President of Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) Advocate Duma Boko says the purported leadership of Botswana Movement for Democracy (BMD) is illegitimate.
Advocate Boko revealed this on Wednesday indicating that BMD remains a member of UDC in good standing but the leadership that was elected at Matshekge Hill School in Bobonong led by Advocate Sidney Pilane is not legitimate and cannot be accepted.
“We have since written to the BMD and served them on Monday that they have to constitute an interim. The interim committee would then send four representatives who will sit in the UDC National Executive Committee.
“Then after that the BMD would hold fresh elective congress before January 31st 2018. The leadership that would have been elected at the congress would then replace the interim members,” said Advocate Boko.
Botswana Guardian however, has it on good authority that Advocate Pilane has accepted to comply with UDC’s verdict and is ready and prepared to step down from the BMD presidency to allow for a fresh congress.
Pilane, who was in South Africa on Wednesday, is said to be willing to sacrifice himself to prove that he has nothing against the leadership of Boko.
He wants to make it clear that he genuinely believes in opposition unity. Impeccable sources say the only thing he would not accept was if the UDC had proposed to expel BMD from the coalition, which he had threatened he would fight to the bitter end.
He is said to be happy to remain an ordinary member of the BMD and is ready to be deployed to any position should the party feel the need to.
Boko told the Press that they have given this time line so that the BMD would be part of the UDC Constitutional Congress billed for February next year. He pointed out that the draft constitution would be discussed at the congress where all UDC members would have an input before the Constitution is adopted.
It remains to be seen if the BMD, which is said to be skating on thin ice will now bow to pressure and listen to the UDC. Should the BMD disregard this order from UDC it could find itself outside the UDC.
“We are awaiting their response and we would act accordingly when they respond. We want a congress that is free, fair and credible. We will act in the best interest of the UDC,” said Advocate Boko adding that through the powers he has as the UDC president he would act.
“The powers sometimes do not have to be in the constitution. There is a case of Botswana National Front when Botswana Congress Party was formed when court ruled that the president cannot just sit and watch while the organisation falls apart.
“By virtue of being the president I have those powers to act,” he said expressing doubt that the BMD would disregard the UDC call. He said they would act not based on targeting any individual.
Earlier in the day, a highly placed source in the BMD NEC had contended that the UDC’s instruction to the BMD is not practical within the time frame given. The source said it takes time and funds to mobilise for a congress.
“Right now we are busy with the Youth Congress which is coming on the 18th of this month where resources have been channeled. So what our comrades are asking us is just too much and we have just come from another expensive congress three (3) months ago.
When you hold a congress you have to first have Ward congresses followed by Branch congresses an exercise impossible in a space of two months. You have to compile a voters roll and all these need time and resources. I think comrades are being unfair on us but we will cross the bridge when we get there,” said the BMD NEC member.
According to the Constitution of the UDC, the President the political head and chief directing officer of the Umbrella and the leader of the House at all statutory gatherings of the Umbrella; will make pronouncements for and on behalf of the Umbrella; under the overall supervision and checking of the NEC.On suspension or expulsion the UDC Constitution at Article 22.1.1 states that the National Congress or the NEC may suspend or expel a group member for –acting against the interests of the Umbrella; failing to attend more than 2 consecutive meetings of the NEC without an apology acceptable to the NEC; or failing to pay its group membership fees.
The Article further states that no such suspension or expulsion shall have effect unless the NEC – has notified the affiliate in writing of the reasons for the suspension or expulsion; and has granted the affiliate permission to present its case to the NEC.
At 22.1 regarding the Appeal the Constitution indicates that the affiliate must give notice of their intention to appeal to the General Secretary within 30 days of the decision. The appeal according to the Constitution shall be made to the NC, and the decision of the NC shall be final and binding. Where the decision to suspend or expel is made by the NC, such decision shall be final and binding.
The UDC leader said he would not respond to comments purported to have been made by Advocate Pilane regarding the congress.
Advocate Pilane has allegedly taken to social media where he stated that the BMD would not go for a fresh congress. According to Advocate Boko he would not attribute such words to the BMD because any communication they have with the BMD on any BMD issue is done formally. He indicated that BMD issues are very sensitive and they have to be approached with caution.
