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Friday, 19 April 2024

Masisi may recall Dow

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President Dr Mokgweetsi Masisi may, in the November sitting of Parliament, recall Specially Elected Member of Parliament (SEMP), Dr Unity Dow from the house and give her a new role. Dow is likely to Chair the Constitutional Review Commission, WeekendPost has been told.

The decision, according to informants, was taken this week at Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) emergency meeting. This was the second meeting in weeks; the previous meeting concluded with the party President, Dr Masisi suspending some indisciplined members. However, from the Wednesday meeting, the party wants to put foot on the pedal and accelerate some of the 2019 election promises.

“Since independence, the constitution of Botswana has undergone minimal and piecemeal reviews. The BDP, therefore, commits to a comprehensive review of the Botswana constitution to align it to international standards. As a republic, we need a constitution that guarantees all citizens equality before the law. All discriminatory provisions will be removed in favour of more inclusive provisions. The BDP will consult widely and open debates on the shape and form of the Botswana constitution,” the party pledged ahead of the last elections.

It has been two years since the promise, and nothing has moved. Various quarters have mounted severe pressure for the process to take off. With that, the party has decided to initiate an exercise that would go down as one of Masisi’s legacy. The BDP decision comes as a response to a letter dated 29th September 2021. Leader of Opposition Dumelang Saleshando queried that it has been two years since Masisi announced the imminent start of the constitutional review process, but nothing has taken off to date. The BCP President in the letter says as opposition; they are major stakeholders as they have 48 per cent of the polling voters in the 2019 elections.

“It is critical to emphasize the point that both the BDP and the UDC have in their 2019 manifestos promised the people a comprehensive constitutional review process. The UDC is committed to delivering on this promise and, in particular, to deliver a constitution that every Motswana feels they own and identify with. We want a legitimate constitution that we will have the broad endorsement of the populace,” reads the letter.

Masisi and his party have now decided to take a human rights activist and lawyer by training Dow to lead the project. Sources told this publication that for her to deliver meritoriously, she would have to be outside the lawmaking house hence the thinking of recalling her from Parliament. Dow became the first woman to be appointed as a judge to the country’s High Court in 1997, and this has earned her the marks to lead the commission as it needs someone with a law background, those in the know says.

It is not cast in stone that she will take the offer, but the BDP is confident that it is irresistible. Last year, Dow resigned from cabinet as Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Relations amid reports of diplomatic tensions between Botswana and South Africa. She dismissed those rumours saying it was a personal decision.

With Dow now highly likely to leave Parliament, who is going to replace her? It is a tricky question that the only President can answer. However, Former Health and Wellness Minister Dr Alfred Madigele has been hinted at on numerous occasions as a possible SEMP. It is said his return will see him going back to the cabinet at the same ministry. No explanation is advanced to that effect, but one thing is sure, there will be a cabinet reshuffle at one point.

“It is difficult to say why he will go back to cabinet, but we are aware that he is contemplating to challenge Dr Edwin Dikoloti at the constituency, and the leadership has pleaded with him not to. Maybe it is why he will be coming to the executive as a deal for him not to challenge the incumbent. Again, he (Madigele) wants to contest for the party SG position, and the leaders are against that; hence this carrot is dangled before him,” a source tried to explain this week.

According to President Masisi, the meeting also addressed the issues of indiscipline in the party and called on some members who may be causing confusion and instability within the party. “The meeting went well, with members pledging their unwavering loyalty and support not only to me but to this great party that we lead. I am deeply grateful,” Masisi wrote on his Facebook page.

Of late, there has been tension between Masisi and party SG Mpho Balopi and from the Wednesday meeting, it is explained that the two have smoked peace pipe. However, it remains uncertain whether Masisi will back his secretarial general candidature next year when the party goes for its elective national congress. When asked about these developments, Party’s Communication and International Relations Chairman Banks Kentse said, “Wednesday meeting was a special Central Committee which details are very confidential.”

