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Botswana maintains favourable ranking on Terrorism Index

The 2022 Global Terrorism Index (GTI) measuring the impact of terrorism, produced by the Institute for Economics and Peace (IEP) using data from Terrorism Tracker has revealed that despite an increase in attacks, the impact of terrorism continues to decline.

The report indicated that in 2021, deaths from terrorism fell by 1.2 percent to 7,142, while attacks rose by 17 percent, highlighting that terrorism is becoming less lethal. Two thirds of countries recorded no attacks or deaths from terrorism, the best result since 2007, while 86 countries recorded an improvement on their GTI score. The number of deaths has remained approximately the same for the last four years.

The Index highlights that terrorism remains a serious threat, with Sub-Saharan Africa accounting for 48 percent of total global deaths from terrorism. Four of the ten countries with the largest increases in deaths from terrorism were also in sub-Saharan Africa: Niger, Mali, the Democratic Republic of Congo and Burkina Faso.

Botswana is measured as a zone with no terrorism impact, having been consistent for the past four years. It ranks 93rd world wide leaving it among countries known for peace such as Mauritius, Estonia and Lesotho. In Sub Saharan Africa, Botswana scored an overall score of 0.291 out of a GTI score of 10 giving her an overall rank of 86 in the region.

When giving an expert contribution, Dr. Isaac Kfir, a research fellow with IEP stated that; a perfect storm is brewing in Sub-Sahara Africa. Increased terrorism activity, drastic climate change, persistent failures of the ruling elites, and heightened ethnic tensions have created the conditions to bring about several coups. These coups pose a major challenge for security, stability, and development, as they are underpinned by a willingness to use violence to foster political change. Changes in perceptions about peace and violence indicate there is the danger that persistent insecurity would accelerate system collapses across the region.

Kfir went on that; with proper support, assistance, and encouragement sub-Saharan Africa would continue to see growth and development. Many of the worlds key minerals lie there. It is also the worlds largest free trade area with enormous potential for growth and development. However, without systemic and structural changes within the political, social, economic sectors, and how the development and aid community approach sub-Saharan Africa, the damage caused by the Covid-19 pandemic, increased terrorism activity, and the growing menace of organized crime, many of the gains of the last three decades could easily disappear.

The GTI uses a number of factors to calculate its score, including the number of incidences, fatalities, injuries and hostages, and combines it with conflict and socio-economic data to provide a holistic picture of terrorism. The Index shows that terrorism is becoming increasingly concentrated, contracting into countries already suffering from violent conflict. Conflict zones accounted for 97 percent of all deaths. The ten countries most affected by terrorism are all in conflict zones. Only 44 countries recorded a death from terrorism in 2021, compared to 55 countries in 2015.

The largest increase in terrorism was in Myanmar, where deaths rose 23 times from 24 to 521, followed by Niger, where deaths doubled, increasing from 257 in 2020 to 588 in 2021. Mozambique had the largest drop in terrorism deaths, falling by 82 percent to 93. The success was largely driven by counter-insurgency operations against IS by Mozambican forces, with support from Rwanda and the Southern African Development Community.

On a positive note, counter insurgency has significantly decreased Boko Harams activities, with the organisation recording only 64 attacks in 2021. Deaths dropped by 92 percent from 2,131 in 2015 to 178 in 2021. The decline of Boko Haram contributed to Nigeria recording the second largest reduction in deaths from terrorism in 2021, with the number falling by 47 percent to 448.

Ukraine is likely to see an uplift in terrorism. In the 2014 crisis, the country recorded 69 terrorist attacks. Of serious concern are the knock-on effects of cyber terrorism to other countries. In addition to cyberattacks on the Ukraine, Russia has been credited with attacks on many other countries. It is possible that the threat of cyber terrorism will rise globally alongside the escalation of the Ukraine conflict.

The Ukraine conflict is likely to reverse gains in Russia and Eurasia, which recorded the largest improvement on the GTI in 2021, followed by North America. The MENA region has improved substantially, moving up two places from the least peaceful region in 2018. For the second year in a row, South Asia is the region most impacted by terrorism, while Central America and the Caribbean region recorded the lowest impact.

