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BDP may win the 2019 general elections

Ndulamo Anthony Morima
EAGLE WATCH

The 2014 general elections saw the Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) suffering its worst electoral performance since its formation. While its seats in the National Assembly fell from 45 in 2009 to 37 in 2014, its popular vote declined from 53.26% in 2009 to 46.7% in 2014.

For many people, including me, this signaled the imminent end of the BDP rule, with the Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) expected to attain state power in 2019. However, recent developments indicate that the BDP may win the 2019 general elections, albeit with a thin margin.

While it may appear to be too early to make such a conclusion, history has shown that unless the government grossly fails in its mandate the people, because of the fear of the unknown, are unlikely to change the government. Often, especially in Africa, exceptional conditions have to exist for an opposition party to win elections.

In my view, such conditions, for instance the dissatisfaction of public servants after the 2011 public sector strike; the 2010 split of the Botswana Movement for Democracy (BMD) from the BDP and the alleged assassination of UDC Secretary General and BMD President, Gomolemo Motswaledi, existed in 2014, but the Opposition failed to use such conditions to win elections.   

While the BDP’s win will partly be because of its own positive efforts since 2014, it will also be, or perhaps mainly be, as a result of the indiscretions of the Opposition itself. The Opposition may lose the elections because of inner party conflicts and poor performance by its Members of Parliament (MPs) and/or leaders.

One of the constituencies that the Opposition may lose is Tlokweng. Though the margin between the UDC’s Honourable Same Bathobakae and the BDP’s Olebile Gaborone was a healthy 2,575 votes, Bathobakae’s underperformance coupled with the fact that the BDP’s popular Elijah Katse may be the BDP’s candidate the BDP may retake the constituency.

The other Opposition constituency which is at risk of being retaken by the BDP is Molepolole South. This, not only because the margin between the UDC’s Tlamelo Mmatli and longtime area MP, Daniel Kwelagobe, was only 387, but also because, like Honourable Bathobakae, Honourable Mmatli’s performance in Parliament is grossly under par.

Mephato Reatile, if he will be the BDP candidate for Jwaneng-Mabutsane in 2019, is likely to return to Parliament not only because he lost to the UDC’s Honourable Shawn Ntlhaile with only 544 votes, but because of Honourable Ntlhaile’s underperformance in Parliament. Not only that. Reatile’s position as Chairperson of the Southern District Council will, no doubt, give him political mileage.

The fact that despite support by the Botswana Congress Party (BCP) the UDC, whose member, the Botswana National Front (BNF), had held the constituency for more than two decades, lost the March 2016 bye election to the BDP is writing on the wall. Reatile was the campaign manager for the bye elections.

Ramotswa is another constituency that should be of concern for the Opposition. Though the margin between the BCP’s Honourable Samuel Rantuana and the BDP’s Odirile Motlhale was a safe 618 votes, Motlhale may come back considering Honourable Rantuana’s near non-existence in Parliament.

The UDC’s Honourable Noah Salakae, who out seated longtime area MP, Johnie Swartz, in Gantsi North with only 314 votes is not safe either. This, especially after the government has started making inroads in rebuilding its relationship with Bakgalagadi and Basarwa.

Though the margin between the BDP’s Honourable Slumber Tsogwane and the UDC’s Sam Digwa was a mere 241, Honourable Tsogwane is unlikely to lose the seat. No doubt his position as Minister of Local Government and Rural Development is giving him the political mileage he needs to remain politically relevant despite his poor performance in Parliament.

The defection of Dumezweni Mthimkhulu, who, as an Independent, obtained 1,475 votes, from the BNF to the BDP has made Gaborone South safer for the BDP. The slim margin of 243 with which Honourable Kagiso Molatlhegi beat Murray Dipate may not be a factor. Not even the fact that the BCP’s Akanyang Magama got 2,318 is of concern given the BCP’s current political troubles.

Dr. Ditiro Majadibodu’s defection from the BCP to the BDP has made the Nata-Gweta constituency safer for the BDP. The 2,954 votes that Dr. Majadibodu got in 2014 may assist the BDP’s 3,424 votes which Honourable Polson Majaga got. But, the deciding factor may be the 2,931 voters who, in 2014, voted for an Independent candidate, Joe Linga.   

