Items filtered by date: Monday, 27 January 2020 - Botswana Guardian
Monday, 27 January 2020 11:28

Gaborone Mayor hits the ground running

New Mayor Thata Father Maphongo has hit the ground running with his ambitious vision to transform Gaborone into a “real” diamond city that is safe, clean and green with a great ambience for residents and visitors. Under his stewardship, the key words that he will apply for the council are a ‘leading service delivery, efficiency, accountability, good governance, team work and private partnership’.

In an exclusive interview with Botswana Guardian Maphongo said his quest is to lead and drive Gaborone city towards attaining its status as a diamond city. “We have no intention to change from that pronouncement,” he said, adding there are a number of things they have identified that will eventually take them to that destination. Among the first things which is already noticeable is cleaning the city. “We want a clean city that is very important to us,” since Gaborone is the capital city and the first point of contact for visitors. Hence it is important to ensure that Gaborone resembles the city that “we want it to be, it has to be a role model in the country it has to please the eye and be the city that everyone wants to visit”.

The Council has started clearing bushes around Gaborone and cutting grass. They will also mobilise the community towards cleaning the city. “We will come out with a deliberate programme where we will be asking every resident of Gaborone to join us in cleaning the city. We will agree on a day or few hours on a monthly basis which will be solely dedicated for cleaning the city,” said the Mayor.  He said the bush clearing for visibility on the main roads leading into the city is expected to be completed by the end of February and will be followed by other roads.

Maphongo will look for funds to install receptacle bins around town especially at bus stops in order for travellers to deposit litter so that when “We embark on cleaning campaigns there will be facilities where litter can be deposited”.

Council wants to look at erecting pay toilets in strategic areas and outsource these to disadvantaged groups like the youth to run and manage and generate income for themselves.

Council has also targetted open spaces, parks, Segoditshane River for creating greenery. The plans are to clean the river and make it habitable, by clearing the bushes, creating greenery and walk paths along the river banks so that the community of Gaborone could  have a place to go and  relax as well as have places where they can actually take their kids during weekends and enjoy the environment.

Street lights
Maphongo says Council is aware that Gaborone is dark. “We are working tirelessly to ensure the streets lights are operating. “We are going to be installing tower lights in some areas to ensure that there is adequate lighting around the city in order to create a safe city. “Similarly around  Segoditshane we will create greenery in that area, we will be inviting the private sector  either to take up space  along the river and we would have set minimum standard of the development that we want along the river bank, this is purely to make Gaborone habitable and attractive  to our visitors and residents”. These strategic and deliberate projects will help Gaborone to attract investors at the end of the day.

“We are looking at creating more or less a semi autonomous council where financially we are more or less self-sufficient and sustaining”. But who will finance the projects since government is always complaining of having no money? “My view is that we should not wait for the government to have money because there is no way that the government is going to have money in any forseeable  future.  “You will appreciate that the diamond sales have gone down and there is no main source of income. So if we are going to wait for government to have money, we are going to wait for a very long time”.

In that case Maphongo envisages an innovative Council that will come up with various ways of raising revenue. These include asking government to avail them part of the plastic levy and the fuel levies since Council is the responsible organ for ensuring that the city is clean. “It is those plastics that are being thrown around that we will be picking, therefore it is only reasonable that the plastic levy be channelled to the council”. Council also wants to benefit from the fuel levy to mitigate the costs they incur in repairing roads that are being ruined by vehicles. “One can only hope that the government will be amenable to these suggestions”.

They will also explore newspapers. “We buy them everyday and throw them away after reading and somebody has to pick those newspapers. I know the newspapers are biodegradable, but they are bio degradable after sometimes but before they get mixed with the soil somebody has to pick that litter. “My thinking is to ask for, say, 25 thebe from the newspapers to be channelled to the Council. What we will raise from those channels that I have mentioned may not necessarily be enough looking at our ambition”.

