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Govt acquire Okavango land for Masisi’s visitors

President Masisi & Morwaeng

President Dr Mokgweetsi Masisi and his office (the Office of the President) have literally thrown the Directorate of Intelligence and Services (DIS) under the proverbial bus as they distanced themselves from the decision to apply for detribalization of a prime piece of land in the pristine Okavango Delta and instead implicated the latter.

The Minister responsible for the presidency Kabo Morwaeng, under whose portfolio the DIS falls, revealed this when responding to a question in Parliament on Friday. Initially, via press releases from the government enclave the public had been made to believe that the Office of the President was the one which was behind the detrabilisation of the piece of land in the Okavango Delta and not one of the government departments that falls under it. Under normal circumstances, a department has to take responsibility for all administrative issues and not the parent Ministry as it has to be held accountable for its actions and not its parent ministry.

But Morwaeng told Parliament on Friday that, “the Government has not prioritized participation of the Office of the President in tourism. The recent detribalization of the of a portion of a portion of Moremi Game Reserve (NG/28) and (NG/21) in the Okavango Delta was facilitated by the Directorate of Intelligence Services for state purposes, more particularly, specialized us by VVIPS (Very Very Important Persons).”

Saleshando had asked Morwaeng to among others state all the ventures to be undertaken by the Office of the President that have been under the National Development Plan and state also all the land parcels held by the Office of the President for the development of tourism related projects, why Government has prioritized participation of the Office of the President participation in tourism that compete directly with the private sector an undermine the privatization policy and ahead pf of private citizens who have interest to invest in the sector. .

In fact, the acquisition of the piece of land in question has been controversial. The Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Land Management, Water and Sanitation, Bonolo Khumotaka had to retract her own press release that she had issued on 17th June 2021, citing some fresh amendments.

The release stated that. “The following amendments are made to correct the statement as it relates to the consultations mad with the District Leadership. On the 11th May 2021, there was a meeting held between Tawana Landboard Secretary, and the North West District Council Chairman with the North West District Council Executive.” Khumotaka added that, “A similar meeting was also held with the Batawana Regent, Kgosi Kealetile with some Dikgosi on the 28th May 2021. The Ministry apologizes and the error is regretted,” Khumotaka wrote.

In the 17th savingram, Khumotaka had stated that, “ acquisition of land in the by the State in the Okavangi Delta in terms of Section 32 of the Tribal Land Act, ‘The Tribal Land Act Cap 32 (I) states, “If the President determines that it is is in the public interest that any piece of land the ownership of which was in a Land Board under Section 10 should be acquired by the State, the Minister hall serve notice on the Land Board and District Council and request that such be granted to the state, and the Land Board may then having the views of the District Council on the matter, grant such land to the state…’

Khumotaka further stated that, “therefore it is in in line with the law for the Government to acquire portions of Tribal Land that covers a portion of Moremi Game Reserve (NG/28) and NG/21 in the Okavango Delta, for the benefit of the public.”

In what some observers have described as an “own goal,” at no stage did the government mention DIS in the correspondences or VVIP. Instead, Khumotaka’s initial savingram stated that, “The piece of land in question is being acquired for the establishment of a secure state/government facility for tourism purposes.” He also added that, “In doing so , the acquisition of ensures that the current land use of the area is not conflicted with or adversely affected.” According to Khumotaka, “This is not the first time that Government would not be converting Tribal Land to State or vice versa.

Mining towns are examples of tribal land which has been detribalized for public interest. In addition , some farms have also been detribalized for direct administration and management by Government.”  In a savingram dated 9th April 2021, addressed to the North West District Council Secretary, the Minister responsible for land, arak was founded by Jean Craven and du Plessis in 2008.

The firm launched its flagship Structured Trade Finance Fund with $300,000 in 2009. The fund, which grew to manage in excess of $1 billion by 2018, offers working-capital financing and other loans to African companies. Mzwinila had stated that, “His Excellency the President, exercise of his powers under Section 32 of the Tribal land Act has determined that a portion of Moremi Game Reserve (NG/28 ) and (NG/21 as depicted in the attached diagram. The resultant area gives a total of about 22,0292 Hectares.”

He also added that pursuant to Section 32 of the Tribal Land Act, Cap: 32:02, “I’m required, as I hereby do, to notify North West District Council of His Excellency’s intention to acquire the above-mentioned parcel of land to the State.” Mzwinila also stated that Masisi had determined that the land be acquired in the public interest. It is understood that even before Mzwinila’s ink had dried up, some councillors went for the jugular as they called for the minister to explain what he meant that the land had been acquired, “in the public interest.”

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Mental health concern amid COVID-19 pandemic 

24th September 2021
Mental Health

With the advent of COVID-19, mental health and psychosocial has become a major concern around the world. There is   significant increase in the rates of stress, anxiety and depression globally.

In creating awareness and support on mental health and psychosocial support, the Ministry of Local Government & Rural Development, through the Department of Social Protection (DSP) hosted a virtual regional mental health and Psychosocial Support Forum (MHPSS).

The MHPSS Forum brings together stakeholders from different sectors providing Mental Health and Psychosocial Support services particularly to children, youth, families and the workforce, as well as Academia, International Cooperating Partners, Community Implementing Partners and the media.

It aims to facilitate learning, information exchange and advocacy to promote mainstreaming of Mental Health and Psycho-Social Support (PSS) into policies, programmes, services and funding priorities for children and youth in Botswana.

The event is a partnership between The Ministry of Local Government & Rural Development, through the Department of Social Protection (DSP), and the Regional Psychosocial Support Initiative (REPSSI), with Project Concern International Botswana (PCI) and Marang Child Care Network Trust (MCCNT).