As technology has advanced so has its use by terrorist groups. This includes missiles and drones, which extend the reach of their attacks and reduce their casualties. Affordable smartphones, social media and encryption are other technologies that also extend their networks, making the spread of propaganda and recruitment easier.

The report identifies IS and its affiliates as the worlds deadliest terrorist group in 2021, despite deaths attributed to the group declining slightly from 2,100, to 2,066 deaths. The worst attack of 2021 occurred when an IS suicide bomber detonated two bombs at Afghanistans Kabul International Airport, resulting in 170 deaths and more than 200 injuries.

Jamaat Nusrat Al-Islam wal Muslimeen, who operate in the Sahel, is the worlds fastest growing terrorist organisation and was responsible for 351 deaths in 2021, a 69 percent increase. The worlds most lethal terrorist group was the Islamic State of West Africa, where in Niger each attack averaged 15 deaths.

Attacks in the West have declined significantly, dropping by 68 percent in 2021, from the peak in 2018. In total there were 113 attacks in Europe in 2021, and seven attacks in the US. The US recorded a significant improvement in the impact of terrorism, recording its lowest GTI score since 2012. There were three attacks by Islamic extremists in Europe, the lowest amount since 2014.

Over the last three years in the West there has been a significant shift in the instigators of terrorism. Acts of religious terrorism declined by 82 percent in 2021, and have been overtaken by politically motivated terrorism, which now accounts for five times as many attacks. Most attacks which are driven by a left or right ideology are perpetrated by individuals or groups with no formal affiliation to a recognised organisation. The targets of these attacks are often similar, typically government organisations or political figures, and the motivations are similar. Both cohorts are radicalised online and hold the existing system in contempt.

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African countries call on WHO to increase funding

2nd February 2023

Minister of Health Dr Edwin Dikoloti says Africa member states call on World Health Organization (WHO) to ensure equitable resource allocation for 2024-2025. Dr Dikoloti was speaking this week at the WHO Executive Board Meeting in Geneva, Switzerland.

He said countries agreed that there is need to address the budget and funding imbalances by increasing the programme budget share of countries and regions to 75% for the next year.

“The proposed budget for 2024-2025 marks an important milestone as it is the first in Programme Budget in which country offices will be allocated more than half of the total budget for the biennium. We highly welcome this approach which will enable the organization to deliver on its mandate while fulfilling the expectations for transparency, efficiency and accountability.”

The Botswana Health Minister commended member states on the extension of the General Programme of Work (GPD 13) and the Secretariat work to monitor the progress towards the triple billion targets, and the health-related SDGs.

“We welcome the Director’s general proposed five priorities which have crystalized into the “five Ps” that are aligned with the GPW 13 extension. Impact can only be achieved through close coordination with, and support to national health authorities. As such, the strengthening of country offices is instrumental, with particular focus on strengthening national health systems and on promoting more equitable access to health services.”

According to Dr Dikoloti, the majority of countries with UHC index that is below the global median are in the WHO Africa region. “For that, we call on the WHO to enhance capacity at the regional and national levels in order to accelerate progress. Currently, the regional office needs both technical and financial support in order to effectively address and support country needs.”

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Botswana still weighing in on Maseko’s assassination

27th January 2023

The Minister of Foreign Affairs, Dr. Lemogang Kwape says Botswana has not taken any position regarding the killing of a renowned human rights lawyer, Thulani Maseko, who was gunned down at his house in Mbabane, Eswatini.

In a brief interview with WeekendPost, Dr Kwape said Botswana has not yet taken any position regarding his death. He said the purported incident should be thoroughly probed before Botswana can form an opinion based on the findings of the inquiries.

“Botswana generally condemns any killing of human life by all means,” says Dr. Kwape. He wouldn’t want to be dragged on whether Botswana will support the suspension of Eswatini from SADC.

“We will be guided by SADC organ Troika if they can be an emergency meeting. I am not sure when the meeting will be called by Namibian president,“ he said.

