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Well done Mma Nasha but…

Well done to Dr. Margaret Nasha on her single but eventful term as Speaker of the National Assembly. Mma Nasha lost elections to Dumelang Saleshando in the 2004 general elections and was made specially elected Member of Parliament by former President Festus Mogae and also   given a ministerial portfolio. After the 2009 general elections, she was made Speaker of the National Assembly.

These are favours, opportunities and privileges that she has enjoyed and she must also have the basic understanding that in a democracy we need to pave way for others. I don’t have to mention that she is old and possibly that her brain is tired and needs some rest. She must rejoice that another woman, Gladys Kokorwe took over. She must stop name calling and make herself meaningful and useful elsewhere.

If indeed her quest is to serve, she could consider many options available to serve the nation such as Village Development Committees (VDC) and crime prevention clusters to mention a few. But because she is after power, money and settling scores; such an initially well-orchestrated deliberate act has backfired badly.

In her hard misleading and misguiding of unsuspecting average opposition leaders, she has managed to make them forget that during her term as a minister of Local Government, she was to appoint a paltry number of nominated councillors from the opposition nationally and gave over anticipated nominated councilor seats to the ruling BDP. Surely this was being very hard and unfair on the opposition. The opposition seems to deliberately forget the atrocities inflicted by this very same woman.

A few years later she appears to be the darling of the opposition. The opposition has allowed her to use it to her advantage and as she mentioned during her press conference on Thursday 13th November 2014 that “I was overwhelmed with joy when the UDC defended the case and fought for democracy.

My father had deserted me so I ran to the UDC for help. I am still celebrating because these people wanted to reverse our democratic gains and take us back to the Stone Age.” It was interesting to note that at her press conference she was accompanied by amongst others Daniel Kwelagobe and Moeng Pheto, both men who dismally lost in the past elections.

The losers are regrouping against President Khama yet they have lost to democracy. Knowing DK, he will utilise Dr. Nasha’s anger to his advantage. Dr. Nasha could do with appreciating defeat so that she does not find herself another victim of DK.

Dr. Nasha’s non-achieved goals of an independent parliament came as a result of lack of support from the BDP, a ruling party which is in the majority and is not in support of an independent parliament. The subject line was never the standing orders, the subject line has and remains that the BDP leader in president Khama did not trust Dr. Nasha and was not comfortable in a legislature that involved Dr. Nasha as amongst the key people.

The BDP returned President Khama unopposed as president of the BDP in its last congress despite Dr. Nasha’s book which clearly was the launch of a fight against President Khama. Such a fight has been short lived by the BDP and that is the BDP as we all know it.

The BDP subsequently, in continuing their show of trust in President Khama’s leadership abilities, style and policy direction, nominated him and him alone for state presidency. The BDP did all these well aware of the constitutional powers that the presidency has and that the presidency will use.

The same legal presidential powers that Dr. Nasha shed light on in her President Khama onslaught book. BDP faithful therefore were in other words authorising President Khama to act on behalf of the BDP. This is reason enough to ask Dr. Nasha to view her peddling of anger and hurling of her loud cry for office in public as an embarrassment not only to her but to her family and her little left dignity.

This was a mere act of validating fears and concerns that Dr. Nasha is angry for not necessarily being within President Khama’s inner circle. That she now wants to bring forth baseless allegations and empty accusations about the BDP leadership simply because she was not successful in lobbying BDP legislators to vote for her as speaker says a lot about the character of this woman.

Though there is no doubt that that she is one of the main local gender representation credentials, her current behaviour however erodes all that and reverse the gains of validation that women can be better leaders if given a chance. One hopes that Gladys Kokorwe shall rectify that.

Whatever her intentions are, Dr. Nasha must know in full that her name calling tendency will have momentous implications for the rest of her life. Only a few days off from the seat of speaker of the house, she has turned herself into a fortune teller and some future prediction mistress. It is utterly wrong to blame president Khama for going against Dr. Nasha.