BMD Spokesperson Winfred Rasina told this publication that the BMD National Working Committee was scheduled to meet yesterday (Thursday) evening and would discuss the issue under ‘matters arising’ agenda item.
He said this is because NWC meetings have already been scheduled and the agenda sent to the members at the time of receiving the letter from the UDC. “It would be at the meeting that the NWC would decide whether to discuss the issue or take it up to the NEC.
“The NWC would have to consider all other factors when dealing with the matter which is why it might escalate the matter to the NEC. That is when we can communicate the BMD position on the matter,” said the BMD spokesperson.
Regarding engaging new kid on the block - Alliance for Progressives - Advocate Boko explained that the UDC does not want to jump the gun.
“We want them to indentify themselves. They have to understand what they want, what they stand for and where they are going.
“They have to establish their identity. We want all opposition parties under the umbrella,” he said adding that once the AP is settled they would come to the UDC and present their case and take it from there.
Mokhutshwane Sekgoma of the Bangwato Tribal Authority got a nasty reception at the Tutume main kgotla recently.
He had gone there to officially tell residents that, Alphonse Nsala and Tapson Madikwe have been appointed to the positions of Senior Subordinate Tribal Authority (SSTA) and Subordinate Tribal Authority (STA) respectively.
While Nsala was filling the post left by Kgosi Jenamo Magapatona, when he retired in 2016, Madikwe was filling the position left by Nsala.
There was no ululation when Mokhutshwane entered the kgotla nor was there applause when Nsala and Madikwe were asked to rise and be formally introduced to the rather hostile crowd. The majority of dikgosi from the several villages that form the Tutume region refused to sit at the top table preferring instead to sit with their people.
With a steely face, the Bamangwato envoy made it clear that, the appointing authority is not the community but the Bangwato Tribal Authority under whose jurisdiction the Tutume district falls.
A man who did not identify himself demanded that Sediegeng Kgamane and not Mokhutshwane, should be addressing the people of Tutume. “Even the President meets people in person when they want to talk to him. Why is it difficult for us to meet Sediegeng Kgamane directly?” he asked rhetorically before warning Bakalanga to be careful about the Bangwato rule “by remote control as if we are their television sets.”
Edmont Moahi, a resident, challenged Mokhutshane to say whether the appointments of Nsala and Madikwe were the outcome of any consultation process. Angry Moahi then said, “I wish Jesus would come and realign land so that Bakalanga have got their own land independent of Bangwato.”
Gabriel Tshekiso wondered why in this day and age, some tribes were still ruled by others. “This practice is outdated. We should be equal such that each tribe is ruled by people from their midst,” said Tshekiso who finds it preposterous for somebody with a totem of rabbit (mmutla in Setswana or khupe in Kalanga) being ruled by someone who venerates a duiker (phuti or phembgwe in Kalanga ).
“The era of colonialism is over,” stated Tshekiso. For his part, Lempaletse Malike, who wished he was allowed to speak in his language at the kgotla, said that, to intimidate Bakalanga into silence, their Bangwato overlords never tire to warn them against politicians.
“This is an attempt at divide and rule because President Ian Khama is a politician. He is the Paramount Chief (Kgosikgolo) of this area. Go tell him we are not cattle in his farm. We want to be respected,” demanded Malike.
Dema Jesi, a former councillor, cannot understand why councillors from Tutume and other parts of the Central District still have to go to Serowe for their meetings. “If there is no tribalism in this country, then how come Bakalanga are not represented at the House of Chiefs by somebody from their midst?” he wondered.
Yet another resident, Victor Somolokae called upon Bakalanga to open their eyes to what is happening to them. “It is high time we wake up as Bakalanga because the oppression meted out on us by Tshekedi is still here. We must demand for a representative in the House of Chiefs if we do not want to remain marginalised and oppressed forever,” said Somolekae.
Another speaker Kgosi Moemedi Selolwane of Selolawne village, which is part of the Tutume district called for unity among Bakalanga. “Unity will give you dignity. If you are united, people will not be able to play around with you because you will be able to speak with one voice and demand representation at the House of Chiefs,” said Selolwane.