Of course the Opposition, especially if the UDC and the BCP timeously enter into a cooperation agreement, may, too, wrestle some seats from the BDP. One likely such a constituency is Bobonong which the BCP’s Taolo Lucas lost with a mere 120 votes to the BDP’s Honourable Shaw Kgathi.

The other is Francistown West which the BDP’s Honourable Buti Billy won with a tiny majority of 245 votes against the BCP’s Morgan Moseki. The UDC’s 1,067 votes may be of essence, but only if the UDC and the BCP conclude their cooperation negotiations on time and BMD’s conflicts are brought to an end or better managed.           

Though he won the Selibe Phikwe East constituency with a slim majority of only 242 votes against the BCP’s Kgoberego Nkawana, the BDP’s Honourable Nonofo Molefhi is likely to win in 2019 not only because of his popularity, but also because some people will want him to remain in Parliament so that he challenges for the country’s Vice Presidency or Presidency,

One factor that may lead to the BDP losing the constituency is if those aligned to His Honour the Vice President, Mokgweetsi Masisi, succeed in ensuring Honourable Molefhi’s downfall during the party’s primary elections in order to eliminate him as a potential contender for the Presidency.

But if that plan succeeds and Honourable Molefhi is replaced with His Worship the Mayor of Selibe Phikwe, Councilor Amogelang Mojuta, as it is alleged is the plan, Councilor Mojuta is likely to win the seat considering his influence as a Mayor and the fact that his mother, Kgosi Olebogeng Mojuta, has been Court President in Botshabelo since 2003.

The other factor that may lead to the BDP losing the Selibe Phikwe East constituency is the poor management at the BCL mine which has led to loss of jobs and recently led to the death of four miners in a mine accident. According to Mmegi’s online edition of 9th June 2016, “… for the past two years (2014/2015) the mine recorded the highest number of fatalities in the sector, with 11 deaths.”  

The BDP may also lose the Ngami constituency. The BDP’s Thato Kwerepe, who prevailed upon the BCP’s Taolo Habano with a mere 48 votes may lose, especially if the BCP and the UDC cooperate considering that the latter had garnered 802 votes in 2014.

The BDP is not safe at Kanye North constituency where its Honourable Patrick Ralotsia won against the UDC’s Kwenantle Gaseitsiwe with a meagre 72 votes. If the UDC and the BCP cooperate in 2019 the 9,638 votes jointly obtained by the UDC and the BCP may be a toll order for the BDP to surpass.  While Kwenantle Gaseitsiwe had got 5,654 votes, the BCP’s Kentse Rammidi had obtained 4,030 votes.

Equally unsafe for the BDP is Kgalagadi North constituency which the BDP’s Itumeleng Moipisi won against the UDC’s Phillip Khwae with a mere 238 votes. Khwae, a formidable grassroots campaigner, may come back in 2019, especially if the UDC and the BCP were to timeously enter into a cooperation agreement.  

In 2019, therefore, the BDP may wrestle five constituencies from the Opposition, namely Tlokweng, Molepolole South, Jwaneng-Mabutsane, Ramotswa and Gantsi North. The Opposition, on the other hand, provided it minimizes its conflicts and the UDC and BCP enter into a cooperation model, may also wrestle five constituencies from the BDP, namely Francistown West, Ngami, Kanye North, Kgalagadi North and Bobonong though the latter is doubtful.

In the result, therefore, the margin between the Opposition and the BDP may remain the same or be increased by one seat in favour of the ruling BDP. If, as feared, the BDP increases the number of Specially Elected MPs and/or increases the number of constituencies by splitting its stronghold constituencies the margin may even be wider in favour of the BDP.      

Ndulamo Anthony Morima

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Appendicitis: Recognising the Signs

29th March 2022

Many a times I get clients casually walking into my room and requesting to be checked for “appendix”.  Few questions down the line, it is clear they are unaware of where the appendix is or what to expect when one does have it (appendicitis). Jokingly (or maybe not) I would tell them they would possibly not be having appendicitis and laughing as hard as they are doing. On the other hand, I would be impressed that at least they know and acknowledge that appendicitis is a serious thing that they should be worried about.

So, what is Appendicitis?

Appendicitis is an inflammation of the appendix; a thin, finger-like pouch attached to the large intestine on the lower right side of the abdomen. Often the inflammation can be as a result of blockage either by the faecal matter, a foreign body, infection, trauma or a tumour. Appendicitis is generally acute, with symptoms coming on over the course of a day and becoming severe rapidly. Chronic appendicitis can also occur, though rarely. In chronic cases, symptoms are less severe and can last for days, weeks, or even months. 

