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P100 bn fall: Motsepe lays criminal charges to SAPS 

Motsepe

The South African businesswoman, Bridgette Motsepe-Radebe, whom prosecutors fingered as a co-signatory to at least two bank accounts holding some of the P100 billion allegedly stolen from the Botswana government to finance “terrorism”, has laid charges against the Directorate of Public Prosecutions (DPP) director, Stephen Tiroyakgosi; former DPP director deputy, Priscilla Israel; and the Directorate on Corruption and Economic Crimes (DCEC) investigator, Jako Hubona.

Motsepe’s report to South African Police comes after the high court declared the P100 billion case a fabrication by state law enforcement agencies. Hubona had alleged that Motsepe-Radebe was a co-signatories on South African bank accounts owned by two companies, Blue Flies and Fire Flies.

Motsepe’s police report is an extra burden to the trio-Tiroyakgosi, Israel and Hubona, who are still fighting to clear their names before local authorities as directed by the court. The court has called the president and the Law society to crack the whip on the perpetrators. This week the Law Society revealed that they would appropriately deal with their implicated members-Tiroyakgosi and Israel.

The case has offended South African individuals and shaken the Botswana and South African diplomatic relations. Last week, the South African Ministry of Defence and Corrections Services revealed that they would be seeking clarity from Botswana. In contrast, the South African National Civic Organization (SANCO) yesterday embarked on a trip to the Botswana Embassy to register its dissatisfaction with the government of Botswana about “their continued undermining of the integrity of the South African State in collaboration with a South African right-wing organisation Afri-Forum through fabricated and false allegations.”

In a similar fashion to her co-accused, Motsepe has always maintained her innocence and warned ‘conspirators’ of possible consequences. Her decision to report the matter to the police mirrors former President Lt Gen Ian Khama, who reported Hubona and others to the Botswana police for perjury.

The role of the DPP, before registering the case in court, according to Khama, is to ensure that evidence through the investigations can hold up and is not fabricated. “They were supposed to thoroughly investigate to give them confidence that it is a winnable case. For them to have participated and taken this to court as they had, especially in the case of Butterfly, truly indicate that they were complicit in committing this crime,” he has said.

This week, the Botswana Police service revealed that the case is over; hence they are now at liberty to give it attention and bring the perpetrators to book. But Khama says he also wants the masterminds behind the conspiracy named and shamed for who they are. Motsepe-Radebe was on the eve of the 2019 elections also accused of bankrolling Pelonomi Venson-Moitoi’s campaign against President Mokgweetsi Masisi in the controversial race of the chairmanship of the Botswana Democratic Party (BDP), which Moitoi later withdrew from.
Venson-Moitoi, who was seen as Khama’s proxy, said contesting the election would have legitimised what she described as a flawed process.

“I will not run this afternoon because I will not promote a sham. Today’s election is riddled with irregularities,” Venson-Moitoi said, further adding that she would not be part of an election that had been rigged from the onset, saying the ruling party secretariat campaigned for her opponent, President Mokgweetsi Masisi. Around that time, allegations were also flying that billionaire businessman Patrice Motsepe was funding a regime-change plot in Botswana, a claim Motsepe vehemently denied.

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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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