ďWe think sometimes that poverty is only being hungry, naked and homeless. The poverty of being unwanted, unloved and uncared for is the greatest poverty. We must start in our homes to remedy this kind of poverty,Ē these are the words of the famous humanitarian and saint, Mother Teresa.
In his words, Pope Francis, Head of the Catholic Church once said ďThese days there is a lot of poverty in the world and thatís a scandal when we have so many riches and resources to give to everyone. We all have to think about how we can become a little poorer.Ē
When we reached the Díkar settlement, these are the words that rebounded on our minds, aggressively so. Are the people of this settlement treasured? Are they even desired? What if they are abandoned? Did we have answers to these questions? We somewhat did.
Díkar is a settlement located 40 kilometers to the east of the district capital, Ghanzi. The population was 943 in the 2001 census. According to the 2011 census, the population stood at 1668. The 2022 Population and Housing Census Preliminary Results did not include Díkar settlement, so the current population remains indefinite. †It was a farm of the Gereformeerde church, but later evolved into a rural village after being donated to the Naro. There is only a 1 kilometer tar road from the Trans Kalahari Highway that runs straight to the Kgotla.
That is the short road that helped us reach the Kgotla to get more answers from the horseís mouth (the village leadership). At that particular arrival time, we were fortunate yet unfortunate. Fortuitously, some members of the Village Development Committee (VDC) were there to welcome us but regrettably, the chief was not accessible as he was engaged in some matters. They were obviously minor issues of theft or scuffles that erupted over the weekend because the police were also involved.
It is a norm that whenever visitors come over, they report themselves to the Kgosi. Before we could even attempt to see social workers or the VDC, we have to consult with the chief. Efforts to reach the social workers also proved futile as they directed us back to Gantsi to see the Council Secretary.
However, with limited time, we had to come up with a plan B getting to Ghanzi and back to Díkar would be a mission. At that point of time, we spotted VDC Secretary, Kebadiretse Sedumago. She was a familiar face and she remembered us from last year when they were receiving food vouchers from Botswana Red Cross Society, sometime in November.
Sedumago told this publication that indeed, in Díkar, there are households that are headed by single mothers, stressing that at times, these women have to also take care of children living with disabilities.
ďThey do have children who are disabled. In that case, the family gets adopted by the social welfare office. They are given food baskets, they do not have shelter and it is really a devastating situation. Government is trying by all means to help these people, but it has never been enough. It doesnít seem like it will be enough soon.Ē
When we reached the settlement that afternoon, most of what raised our eyebrows were the fact that people in Díkar live in houses made out of logs and soil. There are is a very small crop of modern houses and there is no electricity. Quite obvious though, electricity cannot be supplied into a house that is made out of tree branches.
Sedumago gave a further clarification on the issue of food hampers which are supplied by social workers. ďYou will find out that a household of seven people has been allocated only one coupon to feed all of them. The money credited into the coupon cannot be able to buy food for all of them, considering the economic crisis that the entire world is facing. Food prices went up, there are no proper stores to buy food from here in Díkar so these people have to travel to Ghanzi to buy groceries.Ē
Talking about travelling to Ghanzi, transport in the Ghanzi region seems to be challenging. We saw lot of people on bus stops, desperately waiting for a ride to Ghanzi. Few hours later, we still found them waiting.
Nevertheless, Sedumago said Díkar is dependent on donor contributions. When we arrived at the Kgotla, some of Ipelegeng workers were nibbling on fruits donated by the Ghanzi Council, which were left overs and were overripe.
ďBefore the Botswana Red Cross Society identified us, we were assisted by a certain church coming from Gaborone. It donated food that we handed over to the less privileged. The food that remained were taken to a community pre-school which is for free. It is supported by Council but at times the food runs out before the end of the term.Ē
When shedding light on why most of these women are singly heading households, Sedumago indicated that some lost their boyfriends (as many were not married) through death, while others it was just an issue of break ups.
ďMost of their children are school drop outs. This is dominantly due to lack of fatherhood in the family. They normally quit school at junior level (as early as Form One). They are given everything they need, be it food, toiletry, clothes, blankets or school bags, but at the end of the day, they still quit school. We remain thunderstruck on what might be the problem because Council helps a lot in making sure the less privileged have the whole kits and caboodles they need.Ē
God sent the Díkar residents an angel last week. Letís Ride paid them a visit, yet with more donations. Sedumago said in an interview that the riders donated food hampers, sanitary towels and clothes.
In November 2021, the Botswana Red Cross Society embarked on a food voucher distribution in Díkar settlement. The food voucher distribution exercise is included in the Health and Care program of the Society, in which through the program, they aim to reach those in need and improve their living conditions through service delivery and humanitarian diplomacy.