For his part, Kgosi Batshani Nswazwi, John Nswazwi’s grandson said, “We must demand for our own land just like the other tribes who have their own territory.” Nswazwi who threatened to boycott kgotla meetings addressed by Bangwato traditional leaders in future, added that if it were possible, he would bring his grandfather, John Nswazwi back to life to continue the struggle for Bakalanga independence from Bangwato.
Shongwe Kgomotso complained that there had been no consultation regarding the appointment of Nsala and Madikwe. “Lack of consultation by its nature, leads to chaos and we do not want chaos here,” he said.
A young man preferring anonymity opined that Bangwato have got no business meddling in the chieftainship of Bakalanga because he had never seen any Kalanga meddling in the chieftainship affairs of Bangwato.
In the end Mokhutshane advised Tutume residents to direct their grievances to the ‘right’ people. “My job here today was to officially introduce Nsala and Madikwe to you. I am not here for the Tshekedi and Nzwazwi issues,” said Mokhutswana who will be returning to the same kgotla on November 23rd to consult on the filling of the posts left vacant by Nsala and Madikwe when they were promoted to the main kgotla.
When officiating at the 120 anniversary of Francistown recently, President Ian Khama advised that, beyond reflecting on the city’s 120 years of existence, the inhabitants of Francistown should also come up to continuously review their strategies and roadmap to keep up with current developments. “This will hopefully enable us to transform this city, to make it a major investment and tourist hub, not only at regional level, especially given its rich heritage, but also at global level through strategic partnerships and proper profiling of investment opportunities in and around the city,” said the President.
According to him, initiatives such as twinning with other municipalities around the world, are quite commendable and welcome activities. “Milestones derived therefrom, including copying best practices, cultural exchanges, as well as people to people interactions are very evident in this regard,” he noted. Earlier in his address, Khama had indicated that it is not possible to give an account of Francistown without acknowledging the critical role it played especially during the 1960s and 1970s in assisting refugees fleeing racial and colonial oppression from elsewhere in the region. He added that the history of Francistown is interwined with the history of the liberation struggle in Southern Africa noting that, nationalist leaders from Zimbabwe, South Africa and Namibia “... either used Francistown as a transit point on exile or as a rendezvous to consult with their comrades,” said Khama who further explained that, because it haboured refugees as well as being used as a transit point by freedom fighters, its community became the object of violent attacks from the neighbouring racist regimes. Meanwhile, in her welcoming remarks, the mayor of Francistown, Sylvia Muzila had acknowledeged representatives from the cities of Bulawayo, Victoria Falls and Genk. Muzila paid particular tribute to the City of Genk which she says has now 14 years with exchabge programmes in the areas of health for Nyangabgwe and the Institute of Health Sciences(IHS), Education, Youth Empowerment and Social Welfare with respect to Ward Development Committees(WDC).
Botswana Power Corporation has signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) for the Seronga Village with Cronimet which will establish a MW Solar power plant in that area.
This development is part of fulfilling expectations of the Paris Agreement, which Botswana has signed to increase green energy mix by 25percent within the next seven years. Consequently Government has implored its first steps into a greener environment through the employment of solar power plant projects in rural areas, Seronga being the first. As per the agreement, Botswana has pledged to establish 250MW on solar capacities by 2025 as a way of reducing carbon dioxide emission to zero by the year 2036.Botswana Power Corporation’s chief executive officer Dr Stefan Schwarzfischer said, “As the corporation, we have taken the bold step to ensure that government attains its aim as we are currently embarking on building solar power plants to electrify more rural areas.”The project includes the construction of a 100MW Solar Power Plant next year as well as the electrification of more rural areas, which are distant from any of the corporation’s grid by building 1MW Solar Power Plants and the distribution network in 20 rural villages.In receiving the project, Assistant Minister of Health and Wellness and Member of Parliament for Shoshong; Phillip Makgalemele expressed gratitude for having the project first to be rolled out in his constituency, saying the community will immensely benefit from it.“The sun is free and inexhaustible. Solar technology converts the sun’s radiation directly into electricity with no pollution or damage to the environment. The panels can generate enough power to run stoves, pump water, light clinics and power televisions. Botswana has one of the best climates for this type of energy,” Makgalemele told this publication. The Minister said the development has motivated the enhancement of specific sectors to include agriculture, mining, agronomy, energy, waste management through the economic diversification drive (EDD). “The use of cheaper and more sustainable solar power will activate progress in these different sectors and in turn be beneficial to the country at large,” he added.The corporation would also establish solar Grid Tide Power Plants of the size of 1 to 3MW in 12 dedicated villages with an overall capacity of 60MW. Apart from 1.3MW power station in Phakalane, Botswana’s power supply is currently met from coal resources. As part of the deal, the power plant would provide power to Tobela village during the day whilst BPC would provide power during the night.
