but if they rush it might cause endless problems. If they are ready they can anyway,” he advised. For now the constituent parties of the umbrella have been exchanging salvos with others (BCP and BNF).

“There are good reasons for and against merging the parties. Personally, I am in favour of merging the parties (including AP and BPF) into a single formation but I know it’s a complex mission that will have its own challenges,” Saleshando said when he made his position known a week ago.

“Good luck to those advocating for a merger, it will be interesting to observe the tactics they will use to lure the BPF into a merger,” former BNF councillor for Borakalalo Ward and former BNF Youth League Secretary General, Arafat Khan, opined in relation to BCP’s proposed position.

Mpotokwane, who is currently out in the cold from the UDC since he was ejected from the party’s NEC in 2017, said the current bickering and the expected negotiations with other parties need the presence of conveners.

“We did not belong to any party as conveners so we were objective in our submissions. If party propose any progressive idea we will support, if it is not we will not, so I would agree that even now conveners might be key for neutrality to avoid biasness,” he observed. Despite being abandoned, Mpotokwane said he will always be around to assist if at all he is needed.

“If they want help I will be there, I have always been clear about it, but surely I will ask few questions before accepting that role,” he said. UDC is expected to begin cooperation talks with both AP and BPF either this week or next weekend for both upcoming bye-elections (halted by Covid-19) and 2024 general elections and it is revealed that there will be no conveners this time around.

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BDP attaches Boko’s property

19th October 2020

The Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) moved through its lawyers to attach the property of Umbrella for Democratic (UDC) President Duma Boko and other former parliamentary contestants who failed in their court bid to overturn the 2019 general elections in 14 constituencies.

WeekendPost has established that this week, Deputy Sheriffs were commissioned by Bogopa Manewe Tobedza and Company who represented the BDP, to attach the properties of UDC elections contents in a bid to recover costs.  High Court has issued a writ of execution against all petitioners, a process that has set in motion the cost recovery measures.

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COVID-19 exposes decay in the education system

19th October 2020
Education Systm

Botswana Sectors of Teachers Union (BOSETU) says COVID-19 as a pandemic has negatively affected the education sector by deeply disrupting the education system. The intermittent lockdowns have resulted in the halting of teaching and learning in schools.

The union indicated that the education system was caught napping and badly exposed when it came to the use of Information System (IT), technological platforms and issues of digitalisation.

“COVID-19 exposed glaring inefficiencies and deficiencies when it came to the use of ITC in schools. In view of the foregoing, we challenge government as BOSETU to invest in school ITC, technology and digitalization,” says BOSETU President Kinston Radikolo during a press conference on Tuesday.

As a consequence, the union is calling on government to prioritise education in her budgeting to provide technological infrastructure and equipment including provision of tablets to students and teachers.

“Government should invest vigorously in internet connectivity in schools and teacher’s residences if the concept of flexi-hours and virtual learning were to be achieved and have desired results,” Radikolo said.

Radikolo told journalists that COVID-19 is likely to negatively affect final year results saying that the students would sit for the final examinations having not covered enough ground in terms of curriculum coverage.

“This is so because there wasn’t any catch up plan that was put in place to recover the lost time by students. We warn that this year’s final examination results would dwindle,” he said.

The Union, which is an affiliate of Botswana Federation of Public, Private and Parastatal Union (BOFEPUSU), also indicated that COVID-19’s presence as a pandemic has complicated the role of a teacher in a school environment, saying a teacher’s role has not only transcended beyond just facilitating teaching and learning, but rather, a teacher in this COVID-19 era, is also called upon to enforce the COVID-19 preventative protocols in the school environment.

“This is an additional role in the duty of a teacher that needs to be recognized by the employers. Teachers by virtue of working in a congested school environment have become highly exposed and vulnerable to COVID-19, hence the reason why BOSETU would like teachers to be regarded as the frontline workers with respect to COVID-19,” says Radikolo.

BOSETU noted that the pandemic has in large scales found its way into most of the school environments, as in thus far more than 50 schools have been affected by COVID-19. The Union says this is quite a worrying phenomenon.

“As we indicated before when we queried that schools were not ready for re-opening, it has now come to pass that our fears were not far-fetched. This goes out to tell that there is deficiency in our schools when it comes to putting in place preventative protocols. In our schools, hygiene is compromised by mere absence of sanitizers, few hand-washing stations, absence of social distancing in classes,” the Union leader said.

Furthermore, Radikolo stressed that the shifting system drastically increased the workload for teachers especially in secondary schools. He says teachers in these schools experience very high loads to an extent that some of them end up teaching up to sixty four periods per week, adding that this has not only fatigued teachers, but has also negatively affected their performance and the quality of teaching.

In what the Union sees as failure to uphold and honour collective agreements by government, owing to the shift system introduced at primary schools, government is still in some instances refusing to honour an agreement with the Unions to hire more teachers to take up the extra classes.

“BOSETU notes with disgruntlement the use of pre-school teachers to teach in the mainstream schools with due regard for their specific areas of training and their job descriptions. This in our view is a variation of the terms of employment of the said teachers,” says Radikolo.

The Union has called on government to forthwith remedy this situation and hire more teachers to alleviate this otherwise unhealthy situation. BOSETU also expressed concerns of some school administrators who continuously run institutions with iron fists and in a totalitarian way.

“We have a few such hot spot schools which the Union has brought to attention the Ministry officials such as Maoka JSS, Artesia JSS, and Dukwi JSS. We are worried that the Ministry becomes sluggish in taking action against such errant school administration. In instances where action is taken, such school administrators are transferred and rotated around schools.”

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