Items filtered by date: Tuesday, 07 May 2019 - Botswana Guardian
Tuesday, 07 May 2019 16:32

Tourism billions a mirage for Batswana

Government is still to show its seriousness on citizen-economic empowerment regarding tourism as to date there are no reserved concessions rights for Batswana in the heartland.

This is despite that 40 percent of areas are tourism space. Currently most if not all lodges and camps in the heartland are foreign-owned with indigenous Batswana relegated to mere employees such as tour guides. Records show that Botswana’s tourism sector grew by 3.4 percent in 2018 injecting at least 2.7 billion US Dollars into the local economy according to World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC) report.   The sector created an estimated 84 000 jobs which is 8, 9 percent of the country’s total employment.  CEIC, a global reputable organisation states that Botswana’s Tourism Revenue grew 21.5 percent in Dec 2017, compared with a decrease of -8.1 percent in 2016.

It states further that Botswana Tourism Revenue data reached an all-time high of 41.7 percent  in December 2003 and a record low of -40.3  percent in December 1996.  CEIC calculates annual Tourism Revenue Growth from annual Tourism Revenue. The World Bank provides Tourism Revenue in USD. Tourism Revenue of Botswana reached 704.6 million USD in December 2017. 

Good as it may look for the economy, these figures remain meaningless to the majority of the indigenous citizens as they have very little say with over 50 percent of the revenue collected being paid in foreign countries. Environment Natural Resources Conservation and Tourism minister, Kitso Mokaila was this week cagey on whether the proposal tabled before cabinet by his ministry includes reserving concessions in the heartland as part of citizen economic empowerment. Botswana Guardian also wanted to know what his ministry is doing to create greater understanding about the importance of environmental conservation and management whenever they hold big events such as Khawa or Desert Race to ensure that tourism is not disrupted. Mokaila said the mandate of Botswana

Tourism Organisation is to create opportunities for Batswana and communities. It is to start an event, grow it and when it becomes viable, hand it to the private sector to run. “Where we have invested, this must come out   with an exit strategy for them to get that money to go and invest it somewhere else,” he said, giving an example that in Khawa the intention is to develop the Khawa community to run their own perennial enterprise around the sand dunes not for it to be a once-off event.  As for Moremi Gorge where BTO created a business around Moremi, Mokaila said they are supposed to exit and go and invest somewhere else to create livelihood for communities.

This means that in Moremi there is a community project. “At the end of it all what I want to see is for them to find  an entrepreneur who works with the community to develop  them further and the two go somewhere else”. Mokaila said everything they do is based upon an environmental assessment or study. “So for Khawa, we know what is to take place and what cannot take place there.  “This is why EIAs are very important as they are also about sustainability of  enterprising, so if you kill that which you want to use to create an enterprises, then that would be very sad because the sustainability of such an enterprise is key”.  For example, the route for the Toyota 1000 km race passes through campsites hence EIA is done to ensure sustainability. “We know conservation, as it evolves around sustainability”.

When BTO enters into a community that is only the starting point, “we work with the community to do the management plan, which speaks to the possibility of environmental impacts, the carrying capacity of the area,” Mokaila said.Mokaila conceded that it was wrong for his ministry to focus all their training - whether governance or whatever - on board members, and have now realised that boards change every now and then.  “We have changed now to focus on  the community as a whole,” so that when a member joins the board he already understands the importance of carrying capacity, management and conservation.

The minister said that part of the reason why he brought Dr Oduetse Koboto back to the ministry from United Nations is to strengthen the component of climate change so that communities understand about mitigation and adaptation, and why they must be done. “I am sure very soon you will see our efforts of pushing the issue of climate change. This is why also the climate change policy has gone through cabinet and I will be putting it to parliament in July,” he said.

Published in Northren Extra

Botswana Movement for Democracy (BMD) has rubbished claims by Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) lawyers that they are delaying their expulsion case. Early this week UDC lawyers led by Dick Bayford accused the BMD for delaying the case which was supposed to have been heard by the high court on Monday this week.

Bayford also told the media that the BMD would not stop the current UDC to use its symbol during this year’s general elections. The standoff between the UDC and BMD could cast an ugly spectre for opposition and confusion among voters in the 2019 polls. The BMD has stood firm that should the matter not be completed before elections all UDC contracting partners would go solo.  The party revealed on Wednesday that it is campaigning for its 13 constituencies allocated while still member of the UDC in two phases both as the BMD and as the BMD of the UDC.

The party argues that it should not be blamed for the delay of the case because it acted within the law since the inception of the case. BMD Acting Secretary General Tseleng Botlhole said the BMD acted perfectly reasonable throughout in terms of the Rules of the High Court. “Bayford lied when he said the BMD delayed in bringing the case. The BMD is not responsible for the delay that occurred. UDC and its leader Advocate Duma Boko are the only ones who are responsible for the delay, and the delays were deliberate. “The court papers were served to them in December 14th 2018.

