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Friday, 19 April 2024

BCP wants skilled mediators on UDC mess


Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) President Duma Boko has finally agreed to his deputy, Dumelang Saleshando and Botswana Congress Party (BCP) recommendation to have external mediators solve the lingering impasse within the coalition project.

The two who are also leading BNF and BCP, constituents’ parties of the UDC, met in a somehow unexpected meeting late last week before the parties’ conference and congress respectively. They have been trading blows before then at UDC National Executive Committee which at the end saw UDC suspending Saleshando and BCP Secretary General Goretetse Kekgonegile.
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The BCP before the suspension of the duo, had suggested that if the UDC is serious about its fortunes the NEC should explore possibilities of engaging external mediators. The party members say just because the BCP has a problem with unilateralism and leadership failure by the UDC President does not mean that they have a problem with BNF or UDC.

“We don’t believe that the President of UDC is mandated by the BNF to undermine and disrespect the BCP. It is unfortunate that UDC is being held at ransom by one man. When UDC collapses and regime change is not realized the President must be held accountable because the buck stops with him. In addition to learning from Zambia how to stop rigging we should also be learning how to manage a coalition of political parties,” BCP senior member and MP Dr. Kesitegile Gobotswang told this publication before the last UDC NEC meeting.

Party President Saleshando when asked about the meeting with Boko on the mediators, he said; “I confirmed the meeting with Boko to our conference and it included the issue of mediators.” He however could not talk to the qualities they are looking for in the mediators.

Sources from the party and the meeting told WeekendPost that the two finally agreed over external mediation. “Yes they agreed for mediation which we had asked for, but what is important is to agree on the qualities of such person. It should be an imminent person with a wealth experience in conflict resolution internationally. Surely there should be regional institutions that specialize in conflict resolution.”

The belief within the UDC top table is a proper mediation can actually assist in re-engineering the UDC. “Hopefully the mediation will help address issues of governance,” added another party member.

The elephant in the room is rotational leadership and decisions made through consensus. The BCP argues that the transitional clause must cease to be operational, but suspects that in case their wishes happen those that have benefitted (BNF) from the status quo may exit the UDC.

Another qualm which has left the BCP restless and want external mediators to address is the possibility that the UDC brand may be a personal property of Duma Boko who also leads the BNF. “This must be addressed head on six months is reasonable and realist timeliness given the complexity of issues on the table,” added a BCP member.

The UDC brand was registered under Boko’s name in March 2019 during their legal battle with the Botswana Movement for Democracy (BMD). By then the BMD wanted to among other things bar the BCP, BNF and BPP from using the UDC brand for the 2019 general elections.

The BCP has given UDC six months to implement all their wishes and party Chairman Samuel Rantuana told WeekendPost why they decided on six months to turn things around. “The party has given the Central Committee six months to demand the democratizing of UDC including the registration of the duly adopted constitution.”

Rantuana however said as a party they will still explore to work with Alliance for Progressives (AP) as they share commonalities which are in line with the conference resolution of working with like-minded organizations, further adding that there is possibility of working with BPF outside UDC. In relation to the Boko-Saleshando meeting he said, “I don’t know of any meeting between the two, I am expecting UDC NEC to meet not two people.”

Since its formation in 2012, UDC has never held an elective congress though it is said the operational constitution provides for the election of NEC every three years. According to the BCP bloc, BNF and BPP “have invoked the notorious transition clause to suspend the constitution and rule by decree. The BNF and BPP ganged against the UDC general membership to perpetuate the rule by decree,” a seemingly annoyed member shared with this publication this week.[/ihc-hide-content]


Nigerians, Zimbabweans apply for Chema Chema Fund

16th April 2024

Fronting activities, where locals are used as a front for foreign-owned businesses, have been a long-standing issue in Botswana. These activities not only undermine the government’s efforts to promote local businesses but also deprive Batswana of opportunities for economic empowerment, officials say. The Ministry of Trade and Industry has warned of heavy penalties for those involved in fronting activities especially in relation to the latest popular government initiative dubbed Chema Chema.

According to the Ministry, the Industrial Development Act of 2019 clearly outlines the consequences of engaging in fronting activities. The fines of up to P50,000 for first-time offenders and P20,000 plus a two-year jail term for repeat offenders send a strong message that the government is serious about cracking down on this illegal practice. These penalties are meant to deter individuals from participating in fronting activities and to protect the integrity of local industries.

“It is disheartening to hear reports of collaboration between foreigners and locals to exploit government initiatives such as the Chema Chema Fund. This fund, administered by CEDA and LEA, is meant to support informal traders and low-income earners in Botswana. However, when fronting activities come into play, the intended beneficiaries are sidelined, and the funds are misused for personal gain.” It has been discovered that foreign nationals predominantly of Zimbabwean and Nigerian origin use unsuspecting Batswana to attempt to access the Chema Chema Fund. It is understood that they approach these Batswana under the guise of drafting business plans for them or simply coming up with ‘bankable business ideas that qualify for Chema Chema.’

Observers say the Chema Chema Fund has the potential to uplift the lives of many Batswana who are struggling to make ends meet. They argue that it is crucial that these funds are used for their intended purpose and not siphoned off through illegal activities such as fronting. The Ministry says the warning it issued serves as a reminder to all stakeholders involved in the administration of these funds to ensure transparency and accountability in their disbursement.

One local commentator said it is important to highlight the impact of fronting activities on the local economy and the livelihoods of Batswana. He said by using locals as a front for foreign-owned businesses, opportunities for local entrepreneurs are stifled, and the economic empowerment of Batswana is hindered. The Ministry’s warning of heavy penalties is a call to action for all stakeholders to work together to eliminate fronting activities and promote a level playing field for local businesses.

