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Botswana maintains favourable ranking on Terrorism Index

President Mokgweetsi Masisi

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 world’s key minerals lie there. It is also the world’s 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 Haram’s 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 world’s 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 Afghanistan’s 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 world’s fastest growing terrorist organisation and was responsible for 351 deaths in 2021, a 69 percent increase. The world’s 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.


Jackdish Shah loses interest in BDP

17th May 2022

As the preparations for the Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) congress are about to kick off, reports on the ground suggest that the party’s Deputy Treasurer Jackdish Shah will not defend the position in August as he contemplates relocation.

According to sources, the businessman who joined the BDP Central Committee in 2015 at the 36th Congress held in Mmadinare is ready to leave the party’s politburo. It is said he long made up his mind not to defend the position last year. A prominent businessman, Shah, when he won the position to assist Satar Dada in 2015 was expected to improve the party’s financial vibrancy. By then the party was under the leadership of Ian Khama.

According to close sources, Shah long decided not to contest because he has fallen out of favour with the party leadership. It is said he took the decision after some prominent businessmen who are BDP members and part of football syndicate decided to push him out and they used their proximity to President Mokgweetsi Masisi to badmouth him hence the decision.

“The fight at the Botswana Football Association (BFA) and Botswana Football League (BFL) has left him alone in the desert and some faces there used their close access to the President to isolate him,” said a source. Media reports say, Shah does not see eye to eye with BFA President MacLean Letshwiti who is also Masisi’s buddy hence the decision.

BFL Chairman Nicholas Zackhem is said to be not in good terms with Shah, who at one point Chaired the then Botswana Premier League (BPL). “He is seriously considering quitting because of what is unfolding at the team (Township Rollers) which is slowly not making financial gains and might be relegated and he wants to sell while it is still worth the investment,” said a highly placed source.

Shah is a renowned businessman who runs internet providing company Zebra net, H &G, game farm in Kasane, cattle farm in Ghanzi region and lot of properties in Gaborone. He also has two hotels in USA, his advisors have given him thumbs up on the possible decision of relocating provided he does not sell some of the investments that are doing well.

Asked about whether he will be contesting Shah could not confirm nor deny the reports. It is said for now it is too early as a public decision will have to be taken after the national council meeting and prior to the national congress. “As a BDP Central Committee member he cannot make that announcement now,” a BDP source said.

BDP is expected to assemble for the National Council during the July holidays while the National Congress is billed for August. It is then that the party will elect a new CC members. The last time BDP held elective congress was at Kang in 2019. The party is yet to issue writ.

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Govt ignores own agreements to improve public service

17th May 2022

The government has failed to implement some commitments and agreements that it had entered into with unions to improve conditions of public servants.

Three years after the government and public made commitments aimed at improving conditions of work and services it has emerged that the government has ignored and failed to implement all commitments on conditions of service emanating from the 2019 round of negotiations.

In its position paper that saw public service salaries being increased by 5%, the government the government has also signalled its intention to renege on some of the commitments it had made.
“Government aspires to look into all outstanding issues contained in the Labour Agreement signed between the Employer and recognised Trade Union on the 27th August 2019 and that it be reviewed, revised and delinked by both Parties with a view to agree on those whose implementation that can be realistically executed during the financial years 2022/23, 2023/24 and 2024/25 respectively,” the government said.

Furthermore, in addition to reviewing, revising and de-linking of the outstanding issues contained in the Collective Labour Agreement alluded to above and taking on a progressive proposal, government desires to review revise, develop and implement human resource policies as listed below during the financial year 2022/23,2023/24,2024/25

They include selection and appointment policy, learning and development policy, transfer guidelines, conditions of service, permanent and pensionable, temporary and part time, Foreign Service, expatriate and disciplinary procedures.

In their proposal paper, the unions which had proposed an 11 percent salary increase but eventually settled for 5% percent indicated that the government has not, and without explanation, acted on some of the key commitments from the 2019/2020 and 2021/22 round of negotiations.  The essential elements of these commitments include among others the remuneration Policy for the Public Service.

The paper states that a Remuneration Policy will be developed to inform decision making on remuneration in the Public Service. It is envisaged that consultations between the government and relevant key stakeholders on the policy was to start on 1st September 2019, and the development of the policy should be concluded by 30th June 2020.

The public sector unions said the Remuneration Policy is yet to be developed. The Cooperating Unions suggested that the process should commence without delay and that it should be as participatory as it was originally conceived. Another agreement relate to Medical Aid Contribution for employees on salary Grades A and B.

The employer contribution towards medical aid for employees on salary Grades A and B will be increased from 50% to 80% for the Standard Option of the Botswana Public
“Officers’ Medical Aid Scheme effective 1st October 2019; the cooperating unions insist that, in fulfilling this commitment, there should be no discrimination between those on the high benefit and those on the medium benefit plan,” the unions proposal paper says.

