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PSP dilemma settled: What remains of Ambassador-at-Large post?

The five-year Permanent Secretary to the President (PSP) quandary caused by the former PSP Elias Magosi’s ambitions for the Southern African Development Community (SADC) Executive Secretary position has been settled following his appointment SADC.

Former Accountant General, Emma Peloetletse, who has seemingly been acting for Magosi on loan to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, has since been appointed substantively, ending the five-months-long speculations over her fate. Despite this, she still faces a future of challenges, should the corruption-busting agency- the Directorate on Corruption and Economic Crime (DCEC)- choose to send her file to the directorate of Public Prosecutions (DPP) for prosecution.

Elias Magosi was sworn in as the Seventh SADC Executive Secretary at the 41st SADC Summit of Heads of State and Government held in Lilongwe, the Republic of Malawi, on 18th August 2021’s tenure of office began on Wednesday. His departure from the civil service left two immediate questions: whether his replacement at the office of the president will be appointed substantively or not and the other being about the future of an unfamiliar and controversial position he has been occupying-the Ambassador-at-large which currently remains vacant following his departure.

It is unknown whether the government will fill it or not because when it was created out of the blue, there were talks that it was essentially made for Magosi to enrich his diplomatic profile and set him in a good position for his campaign. Many observers, however, criticised the government on the move, saying it was not clear where the job falls within the public service structure. They observed that it was unclear who Magosi-the former PSP- reports to within the civil service and, in particular, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, under which he was said to be.
Now that he has left, insiders say the government is grappling with continuing or discontinuing the post, insiders say.

How important is the Ambassador-at-Large?

The Ambassador at Large is the highest-profile diplomat or a minister accredited to represent an international community. The Free Dictionary definition, by Farlex, reads very shortly: “It is an Ambassador not appointed to a particular country”. The Merriam Webster Encyclopedic Dictionary reads: “It is a high-profile personality who is not accredited to any particular foreign government or sovereign.”

The English Collins Dictionary: “An Ambassador at Large is the ambassador with special assignments which can be appointed to more than one government”.  A Professor of International Public Law, Prof. FilipTurčinović, posits that this type of ambassador may be appointed as a consultant to the head of a state, a prime minister, or a foreign minister – concerning particular issues only.

“Usually, their activity relates to several neighbouring countries or a region as a whole. They can often be seated at an international intergovernmental organisation, such as the United Nations, the Council of Europe, or the European Union. The person’s position is different from the position of a sedentary diplomacy ambassador staying, by the rule, at the embassy as the representative of their country in the host country,” he says.

The Ambassador at Large, according to him, can be occasionally appointed to assist governments and countries in exceptional cases or to give them necessary advice. “Previously, the Ambassadors at Large were on certain occasions appointed members of special teams coordinated for special situation requirements, especially in the cases of distant countries where a variety of missions were to be carried out,” he says.

In the US, there are the following kinds of Ambassador at Large positions:
Ambassador at Large for International Religious Freedom
Ambassador at Large for Terrorism
Ambassador at Large for Monitoring of and Fight against Human Trafficking
Ambassador at Large for Global Issues of Women

But in the European Union, Ambassadors are appointed as charged with special duties in the frame of particular important jobs and missions. For example, 1) Ambassador at Large for AIDS 2) Ambassador at Large for Millennium Development 3) Ambassador at Large for International Cultural Co-operation 4) Ambassador at Large for International Organizations 5) Ambassador at Large for Human Rights 6) Ambassador at Large for Neighboring Countries.

Professor Turčinović advises that Ambassadors at Large are high ranking diplomats or highly distinguished persons being accredited to represent their countries and do numerous and various duties within the international community. “Ambassadors at large are especially numerous with both the United Nations and the European Union. Many of them are advisers to heads of states and governments in the domain of international affairs,” he says.


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

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

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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