 

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Nigerians, Zimbabweans apply for Chema Chema Fund

16th April 2024

Fronting activities, where locals are used as a front for foreign-owned businesses, have been a long-standing issue in Botswana. These activities not only undermine the government’s efforts to promote local businesses but also deprive Batswana of opportunities for economic empowerment, officials say. The Ministry of Trade and Industry has warned of heavy penalties for those involved in fronting activities especially in relation to the latest popular government initiative dubbed Chema Chema.

According to the Ministry, the Industrial Development Act of 2019 clearly outlines the consequences of engaging in fronting activities. The fines of up to P50,000 for first-time offenders and P20,000 plus a two-year jail term for repeat offenders send a strong message that the government is serious about cracking down on this illegal practice. These penalties are meant to deter individuals from participating in fronting activities and to protect the integrity of local industries.

“It is disheartening to hear reports of collaboration between foreigners and locals to exploit government initiatives such as the Chema Chema Fund. This fund, administered by CEDA and LEA, is meant to support informal traders and low-income earners in Botswana. However, when fronting activities come into play, the intended beneficiaries are sidelined, and the funds are misused for personal gain.” It has been discovered that foreign nationals predominantly of Zimbabwean and Nigerian origin use unsuspecting Batswana to attempt to access the Chema Chema Fund. It is understood that they approach these Batswana under the guise of drafting business plans for them or simply coming up with ‘bankable business ideas that qualify for Chema Chema.’

Observers say the Chema Chema Fund has the potential to uplift the lives of many Batswana who are struggling to make ends meet. They argue that it is crucial that these funds are used for their intended purpose and not siphoned off through illegal activities such as fronting. The Ministry says the warning it issued serves as a reminder to all stakeholders involved in the administration of these funds to ensure transparency and accountability in their disbursement.

One local commentator said it is important to highlight the impact of fronting activities on the local economy and the livelihoods of Batswana. He said by using locals as a front for foreign-owned businesses, opportunities for local entrepreneurs are stifled, and the economic empowerment of Batswana is hindered. The Ministry’s warning of heavy penalties is a call to action for all stakeholders to work together to eliminate fronting activities and promote a level playing field for local businesses.

Meanwhile, the Ministry of Trade and Industry’s warning of heavy penalties for fronting activities is a necessary step to protect the integrity of local industries and promote economic empowerment for Batswana. “It is imperative that all stakeholders comply with regulations and work towards a transparent and accountable business environment. By upholding the law and cracking down on illegal activities, we can ensure a fair and prosperous future for all Batswana.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Merck Foundation and African First Ladies mark World Health Day 2024

15th April 2024

Merck Foundation, the philanthropic arm of Merck KGaA Germany marks “World Health Day” 2024 together with Africa’s First Ladies who are also Ambassadors of MerckFoundation “More Than a Mother” Campaign through their Scholarship and Capacity Building Program. Senator, Dr. Rasha Kelej, CEO of Merck Foundation emphasized, “At Merck Foundation, we mark World Health Day every single day of the year over the past 12 years, by building healthcare capacity and transforming patient care across Africa, Asia and beyond.

I am proud to share that Merck Foundation has provided over 1740 scholarships to aspiring young doctors from 52 countries, in 44 critical and underserved medical specialties such as Oncology, Diabetes, Preventative Cardiovascular Medicine, Endocrinology, Sexual and Reproductive Medicine, Acute Medicine, Respiratory Medicine, Embryology & Fertility specialty, Gastroenterology, Dermatology, Psychiatry, Emergency and Resuscitation Medicine, Critical Care, Pediatric Emergency Medicine, Neonatal Medicine, Advanced Surgical Practice, Pain Management, General Surgery, Clinical Microbiology and infectious diseases, Internal Medicine, Trauma & Orthopedics, Neurosurgery, Neurology, Cardiology, Stroke Medicine, Care of the Older Person, Family Medicine, Pediatrics and Child Health, Obesity & Weight Management, Women’s Health, Biotechnology in ART and many more”.

