Connect with us
Advertisement

BMD’s expulsion -the way forward

Ndulamo Anthony Morima
EAGLE WATCH

25th October 2018, the day in which the Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) expelled the Botswana Movement for Democracy (BMD), will go down in history as a very significant day in Botswana’s political history.

There is no doubt that, though the decision is long overdue, it has brought hope for the multitudes of Batswana who are sympathetic to the Opposition. It is incumbent upon the leadership of the UDC and/or the Botswana National Front (BNF) and the Botswana Congress Party (BCP), should the UDC disintegrate, to ensure that these Batswana are not disappointed yet again.

That the BMD can, within thirty days, appeal the expulsion to the National Congress (NC), as indicated by UDC president, Advocate Honourable Duma Boko, is academic because the chances of the BMD succeeding in such an appeal are close to nil. The only reason the BMD would make such an appeal would be for strategic purposes. This would be for purposes of dragging the matter so that by the time it goes to the courts it would be in mid-2019, something which would delay the BNF and the BCP’s campaigns.

Truth be told, the BMD knows full well that it does not have enough following to, alone, wrestle state power from the Botswana Democratic Party (BDP). The BCP’s 2014 humiliating loss at the polls is lesson enough. Realizing that it has lost the battle, if it will, some in the BMD leadership may choose to hurt the BNF and the BCP by using the uncertainty caused by appeals and court action to minimize their prospects of success in 2019.

The UDC’s decision not to expel BMD Council candidates, allowing them to represent the UDC in 2019, is political manoeuvring at its best. It is clearly intended to sow seeds of division within the BMD. No doubt, the BMD is likely to instruct the concerned Council candidates to disregard the UDC’s decision, but some of the Council candidates are likely to, in an effort to safeguard their political futures, disregard BMD’s instruction. This may result in their expulsion from the party.     

Depending on how it is handled, BMD’s expulsion will, no doubt, affect Opposition coalition politics in Botswana. It is in that regard that one hopes that following this decision, the UDC will act swiftly in dealing with its consequences. It is clear that, as it has threatened since its suspension, the BMD is likely to approach the courts with an application to set aside its expulsion. It is how the UDC responds to this almost certain litigation that, in my view, will seal the fate of the UDC and/or determine the Opposition’s performance in the 2019 general elections.

I have hitherto argued that if the BMD decides to challenge its expulsion in court, as it is likely to do, it will be counter productive for the UDC to expend its limited resources and time in opposing the application. My argument is that considering that such a court action is likely to be protracted, it may cost the UDC politically since it will lose the limited time and resources it could otherwise be using for campaigning for 2019.

In the meantime, the BDP, which is somewhat revitalised under His Excellency the President Dr. Mokgweetsi Keabetswe Eric Masisi’s presidency, will exploit the situation in its campaign for 2019. Clearly, under H.E Masisi, the BDP is stronger than it was under former president Lieutenant General Dr. Seretse Khama Ian Khama, especially at the twilight of his tenure. The UDC or the BNF/BCP bilateral cooperation can, therefore, not afford to lose their limited resources and time in fruitless litigation.

I have opined, as I still do, that if it becomes clear, from the court papers, that the imminent court battle will be protracted, the BNF and the BCP would be better served by leaving the UDC and entering into a bilateral cooperation as resolved at their conferences in July this year. I leave out the Botswana Peoples Party (BPP) because it is not clear on which side it is. In fact, if the contents of the BMD’s response to UDC’s ‘show cause’ letter are anything to go by, BPP may be on BMD’s side.

If the BNF and BCP leave the UDC, BMD will remain with an empty shell under which it cannot function as a true coalition because there can be no coalition of one political party. Even if the BPP were to remain with the BMD under the UDC, such would be a futile exercise considering the BPP’s political insignificance.

In any event, the UDC’s legal status is uncertain following the Registrar of Societies’ refusal to register the proposed amendments to the 2012 Constitution, claiming that he has no jurisdiction to regulate the UDC. This decision has not been challenged before the courts and it may haunt the UDC in 2019. Truth be told, when everything is said and done, it may well be that the BMD will dwindle into political oblivion considering that it lost many members as a result of the Alliance for Progressives (AP)’s split.

The fracas between the BMD Youth League and the party’s National Executive Committee (NEC) has also resulted in some defections. Also, following its expulsion, it may also lose members because not all the members would like to be outside the UDC. As I have argued before, the BNF/BCP bilateral cooperation will be fruitful in at least two respects. Firstly, it is likely to attract the AP back into the fold, the result of which may be a coalition.

It is not a farfetched idea that the AP may join the fold because it has always stated that for as long as the BMD is still part of the UDC, it cannot join the UDC. BMD’s expulsion may, therefore, be an incentive for it to join the coalition. From the BCP 2014 experience, the AP knows full well that outside a coalition of Opposition political parties it stands no chance in 2019. It knows that Batswana who subscribe to Opposition politics prefer Opposition political parties to be united under a coalition of some sort.

Also, politics being politics, though the BPP is currently fence sitting, it may, for political expediency, also join the BNF/BCP/AP alliance, making the Opposition coalition even stronger. Secondly, even if the BNF/BCP bilateral cooperation does not attract the AP and the BPP, considering the BNF and BCP’s traditional support base, the BNF and BCP can, within the remaining year, salvage the Opposition’s fortunes in 2019.

This is especially true because, with the BMD saga no longer a detraction, those sympathetic to the Opposition, for instance, trade unions, especially Botswana Federation of Public Sector Unions (BOFEPUSU), may be reenergised and influence some of their members to vote for the Opposition. Recently, government threw the Opposition a life line by de-recognizing public sector trade unions, action which has angered trade unions and brought back memories of the Khama era when disregard for the rights of public sector trade unions was the order of the day.

This de-recognition, which came from no way considering that until recently public sector trade unions and government have been working together to revive the defunct Public Service Bargaining Council (PSBC), can be leveraged upon by the Opposition to reignite the ‘2014 moono’ flame, especially among public servants. The other circumstance which the Opposition can leverage on, though there is limited time before the 2019 general elections, is the acrimony between H.E Dr. Masisi and Dr. Khama which have ripped the party apart.

This may result in some BDP members voting for Opposition candidates as a way of punishing those who belong to a different camp. Judging by this year’s Bulela Ditswe upsets in some constituencies, this is not a far-fetched thought. The independent candidates (mekoko) phenomena, which is likely to embattle the BDP after the party’s final verdicts with respect to this year’s Bulela Ditswe results, which have been widely appealed, may also be leveraged upon by the Opposition since that may result in vote splitting which can benefit the Opposition.

But, the Opposition can only leverage from these if its house is in order. And for its house to be in order in time for the 2019 general elections, the UDC or BNF and BCP has and/or have to close the BMD expulsion matter as soon as possible. If the UDC allows the matter to drag before the courts it will be doing exactly what the BMD or the BMD president, Advocate Sidney Pilane, wants. The courts will be like a home ground, with all its attendant advantages, for the BMD.

In conclusion, therefore, the way forward following BMD’s expulsion would be to, if the UDC or the BNF and BCP realizes that the BMD relishes a protracted legal battle, leave the BMD with an empty shell and enter into a bilateral coalition as directed by their July conferences. Chances are that if that happens, the AP, and may be the BPP, will join the BNF and BCP, the result being a formidable coalition which would, no doubt, be unparalleled by the BMD or BMD/BPP shell that would have remained masquerading as the UDC.

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!