Dr Schwarzfischer said in the coming months, the corporation would increase its distribution network in the Tobela area to cover and connect the whole village that would connect more people in rural areas.“Additional solar capacities are at planning stage and would be executed once the three projects have been concluded. The corporation and other independent power producers would finance some of these projects,” he said.
Earlier the Ministry of Mineral Resources, Green Technology and Energy Security said about 145,000 out of the 242,000 households can be reached by the end of 2021 if the off-grid solar was implemented this year. This equates to 60% of total off -grid market or an installed capacity of approximately 30MW.
The Minister of Youth, Sports and Culture, Thapelo Olopeng has challenged the youth to utilise programmes that are offered by both Government and the private sector to uplift themselves.
He said this during the Barclays Bank Botswana Prosper Film launch in Gaborone, where he noted that programmes such as the Youth Development Fund are meant for young people to access start-up capital to go into business.
“While we are not suggesting that everyone is a business person, we believe such programmes, with the availability of mentorship, can help young people to become economically active and successful business people. There is a gap in the YDF dispensation such as the mentorship programme.
“I therefore encourage the private sector to partner with my Ministry to provide or support a mentorship programme for young people before and after funding so they run successful businesses,” said Olopeng.
Through its other supportive initiatives, Barclays Botswana has over the years achieved 85 percent colleague participation rate in Botswana. And because the colleagues volunteered their time and skills, it has reached well over 12, 000 children and youth across Botswana since 2015.
According to the bank’s Managing Director, Reinette van de Merwe, the majority of youths were engaged in skills development sessions including financial literacy and entrepreneurial skills development programmes lectured by Barclays Bank colleagues.
“We have a variety of other skills development opportunities which we have introduced in Botswana over the years including our Rising Eagles graduate programme.
“This programme allows graduates in Botswana to challenge the conventional and share their innovative ideas with some of the best minds in the financial services sector,” she said.
The Bank also prides itself with Madi Majwana production, which was its first entry into the creative arts sector. The story of Madi Majwana is one of the creative innovations between Barclays Bank of Botswana and Maitisong Theatre.
Through this partnership, the bank is able to teach communities across Botswana practical lessons on financial literacy using examples from daily lifestyles of Batswana. This theatrical series broadcasts across all Botswana radio stations, targeting youths between the ages of 10-35 years.
Madi Majwana is a proudly indigenous production engaging local artists to tell the wonderful, simple and empowering financial Stories from Your Pocket. Youth are part-and-parcel of the entire production process including script writing and implementation.
Olopeng said that government alone cannot achieve holistic empowerment of the young people without the private sector and other players.
“My ministry will not tire in its efforts to call out to the private sector to partner with Government to change the lives of young people. I believe this partnership should make an impact in the lives of these young people because they are the future,” he noted.
Zion Christian Church (ZCC) and its leader Bishop Barnabas Edward Lekganyane have launched an appeal against the ruling of Lobatse High Court barring the church from holding disciplinary hearing against seventeen (17) of its members.
The 17 disgruntled members of Tlokweng Branch had taken the church to court to interdict it from holding a disciplinary hearing against them after they challenged the way things are run in Botswana.
Lobatse High Court Judge Nthomiwa Nthomiwa agreed with the church members that they have made a case and interdicted the church and its leader and restrained them from holding any disciplinary hearing against them in terms of the Notice to Attend a Disciplinary hearing dated 20th November 2015, pending the outcome of their case before Justice Mothobi.