Who will support a person who ridicules you in public when you share membership of a ruling party together? Who amongst us will support anyone who labels his or her leadership as dictatorial and intolerant? Logic has it that when one feels and experiences dictatorial and intolerant tendencies in a structure, they should free themselves from it. Dr. Nasha on the other hand wants to cling to such a dictatorial and intolerant regime.

Dr. Nasha mentions that; “All over the world the executive is never at ease with the legislature. The important thing is whether a leader has the maturity to deal with such differences”, and she conveniently forgets that in a democratic dispensation the view of the majority always prevails.

This is an accepted way of dispensing democracy the world over and hence referred to as a democratic process. I don’t have to remind Dr. Nasha that voting is one of the ways whereby when there is choice to be made in a particular matter and there is no particular consensus, then such a matter is put to a vote. This is the same process that made her speaker of the house in 2009 and hence the same process that removed her from the same position in 2014.

What was being debated was how to vote, yes, to vote in a manner that the State President, who is also the BDP president will be sure that she does not return as Speaker. There is nothing wrong with President Khama not supporting Dr. Nasha and there is nothing wrong with Dr. Nasha not supporting president Khama’s views.

Those are termed differing opinions that must be swallowed in a healthy and mature way and unfortunately such a pill is too bitter and sour and hence swallowed irrationally by this woman. Let me advice Dr. Nasha that her votes which were also opposition votes were in the minority and that minority doesn’t necessarily mean one is right or wrong but it only means that you are few for the same idea. Gladys Kokorwe’s votes which were at the end of the tunnel President Khama and BDP  votes were in the majority and same applies that majority doesn’t necessarily mean one is right or wrong but it only means that you are many for the same ideas.

And therefore those that are in the majority experience their idea or view being accepted as in the case of both Gladys Kokorwe, President Khama and the BDP against you and the opposition. But when those in minority as in the case of Dr. Nasha seem not to accept outcome of this democratic process, it means they don’t appreciate democracy. We all need to be very careful of such people or individuals because they are often prone to a chameleons’ philosophy of changing the rules of engagement during the game to favour them all the time. Such is being demagogic. Such is the case of appreciating the game when it’s in your favour; being wanted and disdaining the game when it’s not in your favour; not wanted.

Let me close my deliberation by congratulating Madam Gladys Kokorwe on her election as the speaker of the national assembly and let me also extend the same congratulations to Honourable Kagiso Molatlhegi as the deputy speaker of the house. I like many other BDP members await for Mma Nasha to opt for an onslaught against us so that we may defend our party and what it stands for.

M. Lesedi Dintwe is based at Gabane / Mmankgodi BDP Branch

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Botswana to Become a Vaccinated Nation: Pandemic Anxiety Over?

30th March 2021


This is a question that should seriously exercise the mind of every Botswana citizen and every science researcher, every health worker and every political leader political.

The Covid-19 currently defines our lives and poses a direct threat to every aspect and every part of national safety, security and general well-being. This disease has become a normative part of human life throughout the world.

The first part of the struggle against the murderous depredation of this disease was to protect personal life through restrictive health injunctions and protocols; the worst possibly being human isolation and masks that hid our sorrows and lamentations through thin veils. We suffered that humiliation with grace and I believe as a nation we did a great job.

Now the vaccines are here, ushering us into the second phase of this war against the plague; and we are asking ourselves, is this science-driven fight against Covid-19 spell the end of pandemic anxiety? Is the health nightmare coming to an end? What happy lives lie ahead? Is this the time for celebration or caution? As the Non State Actors, we have being struggling with these questions for months.

We have published our thoughts and feelings, and our research reviews and thorough reading of both the local and international impacts of this rampaging viral invasion in local newspapers and social media platforms.

