Botswana Chess Federation (BCF) has adopted the private online gaming as a way of supporting players and keeping their minds abreast with the game during the COVID-19 pandemic. Online gaming has kept players across the country active. With the current suspension of tournaments BCF has advised players to use the Lichess application to keep playing chess digitally.
“Most of the chess players across the country have downloaded the Lichess App and created user accounts. Vincent Masole set up a tournament called COVID-19 Lockdown blitz challenge which takes place everyday at 8pm to 10pm," BCF spokesperson Jade Tatolo said in an interview.
The most number of participants is 107 across the country including people in Maun region, Nkange, Masunga, Mochudi, Charles Hill and many more. All the National Team players also took their time to participate in the tournament. IM Providence Oatlhotse won most of the tournaments and as things stand the platform is highly competitive and has benefited both senior and youth players. This has seen 11 year old Thuto Mpene also playing out in the tournaments, after his parents registered him for the online platform.
"In my opinion this is the most intriguing chess activity we have ever had in the country. We thought having chess tournaments every weekend was a lot, now people are playing chess everyday. The commitment is remarkable. After this lockdown we will have improved players." Tatolo also implored other sport codes to also explore digital arenas where possible. This would help to keep out of boredom and just sitting idle at home having nothing to do in the era of innovation and technology there is a need take advantage of many technological advancements.
Botswana signed a P17 million grant aid with Japan this Monday to help her distribute set-top boxes to needy households and switch off analogue transmission. The Signing of Exchange of Notes between the two governments for the Economic and Social Development Programme was done by Japanese Ambassador Kozo Takeda and Finance Minister Dr. Thapelo Matsheka in Gaborone.
According to a press release from Dr. Tadakazu Kanno of the Politics, Protocol and Cultural Affairs of the Japanese embassy, the 150 million yen (P17million) grant is for distribution of set-top boxes (STBs) or receivers, to be aligned with deployment of digital terrestrial television (DTV) and analogue switch off in Botswana. Botswana announced the adoption of the Japanese standard for its DTV and first broadcasted by Botswana Television (BTV) in February 2013 thereby becoming the first African country to adopt the Japanese standard for its DTV.
Since then, government has been making efforts to shift from analogue broadcasting to DTV and Japan has been assisting Botswana’s digital TV transition. Dr. Kanno explained that after analogue switch-off, there will be vacancy of frequency band, which will in future enable people to use hi-speed internet using mobile phone. In 2015, with support from several Japanese companies, DTV was broadcast in the whole country.Botswana government has also been working on utilisation of data broadcasting, which is a service associated with DTV.
Through data broadcasting services, people can watch real-time traffic news, weather forecast, information on searches for lost cattle and most importantly, obtain government issued information such as public safety, natural hazards and healthcare advice while watching TV. Dr. Kanno said the other remarkable feature of the Japanese standard DTV is the emergency warning broadcasting system (EWBS) function.
With EWBS, an emergency alert sound and announcement automatically come out of STB from its built-in speaker even when a TV itself is switched off. To watch DTV, people need a STB, a small box-shaped receiver to be directly hooked to each TV. While the Botswana Government moves on with analogue switch-off, there is a concern that vulnerable people may not be able to purchase STBs due to economic reasons.
As a result, it will be difficult for them to access aforementioned information through data broadcasting services that closely affects their daily lives. Through this grant aid, Japan cooperates with Department of Broadcasting Services, Ministry for Presidential Affairs Governance and Public Administration, to distribute STBs to the households who are truly in need of assistance, to ensure their access to the information through DTV that would complement their well-being.
People should be aware that there are two types of STBs: one that is equipped with receiving data broadcasting function and the other without. In order to enjoy and benefit from data broadcasting services, people should get the former type, which is the type this grant aid will provide. It is expected that the cooperation will contribute to mitigate information disparity caused by income inequality, and hence lead to improvement of quality of life as well as reduction of disaster damages in Botswana.
Botswana Federation of Public Parastatal and Private Sector Unions (BOFEPUSU) have expressed concern over the decay of labour relations between government and public sector unions.
The federation argues that sound industrial relations are only achievable through constructive and genuine social dialogue with the spirit of objectively addressing the plight of workers. According to BOFEPUSU this needs to be based on respect for labour laws and policies, construction of effective social dialogue institutions and good faith in such engagements.
"The public sector Unions engaged in bargaining with Government on salary negotiations, and concluded with Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) for salary increment of 6 percent for scales C and D, and 10 percent for A and B for financial years 2019/2020 and 2020/2021.
“The increment for the financial year 2019/2020 has already effected, and thus exhausting the first part of the Collective Bargaining Agreement. The second part of the Collective Bargaining Agreement effected on the 1st April 2020 as directed by the Government Directive of 24th March 2020, and this salary increment has been budgeted for as per the budget tabled in Parliament in February 2020 by the Minister of Finance Development and Planning," BOFEPUSU Deputy Secretary General Ketlhalefile Motshegwa said in a statement.
Motshegwa said the Government has shockingly adopted a unilateral decision tantamount to a decree, to cut and defer salary increment of public servants for six months tentatively, meaning that it could be more than six months. This unfortunate action by Government, he said is contemptuous of the spirit of good faith in negotiations and bargaining, for this unilateralism dents and toxicates industrial relations, something that is gravely terrible for the socio-economic landscape of the country.
The Federation urges the leadership of the country to be thoughtful enough and espouse sound industrial relations, by respecting and complying with particulars of Collective Bargaining Agreement with Public Sector Unions. Government must be sensitive to the reality that, should she unrelentingly persist with her mission, such will further exacerbate the already virulent industrial relations in the public service," he said this week.
This comes after government revealed last week that increment for salaries would be deferred owing to the COVID19 pandemic.