The food voucher program covered people living with disabilities, pregnant women, destitute, COVID-19 affected persons and women taking care of their families.
A number of organizations over the years have donated non-food products and services to the settlement. In 2014, Friends like These threw a Christmas party for 85 orphans in Dkar, while in 2015, Botswana Red Cross Society responded to Díkar disaster by handing over clothing.
The floods caused damage to the communityís traditional houses and washed away peopleís medications. About 52 families were affected consisting of 231 members (37 adult male, 50 adult female, 68 girls and 72 boys).
The following year, 2016, Diamond Trading Company Botswana (DTCB) refurbished and handed over a fully operational kitchen with trained employees to Díkar Primary School.
In the same year, Botswana Innovation Hub (BIH) and These Hands launched the Díkar Innovation Resource Centre as a way of nurturing grassroots innovation and disseminate technologies to improve lives of people living in poverty.
Botswana Telecommunications Corporation Limited (BTC) has announced that its 3rd Francistown Marathon will be held on Saturday 20th April 2024 at Obed Itani Chilume Stadium in Francistown. The BTC Francistown Marathon is officially recognised by World Athletics and a Comrades Marathon Qualifier will offer race categories ranging from 42.2km, 21.1 km, 10km, 5km fun run, 5km peace run for children and has introduced a 5km and 10km categories for wheelchairs athletics.
BTC also used this opportunity to announce beneficiaries who received donations from proceeds made from the 2nd BTC Francistown Marathon that was held on April 23rd 203.¬† BTC donated a play area, plastic chairs and wooden tables for pupils worth a total of thirty eight thousand, one hundred and three pula, fifty thebe each (P38, 103.50) to Monarch Primary School, Tatitown Primary School, Mahube Primary School and Gulubane Primary School. Ditladi and Boikhutso clinics each received a donation of benches, television sets and 10, 000 litre water tanks worth thirty seven thousan, eight hundred and ninety eight pula (P 37, 898.00). Additionally, BTC also donated seventy thousand pula (P70,000.00) to their marathon technical partner, Francistown Athletics Club (FAC) which will be used for daily operations as well as to purchase equipment for the club.
The BTC Francistown Marathon aligns seamlessly with BTC’s corporate social investment programme, administered through the BTC Foundation. This programme is a testament to BTC’s dedication to community development, focusing on key areas such as health promotion. The marathon, now in its third year, not only promotes a healthy lifestyle but also channels all proceeds to carefully chosen charities as part of BTC’s commitment to impactful and sustainable projects.
Speaking at the launch, the BTC Managing Director Mr Anthony Masunga stated that the marathon underscores BTC‚Äôs commitment to community upliftment and corporate social investment. He stated that ‚Äúthe annual event which has been in existence since 2016, having taken a break due to the covid and other logistical issues, is instrumental to the economic upliftment of the city of Francistown‚ÄĚ. He congratulated all the beneficiaries for having been nominated to receive the donations, adding that ‚Äúthe donation of proceeds from the 2023 marathon aims to highlight BTC‚Äôs commitment and heart for Batswana and our continued impact in the different industries‚ÄĚ.
He further stated that through this marathon, ‚Äúwe demonstrate our steadfast commitment to having a good influence on our communities, this event is a manifestation of our dedication to promoting education and a healthier, more active society‚ÄĚ. ¬†He concluded by stating that ‚ÄúBTC looks forward to another successful marathon that will leave a lasting positive influence on the greater Francistown community and the country at large‚ÄĚ he said.
Giving welcome remarks, the Councillor for Donga, Honourable Morulaganyi Mothowabarwa stated that ‚Äúhe is ecstatic that BTC is collaborating with the City of Francistown on yet another installment of the Marathon‚ÄĚ. He continued to offer his support to BTC to enable this marathon to continue over the coming years, stating that the ‚ÄúCSI element is a welcome development that helps empower our communities‚ÄĚ, he said.
The 3rd BTC Francistown Marathon is officially open for registrations and athletes may use the following platforms to register and pay; through Smega by dialling *173# and choosing opton 5, then choose Option 3 for the Francistown marathon, at any BTC store or by visiting the BTC website and clicking on the BTC Francistown Marathon and choosing the relevant options.
Thapelo Letsholo, Member of Parliament for Kanye North, delivered a moving speech at the United Nations International Anti-Corruption Day commemoration, praising President Dr. Mokgweetsi Eric Keabetswe Masisi’s digitalization initiative in the fight against corruption. Letsholo highlighted the importance of embracing digitalization in governance as a crucial step in curbing corrupt practices.
