Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) President Duma Boko will meet various opposition leaders in the Southern African Development Community (SADC) in August this year to exchange notes in strengthening opposition bloc in the region
Reports say SADC opposition leaders unanimously agree that there is need for solid opposition solidarity platform to hold governing parties to account and need for a regional opposition party platform to strengthen dwindling democracy.
Southern Africa has long been considered the most stable and peaceful region on the continent, political developments in eSwatini, Zimbabwe and the ongoing insurgency in Mozambique somehow shows that there is need to keep the ruling government on their toes.
This has forced the opposition leaders to sense the need for solid opposition solidarity to hold governing parties to account. It is said, there is a potential need for a regional opposition party platform to support democratic political parties, promote a peaceful interaction between parties and strengthen the democratic political and legal environment.
According to researcher and political analyst at the University of Johannesburgs Department of Politics and International Relations Tinashe Sithole, this platform can amplify the voices of citizens, who are often ignored and oppressed in their countries. I argue that this is the alternative that the region needs to stand up for constitutional rule. Citizens distrust institutions such as the SADC, which has rubber-stamped controversial elections that have contributed to the current problems faced by the region.
Opposition parties play an essential role in strengthening democracy, significantly when the government does not restrict the role of the opposition party. At the same time, where the political agora is closed, solidarity can be the all-important factor in the internationalization of issues.
Boko, has joined the platform and is set to meet other leaders in preparation for 2024 elections. His first stop is anticipated in Zambia, where he is set to exchange notes with the current President who is also leader of United Party for National Development (UPND) Hakainde Hichilema. Hichilema won the elections in August last year after attempting five times amid rigging claims.
Boko is expected to touch base with the President to learn how he overcame the usually not so free and fair elections and is likely to rope in the consultants who assisted Hichilema last year. The expectation is in August this year he should tour the SADC region. He will meet Hichilema to exchange notes on how he guarded against rigging which is synonymous with African elections. In fact, Boko is in talks with the consultants in preparation for 2024 elections because surely the past elections were not fair, a UDC insider has disclosed to this publication.
UDC Vice President Dumelang Saleshando is said to have been the first man to touch base with the consultants when he accompanied President Mokgweetsi Masisi to Hichilemas inauguration and shared the contacts with Boko. The discussion has been that, UDC raises P2million to pay for the services come 2024. However with the current developments within the UDC, it remains to be seen whether the two leaders will raise the funds together for the party.
After the Zambian trip, Boko will visit South Africa where he is set to touch base with Economic Freedom Fighter (EFF) leader Julius Malema and Democratic Alliance (DA) John Steenhuisen.
It is at the meeting that he will share the current political landscape in Botswana with the two leaders in a bid to strengthen and put pressure on the ruling parties.
We should have a common understanding with these parties, we should see them condemning and commenting on some injustices that happens locally, that way, the voice of opposition in the region would be instrumental and that is when we expect SADC and other organizations to act whenever we call them for intervention, UDC source shared.
The UDC is on record saying the rule of law is almost nonexistent in this country, they point out to the ongoing fights between the DIS and DCEC, un-just detention and arrest of some aligned to the opposition and overall high economic inflation to the current regime. They believe, EFFs high pitched voice could be of great assistance.
The EFF has in the past held solidarity protests at the eSwatini border to indicate the opposition parties role in raising awareness about the Southern African Development Communitys (SADC) problems. Undoubtedly, the potential risk of conflict spilling over to other countries has grown, and the immigration situation in South Africa is one example according to the proponents of this idea.
In the past decade, SADC has been criticized for turning a blind eye to the state-sponsored violence in member states such as Zimbabwe, Mozambique, eSwatini, Zambia and the Democratic Republic of Congo. Among the other leaders that Boko will meet is Nelson Chamisa Citizens Coalition for Change (CCC). The outspoken leader has in the past called on SADC to intervene in the Zimbabwean elections.
In March this year, he was quoted saying, Let me talk about elections. You know that we have been having problems with Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC). ZEC has already proved that they are not capable of running the elections in this country. What do we need to do? I have already written to SADC. I am telling them enough is enough.
