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Opposition parties present clashing cooperation models

Two of the opposition political parties currently negotiating their way into the Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) fold seem to be at pains in advancing the umbrella model as suggestions of alternative models gain momentum in cooperation talks, WeekendPost has established. UDC is negotiating with the Alliance for Progressives (AP) and the Botswana Patriotic Front (BPF) for by-elections and 2024 general elections cooperation.

However, the current UDC constituent members, Botswana Congress Party (BCP), Botswana National Front (BNF) and Botswana Peoples Party (BPP), are in favour of the current umbrella setup. In fact, the umbrella setup is a compromise, especially from BCP, which prefers a merger, sources say. On the other hand, the two parties, especially BPF, could be demanding customers at the negotiation table. AP, for some reason, is said to be mild and has proposed that there be a study by experts to see which model could best work for the opposition. Their only stiffness is demanding 14 constituencies a matter for another day as talks continue.

With AP mild and appearing to be amenable in the boardroom, BPF will not be a pushover, despite having only two years of existence. The newly formed BPF has been nursing a headache over the best model of cooperation to adopt with the UDC. Both parties want to avoid opposition vote-splitting to unseat the ruling Botswana Democratic Party (BDP), which the BPF Patron and former president, Lt Gen Ian Khama, is currently sweating blood unseat.

The agreement from their meeting and even their position paper submitted to the negotiations committee chaired by former Speaker of the National Assembly, Margaret Nasha, is the pact model. The BPF views entering Umbrella right away as a challenge, which equates to putting all eggs in the UDC basket. By far, the fastest-growing political party in the country currently the party also seems to be focused on self-actualization, self-preservation and securing institutional capacity in case of any political calamity. Although often profitable, cooperation politics can often leave individual political parties buttered by political events and weakened beyond meaningful survival.

Another reason why the BPF is against putting all its eggs in the UDC basket is voter security. “We are from the BDP, and if you can look at our recruitment drive, we are eating from that party. Their members identify easily with us, and they do not see the UDC as the ideal bridge to cross the river with. So we still have to work on that again before we might think of any drastic decisions,” said one high-ranking BPF member. The pact model will be so that the BPF will not compete against other opposition parties and support them where they are not fielding but will contest constituencies allocated to them using their symbol and colours.

“But once we have taken government and ruling, we will see how to work together smoothly,” added an impeccable source. BPF is said to be represented by Mephato Reatile, Reitumetse Aphiri and Caroline Lesang in the talks. When asked about the specifics of the pact idea, another high ranking party official revealed that the party Patron, Ian Khama and his brother Tshekedi Khama are among those who are for the election pact model as a panacea to the opposition currently struggling to secure unity.

But the UDC is highly likely to shoot down this model proposal from the BPF on the basis that: “it goes against the themes and terms of negotiation and it runs parallel to the spirit of unity. This is the question that the BPF cadres cannot succinctly respond to, saying they will cross the bridge when they get there.

The party spokesperson, Lawrence Ookeditse, said to this publication:” We are committed to making this work. We are not negotiating to look at ourselves as a party, and we are looking at the interest of a nation. We will do everything to make it happen. We will look at the interest of our people, and that will be an essential guide to our approach to the talks. We are committed to respecting our partners and committed to delivering a new government that will make a difference in peoples’ lives.”

Last week, UDC spokesperson, who is also mandated to be the media liaison of the talks, Moeti Mohwasa, told this publication that various political parties in the cooperation talks have already submitted their position papers to the Negotiation Committee, and those will be dealt with once the negotiations commence. Opposition talks were expected this month, but he explained that they had to be postponed.

“We had to postpone because the Chairperson (of the talks) had a bereavement and Cde Butale (Phenyo) had to travel outside the country. A new date will be set, but we hope to conclude by the end of the year,” he said. The pact model of cooperation was once among the proposed models in the February 2006 negotiation talks between the Botswana National Front (BNF), Botswana Congress Party (BCP), Botswana Alliance Movement (BAM) and the Botswana People’s Party (BPP) in their unsuccessful efforts to enhance their chances of unseating the BDP in the 2009 general election.

The three proposed models of cooperation were: an umbrella body (BCP and BAM first preferences), the alliance model (BNF first preference) and an election pact (first preference for the BPP and second for the other three). The third option the negotiating partners considered was the election pact. This is the model used, for instance, in both the 2004 general election under the auspices of the Protocol of Election Pact and in the by-elections held since August 2005 under the dispensation of the Memorandum of Understanding.

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Fighting vulture poisoning in KAZA region.

3rd February 2023
As a response to avert vulture poisoning currently going on in Botswana and KAZA region, Birdlife Botswana has collaborated with three other partners (BirdWatch Zambia, BirdLife International & Birdlife Zimbabwe) to tackle wildlife poisoning which by extension negatively affect vulture populations.

The Director of Birdlife Botswana, Motshereganyi Virat Kootshositse has revealed in an interview that the project which is funded by European Union’s main goal is to reduce poisoning related vultures’ death and consequently other wildlife species death within the KAZA region.