Maphongo wonders why councils should not be allowed to raise bonds to finance projects. Why the council should not be allowed to engage the private sector and partner with them on PPP models such as Build, Operate and Transfer (BOT).

Council needs to start looking at creating efficiencies for purposes of quickening the delivery of services and projects to the community. Maphongo has been talking to his executive team to ensure that council is customer-centric.
“We need to make it easy for the customer to be able to approach us and make transactions with the council easy,” he said. They will also be using technology as the driver of business at council.

In response to complaints by the community on lack of delivery of services, slowness in terms of delivery projects, Council will divide the city into segments and come up with teams responsible for different sectors of the town. “Those teams will be accountable for what happens in those areas in terms of all the service provision, the cleaning, lighting, storm water drainage and roads maintenance”.

There will be a leader responsible for each section that will be performance monitored on regular basis, to ensure that what is expected to happen on the ground, actually happens.  “I have asked the management team to make a tour on a three months basis around the city to check on those teams whether they have delivered to expectations.  “We are going to be holding the people accountable to the areas that they have been assigned to, issues of accountability to me are important”.

With respect to partnering with the private sector, Council will be sensitive to issues of governance to guarantee that the funds and the processes are protected in the partnership.

Published in News

Seperu Folk Dance and Associated Practices is Botswana’s latest intangible cultural element to be inscribed for urgent safeguarding by UNESCO. National Intangible Cultural Heritage (ICH) Expert Bathusi Losolobe told this publication that Botswana now boasts three elements that have been inscribed by the United Nations Education, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) for need of urgent safeguarding.

The first element to be inscribed was the Kgatleng Earthernware Pottery Making Skills in 2012 followed by Mmino wa Dikopelo in 2016 and now Seperu in December 2019.Speaking in an interview at his house in Boseja ward in Mochudi, Losolobe, who also doubles as an IT expert accredited to World Intellectual Property Organisation, WIPO, explained that these elements can only be inscribed by member states to the 2003 Convention on ICH. Botswana acceded to this Convention in May 2010. Intangible heritage includes elements and practices that are in the human mind which cannot be taught at schools but are learnt through observation and apprenticeship, for example, dance forms and certain skills such as making eathernware pottery. Botswana first nominated Seperu Folk Dance and Associated Practices of the Basubiya tribe in the Chobe District for safeguarding in 2014 but was sent back to improve its proposal.

Losolobe was the lead consultant in the project at the time working with various stakeholders, such as the Ingongis (Master Practitioners) in district as well as the Chobe District ICH Committee. The Disctrict ICH Committee is made up of all the 10 Chiefs of Chobe, the Council and a representative of the Ministry of Youth, Sport and Culture (MYSC). Another stakeholder which worked in the process of nomination was the National ICH Committee, which comprises academicians, practitioners and government officials. Losolobe is also a member of this committee by virtue of his position as National ICH Expert, a status he attained since his training by UNESCO in Lesotho in 2010. “We worked with these stakeholders to prepapre a request to UNESCO first in 2014 and were sent back in 2015 after which we filed again in 2017,” he said with a grin of satisfaction now that the element was inscribed last year December.

Explaining submission of request to UNESCO Losolobe said is open to member states that have interest every year March 31st. The submision entails preparing a Form that has the Text about the Element, Photographs that tell the story in the text and then a 10-minute Video that tells the story of the Element. After 31st March UNESCO Secretariat in Paris, France assesses the Request for compliance. If it is not satisfied they send the Form back to the National ICH Committee for improvement. But if satisfied, the Secretariat forwards the Form to the Evaluation Body, which is chosen by members of the 2003 Convention. Losolobe explained that this Body does the technical selection to ensure that the Element has been properly defined and has a Safeguarding Plan.

