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Artists Relief Fund: The good and the bad!

Lizibo

The creative sector is one of the many sectors affected by Covid-19, with many of the artists crying after failing to put bread on the table during lockdown, their cries have not fallen on deaf ears.

The Minister of Youth Empowerment, Sports and Culture development, Tumiso Rakgare deployed a strategy to assist the creative sector. There is however a condition: only those registered with Copyright Society of Botswana (COSBOTS) will receive P2500 for a period of three months. The Minister therefore urged artists to register with COSBOTS to benefit.

Although some artists are emotional about the issue, since some are not yet registered with COSBOTS, local song bird Amantle Brown said artists should stop complaining and should register with COSBOTS.

“I registered with COSBOTS and I understand where the ministry is coming from, because it was a pretty hard decision to make. It was hard to decide on how best to disburse the funds. They just thought that since many people are registered with COSBOTS perhaps it is a family of artists, since that way it would be fair.

They wanted to include everyone, and I understand that there are people who feel like this is unfair, at the end of the day COSBOTS is the only body that is recognised because it is a standing body for artists at this point,” she said.

“They are giving us P2500 from April, May and June. The money is not bad, at least I can make a shoot, at least I can buy food, do my make-up for my photo-shoots and videos. If we use the little we have so that we can live, it is better than nothing.

We can use it for now as we are waiting for things to get better. It is really better than nothing. I really urge artists to get registered under COSBOTS and be under something they can be recognised,” she said. In an interview with WeekendLife, local sensation Lizibo also stated that the gesture by the government was a commendable one.

“Well personally, I welcome the MYSC relief plan because they explained that there was an extensive consultation with other stake holders such as Bomu and BOPA if I remember properly, so I would say it was well thought out,” he said.

“With regards to only COSBOTS registered musicians benefiting from the fund, I’m glad the Minister indicated that they will make provision for professional musicians who are not registered yet.

This, in my thinking, is good because some may have challenges to register but currently active in the entertainment scene while others are still awaiting confirmation from COSBOTS. All in all I wish it will be a smooth operation to credit the fund to help soften the blow of Covid-19.”

The pint sized songbird like many other artists stated that as an employer is grateful that her employees (her band) are also covered with the P2500. “We as artist also find it commendable for the amount because most of us don’t even get close to 2.5 royalties paid at COSBOTS,” he said.

The founder of a local renowned praise cohort called ‘We Must Praise Choir,’ Vusi Botshelo shared with WeekendLife that Minister Rakgare deliberated on whether or not youth covid-19 relief packages were fair to the intended youth beneficiaries as the music industry is tough and months can go by without that P2500.

“It’s quite unfortunate that many youth may not necessarily benefit from this initiative because not everyone is a football player or an artist. Personally I am grateful that I will benefit as an artist, but I think of an ordinary young Motswana in Zwenshambe who survived on “small jobs” and does not fall in the few categories mentioned.”

“One of my other concerns is that government has great initiatives but gets failed by lower management. Often at times we find that only the elite or connected benefit from such programs. Hence I advice that MYSC will have to be as efficient as possible in ensuring that everyone within the mentioned category gets assisted.

Furthermore I am also concerned about COSBOTS being used as an assessment tool because a lot of artists are not registered with them, yet their music plays on radios and Televisions. I would recommend that the Ministry increases their scope to ensure that all deserving artists are assisted with or without COSBOTS.”

Even though other artists will be benefiting from the government, some artist however feel that the Ministry can use CIPA as well.

“Many of us including myself have our songs fully registered with CIPA and playing on radio stations yet we are not registered with COSBOTS. Does that discredit us as performing artists, honestly no! There are other supporting bodies to the music industry of which we are part of that on its own shows how credible we are in the music industry but are we going to ignore also the fact that not every association provides us with a letter of reference as an honor to show we have participated or took part in their platforms,”

“That means we do not have any proof track record yet we performed and participated, on top of that many times you’ll realise that most artist we are broke even shooting a live performance video, we cannot afford it,” said local gospel sensation Rati Molaakgosi. It is yet to be seen if these new cries will also reach the ears of the the Minister.

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UDC founder warns against merger

19th October 2020
Ex UDC Convener: Mpotokwane

Lebang Mpotokwane, one of the conveners who presided over the opposition cooperation talks that resulted in the formation of the Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC), has advised against changing the current umbrella model in favour of a merger as proposed by others.

The Botswana Congress Party (BCP) leader, Dumelang Saleshando recently went public to propose that UDC should consider merging of all opposition parties, including Alliance for Progressives (AP) and Botswana Patriotic Front (BNF).

Saleshando has been vehemently opposed by Botswana National Front (BNF), which is in favour of maintaining the current model.  BNF’s position has been favoured by the founding father of UDC, who warned that it will be too early to ditch the current model.

“UDC should be well developed to promote the spirit of togetherness on members and the members should be taught so that the merger is developed gradually. They should approach it cautiously. If they feel they are ready, they can, but it would not be a good idea,” Mpotokwane told WeekendPost this week.

Mpotokwane and Emang Maphanyane are the two men who have since 2003 began a long journey of uniting opposition parties in a bid to dethrone the ruling Botswana Democratic Party (BCP) as they felt it needed a strong opposition to avoid complacency.

Tonota born Mpotokwane is however disappointed on how they have been ejected from participating in the last edition of talks ahead of the 2019 general elections in which BCP was brought on board.  However, despite the ejection, Mpotokwane is not resentful to the opposition collective.

He said the vision of opposition unity was to ultimately merge the opposition parties but he believes time has not arrived yet to pursue that path. “The bigger picture was a total merger and we agreed that with three independent parties, members might be against merger eventuality so the current model should be used until a point where they are now together for as long as possible,” he said.