Acute appendicitis is a medical emergency that almost always ends up in the operating theatre. Though the appendix is locally referred to as “lela la sukiri”, no one knows its exact role and it definitely does not have anything to do with sugar metabolism. Appendicitis can strike at any age, but it is mostly common from the teen years to the 30s.

Signs to look out for

If you have any of the following symptoms, go and see a Doctor immediately! Timely diagnosis and treatment are vital in acute appendicitis;

Sudden pain that starts around the navel and shifts to the lower right abdomen within hours

The pain becomes constant and increases in severity (or comes back despite painkillers)

The pain worsens on coughing, sneezing, laughing, walking or deep breaths

Loss of appetite

Nausea and vomiting

Fever

Constipation or diarrhoea

Abdominal bloating/fullness

Diagnosis

The doctor often asks questions regarding the symptoms and the patient’s medical history. This will be followed up by a physical examination in which the Doctor presses on the abdomen to check for any tenderness, and the location of the pain. With acute appendicitis, pressing on and letting go of the right lower abdomen usually elicits an excruciatingly unbearable pain. Several tests may be ordered to determine especially the severity of the illness and to rule out other causes of abdominal pain. The tests may conditions include: blood tests, a pregnancy test, urinalysis, abdominal  “How do ultrasound scans work?” ultrasound (scan), CT scan or MRI Scan.

Treatment

The gold standard treatment of acute appendicitis is surgical removal of the appendix known as appendectomy. Luckily, a person can live just fine without an appendix! Surgical options include laparoscopy or open surgery and the type will be decided on by the Surgeon after assessing the patient’s condition. Painkillers and antibiotics are also given intravenously usually before, during and after the surgery.

Complications

Appendicitis can cause serious complications such as;

Appendicular mass/abscessIf the appendix is inflamed or bursts, one may develop a pocket of pus around it known as an abscess. In most cases, the abscess will be treated with antibiotics and drained first by placing a tube through one’s abdominal wall into the abscess. The tube may be left in place for a few hours or days while the infection is clearing up but ultimately one would still have surgery to remove the appendix.

Peritonitis – without treatment, the appendix can rupture/burst. The risk of this rises 48–72 hours after symptoms start. A ruptured appendix spreads the infection throughout the abdomen (peritonitis). This is life threatening and requires immediate surgery to remove the appendix and clean the abdominal cavity.

Death – The complications of appendicitis (and appendectomy) can be life threatening, only if the diagnosis has been missed and no proper treatment has been given on time. This is rare though with the evolved medical care.

If you need further advice or treatment please call 4924730, email  HYPERLINK “mailto:info@themedicscentre.co.bw” info@themedicscentre.co.bw or visit www.themedisccentre.co.bw

Antoinette Boima, MBBS, BMedSci, PgDip HIV/AIDS, Cert Aesth Med is the Managing Director of The Medics Centre in Palapye.

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A degree of common sense

7th February 2022

Here’s a news item from last month you may have missed. In December 2021 the University of Staffordshire announced it would be offered a degree course in pantomime! Yes, that’s right, a degree in popular festive entertainment, the Christmas panto.

We used to have one here, put on by the Capitol Players, though it seems to have fallen away in recent times, but the spectacle is still alive and well in the UK, both in local ad-dram (amateur dramatic ) societies and on the London stage and most of the major cities, these latter productions usually featuring at least one big-draw name from the world of show business with ticket prices commensurate with the star’s salary.

In case you’re unfamiliar with the pantomime format, it consists of a raucous mixture of songs and comedy all based around a well-known fairy or folk tale. Aladdin and His Magic Lamp, Cinderella, Jack & The Beanstalk & Dick Whittington are perennial favourites but any well-known tall tale goes. There is no set script, unlike a play, and storyline is just a peg to hang a coat of contemporary, often bawdy, gags on, in what should be a rollicking production of cross dressing – there has to be at least one pantomime dame, played by a man and always a figure of fun, and a Principal Boy, ostensibly the male lead, yet played by an attractive young woman.

As an art form it can trace its roots back to 16th century Italy and the Commedia Del’Arte which used a mélange of music, dance, acrobatics along with a cast of comic stock characters so it has a long and proud theatrical tradition but you have to wonder, does that really qualify it as a suitable subject for a university? Further, what use might any degree be that can be acquired in a single year? And last but not least, how much standing does any degree have which comes from a jumped-up polytechnic, granted university status along with many of its ilk back in 1992, for reasons best known to the government of the time? Even more worrying are the stated aims of the course.

