Connect with us
Advertisement

UDC has failed Batswana!

Ndulamo Anthony Morima
EAGLE WATCH

In Africa, it is almost unheard of for an opposition political party or coalition of opposition political parties to attain more than thirty percent of the popular vote.

 
Yet, in the 2014 general elections, while the Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) and Botswana Congress Party (BCP) attained 30% and 20.4% of the popular vote respectively, the ruling BDP garnered 46.7% of the popular vote. In terms of parliamentary seats, from a total voter turnout of 84.75%, while UDC and BCP attained 17 seats and 3 seats respectively, the ruling Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) won 37 seats, suffering an attrition of 8 seats.

The BCP suffered a decline of 1 parliamentary seat. Though it was the first time the UDC contested the general elections, its contracting parties, the Botswana National Front (BNF) and Botswana Movement for Democracy (BMD) collectively enjoyed an upsurge of 11 parliamentary seats. In 2014, therefore, the UDC and the BCP managed to attain a joint 50.4% of the popular vote and a joint 20 out of a total of 57 parliamentary seats.  

Such performance was, by all standards, exceptional, especially in a country where there is no funding of political parties; where the public media’s coverage is biased in favor of the ruling party; and where the state president uses state resources, including helicopters, during electoral campaigns and rallies. In 2009 the picture was not that rosy for the opposition. the BDP had attained a popular vote of 53.26 % compared to the BNF and BCP’s 21.94% and 19.15% respectively. In terms of parliamentary seats, while the BDP had won 45 seats, the BNF and BCP had won only 6 seats and 4 seats respectively.

Clearly, there is a reason why the opposition enjoyed such an upsurge of votes in 2014. In the main, the upsurge resulted from the votes of thousands of public sector employees who were dissatisfied not only by the way they were treated by government during the 2011 public sector strike, but also by the unfavorable terms and conditions of employment generally. Undoubtedly, the opposition was also voted by many youths who, despite several government’s so-called youth empowerment programmes (e.g. Young Farmers Fund, Youth Development Fund and Youth Employment Scheme), remained unemployed.

The opposition’s vote was also positively influenced by the voices of the media and civil society who, while projecting the failures of the BDP, presented the opposition as the answer to the many problems that Batswana suffered at the hands of the BDP under former president Lieutenant General Dr. Seretse Khama Ian Khama’s reign. The BDP’s near loss of power in 2014 was also at the hands of its own -the BDP members who were dissatisfied by the way the BDP was running its affairs but had remained in the BDP when some defected and formed and/or joined the BMD.

With the BDP’s loss of the popular vote in 2014, some, especially in the opposition expected that the UDC will win the 2019 general elections. Then, such expectation or hope appeared plausible. The question is: is the expectation or hope still plausible today with about one year before the general elections?

After the 2014 general elections, rather than building on its gains the opposition experienced an erosion of its support base because of, inter alia, the conflicts within the BMD which resulted in its split in 2017, resulting in the birth of the Alliance for Progressives (AP). Truth be told. Prior to the split, the UDC failed to intervene decisively, claiming, through its leader, Honorable Advocate Duma Boko, that since the BMD is an independent entity it can not intervene in its affairs.

In my view, by so doing, the UDC failed Batswana for if it had intervened in the BMD debacle, a split, which has inarguably weakened the UDC, could have been avoided. Even after the AP split, the BMD has known no peace, with the result that the party’s leadership suspended almost its entire Youth League leadership after it publicly called for the resignation and/or expulsion of party president, Advocate Sidney Pilane, for his failure to lead the party.

Still, the UDC leadership folded its arms and did not intervene in the Youth League matter which resulted in further turbulence within the BMD, and by extension the UDC.   Following the admission of the BCP into the UDC, which the BMD and Botswana Peoples Party (BPP) dispute, arguing that the current constitution recognizes only the BNF, BMD and BPP as the UDC’s contracting parties, there has been conflict between the BMD and BCP over the positions of UDC Vice President, among other things.  

