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Bots, SA Vegetable Trade Dispute Intensifies

The recent announcement of Botswana’s extension of import restrictions on fresh produce from South Africa has sparked deep concern and raised tensions between the two countries. South Africa’s largest opposition party, the Democratic Alliance (DA), has demanded urgent action and a meeting to address the issue. The DA’s Shadow Minister of Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development, Noko Masipa, expressed his party’s worries about the lack of progress in resolving the dispute.

Masipa highlighted the challenges faced by farmers who are unable to sell their produce to Botswana due to the import restrictions. He criticized South Africa’s lack of mechanisms to protect its farmers from such market disruptions, contrasting it with Botswana and other nations that prioritize their farmers through rebates and protectionist measures. Masipa emphasized the importance of a free-market economy and called on the ANC government to take a decisive stance on the matter.

The DA urged Minister Thoko Didiza and her department to collaborate effectively with Botswana to find a lasting solution for regional farmers. Masipa also stressed the need for transparent and regular communication to keep farmers and the South African public informed. The DA plans to correspond with the Minister to inquire about the expected dates of engagement and the actions she plans to undertake if Botswana persists in its current stance.

In response, Sifiso Ntombela, Special Advisor to Minister Didiza, acknowledged that some countries within the Southern African Customs Union (Sacu) have implemented trade-restrictive measures to protect their domestic agriculture. However, he emphasized that these measures impact regional integration and free-cross border trade, eroding the Union’s goals and spirit.

Ntombela highlighted the importance of Sacu as a destination market and a partner in developing agriculture. He emphasized that countries like Botswana and Namibia play a strategic role in expanding Sacu’s agricultural export footprint. Ntombela argued that border closures not only affect vegetable products but also other agricultural goods that cannot be grown locally due to environmental conditions and infrastructure challenges.

He pointed out that the Sacu Agreement provides platforms for Ministers’ engagements on trade and developmental matters. Minister Didiza has already informed South African agricultural stakeholders of her intention to engage with her counterpart in Botswana to find a solution. Ntombela stressed the need for a swift resolution that supports Botswana’s efforts to build its domestic industries while promoting the broader trade and investment objectives of Sacu.

Ntombela urged Botswana to view South Africa as a partner rather than a competitor in the agricultural sector. He emphasized the potential for other Sacu member states to serve as strategic transit points to the rest of the African market, leveraging South Africa’s capabilities and economies of scale. This, he argued, requires open borders for all agricultural products.

The extension of import restrictions by Botswana until December 2025, along with the expansion of the list of restricted vegetable products, poses a significant challenge for South African farmers. The urgency of addressing this dispute cannot be overstated, as it not only affects farmers’ livelihoods but also has broader implications for regional trade and cooperation.

Analysts say it is crucial for South Africa and Botswana to engage in meaningful dialogue and find a mutually beneficial solution. Both countries should prioritize the interests of their farmers while promoting regional integration and free trade. Transparent communication and collaboration are essential to ensure the well-being of farmers and the prosperity of the agricultural sector in both nations.



Inequalities Faced by Individuals with Disabilities

22nd February 2024

The government’s efforts to integrate individuals with disabilities in Botswana society are being hampered by budgetary constraints. Those with disabilities face inequalities in budgetary allocations in the health and education sectors. For instance, it is reported that the government allocates higher budgetary funds to the general health sector, while marginal allocations are proposed for the development and implementation of the National Primary Health Care guidelines and Standards for those with Disabilities. This shows that in terms of budgetary solutions, the government’s proposed initiatives in improving the health and well-being of those with disabilities remain futile as there is not enough money going towards disability-specific health programs. On the other hand, limited budgetary allocations to the Special Education Unit also are a primary contributor to the inequalities faced by children with disabilities. The government only provides for the employment of 15 teachers with qualifications in special education despite the large numbers of children with intellectual disabilities that are in need of special education throughout Botswana. Such disproportional allocation of resources inhibits the capacity to provide affordable and accessible assisted technology and residential support services for those with disabilities. Given the fact that a different amount of resources have been availed to the education and health sectors, the general understanding is that the government is not doing enough to ensure that adequate resources are distributed to disability-specific programs and facilities such as barrier-free environments, residential homes, and special education schools for children with disabilities.


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Disability characterized by exclusion

22nd February 2024

Disability in Botswana, like in many other nations, has been characterized by exclusion, discrimination, and stigmatization. Negative attitudes towards individuals with disabilities (IWDs) have led to barriers in education, employment, and access to facilities and information. The lack of disability-specific legislation in Botswana has further perpetuated the exclusion of IWDs from society.

The National Policy on Care for People with Disabilities (NPCPD) in Botswana, established in 1996, aims to recognize and protect the rights and dignity of individuals with disabilities. The policy emphasizes the importance of integration and equal opportunities for IWDs in various sectors such as health, education, employment, and social development. While the policy provides a framework for addressing disability issues, it falls short of enacting disability-specific legislation to protect the rights of IWDs.

In 2010, the Government of Botswana established an office for IWDs within the Office of the President to coordinate disability-related policies and programs. While this office plays a crucial role in mobilizing resources for the implementation of policies, its approach to service delivery is rooted in social welfare, focusing on the care of IWDs as a social burden rather than recognizing their rights.

The lack of disability-specific legislation in Botswana has hindered the recognition of the rights of IWDs and the enactment of laws to protect them from discrimination and exclusion. Without legal protections in place, IWDs continue to face barriers in education, employment, and access to facilities and information, perpetuating their exclusion from society.

In order to address the exclusion of IWDs in Botswana, it is crucial for the government to prioritize the enactment of disability-specific legislation to protect their rights and ensure equal opportunities for all. By recognizing the rights and dignity of individuals with disabilities, Botswana can work towards creating a more inclusive society where IWDs are valued and included in all aspects of life.




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DJ Bafana’s one man show on the cards

21st February 2024

DJ Bafana, a talented DJ from Francistown, is gearing up to host his very own one-man show, a groundbreaking event that aims to not only showcase his skills but also empower fellow musicians. This ambitious project is currently in the planning stages, with DJ Bafana actively seeking out potential sponsors to help bring his vision to life.

In a recent interview with WeekendPost, DJ Bafana revealed that he is in talks with two potential venues, Limpopo Gardens and Molapo Leisure Gardens, to host his show. However, he is facing challenges in securing sponsorships from companies, particularly those who do not fully understand the importance of music-related events. Despite this setback, DJ Bafana remains determined to make his one-man show a reality and to use it as a platform to empower and support other artists in the industry.

What sets DJ Bafana’s show apart is the fact that he will be making history as the first person living with a disability to host a one-man show in Botswana. This milestone is a testament to his resilience and determination to break barriers and pave the way for others in similar situations. By showcasing his talent and passion for music, DJ Bafana is not only proving his worth as an artist but also inspiring others to pursue their dreams, regardless of any obstacles they may face.

As DJ Bafana continues to work towards making his one-man show a reality, he remains focused on his goal of empowering and uplifting his fellow musicians. Through his dedication and perseverance, he is setting an example for others to follow and showing that anything is possible with hard work and determination. The date for the show is yet to be announced, but one thing is for certain – DJ Bafana’s one-man show is sure to be a memorable and inspiring event for all who attend.


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