Wednesday, 19 July 2017 14:38

Botswana angers China

The long-standing 42-year relationship between Botswana and China is on the brink of collapse as the former is now willing to extend “normal courtesies” reserved for visiting dignitaries during the Dalai Lama’s visit to Botswana. Beijing is talking tough and is in an uncompromising mood regarding Tibetan’s exiled spiritual leader Dalai Lama’s planned visit to Botswana, saying whoever allows the Tibetan spiritual leader to visit then that country is closing relations with China. 

Addressing visiting journalists and academics from Botswana last week in Beijing, Songtian Lin, Director General of the Department of African Affairs in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said he was very worried about the deteriorating relations between Botswana and China. “I have a lot of worries,” he said in a high-pitched voice, saying the relations have gone down. “I fight day and night for countries that stand with us,” he said. Lin was referring to the 41 African countries that currently enjoy investment and financing cooperation with China. 384 cooperative projects valued at US$450 billion are currently being undertaken in Africa. The projects have paid US$450 million taxes to these African countries and created 87 000 job opportunities.  This is what Botswana is expected to lose out if it allows the Dalai Lama to cross into its borders. 

“I am fully confident that your president will not extend a hand to the Dalai Lama,” said Lin. He was wrong. This week Wednesday President Ian Khama’s administration released a statement that the Government of the Republic of Botswana will be extending the normal “courtesies” for visiting dignitaries, for which the Chief of Protocol is responsible. “Furthermore, His Excellency will meet the Dalai Lama when he is in Botswana,” reads part of the statement. Initially Gaborone had indicated that it has nothing to do with the Dalai Lama visit as his visit is private and no courtesies would be extended to him. Government spokesperson Jeff Ramsay on Wednesday refused to comment on the latest government’s stand.

“I would not like to comment on that at the moment,” he said. He however confirmed that the statement came from the Office of the President. Dalai Lama will visit Botswana in August to participate as honourary guest during a live public conference hosted by the Mind & Life Institute. The three-day conference takes place at the new Indoor Sports Centre on the campus of the University of Botswana in Gaborone, 17 – 19 August. According to a press release this is his only planned destination in Africa.South Africa on three occasions denied the Dalai Lama a visa for fear of angering China.

The Dalai Lama wants greater autonomy for Tibet, an objective China views as separatism and a violation of the country’s One China policy, which Botswana supports. “Tibet related issues concern China’s sovereignty and territorial integrity and touch upon China’s core interests and the dignity of the 1.3 billion Chinese.

There is no room for China to compromise on these issues,” said Lin adding that no country in the world has opened its airports for the Dalai Lama.“We never force anyone in the continent to accept our policy but what will the Dalai Lama visit benefit your people? You have the right to choose, to close or to open (relations).” Lin warned that whatever China’s friends do should not “touch our bottom line.”

“You do anything against our interest is not acceptable, I am not rich but I am not stupid.” 

Lin said if the Dalai Lama wants to come back to Tibet a temple is waiting for him. “If you want relations with China to last, then you have to recognise the One China policy, otherwise you are touching our bottom line,” said Lin. 

Meanwhile, this week the Office of the President said President Khama’s attendance at the conference, for the Official opening or otherwise, will be determined by his schedule.


Published in News

SOAS (School of Oriental and African Studies at the University of London) Research Associate and International Relations academic Chedza Mogae has criticised Botswana for allowing the Dalai Lama to visit the country. 

Chedza - the daughter of Botswana’s second president Festus Mogae - was among journalists and think tanks invited by the Chinese government on a trip to China last week. 

She said of the impending visit of the Dalai Lama to Botswana: “Unfortunately Botswana does not have a codified foreign policy and its foreign affairs ministry operates using generalists as opposed to specialists, which is what led to confusion with regard to the One China Policy, which is in effect, the One China Principle formalised.” 

She said the policy is not just about Taiwan, it is about any move in support of the separation of any part of China; “a policy we agreed to support and respect at the onset of diplomatic relations (between China and Botswana”. She noted that, further, China’s Africa policy outlines how in turn, the Chinese government does not and will not involve itself in such issues on the African continent. 

“The people and government of China accept that the Dalai Lama is a spiritual leader, what they don’t accept is that he’s the political leader of an independent Tibet. And from my interactions with Tibetans young and old, they feel the same way. They pay very little or no heed to the so-called Tibetan Government in Exile of which the Dalai Lama is the leader.”

