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Saturday, 02 December 2023

A Cape to Cairo inspired wine story


The wine world is full of inspirational stories, this week I heard one more uplifting story belonging to Ntsiki Biyela, a South African wine maker determined to force the idea of regional integration as imagined by SADC politicians. Ntsiki left her home in Kwazulu Natal, in South Africa at a young age to go and work as a domestic worker in Gauteng whilst also raising money for her education.

Ntsiki attended education full time while working in the morning and at night as a domestic worker. Today Ntsiki Biyela is the Winemaker and Director of Aslina Wines, a company named in honour of her late grandmother, Aslina. Interestingly, Ntsikis mother was against the idea of her daughter following her footsteps of being a domestic worker, but a compromise was reached, that she works part time but focuses more on her education. For Ntsiki, the decision to go to Gauteng for a domestic vocation had all the hallmarks of emancipation. She had wanted to do chemical engineering but was rejected by educational institutions at the time, but she never gave up.

She grew up in Mahlabathini, a rural village in Kwa Zulu-Natal, where she matriculated from high school in 1996. Having spent a year as a domestic worker, she was awarded a scholarship through South African Airways to study winemaking at the University of Stellenbosch in 1999. She graduated in 2003 with a BSc in Agriculture (Viticulture and Oenology) and joined Stellekaya, a boutique winery, as their Winemaker in 2004.

But how does Ntsiki relate to Botswana? She was invited into the Botswana market by Justwine, a local company that specializes in re-distributing wines made by black women in Africa. To grow her export portfolio, Ntsiki jumped into the invitation. She is in Botswana to promote her wines and the Justwine brand. The idea of Justwine came about during the COVID-19 era, we just thought of what we could do to augment our life persuasions, and we decided to pick something that we were passionate about wines, said G, one of the promoters of Justwine. According to G, they happened to meet Ntsiki through a family friend and they decided to court her on their idea and things took off swiftly. At Justwine, our objective is to distribute wines made by black women so that we help them access the SADC market.

With the very current national conversation focused on womens rights, social justice and regional integration among other issues, Justwine promoters want to use the space they have identified in the wine industry to push other women entrepreneurs. Ntsikis most pronounced brand in Botswana is Aslina. She is hopeful that the African market will surpass her expectation. She expressed concern that as black women in business, everything they do is always scrutinized especially outside Africa because they come from a different market, but where you have done your homework, there is general acceptance of products. Because of her background, Ntsiki insists, I wanted the winery to reflect my eco-ethics. Ntsikis Aslina wines have ranges if wine-blend, umsasane, cab sauv, Chardonnay and Sauvignon blanc.

For everyone involved and everyone in this industry, it is a difficult experience. But it is also one that challenges us as small-business owners and tests our foundations and structures. When times are good, you have to have a plan in place because things can change in a heartbeat and you have to be ready that quickly, Ntsiki says.

Decision making and believing in oneself is critical for any potential entrepreneur – For 13 years she worked for Stellekaya predominantly in the wine tasting room. In 2011 she told her boss that she wanted to quit and start something of her own, she got a positive response, thats what all wine makers do, the boss said. She met an American wine maker who inspired her to make her first and second vintage in 2012 and 2013, respectively. Later in 2015 she made a wine of her own, which was followed by trips to France, America and other western countries where she got more inspiration as buyers appreciated her product. Then in November 2015, she finally made the decision to resign from Stellekaya.

Had it not been for her hard work, Ntsikis success might not have been forthcoming, given inherent stereotypes in the wine industry and the financial huddles she had to overcome to complete her formal education. Given the fact that the wine industry is dominated by whites, Ntsiki had to demonstrate beyond normal in order to persevere. It took commitment, consistency and believing in oneself, she said.

Who was going to trust Ntsiki without a UC-Davis degree or any inherited money? one of the Botswana partners asked. Instead, she used her wine as her resume, handing out bottles, saying here, I made this wine. Ntsiki has managed to penetrate markets in the East, West and lately Africa. She declared that 90 percent of her sales are made of exports, by this statement, Ntsiki is inadvertently admitting that South Africa is not her cash cow. However, operationally South Africas epicenter of wines, the Cape, houses her platform where she is renting out a vineyard where she sources grapes.

Today, Ntsiki is a full-time operator of her Aslina winery, an enterprise that gives her 100-percent control over the process from grape to bottle. She is currently producing about 16,000 cases per year from 40 acres of estate vineyards in the Cape. According to Ntsiki, the pandemic not only strengthened them as a business but she managed to seal deals during the pandemic, including the Botswana partnership. She is also eyeing Swaziland, Zambia, Namibia and Zimbabwe.

