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Mogae opens up to NACA over his removal

The outspoken and fearless former President, Dr Festus Mogae recently paid the Coordinator of the National Aids Coordinating Agency (NACA), Grace Muzila a personal visit to explain his departure from the Chairmanship of the National Aids Council (NAC).

In 2008 when the current president, Lt Gen Ian Khama decided to keep Mogae as Chairperson of the National HIV/AIDS Council given his (Mogae)’s experience and passion in matters of HIV/AIDS. The post according to the NAC is reserved for the sitting president but given his busy schedule, he normally delagates his deputy.

Given Mogae’s unparalleled record in fighting HIV/AIDS, this was hailed as one of the best decisions to have come out of Khama’s government in the area of health as many said the move will make sure that the country maintains the momentum achieved in her fight against HIV/AIDS.

A few days after the recent swearing in of President Khama and his Vice President, Mokgweetsi Masisi, the nation was told that Mogae will no longer chair the National Aids Council proceedings. Many swiftly concluded that he has been kicked out because of his controversial and liberal views on sex workers issues and homosexuality. Mogae was outspoken and fearless – attacking government on its handling of issues of HIV/AIDS.

Weekendpost can reveal that Mogae recently shared reasons behind his depature with Muzila. However the NACA Coordinator could not go into the nitty-gritties of the meeting.

Called to offer the nation and stakeholders a credible explanation, she described Mogae’s depature as ‘just a move’. She continued that ‘people always move and that Mogae is not an exception’. Muzila however acknowledged the former president’s extraodinary experience in the area. She insisted that Mogae will still be available to carry out other national assignments in the area of HIV/AIDS.

Reports suggest that  news of Mogae’s departure have saddened stakeholders. At the NAC, Mogae was the embodiment of wisdom. He challenged the Council to confront the deadly virus head on and be credible and practical when making suggestions and recommendations. He clashed with those he considered conservative, progressive but eventually gave in when they offered credible arguments. Mogae encouraged open debates and nurtured a conducive environment for that.

Former Botswana Network on Ethics, Law and HIV and AIDS (BONELA) director,Uyapo Ndadi who has attended a series of National Aids Council meetings chaired by Mogae says ‘news that Rre Mogae was deposed hit me hard’.

“No person in Botswana comes close to matching his impeccable profile on matters of HIV! The HIV epidemic evolved under his watch and so are his views! He moved from a conservative approach to a liberal and accommodative approach! He moved the NAC from an idealist or denialism body to a pragmatic body that faces, and not avoids issues,” said Ndadi, himself a renowned human rights activist on issues of Aids.

Ndadi who often clashed with Mogae on the views of an organisation he once led says he enjoyed his healthy exchanges with the former president.

“He meant well in everything he said or did! Some people found his views unpalatable or offensive to culture but the views were in my view legitimate and valid! I wonder now what direction the NAC will take, I just hope it doesn't become a networking structure by civil servants,” he charges.

No explanation has been given to stakeholders yet but sources say a brief but reticent explanation might be given at the next NAC meeting. The NAC conference failed to convene last week as was scheduled. NACA said the meeting has been postponed.

Insiders say there has been behind-the-scenes bickering over whether Mogae should have been given the last opportunity as the chair to say his goodbyes or not. This they say was highly improbable as the venom-spitting former president was highly likely to touch base about his mysterious and shocking departure. Some sources however say Mogae has given Muzila a few words to say to the NAC.

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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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Botswana still weighing in on Maseko’s assassination

27th January 2023

The Minister of Foreign Affairs, Dr. Lemogang Kwape says Botswana has not taken any position regarding the killing of a renowned human rights lawyer, Thulani Maseko, who was gunned down at his house in Mbabane, Eswatini.

In a brief interview with WeekendPost, Dr Kwape said Botswana has not yet taken any position regarding his death. He said the purported incident should be thoroughly probed before Botswana can form an opinion based on the findings of the inquiries.

“Botswana generally condemns any killing of human life by all means,” says Dr. Kwape. He wouldn’t want to be dragged on whether Botswana will support the suspension of Eswatini from SADC.

“We will be guided by SADC organ Troika if they can be an emergency meeting. I am not sure when the meeting will be called by Namibian president,“ he said.

