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SEZA, BUAN signs MoU

The Special Economic Zones Authority (SEZA) and Botswana University of Agriculture and Natural Resources (BUAN) last week signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) that will guide their future collaboration in skills development and boost production in the agriculture sector.

According to the two organisations, the MoU will enable development of aligned vocational and technical skills for investors in the Special Economic Zones (SEZ); promote research and innovation and facilitate sharing of value adding information to support both institutions common objectives.

When speaking at the signing ceremony, SEZA Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Lonely Mogara said the two institutions realised the need to establish a value adding and comprehensive partnership as far back as July 2020.

Todays ceremony also marks the beginning of a more structured relationship through which we will share mutual knowledge and develop each others skills, Mogara revealed.

He further added that the MoU will open a great window of opportunity for the establishment and development of economically value adding projects that will create much – needed employment while enabling the economy to grow export value and diversify the export base.

Through the MoU, SEZA and BUAN are hoping to create business linkages for local companies and develop unique skills needed for agribusiness investment and the knowledge based economy at large.

For his part, the newly appointed BUAN Vice Chancellor Dr David Jasper Gilbert Rees explained that the institution has taken a strategic decision to diversify its mandate from just academics to research and development, with a view to transforming the agriculture and natural resource sectors through provision of competitive, high calibre graduates.

Our key mandate is agriculture, which is one of SEZAs targeted sectors for economic development. We have a responsibility to work together to ensure sustainability and significant value addition through agro-processing. I have confidence that we will have made great strides in the end, he said.

When giving closing remarks, SEZA Director of Investment Facilitation Neo Mahube said the Authority decided to approach BUAN as it was key to the success of the agro-business sector; which government has identified as of strategic importance to economic growth and diversification.

Agro business has high potential to boost food production and facilitate export substitution, as the country imports almost all its food supplies. According to Statistics Botswana the 2019 import bill for food was P9 billion.

So you will appreciate the importance of SEZA collaborating with BUAN to facilitate skills development for investors in this sector and identify potential for downstream value addition such as food processing, she said.

The two institutions have since set up a Joint Implementation Committee (JIC) to undertake quarterly consultations and evaluate progress in the implementation of the MoU.

SEZA has reserved land at its SEZs for agro-production and processing activities. Key amongst this is the Pandamatenga agro processing zone with opportunities for investment in production of cereals, legumes, dairy and horticulture; agro- processing and value addition; water management solutions; irrigation as well as production of pesticides and fertilizers.

The Lobatse SEZ is a meat and leather city at which key economic activities will include meat and leather processing; retail of finished goods; dairy processing; bio technology as well as logistics and distribution.

More agro-production will continue at some of SEZAs targeted clusters like Mosisedi and the Ghanzi, Boteti and Kgalagadi areas. Mosisedi is a commercial cereal and grain production cluster while Ghanzi, Boteti and Kgalagadi are the hub of Botswanas beef and small stock production. It is hoped that the MoU with BUAN will boost investment, production and value addition opportunities at some of the SEZs.

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BPS, Mosala Funeral Parlour butt heads over SA national remains

19th September 2023

A squabble has broken out between Pule Mosala Funeral Parlour and the Botswana Police Service (BPS) over the remains of a South African national who has been in the Mosala mortuary for more than nineteen months. The deceased was one of 10 suspects who were controversially shot dead during a lengthy shootout with law enforcement authorities in Gaborone’s Phase 2 early last year.

The deceased individual’s family based in Soweto, has encountered difficulties in repatriating the body which has been in the care of Mosala Mortuary Services. Following the incident, it has emerged that all 10 bodies were transported to PFG mortuary in Lobatse for a brief period while the police attempted to locate their next of kin.  It is reported that the families of the deceased were eventually identified and informed to come and identify their loved ones, including other South African nationals who were part of the criminal group. These families also witnessed the autopsy procedures conducted at Princess Marina Hospital in Gaborone.

Except for the family from Soweto, nine of the bodies were claimed and taken by their separate relatives. The Soweto family claims they lack the resources to bring the body back to South Africa and has made it known that they are looking for money. To end the supposed verbal agreement over the body’s storage for repatriation, Mosala Funeral Service has filed a case against the police at the Lobatse High Court.

According to Keakantse Mmotlhana, the company’s Sales and Marketing Manager, 10 people who were killed in Phase 2 by gunfire were all temporarily transferred to one of PFG’s branches in Lobatse by the police while efforts were made to find their next of kin. She expressed outrage at the statement made by the Minister of Defense and Security, recently.

