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BOCONGO, Gays blast constitutional review commission

Former Chief: Justice Maruping Dibotelo

The Botswana Council of Non – Governmental Organisations (BOCONGO), DITSHWANELO – The Botswana Centre for Human Rights and Lesbians, Gays and Bisexuals of Botswana (LeGaBiBo) have joined the growing chorus that has criticised the Constitutional Commission Review in a petition.

Other notable non-governmental organisations (NGOs) that signed the petition to the government are DITSHWANELO – The Botswana Centre for Human Rights, Letloa Trust, Media Institute of Southern Africa (MISA) and Rainbow Identity Association (RIA). n December last year, President Mokgweetsi Masisi issued a Presidential Commission of Inquiry into the review of the Constitution of Botswana.

Masisi appointed the following 19 members to Presidential Commission of Inquiry. Former Chief Justice Maruping Dibotelo Chairperson, Johnson Motshwarakgole Vice-Chairperson, Other members of the Commission are Kgosi Puso Gaborone,  Kgosi Divere Ndando, Professor Gobopamang Letamo, Professor Bontle Mbongwe, Reverend Bonolo Mmereki-Burns, Charles Mokobi , Stella Naledi Moroka , Matthews Letsholo ,  Moanakwena Keloneilwe, Dr. Goemeone Mogomotsi.

Some of the members are Dikarabo Ramadubu, Kukame Ngwamotsoko, Shirley Kefilwe Keoagile, Roselyn Serumola, Game Dibeela, Chedza Ntobedzi and Siphatisiwe Daniel Membe. Bococongo and other signatories explained that their concerns with the process which has already begun are lack of transparency and accountability; lack of information about the Constitutional Review process itself; lack of consultations with our elected representatives and Dikgosi; and the lack of information about the inclusion of civil society.

The petition states that there has been no transparency about the criteria used for selecting the members of the Constitution Review Committee. “The list of members was made public on 17 December 2021. We believe there should have been transparent consultations with all of our elected representatives in Parliament, regardless of their political party affiliation, about the process to be followed for the review including the selection criteria for the members of the Committee,” the petition reads in part.

It says the Committee members should include those with knowledge about the basic principles of constitutional law such as human rights, the rule of law and separation of powers. According to the petition, this is because these are core to the effective functioning of our democracy.

The petitioners said the Presidential Commission of Inquiry into the review of the Constitution should report to an inclusive, select committee of parliament and not exclusively to the President, to ensure transparency and accountability to the people.

“The Presidential Commission of Inquiry into the review of the Constitution should report to an inclusive, select committee of parliament and not exclusively to the President, to ensure transparency and accountability to the people,” they said.

The organisations said there is a lack of information about the planned process of reviewing the Constitution. This information about the planned process, they said, is necessary to enable public preparedness to participate meaningfully in this process.

“There is also a lack of information about the reasons why the format of a Presidential Commission of Inquiry was adopted and not a Parliamentary Committee tasked with this responsibility,” the organisations argued.  In light of these concerns, they urged the Botswana government to ensure that the Constitutional review process is inclusive and fair.

The organisations said there was supposed to be a clear civic education about the content of the current Constitution for this Constitutional consultation process to be successful. “Public education will facilitate informed participation for people to know what needs to be changed and what needs to be included in the reviewed constitution, while taking into consideration their way of life and human rights,” the organisations said.

They urged the government to ensure that the reviewed Constitution reaffirms separation of powers, enables checks and balances for the benefit of all people in Botswana, to prevent arbitrary and abusive use of power by those in authority; and protects and respects the political, socio-cultural and economic rights and dignity of every person.

“Political will should enable effective public participation for the people to freely fashion a Constitution of their choice. The constitution-making process should be effected using a ‘bottom-up’ approach to ensure inclusion, participation, accountability and fairness,” the organisations said. They argued that all these are necessary for democratic governance to thrive.

They further argued that representatives of different sectors, including religious bodies and interest groups in the country should have be involved to avoid exclusion of already marginalised groups, including indigenous peoples, youth, persons with disabilities, ex-miners, children, women, workers, LGBTQI+ community (gays and lesbians), domestic and farm workers and the elderly.

“It is clear that ‘a constitutional review offers us an opportunity to commit again, to entrenching democracy, good, transparent and accountable governance, and the rule of law; to reaffirm our faith in a consultative polity that believes in free speech and other fundamental human rights and the values of openness, fairness, honesty, human dignity, tolerance and hard work,” the organisations said.

They said these must be present as guiding principles throughout the review process – from start to finish.

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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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African DFIs gear to combat climate change

25th November 2022

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.

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TotalEnergies Botswana launches Road safety campaign in Letlhakeng

22nd November 2022

Letlhakeng:TotalEnergies Botswana today launched a Road Safety Campaign as part of their annual Stakeholder Relationship Management (SRM), in partnership with Unitrans, MVA Fund, TotalEnergies Letlhakeng Filling Station and the Letlhakeng Sub District Road Safety Committee during an event held in Letlhakeng under the theme, #IamTrafficToo.

The Supplier Relationship Management initiative is an undertaking by TotalEnergies through which TotalEnergie annually explores and implements social responsibility activities in communities within which we operate, by engaging key stakeholders who are aligned with the organization’s objectives. Speaking during the launch event, TotalEnergies’ Operations and HSSEQ,   Patrick Thedi said,  “We at TotalEnergies pride ourselves in being an industrial operator with a strategy centered on respect, listening, dialogue and stakeholder involvement, and a partner in the sustainable social and economic development of its host communities and countries. We are also very fortunate to have stakeholders who are in alignment with our organizational objectives. We assess relationships with our key stakeholders to understand their concerns and expectations as well as identify priority areas for improvement to strengthen the integration of Total Energies in the community. As our organization transitions from Total to Total Energies, we are committed to exploring sustainable initiatives that will be equally indicative of our growth and this Campaign is a step in the right direction. ”

As part of this campaign roll out, stakeholders  will be refurbishing and upgrading and installing road signs around schools in the area, and generally where required. One of the objectives of the Campaign is to bring awareness and training on how to manage and share the road/parking with bulk vehicles, as the number of bulk vehicles using the Letlhakeng road to bypass Trans Kalahari increases. When welcoming guests to Letlhakeng, Kgosi Balepi said he welcomed the initiative as it will reduce the number of road incidents in the area.

Also present was District Traffic Officer ASP, Reuben Moleele,  who gave a statistical overview of accidents in the region, as well as the rest of the country. Moleele applauded TotalEnergies and partners on the Campaign, especially ahead of the festive season, a time he pointed out is always one with high road statistics. The campaign name #IamTrafficToo, is a reminder to all road users, including pedestrians that they too need to be vigilant and play their part in ensuring a reduction in road incidents.

The official proceedings of the day included a handover of reflectors and stop/Go signs to the Letlhakeng Cluster from TotalEnerigies, injury prevention from tips from MVA’s Onkabetse Petlwana, as  well as  bulk vehicle safety tips delivered from Adolf Namate of Unitrans.

TotalEnergies, which is committed to having zero carbon emissions by 2050,  has committed to rolling out the Road safety Campaign to the rest of the country in the future.

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