According to Letsholo, the implementation of digital systems in government services can significantly reduce direct interactions between citizens and officials, which often serve as fertile grounds for corruption. By minimizing these opportunities for illicit activities, the efficiency and transparency of public services can be enhanced. Letsholo pointed to Estonia’s success in digital governance as an example, where public services have become more transparent, accessible, and efficient.
The MP commended President Masisi’s commitment to digitalization and E-Governance, emphasizing that it aligns with global anti-corruption standards. He called for full support and active participation from all sectors to ensure the success of this initiative.
Letsholo also stressed the importance of improving detection methods and refining whistleblower laws to effectively combat corruption. He highlighted the unseen and unspoken facets of corruption as its lifelines, emphasizing the need for robust detection mechanisms and a system that encourages and protects whistleblowers.
Addressing the societal role in fighting corruption, Letsholo focused on the crucial role of everyday citizens and civil servants who often witness corrupt practices firsthand. He acknowledged the existing reluctance to report corruption due to the perceived risks of repercussions. To change this narrative, Letsholo advocated for creating an environment where staying silent is deemed more detrimental than speaking out. He called for a cultural shift where the potential benefits of exposing corruption outweigh the risks, ensuring that whistleblowers are protected and feel secure in coming forward.
Letsholo called for collective responsibility and action in creating a system that not only detects and reports corruption but also supports those who stand against it. He expressed hope that under President Masisi’s digitalization initiatives, the future of governance in Botswana will be characterized by integrity, transparency, and accountability. Letsholo’s speech resonated with the sentiments of hope and determination that permeated the commemoration, emphasizing the need for unity in the fight against corruption.
In summary, Letsholo lauded President Masisi’s digitalization initiative in the fight against corruption, highlighting its potential to curb corrupt practices, enhance efficiency and transparency in public services, and align with global anti-corruption standards. He emphasized the importance of improving detection methods, refining whistleblower laws, and creating an environment where speaking out against corruption is encouraged and protected. Letsholo called for collective responsibility and action in creating a future characterized by integrity, transparency, and accountability in governance.
FaR Property Company (FPC) Limited, a property investment company listed on the Botswana Stock Exchange, has recently announced its exceptional financial results for the year 2023. The company’s property asset value has risen to P1.47 billion, up from P1.42 billion in the previous year.
FPC has a diverse portfolio of properties, including retail, commercial, industrial, and residential properties in Botswana, South Africa, and Zambia. The company owns a total of 186 properties, generating rental revenues from various sectors. In 2023, the company recorded rental revenues of P11 million from residential properties, P62 million from industrial properties, and P89 million from commercial properties. Overall, the company’s total revenues increased by 9% to P153 million, while profit before tax increased by 22% to P136 million, and operating profit increased by 11% to P139 million.
One notable achievement for FPC is the low vacancy rate across its properties, which stands at only 6%. This is particularly impressive considering the challenging trading environment. The company attributes this success to effective lease management and the leasing of previously vacant properties in South Africa. FPC’s management expressed satisfaction with the results, highlighting the resilience of the company in the face of ongoing macroeconomic challenges.
The increase in profit before tax can be attributed to both an increase in income and effective control of operating expenses. FPC managed to achieve these results with fewer employees, demonstrating the company’s efficiency. The headline earnings per linked unit also saw an improvement, reaching 26.92 thebe, higher than the previous year.
Looking ahead, FPC remains confident in its competitiveness and growth prospects. The company possesses a substantial land bank, which it plans to develop strategically as opportunities arise. FPC aims for managed growth, focusing on consumer-driven developments and ensuring the presence of supportive tenants. By maintaining this approach, the company believes it can sustainably grow its property portfolio and remain competitive in the market.
In terms of the macroeconomic environment, FPC noted that inflation rates are decreasing towards the 3% to 6% range approved by the Bank of Botswana. This is positive news for the company, as it hopes for further decreases in interest rates. However, the fluctuating fuel prices, influenced by global events such as the war in Ukraine and oil output reductions by Russia and other Middle Eastern countries, continue to impact businesses, including some of FPC’s tenants.
FPC’s property portfolio includes notable assets such as a shopping mall in Francistown with Choppies Hyper as the anchor tenant, Borogo Mall located on the A33 main road near the Kazungula ferry crossing, and various industrial and commercial properties in Gaborone leased to Choppies, Senn Foods, and Clover Botswana. The company also owns a shopping mall in Mafikeng and Rustenburg in South Africa.
The majority of FPC’s properties, 85%, are located in Botswana, followed by 12% in South Africa and 3% in Zambia. With its strong financial performance, competitive position, and strategic land bank, FPC is well-positioned for continued growth and success in the property market.