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Friday, 19 April 2024

Khama, TK clash over new opposition coalition


Former President Ian Khama has rejected a meeting facilitated by his younger brother Tshekedi Khama with other opposition party leaders in Cape-Town, South Africa in which a new political coalition was to be proposed, WeekendPost has established.

This publication has established that one of the Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) partners, Botswana Congress Party (BCP) is irritated by poor governance within the UDC. The BCP laments that there is no democracy, transparency and communication, something which they say has the ability to kill the people’s project-UDC.

[ihc-hide-content ihc_mb_type=”show” ihc_mb_who=”1,2,3″ ihc_mb_template=”1″ ]What hits them the most is their continuous gripe that the UDC leader Duma Boko is not honouring the National Executive Meetings. The last time Boko attended the UDC meeting according to BCP Secretary General Goretetse Kekgonegile was in July last year.
With this, the BCP mooted a plan to form a new coalition with both Alliance for Progressives (AP) and Botswana Patriotic Front (BPF). This was to see the three parties working together for the 2024 elections without Botswana National Front (BNF) which is accused of big brother mentality in UDC and Botswana People’s Party (BPP) labelled as BNF puppet.

It is said the three parties was forging bi-lateral talks to establish a coalition that was to be called Peoples Coalition for Change (PCC). According to the deal, Dumelang Saleshando was to take the Presidency and Tshekedi, was to be voted as Vice President of the coalition. It is not clear as to which position Ndaba Gaolathe of AP was to take in the new arrangement, but rumours say AP was to get the chairmanship.

With this, TK, is said to have facilitated a meeting with Ian Khama in South Africa to get his blessings on the project. The meeting was to be attended by TK, Saleshando, Ndaba and Caroline Lesang. “However, the meeting never took off from the appointment stage as SKI, said he cannot meet these leaders without UDC President Duma Boko. He plainly said he can’t meet the opposition without Boko, and he cannot be seen entertaining meetings that are tantamount to collapsing the opposition which he was canvassing votes for, in the last elections,” says a source that was in the thick of things over the developments.

It is said the bond between Boko and Khama is unbreakable.  “Ever since losing the elections in 2019, Boko has a very intimate relation with Khama, who has been assisting financially in preparation for BNF congresses.” Khama is also said to be backing Boko to continue as President of the UDC for continuity purposes; hence, it was never going to be easy for him to meet any opposition leader without Boko.

However, Khama in the past interview with WeekendPost has described his relationship with the two leaders as very good. “My relationship with the UDC President Duma Boko is very good, so is my relationship with Dumelang Saleshando is very good.” It is said TK wanted his brother to endorse the new coalition so that he can use his magic in the central district as he did in 2019.  After Khama rejected the meeting, it is said TK then tried to convince the BPF Central Committee about the deal, which was also rejected.

Political pundits, on the other hand, have maintained that Khama was instrumental in increasing the popular vote of both UDC and BPF through majority wins for MPs in the Central District, which was for a long time BDP heartland. In Central District, it is said, Khama assisted UDC to win, Selibe Phikwe constituencies, Bobonong, Sefhare-Ramokgonami, Palapye, Tonota, Shoshong, Mahalapye East, and Mahalapye West, which were known to be BDP throttleholds.  Moreover, BPF also won areas formerly within BDP grip, areas such as Serowe North, Serowe South and Serowe West.

Another attempt was made by TK to convince the BPF Central Committee to buy the idea. Some in the BPF committee did not approve the deal saying as far as they concerned they are in talks with UDC and AP not BCP.  “They did not sanction TK or Lesang to meet with BCP and AP, they demanded the agenda of the meeting so that they would brief them and also said TK is a Secretary and only his superiors could suggest meetings with other parties, and it collapsed.