Rather than dealing with the dispute decidedly, the UDC has been reticent, with some blaming the UDC’s reticence on Honorable Advocate Boko’s friendly relationship with the BCP leader, Dumelang Saleshando. This further caused divisions within the UDC. The divisions were exacerbated when Honorable Advocate Boko with Saleshando submitted, to the exclusion of Advocate Pilane and BPP president, Motlatsi Molapisi, the new UDC constitution for registration with the Registrar of Societies, something which the BMD and BPP opposed and wrote to the Registrar disowning the constitution.

It is common knowledge that the Registrar has since declined to register the constitution giving as one of the reasons for his declination the fact that the UDC is not an entity capable of registration under the Societies Act. This, even to a lay person, is a serious decision since it has implications on whether or not the UDC can, in its current form, lawfully contest elections in 2019. In fact, some have even opined that the BDP could approach the courts and seek to invalidate the election of all Members of Parliament (MPs) and Councilors who were elected under the UDC ticket in 2014.

 
Therefore, many thought that the UDC would, naturally, approach the courts to apply for a review of the Registrar’s decision. But, the UDC has to date, about two months after the decision was taken, not acted as such, breeding uncertainty among its members. There is another matter that shows the UDC’s failure to act. There has been disputes regarding constituency allocations to the contracting parties.

Some, especially in the BNF and BCP, are arguing that since the BMD was allocated constituencies on the basis of its strength before the AP split, now that its strength has been eroded following the split some of the constituencies allocated to it should be returned for reallocation. This matter is so serious that, at its conference in July this year, the BNF resolved that if the issue is not resolved the BNF should take the constituencies allocated to the BMD which it is entitled to by virtue of its 2014 electoral performance.

The situation in the UDC is so dire that at their July conferences, the BNF and the BCP resolved that if the conflicts within the UDC would not be resolved by mid-August, the BNF and the BCP should enter into a bilateral cooperation for the 2019 general elections. Today, it is mid-September, and the situation in the UDC is as bad as ever, if not worse, but nothing has been done to implement the conference resolution despite the fact that only one year remains before the 2019 general elections.

There has also been talk that the UDC or the BNF and BCP have taken a decision to expel Advocate Pilane from the UDC and nothing has happened in that regard. These debacles, which are mainly caused by the BMD, have caused the UDC to lose focus of agitating for its 2014 manifesto. Consequently, few Batswana know what the UDC stands for because its MPs have not done enough in terms of moving motions and asking questions in Parliament in line with the manifesto.

Some have even opined that the way the UDC leadership has been quite regarding national issues may make one think that they are compromised, e.g. through involvement in corruption, and fear being exposed should they comment on such matters. In its online edition of 17th September 2018, the Sunday Standard, under its column, The Watchdog, described the UDC best. It said “When it comes to lethargy, ineptitude and disorderliness, leaders of the UDC can proudly congratulate themselves for achieving what none us of thought possible only a few years back …”

Then writer continued to say “…The party, or whatever it is called, is no longer able to convene meetings. Even worse, it is no longer able to implement its own decisions. Umbrella for Democratic Change leaders do not speak with confidence on any national issues…” I agree.
In the meantime, the ascension of His Excellency the President, Mokgweetsi Eric Keabetswe Masisi, to the presidency has given new life to the BDP, further reducing the UDC’s chances of attaining state power in 2019.

Though the Masisi factor will no doubt contribute to the BDP’s victory in 2019, UDC’s loss will mainly be because of its own failures and the extent to which it has failed Batswana. Its loss will be as a result of several own goals. The UDC has even failed to perform one simple task-releasing the report on the circumstances surrounding the late Gomolemo Motswaledi’s death in a car accident. It is as a result of these failures, many of which are elementary, that the UDC has lost a significant portion of its support base. One only needs to read newspapers and listen to the radio to reach that conclusion.

The private media, trade unions, including the Botswana Federation of Public Sector Unions (BOFEPUSU), and civil society are no longer as anti-BDP and pro-UDC. On the contrary, many are praising H.E Masisi for returning their Botswana to them and would, in all likelihood, vote for the BDP in 2019. 

Continue Reading

Columns

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.

Continue Reading

Columns

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!

Continue Reading

Columns

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.

Continue Reading
Do NOT follow this link or you will be banned from the site!