The applicants also wanted the court to interdict ZCC and Lekganyane from holding such a disciplinary hearing pending the church and its leader listening to and addressing the grievances lodged by the Applicants with the church on April 8th 2014 and alternatively, the Respondents’ furnishing the applicants with particulars of the charges they are alleged to have committed.
In a notice of grounds of appeal filed by Bishop Lekganyane and the church seen by Botswana Guardian they want the decision by Justice Nthomiwa set aside. They argue that the High Court erred and or misdirected itself by assuming jurisdiction on a matter involving theological/administrative disputes between church members.
It is further argued that the lower court erred by holding that the 11 members are entitled to an interdict restraining the church from conducting disciplinary hearing pending the outcome of the case before Justice Mothobi.
The dispute between the 11 members of the ZCC praise and worship group ‘Mokhukhu’ and the church started when the church and its leader summoned them to a disciplinary hearing which was scheduled for 12th December 2015.
The Applicants are said to have on several occasions lodged grievances with the church but with no success. They once filed a case with the court and withdrew it. Soon after withdrawing the case they were served with disciplinary charges dated June 27th 2015.
In the main application before Mothobi, the church members are challenging the way the church is governed in Botswana. They argue that ever since 2009 no Annual General Meeting has been held and that the head office in Botswana has no minister as per the constitutional requirement.
They want an order declaring that ZCC and Lekganyane are violating the constitution by not convening annual general meetings on a yearly basis or at all as provided for by the ZCC Constitution; appointing a Minister since July 2009; Appointing the executive Council in accordance with the Constitution; Putting in place structures such as the property committee; and that the church and its leader should be ordered to correct the aforementioned anomalies.
The United States of America will only end its embargo on Cuba if the Cuban Government addresses pertinent issues such as improving respect for human rights, officials have said.
A US Embassy in Botswana State Department spokesperson has revealed that the US Government restricts certain financial transactions and travel, as a means to encourage the Cuban government to address the need for more freedom and democracy in Cuba, improved respect for human rights, and increased free enterprise.
To that end, the U.S. Government channels funds toward the Cuban people and away from a regime that has failed to meet the most basic requirements of a free and just society, said the spokesperson of the State Department when responding to a questionnaire from Botswana Guardian regarding the imposed Financial, Commercial and Business blockade on Cuba.
The tension between Cuba and USA spans over 60 years. The United Nations General Assembly on Wednesday this week were expected to vote on the Resolution Necessity of ending the economic, commercial and financial blockade imposed on Cuba by US Government. About 193 countries were expected to vote.
Patricia Pego Guerra, Ambassador of Cuba to Botswana has stated that the blockade against Cuba should cease. She explained that it is the most unjust, severe and longest standing unilateral sanctions system ever imposed against any country.
The ambassador stated that Botswana is one of the countries that are against the embargo and Cuba and its people trust that Botswana would once again vote against the blockade. Botswana and Cuba have a longstanding diplomatic relations especially in the health sector.
“Since 1992, the UN General Assembly, by an overwhelming majority, including Botswana, has been in favour of observing International Law and the Principles and Purposes of the UN Charter.
The US Government should totally, unilaterally and unconditionally lift the blockade against Cuba.
“That would be consistent with the overwhelming appeal of the international community and the majority opinion of many different voices within the US calling for an end to this unjust policy,” she stated.
Guerra told a pres conference in Gaborone recently that Cuba and its people are confident that, once again, this year they will count upon the support of the international community in their legitimate call for an end to the economic, commercial and financial blockade imposed by the Government of the US.
However the State Department spokesperson at the US Embassy in Botswana said President Donald Trump has laid out his Administration’s Cuba Policy on June 16, 2017 in the National Security Policy Memorandum (NSPM) on Strengthening the Policy of the United States Toward Cuba.
“The United States Government is committed to advancing human rights and democracy in Cuba, while maintaining bilateral engagement that serves U.S. national interests.
“We continue to raise our concerns about the incidents affecting our Embassy community in Havana and remind the Cuban government of its obligations under the Vienna Convention to take all appropriate steps to protect our diplomats.