However, the Namibian president Hage Geingob notes with deep concern reports coming out of Eswatini about the killing of Mr. Maseko. In a statement, he called upon the “Government of the Kingdom of Eswatini to ensure that the killing of Maseko is swiftly, transparently and comprehensively investigated, and that any or all persons suspected of committing this heinous crime are brought to justice.”

Maseko was chairperson of the Multi-Stakeholder Forum which was established as a coalition of non-State actors to advocate for a process of national political dialogue aimed at resolving the security and political challenges confronting the Kingdom.

“SADC expresses its deepest and heartfelt condolences to the family of Mr. Maseko, his friends, colleagues, and to the people of the Kingdom of Eswatini for the loss of Mr. Maseko. In this context, SADC further calls upon the people of the Kingdom of Eswatini to remain calm, exercise due care and consideration whilst the appropriate structures conduct the investigations and bring the matter to completion,” the statement says.

Geingob reiterated the need for peaceful resolution of the political and security challenges affecting the country.

Meanwhile political activists are calling on SADC to suspend Eswatini from the block including the African Union as well.

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Kopong Murder: Accused interferes with witnesses again!

27th January 2023

State prosecutor, Seeletso Ookeditse revealed before the Broadhurst Magistrate Jobbie Moilatshimo that the third accused involved in the murder of Barulaganye Aston, has interfered with the State witnesses again.

The second and third accused (Lefty Kosie and Outlwile Aston) were previously accused of interference when they were caught in possession of cellphones in prison. They were further accused of planning to kill the deceased’s brother, who is currently the guardian to the children of the deceased.

Ookeditse indicated that Outlwile had earlier went to challenge the magistrate’s decision of denying him bail at the High Court before Judge Michael Motlhabi.

“The third accused approached the High Court and made a bail application, which was dismissed on the same day,” Ookeditse said.

However, even after the High Court verdict on their bail application, the duo (Kosie and Aston) has once again applied for bail this week.

Ookeditse plead with the court to stop the accused from abusing the court process.

“Yesterday, Directorate of Public Prosecutions (DPP) received papers of his bail application filed before the Broadhurst Magistrates Court. However, the papers do not speak to changed circumstances, therefore this back and forth about bail must be put to a stop,” said the State prosecutor.

While giving evidence before court, the Investigations Officer, Detective Inspector Quite Zhalamonto, said his investigations have proved that there is interference continuing regarding the accused trio.

He told the court that on the 12th of January 2023, he received a report from Thato Aston, who is the son of the accused and the deceased. The son had alleged to the Investigation Officer that he received a call from one Phillip Molwantwa.

According to Zhalamonto, Thato revealed that Molwatwa indicated that he was from prison on a visit to the Outlwile Aston and went on to ask where he was staying and where his siblings (Aston’s children) are staying.

“Thato revealed that Phillip went on to ask if he or his siblings saw their father murdering their mother, and he was referring to the crime scene. Thato told me that he, however, refused to answer the questions as he was afraid especially because he was asked about where him and his siblings stay,” said Zhalamonto.

Zhalamonto alluded to the court that he then went to Orange to confirm the communication between Thato and Molwantwa where he found the case.

“I have arrested Philip yesterday and when I interviewed him, he did not deny that he knows Aston and that he has indeed called Thato and asked questions as to where him and his siblings resides even though he failed to give reasons for asking such questions,” Zhalamonto told the court.

He further revealed that Molwantwa indicated that he had received a call from an unknown man who refused to reveal himself.

“Phillip told me that the unknown man said he was sent by the accused (Aston), and that Aston had instructed him to tell me to check if there was still some money in his bank accounts, and he also wanted to know where the kids were residing, the unknown man even asked him to meet at Main Mall” the Investigation Officer told the court.

He further informed the court that he is working tirelessly to identify the “unknown caller” and the route of the cell number.

Furthermore, the fourth accused, Kebaleboge Ntsebe, has revealed to the court through a letter that she was abused and tortured by the Botswana Police Services. She wrote in her letter that she suffered miscarriage as a result of being beaten by the police.

Ntsebe is on bail, while a bail ruling for Aston and Kosie will be delivered on the 6th of next month

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