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Molale, Mzwinila clash over lack of water in Goodhope

MP Eric Molale

A spat has erupted between Minister of Land Management, Water and Sanitation Services and the then Minister of Local Government and Rural Development Eric Molale over shortage of water in the latter’s constituency amid by elections.

Documents seen by these publication shows that Molale lost his cool after his counterpart, Mzwinila did not address some of the issues he raised in several letters that he had written to him.

Responding to one of Mzwinila’s letters, Molale stated that, “I want to raise the issue of attending to operational issues, which I realised you did not respond to. In discussing with you verbally, you indicated that those are operational issues that are for the Water Utilities Corporation Board.”

Mzwinila had informed Molale that some of the complaints he had lodged about Water Utilities Corporation (WUC) not being able to provide drinking water in his constituency should be escalated to the Board of the corporation.

Molale admitted that he could not talk to the Board himself. “Procedurally if I, as your colleague, need to be assisted on matters relating to your Ministry, I have to direct issues to you,” he informed Mzwinila.

He added that, “Having clarified that, I request Honourable Minister, you respond to the second part of my letter to you. I humbly so request, moreso that we are now in the midst of a bye election where the topical issue is lack of water.”

In one of his letters, Molale informed Mzwinila that, “I have raised issues with you on the above subject matter (water situation in Goodhope-Mabule) on several occasions.”

Molale further stated that, “I do not appreciate that every time I spoke to you on the subject you would cause your officials to attend to such with a view of finding solutions. I also appreciate the fact that indeed water sources are not adequate and therefore need to be augmented through bowsing.”

He said, “I however need to bring to your attention that if the existing sources were managed optimally, the acute water shortage that we currently experience would be not as pronounced as we see it now.”

Molale said there were, “managemental issues which I believe if attended to, would ease the problem.”

Molale pointed out that the following are some issues that be dealt with to improve the situation.

-Stop villages from sharing pumping engines. An engine pumps at one village for two/three days and then removed to go and pump at some other village. I do not believe Water Utilities (WUC) could be so broke to go that extent.

-Pumpers/Engine Operators are not thoroughly supervised. They do not have operational/pumping schedules.

-broken/damaged pipes have remained unrepaired for 10 month at some places like Tshidilamolomo.

-Engines have not operated for some time due to lack of diesel.

Molale also informed his counterpart that “We have a WHATSAPP group with your WUC official, which is meant to facilitate for easy and quick information follow as well as helping to report on issues that need attention.”

He said the observation is that reports are reported to sluggishly and at times the information we receive is not in tandem with the situation on the ground.

“Honourable Minister, I write this letter to seek your intervention in addressing these challenges. Time permitting, I would like to invite you to see for yourself and get first hand of these challenges,” said Molale.

He added that, “I would also request that some of your officers be transferred out of the region. I am aware that one officer recently arrived from elsewhere. Initially he seemed quite effective. Of late he has kind of slowed down and am suspicious that he may be pulling down by these overstays.”

Mzwinila informed Molale that Water Utilities Corporation (WUC) was progressing well in addressing operational issues in Goodhope-Mabule Constituency.

“Management issues, WUC regularly reviews deployment of its personnel across management centres. The recent changes affecting Goodhope –Mabule Constituency are transfers of the Head of Business Centre for Lobatse and Senior Technician Production, Distribution and Maintenance based at Goodhope,” he said. He added that the changes effected from 1st January 2022. Thus, with these recent changes the issue of human resource was being addressed, he said.

Regarding sharing of pumping engines by villages, Mzwinila said it was not common practice for the Corporation to move and have boreholes sharing engines or equipment. Nonetheless, he said, there were some areas which are supplied using electric generator sets, which are few, whereby during emergencies, quick interventions are implemented to alleviate and supply challenges by moving equipment from one borehole to another on a temporary basis, as a relief measure, such as an intervention is always done considering alternative supply options for the affected areas.

“Delays usually exist in repairs to equipment by external contractors and this greatly hampers service delivery. Six out eight generator sets were functional as at December 2021, of the two non-functional, one is for Sekhutlane village as well as one of two at Sedibeng village. The two generator sets have been repaired and are now operational,” said Mzwinila.

On broken pipes that allegedly remained unattended for more than 0 months in places like Tshidilamolelo, he said, the Corporation’s standard is to ensure that all leakages are attended to within a maximum of 24 hours.

“The Goodhope-Mabule Constituency is going satisfactory on this regard moreso that the area is water stressed and the pipe pressures are low and hence vey pipe failure occurrences.  A dedicated WUC team was stationed at Tshsidilamolomo village from July to August 2021 understanding various activities,” said Mzwinila. He said the team mainly focused on construction of road crossing sleaves along Phitshane-Molop-Mabule Road.

