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Trade Union criticizes Covid-19 vaccination programme

Covid-19 vaccination programme Mogae

Botswana Federation of Trade Unions (BFTU) has once again dressed down government’s efforts in curbing and containing the spread of the contagious COVID-19. In fact, the union says it is greatly troubled by how Botswana is lagging behind in administering the vaccine.

The Ministry of Health and Wellness started the COVID-19 vaccination rollout program which resumed on the 10th May 2021. The vaccination roll out program followed the sequence in which citizens aged 55 and above were prioritized. Health care workers also formed part of those that were the first to be vaccinated.

In order to avoid congestion at health facilities, adults above the age of 65 years registered online. Botswana saw prominent former public servants such as former President Festus Mogae and former Health Minister and diplomat, Gaositwe Chiepe, first in line for the vaccine.

Last week, Ministry of Health and Wellness Communications Department issued a statement, indicating that Botswana will receive 38 400 doses of AstraZaneca COVID-19 vaccine on the 29 May 2021 (past weekend), and 19 890 doses of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine on the 3rd June 2021. The Ministry stated that these vaccines were bought through the COVAX facility and facilitated by United Nations Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF).

However, BFTU strongly argue that the government’s handling, management and pace of Covid-19 vaccine procurement is clearly not at par with the threat facing the entire nation owing to the increasing variation in the manifestation of the virus across the globe.

“BFTU is strongly concerned that the doses are far from adequate in proportion to both the total number of our population of approximately 2 million people, and in comparison to the conspicuously swift and ordinate response of the rest of the world community.

‘‘Whilst there is talk of different variants of the virus spreading rapidly, second and or third waves of the virus, and therefore the second dose of the vaccine covering wide sections of populations, Botswana does not seem keen on taking advantage of its relatively small population to extend vaccination to a much wider part of it, if not the rest of it,” says BFTU Secretary General, Thusang Butale.

The Trade Union also condemned government’s temperament of always reliant on donations from international organizations and countries, denoting this as ‘time wasted that will never return.’

“Had government not wasted time waiting upon donations and embarked on a clear cut programme and proper and timely procurement of vaccines, a vast number of the population would by far have been vaccinated and now due for second round of the process.”

BFTU maintains that the targeted population (of those aged 55 and above) is still way too low when comparing to the entire population, indicating further that government is mute on why the population is limited.

“Due cognizance is taken of the fact that government has pronounced that the target population for vaccination is the adult age range of 55 and above. This targeted population is far too low when gauged against 2 million citizens. No convincing reason has been advanced as to why it should be limited to such a small population rather than the entire population,” Butale said in a statement this afternoon.

The group has an earnest view that despite the economic challenges especially resulting from Covid-19, it is unreasonable and unfathomable why a small population of 2 million or any part of it for that matter, should face the imminent risk of being decimated in spite of an economy boasting one of the best foreign reserves and highest per capita income.

“Compounding the above concerns is the realization that even in the thick of a crisis such as is presented by Covid-19 there is an observable trend of corrupt or unethical practice by elements within government and politicians, of fighting over and profiteering from the provision of essential supplies, even to the detriment of masses of unprotected citizens. This observation is reminiscent of what occurred with the BOTS50 where public funds were syphoned through what seemed like legitimate tendering without anybody responsible to render due account.”

Meanwhile, according to the Presidential COVID-19 Case Report, there are 142 864 citizens who received their first COVID-19 jab. Botswana has thus far, confirmed 54 973 cases of the deadly virus, with 2865 active cases (as at 31st May 2021).

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Masisi to dump Tsogwane?

28th November 2022

Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) and some senior government officials are abuzz with reports that President Mokgweetsi Masisi has requested his Vice President, Slumber Tsogwane not to contest the next general elections in 2024.

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African DFIs gear to combat climate change

25th November 2022

The impacts of climate change are increasing in frequency and intensity every year and this is forecast to continue for the foreseeable future. African CEOs in the Global South are finally coming to the party on how to tackle the crisis.

Following the completion of COP27 in Egypt recently, CEOs of Africa DFIs converged in Botswana for the CEO Forum of the Association of African Development Finance Institutions. One of the key themes was on green financing and building partnerships for resource mobilization in financing SDGs in Africa

A report; “Weathering the storm; African Development Banks response to Covid-19” presented shocking findings during the seminar. Among them; African DFI’s have proven to be financially resilient, and they are fast shifting to a green transition and it’s financing.

COO, CEDA, James Moribame highlighted that; “Everyone needs food, shelter and all basic needs in general, but climate change is putting the achievement of this at bay. “It is expensive for businesses to do business, for instance; it is much challenging for the agricultural sector due to climate change, and the risks have gone up. If a famer plants crops, they should be ready for any potential natural disaster which will cost them their hard work.”