After Assistant Police Commissioner Dipheko Motube called her office to apologize for giving the Minister wrong information during a news conference, she confirmed that they had accepted the apologies. He made it clear that one of the victims was still at Pule Mortuary in Lobatse.

Bushie Mosala, the director and owner of Mosala Funeral Services, confirmed that the body of a South African national has been in his mortuary for the past nineteen months. He expressed his desire for the police to remove the corpse from the mortuary, characterising the situation as a “nightmare.” He has instructed his legal team to file a lawsuit against the police in the Lobatse High Court concerning the body.

Mosala urged the acting Police Commissioner to come forward and apologize to the nation for the situation, asserting that the public has the right to know the truth regarding the body of the South African national, w

C -002Bhich was preserved by the police as evidence.

The South African High Commission in Gaborone had not responded to queries from Weekend Post at the time going of going to press.

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BOSETU frustrated by Gov’t new dispute winning strategy

19th September 2023

Botswana Sectors of Teachers Union (BOSETU) has expressed alarm over a troubling trend by the government. Tobokani Rari, Secretary General of the BOSETU, stated that it appears that these days, whenever there is a dispute between workers and the government, the administration is fast to run to the courts to attempt and muffle unions.

“This is quite disturbing development, we have seen it with the Botswana Doctors Union, there was a disagreement over the shift allowance, government rushed to court, they indeed got order that was saying the doctors should go and do the work. We have seen it with the nurses, they rushed to court they got the order, we are now seeing it with the teachers, they rushed to the court and they got what they wanted,” said Rari, who also served as the Secretary General of BOFEPUSU.

Rari raised concerns that the government’s enforcement of teacher’s work, through a court order will result in reduced classroom productivity and morale. Rari added that this situation would negatively impact labour relations and teachers emotional wellbeing due to dissatisfaction in their work places leading to persistently poor academic outcomes.

“You can get an order that forces people to work, but what happens at work, it heightens emotions, it destroys relationships and the morale goes down and productivity does. Courts and judgments don’t solve productivity issues. Productivity only comes when people are satisfied at the workplace, so if you force them to work through a court order then you may not get the maximum out of the working population,” said Rari

MESD vs BOSETU COURT CASE

“As you are aware, the Ministry of Education approached courts and they were demanding three things from the court in this case between BOSETU and the ministry. First, they were demanding that the joint letter that was written by BOSETU and Botswana Teachers Union (BTU) asking members to stop doing course work because there was no agreement be declared unlawfully and BOSETU should write to its members and withdraw that letter within 24hrs. The second thing that they were looking for, was to interdict BOSETU from further issuing any instructions to that effect going forward. Lastly was that court should hold BOSETU to pay the cost of the lawsuit on a punitive scale,” Rari said.

Rari stated that the court decided to rule in favour of the Ministry of Education on all three relieves sought, that the savingram should be declared unlawful, that BOSETU should withdraw the contents savingram within 24hrs.

Court also said BOSETU should not issue any of such instructions going forward up until the case of contempt that BOSETU has taken to court, the contempt of the 2009 judgment has been decided. Court also awarded cost to the ministry on a punitive scale.

“BOSETU is a law abiding citizen and therefore we are bound by any laws and judgments that are there in Botswana and arise on the courts of Botswana hence we have complied with the order. On the 31st after the court case, we wrote to all our members and told them that the contents of that savingram as far as coursework is concerned has been withdrawn,” said Rari.

Rari said what happened in this case is that the judge decided to listen to the urgency without the responding affidavits of the opposing party, BOSETU, and went on to rule the merit of the case, which surprised the union.

“However we have been in discussion with our lawyers because if we leave things like this, we feel like we cannot leave that unchallenged. We have taken a decision to appeal the judgment,” Rari confirmed.

2023 COURSEWORK AND INVIGILATION AGREEMENT

“We would like to make our members aware that the following day after the judgment, we were able to meet the Ministry of Education and we have arrived at a conclusion that we signed an agreement that coursework rates will be increased by 5%. If court had ruled that coursework is the duty of the teachers’ means it wouldn’t have been any agreement after the court case, it tells you that the issue is still open and it is on the table. We have arrived at an agreement that there is going to be an increment on all components of coursework and invigilation,” Rari pointed out.