Mogae said President Ian Khama is not an international scholar and he feels “he can say what he wants.” She praised former presidents, Sir Seretse Khama and Sir Ketumile Masire, saying Khama was very intelligent with foreign policy issues while Masire was an educator.

“These people were nation builders. The educational level within our technocrats is wanting,” she said. 

Published in News
Wednesday, 05 July 2017 15:38

OPM to stir Phikwe’s economy

This year’s Orange Phikwe Marathon (OPM) will be used to promote tourism and support different businesses in Selebi-Phikwe and surrounding villages. Following the recent closure of the BCL mine the Selibe Phikwe   economy quickly took a slump.

Speaking during a press conference in Gaborone this week Orange Botswana Director, Corporate Affairs Lepata Mafa-Nthomola said sports tourism is a trend that is growing internationally. “Cities are competing to host sporting events to improve their image, showcase their culture and most importantly to grow their economy”, she said.

“As Orange Phikwe Marathon Local Organising Committee we see an opportunity to commercially package the Marathon to support the businesses in Phikwe. It is under this conviction and backdrop that we want to bring a bigger and better 2017 Orange Phikwe Marathon.”

However, Nthomola urged the corporate sector to register teams that will take part in the marathon or come on board as a sponsor. “To all the businesses in Phikwe and the surrounding villages, this is the opportunity to sell yourselves and secure partnerships.” 

Nthomola said they used feedback from last year’s marathon to make changes and improvements to this year’s event. “We have increased resources as an intention to attract a huge number of participants from 500 runners to 2000.”

Registration and payment is also said to be convenient, with the website having been refreshed with latest information on the race and the route, there will also be an increased number of marshals with communication resources availed for them.  

Among other things there will be improved and visible markings on the route, increased water points and water supply. The company also guarantees high standard of safety that will be upheld with the assistance of the Botswana Police Service.

Improved standards during the marathon also includes time recording micro-chips, which will be placed on the athletes to record accurate time in an effort to meet international standards.

“The Marathon presents an opportunity for the discovery of talented athletes who can represent this country at international platforms and shine a spotlight on our country,” said Nthomola. 

Published in Sports
Wednesday, 05 July 2017 12:31

SACU prioritises industrial development

The Ministerial Task Teams have been directed to prioritise industrial development and develop concrete cross-border projects in the five-member Southern African Customs Union (SACU).

According to a communiqué from the recent Summit held in Swaziland, this is a means to promote industrialisation and ultimately ensuring that the region is able to optimise economic benefits to withstand global economic shocks. For Botswana government, the development comes at a very crucial time as it relies mainly on two volatile revenue streams, mineral revenues (which account for almost 40 percent of total revenue) and South African Customs Union (SACU) customs revenues (27 percent of total revenue).   

A report made by the World Bank highlights that the decline in SACU transfers will persist due to the weak economic outlook for South Africa. It says however that the substantial fiscal savings and international reserves will provide the country with ample space to gradually adjust expenditures to the SACU shock in the long run, and to provide counter-cyclical stimulus in the near term. 

The meet also reaffirmed the importance of SACU as an organisation in deepening regional economic integration, industrialisation and economic diversification of SACU economies as a common goal as well as positioning SACU to take advantage of regional and global economic developments.

The summit, which was chaired by King Mswati III of the Kingdom of Swaziland, and was attended by Jacob Zuma, President of South Africa, Mokgweetsi Eric Keabetswe Masisi, Vice President of Botswana and Carl Schlettwein Namibia’s Minister of Finance, noted and endorsed the Work Programme, based on the outcomes of the 3rd Ministerial Retreat which outlines detailed activities, key deliverables and the timelines within which the proposed activities will be undertaken. 

The endorsed Work Programme is set to focus on the review and development of a suitable architecture for tariff-setting, rebates, duty drawbacks and trade remedies; a review of the Revenue Sharing Formula and the long-term management of the Common Revenue Pool; the establishment of a Stabilisation Fund and exploring the feasibility of a financing mechanism for regional industrialisation and identifying financing options for regional projects.It also adopted SACU5/S/DC and the development of public policy interventions to promote and align industrial development and value chains. At the event, delegates commended the Council of Ministers for establishing two Ministerial Task Teams on Trade and Industry, and on Finance, including the approval of their Terms of Reference, to facilitate the urgent implementation of the Work Programme. 