However, the Namibian president Hage Geingob notes with deep concern reports coming out of Eswatini about the killing of Mr. Maseko. In a statement, he called upon the “Government of the Kingdom of Eswatini to ensure that the killing of Maseko is swiftly, transparently and comprehensively investigated, and that any or all persons suspected of committing this heinous crime are brought to justice.”

Maseko was chairperson of the Multi-Stakeholder Forum which was established as a coalition of non-State actors to advocate for a process of national political dialogue aimed at resolving the security and political challenges confronting the Kingdom.

“SADC expresses its deepest and heartfelt condolences to the family of Mr. Maseko, his friends, colleagues, and to the people of the Kingdom of Eswatini for the loss of Mr. Maseko. In this context, SADC further calls upon the people of the Kingdom of Eswatini to remain calm, exercise due care and consideration whilst the appropriate structures conduct the investigations and bring the matter to completion,” the statement says.

Geingob reiterated the need for peaceful resolution of the political and security challenges affecting the country.

Meanwhile political activists are calling on SADC to suspend Eswatini from the block including the African Union as well.

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Kopong Murder: Accused interferes with witnesses again!

27th January 2023

State prosecutor, Seeletso Ookeditse revealed before the Broadhurst Magistrate Jobbie Moilatshimo that the third accused involved in the murder of Barulaganye Aston, has interfered with the State witnesses again.

The second and third accused (Lefty Kosie and Outlwile Aston) were previously accused of interference when they were caught in possession of cellphones in prison. They were further accused of planning to kill the deceased’s brother, who is currently the guardian to the children of the deceased.

Ookeditse indicated that Outlwile had earlier went to challenge the magistrate’s decision of denying him bail at the High Court before Judge Michael Motlhabi.

“The third accused approached the High Court and made a bail application, which was dismissed on the same day,” Ookeditse said.

However, even after the High Court verdict on their bail application, the duo (Kosie and Aston) has once again applied for bail this week.

Ookeditse plead with the court to stop the accused from abusing the court process.

“Yesterday, Directorate of Public Prosecutions (DPP) received papers of his bail application filed before the Broadhurst Magistrates Court. However, the papers do not speak to changed circumstances, therefore this back and forth about bail must be put to a stop,” said the State prosecutor.

While giving evidence before court, the Investigations Officer, Detective Inspector Quite Zhalamonto, said his investigations have proved that there is interference continuing regarding the accused trio.

He told the court that on the 12th of January 2023, he received a report from Thato Aston, who is the son of the accused and the deceased. The son had alleged to the Investigation Officer that he received a call from one Phillip Molwantwa.

According to Zhalamonto, Thato revealed that Molwatwa indicated that he was from prison on a visit to the Outlwile Aston and went on to ask where he was staying and where his siblings (Aston’s children) are staying.

“Thato revealed that Phillip went on to ask if he or his siblings saw their father murdering their mother, and he was referring to the crime scene. Thato told me that he, however, refused to answer the questions as he was afraid especially because he was asked about where him and his siblings stay,” said Zhalamonto.

Zhalamonto alluded to the court that he then went to Orange to confirm the communication between Thato and Molwantwa where he found the case.

“I have arrested Philip yesterday and when I interviewed him, he did not deny that he knows Aston and that he has indeed called Thato and asked questions as to where him and his siblings resides even though he failed to give reasons for asking such questions,” Zhalamonto told the court.

He further revealed that Molwantwa indicated that he had received a call from an unknown man who refused to reveal himself.

“Phillip told me that the unknown man said he was sent by the accused (Aston), and that Aston had instructed him to tell me to check if there was still some money in his bank accounts, and he also wanted to know where the kids were residing, the unknown man even asked him to meet at Main Mall” the Investigation Officer told the court.

He further informed the court that he is working tirelessly to identify the “unknown caller” and the route of the cell number.

Furthermore, the fourth accused, Kebaleboge Ntsebe, has revealed to the court through a letter that she was abused and tortured by the Botswana Police Services. She wrote in her letter that she suffered miscarriage as a result of being beaten by the police.

Ntsebe is on bail, while a bail ruling for Aston and Kosie will be delivered on the 6th of next month

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