“Out of concern for our diplomatic personnel, the Secretary ordered the departure of non-emergency personnel from Embassy Havana on September 29. We are deeply concerned about the health and well-being of our personnel and are aggressively investigating the incidents.
“The Department of State is constantly reviewing its security posture and presence at posts to ensure the safety and well-being of our personnel,” said the State Department in a written response.
It further stated that in Section 2c of the National Security Policy Memorandum (NSPM) on Strengthening the Policy of the United States Toward Cuba, the Administration makes it clear it shall be the policy of the executive branch to: Support the economic embargo of Cuba described in Section 4(7) of the Cuban Liberty and Democratic Solidarity (LIBERTAD) Act of 1996 (the embargo), including by opposing measures that call for an end to the embargo at the United Nations and other international forums and through regular reporting on whether the conditions of a transition government exist in Cuba.
A source at Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation told this publication that Botswana believes the embargo is not premised on any principle of international law is morally wrong.
Lobatse has a rich political, social and economic legacy and heritage, documented through Fish Keitseng and Samora Machel monuments.
It is difficult to live in that town and not develop a soft spot for it. I am a Bandleng chick: straight out of Woodhall, Lobatse. Call me cheri ya se kasi, if you please! My perception of the town is different now that I am older. It is a town of contrast: the poverty and affluence exist side by side.
The grapple to be modern in a vintage landscape is quite obvious. Perhaps what could strike anyone would be the unrealised potential of the town.
Lobatse is a cosmopolitan metropolis town, once an economic hub and most of the people there were part of the urban migration when the town still enjoyed economic success. My working-class parents moved there to work.
And they never left.
My formative years were spent at the Botswana Meat Commission (BMC) residential quarters. We later moved to Woodhall, which was a stark difference but I adjusted because it also had a strong sense of community.
The town incites nostalgia within me. One could not be from Lobatse and not be a supporter of Gunners. I recall the black and white T-shirt my mother donned when the team played. Had a strong loyalty and affection, and back then the team always won.
Choppies as we known it now started off as a small grocery store commonly known as ko ga MmaSabera in Peleng. (Now known as Wayside). This was the most popular store before the modern chain stores arrived.
There was also the now defunct Co-op, where we bought our groceries. And of course there was Lesedi stores, situated opposite our house, in a dirty mall called Moselewapula. I still call the humble abode, home.
Growing up, there were a lot of memorable experiences. Oh, who could forget trips to Mthetwa’s humble store in Peleng, where we bought the most scrumptious fat cakes (that sold for about ten thebe) and artchar?
Another popular store in my time was Danna, owned by the Puskas couple, where one could conveniently get bread and the cool drink that accompanied the special Sunday meal, with the hope of getting a free sweet. (The Puskas’ now own Big Five, Majestic Five and Big Valley lodges).
I favoured being transported to school using rre Mo-India’s kombi. Everyone wanted to be on Mo-India’s kombi (I have since established that is not his real name and that residents of Peleng gave him the name because he was an enterprising man. Ha!)
He is an amiable and hard working man who owns several bars, including yes, Moselewapula, a stone’s throw away from my house. I learnt most songs here, and waited for Sundays for soothing classics when I would sing along to jams such as Said I loved but I lied by Michael Bolton.
Considering this enterprising and supportive spirit in the community, one would have expected that the town would have many thriving enterprises. Not so. In fact, Lobatse is poorer than it was several years ago.
Most of the small and medium scale business owners complain of low business, largely because there aren’t many people with the financial muscle to bolster their enterprises.
Lobatse has suffered great misfortunes, which include the relocation or closure of key industrial companies such as Ben Rose, Lobatse Tiles and the Teacher Training Centre.
To date, there is only the High Court and Geological Surveys, now renamed Botswana Geo-Science Institute (BGSI), to speak of.
Even the previously renowned BMC and Lobatse Clay Works have lost their previous lustre, having previously retrenched hundreds of employees and struggling to make exceptional business.
The town could have highly benefited from a rigorous economic plan that includes taking advantage of its rich heritage, proximity to the capital city and minefield of artistic and creative talent among the youth from the southern areas.
