The United States of America Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs, Molly Phee, has called on African states to rise to the occasion by voicing out against Russian following its invasion of former fellow Soviet Union state, Ukraine.
On Wednesday, the United Nations Assembly voted to rebuke Russia over its expropriation of Ukraine and demand Moscow to withdraw its military forces. Several African countries including, South Africa abstained from voting while Botswana voted against Russia.
Addressing African media, Molly Phee indicated that they as the US are sensitive to the legacy of the cold war particularly in Africa. She said that Putin’s unprovoked aggression is an assault on world order.
“We are not asking you to choose sides, we are asking Africans to join us in choosing the people who are now suffering from this assault,” Phee said when addressing a virtual press briefing for African journalist on Russian aggression in Ukraine.
She said that the US strongly believes that African voices matter in the international community and global conversations.
“We recognize that this conflict, this early days of war are nearly having an impact on African economy as there are in the US and elsewhere in the world. We see the rise of fuel prices come out increasingly and we know that this disruption is doubly hard given the earlier impact of COVID pandemic,” she said.
Phee further indicated that they have already engaged in efforts to promote the stable energy to commodity prices working on supply chain and President Biden joined the other international leaders in releasing strategic oil reserves in effort to manage fuel price.
“I also know that there have been genuine concern and alarm about the treatment of Africans who have been studying in Ukraine and I want you to know that we are proud of Ukraine Foreign minister who has made clear that all individuals who are caught up in the chaos of this war must receive equal treatment, the government of Ukraine has established an emergency hotline for African students,” she indicated.
She continued to state that they have also talked to neighbouring countries about the need for a VISA-free entry to help the victims caught up in the chaos. She said they are working with their partners in the UN who are providing assistance to individuals without regard of their race, religion and nationality.
“This is a difficult time for the international community but we are proud of the global response, the global rejection of this aggression and we are grateful to Africans for being partners with us and other members of the international community in dealing with this unprecedented action,” she said.
For his part the ambassador of the United States in Botswana, Craig Cloud indicated during the listening session with Botswana Journalists, that Botswana like other African countries will heavily be affected by this war.
He said that the US has chosen the path of using sanctions to deliver the consequences to Russia.
“We believe that the sanctions are very very severe and will have an impact on Russia’s ability to conduct any business in the world ,essentially we have already seen a dramatic impact on Russia’s economy and currency and we want to hold them accountable for this war ” he said.
Cloud said that Russia being the number one diamond producer in the world will definitely affect Botswana’s diamond industry.
He also indicated that there are going to be impacts on supply chain and that certainly the European countries are going to be affected by the fuel shortages as Russia historically has been a large petroleum exporter.
“Seriously, I think everyone is going to be impacted by this and I think everyone who voted against Russia this week realize their vote will have an impact on them but standing up for the principles is more important that having to abstain from voting because they might be afraid that fuel prices are going to increase or commodity prices are going to rise.” he concluded.
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 reachingÂ WeekendPostÂ 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 publicationâ€™s queries, Permanent Secretary to the Office of the President Emma Peloetletse said, â€śas 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,â€ť 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.
â€śIt is heartbreaking that at this time the investigations have not been completed,â€ť he toldÂ WeekendPost, adding that â€śwhen a person is suspended, they get their salary fully without fail until the matter is resolvedâ€ť.
Makgophe, Katlholo and Kgothane are the three most high-ranking government officials that are under interdiction.
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.
The impacts of climate change are increasing in frequency and intensity every year and this is forecast to continue for the foreseeable future. African CEOs in the Global South are finally coming to the party on how to tackle the crisis.
Following the completion of COP27 in Egypt recently, CEOs of Africa DFIs converged in Botswana for the CEO Forum of the Association of African Development Finance Institutions. One of the key themes was on green financing and building partnerships for resource mobilization in financing SDGs in Africa
A report; “Weathering the storm; African Development Banks response to Covid-19” presented shocking findings during the seminar. Among them; African DFI’s have proven to be financially resilient, and they are fast shifting to a green transition and it’s financing.
COO, CEDA, James Moribame highlighted that; “Everyone needs food, shelter and all basic needs in general, but climate change is putting the achievement of this at bay. “It is expensive for businesses to do business, for instance; it is much challenging for the agricultural sector due to climate change, and the risks have gone up. If a famer plants crops, they should be ready for any potential natural disaster which will cost them their hard work.”
According to Moribame, Start-up businesses will forever require help if there is no change.
“There is no doubt that the Russia- Ukraine war disrupted supply chains. SMMEs have felt the most impact as some start-up businesses acquire their materials internationally, therefore as inflation peaks, this means the exchange rate rises which makes commodities expensive and challenging for SMMEs to progress. Basically, the cost of doing business has gone up. Governments are no longer able to support DFI’s.”
Moribame shared remedies to the situation, noting that; “What we need is leadership that will be able to address this. CEOs should ensure companies operate within a framework of responsible lending. They also ought to scout for opportunities that would be attractive to investors, this include investors who are willing to put money into green financing. Botswana is a prime spot for green financing due to the great opportunity that lies in solar projects. ”
Technology has been hailed as the economy of the future and thus needs to be embraced to drive operational efficiency both internally and externally.
Executive Director, bank of Industry Nigeria, Simon Aranou mentioned that for investors to pump money to climate financing in Africa, African states need to be in alignment with global standards.
“Do what meets world standards if you want money from international investors. Have a strong risk management system. Also be a good borrower, if you have a loan, honour the obligation of paying it back because this will ensure countries have a clean financial record which will then pave way for easier lending of money in the future. African states cannot just be demanding for mitigation from rich countries. Financing needs infrastructure to complement it, you cannot be seating on billions of dollars without the necessary support systems to make it work for you. Domestic resource mobilisation is key. Use public money to mobilise private money.” He said.
For his part, the Minster of Minister of Entrepreneurship, Karabo Gare enunciated that, over the past three years, governments across the world have had to readjust their priorities as the world dealt with the effects and impact of the COVID 19 pandemic both to human life and economic prosperity.
“The role of DFIs, during this tough period, which is to support governments through countercyclical measures, including funding of COVID-19 related development projects, has become more important than ever before. However, with the increasingly limited resources from governments, DFIs are now expected to mobilise resources to meet the fiscal gaps and continue to meet their developmental mandates across the various affected sectors of their economies.” Said Gare.