More significantly, we have successfully organised workshops about the impact of the pandemic on society and the economy and the last workshop invited a panel of health experts, professionals, and public administers to advance this social dialogue as part of our commitment to the tripartite engagement we enjoy working with Government of Botswana, Civil Society and Development partners. These workshops are virtual and open to all Batswana, foreign diplomatic missions based in Gaborone, UN agencies located in Gaborone and international academic researchers and professional health experts and specialists.

The mark of Covid-19 on our nation is a painful one, a tragedy shared by the entire human race, but still a contextually painful experience. Our response is fraught with grave difficulties; limited resources, limited time, and the urgency to not only save lives but also avert economic ruin and a bleak future for all who survive. Several vaccines are already in the  market.

Parts of the world are already doing the best they can to trunk the pestilential march of this disease by rolling out mass-vaccinations campaigns that promise to evict this health menace and nightmare from their public lives. Botswana, like much of Africa, is still up in the disreputable, and, unenviable, preventative social melee of masked interactions, metered distances, contactless commerce.

We remain very much at the mercy of a marauding virus that daily runs amuck with earth shattering implications for the economy and human lives. And the battle against both infections and transmissions is proving to be difficult, in terms of finance, institutional capacities and resource mobilization. How are we prepared as government, and as citizens, to embrace the impending mass-vaccinations? What are the chances of us  succeeding at this last-ditch effort to defeat the virus? What are the most pressing obstacles?

Does the work of vaccines spell an end to the pandemic anxieties?

Our panellists addressed the current state of mass-vaccination preparedness at the Botswana national level. What resources are available? What are the financial, institutional and administrative operational challenges (costs and supply chains, delivery, distribution, administering the vaccine on time, surveillance and security of vaccines?) What is being done to overcome them, or what can be done to overcome them? What do public assessments of preparedness tell us at the local community levels? How strong is the political will and direction? How long can we expect the whole exercise to last? At what point should we start seeing tangible results of the mass-vaccination campaign?

They also addressed the challenges of the anticipated emerging Vaccinated Society. How to fight the myths of vaccines and the superstitions about histories of human immunizations? What exactly is being done to grow robust local confidence in the science of vaccinations and the vaccines themselves? More significantly, how to square these campaigns vis-vis personal rights, moral/religious obligations?

What messages are being sent out in these regards and how are Batswana responding? What about issues of justice and equality? Will we get the necessary vaccines to everyone who wants them? What is being done to ensure no deserving person is left behind?

They also addressed issues of health data. To accomplish this mass-vaccination campaign and do everything right we need accurate and complete data. Poor data already makes it very hard to just cope with the disease. What is being done to improve data for the mass-vaccination campaign? How is this data being collected, aggregated and prepared for real life situation/applications throughout Botswana in the coming campaign?

We know in America, for example, general reporting and treatment of health data at the beginning of vaccinations was so poor, so chaotic and so scattered mainstream newspapers like The Atlantic, Washington Post and the New York Times had to step in, working very closely with civil society organizations, to rescue the situation. What data-related issues are still problematic in Botswana?

To be specific, what kind of Covid-19 data is being taken now to ready the whole country for an effective and efficient mass-vaccination program?

Batswana must be made aware that the  end part of vaccination will just mark the beginning of a long journey to health recovery and national redemption; that in many ways Covid-19 vaccination is just another step toward the many efforts in abeyance to fight this health pandemic, the road ahead is still long and painful.

For this purpose, and to highlight the significance of this observation we tasked our panellists with  the arduous imperative of  analysing the impact of mass-vaccination on society and the economy alongside the pressing issues of post-Covid-19 national health surveillance and rehabilitation programs.

Research suggests the aftermath of Covid-19 vaccination is going to be just as difficult and uncertain world as the present reality in many ways, and that caution should prevail over celebration, at least for a long time. The disease itself is projected to linger around for some time after all these mass-vaccination campaigns unless an effort is made to vaccinate everyone to the last reported case, every nation succeeds beyond herd immunity, and cure is found for Covid-19 disease. Many people are going to continue in need of medications, psychological and psychiatric services and therapy.