Rari further explained that Article 2 says union party is to submit detailed proposals on the intensity of the coursework for further engagement. Intensity of coursework means where the coursework payment starts in terms of varying from different subjects. He said the outcome based subject that are taught Maun Senior Secondary School and Moeng college which are agriculture and hotel and tourism is that ministry have agreed and acknowledge  that there are some peculiarity in their coursework and   therefore should be paid in line with the peculiarities that are contained in their coursework.

CONGRESS RESOLUTION

Rari pointed out the resolutions taken at the conference where the issue of application of corporal punishment was addressed.  “BOSETU will issue out a memo to their members to advise them that they should not apply corporal punishment, they should leave it to be applied in line with the Education Act.”

 

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BMC sees red as mass buffaloes disrupt plans to supply schools

19th September 2023

The Botswana Meat Commission (BMC) which had struck a deal with the Ministry of Education to supply some schools in the northern part of the country is counting losses as mass migration of buffalos jeopardize the Commission’s plans. 

Information reaching this publication shows that the beef exporter was recently given the greenlight to supply government schools with beef. According to documents seen by this publication, as a result BMC had scheduled to buy and collect cattle in the Nata-Gweta and Boteti constituencies from 11 to 17 September.

This was after BMC and the Ministry of Education struck a deal for the former to supply government schools with beef. Letters exchanged between Ministry officials state that it has been recommended to the ministry to support BMC by allowing it to supply schools with beef products.

The Ministry indicated that it was aware that some schools have contracts that are currently running with suppliers such as local butcheries.

The Ministry revealed that at the same time BMC has 256 tins of frozen quality meat at its Maun Plant.

The Ministry requested the Director-Regional Operations to appoint an officer to manage the procurement of meat for schools that do not currently have running contracts. The Ministry further stated that Modalities of collection will be arranged between the region and the schools identified.

According to the Ministry, a list of schools including the condition of their cold rooms and their number of deliveries and kilograms per week they buy should be compiled. The Ministry also requested its officials to share the list with headquarters and the acting director-Basic Education, and engage BMC accordingly to procure.

But this plan ran into trouble after it emerged that between 300 to 500 buffalos migrated from the buffalo fence area to Nata, Dukwi and Mosetse areas.

The Department of Veterinary Services sprang into acting by revising movement protocol for cloven-hoofed animals with immediate effect following buffalo sightings in zone 3b which covers Nata/Sowa, zone 3c which is around the Dukwi areas as well as zone 6a, which covers the Mosetse area, which fall under zones, 3b, 3c, 5,6a and 8.

The Department of Veterinary Services indicated that as a result, movement of live cloven-hoofed animals and their products out of zones 3b, 3c, 5, 6a and 8 were prohibited and that movement of live cloven-hoofed animals within and into these zones is only allowed for direct slaughter at licensed slaughter facilities under veterinary movement permit issued through BAITS.

The department also indicated that the movement of fresh products derived from cloven-hoofed animals such as raw milk, skins and fresh meat into these zones is also only allowed under a similar arrangement.

Movement of live cloven-hoofed animals into these zones for rearing and other purposes will not be allowed, and farmers and the general public is requested to continue being vigilant and report any buffalo sightings to the nearest veterinary office, the police or the Department of Wildlife and National Parks, the department said.

Meanwhile the Ministry of Agriculture has stated that following the press release on prohibition of movement of live cloven-hooved animals and their products in and out of Zones 3b, 3c, 5, 6a & 8, the acting Minister of Agriculture Karabo Gare, his counterpart Acting Minister of Environment, Wildlife &  Tourism Mabuse Pule, acting Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Agriculture Mr. Joshua Moloi, Director of Veterinary Services Dr Kefentse Motshegwa and other government officials visited the areas of Sepako and Dukwi respectively on a mission to consult with communities regarding the invasion of the places by buffalos.

Minister Gare alluded that they have been sent by the President of Botswana, who is equally worried by the current situation. He noted that the affected areas have a total of around 300000 cattle and if the situation goes unchecked, there might be detrimental effects on the economy of this country.

He encouraged the communities to help government going forward by reporting any spotted buffalos in their areas, emphasizing that buffalos are dangerous and can kill people and that care should be exercised at all times.

The Director of Veterinary Services mentioned that they closed the above mentioned zones to allow for testing of buffalos & cattle for foot & mouth disease. The wildlife department’s Director Mr. Moremi Batshabang assured farmers and the community that they will eliminate small clusters of buffalos found within communities and translocate larger clusters to ensure their safety.

 

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