The event is held every two years, and Botswana started hosting the Forum in 2014. The theme for this year is ‘Innovate, Integrate, Thrive,’ which prompts us to find new ways to survive the COVID-19 pandemic which we can mainstream into our daily activities.

The Northern Regional Forum in Mahalapye was held on 17-19 August 2021 while the Southern Regional Forum  in  Ghanzi, was  from 21-23 September 2021. Findings from both regions will be presented at the National Forum to be held in Kasane on 12-14 October 2021. The event is held in collaboration with local authorities in each region.

The event is structured in this manner: The first day is a Special Session for Children, where children in the region will talk about the challenges they face that affect their mental health, how they cope and what they think can be done to support them.

The second day is the official opening where the lead ministry gives a keynote address, and presentations from service providers in the region. The third and last day is abstract presentations from different speakers on thematic areas under the theme.

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GMES & Africa Southern Africa to hold a Regional Stakeholder Workshop on Earth Observation Technologies

24th September 2021
GMESAfrica

The Southern African Science Service Centre for Climate Change and Adaptive Land Management (SASSCAL) in collaboration with the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) will hold a Hybrid GMES and Africa Regional workshop from 27 – 29 September 2021, at Safari Hotel in Windhoek, Namibia.

The Global Monitoring for Environment and Security and Africa (GMES & Africa) Initiative is a programme formed out of mutual cooperation between Africa and Europe with a focus on Earth Observation (EO) systems.

It was formed to respond to the global need to manage the environment, understand and mitigate the effects of climate change and ensure civil security by providing information to policymakers, scientists, private sector and the public. GMES and Africa aims to promote development of local capacities, institutional, human and technical resources for access to and exploitation of Earth Observation (EO) based services on an operational basis for sustainable development in Africa.

In its first phase, GMES has funded 13 consortiums in Africa. In Southern African, SASSCAL-led consortia is implementing the Wetland Monitoring and Assessment Service for Transboundary Basins in Southern Africa (WeMAST) Project while CSIR is leading the Marine and Coastal Operations for Southern Africa (MARCO[1]South). SASSCAL Members of the consortium include the University of Botswana, University of Zambia, Cape Peninsula University of Technology, University of the Western Cape and Midlands State University, South African National Space Agency (SANSA) and the National Remote Sensing Centre (NRSC) of Zambia.

CSIR led consortium includes ABALOBI, Benguela Current Convention, Coastal Oceans Research and Development in the Indian Ocean, Council for Scientific and Industrial Research, National Sea Rescue Institute, University of Dar Es Salaam, University of Eduardo Mondlane and the Western Indian Ocean Marine Science Association).

The workshop will also provide an opportunity to promote and encourage mutual exchanges in terms of sharing best practices, knowledge and experiences as well as allow for the exchange of information and knowledge on new and innovative Earth Observation technologies developed under the programmes and their alignment with the region’s sustainable development strategies.

The workshop will also reveal trends in the use of earth observation data to monitor and assess wetland conditions, threats to sustainable utilisation of wetland resources as well as updating stakeholders on how climate change variability and drought is continually affecting Sub-Saharan Africa’s surface water resources.

The workshop’s envisaged outcomes will be to ensure shared knowledge and understanding of the new and innovative Earth Observation technologies, and their application to society. Expected to visit is a broader pool of international delegates from the two continents (Europe and Africa) both physically and virtual.

This includes the member countries policy makers, line ministers from the SADC countries, public and private sector stakeholders, implementers, Basin Commissions, researchers, and any other stakeholders whose activities are related to coastal areas, rivers, and their ecosystems.

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Vendors ready for the Tobacco Control Bill

21st September 2021
Vendors

Some vendors have been misled
Vendors thrive on households goods and fresh produce

Despite the previous false allegations that the Tobacco Control Bill will lead to several 20 000 vendors across the country losing their jobs, several local vendors have expressed that they are ready for the bill and because vendors sell mostly household goods

“This is something that we openly accept and receive as street vendors, the problem is some of our counterparts were misled and made to believe that we will not be allowed to sell cigarettes on our stalls.

Some of us got to understand that the bill states that we have to be licensed to sell cigarettes, we are not supposed to sell them to children under the age of 18 years of age and eliminating the selling of single sticks. We understand that this agenda is meant to develop a healthy nation but not take us down,” said Mbimbi Tau a vendor who operates from Mogoditshane.

The Tobacco Control Bill has been passed in several countries and street vendors are operating properly without any challenges faced. Tau further mentioned that there is no way that the Tobacco Control Bill will affect their business operations, all they have to do as vendors are to get the required documentation and do what the bill requires.

Another vendor Busani Selalame who operates from Gaborone Bonnington North was not shy to express his support towards the Tobacco Control Bill, “the problem is that some people within our sector have been misled and now they think that the bill is meant to take our operations down and completely stop selling cigarettes.

I support the fact that we are not supposed to sell cigarettes to children who are under the age of 18 years of age this has always been wrong, as parents we should be cautious of such and ensure that our children are disassociated with cigarettes,” said Selalame.

The Tobacco Control Bill prohibits advertising, promotion and sponsorship by the tobacco industry to prevent messages, cues, and other inducements to begin using tobacco, especially among the youth, to reassure users to continue their use, or that otherwise undermine quitting.

Renowned economist Bakang Ntshingane is of the view that since vendors sell household goods and fresh produce they are likely to keep on making profits despite what the Tobacco Control Bill comes with. He further stated that the Tobacco Control Bill will not be of harm on the local economy since the country does not manufacture or produce any tobacco related products.

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