Is Botswana ready for this long holdout? If not, what path should we take going into the future? The Second concern is , are we going to have a single, trusted national agency charged with the  mandate to set standards for our national health data system, now that we know how real bad pandemics can be, and the value of data in quickly responding to them and mitigating impact? Finally, what is being done to curate a short history of this pandemic? A national museum of health and medicine or a Public Health Institute  in Botswana is overdue.

If we are to create strong sets of data policies and data quality standards for fighting future health pandemics it is critical that they find ideological and moral foundations in the artistic imagery and photography of the present human experience…context is essential to fighting such diseases, and to be prepared we must learn from every tragic health incident.

Our panellists answered most of these questions with distinguished intellectual clarity. We wish Batswana to join us in our second Mass-vaccination workshop.

*Oscar Motsumi:

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The women you see in the news matter. Here’s why

9th March 2021
Jane Godia

Jane Godia

Today is International Women’s Day – it’s a moment to think about how much better our news diet could be if inequities were eliminated. In 1995, when the curtains fell in one of the largest meetings that have ever brought women together to discuss women in development, it was noted that women and media remain key to development.

Twenty-six years later, the relevant “Article J” of the Beijing Platform for Action, remains unfulfilled. Its two strategic objectives with regard to Women and Media have not been met. They are
Increase the participation and access of women to expression and decision-making in and through the media and new technologies of communication

Promote a balanced and non-stereotyped portrayal of women in the media.

Today, as we mark International Women’s Day, it’s an indictment on both media owners and civil society that women remain on the periphery of news-making. They cannot claim equal space in either the structures of newsrooms or in the content produced, be that as sources of news or as the subjects of reports. Indeed, the latest figures from WAN-IFRA’s Women in News Programme show just one in five voices in news belong to women*, be they as sources, as the author or as the main character of the news report.

Some progress was evident several years back, with stand-out women being named as chief executive officers, editors in chief, managing editors and executive editors. But these gains appear short lived in most media organisations. Excitement has turned to frustration as one-step forward has been replaced with three steps backwards. In Africa, the problem is acute. The decision-making tables of media organisations remain deprived of women and where there are women, they are surrounded by men.

Few women have followed in the footsteps of Esther Kamweru, the first woman managing editor in Kenya, and indeed sub-Saharan Africa. Today’s standout women editors include Pamela Makotsi-Sittoni (Nation Media Group, Kenya), Barbara Kaija (New Vision, Uganda), Mary Mbewe (Daily Nation, Zambia), Margaret Vuchiri (The Monitor, Uganda), Joyce Shebe (Clouds, Tanzania), Tryphinah Dongwana (Weekend Post, Botswana), Joyce Mhaville (Independent Television -ITV, Tanzania) and Tuma Abdallah (Standard Newspapers,Tanzania). But they remain an exception.

The lack of balance between women and men at the table of decision making has a rollback effect on the content that is produced. A table dominated by men typically makes decisions that benefit men.

So today, International Women’s Day is a grim reminder that things are not rosy in the news business. Achieving gender balance in news and in the structure of media organisations remains a challenge. Unmet, it sees more than half of the population in our countries suffer the consequences of bias, discrimination and sexism.

The business of ignoring the other half of the population can no longer be treated as normal. It’s time that media leaders grasp the challenge, not only because it is the right thing to do, but because it also makes a whole lot of business sense: start covering women, give them space and a voice in news-making and propel them to all levels of decision making within your organisation.

We can no longer afford to imagine that it’s only men who make and sell the news and bring in the shillings to fund the media business. Women too are worthy newsmakers. In all of our societies, there are women holding decision making positions and who are now experts in once male-only domains such as engineers, doctors, scientists and researchers.