He highlighted that Chobe district in Botswana has been selected as a pilot site as it has experienced rampant incidents of vulture poisoning for the past few months. In August this year at least 50 endangered white backed vultures were reported dead at Chobe National Park, Botswana after feeding on a buffalo carcass laced with poison.  In November this year again 43 white backed vultures were found dead and two alive after feeding on a zebra suspected to have poisoned.  Other selected pilots’ sites are Kafue in Zambia and Hwange in Zimbabwe.

Kootshositse further explained they have established a national and regional Wildlife Poisoning Committee. He added that as for the national committee they have engaged various departments such as Crop Productions, Agro Chemicals, Department of Veterinary Services, Department of Wildlife and National Parks and other NGOs such as Raptors Botswana to come together and find a long-lasting solution to address wildlife poisoning in Botswana. ‘Let’s have a strategy or a plan together to tackle wildlife poisoning,’ he stated

He also decried that there is gap in the availability of data about vulture poisoning or wildlife in general. ‘If we have a central point for data, it will help in terms of reporting and advocacy’, he stated

He added that the regional committee comprises of law enforcement officers such as BDF and Botswana police, village leadership such as Village Development Committee and Kgosi. ‘We need to join hand together and protect the wildlife we have as this will increase our profile for conservation and this alone enhances our visitation and boost our local economy,’ he noted

Kootshositse noted that Birdlife together with DWNP also addressed series of meeting in some villages in the Chobe region recently. The purpose of kgotla meetings was to raise awareness on the conservation and protection of vultures in Chobe West communities.

‘After realizing that vulture poisoning in the Chobe areas become frequent, we realise that we need to do something about it.  ‘We did a public awareness by addressing several kgotla meetings in some villages in the Chobe west,’ he stated

He noted that next year they are going to have another round of consultations around the Chobe areas and the approach is to engage the community into planning process. ‘Residents should be part of the plan of actions and we are working with farmers committee in the areas to address vulture poisoning in the area, ‘he added

He added that they have found out that some common reasons for poisoning wildlife are farmers targeting predators such as lions in retaliation to killing of their livestock. Another common incident cross border poaching in the Chobe area as poachers will kills an elephant and poison its carcass targeting vultures because of their aerial circling alerting authorities about poaching activities.

Kootshositse noted that in the last cases it was disheartening the incidents occurred three months apart. He added that for the first time they found that some of the body parts of some vultures were missing. He added harvesting of body parts of vultures is not a common practice in Botswana, although it is used in some parts of Africa. ‘We suspect that someone took advantage of the availability of carcasses and started harvesting their body parts,’

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Giant in the making: Everton Mlalazi

3rd February 2023

The music industry is at a point where artists are jostling for space because there are so many aspirants trying to get their big break, thus creating stiff competition.

In the music business it’s about talent and positioning. You need to be at the right place at the right time with the right people around you to propel you forward.
Against all odds, Everton Mlalazi has managed to takeover the gospel scene effortlessly.
To him, it’s more than just a breakthrough to stardom, but a passion as well as mission directly appointed by the Lord.

Within a short space of 2 years after having decided to persue a solo career, Mlalazi has already made it into international music scene, with his music receiving considerable play on several gospel television and radio stations in Botswana including other regional stations like Trace Africa, One Gospel, Metro FM in South Africa, Hope FM in Kenya and literally all broadcast stations in Zimbabwe.

It doesn’t only stop there, as the musician has already been nominated 2 times and 2 awards which are Bulawayo Arts Awards (BAA) best Male artists 2022, StarFM listerners Choice Award, Best Newcomer 2021 and ZIMA Best Contemporary Gospel 2022, MLA awards Best Male artist & Best Gospel Artist 2022.

Everton’s inspiration stems from his ultimate passion and desire to lead people into Godly ways and it seems it’s only getting started.
The man is a gospel artist to put on your radar.

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African countries call on WHO to increase funding

2nd February 2023

Minister of Health Dr Edwin Dikoloti says Africa member states call on World Health Organization (WHO) to ensure equitable resource allocation for 2024-2025. Dr Dikoloti was speaking this week at the WHO Executive Board Meeting in Geneva, Switzerland.

He said countries agreed that there is need to address the budget and funding imbalances by increasing the programme budget share of countries and regions to 75% for the next year.

“The proposed budget for 2024-2025 marks an important milestone as it is the first in Programme Budget in which country offices will be allocated more than half of the total budget for the biennium. We highly welcome this approach which will enable the organization to deliver on its mandate while fulfilling the expectations for transparency, efficiency and accountability.”

The Botswana Health Minister commended member states on the extension of the General Programme of Work (GPD 13) and the Secretariat work to monitor the progress towards the triple billion targets, and the health-related SDGs.

“We welcome the Director’s general proposed five priorities which have crystalized into the “five Ps” that are aligned with the GPW 13 extension. Impact can only be achieved through close coordination with, and support to national health authorities. As such, the strengthening of country offices is instrumental, with particular focus on strengthening national health systems and on promoting more equitable access to health services.”

According to Dr Dikoloti, the majority of countries with UHC index that is below the global median are in the WHO Africa region. “For that, we call on the WHO to enhance capacity at the regional and national levels in order to accelerate progress. Currently, the regional office needs both technical and financial support in order to effectively address and support country needs.”

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