It is said Boko believes that with Zimbabwe going to Presidential elections next year, there is a lot that they can learn from Chamisa led party which they can use for their 2024 preparations. The two leaders are speaking the same languages against the ruling parties when it comes to election rigging.
Botswana Accountancy College (BAC) last week held its 2022 graduation where 727 students graduated after spending the last two years of their academic studies navigating through the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic.
It is said that during the pandemic, BAC provided students with laptops, tablets and data sim cards to facilitate virtual learning and blended learning. The Acting Minister of Education and Skills Development at the ceremony, Wilhemina Makwnja noted that the students managed to create connections and build bridges to reach their ultimate goals, therefore their graduation is not only testimony of their strength and resilience, but it also demonstrates their commitment to excel by facing the challenges they encountered head on to break through the barriers and focused on their success.
âI trust that the graduates will build onto these qualities and competencies as they venture into the industry to impart their skills in the various sectors of the economy,â said Makwinja. She also shared that she strongly believes that the graduates will become agents of change and that they will take advantage of the spectrum of opportunities available in the market both locally and internationally.
Living in an era of digital economies, e-commerce, fin-tech and many other new eco-systems that have been created as the world continues to evolve, it is said to be inevitable that we all need to be steadfast and adapt to the rapid changes experienced before the pandemic. âAs part of the transformation agenda, the Ministry of Entrepreneurship has been established with a mandate to drive development of sustainable industries and trade, and this can be achieved through âaccelerated transformative investments in Botswanaâ,â said Makwinja.
She further noted it is through the Ministry that youth entrepreneurship projects will be supported including administration of the Youth Development Fund that facilitates funding commercialization of various youth projects. âThere are other Government incentives in Agriculture which are aimed at supporting Batswana farmers with commercialization of their produce to supply both the local market and exporting to other markets,â added Makwinja.
The BAC Executive Director, Serty Leburu on the other hand enunciated that it was important to recognise that the past years they have gone through a lot of changes and mostly life defining moments as the school lost some valuable staff members and students during the Covid-19 pandemic. âThe environment within which we operate has been changing rapidly and as an institution we have to constantly come up with some interventions and pivot ourselves in order to rise to the test and adapt,â said Leburu.
Leburu also renowned that they were also launching the BAC 2022-2027 Institutional Strategy focusing on key areas for Teaching and Learning, Research, Innovation and Entrepreneurship, Transition to University Status and Internationalization, Asset Mobilisation and Optimization as well as Student and Staff experience. âIt is our ambition to continue to expand into other markets to provide access to our programs through partnerships and collaborations with both local and international private and public entities,â added Leburu
In addition to this, she reflected that research, innovation, and consultancy are some of the areas they are making strides to develop and grow in partnership with various stakeholders. Through the schools there are projects that are being worked on at various levels. âAs BAC we continue to work with the industry and our partners, we assess the market to identify training and development needs to capacitate employees to meet the demands of the new and evolving economies,â concluded Leburu.
African Scientists and Experts Call for the adoption of a Harm Reduction in approach in Public Health Strategies and Tobacco Control. Media have a critical role to play in accelerating Harm Reduction efforts by informing and sensitizing cigarette smokers on the availability and benefits of alternative, potentially lower risk products to cigarretes. Traditional cessation and smoking prevention norms are not the only ways that smokers who cannot or donâtâ want to quit can make healthier choices that cause less harm to themselves and those around them.
This was said during the 2nd Harm Reduction Exchange conference for African journalists held in Nairobi, Kenya on the 1st of December 2022. Speaking at the Harm Reduction Exchange Conference, Integra Africa Principal Dr. Tendai Mhizha emphasized the role that journalists and media houses should play in handling misinformation and disinformation in tobacco harm reduction discourse that is actually perpetuating the death and disease caused by people continuing to smoke combustible cigarettes. âThere has been a lot of disinformation surrounding the topic of nicotine and the alleged negative effects that e-cigarettes have on public health.