“SACU economies experience similar economic challenges, which can be better dealt with  in an integrated manner within the region. In this regard, the Summit directed the Ministerial Task Teams to prioritise industrial development and develop concrete cross-border projects to promote industrialization to ensure that the region is able to optimise economic benefits to withstand global economic shocks,” they emphasised.

Meanwhile, Botswana will be the Chair of SACU, effective 15 July 2017 to 14 July 2018, taking over from Swaziland.

Published in News

Ketumile Masire was a cattle herder turned statesman who, as President of Botswana between 1980 and 1998, helped to solidify his country’s standing as one of the most thriving nations in Africa.

Masire was widely heralded as a model leader in a model nation on a continent where poverty, corruption and violence had crushed the hopes of many for stability and prosperity. 

“We have seen the promise of a new Africa whose roots are deep here in your soil, for you have been an inspiration to all who cherish freedom,” Bill Clinton told Masire during a visit to Gaborone in 1998. The US President noted that in 1966 when Botswana – then known as Bechuanaland – became independent from Britain, it had two miles of paved roads and a single public secondary school. Its chief export was beef.

The discovery of diamond reserves transformed the country’s prospects, and under Masire and his predecessor, Seretse Khama, the nation used its revenue to build roads and schools, improve healthcare and expand access to clean water, advancing farming techniques and extending life spans. Masire, who described himself as “a farmer who has been drawn into politics”, was credited with leading his landlocked nation through a drought that dragged on for much of the 1980s. In 1989, he shared the Africa Prize for Leadership, awarded by the charitable organisation the Hunger Project in recognition of the food distribution efforts that helped the country avoid starvation during the crisis.

He navigated a delicate relationship with South Africa, Botswana’s neighbour to the south. While South Africa was Botswana’s major economic partner, Botswana opposed apartheid. “He had to walk a line in a really rough neighbourhood,” said Chester Crocker, a former US assistant secretary of state for African affairs.

“He had to get along with everybody, without sacrificing his principles.” While many other African nations suffered under dictatorship, Botswana featured a robust democracy with little, if any, noticeable corruption. The “political inclusivity” Masire fostered, Crocker said, “is a magic formula, and it’s too rare in Africa and elsewhere.”

The stability of Botswana allowed its tourism industry to flourish in times of economic prosperity, with many visitors coming to witness its wildlife. Masire – often known as Quett – was born in Kanye, in southern Botswana near the South African border, in 1925. He was a herder before enrolling in a primary school at 13. Crocker said Masire worked the land in a country that may go years without rain and learned a profound sense of self-reliance. He received a scholarship to attend a secondary school in South Africa that trained many leaders of the first government of independent Botswana.

After his parents died when he was in his early twenties, he suspended his education to become a teacher to support his siblings. He was a headmaster before saving enough money to buy a tractor and pursue farming, distinguishing himself with modern agricultural techniques.

 He also worked as a journalist, which along with his community involvement helped draw him into politics. He served on tribal and regional councils and was a founder and secretary-general of the Botswana Democratic Party, now the country’s dominant political party. He once traversed 3,000 miles of the Kalahari desert to attend two dozen meetings over two weeks.

Before becoming President, Masire served in roles including minister of finance and development planning and Vice President. After leaving office, he advised other African leaders and chaired an international panel that investigated the Rwandan genocide of 1994. He made important contributions to peace efforts in Congo and, more recently, Mozambique.

In retirement, Masire established the Sir Ketumile Masire Foundation, which seeks to improve agriculture, governance and children’s health in the region. He also tended the cattle on his ranch. Masire married Gladys Olebile Molefi in 1958; she died in 2013. They had six children. 

“We have a saying in Botswana: A man is never strong until he says what he believes and gives other men the chance to do the same,” he once said. “I am proud to say without a doubt – we are a strong democracy.”

© Washington Post

Published in News
Tuesday, 20 June 2017 13:41

Breathtaking! In just 45minutes

Renowned for its beautiful flora and fauna, tourism, safaris and wildlife conservation projects, Botswana continues to lure in enthusiasts from across the globe, as the ‘must go to destinations’ in Africa. 