After the Evaluation Body has assessed the request it may send it back if not satisfied that it complied with an aspect of the criteria, for example, if consent form was not signed by interviewees, or if they feel the Element does not qualify for safeguarding.
Or they may say out of the five criterions the Element has not passed one, in which case the country applying for nomination would have to lobby members of the Intergovernmental Committee, which truly represents the body of ICH. The Intergovernmental Committee is made up of 24 countries in their specific regions – for example Southern Africa is currently represented by Zambia – and meets every year November and December. At that meeting the 24 countries decide whether the Element should pass for inscription or not. Once the nomination process has been duly satisfied, UNESCO inscribes the Element.

For example last year UNESCO recommended that Botswana Element be the only one that gets inscribed. The other countries were sent back. For Inscription, UNESCO has three lists. The first is the list of ICH in Dire Need of Urgent Safeguarding; the second is Representative list of ICH of Humanity and the last is Best Practices. All of Botswana’s three elements – Earthenware pottery making skills, Mmino wa Dikopelo and Seperu - are inscribed under the list of ICH in Need of Urgent Safeguarding.Losolobe said Botswana has not applied for listing under Representative List or Best Pracices not because it does not have any Elements that qualify but because it is relatively easy to get funding from ICH Fund, which is responsible for exclusively financing ICH programmes unlike with other lists.

Representative List is about a culture that a people or country is proud of and wants to be recognised by; for example Seswaa (Pounded Meat) in Botswana transcends all Batswana tribes. Batswana can list this if they want. Another example is the Kobo and Mokorotlo (Blanket and Hat) found in Lesotho. The hat is woven using reed exclusively found in Lesotho and it takes a special skill to weave it hence the hat is not under threat of extinction. Basotho may list it if they like. As for Best Practices Losolobe said it relates to policies and programmes whether they be of government, individuals or independent organisations which are good practices of intangible heritage. He gave the example of Dithubaruba in Botswana. It is a Bakwena culture but is shared with the world at large. During the festival there is research; documenting and sharing of information which consitutes elements of safeguarding an Element.

Documentation forms one of the 12 measures of Safeguarding Measures. Losolobe explained that every member of the 2003 ICH Convention is obliged to make an annual monetary contribution to the ICH Fund. There is also the Voluntary Funds, which can be tapped into. This Fund once had a major outcry when America pulled out of UNESCO in protest over Palestine’s admission as member of UNESCO and then decided to withdraw all its annual contributions. Over and above the Voluntary Funds there is also Funds in Trust. Botswana first benefitted from ICH in 2010 through the Flanders (a State in Belgium) Funds in Trust. Under Funds in Trust developed economies that have managed to safeguard their cultures contribute monies to UNESCO.

Flanders had decided to help SADC countries at the time. In SADC South Africa is the only country that has not acceded to the 2003 ICH Convention but it has acceeded to the 2005 Convention on Cultural Diversity. Losolobe reiterated the point that the reason Botswana has listed under the list for urgent need of safeguarding is because there is readily available money which can be accessed without asking for any assistance from government. “That is how we were funded $68, 000 for the project of promoting eathernware and pottery making skills in Kgatleng,” he explained. Asked about the significance and benefits of safeguarding elements for both country and practitioners, Losolobe said the first was recognition and means for communities to earn a living from their culture.
He gave the example of the men who played ‘Kukwane’ and ‘Segaba’ in Kgatleng and were only unearthed by the Constituency Arts Competitions.

Further as for Chobe District which is renowned for its rich tourism that promotes the region’s flora and fauna, the inclusion of cultural tourism through ‘Seperu cultural performances’ will help brand the District and elevate the profile of the country in the long run.
Losolobe explained that what now remains for Botswana is to apply for funding from ICH Funds of UNESCO to implement the safeguarding measures that they have proposed for Seperu Dance Form and its Associated Practices. The proposed Safeguarding Plan does not consider only the dance and singing aspects of the culture but also extends to its associated practices. Seperu culture transcends the life of a Musubiya–from birth; rite of passage or initiation; marriage; death to the coronation of paramount king.
One of the aspects of the culture that was found to be under threat of extinction is the Mushishi (the cultural dress) because it is worn for wrong ocassions.