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19 Bokamoso Private Hospital nurses graduate at Lenmed Nursing College

28th November 2023

The graduation of 19 nurses from Bokamoso Private Hospital at Lenmed Nursing College marks a significant milestone in their careers. These nurses have successfully completed various short learning programs, including Adult Intensive Care Unit, Emergency Nursing Care, Anaesthetic & Recovery Room Nursing, Anaesthetic Nursing, and Recovery Room Nursing. The ceremony, held in Gaborone, was a testament to their hard work and dedication.

Lenmed Nursing College, a renowned healthcare group with a presence in South Africa, Botswana, Mozambique, and Ghana, has been instrumental in providing quality education and training to healthcare professionals. The Group Head of Operations, Jayesh Parshotam, emphasized the importance of upskilling nurses, who are at the forefront of healthcare systems. He also expressed his appreciation for the partnerships with Bokamoso Private Hospital, the Ministry of Health, and various health training institutes in Botswana.

Dr. Morrison Sinvula, a consultant from the Ministry of Health, commended Lenmed Health and Lenmed Nursing College for their commitment to the education and training of these exceptional nurses. He acknowledged their guidance, mentorship, and support in shaping the nurses’ careers and ensuring their success. Dr. Sinvula also reminded the graduates that education does not end here, as the field of healthcare is constantly evolving. He encouraged them to remain committed to lifelong learning and professional development, embracing new technologies and staying updated with the latest medical advancements.

Dr. Gontle Moleele, the Superintendent of Bokamoso Private Hospital, expressed her excitement and pride in the graduating class of 2023. She acknowledged the sacrifices made by these individuals, who have families and responsibilities, to ensure their graduation. Dr. Moleele also thanked Lenmed Nursing College for providing this opportunity to the hospital’s nurses, as it will contribute to the growth of the hospital.

The certificate recipients from Bokamoso Private Hospital were recognized for their outstanding achievements in their respective programs. Those who received the Cum Laude distinction in the Adult Intensive Care Unit program were Elton Keatlholwetse, Lebogang Kgokgonyane, Galaletsang Melamu, Pinkie Mokgosi, Ofentse Seboletswe, Gorata Basupi, Bareng Mosala, and Justice Senyarelo. In the Emergency Nursing Care program, Atlanang Moilwa, Bakwena Moilwa, Nathan Nhiwathiwa, Mogakolodi Lesarwe, Modisaotsile Thomas, and Lorato Matenje received the Cum Laude distinction. Kelebogile Dubula and Gaolatlhe Sentshwaraganye achieved Cum Laude in the Anaesthetic & Recovery Room Nursing program, while Keletso Basele excelled in the Anaesthetic Nursing program. Mompoloki Mokwaledi received recognition for completing the Recovery Room Nursing program.

In conclusion, the graduation of these 19 nurses from Bokamoso Private Hospital at Lenmed Nursing College is a testament to their dedication and commitment to their profession. They have successfully completed various short learning programs, equipping them with the necessary skills and knowledge to excel in their respective fields. The collaboration between Lenmed Nursing College, Bokamoso Private Hospital, and the Ministry of Health has played a crucial role in their success. As they embark on their careers, these nurses are encouraged to continue their professional development and embrace new advancements in healthcare.

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BNF secures 15 constituencies in UDC coalition, wants more

28th November 2023

The Botswana National Front (BNF) has recently announced that they have already secured 15 constituencies in the Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) coalition, despite ongoing negotiations. This revelation comes as the BNF expresses its dissatisfaction with the current government and its leadership.

The UDC, which is comprised of the BNF, Botswana Peoples Party (BPP), Alliance for Progressives (AP), and Botswana Patriotic Front (BPF), is preparing for the upcoming General Elections. However, the negotiations to allocate constituencies among the involved parties are still underway. Despite this, the BNF Chairman, Patrick Molotsi, confidently stated that they have already acquired 15 constituencies and are expecting to add more to their tally.

Molotsi’s statement reflects the BNF’s long-standing presence in many constituencies across Botswana. With a strong foothold in these areas, it is only natural for the BNF to seek an increase in the number of constituencies they represent. This move not only strengthens their position within the UDC coalition but also demonstrates their commitment to serving the interests of the people.

In a press conference, BNF Secretary General, Ketlhafile Motshegwa, expressed his discontent with the current government leadership. He criticized the ruling Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) for what he perceives as a disregard for the well-being of the Batswana people. Motshegwa highlighted issues such as high unemployment rates and shortages of essential medicines as evidence of the government’s failure to address the needs of its citizens.