Mzwinila said the engines fail to operate for many days due to fuel shortage which is collected from Lobatse and supplied to far villages like Sekhutlane, he said fuel for service centre is sourced and distributed from Goodhope using a diesel bowser in accordance to set a schedule.

“However, this was has been inconsistent for some time due to frequent failures of the diesel bowser. The bowser has been off-road since August 2021 and is becoming obsolete due to age. Budget for new one is not yet available,” he said.

In the interim, he said, the Corporation resorted to the use of light duty vehicles which are limited to a carrying capacity of 3×210 liters of diesel to supply areas distant from fuel sources.

With regard to update on WhatsApp group, Mzwinila admitted that the level of communication through this platform has not been adequate adding that the new business centre head has been instructed that all interventions like bowsing schedules, water tanker downtime and other important issues must be communicated.

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Media have a Role in Accelerating Harm Reduction Adoption

8th December 2022

African Scientists and Experts Call for the adoption of a Harm Reduction in approach in Public Health Strategies and Tobacco Control. Media have a critical role to play in accelerating Harm Reduction efforts by informing and sensitizing cigarette smokers on the availability and benefits of alternative, potentially lower risk products to cigarretes. Traditional cessation and smoking prevention norms are not the only ways that smokers who cannot or don’t’ want to quit can make healthier choices that cause less harm to themselves and those around them.

This was said during the 2nd Harm Reduction Exchange conference for African journalists held in Nairobi, Kenya on the 1st of December 2022. Speaking at the Harm Reduction Exchange Conference, Integra Africa Principal Dr. Tendai Mhizha emphasized the role that journalists and media houses should play in handling misinformation and disinformation in tobacco harm reduction discourse that is actually perpetuating the death and disease caused by people continuing to smoke combustible cigarettes. “There has been a lot of disinformation surrounding the topic of nicotine and the alleged negative effects that e-cigarettes have on public health.

This has led to policies that disfavour risk reduces products and narratives that completely deny their benefits. The media have the difficult responsibility to curb the scourge of disinformation and misinformation on harm reduction just like on other socio-political stances that are prescriptive and do not uphold consumers’ right to healthier lifestyle choices,” Dr Mhizha said.

The Harm Reduction Exchange cast a spotlight on alternative ways to reduce harm among tobacco smokers. Held under the theme Harm Reduction: Making a difference in Africa, the conference focused on the progress being made through harm reduction strategies in all fields related to public health such as drug and alcohol abuse, excessive sugar consumption, skin lightening and other addictive and behavioral practices. A wide array of harm reduction strategies and initiatives that are deployed towards reducing unnecessary deaths through non-communicable diseases were presented and discussed.

On his part, Prof. Abdoul Kassé, a world renowned and awarded Oncologist and a Professor of Surgery at the Cancer Institute in Senegal, said that Harm Reduction is a powerful public A Summary of the HR Exchange 30th November  1st December 2022 health tool that has the potential to reduce cancer by 30% and should be at the centre of all public health development strategies. Harm reduction, he said, has already benefited many people in public health and is the most viable alternative in tobacco control.

It applies to areas where there is a need to reduce the harm associated with a practice or consumption of a substance that is overused in society leading to increased morbidity and mortality. “Innovative Harm Reduction initiatives will help to keep more Africans alive. Tobacco Harm Reduction initiatives, including the use of popular e-cigarettes, nicotine patches and chewing gums, have continued to generate a lot of misunderstanding in both the public health community and in the media. However, there is evidence that the use of potentially less harmful alternatives than cigarettes for those who are not willing or cannot give up smoking with currently approved methods may be a solution, not necessarily the best for everyone but by far better than continuous smoking.

Where cessation repeatedly fails, switching to less harmful products is expected to result in benefits for many smokers,” Prof. Abdoul Kassé said. Similarly, views were expressed by Kenya’s Dr. Vivian Manyeki who said tobacco Harm Reduction has a solid scientific and medical basis, and it has a lot of promise as a public health measure to assist millions of smokers. “Many smokers are unable, or at least unwilling, to achieve cessation through complete nicotine and tobacco abstinence. They continue smoking despite the very real and obvious adverse health consequences and against the multiple public health campaigns. Conventional smoking cessation proposals should be complemented with alternative but more realistic options through Harm Reduction,” Dr. Manyeki said.