They did nothing until 25th of February 2019. When the High Court allocated 2th April for the hearing of the case, Bayford wrote a letter saying that the date did not suit them. We were ready at that time for the case,” Botlhole told the media.  She dismissed the claims by UDC attorneys that BMD President Advocate Sidney Pilane admitted to having delayed the case and begged the judges for a fresh date.“The BMD did not bring the case on urgency because there was nothing urgent about it. The case, having been brought in December 2018 could be heard and decided long before the elections, the only date that matters and is decisive.

“If the BMD had brought the case on urgency, it would have correctly been dismissed with costs as was Pelonomi Venson-Moitoi’s case incompetently brought by Bayford,” she said.  Advocate Pilane said the judges had suggested the 11th and 12 of June this year but because the UDC was not ready they could not proceed. He expressed doubt that the UDC was ready for the case even a week before because “they are fond of lying. Even Bayford has joined them in lying as a lawyer.”The BMD leader pointed out that the UDC should be prepared for a fight. He promised to end the bragging that is always displayed by the UDC members and their leaders.

“The president of the country can call snap elections. He can call them even next month. When that happens, we will ensure that no member of the coalition will go to the polls using the UDC symbol.  “BMD will contest on its own so will Botswana Congress Party, Botswana National Front and Botswana People’s Party.  “We will act as necessary depending on what comes our way. We are going to humble them because we also know that we will win the court case,” said Advocate Pilane.

Published in Northren Extra

Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) says it will improve the agricultural sector through the use of technology if given mandate for another five (5) years to rule. The party stated in its 2019 Manifesto that the BDP led government will change the current land tenure system under tribal land grant that limits and affords the majority of Batswana only use rights over land.“The BDP promises to use new technologies that create new ways of responding to existing needs and significantly disrupt existing agriculture value chain.

“Efficient technologies such as threshers, shelling of produce, and quality assurance of produce will be afforded to agricultural producers to participate in the industry in ways that are meaningfully profitable,” reads the Manifesto. The party said the new changes in land tenure system will accord owner rights over such land.

Individual landowners will be able to use their land for entrepreneurial purposes such as presenting such land as equity or security when seeking development finance from financing institutions, explained the BDP. According to the party processing of agricultural produce from local producers must supply and serve manufacturing entities resident in the country such as the National Food Technology Research Centre (NFTRC).  Manufacturing start-ups, the BDP said will be supported in varied ways, including sourcing of raw materials where local produce falls short, through parastatals such as Botswana Agricultural Marketing Board (BAMB).

Financing institutions, both private and state owned, will be supported to create financing ways suitable for start-ups and well-established incumbent entities. “The BDP led government will stimulate start-ups through guaranteed access to captive markets, for example, sales to schools, institutions such as the police, prisons, army and other government institutions.  “In the next five years, the BDP government will support small farms’ viability, and in the process, unlock Botswana’s potential as a food hub. We will fulfil Botswana’s enormous potential as a producer of high-quality food and drink, both for local use and export. 

“We will introduce and support a linked approach in government policy on agriculture to maximise the potential links between food production and tourism. Small-scale producers will be supported to go after niche markets through the innovative use of protected food designation” stated the party. The BDP further revealed that it will encourage greater emphasis on quality and uniqueness in Botswana produce. BDP’s goal is to significantly increase Government support for training, upskilling, and getting start-ups for small farmers.

The Manifesto indicates that the BDP will roll-out training courses through the Ministry of Agriculture and Food Security and BUAN, to better equip farmers with essential agri-business management skills, in order to give them the best possible start in farming. m“The BDP government will increase opportunities and support farmers to produce, process, market, and to sell directly to the public. We will better support the establishment of new producer groups across the country. “We will also incentivise the development of new cooperatives, so that farmers can access appropriate marketing and financing.”

Published in News

Opinion is divided over whether President Dr Mokgweetsi Masisi can deliver a free and fair general election given his temperament as well as the existing legal infrastructure governing elections. Masisi took over from Lt. Gen. Dr Ian Khama just over a year ago. General elections are scheduled for October this year. When Dr Masisi became President his job was clearly cut out for him.

The country had experienced unprecedented shrinking of the democratic space in its history during the 10 years of Dr. Khama’s rule. His fight against corruption also spiralled into the period of Dr Khama’s tenure in office.Dr Masisi’s mandate is to restore the relative democracy and political tolerance that Botswana has enjoyed for over 50 years both within the ruling Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) and the nation at large. Dr Masisi’s first test of leadership was his party’s primary elections which were roundly criticised by losers as flawed and therefore unfair.  After failing to obtain redress, some of the losers registered to contest as independent candidates while others have gone to court. 