Meanwhile, this week, Dr. Margret Nasha summoned all the opposition leaders to get the latest on their position paper regarding the best umbrella model to use. Nothing fruitful came out, only AP and BNF have submitted their position papers. UDC individual parties are expected to present theirs and consolidate to the UDC NEC and start negotiations.[/ihc-hide-content]


Nigerians, Zimbabweans apply for Chema Chema Fund

16th April 2024

Fronting activities, where locals are used as a front for foreign-owned businesses, have been a long-standing issue in Botswana. These activities not only undermine the government’s efforts to promote local businesses but also deprive Batswana of opportunities for economic empowerment, officials say. The Ministry of Trade and Industry has warned of heavy penalties for those involved in fronting activities especially in relation to the latest popular government initiative dubbed Chema Chema.

According to the Ministry, the Industrial Development Act of 2019 clearly outlines the consequences of engaging in fronting activities. The fines of up to P50,000 for first-time offenders and P20,000 plus a two-year jail term for repeat offenders send a strong message that the government is serious about cracking down on this illegal practice. These penalties are meant to deter individuals from participating in fronting activities and to protect the integrity of local industries.

“It is disheartening to hear reports of collaboration between foreigners and locals to exploit government initiatives such as the Chema Chema Fund. This fund, administered by CEDA and LEA, is meant to support informal traders and low-income earners in Botswana. However, when fronting activities come into play, the intended beneficiaries are sidelined, and the funds are misused for personal gain.” It has been discovered that foreign nationals predominantly of Zimbabwean and Nigerian origin use unsuspecting Batswana to attempt to access the Chema Chema Fund. It is understood that they approach these Batswana under the guise of drafting business plans for them or simply coming up with ‘bankable business ideas that qualify for Chema Chema.’

Observers say the Chema Chema Fund has the potential to uplift the lives of many Batswana who are struggling to make ends meet. They argue that it is crucial that these funds are used for their intended purpose and not siphoned off through illegal activities such as fronting. The Ministry says the warning it issued serves as a reminder to all stakeholders involved in the administration of these funds to ensure transparency and accountability in their disbursement.

One local commentator said it is important to highlight the impact of fronting activities on the local economy and the livelihoods of Batswana. He said by using locals as a front for foreign-owned businesses, opportunities for local entrepreneurs are stifled, and the economic empowerment of Batswana is hindered. The Ministry’s warning of heavy penalties is a call to action for all stakeholders to work together to eliminate fronting activities and promote a level playing field for local businesses.

Meanwhile, the Ministry of Trade and Industry’s warning of heavy penalties for fronting activities is a necessary step to protect the integrity of local industries and promote economic empowerment for Batswana. “It is imperative that all stakeholders comply with regulations and work towards a transparent and accountable business environment. By upholding the law and cracking down on illegal activities, we can ensure a fair and prosperous future for all Batswana.”










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Merck Foundation and African First Ladies mark World Health Day 2024

15th April 2024

Merck Foundation, the philanthropic arm of Merck KGaA Germany marks “World Health Day” 2024 together with Africa’s First Ladies who are also Ambassadors of MerckFoundation “More Than a Mother” Campaign through their Scholarship and Capacity Building Program. Senator, Dr. Rasha Kelej, CEO of Merck Foundation emphasized, “At Merck Foundation, we mark World Health Day every single day of the year over the past 12 years, by building healthcare capacity and transforming patient care across Africa, Asia and beyond.

I am proud to share that Merck Foundation has provided over 1740 scholarships to aspiring young doctors from 52 countries, in 44 critical and underserved medical specialties such as Oncology, Diabetes, Preventative Cardiovascular Medicine, Endocrinology, Sexual and Reproductive Medicine, Acute Medicine, Respiratory Medicine, Embryology & Fertility specialty, Gastroenterology, Dermatology, Psychiatry, Emergency and Resuscitation Medicine, Critical Care, Pediatric Emergency Medicine, Neonatal Medicine, Advanced Surgical Practice, Pain Management, General Surgery, Clinical Microbiology and infectious diseases, Internal Medicine, Trauma & Orthopedics, Neurosurgery, Neurology, Cardiology, Stroke Medicine, Care of the Older Person, Family Medicine, Pediatrics and Child Health, Obesity & Weight Management, Women’s Health, Biotechnology in ART and many more”.