Tobacco Harm Reduction was introduced to mitigate the damage caused by cigarette smoking—the most dangerous form of tobacco use, and the leading cause of preventable diseases, including cardiovascular disease, lung cancer, and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. “Nicotine has an addictive potential but plays a minor role in smoking-related morbidity and mortality. Across the world, there is growing interest among experts in novel approaches towards tobacco control and there is an ongoing discussion that reducing the negative effects of smoking can be also achieved by tobacco harm reduction,” Dr. Kgosi Letlape, an ophthalmologist and President of Africa Medical Association and the president of the Association of Medical Councils of Africa, said.

Tobacco cessation is a key factor in the prevention of cardiovascular diseases and cancer. Abstinence from tobacco smoking is one of the primary goals for health promotion and management globally but it is unachievable in a huge amount of cases. This task remains unaccomplished despite extensive public campaigns on the health dangers of tobacco smoking. Thus, the development of novel strategies to reduce smoking is imperative. Moreover, the use of innovations in smoking products has been currently adopted by several smokers to reduce the health risks of smoking.

“The Harm Reduction approach prevents drug-related deaths and overdose fatalities and is the only way out for addicts. In the same way these alternative technologies can reduce tobacco harm and accelerate the journey to a smoke-free world as they reduce exposure to toxicants,” Bernice Apondi, A Policy Manager at Voices of Community Action and Leadership Kenya (VOCAL-Kenya), said.

During the Harm Reduction Exchange, journalists drawn from Southern, West and East African countries, including: Nigeria, Botswana, Ethiopia, Kenya, Lesotho, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, Rwanda, Eswatini, Tanzania, Uganda, South Africa, Zambia, and Zimbabwe debated and set forth several resolutions in regards to the present and future as well as the challenges and progress made in Harm Reduction,and science-led regulation.

The Harm Reduction Exchange brought together high-level policy makers, physicians, scientists and health policy experts with media stakeholders from Africa in a lively mix of speeches, presentations, and panel discussions. The key note speakers included Prof Abdoul Aziz Kasse, Ms Bernice Opondi, Joseph Magero, Jonathan Fell, Chimwemwe Ngoma, Clive Bates, Dr. Kgosi Letlape, Dr. Vivian Manyeki and Dr. Tendai Mhizha.

 

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Over 2 000 civil servants interdicted

6th December 2022

Over 2,000 civil servants in the public sector have been interdicted for a variety of reasons, the majority of which are criminal in nature.

According to reports, some officers have been under interdiction for more than two years because such matters are still being investigated. Information reaching WeekendPost shows that local government, particularly councils, has the highest number of suspended officers.

In its annual report, the Directorate on Corruption and Economic Crime (DCEC) revealed that councils lead in corrupt activities throughout the country, and dozens of council employees are being investigated for alleged corrupt activities. It is also reported that disciplined forces, including the Botswana Defence Force (BDF), police, and prisons, and the Directorate of Intelligence and Security (DIS) have suspended a significant number of officers.

The Ministry of Education and Skills Development has also recorded a good number of teachers who have implicated in love relationships with students, while some are accused of impregnating students both in primary and secondary school. Regional education officers have been tasked to investigate such matters and are believed to be far from completion as some students are dragging their feet in assisting the investigations to be completed.

This year, Mmadinare Senior Secondary reportedly had the highest number of pregnancies, especially among form five students who were later forcibly expelled from school. Responding to this publication’s queries, Permanent Secretary to the Office of the President Emma Peloetletse said, “as you might be aware, I am currently addressing public servants across the length and breadth of our beautiful republic. Due to your detailed enquiry, I am not able to respond within your schedule,” she said.

She said some of the issues raised need verification of facts, some are still under investigation while some are still before the courts of law.

Meanwhile, it is close to six months since the Police Commissioner Keabetwe Makgophe, Director General of the Directorate on Corruption and Economic Crime (DCEC) Tymon Katlholo and the Deputy Director of the DIS Tefo Kgothane were suspended from their official duties on various charges.

Efforts to solicit comment from trade unions were futile at the time of going to press.

Some suspended officers who opted for anonymity claimed that they have close to two years while on suspension. One stated that the investigations that led him to be suspended have not been completed.

“It is heartbreaking that at this time the investigations have not been completed,” he told WeekendPost, adding that “when a person is suspended, they get their salary fully without fail until the matter is resolved”.

Makgophe, Katlholo and Kgothane are the three most high-ranking government officials that are under interdiction.

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Masisi to dump Tsogwane?

28th November 2022

Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) and some senior government officials are abuzz with reports that President Mokgweetsi Masisi has requested his Vice President, Slumber Tsogwane not to contest the next general elections in 2024.

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