The party was immediately rent by strife and cleavages amid accusations that the President and his allies influenced the outcome of the primaries in favour of their preferred candidates.  Dr Masisi also had had to contend with rejection from a section of cabinet which clamoured for his removal from the position of Vice President so that he does not benefit from the automatic promotion provision of the constitution to become the next President.  He had been in that office for only a few months. The then President, Dr Khama managed to weather the storm in favour of Dr Masisi much to the chagrin of those who considered themselves more qualified to be Vice President.  

Another of Dr Masisi tests was when Dr Pelonomi Venson-Moitoi announced her candidacy to the BDP presidency.  His firing of Dr Moitoi the moment she declared her intention to challenge him in the BDP presidential race in which the winner becomes the party presidential candidate in the general election, sent shockwaves throughout the party and country. Ironically, the President had, on several occasions, publicly said that he would be happy to be challenged for the highest office in the land. “At one point he even told us at a BDP retreat that he was actually itching for competition. He said in Setswana, ‘Ke baba disebe’,” said a Member of Parliament who attended the BDP retreat.

Dr Masisi’s level of tolerance was further put to the test when two members of the public asked him what seemed to be innocent questions at a kgotla meeting in Serowe.   Instead of addressing the questions he went ballistic! Some attribute his rather irrational behaviour to a siege mentality that had developed the moment he realised that, unlike his predecessors, he was going to be challenged for the party presidency.  Observers maintain that he took the matter personally as he felt belittled hence the urge to scatter his enemies by all means possible.  The decision to challenge Dr Masisi resulted in a slugfest not known in the history of the ruling party. 

Amid a farrago of accusations and counter-accusations between the two, the party now finds itself divided into two factions which factions think nothing of throwing niggling denunciations against one another with the sole aim of damaging the other.  The fact that foreign players are involved in an attempt to oust him has not helped matters. This probably explains why he has not made a real effort at approaching Dr. Khama for reconciliation.  For failing to reach out to the former President, Dr Masisi has been accused of arrogance. Interestingly, after beating Nonofo Molefhi in the race for chairmanship of the party a few years ago, Dr Masisi brought Molefhi back into cabinet.

Many saw that as an impressive act of magnanimity by the President. Regarding Dr Khama and Dr Moitoi however, the President seems ready to fight to the death!  Ironically, while he ignores the two, he has seen the need to engage both the African National Congress (ANC) and the South African government on the alleged interference of South African nationals in the internal affairs of the BDP and, by extension, the country. 

Significantly, the collusion with foreigners by his opponents seems to have triggered a surge of sympathy for the President.  Although many appreciate Dr Masisi’s efforts to fight corruption, they are worried that the whole exercise looks like a witch-hunt considering that only associates of the former president, Dr Khama have been apprehended thus far.  Many point to the fact that Dr Masisi’s name was mentioned in the National Petroleum Fund (NPF) as an indication that the President is himself not a bundle of integrity.  His reaching out to the workers’ unions, opposition party leaders and the media has earned him accolades from multitudes.

Dr. Masisi recently increased public servants salaries with the army getting a more substantial increase. He has also toured all military barracks addressing soldiers and the police on their welfare.
“We have never seen any of our presidents since independence touring all the military barracks and addressing the armed forces.  “This is not genuine. The President wants to buy the support of the army in the event of a nasty eventuality,” said an anti-Masisi BDP activist who accused the President of politicising the armed forces.  Speaking on condition of anonymity, the source who believes that “Masisi is a thousand times worse than Khama,” claimed that, the security apparatus is being used by Dr Masisi to victimise those who do not support him.

The President has also been receiving approvals from those who are happy with his efforts at mending relations with especially neighbouring countries such as Zimbabwe after a foreign relations onslaught was visited on the countrys’ foreign relations by Dr Khama through his ‘rooftop diplomacy.’  It is also up to President Masisi and his government to facilitate the amendment of the Electoral Act to be in line with democratic principles.  The President agreed with the opposition Botswana Congress Party (BCP) which had taken government to court, for, among others, amending the Electoral Act to facilitate the use of Electronical Voting Machines (EVM) starting this year. The BCP had filed a court case opposing the amendment. To many, this is an indication that Dr Masisi is committed to fair play in the elections. However, many argue that the conduct of the Kang congress was anything but democratic.

Dr Moitoi withdrew from the race citing gross irregularities. Dr Masisi, just like his predecessors, will fail to conduct fair elections if the public media continues to cover the ruling party while giving the opposition less airtime ahead of the election. The opposition has always complained that, instead of reporting to the Office of the President (OP) which office also appoints the secretary of the IEC, the elections management body should report to Parliament. Nor does the IEC issue the writ of elections as this is done by the Head of State in the case of general elections and Minister in charge of local government in the case of by-elections.