Lobatse could have been a manufacturing, arts or even agro business hub, to create employment, develop thriving industries and eventually alleviate the stark poverty prevalent in the town.
Sadly, nowadays many people seem to be in a hurry to leave Lobatse or only want to pass through it.
This Saturday, scores of people will flock to the Stadium in Lobatse to celebrate 120 years of the town’s existence. It is bittersweet because you want to celebrate the milestones, and the changes and developments but you also mourn what Lobatse should have and could have been.
Lobatse’s is a dream deferred, but I hold dear the memories and the heart-warming quiet that transcends the town.
I have had conversations with passionate natives of the town including Loatile Seboni (who was once at the helm of YWCA) and Micheal Bontsheng, an engineer by profession, who tried his luck at politics but didn’t win the council seat he contested in the past election.
He had amazing ideas and knew so much about the town but insisted that the town has intellectual drain because there are no great minds in leadership positions. In the past years, one Gobe Taziba, who is now a member of the BNYC, wrote extensively about the need to revive the town and position capable and passionate leadership to lead it to glory.
I have spoken to many other people who are sad that Lobatse remains a ghost town despite the significant history that it carries.
During his time as MP, Nehemiah Modubule preached economic diversification for the town, but the ideas never saw the light of day. Progress has been quite slow. Despite it’s unrealised potential, as it celebrates many years of it’s majestic existence, I say, ‘I love you Bandleng, for you are my Dladleng!’
The modification of a sorghum milling machine known as dehuller by the defunct Rural Industries Innovation Centre (RIIC) in Kanye in 1979, gave Botswana a hall of fame experience.
But sadly, this comprehensive experience was not duly celebrated even after the machine was awarded first prize among 26 developing countries that entered for the development technology competition held in Italy in 1986.
According to some researchers, the machine, which could be regarded as the flagship of the country’s sorghum milling technology because of its role in liberating women from exhausting sorghum processing labour, is only familiar to development workers and has not been communicated effectively to academics in the applied science and scientific disciplines. This is probably the reason why its modification was not done with a bang.
Records show that the first research on sorghum dehulling machine was conducted by a Canadian Agricultural economist between 1974 and 1975 who identified mortar and pestle processing of sorghum in Botswana as time consuming.
His research was apparently conducted to find out whether the first effective design of barley thresher by the National Research Council of Canada could be used in Botswana.
Sequel to his findings, the Botswana Marketing Board, BAMB established a processing facility at Pitsane depot between 1975 and 1978 to dehull sorghum as part of the research which quickly demonstrated that urban and rural households liked the flour from the dehulled sorghum and were prepared to pay 10 to 20 per cent premium for the flour over the price of maize flour. By contrast, the machine had been tried in Senegal before but was not found to be very useful.
By 1978 the Pitsane facility was in the hands of RIIC who modified the machine to make it more compatible with village needs after conducting a survey in the southern part of the country in the following year with the aim of developing a Botswana versatile dehuller that would alleviate the pounding constraints by women.
Information gained from this survey helped guide the company in producing the Botswana brand of the machine in 1979 which is not only used in the country, but in Lesotho, Malawi, Swaziland, Tanzania, Zambia, Senegal, South Africa and Zimbabwe where it is instigating the evolution of de-centralisation of milling operations in both rural and peri-urban areas..
Unfortunately, the machine has no Setswana name as a brand and its generic name, dehuller, does not resonate well with older generation in the country, who associate with the Setswana name for a short gun, dihala. Many people feel the machine should be named after RIIC to honour the company and to keep its memory alive.
Sadly, RIIC was closed in 2010, a move seen as a tragic blow to the country’s sorghum milling technology that freed women from their traditional hand stamping in a mortar (kika) with a pestle (motshe) to remove husks (moroko) regarded as trash or food for the unprivileged.
Unfortunately, husk was removed and thrown away without realising that it retains the most nutrients needed in our bodies. But with the advent of milling industry, it is now in the country’s menu as a delicacy and also as cattle feed.