As per the available data, Africa has only 34.6% of the required doctors, nurses, and midwives. It is projected that by 2030, Africa would need additional 6.1 million doctors, nurses, and midwives*. “For Example, before the start of the Merck Foundation programs in 2012; there was not a single Oncologist, Fertility or Reproductive care specialists, Diabetologist, Respiratory or ICU specialist in many countries such as The Gambia, Liberia, Sierra Leone, Central African Republic, Guinea, Burundi, Niger, Chad, Ethiopia, Namibia among others. We are certainly creating historic legacy in Africa, and also beyond. Together with our partners like Africa’s First Ladies, Ministries of Health, Gender, Education and Communication, we are impacting the lives of people in the most disadvantaged communities in Africa and beyond.”, added Senator Dr. Kelej. Merck Foundation works closely with their Ambassadors, the African First Ladies and local partners such as; Ministries of Health, Education, Information & Communication, Gender, Academia, Research Institutions, Media and Art in building healthcare capacity and addressing health, social & economic challenges in developing countries and under-served communities. “I strongly believe that training healthcare providers and building professional healthcare capacity is the right strategy to improve access to equitable and quality at health care in Africa.

Therefore, I am happy to announce the Call for Applications for 2024 Scholarships for young doctors with special focus on female doctors for our online one-year diploma and two year master degree in 44 critical and underserved medical specialties, which includes both Online Diploma programs and On-Site Fellowship and clinical training programs. The applications are invited through the Office of our Ambassadors and long-term partners, The First Ladies of Africa and Ministry of Health of each country.” shared Dr . Kelej. “Our aim is to improve the overall health and wellbeing of people by building healthcare capacity across Africa, Asia and other developing countries. We are strongly committed to transforming patientcare landscape through our scholarships program”, concluded Senator Kelej.

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Interpol fugitive escapes from Botswana

15th April 2024

John Isaak Ndovi, a Tanzanian national embroiled in controversy and pursued under a red notice by the International Criminal Police Organization (Interpol), has mysteriously vanished, bypassing a scheduled bail hearing at the Extension 2 Magistrate Court in Gaborone. Previously apprehended by Botswana law enforcement at the Tlokweng border post several months earlier, his escape has ignited serious concerns.

Accused of pilfering assets worth in excess of P1 million, an amount translating to roughly 30,000 Omani Riyals, Ndovi has become a figure of paramount interest, especially to the authorities in the Sultanate of Oman, nestled in the far reaches of Asia.

The unsettling news of his disappearance surfaced following his failure to present himself at the Extension 2 Magistrate Court the preceding week. Speculation abounds that Ndovi may have sought refuge in South Africa in a bid to elude capture, prompting a widespread mobilization of law enforcement agencies to ascertain his current location.

In an official communiqué, Detective Senior Assistant Police Commissioner Selebatso Mokgosi of Interpol Gaborone disclosed Ndovi’s apprehension last September at the Tlokweng border, a capture made possible through the vigilant issuance of the Interpol red notice.

At 36, Ndovi is implicated in a case of alleged home invasion in Oman. Despite the non-existence of an extradition treaty between Botswana and Oman, Nomsa Moatswi, the Director of the Directorate of Public Prosecution (DPP), emphasized that the lack of formal extradition agreements does not hinder her office’s ability to entertain extradition requests. She highlighted the adoption of international cooperation norms, advocating for collaboration through the lenses of international comity and reciprocity.

Moatswi disclosed the intensified effort by law enforcement to locate Ndovi following his no-show in court, and pointed to Botswana’s track record of extraditing two international fugitives from France and Zimbabwe in the previous year as evidence of the country’s relentless pursuit of legal integrity.

When probed about the potential implications of Ndovi’s case on Botswana’s forthcoming evaluation by the Financial Action Task Force (FATF), Moatswi reserved her speculations. She acknowledged the criticality of steering clear of blacklisting, suggesting that this singular case is unlikely to feature prominently in the FATF’s assessment criteria.

 

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