The elections date is a strictly guarded secret known only to the state President. There is the ever present suspicion that he announces it strategically to favour his party.  The opposition has also demanded that counting and announcement of results be done at the voting station to eliminate any suspicion that the boxes are tempered with on their way to the central point.  Asked whether the Umbrella for Democratic Change is worried that the 2019 general elections will be fair following what happened at Kang where Dr Masisi is alleged to have rigged the congress elections, UDC Head of Communications, Moeti Mohwasa replied: “We were alarmed about what happened at the BDP congress where there was cheating. Clearly, if they can cheat one of their own in the manner they did at Kang, we should worry.  “The UDC intends to release regular democracy alerts to share with everybody including the international community what is happening.”

When asked for comment, IEC Principal Public Relations Officer Osupile Maroba, indicated that it was up to all the stakeholders to protect the integrity of the election process by playing their part. “With respect to voter trafficking for example, it is up to the stakeholders to report the matter to us and the courts will then decide whether or not the concerned person or people are struck off the roll or not. The nation must rest assured that we will abide by the law,” said Maroba.

Published in Northren Extra

Botswana Movement for Democracy (BMD) will not give their colleagues at Umbrella for Democratic Change a walk in the park in their legal battle. BMD has taken UDC to court after it was expelled from the coalition by the UDC last year. The case which was to start this week Monday failed as UDC senior Counsel could not attend the case due to other commitments.

The case which has been marred by controversy over presiding judicial officers is scheduled to be heard at Gaborone High Court in August 27th and 28th this year for argument. UDC expelled BMD from its fold last year only to remain with three contracting partners- Botswana Congress Party (BCP), Botswana National Front (BNF) and Botswana People’s Party (BPP). This resulted in BMD launching the application for review and setting aside of their expulsion from the UDC. While the BMD is set to fight tooth and nail to be declared a member of the UDC in good standing, the UDC has maintained it would not contest this year’s general elections with BMD as its member. 

BMD President Advocate Sidney Pilane has accused the UDC of applying delaying tactics so that this year’s general elections would be held with the case having not been concluded.  “We are ready and have always been ready. The UDC wants to delay the case. We fully know their intentions but we would not allow them to dictate terms to us.  “We would do all in our power with all available avenues to ensure that we are not abused,” Advocate Pilane told members of the media after the adjournment of the case. 

According to Advocate Pilane if the matter is not concluded before the general election, the BMD would move to court on urgency to request that no party should be allowed to use the UDC symbol.  He said the remaining contracting members of the UDC will have to come up with another symbol or would have to use their individual symbols.

However UDC President Advocate Boko on the other hand explained that their campaigns would go on as planned and the case will not hamper them.  He told the media and UDC supporters that what BMD is seeking would not derail them. According to Advocate Boko they have dealt with BMD politically and are now ready to deal with the party legally.  He said the UDC legal team is more than ready to take the BMD head on. “We have three judges in the case and we had to reconcile our dates especially with our advocate, which is why we have settled for August because we all had to look at our diaries.  “We would be back here to deal with the matter legally and put it to rest.

We have dealt with it politically. We would not be derailed; we are marching on. Do not be misled by people, the campaign is on and nothing will stop us,” said the UDC leader.  He stated that his deputy Dumelang Saleshando is busy with the party manifesto and it would soon be ready to be presented in Maun to party members.  Advocate Boko said as the UDC they are not in any hurry because they are not the ones who brought the case to court but are only responding to what has been brought to court by the BMD. 

He feels that there is nothing wrong that they have done in expelling the BMD because they have followed all the necessary procedures as is required. The UDC leader stated that last year he threatened to resign if BMD was expelled without following laid down procedures.

Published in News
Tuesday, 07 May 2019 15:37

Mogwera’s nightmares return

Botswana Public Employees Union President Masego Mogwera is again fighting for her survival at the helm as her rivals have returned to serve in the National Executive Committee, Botswana Guardian can reveal.

The rivals have since slapped Mogwera with a suspension pending investigations. The NEC is scheduled to meet today (Friday) to appoint a Commission to investigate her and General Secretary Topias Marenga who has also been suspended.  If they are found to have committed an offence, a commission for disciplinary hearing would be appointed. If this happens the tension between Mogwera and her rivals could end in her dismissal from Babereki Investment and from the presidency during a Special General Congress. 
She would fall in the same fate as her predecessor Andrew Motsamai who was fired in 2017 by the NEC for abuse of office and possible misappropriation of funds. Last year, Mogwera known to her colleagues in labour sector as the Iron Lady, had to fight for her survival as some members of the union NEC fought for her removal as president-a battle that ended in court.

