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Language politics take centre stage


Greek philosopher Aristotle once asserted that a human being is by nature a political animal and his counterpart Pericles maintained that just because you do not take an interest in politics does not mean politics won’t take an interest in you. Even Plato cautioned that one of the penalties of refusing to participate in politics is that you end up being governed by your inferiors.


Like death we cannot dodge politics because nothing is inseparable from it and all decisions made at whatever level are political. They can try to ban politics in the civil service, military barracks or chieftainship, but like a virus, politics will manifest itself in all forms and reclaim its rightful position.


Local politics seem to be more interesting, especially after this year’s polls. It is only a matter of time that Botswana catch up with more advanced and mature democracies like United States. Multitudes of Batswana are now becoming politically conscious as politics continue to dominate the business of the country. On this note, Batswana deserve a pat on the back because political illiteracy is now the story of the past. Recently we have witnessed another form of politics in language politics.


In the past only academics, language activists and politicians have been at the helm of language politics, but recently members of the public have joined the fray. As it stands, two camps have emerged and clashed over each other in all possible platforms. One camp believes that it is high time that the government changed its position on marginalised minority groups while the other believes that the government must maintain its position and interestingly both the camps have advanced their reasons. We take a look at these two camps.


In the academic arena, Professor Lydia Nyathi Saleshando lead this camp and her efforts are consolidated by Botswana Congress Party (BCP) and minority language activists such as Domboshaba Cultural Trust, Mukani Action Campaign, First People of the Kalahari, Lentswe La Batswapong and Kamanakao Association. All the people who make up this camp share the same sentiments, mission and core objectives.

One of the objectives is language development and the camp wants each of their ethnic languages be introduced in the school curriculum to facilitate the learning process, which, they say, is a determinant of academic achievement. In addition, members of the camp have already published their orthographies and to them the only stumbling block is the government that has refused on several occasions to advance their interests.


The mission of the camp is also cultural development of which they say if nothing is done their culture will die out. Lastly, the camp wants the government to amend all discriminatory laws including section 77 to 79 of the Constitution, the Chieftainship Act, the Tribal Territories Act and derogations in section 15(4) (d) and 15 (9) of the Constitution.


They allege that their cultural rights are being trampled upon and what add insult to injury is that their languages are not allowed in the public domain and mainstream media, hence, if nothing is done, they face extinction. They have even gone to the extent of calling on the government to imitate the Delimitation Commission by not naming land boards and districts along tribal lines. Their efforts to convince the government to establish community-based radio stations have proven futile but the fight is far from over. One of the camp members, Never Tshabang, who lost in the Nkange parliamentary elections, translated his party manifesto into iKalanga.


During the swearing-in of Members of Parliament (MP) Bagatia Arone, who forms part of the camp, deliberately made his speech in his mother tongue, Hambukushu, against the parliamentary Standing Orders, and he was forced to read his speech again in English. Arone is to table a motion in Parliament, requesting government to have news read in the so-called minority languages. The camp wants the government to benchmark in Namibia and South Africa in order to review its language policy.


One camp, as expected, wants the government to maintain its position especially on language policy. Visible on the camp is Professor Thapelo Otlogetswe, who has constantly accused the other camp of being in so much with English and hatred for Setswana. He went on to say though Setswana is spoken by 78 percent of the population as mother tongue albeit with limited usage in public domains is seen by minority language activists as an impediment to the development of minority languages.


Otlogetswe argues that though English is spoken by only two percent of the population as home language, it continues to enjoy more usage than any other language but surprisingly the so called minority language activists do not have the problem with that. English is the country’s official language and is used in almost all government businesses, including Parliament and courts of law. The Queen’s language also dominates the print and electronic media (both private and government owned), secondary schools and universities where it is used as medium of instruction.


Thapelo insists that he fails to understand this fixation and bitterness towards the Setswana language. At times, Otlogetswe and Saleshando have squared off in their academic articles. The government of the day is also the member of this camp. It has on number of occasions insisted that all languages in the country remain equal but due to financial constraints the government cannot afford to develop all the languages. In addition, the government fears that usage of all languages in the public domain might spark tribalism and threaten nation-building.


On incorporation of all 26 minority languages into the school curriculum, the government has argued that that is practically impossible because unlike in South Africa, Botswana ethnic groups are scattered all over, making it impossible for implementation. Other members of this camp have contended that the other camp envy the development of Setswana more so that it was recently recognised by the African Union (AU) as language that can be used for regional integration.


 Some have submitted that perhaps the other camp do not perceive English as a threat to their languages simply because it is an European language as such it has been detribalised. They conclude that to be part of the global village, one has to learn more international languages and in this era there is no use of mastering indigenous languages other than for the sake of preservation.

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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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