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BDF Welfare Fund reformed

The Botswana Defence Force (BDF) has closed its 15 year old Welfare Fund to comply with the new standards set by the Financial Intelligence and Regulatory Authority (FIA) and the Non-Bank Financial Institutions (NBFIRA).

The BDF has now transitioned its operations to a Dikwata SACCOS, which is licensed by the FIA. The main objective of the Trust Fund was to provide its members with financial assistance and to improve the welfare of its members. It was also established to allow its members to save money. The organization also wanted to utilize the funds to improve the welfare of its members.

In 2018, Parliament enacted the Trust Property Control Act, which made it mandatory for all existing trusts to re-register with the High Court. The BDF Welfare Trust Fund was one of the first organizations to submit its application for re-registration. Following the assessment of its application, the High Court agreed that the Trust Fund should be transitioned to comply with the Act.

According to Colonel Ramhitshana, in line with the Notarial Deed of Trust, the Trust Fund is set up for the benefit of the beneficiaries and imposes obligations on the beneficiaries to contribute to the Trust. According to the Act, beneficiaries are not obliged to contribute to the Trust.

This now suggested a major shift from the fundamental objectives of the collective and any deviation would have meant that the Trust Fund should immediately be dissolved. In his reading of the Notarial Deed the Master was of the opinion that the Trustees are obliged to provide a Bond of Security, says Ramhitshana.

The Master’s interpretation of the Notarial Deed meant that the members would have to provide a bond of security in order to retain their elected trustees. This would have meant that no one would be willing to take on the role of trustees without having to put up a bond.

Because of the aforementioned, the Trust Fund could not continue to exist under that model. Without the much needed contributions, the Trust Fund would cease to operate. It therefore called for the Board of Trustees to embark on a countrywide consultation with members to share with them the challenges faced and seek advice on the way forward.

During these engagements, it was clear that members strongly believed in the continuation of the spirit of togetherness that has been exhibited by the collective that has served them so well over the years. During these interactions, members were very amenable to the idea of forming a Co-Operative Society in order to be compliant with the law.

On this note, the process to register Dikwata SACCOS was conceived as it was deemed to be the right type of model that would continue representing the interests of members. Following the formation of Dikwata SACCOS, it is expected that the members’ assets will be transferred to the Co-Operative Society, in order to continue representing the interests of its members.

These include the members’ savings, loans, and collective education. Colonel Ramhitshana also noted that the members would continue to be engaged with the Co-Operative Society to learn more about its operations. The Trust Fund has already outsourced its administrative services to a company known as Minet Botswana, which is a professional fund administrator.

The Trust Fund is also regularly audited by Grant Thornton, as required by its Notarial Deed. The annual general meetings of the members are also held as per the Notarial Deed. The BDF Welfare Trust Fund was registered in the Deeds Office of Botswana in 2007 by members of the Botswana Defence Force.

The founding members consisted of members in Active Service, Non-Uniformed members and Retired personnel in their personal/private capacity. Since its inception, the Trust Fund has been operating under a Board of Trustees elected by its members in accordance with the Notarial Deed of Trust, which has been the governing document for the Trust Fund. The Trust Fund was registered with the Non-Bank Financial Regulatory authority.

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ENVIRONMENT ISSUES: Masisi asks Virginia for help

24th March 2023

President Mokgweetsi Masisi says the issue of sustainable natural resources management has always been an important part of Botswana’s national development agenda.

Masisi was speaking this week on the occasion of a public lecture at Virginia Polytechnic, under theme, “Merging Conservation, Democracy and Sustainable Development in Botswana.”

Botswana, according to Masisi, holds the view that the environment is fragile and as such, must be managed and given the utmost protection to enable the achievement of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

“It is necessary that we engage one another in the interchange of ideas, perspectives, visualizations of social futures, and considerations of possible strategies and courses of action for sustainable development,” said Masisi.

On the other hand, dialogue, in the form of rigorous democratic discourse among stakeholders presents another basis for reconfiguring how people act on their environments, with a view to conserving its resources that “we require to meet our socio-economic development needs on a sustainable basis,” Masisi told attendees at the public lecture.

He said government has a keen interest in understanding the epidemiology and ecology of diseases of both domestic and wild animals. “It is our national interest to forestall the dire consequences of animal diseases on our communities livelihoods.”

President Masisi hoped that both Botswana and Virginia could help each other in curbing contagious diseases of wildlife.

“We believe that Virginia Tech can reasonably share their experiences, research insights and advances in veterinary sciences and medicines, to help us build capacity for knowledge creation and improve efforts of managing and containing contagious diseases of wildlife. The ground is fertile for entering into such a mutually beneficial partnership.”

When explaining environmental issues further, Masisi said efforts of conservation and sustainable development might at times be hampered by the emergence and recurrence of diseases when pathogens mutate and take host of more than one species.

“Water pollution also kills aquatic life, such as fish, which is one of humanity’s much deserved sources of food. In this regard, One Health Approach imposes ecological responsibility upon all of us to care for the environment and the bio-diversity therein.”

He said the production and use of animal vaccines is an important space and tool for conservation, particularly to deal with trans-border animal diseases.

