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Union rallies mines over COVID- 19 victims

Botswana Mine Workers Union (BMWU) and Botswana Labour Migrants Association (BoLAMA) this week applauded De Beers Group for heeding a call made to the mining sector and responded with a sizeable contribution of 20 million towards the fight against Covid-19 pandemic.

The unions also called on other mining companies to heed the call and extend a helping hand by contributing to the relief fund that was set to assist mitigate the impact of the COVID-19 or Coronavirus as it is commonly known.

On the 24th March 2020, BoLAMA issued a communique calling on the private sector to support the government of Botswana’s response efforts to combat Covid-19. The call specifically targeted the mining industry and subsequently called on the private sector for donations to the relief fund which was established on the 26th March 2020.

This week on the 6th April 2020, De Beers Group made an announcement on several of its social media platforms, of a $ 2, 500, 000 donation made across Botswana and Namibia as relief support towards the public health emergency. The amount directed to Botswana was $ 1,700,00 million of which BWP 10 million injected into the Covid-19 Relief Fund and another BWP 10 million slated for logistics, supply and community support.

BMWU and BoLAMA consider this gesture to be indicative of Anglo American/ De Beers Group commitment to responsible mining in line with its Corona-Virus Response Planning Community Guidance of 24th March 2020, by putting communities first.

Anglo America CEO, Mark Cutifani early this year while officiating at Investing in African Mining Indaba in Cape Town said this is a deviation from supply- side CSR, which is often linked with managing reputation and financial benefits without considering impact of interventions.

“We believe this is a show of commitment by De Beers, of its preparedness to deal with the social and economic after- effects of the pandemic on its direct employees and contractors during and post the pandemic. We are confident that Anglo American/ De Beers possess all the experience and technical know- how in dealing with public health emergencies as evidenced by their intervention in 2014 during the Ebola outbreak in Sierra Leone,” he said.

Botswana Mine Workers Union (BMWU) Secretary General, Tebogo Makhale said, “It is a milestone gesture that sets a benchmark of visionary and compassionate leadership that should be emulated and supported by the entire mining industry. It is a commendable step in the right direction towards an effort to save the entire humanity as well as workers of Botswana”.

Botswana Labour Migrants Association (BoLAMA) Executive Secretary, Kitso Phiri stated that private- public partnerships are needed for a strategic and coordinated response to COVID- 19. Phiri said mining as the economic bedrock of the country should play an even bigger role in the fight against the pandemic.

“What De Beers has done is commendable; they heeded not only the local call from BoLAMA but also the international call by WHO and the ILO to act responsibly amidst the pandemic. We await advice from the sector on what social protection measures they have put in place to mitigate income insecurities and catastrophic household costs of ex-employees and their families. This response is going to require significant financial support from all sectors and we should begin to think around strategies for domestic mobilization of resources to stand a chance of defeating this monster,” said Phiri.

The two unions also called on all other mining companies and allied industries to follow the example set by De Beers and also called on the Botswana Chamber of Mines (BCM) to give an industry position on social protection strategies for employees impacted by COVID-19 and how they intend to work with government in realizing them.

They also called on the private sector to have a vision beyond their short-term financial interests, by realigning and contributing 50% of their unused CSR budget towards the COVID-19 response as well as urge the government to consider a enacting a law that makes CSR mandatory for all companies.


Fighting vulture poisoning in KAZA region.

3rd February 2023
As a response to avert vulture poisoning currently going on in Botswana and KAZA region, Birdlife Botswana has collaborated with three other partners (BirdWatch Zambia, BirdLife International & Birdlife Zimbabwe) to tackle wildlife poisoning which by extension negatively affect vulture populations.

The Director of Birdlife Botswana, Motshereganyi Virat Kootshositse has revealed in an interview that the project which is funded by European Union’s main goal is to reduce poisoning related vultures’ death and consequently other wildlife species death within the KAZA region.

He highlighted that Chobe district in Botswana has been selected as a pilot site as it has experienced rampant incidents of vulture poisoning for the past few months. In August this year at least 50 endangered white backed vultures were reported dead at Chobe National Park, Botswana after feeding on a buffalo carcass laced with poison.  In November this year again 43 white backed vultures were found dead and two alive after feeding on a zebra suspected to have poisoned.  Other selected pilots’ sites are Kafue in Zambia and Hwange in Zimbabwe.