Meanwhile, the Ministry of Trade and Industry’s warning of heavy penalties for fronting activities is a necessary step to protect the integrity of local industries and promote economic empowerment for Batswana. “It is imperative that all stakeholders comply with regulations and work towards a transparent and accountable business environment. By upholding the law and cracking down on illegal activities, we can ensure a fair and prosperous future for all Batswana.”










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Merck Foundation and African First Ladies mark World Health Day 2024

15th April 2024

Merck Foundation, the philanthropic arm of Merck KGaA Germany marks “World Health Day” 2024 together with Africa’s First Ladies who are also Ambassadors of MerckFoundation “More Than a Mother” Campaign through their Scholarship and Capacity Building Program. Senator, Dr. Rasha Kelej, CEO of Merck Foundation emphasized, “At Merck Foundation, we mark World Health Day every single day of the year over the past 12 years, by building healthcare capacity and transforming patient care across Africa, Asia and beyond.

I am proud to share that Merck Foundation has provided over 1740 scholarships to aspiring young doctors from 52 countries, in 44 critical and underserved medical specialties such as Oncology, Diabetes, Preventative Cardiovascular Medicine, Endocrinology, Sexual and Reproductive Medicine, Acute Medicine, Respiratory Medicine, Embryology & Fertility specialty, Gastroenterology, Dermatology, Psychiatry, Emergency and Resuscitation Medicine, Critical Care, Pediatric Emergency Medicine, Neonatal Medicine, Advanced Surgical Practice, Pain Management, General Surgery, Clinical Microbiology and infectious diseases, Internal Medicine, Trauma & Orthopedics, Neurosurgery, Neurology, Cardiology, Stroke Medicine, Care of the Older Person, Family Medicine, Pediatrics and Child Health, Obesity & Weight Management, Women’s Health, Biotechnology in ART and many more”.

As per the available data, Africa has only 34.6% of the required doctors, nurses, and midwives. It is projected that by 2030, Africa would need additional 6.1 million doctors, nurses, and midwives*. “For Example, before the start of the Merck Foundation programs in 2012; there was not a single Oncologist, Fertility or Reproductive care specialists, Diabetologist, Respiratory or ICU specialist in many countries such as The Gambia, Liberia, Sierra Leone, Central African Republic, Guinea, Burundi, Niger, Chad, Ethiopia, Namibia among others. We are certainly creating historic legacy in Africa, and also beyond. Together with our partners like Africa’s First Ladies, Ministries of Health, Gender, Education and Communication, we are impacting the lives of people in the most disadvantaged communities in Africa and beyond.”, added Senator Dr. Kelej. Merck Foundation works closely with their Ambassadors, the African First Ladies and local partners such as; Ministries of Health, Education, Information & Communication, Gender, Academia, Research Institutions, Media and Art in building healthcare capacity and addressing health, social & economic challenges in developing countries and under-served communities. “I strongly believe that training healthcare providers and building professional healthcare capacity is the right strategy to improve access to equitable and quality at health care in Africa.

Therefore, I am happy to announce the Call for Applications for 2024 Scholarships for young doctors with special focus on female doctors for our online one-year diploma and two year master degree in 44 critical and underserved medical specialties, which includes both Online Diploma programs and On-Site Fellowship and clinical training programs. The applications are invited through the Office of our Ambassadors and long-term partners, The First Ladies of Africa and Ministry of Health of each country.” shared Dr . Kelej. “Our aim is to improve the overall health and wellbeing of people by building healthcare capacity across Africa, Asia and other developing countries. We are strongly committed to transforming patientcare landscape through our scholarships program”, concluded Senator Kelej.

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Interpol fugitive escapes from Botswana

15th April 2024

John Isaak Ndovi, a Tanzanian national embroiled in controversy and pursued under a red notice by the International Criminal Police Organization (Interpol), has mysteriously vanished, bypassing a scheduled bail hearing at the Extension 2 Magistrate Court in Gaborone. Previously apprehended by Botswana law enforcement at the Tlokweng border post several months earlier, his escape has ignited serious concerns.

Accused of pilfering assets worth in excess of P1 million, an amount translating to roughly 30,000 Omani Riyals, Ndovi has become a figure of paramount interest, especially to the authorities in the Sultanate of Oman, nestled in the far reaches of Asia.

The unsettling news of his disappearance surfaced following his failure to present himself at the Extension 2 Magistrate Court the preceding week. Speculation abounds that Ndovi may have sought refuge in South Africa in a bid to elude capture, prompting a widespread mobilization of law enforcement agencies to ascertain his current location.

In an official communiqué, Detective Senior Assistant Police Commissioner Selebatso Mokgosi of Interpol Gaborone disclosed Ndovi’s apprehension last September at the Tlokweng border, a capture made possible through the vigilant issuance of the Interpol red notice.

At 36, Ndovi is implicated in a case of alleged home invasion in Oman. Despite the non-existence of an extradition treaty between Botswana and Oman, Nomsa Moatswi, the Director of the Directorate of Public Prosecution (DPP), emphasized that the lack of formal extradition agreements does not hinder her office’s ability to entertain extradition requests. She highlighted the adoption of international cooperation norms, advocating for collaboration through the lenses of international comity and reciprocity.

Moatswi disclosed the intensified effort by law enforcement to locate Ndovi following his no-show in court, and pointed to Botswana’s track record of extraditing two international fugitives from France and Zimbabwe in the previous year as evidence of the country’s relentless pursuit of legal integrity.

When probed about the potential implications of Ndovi’s case on Botswana’s forthcoming evaluation by the Financial Action Task Force (FATF), Moatswi reserved her speculations. She acknowledged the criticality of steering clear of blacklisting, suggesting that this singular case is unlikely to feature prominently in the FATF’s assessment criteria.


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