As per the available data, Africa has only 34.6% of the required doctors, nurses, and midwives. It is projected that by 2030, Africa would need additional 6.1 million doctors, nurses, and midwives*. “For Example, before the start of the Merck Foundation programs in 2012; there was not a single Oncologist, Fertility or Reproductive care specialists, Diabetologist, Respiratory or ICU specialist in many countries such as The Gambia, Liberia, Sierra Leone, Central African Republic, Guinea, Burundi, Niger, Chad, Ethiopia, Namibia among others. We are certainly creating historic legacy in Africa, and also beyond. Together with our partners like Africa’s First Ladies, Ministries of Health, Gender, Education and Communication, we are impacting the lives of people in the most disadvantaged communities in Africa and beyond.”, added Senator Dr. Kelej. Merck Foundation works closely with their Ambassadors, the African First Ladies and local partners such as; Ministries of Health, Education, Information & Communication, Gender, Academia, Research Institutions, Media and Art in building healthcare capacity and addressing health, social & economic challenges in developing countries and under-served communities. “I strongly believe that training healthcare providers and building professional healthcare capacity is the right strategy to improve access to equitable and quality at health care in Africa.

Therefore, I am happy to announce the Call for Applications for 2024 Scholarships for young doctors with special focus on female doctors for our online one-year diploma and two year master degree in 44 critical and underserved medical specialties, which includes both Online Diploma programs and On-Site Fellowship and clinical training programs. The applications are invited through the Office of our Ambassadors and long-term partners, The First Ladies of Africa and Ministry of Health of each country.” shared Dr . Kelej. “Our aim is to improve the overall health and wellbeing of people by building healthcare capacity across Africa, Asia and other developing countries. We are strongly committed to transforming patientcare landscape through our scholarships program”, concluded Senator Kelej.

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Interpol fugitive escapes from Botswana

15th April 2024

John Isaak Ndovi, a Tanzanian national embroiled in controversy and pursued under a red notice by the International Criminal Police Organization (Interpol), has mysteriously vanished, bypassing a scheduled bail hearing at the Extension 2 Magistrate Court in Gaborone. Previously apprehended by Botswana law enforcement at the Tlokweng border post several months earlier, his escape has ignited serious concerns.

Accused of pilfering assets worth in excess of P1 million, an amount translating to roughly 30,000 Omani Riyals, Ndovi has become a figure of paramount interest, especially to the authorities in the Sultanate of Oman, nestled in the far reaches of Asia.

The unsettling news of his disappearance surfaced following his failure to present himself at the Extension 2 Magistrate Court the preceding week. Speculation abounds that Ndovi may have sought refuge in South Africa in a bid to elude capture, prompting a widespread mobilization of law enforcement agencies to ascertain his current location.

In an official communiqué, Detective Senior Assistant Police Commissioner Selebatso Mokgosi of Interpol Gaborone disclosed Ndovi’s apprehension last September at the Tlokweng border, a capture made possible through the vigilant issuance of the Interpol red notice.

At 36, Ndovi is implicated in a case of alleged home invasion in Oman. Despite the non-existence of an extradition treaty between Botswana and Oman, Nomsa Moatswi, the Director of the Directorate of Public Prosecution (DPP), emphasized that the lack of formal extradition agreements does not hinder her office’s ability to entertain extradition requests. She highlighted the adoption of international cooperation norms, advocating for collaboration through the lenses of international comity and reciprocity.

Moatswi disclosed the intensified effort by law enforcement to locate Ndovi following his no-show in court, and pointed to Botswana’s track record of extraditing two international fugitives from France and Zimbabwe in the previous year as evidence of the country’s relentless pursuit of legal integrity.

When probed about the potential implications of Ndovi’s case on Botswana’s forthcoming evaluation by the Financial Action Task Force (FATF), Moatswi reserved her speculations. She acknowledged the criticality of steering clear of blacklisting, suggesting that this singular case is unlikely to feature prominently in the FATF’s assessment criteria.


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