Kootshositse further explained they have established a national and regional Wildlife Poisoning Committee. He added that as for the national committee they have engaged various departments such as Crop Productions, Agro Chemicals, Department of Veterinary Services, Department of Wildlife and National Parks and other NGOs such as Raptors Botswana to come together and find a long-lasting solution to address wildlife poisoning in Botswana. ‘Let’s have a strategy or a plan together to tackle wildlife poisoning,’ he stated

He also decried that there is gap in the availability of data about vulture poisoning or wildlife in general. ‘If we have a central point for data, it will help in terms of reporting and advocacy’, he stated

He added that the regional committee comprises of law enforcement officers such as BDF and Botswana police, village leadership such as Village Development Committee and Kgosi. ‘We need to join hand together and protect the wildlife we have as this will increase our profile for conservation and this alone enhances our visitation and boost our local economy,’ he noted

Kootshositse noted that Birdlife together with DWNP also addressed series of meeting in some villages in the Chobe region recently. The purpose of kgotla meetings was to raise awareness on the conservation and protection of vultures in Chobe West communities.

‘After realizing that vulture poisoning in the Chobe areas become frequent, we realise that we need to do something about it.  ‘We did a public awareness by addressing several kgotla meetings in some villages in the Chobe west,’ he stated

He noted that next year they are going to have another round of consultations around the Chobe areas and the approach is to engage the community into planning process. ‘Residents should be part of the plan of actions and we are working with farmers committee in the areas to address vulture poisoning in the area, ‘he added

He added that they have found out that some common reasons for poisoning wildlife are farmers targeting predators such as lions in retaliation to killing of their livestock. Another common incident cross border poaching in the Chobe area as poachers will kills an elephant and poison its carcass targeting vultures because of their aerial circling alerting authorities about poaching activities.

Kootshositse noted that in the last cases it was disheartening the incidents occurred three months apart. He added that for the first time they found that some of the body parts of some vultures were missing. He added harvesting of body parts of vultures is not a common practice in Botswana, although it is used in some parts of Africa. ‘We suspect that someone took advantage of the availability of carcasses and started harvesting their body parts,’

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Giant in the making: Everton Mlalazi

3rd February 2023

The music industry is at a point where artists are jostling for space because there are so many aspirants trying to get their big break, thus creating stiff competition.

In the music business it’s about talent and positioning. You need to be at the right place at the right time with the right people around you to propel you forward.
Against all odds, Everton Mlalazi has managed to takeover the gospel scene effortlessly.
To him, it’s more than just a breakthrough to stardom, but a passion as well as mission directly appointed by the Lord.

Within a short space of 2 years after having decided to persue a solo career, Mlalazi has already made it into international music scene, with his music receiving considerable play on several gospel television and radio stations in Botswana including other regional stations like Trace Africa, One Gospel, Metro FM in South Africa, Hope FM in Kenya and literally all broadcast stations in Zimbabwe.

It doesn’t only stop there, as the musician has already been nominated 2 times and 2 awards which are Bulawayo Arts Awards (BAA) best Male artists 2022, StarFM listerners Choice Award, Best Newcomer 2021 and ZIMA Best Contemporary Gospel 2022, MLA awards Best Male artist & Best Gospel Artist 2022.

Everton’s inspiration stems from his ultimate passion and desire to lead people into Godly ways and it seems it’s only getting started.
The man is a gospel artist to put on your radar.

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African countries call on WHO to increase funding

2nd February 2023

Minister of Health Dr Edwin Dikoloti says Africa member states call on World Health Organization (WHO) to ensure equitable resource allocation for 2024-2025. Dr Dikoloti was speaking this week at the WHO Executive Board Meeting in Geneva, Switzerland.

He said countries agreed that there is need to address the budget and funding imbalances by increasing the programme budget share of countries and regions to 75% for the next year.

“The proposed budget for 2024-2025 marks an important milestone as it is the first in Programme Budget in which country offices will be allocated more than half of the total budget for the biennium. We highly welcome this approach which will enable the organization to deliver on its mandate while fulfilling the expectations for transparency, efficiency and accountability.”

The Botswana Health Minister commended member states on the extension of the General Programme of Work (GPD 13) and the Secretariat work to monitor the progress towards the triple billion targets, and the health-related SDGs.

“We welcome the Director’s general proposed five priorities which have crystalized into the “five Ps” that are aligned with the GPW 13 extension. Impact can only be achieved through close coordination with, and support to national health authorities. As such, the strengthening of country offices is instrumental, with particular focus on strengthening national health systems and on promoting more equitable access to health services.”

According to Dr Dikoloti, the majority of countries with UHC index that is below the global median are in the WHO Africa region. “For that, we call on the WHO to enhance capacity at the regional and national levels in order to accelerate progress. Currently, the regional office needs both technical and financial support in order to effectively address and support country needs.”

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