“We are now training master weavers and will start children’s clubs in schools so that they can weave it and safeguard the dress,” Losolobe said. The funding proposal will be done by the Chobe Disctrict ICH Committee with the help of the National ICH Committee. They will work closely with the UNESCO office in Botswana. The proposal for funding will then be taken to the Nominations and Reports Subcommittee of National ICH Committee, which Losolobe forms part of. Its other members include Professor Nhlekisane (UB) and Tshepiso Gabonthone of the National Museum. The sub-committee will assess the funding proposal just in the same way that it assessed the request for nomination of the Element. Then it will go to the Nominations Committee which in concert with the District Committee will make its recommendations to the National ICH Committee that the funding proposal be submitted to UNESCO.

“We are permitted to ask for over $100, 000 or below $100, 000. The latter is much easier because the proposal does not have to go through the IGC meeting it only goes to Evaluation Body. “But anything above $100, 000 goes to Evaluation Body which will refer to the IGC for funding. “This is the process that we are going to follow this year,” Losolobe explained. Losolobe expressed hope that they will submit a request for funding to implement the safeguarding plan for Mmino wa Dikopelo on the 31st of March this year.

Published in News
Monday, 27 January 2020 11:13

Education system is under siege

The education system will forever remain under siege post poor results every year until government truthfully addresses the pains that afflict it. This is the frank conclusion drawn by Botswana Sectors of Teachers Union (BOSETU) Secretary General Tobokani Rari in response to the results of Junior Certificate (JC) exams. 

Botswana Examination Council (BEC), last week Friday released the results of the final Junior Certificate Examination for the year 2019. Of the 41 048 candidates who sat for the final JC examinations last year, only 37. 50 percent, which is 15 393 candidates, were able to attain an overall grade C or better, indicating a decrease of 0.02 percent from the 2018 results.According to Rari Government needs to candidly address issues of the ballooned class sizes, the collapsed in – service structures and function, reduced contact time due to    unresolved hours work quagmire, automatic progression policy, administrative crisis of schools. He pointed out that these are, but a few factors that have caused a dent to our education system.

“We have noted as well with disappointment that 62.5 percent of the total 41 048 of the 2019 JC candidates obtained overall grades D, E, U or X, effectively meaning that our education has failed to assist a total of 25 655 candidates to grasp basic numeracy, literacy and some lifeskills. “This indeed is a disturbingly high number which should be a cause for concern and worry for every Motswana. “We have further noted with devastation that 28.71 percent of the total students who sat for the 2019 final JC Examination obtained either grades E, U or X.

“In reality, this means that a total of 12 342 candidates have totally failed and would definitely not proceed to senior schools. “This is the number that our education system has, without any doubt, ejected out into the street. This number in our view is quite alarming and points to a crumbling education system,” said Rari who is also secretary general of BOFEPUSU. According to Rari BOSETU is of a strong opinion that the quality of any final year results in any country is as good or as bad as the education system of that country.
He posited that their longheld view is that the final year results mirror the country’s education system and provides an appropriate platform for truthful and candid introspection. 

“As a teacher trade union, we take the release of the Junior Certificate (JC) results very seriously, and we obviously take keen interest in the results themselves, and what they depict on the ground on a practical sense. “BOSETU takes the final year examinations and the consequent results across all streams, not only as a rite of passage of students to higher levels of education, but also as a yardstick which the quality and effectiveness of this country’s education system should be measured upon.”

Last year BOSETU President Wingston Radikolo told the union’s annual conference in Palapye that teachers find themselves in harsh working conditions, but said the issues should be reflected upon, and a way forward hatched. The BOSETU President indicated that in the years 2017 to 2019 they recorded 237 cases ranging from stress to depression among teachers. He said the causes were among others, the social environment in the workplace, failure to address grievances on time and opting for quick disciplinary processes.
“Stagnation, nepotism and favouritism, inadequate resources in schools and inadequate in-service training, are among the causes.