According to Moribame, Start-up businesses will forever require help if there is no change.

“There is no doubt that the Russia- Ukraine war disrupted supply chains. SMMEs have felt the most impact as some start-up businesses acquire their materials internationally, therefore as inflation peaks, this means the exchange rate rises which makes commodities expensive and challenging for SMMEs to progress. Basically, the cost of doing business has gone up. Governments are no longer able to support DFI’s.”

Moribame shared remedies to the situation, noting that; “What we need is leadership that will be able to address this. CEOs should ensure companies operate within a framework of responsible lending. They also ought to scout for opportunities that would be attractive to investors, this include investors who are willing to put money into green financing. Botswana is a prime spot for green financing due to the great opportunity that lies in solar projects. ”

Technology has been hailed as the economy of the future and thus needs to be embraced to drive operational efficiency both internally and externally.

Executive Director, bank of Industry Nigeria, Simon Aranou mentioned that for investors to pump money to climate financing in Africa, African states need to be in alignment with global standards.

“Do what meets world standards if you want money from international investors. Have a strong risk management system. Also be a good borrower, if you have a loan, honour the obligation of paying it back because this will ensure countries have a clean financial record which will then pave way for easier lending of money in the future. African states cannot just be demanding for mitigation from rich countries. Financing needs infrastructure to complement it, you cannot be seating on billions of dollars without the necessary support systems to make it work for you. Domestic resource mobilisation is key. Use public money to mobilise private money.” He said.

For his part, the Minster of Minister of Entrepreneurship, Karabo Gare enunciated that, over the past three years, governments across the world have had to readjust their priorities as the world dealt with the effects and impact of the COVID 19 pandemic both to human life and economic prosperity.

“The role of DFIs, during this tough period, which is to support governments through countercyclical measures, including funding of COVID-19 related development projects, has become more important than ever before. However, with the increasingly limited resources from governments, DFIs are now expected to mobilise resources to meet the fiscal gaps and continue to meet their developmental mandates across the various affected sectors of their economies.” Said Gare.

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TotalEnergies Botswana launches Road safety campaign in Letlhakeng

22nd November 2022

Letlhakeng:TotalEnergies Botswana today launched a Road Safety Campaign as part of their annual Stakeholder Relationship Management (SRM), in partnership with Unitrans, MVA Fund, TotalEnergies Letlhakeng Filling Station and the Letlhakeng Sub District Road Safety Committee during an event held in Letlhakeng under the theme, #IamTrafficToo.

The Supplier Relationship Management initiative is an undertaking by TotalEnergies through which TotalEnergie annually explores and implements social responsibility activities in communities within which we operate, by engaging key stakeholders who are aligned with the organization’s objectives. Speaking during the launch event, TotalEnergies’ Operations and HSSEQ,   Patrick Thedi said,  “We at TotalEnergies pride ourselves in being an industrial operator with a strategy centered on respect, listening, dialogue and stakeholder involvement, and a partner in the sustainable social and economic development of its host communities and countries. We are also very fortunate to have stakeholders who are in alignment with our organizational objectives. We assess relationships with our key stakeholders to understand their concerns and expectations as well as identify priority areas for improvement to strengthen the integration of Total Energies in the community. As our organization transitions from Total to Total Energies, we are committed to exploring sustainable initiatives that will be equally indicative of our growth and this Campaign is a step in the right direction. ”

As part of this campaign roll out, stakeholders  will be refurbishing and upgrading and installing road signs around schools in the area, and generally where required. One of the objectives of the Campaign is to bring awareness and training on how to manage and share the road/parking with bulk vehicles, as the number of bulk vehicles using the Letlhakeng road to bypass Trans Kalahari increases. When welcoming guests to Letlhakeng, Kgosi Balepi said he welcomed the initiative as it will reduce the number of road incidents in the area.

Also present was District Traffic Officer ASP, Reuben Moleele,  who gave a statistical overview of accidents in the region, as well as the rest of the country. Moleele applauded TotalEnergies and partners on the Campaign, especially ahead of the festive season, a time he pointed out is always one with high road statistics. The campaign name #IamTrafficToo, is a reminder to all road users, including pedestrians that they too need to be vigilant and play their part in ensuring a reduction in road incidents.

The official proceedings of the day included a handover of reflectors and stop/Go signs to the Letlhakeng Cluster from TotalEnerigies, injury prevention from tips from MVA’s Onkabetse Petlwana, as  well as  bulk vehicle safety tips delivered from Adolf Namate of Unitrans.

TotalEnergies, which is committed to having zero carbon emissions by 2050,  has committed to rolling out the Road safety Campaign to the rest of the country in the future.

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