This has led to policies that disfavour risk reduces products and narratives that completely deny their benefits. The media have the difficult responsibility to curb the scourge of disinformation and misinformation on harm reduction just like on other socio-political stances that are prescriptive and do not uphold consumersâ right to healthier lifestyle choices,â Dr Mhizha said.
The Harm Reduction Exchange cast a spotlight on alternative ways to reduce harm among tobacco smokers. Held under the theme Harm Reduction: Making a difference in Africa, the conference focused on the progress being made through harm reduction strategies in all fields related to public health such as drug and alcohol abuse, excessive sugar consumption, skin lightening and other addictive and behavioral practices. A wide array of harm reduction strategies and initiatives that are deployed towards reducing unnecessary deaths through non-communicable diseases were presented and discussed.
It applies to areas where there is a need to reduce the harm associated with a practice or consumption of a substance that is overused in society leading to increased morbidity and mortality. âInnovative Harm Reduction initiatives will help to keep more Africans alive. Tobacco Harm Reduction initiatives, including the use of popular e-cigarettes, nicotine patches and chewing gums, have continued to generate a lot of misunderstanding in both the public health community and in the media. However, there is evidence that the use of potentially less harmful alternatives than cigarettes for those who are not willing or cannot give up smoking with currently approved methods may be a solution, not necessarily the best for everyone but by far better than continuous smoking.
Tobacco Harm Reduction was introduced to mitigate the damage caused by cigarette smokingâthe most dangerous form of tobacco use, and the leading cause of preventable diseases, including cardiovascular disease, lung cancer, and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. âNicotine has an addictive potential but plays a minor role in smoking-related morbidity and mortality. Across the world, there is growing interest among experts in novel approaches towards tobacco control and there is an ongoing discussion that reducing the negative effects of smoking can be also achieved by tobacco harm reduction,â Dr. Kgosi Letlape, an ophthalmologist and President of Africa Medical Association and the president of the Association of Medical Councils of Africa, said.
Tobacco cessation is a key factor in the prevention of cardiovascular diseases and cancer. Abstinence from tobacco smoking is one of the primary goals for health promotion and management globally but it is unachievable in a huge amount of cases. This task remains unaccomplished despite extensive public campaigns on the health dangers of tobacco smoking. Thus, the development of novel strategies to reduce smoking is imperative. Moreover, the use of innovations in smoking products has been currently adopted by several smokers to reduce the health risks of smoking.
âThe Harm Reduction approach prevents drug-related deaths and overdose fatalities and is the only way out for addicts. In the same way these alternative technologies can reduce tobacco harm and accelerate the journey to a smoke-free world as they reduce exposure to toxicants,â Bernice Apondi, A Policy Manager at Voices of Community Action and Leadership Kenya (VOCAL-Kenya), said.
During the Harm Reduction Exchange, journalists drawn from Southern, West and East African countries, including: Nigeria, Botswana, Ethiopia, Kenya, Lesotho, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, Rwanda, Eswatini, Tanzania, Uganda, South Africa, Zambia, and Zimbabwe debated and set forth several resolutions in regards to the present and future as well as the challenges and progress made in Harm Reduction,and science-led regulation.
The Harm Reduction Exchange brought together high-level policy makers, physicians, scientists and health policy experts with media stakeholders from Africa in a lively mix of speeches, presentations, and panel discussions. The key note speakers included Prof Abdoul Aziz Kasse, Ms Bernice Opondi, Joseph Magero, Jonathan Fell, Chimwemwe Ngoma, Clive Bates, Dr. Kgosi Letlape, Dr. Vivian Manyeki and Dr. Tendai Mhizha.
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 publicationâs queries, Permanent Secretary to the Office of the President Emma Peloetletse said, âas 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 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.
âIt is heartbreaking that at this time the investigations have not been completed,â he toldÂ WeekendPost, adding that âwhen a person is suspended, they get their salary fully without fail until the matter is resolvedâ.
Makgophe, Katlholo and Kgothane are the three most high-ranking government officials that are under interdiction.