The BNF’s dissatisfaction with the current government is a reflection of the growing discontent among the population. The Batswana people are increasingly frustrated with the lack of progress and the failure to address pressing issues. The BNF’s assertion that the government is playing with the lives of its citizens resonates with many who feel neglected and unheard.

The BNF’s acquisition of 15 constituencies, even before the negotiations have concluded, is a testament to their popularity and support among the people. It is a clear indication that the Batswana people are ready for change and are looking to the BNF to provide the leadership they desire.

As the negotiations continue, it is crucial for all parties involved to prioritize the interests of the people. The allocation of constituencies should be done in a fair and transparent manner, ensuring that the voices of all citizens are represented. The BNF’s success in securing constituencies should serve as a reminder to the other parties of the need to listen to the concerns and aspirations of the people they aim to represent.

In conclusion, the BNF’s acquisition of 15 constituencies, despite ongoing negotiations, highlights their strong presence and support among the Batswana people. Their dissatisfaction with the current government leadership reflects the growing discontent in the country. As the UDC coalition prepares for the upcoming General Elections, it is crucial for all parties to prioritize the needs and aspirations of the people. The BNF’s success should serve as a reminder of the importance of listening to the voices of the citizens and working towards a better future for Botswana.








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Children’s summit to discuss funding of NGOS

21st November 2023

One of the key issues that will be discussed by the Childrens’ Summit, which will be hosted by Childline Botswana Trust on 28th – 30th November in Gaborone, will be the topical issue of financing and strengthening of civil society organizations.

A statement from Childline Botswana indicates that the summit will adopt a road map for resourcing the children’s agenda by funding organizations. It will also cover issues relating to child welfare and protection; aimed at mobilizing governments to further strengthen Child Helplines; as well as sharing of emerging technologies to enhance the protection of Children and promotion of their rights.

According to Gaone Chepete, Communications Officer at Childline Botswana, the overall objective of the summit is to provide a platform for dialogue and engagement towards promoting practices and policies that fulfil children’s rights and welfare.

“Child Helplines in the region meet on a bi-annual basis to reflect on the state of children; evaluate their contribution and share experiences and best practice in the provision of services for children,” said Chepete.

The financing of non-governmental organizations (NGOs) by the state or its functionaries has generated mixed reactions from within the civil society space, with many arguing that it threatened NGOs activism and operational independence.

In February 2019, University of Botswana academic Kenneth Dipholo released a paper titled “State philanthropy: The demise of charitable organizations in Botswana,” in which he faulted then President Lieutenant General Seretse Khama Ian Khama for using charity for political convenience and annexing the operational space of NGOs.

“Civil society is the domain in which individuals can exercise their rights as citizens and set limits to the power of the state. The state should be developing capable voluntary organizations rather than emaciating or colonizing them by usurping their space,” argued Dipholo.

He further argued that direct involvement of the state or state president in charity breeds unhealthy competition between the state itself and other organizations involved in charity. Under these circumstances, he added, the state will use charity work to remain relevant to the ordinary people and enhance its visibility at the expense of NGOs.

“A consequence of this arrangement is that charitable organizations will become affiliates of the state. This stifles innovation in the sense that it narrows the ability of charitable organizations to think outside the box. It also promotes mono-culturalism, as the state could support only charitable organizations that abide by its wishes,” said Dipholo.

In conclusion, Dipholo urged the state to focus on supporting NGOs so that they operate in a system that combines philanthropic work and state welfare programs.

He added that state philanthropy threatens to relegate and render charitable organizations virtually irrelevant and redundant unless they re-engineer themselves.

Another University of Botswana (UB) academic, Professor Zibani Maundeni, opined that politics vitally shape civil society interaction; as seen in the interactions between the two, where there is mutual criticism in each other’s presence.

Over the years, NGOs have found themselves grappling with dwindling financial resources as donors ran out of money in the face of increased competition for financing. Many NGOs have also been faulted for poorly managing their finances because of limited strategic planning and financial management expertise. This drove NGOs to look to government for funding; which fundamentally altered the relationships between the two. The end result was a complete change in the operational culture of NGOs, which diminished their social impact and made them even more fragile. Increased government control through contract clauses also reduced NGOs activism and autonomy.

However, others believe that NGOs and government need each other, especially in the provision of essential services like child welfare and protection. Speaking at the Civil Society Child Rights Convention in 2020, Assistant Minister of Local Government and Rural Development Setlhabelo Modukanele said government considers NGOs as critical partners in development.

“We recognize the role that NGOs play a critical role in the country’s development agenda,” said Modukanele.

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