Staffordshire University claims it is a world first and the masters course is aimed at people working inside as well as outside the industry. Students on the course, due to start in September 2022, will get practical training in the art form as well as research the discipline.

“We want to see how far we can take this,” Associate Professor of Acting and Directing Robert Marsden said. The role of pantomime in the 21st Century was also going to be examined, he said, “particularly post Me Too and Black Lives Matter”. Questions including “how do we address the gender issues, how do we tell the story of Aladdin in 2021, how do we get that balance of male/female roles?” will be asked, Prof Marsden added.

Eek! Sounds like Prof. Marsden wants to rob it of both its history and its comedic aspects – well, good luck with that! Of course that isn’t the only bizarre, obscure and frankly time and money-wasting degree course available. Staying with the performing arts there’s Contemporary Circus and Physical Performance at Bath Spa University. Sounds like fun but why on earth would a circus performer need a university degree?

Or how about a Surf Science and Technology degree at Cornwall College (part of the University of Plymouth). Where the one thing you don’t learn is….how to surf!

Then there is a  degree in Floral Design at University Centre Myerscough. No, I hadn’t heard of it either – turns out it’s a college of further education in Preston, a town that in my experience fits the old joke of ‘I went there once…..It was closed’ to a ‘T’!

Another handy (pun intended) art is that of Hand Embroidery BA (Hons), offered at the University for the Creative Arts. Or you could waste away sorry, while away, your time on a course in Animal Behaviour and Psychology. This degree at the University of Chester teaches you about the way animals think and feel. Cockroaches have personalities according to the subject specs– you couldn’t make it up.

Happily all these educational institutes may have to look to their laurels and try to justify their very existence in the near future. In plans announced this week, universities could face fines of up to £500,000 (P750m), be stripped of their right to take student loans or effectively shut down if they cannot get 60 per cent of students into a professional job under a crackdown on ‘Mickey Mouse’ courses. Further, at least 80 per cent of students should not drop out after the first year, and 75 per cent should graduate.

The rules, published by the Office for Students (OfS), aim to eliminate ‘low-quality’ courses by setting new standards & requiring courses to improve their rating in the TEF, the official universities ratings system. Universities not meeting the new standards will not be able to charge full annual fees of £9,250. Unconventional courses that could fall victim to the new rules could include the University of Sunderland’s BA in Fashion Journalism, where students learn essential’ skills such as catwalk reporting and the history of Chanel.  They have only a 40 per cent chance of entering highly skilled work 15 months after leaving.

At University College Birmingham, BSC Bakery and Patisserie Technology students – who learn how to ‘make artisan bread’ – have a 15 per cent chance of a professional job within 15 months. Universities minister Michelle Donelan welcomed the move, saying ‘When students go to university, they do so in the pursuit of a life-changing education, one which helps pave their path towards a highly skilled career. Any university that fails to match this ambition must be held to account.’

OfS found that at 25 universities, fewer than half of students find professional work within 15 months.  Business and management courses at the University of Bedfordshire (14.8 per cent) were among the least likely to lead to graduate-level jobs.  Asked to comment, the University of Sunderland said it always looked ‘to find ways to improve outcomes’; University College Birmingham said data on graduates and definition of ‘professional work’ was limited. I’ll bet it is! As the saying goes, ’what the eye doesn’t see, the heart doesn’t grieve over’. What a pantomime!

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Why regular health checks are important!

7th February 2022

With the world still reeling from the negative impact of the Coronavirus disease-19 (COVID-19), and the latest Omicron variant (which is responsible for the ongoing global forth wave) on everyone’s lips, we should not forget and neglect other aspects of our health.

While anyone can get infected with corona virus and become seriously ill or die at any age, studies continue to show that people aged 60 years and above, and those with underlying medical conditions like hypertension, heart and lung problems, diabetes, obesity, cancers, or mental illness are at a higher risk of developing serious illness or dying from covid-19.

It is a good habit to visit a doctor regularly, even if you feel healthy. Regular health checks can help identify any early signs of health issues or assess your risk of future illness hence prompting one to take charge and maintain a healthy lifestyle. Heart disease, diabetes, some cancers and other non-communicable diseases (even communicable) can often be picked up in their early stages, when chances for effective treatment are high.