The rival members later after being in and out of court with Mogwera were brought for disciplinary hearings by the union leadership and suspended. They would later challenge their suspensions which were subsequently set aside.
Beginning of trouble for Mogwera

The members have emerged victorious these past weeks as they were voted chairpersons during various Regional Conventions’ elections. This automatically qualified them as members of the NEC. Some of the key leading members are Ogaufi Masame, Zibani Philemon, Mosalagae Tlhako and Motswaledi Monaiwa. These members were suspended following a controversial meeting held in July last year at Cresta Lodge in Gaborone.  The meeting saw the union NEC going neck to neck at the courts of law fighting for the control of the union.  This publication has also discovered that out of the 12 regions nine (9) are allegedly aligned with Mogwera’s rivals which is led by Philemon. 

The NEC has 20 members as per the constitution of BOPEU and Masego’s rivals are said to be sitting at 12 members in the NEC inclusive of three (3) National Officer Bearers (NOB).  Philemon was during the union’s December 2018 Congress tipped to challenge Mogwera for presidency but this could not happen due to his suspension.  About four (4) appeals from regional congresses are said to have been raised being Kgaga region (Kgalagadi and Ghantsi areas), Franksmartts region (North east and Chobe), Central region and Botswana Examinations Council region.

Mogwera’s rivals pushed for an emergency meeting to be held last week Friday. According to a letter seen by this publication written by General Secretary Marenga a decision was taken to have the meeting held. The meeting that took place the following day (Saturday) proved that it was now the return of Mogwera’s nightmares. The rival members were said to be itching to leave no stone unturned during the meeting in demanding answers and ensuring Mogwera’s exit happens. At the meeting Mogwera and Marenga were suspended from the union, a decision that Mogwera has since rubbished through a press statement. The rival faction has also issued a counter statement warning stakeholders not to engage with the duo in any business on behalf of the union.

On Tuesday this week both factions were summoned at Police Headquaters in Gaborone after Mogwera requested for intervention for her rivals who have since taken over the union office to be removed.  The police are said to have asked both factions to explore internal processes in their standoff. Acting President Olefile Monakwe confirmed that they will be forging ahead with the investigations. 

He revealed that their meeting at the police could not have resolved the situation because NEC has taken a decision and only the NEC could resolve the situation.  He explained that proper procedure has been followed for the NEC to have arrived at such a decision and it has never been a witch hunt as communicated by Mogwera. Contacted Mogwera said she has nothing against her colleagues and had hoped that what happened last year is a thing of the past as the court and members of BOPEU have demonstrated.  According to Mogwera she believed that they have to work together and comply with the union provisions and respect the members who have given them the mandate to serve.

“The two parties were at loggerheads with each other last year due to our interpretation as to what is to happen or be done. “The union members in Kasane in large numbers entrusted me with the organisation and equally they have been entrusted at regional level with the leadership of the organisation. “Our job is to deliver on the mandate because there is a lot to do in terms of labour issues. I have accepted them back into the NEC without any condition and will extend my support for the betterment of our union and members,” said Mogwera.  As far as she is concerned, she is still president. Mogwera pointed out that there are procedures in place that have to be followed to remove her as a duly elected president by the Kasane Congress.  She explained that even on Monday this week she convened Board of Directors meeting for Babereki Investment. “It was to brief the directors about the situation we find ourselves in.

“Babereki is regulated by NBFIRA and when things are like this, where people just take a resolution to dissolve the Board, we have to give an update to our stakeholders,” said Mogwera.

First Step for Mogwera’s fall
The union leadership acceded to last week’s request after it rejected a similar request last month by another NEC member. Last month one of the NEC members had requested an emergency meeting through a letter dated 22nd March 2019.  The NEC member who is the Statistics Botswana Regional Chairperson Modise Ramaretlwa wanted the meeting to discuss the impending court cases, staff involvement in union politics, Union Board Representation, letter of request to meet NEC by Don Gaetsaloe, Special General Congress and suspension of Regional elections.

Last week Botswana Unified Revenue Services (BURS) Chairperson Mosalagae Tlhako requested for an emergency meeting. Tlhako wanted the issues raised by Ramaretlwa in the previous request to be part of the agenda.
He also challenged the contract of employment for General Secretary Marenga and his deputy. “I wrote a letter dated 15th April 2019, which evidently was received and transmitted to yourself by Ms Enametse. In essence, the letter reminded the union leadership that the contract of the General Secretary Topias Marenga and Deputy General Secretary Ketlhapeleng Karabo is expiring end of this year.  “Therefore, in accordance with best practices, there is need for the GS and DGS to start serving notice of six (6) months before the expiry of their contracts.

“In addition, that General Secretary should participate in the drafting of the job profile for the General Secretary and his deputy based on his experience,” said Tlhako in a letter dated April 16th 2019. He pointed out that since that letter he has received information that completely alters the character of his letter. “I have been made aware that the offer of employment of the General Secretary effected on the 1st of February 2012 and was for a period of five (5) years, which means it expired on the 28th February 2017 or thereabouts,” stated Tlhako in the letter.  He indicated that on the basis of this background he requests for a special NEC meeting and wants the issue to be part of the agenda items.