Another agreement involves the standardisation of gratuities across the Public Service. “Gratuities for all employees on fixed term contracts of 12 months but not exceeding 5 years, including former Industrial class employees be standardized at 30% across the Public Service in order to remove the existing inequalities and secure long-term financial security for Public Service Employees at lower grades with immediate effect,” the paper states.

The other agreement signed by the public sector unions and the government was the development of fan-shaped Salary Structure. The paper says the Public Service will adopt a best practice fan-shaped and overlapping structure, with modification to suit the Botswana context. The Parties (government and unions) to this agreement will jointly agree on the ranges of salary grades to allow for employees’ progression without a promotion to the available position on the next management level.

“The fan-shaped structure is envisaged to be in place by 1st June 2020, to enable factoring into the budgetary cycle for the financial year 2021/22,” the unions’ proposal paper states. It says the following steps are critical, capacity building of key stakeholders (September – December 2019), commission remuneration market survey (3 months from September to November 2019), design of the fan-shaped structure (2 to 3 months from January to March2020) and consultations with all key stakeholders (March to April 2020).

The unions and government had also signed an agreement on performance management and development: A rigorous performance management and reward system based on a 5-point rating system will be adopted as an integral part of the operationalization of the new Remuneration System.

Performance Management and Development (PMD) will be used to reward workers based on performance. The review of the Performance Management System was to be undertaken in order to close the gaps identified by PEMANDU and other previous reports on PMS between 1st September 2019 and 30th June 2020 as follows; internal process to update and revise the current Performance Management System by January 2020.

A job evaluation exercise in the Public Service will also be undertaken to among others establish internal equity, and will also cover the grading of all supervisory positions within the Public Service.
Another agreement included overtime Management. The Directorate of Public Service Management (DPSM) was to facilitate the conclusion of consultations on management of overtime, including consideration of the Overtime Management Task Team’s report on the same by 30th November 2019.

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Health Expert rejects ‘death rates’ links to low population growth

17th May 2022

A public health expert, Dr Edward Maganu who is also the former Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Health has said that unlike many who are expressing shock at the population census growth decline results, he is not, because the 2022 results represents his expectations.

He rushed to dismiss the position by Statistics Botswana in which thy partly attributes the low growth rates to mortality rates for the past ten years. “I don’t think there is any undercounting. I also don’t think death rates have much to do with it since the excessive deaths from HIV/AIDS have been controlled by ARVs and our life expectancy isn’t lower than it was in the 1990s,” he said in an interview with this publication post the release of the results.

Preliminary results released by Statistics Botswana this week indicated that Botswana’s population is now estimated to be 2,346,179 – a figure that the state owned data agency expressed worry over saying it’s below their projected growth. The general decline in the population growth rate is attributed to ‘fertility’ and ‘mortality’ rates that the country registered on the past ten years since the last census in 2011.

Maganu explained that with an enlightened or educated society and the country’s total fertility rate, there was no way the country’s population census was going to match the previous growth rates.
“The results of the census make sense and is exactly what I expected. Our Total Fertility Rate ( the average number of children born to a woman) is now around 2.

This is what happens as society develops and educates its women. The enlightened women don’t want to bear many children, they want to work and earn a living, have free time, and give their few children good care. So, there is no under- counting. Census procedures are standard so that results are comparable between countries.

That is why the UN is involved through UNFPA, the UN Agency responsible for population matters,” said Maganu who is also the former adviser to the World Health Organisation. Maganu ruled out undercounting concerns, “I see a lot of Batswana are worried about the census results. Above is what I have always stated.”

Given the disadvantages that accompany low population for countries, some have suggested that perhaps a time has come for the government to consider population growth policies or incentives, suggestions Maganu deems ineffective.

“It has never worked anywhere. The number of children born to a woman are a very private decision of the woman and the husband in an enlightened society. And as I indicated, the more the women of a society get educated, the higher the tendency to have fewer children. All developed countries have a problem of zero population growth or even negative growth.

The replacement level is regarded as 2 children per woman; once the fertility level falls below that, then the population stops growing. That’s why developed countries are depending so much on immigration,” he said.

According to him, a lot of developing countries that are educating their women are heading there, including ourselves-Botswana. “Countries that have had a policy of encouraging women to have more children have failed dismally. A good example is some countries of Eastern Europe (Romania is a good example) that wanted to grow their populations by rewarding women who had more children. It didn’t work. The number of children is a very private matter,” said Maganu

For those who may be worried about the impact of problems associated with low growth rate, Maganu said: “The challenge is to develop society so that it can take care of its dependency ratio, the children and the aged. In developed countries the ratio of people over 60 years is now more than 20%, ours is still less than 10%.”

The preliminary results show that Mogoditshane with (88,098) is now the biggest village in the country with Maun coming second (85,293) and Molepolole at third position with 74,719. Population growth is associated with many economic advantages because more people leads to greater human capital, higher economic growth, economies of scale, the efficiency of higher population density and the improved demographic structure of society, among many others.

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