During a health check, your doctor will take a thorough history from you regarding your medical history, your family’s history of disease, your social life and habits, including your diet, physical activity, alcohol use, smoking and drug intake. S/he will examine you including measuring your weight, blood pressure, feeling your body organs and listening to your heart and lungs amongst the rest. Depending on the assessment, your doctor will notify you how often you need to have a health check. If you have a high risk of a particular health condition, your doctor may recommend more frequent health checks from an early age.

Diet – a healthy diet improves one’s general health and wellbeing. It is recommended that we have at least two serves of fruit and five serves of vegetables daily. Physical activity – regular physical activity has significant health benefits on one’s body, mind & soul. It contributes to preventing and managing non-communicable diseases such as cardiovascular diseases, cancers and diabetes, reduce symptoms of depression and anxiety, enhances thinking, learning, and judgment skills and improves overall well-being. According to the world health organisation (WHO), people who are insufficiently active have a 20% to 30% increased risk of death compared to people who are sufficiently active. Aim for 30 minutes to an hour of moderate physical activity at least four days in a week. Examples of moderate physical activity include brisk walking, gentle swimming and social tennis.

Weight – maintaining a healthy weight range helps in preventing long-term complications like cardiovascular disease, diabetes and arthritis. It is also vital for one’s mental wellbeing and keeping up with normal activities of daily living. Ask your doctor to check your body mass index (BMI) and waist circumference annually. If you are at a higher risk, you should have your weight checked more frequently and a stern management plan in place.

Alcohol – as per WHO reports, alcohol consumption contributes to 3 million deaths each year globally as well as to the disabilities and poor health of millions of people. Healthy drinking entails taking no more than two standard drinks per drinking day with at least two alcohol-free days in a week.

Smoking –Nicotine contained in tobacco is highly addictive and tobacco use is a major risk factor for cardiovascular and respiratory diseases, many different types of cancer, and many other debilitating health conditions. Every year, at least a whopping 8 million people succumb from tobacco use worldwide. Tobacco can also be deadly for non-smokers through second-hand smoke exposure. It is not ‘fashionable’ if it is going to cost you and your loved ones lives! If you are currently smoking, talk to your doctor and get help in quitting as soon as possible to reduce the harm.

Blood pressure: Hypertension is a serious medical condition and can increase the risk of heart, brain, kidney and other diseases. It is a major cause of premature death worldwide, with upwards of 1 in 4 men and 1 in 5 women – over a billion people – having the condition. Have your blood pressure checked annually if it is normal, you are aged under 40 and there is no family history of hypertension. You might need to have it checked more frequently if you are over 40, your blood pressure is on the high side, or you have a personal or family history of high blood pressure, stroke or heart attack. Your doctor will be there to guide you.

Dental care – eating a low-sugar diet and cleaning and flossing the teeth regularly can reduce one’s risk of tooth decay, gum disease and tooth loss. Visit a dentist every six months for a dental examination and professional cleaning, or more frequently as per your dentist’s advice.
Blood tests – annual to five-yearly blood tests may be done to further assess or confirm risk of disease. These may include blood sugar levels, cholesterol levels, kidney function, liver function, tumour markers, among other things. They may be done frequently if there is already an existing medical condition.

Cancer screening – various screening techniques can be done to detect different cancers in their early or pre-cancer stages. These include; skin inspections for any suspicious moles/spots, two-yearly mammograms for those at risk of developing breast cancer, Pap smear or the new Cervical Screening Test (CST) every five years, stool tests and colonoscopy (every five years) for those at most risk of bowel cancer, prostate cancer screening for those at risk (over 45 years of age, family history of cancers etc.). Discuss appropriate tests with your doctor.

Vaccinations – You should discuss with your doctor about the necessary routine immunisation, in particular; the Covid-19 vaccines, an annual flu shot, a five-yearly pneumococcal vaccine if you have never had one or you are immunocompromised and any other boosters that you might need.

If you need further advice or treatment please call 4924730, email HYPERLINK “mailto:info@themedicscentre.co.bw” info@themedicscentre.co.bw or visit www.themedisccentre.co.bw

Antoinette Boima, MBBS, BMedSci, PgDip HIV/AIDS, Cert Aesth Med is the Managing Director of The Medics Centre in Palapye.

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