Tlhako, who had proposed that the meeting be held on Tuesday this week, threatened that should he not get feedback he would assume his request has been rejected and he would be compelled to exert his right as an elected NEC member.
In his response letter of April 17th 2019 Marenga indicated that the agenda item proposed by Tlhako would be discussed at the meeting.

Published in News
Tuesday, 07 May 2019 15:34

Unions hold Masisi against his word

Deputy President of Botswana Federation of Public Sector Unions (BOFEPUSU), Obeile Molamu has challenged President Dr Mokgweetsi Masisi to honour his promise to resuscitate the Public Service Bargaining Council (PSBC). When Dr Masisi took over as president he promised to revive the PSBC and even put a timeline to it, that it would be up and running by the end of September 2018.

“Even as we celebrate this day, this promise has not been fulfilled. We hold you against your word your Excellency and demand that the PSBC should be up and running as early as yesterday,” said Molamu during the May Day commemoration.  The commemoration, held under the theme Building A Better Botswana: Workers’ Meaningful Participation In Social Justice And Democracy, was seen as historic by some because it was a joint event between Botswana Federation of Trade Unions (BFTU) and its offshoot, BOFEPUSU.
Both unions had never seen eye to eye since the inception of the latter in 2012.

While commending government for a salary adjustment following an agreement of 6 percent and 10 percent for the two financial years 2019/20, 2020/21 respectively, the unionist said, “We however would like to emphasise that there is a dire and urgent need for PSBC as an institution so that such negotiations are held in legally established institutions rather than by temporary and makeshift structures.”  Molamu also noted that even though some progress had been made with respect to making amendments to the labour laws with the assistance of experts from the International Labour Organisation (ILO) there was still a lot to be done. 

He said that, although meetings have been held and the Acts to be amended agreed upon, “…government’s attitude especially as exhibited by the Directorate of Public Service Management (DPSM) has been quite worrisome. “At some point DPSM held parties at ransom by refusing that the Public Service Act be part of the Acts to be reviewed through this process”. He said Government has also not been forthcoming in aligning the list of essential service to the ILO framework definition of essential service and also in allowing the Prisons Service to unionise.

“Up until today, the government’s position on the two issues is not clear,” he complained. Molamu also called upon government to speedily adopt the Performance Management Delivery Unit made at great financial cost by a Malaysian consultancy (PEMANDU).  Among other things, the report recommended an increase of 20 percent for public servants on grade A and B; 10 percent for grade C and D; and 15 percent for grade E and F. The union leader complained that while negotiations on the PEMANDU report were ongoing, government made changes in the pay structure of the armed forces that resulted in the improvement of salaries and structures of the armed forces. 

“We are quite alive to the fact that the armed forces are not within the bargaining unit of the trade unions, however, government should be aware of the fact that the courts have held that changing the conditions of service of those outside the bargaining unit while there are ongoing negotiations on similar conditions of work does not only prejudice the negotiation process but also is pre-emptive to the process,” said the union leader. “This is the same conduct for which we have condemned during the Khama administration,” declared Molamu.

He did not even spare politicians whose actions of adjusting their own salaries he finds totally repugnant and unethical.  Members of Parliament (MPs), Councillors and Dikgosi recently got a salary adjustment. “There is no doubt that it is unethical as it amounts to a direct conflict of interest. “As BOFEPUSU, we take this very seriously and call for a situation in which an independent body is established to consider the remuneration of the political officers. “We are therefore worried that inspite of the fact that government was reluctant in going beyond the 6 percent and 10 percent increment for the public service under the pretext that any more percentages of increment would balloon the budget deficit beyond the allowed 4 percent deficit of the total GDP, in increasing the salaries of politicians, this principle seems to have been ignored.

“This then puts to question the honesty and sincerity of government during the negotiation process,” he complained. Molamu lamented the absence of organised industrial councils in the private sector.  He called upon government to intervene and ensure that different sectors in the private sector have Industrial Councils.  “The starting point however is to amend the Trade Dispute Act to ease up the establishment of such. Failure by government will always leave trade unions and employees in the private sector hamstrung and toothless.  “This is yet another test that we put before President Masisi if ever he has the welfare of Batswana at heart,” Molamu said.

The BOFEPUSU deputy president, cried out to President Dr Masisi for private sector workers in Chinese restaurants and shops, filling stations, media houses, private security services, other businesses whom he said got slave wages.  He called upon government to introduce a minimum wage. “Failure to do so would indicate lack of commitment to protect Batswana from these profit oriented monopolistic capitalists,” he said lamenting that, although labour laws exist to protect the workers, some companies intimidate their workers and prevent them from unionising or joining existing unions due to the absence of labour inspection institutions.  He also blamed the existence of weak enforcement of the existing laws as per the requirement of the ILO convention on labour inspections as another reason for the easy intimidation of workers.