“UDC should gradually perform better in elections and gain confidence. They should not rush the merger. We have been meeting since 2003, but if they rush it might cause endless problems. If they are ready they can anyway,” he advised. For now the constituent parties of the umbrella have been exchanging salvos with others (BCP and BNF).

“There are good reasons for and against merging the parties. Personally, I am in favour of merging the parties (including AP and BPF) into a single formation but I know it’s a complex mission that will have its own challenges,” Saleshando said when he made his position known a week ago.

“Good luck to those advocating for a merger, it will be interesting to observe the tactics they will use to lure the BPF into a merger,” former BNF councillor for Borakalalo Ward and former BNF Youth League Secretary General, Arafat Khan, opined in relation to BCP’s proposed position.

Mpotokwane, who is currently out in the cold from the UDC since he was ejected from the party’s NEC in 2017, said the current bickering and the expected negotiations with other parties need the presence of conveners.

“We did not belong to any party as conveners so we were objective in our submissions. If party propose any progressive idea we will support, if it is not we will not, so I would agree that even now conveners might be key for neutrality to avoid biasness,” he observed. Despite being abandoned, Mpotokwane said he will always be around to assist if at all he is needed.

“If they want help I will be there, I have always been clear about it, but surely I will ask few questions before accepting that role,” he said. UDC is expected to begin cooperation talks with both AP and BPF either this week or next weekend for both upcoming bye-elections (halted by Covid-19) and 2024 general elections and it is revealed that there will be no conveners this time around.

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BDP attaches Boko’s property

19th October 2020
DUMA BOKO

The Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) moved through its lawyers to attach the property of Umbrella for Democratic (UDC) President Duma Boko and other former parliamentary contestants who failed in their court bid to overturn the 2019 general elections in 14 constituencies.

WeekendPost has established that this week, Deputy Sheriffs were commissioned by Bogopa Manewe Tobedza and Company who represented the BDP, to attach the properties of UDC elections contents in a bid to recover costs.  High Court has issued a writ of execution against all petitioners, a process that has set in motion the cost recovery measures.

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COVID-19 exposes decay in the education system

19th October 2020
Education Systm

Botswana Sectors of Teachers Union (BOSETU) says COVID-19 as a pandemic has negatively affected the education sector by deeply disrupting the education system. The intermittent lockdowns have resulted in the halting of teaching and learning in schools.

The union indicated that the education system was caught napping and badly exposed when it came to the use of Information System (IT), technological platforms and issues of digitalisation.

“COVID-19 exposed glaring inefficiencies and deficiencies when it came to the use of ITC in schools. In view of the foregoing, we challenge government as BOSETU to invest in school ITC, technology and digitalization,” says BOSETU President Kinston Radikolo during a press conference on Tuesday.

As a consequence, the union is calling on government to prioritise education in her budgeting to provide technological infrastructure and equipment including provision of tablets to students and teachers.

“Government should invest vigorously in internet connectivity in schools and teacher’s residences if the concept of flexi-hours and virtual learning were to be achieved and have desired results,” Radikolo said.

Radikolo told journalists that COVID-19 is likely to negatively affect final year results saying that the students would sit for the final examinations having not covered enough ground in terms of curriculum coverage.

“This is so because there wasn’t any catch up plan that was put in place to recover the lost time by students. We warn that this year’s final examination results would dwindle,” he said.

The Union, which is an affiliate of Botswana Federation of Public, Private and Parastatal Union (BOFEPUSU), also indicated that COVID-19’s presence as a pandemic has complicated the role of a teacher in a school environment, saying a teacher’s role has not only transcended beyond just facilitating teaching and learning, but rather, a teacher in this COVID-19 era, is also called upon to enforce the COVID-19 preventative protocols in the school environment.

“This is an additional role in the duty of a teacher that needs to be recognized by the employers. Teachers by virtue of working in a congested school environment have become highly exposed and vulnerable to COVID-19, hence the reason why BOSETU would like teachers to be regarded as the frontline workers with respect to COVID-19,” says Radikolo.

BOSETU noted that the pandemic has in large scales found its way into most of the school environments, as in thus far more than 50 schools have been affected by COVID-19. The Union says this is quite a worrying phenomenon.

“As we indicated before when we queried that schools were not ready for re-opening, it has now come to pass that our fears were not far-fetched. This goes out to tell that there is deficiency in our schools when it comes to putting in place preventative protocols. In our schools, hygiene is compromised by mere absence of sanitizers, few hand-washing stations, absence of social distancing in classes,” the Union leader said.

Furthermore, Radikolo stressed that the shifting system drastically increased the workload for teachers especially in secondary schools. He says teachers in these schools experience very high loads to an extent that some of them end up teaching up to sixty four periods per week, adding that this has not only fatigued teachers, but has also negatively affected their performance and the quality of teaching.

In what the Union sees as failure to uphold and honour collective agreements by government, owing to the shift system introduced at primary schools, government is still in some instances refusing to honour an agreement with the Unions to hire more teachers to take up the extra classes.

“BOSETU notes with disgruntlement the use of pre-school teachers to teach in the mainstream schools with due regard for their specific areas of training and their job descriptions. This in our view is a variation of the terms of employment of the said teachers,” says Radikolo.

The Union has called on government to forthwith remedy this situation and hire more teachers to alleviate this otherwise unhealthy situation. BOSETU also expressed concerns of some school administrators who continuously run institutions with iron fists and in a totalitarian way.

“We have a few such hot spot schools which the Union has brought to attention the Ministry officials such as Maoka JSS, Artesia JSS, and Dukwi JSS. We are worried that the Ministry becomes sluggish in taking action against such errant school administration. In instances where action is taken, such school administrators are transferred and rotated around schools.”

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