“In-service training has collapsed compromising teaching service delivery. BOSETU in the past two years sponsored 351 teachers to the tune of P3.8 million to pursue courses of their choice,” Radikolo told the conference.

Published in News

Botswana Patriotic Front (BPF) councillors at Serowe Administrative Authority (SAA) have taken a decision to boycott all sub-committees of the council with immediate effect. This comes after the councillors were not elected to any chairmanship of the sub-committees but were rather made additional members.

The subcommittees include among others Self Help Housing Agency (SHHA), Finance, Health and Liquor and Trading. BPF has eleven (11) voted councillors at SAA while Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) has seven (7) councillors. Minister of Local Government and Rural Development, Eric Molale then approved nomination of six (6) BDP councillors to shoot up the BDP representation to thirteen (13).  The SAA consists of 24 councillors -18 duly elected and six nominated. Nominated Councillor Lesedi Phuthego who lost during the 2019 general election chairs the council.

The query by BPF councillors is that failure to have them chairing any of the sub-committees has disadvantaged them because they would not be represented at the Performance Monitoring Committee (PMC) which is the main committee of the council. The PMC is made up of Chairpersons of the sub-committees. In an interview with Botswana Guardian Councillor Nametso Senku of Patikwane Ward in the Serowe North Constituency said they find no use in participating in the sub-committees while they would not have any input in the PMC.

“PMC is the final decision-making committee. Whatever issue is discussed at sub-committes is taken to the PMC which consolidates all the issues after deliberating on them and takes them to the Full Council at Central District Council. “We have the specially elected councillors running the SAA but these are the people who do not have mandate from the electorates. “They have been rejected at the polls and now the BDP government has rewarded them so that they could safeguard the interest of the BDP.
“Nomination of the six BDP members by Molale was aimed at diluting the majority of the opposition BPF so that they could control the council. “They have won in that regard but we had thought that there would be cross-sectional representation. So, since that did not happen we would not participate in those committees which are currently sitting,” said Senku on behalf of the BPF councillors.

He said they would be addressing their constituents in their respective wards about this development. He said the situation is worrisome at the council. According Senku they had requested that specially elected councillors should not have voting powers but the motion was defeated by the majority BDP councillors. BPF, a breakaway party from the BDP, has won all three Serowe constituencies at Parliamentary level.

“Chairperson of SAA is a special nominee rejected at the general election. He is heading the same people that rejected him. SAA has about five committees and four (4) of these committees are chaired by Specially-elected councillors. “Only one (1) out of the 18 councillors with wards chairs one (1) committee. The Standing Orders of CDC dictate in Section 9.5 that there be cross-sectional representation in all the committees. “Clause 9.6 recognised councillors with trained skills to also make representation in the committees,” said Senku who argued that this decision goes against the promise by minister Molale that nomination of councillors will not distort the 2019 election outcome.

Published in News

When officiating at the graduation ceremony of Limkokwing University of Creative Technology (LUCT) in 2017, the then Botswana Vice President and now President Dr. Mokgweetsi Masisi lamented that it was without a doubt that Limkokwing University is transforming the national tertiary education landscape by nurturing talent through creativity and design-focused thinking.

He said since the university established a campus in Gaborone in 2007, it has not just brought 21st century relevant programmes but it has also imbued the students with a unique fusion of African, Asian and European education thus better enabling Botswana to retain its brightest young people. ‘‘In partnering with Limkokwing University, the government was impressed with its unique and refreshingly different approach to tertiary education’’, President Masisi said at the time.

Twelve years later since it opened its doors to local students, Limkokwing University has become the most sought-after university in the country as young people who leave secondary school mostly prefer it as their number one tertiary institution of choice and this has been attributed to exactly what President Masisi spoke about; providing relevant programmes for the 21st century and hence contributing immensely to the human capital of Botswana and diversifying the economy with the provision of e-skills.  For the Founder and President of Limkokwing University, Tan Sri Limkokwing, this vision has long been embedded in his drive to change the tertiary education landscape of Africa to match the demands of the students in the 21st century. 