Lamenting widespread corruption and the syphoning of the Pension Fund money, Molamu called upon Dr Masisi to act.  He is not happy that workers are not protected when there are retrenchments. “When a company closes on account of non- performance or liquidation, it is not bound by the law to disclose its performance in terms of availing its books of accounts to the employees,” he said adding that there is regrettably no provision for a retrenchment package in the law.  In response, President Masisi promised that with regard to the PSBC, he will act as swiftly as possible to ensure that the institution is resuscitated.

Published in News
Tuesday, 07 May 2019 15:28

“Rights not about numbers”

The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) is partnering with the Ministry of Health in Malawi to support the Malawi Prison Service (MPS) conduct cervical cancer screening for all female prisoners throughout the country.

In 2017 the Malawi Medical Journal reported that Malawi had the highest age standardised rate of cervical cancer in the world. The peer-reviewed publication also reported, also, that cervical cancer accounted for over 40 percent of cancers affecting women in Malawi.
Although cervical cancer can be prevented through cervical screening and the use of Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) vaccines, experts say knowledge and uptake of these measures are low, particularly in prison settings. For the first time in Malawi, screening for cervical cancer among female prisoners began last Tuesday, according to Henry Ndindi, a medical doctor who is UNODC Malawi Country Coordinator.

Malawi has 30 prison institutions and approximately 14,300 inmates, more than double the carrying capacity of the country’s correctional facilities. The screening is being extended, also, to female prison officers and spouses of male prison officers. The Malawi Prison Service has a work force of 3620 officers. Of these, 700 are female. Part of UNODC’s work seeks to strengthen the capacity of national governments to put in place legal, policy and strategy instruments that adhere to UN Minimum standards for Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights (SRHR), HIV and AIDS for prison populations.

The UN agency helps to build national capacity to adopt or adapt and implement measures necessary for adherence to SRHR, HIV and AIDS minimum standards for women and adolescent prisoners.International standards that include the Nelson Mandela Rules support the provision of the same standards of health care in prisons as are available in communities. The Nelson Mandela Rules encourage member states to offer prisoners health care services free of charge and without discrimination.  Similarly, the United Nations Rules for the Treatment of Women Prisoners and Non-custodial Measures for Women Offenders – popularly known as the Bangkok Rules of 2010 - encourage screening of all female prisoners for reproductive health related issues.

Additionally, Sustainable Development Goal 3 exhorts member states to ensure healthy lives and promote wellbeing for all at all ages. However, in many countries that include Malawi, prisons still experience challenges in providing appropriate and adequate health services to prisoners who form part of key populations who bear a disproportionate burden of most diseases. A study commissioned in 2011 revealed that female prisoners in prisons located in the central part of Malawi had an HIV prevalence of 42 percent. This was also associated with high levels of Syphilis.  This screening forms part of UNODC’s efforts to take health services closer to hard-to-reach and often underserved populations.

The Malawi National Cervical Cancer Control Strategy recommends cervical cancer screening for every woman aged between 30 and 49 years at least once in their lifetime. It is in this context that UNODC is supporting the screening services through the Ministry of Health. The main aim is to ensure access to diagnosis of all precancerous lesions or cancer for appropriate management and referral for confirmed cancer cases among female prisoners, female prison officers and spouses of male officers in Malawi Prison Service.

UNODC is bearing the costs associated with this screening while providing logistical support to service providers who are from the Ministry of Health.   More broadly, the UN agency is supporting efforts to integrate prison and public health given severe human resources-related challenges that the Malawi Prison Service is grappling with. The screening is expected to be completed by the 4th of May 2019. Approximately 1000 women stand to benefit from this unprecedented intervention.

Already, expectations are running high. Twambilire Phiri, the Chief Reproductive Officer in the Ministry of Health in Malawi, said there were only about 250 female inmates in Malawi, who, like everyone else, deserve the best possible health care.  Phiri said that this nationwide screening for cervical cancer specifically targeting female inmates was proof that human rights are not about numbers. “Some people might say that female prisoners are very few in Malawi. Even if there was only one female prisoner, this screening would be necessary.

We do not wish women to be prisoners because they are the hubs of families. Putting them in prison leads to so much suffering of all those who depend on them,” Phiri said. She revealed that the Cervical Cancer Programme in Malawi is donor-driven. “We rely on partners. Our mission is to provide strategic leadership for the delivery of a comprehensive range of quality, equitable and efficient health services to all people in Malawi. UNODC has released funds which made it possible for us to offer these services,” she said. From neighboring Zambia, Dr Christopher Kalila, a Member of Parliament, medical practitioner and advocate for good prison health, was effusive in his praise for this screening.