They can be deliberately picked out to share their perspectives and expertise and bring balance to the profile of experts quoted on our news pages. Media is the prism through which society sees itself and women are an untapped audience. So, as we celebrate International Women’s Day, let us embrace diversity, which yields better news content and business products, and in so doing eliminate sexism. We know that actions and attitudes that discriminate against people based on their gender is bad for business.

As media, the challenge is ours. We need to consciously embrace and reach the commitments made 26 years ago when the Beijing Platform for Action was signed globally. As the news consuming public, you have a role to play too. Hold your news organization to account and make sure they deliver balanced news that reflects the voices of all of society.

Jane Godia is a gender development and media expert who serves as the Africa Director of Women in News programme.  
WOMEN IN NEWS is WAN-IFRA’s ground-breaking programme to increase women’s leadership and voices in the news. It does so by equipping women journalists and editors with the skills, strategies, and support networks to take on greater leadership positions within their media.

Jane Godia, Director, Africa, Women in News

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Why is the media so afraid to talk about sexual harassment?

9th March 2021


The eve of International Women’s Day presents an opportunity for us to think about gender equality and the long and often frustrating march toward societies that are truly equal.

As media, we are uniquely placed to drive forward this reflection and discussion. But while focusing on the challenges of gender in society, we owe it to our staff and the communities we serve to also take a hard look at the obstacles within our own organisations.

I’m talking specifically about the scourge of sexual harassment. It’s likely to have happened in your newsroom. It has likely happened to a member of your team. It happens to all genders but is disproportionately directed at women. It happens in every industry, regardless of country, culture or context. This is because sexual harassment is driven by power, not sex. Wherever you have imbalances in power, you have individuals who are at risk of sexual harassment, and those who abuse this power.

I’ve been sexually harassed. The many journalists and editors, friends and family members who I have spoken to over the years on this subject have also been harassed. Yet it is still hard for leaders to recognize that this could be happening within their newsrooms and boardrooms. Why does it continue to be such a taboo?

Counting the cost of sexual harassment

Sexual harassment is, simply put, bad for business. It can harm your corporate reputation. It is a drain on the productivity of staff and managers. Maintaining and building trust in your brand is an absolute imperative for media organisations globally. If and when a case gets out of control or is badly handled – this can directly impact your bottom line.

It is for this reason that WAN-IFRA Women in News has put eliminating sexual harassment as a top priority in our work around gender equality in the media sector. This might seem at odds with the current climate where social interactions are fewer and remote work scenarios are in place in many newsrooms and businesses. But one only needs to tune into the news to know that the abuse of power, manifested as verbal, physical or online harassment, is alive and well.

Preliminary results from an ongoing Women in News research study into the issue of sexual harassment polling hundreds of journalists in Sub-Saharan Africa and Southeast Asia indicate that more than 1 in 3 women media professionals have been physically harassed, and just under 50% have been verbally harassed. Just over 15% of men in African newsrooms reported being physically harassed, and slightly less than 1 in 4 reports being verbally harassed. The numbers for male media professionals in Southeast Asia are slightly higher than a quarter on both forms of harassment.

The first step in confronting sexual harassment is to talk about it. We need to strip away the stigma and discomfort around having open conversations about what sexual harassment is and isn’t. Media managers, it is entirely in your power to create dynamics in your own teams that are free from sexual harassment.

Publishers and CEOs, you set the organisational culture in your media company.

By being vocal in recognising that it happens everywhere, and communicating to your employees that you will not tolerate sexual harassment of any kind, you send a powerful message to your teams, and publicly. With these actions, you will help us overcome the legacy of silence around this topic, and in doing so take an important first step to create media environments that truly embrace equality.

Melanie Walker is Executive Director of Media Development of the World Association of News Publishers (WAN-IFRA). She is a creator of Women in News, WAN-IFRA’s ground-breaking programme to increase women’s leadership and voices in the news. It does so by equipping women journalists and editors with the skills, strategies, and support networks to take on greater leadership positions within their media.

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