In one of the interviews he did way back in 2009, Tan Sri opined that today’s young generation is a different quality of people. ‘‘They are growing up in an era of technology that has enhanced connectivity and eased laborious work. It’s a digital world where the word ‘’instant’’ is moving from hours to minutes to seconds and now it is reducing further to nano-seconds’’, observed Tan Sri, the man who has been described by many world leaders as having an uncanny ability to stay ahead because he is able to discern the future.

Discern the future indeed because that is exactly how Tan Sri came up with the idea to set up a university in Botswana at a time when private tertiary enterprises were not generally considered by foreign investors.  Tan Sri looked into the future and saw the potential that his university can turn Botswana into a rare gem in Africa. ‘‘In Botswana, we see the opportunity to change Africa’’, Tan Sri said at the time.  The story of how Tan Sri ended up setting campus in Botswana is that of a man who does not put monetary returns at the forefront of his investments.  He took a risk that no other person could consider in 2001 when he decided it was time he brought the university to the Botswana students after the government had been spending millions of Pula to send a few students abroad to acquire creative skills. 

His bold move paid off as the university has since produced over 30 000 globalised, highly skilled and the most industry sought after graduates since it opened in Botswana in 2007. Described in some quarters as the man who designed the future, Tan Sri holds the belief it is creative people who build economies around the world. ‘’Anywhere in the world it is creative people who creat new business, new products, new media, new lifestyles, new trends, new standards, new heroes’’, Tan Sri stated.
Today Botswana thrives on graduates from Limkokwing University as they can be found in almost all the creative sectors of the economy in the country such as television production, radio, fashion design, graphic design, journalism and the creative arts.
Through the Limkokwing Entrepreneurship Acceleration Platform (LEAP), the university produces students who would be job creators rather than job seekers.

True to his word, Tan Sri did not just set up in Botswana and sit on his laurels. He ensured that the Botswana campus serves as a launching pad for other African countries as was witnessed by the opening of the Lesotho campus in 2008, followed by the Swaziland campus in 2011. The Limkokwing wings have since spread to other countries such as Sierra Leone which opened in 2018 with the Namibia, Rwanda and Uganda campuses scheduled to open next year, 2020.

Tan Sri Limkokwing has been instrumental in changing worldwide perception of Malaysian education and initiated closer collaborations with the Commonwealth and the United Nations where he has paved way for Malaysia to play a significant role. He is Chair of the Advisory Board; United Nations Global Compact, Malaysia. The Asia Pacific CSR Council awarded him the honour of Father of Responsible Innovation & Creative Education. He is a member of The World Federation of UN Friends and was also awarded the Salver of Honour by the World Federation of Friends of the United Nations. His lifelong journey empowering people and nations was paid fitting tribute when he received the Commonwealth Champions Award and is only the eight recipient of this prestigious award in the history of the Commonwealth. 

He is truly one of the world’s most highly decorated citizens for excellence in innovation, communications, advertising, education and as an international peacemaker. Thousands of young people from around the world have gained a global tertiary education by virtue of the University’s pioneering and innovative education philosophy which is creativity oriented.More than 30,000 students study at Limkokwing University’s 12 campuses in Asia, Africa and Europe. Its main campus in KL’s tech-city, Cyberjaya alone holds close to 10,000 students, 80 percent of them from foreign countries and is the nation’s ground breaking University with unrivalled emphasis upon innovation and creativity. The University has changed the tertiary education landscape not only in Botswana but in every country the University has established itself.

Its inspirational ecosystems and global strategic outlook produces 21st century graduates who are leading social and economic transformational across the globe. For 50years, Tan Sri Limkokwing has passionately involved himself in nation-building and advocated transformation and innovation of human capital for developing nations and organisations – as key to a more equitable and peaceful world into the next decade of the 21st century.

Mercy Rebaone Thebe This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.  00267 3180255
Public Relations Department
Limkokwing University of Creative Technology

Published in News
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