“This is a major milestone in prison health. It’s a perfect example of not leaving anyone behind as espoused by Sustainable Development Goals and recognising the rights of marginalised groups in our society,” he gushed. He added: “We only wish other African Governments could take similar steps in scaling up SRHR interventions like cervical cancer screening to all population groups. Moses Magadza is Communications Officer for UNODC Regional Office for Southern Africa.

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Relations between Botswana and Zambia are “soaring” as evidenced by the regular interactions between the two heads of state.This demonstration of the highest political will to facilitate engagements initiated by officials provides ministers of fpreign affairs confidence that they are delivering on their mandate.

Further, Botswana and Zambia have also made significant inroads and strides in the areas of law enforcement, trade and investment, transport and communication and education.In her valedictory this week Tuesday in honour of the outgoing high commissioner of Zambia to Botswana, Brigadier General Patrick Tembo (Rtd) –Minister of international affairs and cooperation Dr. Unity Dow paid a glowing tribute to the Zambian envoy. The farewell reception was held at the Hilton Gardens Hotel in the Central Business Disctrict (CBD) of Gaborone. 

Tembo arrived in Botswana from another diplomatic posting in India in 2005 and during his tenure has worked to improve and strengthen bilateral cooperation between the two southern African states. Of significant note, Minister Dow singled out the ongoing construction of the Kazungula Bridge Project, which is co-financed by the two governments as “one of the monuments for successful joint infrastructural development projects between States in the SADC region”. She said they will not forget Tembo when they celebrate those who played a part in seeing “our dream” come to fruition.

Flanked by his wife at the front table, Brig. Gen. Tembo soaked in the showers of praise. He is also renowned for his charitable causes, which he has carried in conjuction with the Zambian Diaspora in Botswana to support NGOs such as Gamodubu Orphanage. Tembo then rose to address the distinguished group of invited guests mostly from the diplomatic corps including Botswana’s newly-appointed Ambassador to France, H.E Mustaq Moorad. He thanked his government for allowing him to serve and Botswana for generously hosting him.

Published in News
Tuesday, 07 May 2019 15:18

What’s wrong with Duma Boko?

He said it. You heard it. You saw it. Therefore, for civility and normative ethics reasons, let us not credit Duma Boko’s disgusting remarks on Atsile Masisi by repeating them here. Like the rest of the nation, I am left speechless by the snarky, petty, juvenile antics of the aspiring president of Botswana.

For a moment, just stretch your imagination, perhaps to a breaking point and imagine Botswana under a leader who carries such malice against innocent souls (children). It is hard to imagine, but it is incumbent upon all of us to ensure it does not happen in our lifetime, not even in God’s lifetime. It is our patriotic duty to safeguard our tolerant and inclusive normative value system anchored on Botho. The point is I would have equally been disgusted had it been anybody hurling such obscenities to Boko’s children. The question on everybody’s lips is, when did the Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) politics hit this rock bottom? If their leader’s public comments are anything to go by, then they represent a very dangerous strain in contemporary politics.

As far as I am concerned, insults and outrageous comments can never be a cornerstone of a mature and intelligent political strategy. If for some reason you may think I am overrating strategy, just take a look at US President, Donald Trump, he has won power, but he has so far been unable to rule. He moves in circles, hoping from issue to issue; today it's North Korea, tomorrow it's Venezuela and the next day it's Iran and at the end of the day, it is all much ado about nothing. The way I understand it, our political rallies and other public platforms have always been used by parties to sell their different political ambitions and policies. No matter how weird some of those ideas were, they were nevertheless given audience because they were always in a respectful tone.  But Boko’s recent remarks clearly indicate that rules of civility definitely have taken a back seat. By seeking to blur the lines between what is acceptable and not acceptable, it is testimony that the shock value is gone.

We should not allow personal, more slash and burn politics to be part of our modern election dialogue. For us the electorates, content is more than triviality and cheap-talk. We are attracted to issues that seek to secure better life for all Batswana, not abusive language. If Boko has run out of content, he should not think demeaning an innocent child could be interpreted as a stroke of a political genius.  If he has personal issues with President Masisi, that is between him and the latter, it has nothing to do with the little girl.  As a leader and a father, we thought Boko intuitively knew that he carried moral duty to protect children and provide for their physical and emotional safety. As a father, we thought he could promote development of positive parenting skills and a secure parent-child attachment to those that look up to him. But his remarks prove us very wrong.

Political parties and their members should be among the foremost champions of child protection. Perhaps most importantly, they should advocate within their constituencies for an end to violence and abuse against children. They should challenge attitudes and beliefs that treat violence against children as inevitable or harmless. They should spread the message that violence against children is preventable and further mobilise political will required to put an end to such violence. But Boko has decided to throw away his moral responsibility towards Atsile in favour of scoring political ‘points.’ On a positive note, he has just made our voting easy; #Eseng mo Ngwaneng.

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