Another important tool in sorghum processing was a basket-like sifter (leselo) designed to separate coarse particles from the flour (bopi) as the final product. All stamping tools were shelved 38 years ago after the modification of the machine and would soon be profiled as ancient tools for posterity.In 1983, owners of sorghum milling systems in the country formed the Botswana Mill Owners’ Association (BMOA) to strengthen its infant industry as a lobby to influence government policy on pricing and the supply of sorghum.
As a result, commercial milling was introduced where several bags of sorghum grain are purchased and processed in a continuous flow to produce flour in plastic bags for sale to individuals and retailing outlets.
Most of these milling companies are producing sorghum flour in plastic bags bearing their names such as Odi in Odi, Dudu in Metsimotlhabe, Sebethane in Thamaga and Seboane in Bokaa for example. This is a positive development that strives to preserve indigenous names used in the traditional sorghum processing.
Constitutionally, President Lt. Gen. Dr Ian Khama will on Monday make his last State of the Nation (SONA) Address as the head of state.
Khama vacates the highest office in the land on April 1, 2018. He ascended the office 10 years ago after serving another 10 years as vice president to President Festus Mogae.
The nation is waiting in anticipation to hear what Khama’s last address to the nation contains and if it will bring hope for the unemployed and the new political landscape.
What is obvious though is that Khama’s last SONA will be guided by Vision 2036, which was crafted under his leadership. Vision 2036, which is in its first year, succeeded Vision 2016.
The nation will expect Khama to address the state of the economy with respect to the challenges afflicting diamond sales. Although Khama has borne the harshest criticism for allegedly running down the economy, punters point out that he has presided over a 15 percent Government Debt / GDP ratio which contrasts sharply with South Africa’s 53 percent and Namibia’s 41.5 percent.
The argument is that these countries borrowed too much compared to GDP. Botswana’s GDP picked during the economic meltdown which led to complete closure of production of Debswana mines for four months as well as the funding and construction of the multibillion Morupule B power plants.
Khama will be expected to tell the nation what his government is doing to address these issues. He is likely to revel in Botswana’s credible credit rating in Africa, which confers the country's ability to grow the economy going forward. He will also touch on the diamond Sales Agreement which is due for review next year.
SMMEs and Tourism
President Khama will say the extent to which he has developed Small Micro Medium Enterprises (SMMEs) and the Tourism Sector as the next engine of economic growth. Has the sector grown; has it created job opportunities for Batswana? Tourism is one area that Botswana has to seriously explore given its potential to form a key part of the growth areas of the country in terms of diversifying the economy. He will also address the Economic Stimulus Programme (ESP).
Khama must tell the nation what the level of poverty was when he took over and the progress made thus far. This is particularly important for him since he’d like poverty eradication to form part of his legacy.
Khama is a stickler for discipline. He will address crime and corruption, alcohol abuse and the scourge of HIV/AIDS, which are afflicting the economy, worse still laying off a substantial portion of the youth and able bodied population of the country. Over indulgence in alcohol, drugs and substance abuse defeat collective efforts by parents and government to empower citizens for the future.
Botswana Telecommunications Corporation (BTC) was successfully privatised. Batswana that invested in the company have been paid dividends several times sometimes twice in a year since BTC listed because the share price has grown.
But what about the privatisation of the other public enterprises like Air Botswana, Botswana Meat Commission (BMC) and National Development Bank to allow greater private sector participation in the economy?
Being a great supporter of sports, Khama is expected to talk about the progress the country has made in international athletics such as softball playing at world cup and netball hosting world youth cup for the first time in Africa.
The power situation in the country seems to have improved since Botswana Power Corporation (BPC) is able to meet its demand and remain with surplus which it exports to other countries. Khama will update the nation on the water situation since the advent of the Tropical Cyclone Dineo, which left a trail of destruction in its path. He will also brief the nation on the construction status of North – South Water Carrier 2 which is meant to bring water to the southern part of the country
Under Khama’s watch the ruling Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) suffered its first-ever split that led to the formation of Botswana Movement for Democracy (BMD) which has since split into two as well. The opposition parties are not stable despite having a coalition.
It remains to be seen if Khama will say anything about his infamous 5 Ds - Democracy, Development, Discipline, Dignity and Delivery roadmap.