The Botswana International University of Science and Technology (BIUST) in partnership with United States Agency for International Developments (USAID) and the Palapye Administration Authority (PAA) held a stakeholder awareness workshop on Wednesday on the Land Degradation Index Mapping Project.
The workshop was held under the theme: ‘Monitoring Land Degradation in the Central District of Botswana: A Three-Tier Land Degradation Index Mapping Approach.
Land degradation is a major problem throughout Africa with dry lands accounting for 41percent of Africa’s land mass and is home to 268 million people.
Degradation refers to loss of productive capacity of land, thus BIUST found the study befitting because Palapye currently is playing a huge role in the mining and energy sectors, as well as providing services in the hospitality sector.
As a major junction settlement in the Central District, Palapye is consequently experiencing infrastructural development and undergoing very rapid landscape transformation. It is home to the Morupule Coal Mine, Morupule Power Station and BIUST, among others.
Using the Geographic Information and Technology (GI& T) map-based approach, this study examines the current situation and provides knowledge of land use, the types, extent and intensity of land degradation occurring in Palapye. Speaking at the workshop, Principal Investigator and Project Director Professor Felicia Akinyemi said mineral processing, such as smelting, produces fumes that pollute the atmosphere and the land.
Prof Akinyemi said the study is national and they however took into consideration the fact that charity begins at home. The study which is due to commence early next year will use three sites being BIUST, Palapye Water Treatment Plant and the Morupule mine.
She stated that degradation was a slow imperceptible process, hence many people were unaware that their land was degrading.
Principal Physical Planner from Palapye Administration Authority G. Seforo said Palapye was among major villages in Botswana classified as planning areas. He said land was one key priceless commodity, which was why as PAA they needed land on a daily basis for services provision like infrastructure being roads, schools, and health facilities.
He cited, among other things, illegal dumping, overgrazing, fumes from coal mine, soil erosion and algal bloom as major components of land degradation in the Palapye area.
The objective of the workshop was to identify and quantify major land uses, examine land degradation types, extent and intensity, and develop a land degradation index and map.
Workshop participants also sought to examine the likely socio-economic, environmental drivers and model drivers’ responses under projected climate change scenarios for Southern Africa.
The LDI Mapping is funded by USAID and BIUST in partnership with the Palapye Administration Authority.
The Directorate of Public Prosecutions (DPP)’s decision to reject and appeal the High Court’s verdict on a case involving High Court Judge, Dr Zein Kebonang has frustrated the Judicial Service Commission (JSC) and Judge Kebonang’s back to work discussions.
JSC and Kebonang have been in constant discussions over the latter’s return to work following a ruling by a High Court panel of judges clearing him of any wrong doing in the National Petroleum Fund criminal case filed by the DPP. However the finalization of the matter has been hanged on whether the DPP will appeal the matter or not – the prosecution body has since appealed.
Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) top brass has declined a request by Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) to negotiate the legal fees occasioned by 2019 general elections petition in which the latter disputed in court the outcome of the elections.
This publication is made aware that UDC Vice President Dumelang Saleshando was left with an egg on his face after the BDP big wigs, comprising of party Chairman Slumber Tsogwane and Secretary General Mpho Balopi rejected his plea.
“He was told that this is a legal matter and therefore their (UDC) lawyer should engage ours (BDP) for negotiations because it is way far from our jurisdiction,” BDP Head of Communications, Kagelelo Kentse, told this publication.
This spelt doom for the main opposition party and Saleshando who seems not to have confidence and that the UDC lawyers have the dexterity to negotiate these kind of matters. It is not clear whether Saleshando requested UDC lawyer Boingotlo Toteng to sit at the table with Bogopa Manewe, Tobedza and Co, who are representing the BDP to strike a deal as per the BDP top echelons suggested.
“From my understanding, the matter is dealt with politically as the two parties are negotiating how to resolve it, but by far nothing has come to me on the matter. So I believe they are still substantively engaging each other,” Toteng said briefly in an interview on Thursday.
UDC petitioners saddled with costs after mounting an unprecedented legal suit before the court to try and overturn BDP’s October 2019 victory. The participants in the legal matter involves 15 parliamentary candidates’ and nine councillors. The UDC petitioned the court and contested the outcome of the elections citing “irregularities in some of the constituencies”.
In a brief ruling in January 2020, Judge President Ian Kirby on behalf of a five-member panel said: “We have no jurisdiction to entertain these appeals. These appeals must be struck out each with costs including costs of counsel”. This was a second blow to the UDC in about a month after their 2019 appeals were dismissed by the High Court a day before Christmas Day.
This week BDP attorneys decided to attach UDC petitioners’ property in a bid to settle the debts. UDC President Duma Boko is among those that will see their property being attached with 14 of his party members. “We have attached some and we are on course. So far, Dr. Mpho Pheko (who contested Gaborone Central) and that of Dr, Micus Chimbombi (who contested Kgalagadi South) will have their assets being sold on the 5th of February 2021,” BDP attorney Basimane Bogopa said.
Asked whether they met with UDC lawyers to try solve the matter, Bogopa said no and added. “Remember we are trying to raise the client’s funds, so after these two others will follow. Right now we are just prioritising those from Court of Appeal, as soon as the high court is done with taxation we will attach.”
Saleshando, when contacted about the outcomes of the meeting with the BDP, told WeekendPost that: “It would not be proper and procedural for me to tell you about the meeting outcomes before I share with UDC National Executive Committee (NEC), so I will have to brief them first.”
UDC NEC will meet on the 20th of next month to deal with a number of thorny issues including settling the legal fees. Negotiations with other opposition parties- Alliance for Progressives and Botswana Patriotic Front (BPF) are also on the agenda.
Currently, UDC has raised P44 238 of the P565 000 needed to cover bills from the Court of Appeal (CoA). This is the amount in a UDC trust account which is paltry funds equating 7.8 per cent of the overall required money. In the past despite the petitioners maintaining that there was promise to assist them to settle legal fees, UDC Spokesperson, Moeti Mohwasa then said the party has never agreed in no way to help them.
“We have just been put in debt by someone,” one of the petitioners told this publication in the past. “President’s (Duma Boko) message was clear at the beginning that money has been sourced somewhere to help with the whole process but now we are here there is nothing and we are just running around trying to make ends meet and pay,” added the petitioner in an interview UDC NEC has in December last year directed all the 57 constituencies to each raise a minimum of P10, 000. The funds will be used to settle debts that are currently engulfing the petitioners with Sheriffs, who are already hovering around ready to attach their assets.
The petitioners, despite the party intervention, have every right to worry. “This is so because ‘the deadline for this initiative (P10, 000 per constituency) is the end of the first quarter of this year (2021),” a period in which the sheriffs would have long auctioned the properties.
President of the Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) Duma Boko’s alliance with former President Lt Gen Ian Khama continues to unsettle some quarters within the opposition collective, who believe the duo, if not managed, will once again result in an unsuccessful bid for government in 2024.
While Khama has denied that he has undeclared preference to have Boko remaining as leader of UDC, many believe that the two have a common programme, while other opposition leaders remain on the side-lines.