“In Botswana, our 43-year-old national premier pharmaceutical institution called Botswana Vaccine Institute has played its role well. Through its successful production of highly efficacious Foot and Mouth vaccines, the country is able to contain this disease as well as supply vaccines to other countries in the sub-region.:

He has however declared that there is need for more help, saying “We need more capacitation to deal with and contain other types of microbial that affect both animals and human health.”

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Masisi saddened by deaths of elephant attacks

24th March 2023

President Mokgweetsi Masisi has expressed a strong worry over elephants killing people in Botswana. When speaking in Virginia this week, Masisi said it is unfortunate that Batswana have paid a price with their own blood through being attacked by elephants.

“Communities also suffer unimaginable economic losses yearly when their crops are eaten by the elephants. In spite of such incidents of human-elephant conflict, our people embrace living together with the animals. They fully understand wildlife conservation and its economic benefits in tourism.”

In 2018, Nthobogang Samokwase’s father was attacked by an elephant when travelling from the fields, where he stayed during the cropping season.

It was reported that the man couldn’t run because of his age. He was found trampled by the elephant and was pronounced dead upon arrival at the hospital.

In the same year, in Maun, a 57-year-old British woman was attacked by an elephant at Boro and died upon arrival at the hospital. The woman was with her Motswana partner, and were walking dogs in the evening.

Last month, a Durban woman named Carly Marshall survived an elephant attack while on holiday in the bush in Botswana. She was stabbed by one of the elephant’s tucks through the chest and was left with bruises. Marshall also suffered several fractured ribs from the ordeal.

President Masisi Botswana has the largest population of African elephants in the world, totaling more than 130 000. “This has been possible due to progressive conservation policies, partnerships with the communities, and investment in wildlife management programmes.”

In order to benefit further from wildlife, Masisi indicated that government has re-introduced controlled hunting in 2019 after a four-year pause. “The re-introduction of hunting was done in an open, transparent and democratic way, giving the communities an opportunity to air their views. The funds from the sale of hunting quota goes towards community development and elephant conservation.”

He stressed that for conservation to succeed, the local people must be involved and derive benefits from the natural resources within their localities.

“There must be open and transparent consultations which involve all sectors of the society. It is against this backdrop that as a country, we lead the continent on merging conservation, democracy and sustainable development.”

Masisi stated that Botswana is open to collaborative opportunities, “particularly with identifiable partners such as Virginia Tech, in other essential areas such as conservation, and the study of the interplay among the ecology of diseases of wild animals and plants, and their effects on human health and socio-economic development.”

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Gov’t commit to injecting more funds in fighting HIV

24th March 2023

Minister for State President Kabo Morwaeng says government will continue to make resources available in terms of financial allocations and human capital to ensure that Botswana achieves the ideal of eradicating HIV and AIDS as a public health threat by 2030.

Morwaeng was speaking this morning in Gaborone at the High-Level Advocacy event to accelerate HIV Prevention in Botswana. He said the National AIDS and Health Promotion Agency (NAPHA), in partnership with UNAIDS, UN agencies, the Global Fund and PEPFAR, have started a process of developing transition readiness plan for sustainability of HIV prevention and treatment programmes.

“It is important for us, as a country that has had a fair share of donor support in the response to an epidemic such as HIV and AIDS, to look beyond the period when the level of assistance would have reduced, or ceased, thus calling for domestic financing for all areas which were on donor support.”

Morwaeng said this is important as the such a plan will guarantee that all the gains accrued from the response with donor support will be sustained until the end when “we reach the elimination of HIV and AIDS as a public health threat by 20230,” he said.

“I commit to continue support efforts towards strengthened HIV prevention, accentuating HIV primary prevention and treatment as prevention towards Zero New Infections, Zero Stigma, Discrimination and Zero AIDS related death, to end AIDS in Botswana.”

He reiterated that government commits to tackle legislative, policy and programming challenges that act as barriers to the achievement of the goal of ending AIDS as a public health threat.

In the financial year 2022/2023, a total of 119 Civil Society Organizations, including Faith Based Organizations, were contracted with an amount of P100 million to implement HIV and NCDs prevention activities throughout the country, and the money was drawn from the Consolidated Fund.

Through an upcoming HIV Prevention Symposium, technical stakeholders will use outcomes to develop the Botswana HIV Prevention Acceleration Road Map for 2023-2025.

Morwaeng stated that government will support and ensure that Botswana plays its part achieving the road map. He said there is need to put hands on the deck to ensure that Botswana sustains progress made so far in the fight against HIV and AIDS.

“There are tremendous achievements thus far to, reach and surpass the UNAIDS fast track targets of 95%- 95%- 95% by the year 2025. As reflected by the BAIS preliminary results of 2021, we now stand at 95- 98- 98 against the set targets.”

“These achievements challenge us to now shift our gears and strive to know who are the remaining 5% for those aware of their HIV status, 2% of enrolment on treatment by those aware of their status and 2% of viral suppression by those on treatment.”

Explaining this further, Morwaeng said shift in gears should extend to coming up with robust strategies of determining where these remaining people are as well as how they will be reached with the necessary services.

“These are just some of the many variables that are required to ensure that as a country, we are well positioned to reaching the last mile of our country’s response to the HIV and AIDS pandemic.”

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