Well, that’s according to attendees of the recent preview of the ‘Berlin’ performance aired last week courtesy of Botswana Tourism Organisation (BTO) who shared to say it was a ‘world class material’. The show presented a perfect opportunity to review the Botswana ITB Berlin participation received from those who made the trip.  

A blend of the best artists selected from the most finest local traditional dance crews including Mafitlhakgosi, Tsoga Africa, Mabutswapele, Nare tsa Pina, Mophato, Bana ba Kwena, and Gata la Tau among others brought to the floor one of the most captivating arrangement; that not only derived the best of what Botswana has to offer but gave viewers a feel of Botswana Culture in just 45 minutes.

 Breathtaking for most, the Minister of Environment, Conservation, Natural Resources and Tourism, Tshekedi Khama could not keep his excitement veiled; he described it as one of the best production he has ever seen in his lifetime. “From this one performance, I have so much confidence to know that we can come to deliver and compete in the international arena, anytime,” he said. 

Botswana has been part of the ITB Berlin since 2007 and is now the most popular show for our operators to attend with a record of 32 local companies having represented.  In applauding the performers, Khama said he was very proud of them. “That was such an emotional performance, you made us really proud.” 

 He also shared that after the performance in ITB Berlin, attendees were dined to Setswana cuisine. “The guests were treated to a traditional meal following the musical performance.” He said Botswana based chefs led the preparation of various delicacies like Seswaa and Phane.  “Over 40kg of Phane, and 400kg of beef had been shipped to Berlin for the dinner.” 

Published in Style

About 100 female writers from across Botswana will be published in an anthology that is expected to hit the shelves later this year or early 2018.

The anthology is co-edited by Dr. Mary Lederer, Professor Maitseo Bolane, Dr. Leloba Molema and Dr. Connie Rapoo. Speaking at a seminar hosted by the University of Botswana English Department on Friday, Lederer said that they had realised that there is a large stream of writing talent in Botswana. She expressed relief that the project was finally taking as it had long been in the pipeline. She noted that they had faced a few challenges but they had overcome these hurdles although they still needed more support. “We faced several challenges that included financial setbacks but we wanted to ensure the project sees the light of day. Thankfully, we managed to secure funding to pay the contributors because we believe in rewarding creative talent. It is not much as there are a lot of contributors but it is something.”

Lederer also echoed sentiments that publishing in Botswana is a tall order and books of this nature were welcome as they accord good writers a platform and encourage them to keep writing and sharing their experiences.  Bolane made a presentation on the importance of the inclusion of historical material in the anthology. She said it was important to learn about the role and impact of women in historical context and in contemporary times as history often informs or influences the present. “Even in the modern age, we note how some men trivialise challenges that affect women. Socially, we still deal with issues of rape, sometimes even in marriage, illiteracy among women, patriarchy and gender based violence among others,” she said.  She added that important statements of historical significance like the Beijing 1994 conference would be included.

Rapoo noted that the project was a labour of love. She said that she had been amused by childhood songs which when unpacked, had different metaphoric translation that gave them new meaning. She further said that it had been refreshing to read of the experiences of women in Botswana and peep into their secret thoughts, some of which they would not want to articulate publicly. Molema made an interesting presentation on ‘What constitutes as art?’ exploring whether, for example, court statements and letters could be categorised as art the way poems and short stories are. Also in attendance were young writers Ndibo Tebape, Vamika Sinha, Phemelo Tlalanyane, Mosadi Dube and Cherly Motsumi among others, who read their work.

The Women Writing Botswana project is aimed at documenting works of Batswana women who write, appreciate literary talent and share the experiences of local women with the reading community. The anthology that features upcoming and established writers, includes court statements, poems, short stories, social commentary and opinion pieces, songs, drama scripts and letters.  The works include material by renowned writer Bessie Head, Unity Dow, Athalia Molokomme, Mosadi Seboko among many other esteemed women in Botswana society. It also includes creative writers like TJ Dema, Lauri Kubuitsile and Wame Molefhe and many more. Media writers and journalists featured include Priscilla Mathara (short stories and non-fiction), Keletso Thobega (poetry and non-fiction), Tumi Modise (non-fiction), Gothataone Moeng (short stories), Mpho Mokwape and Nnasaretha Kgamanyane (non-fiction), Yvonne Mooka nee Ditlhase (non-fiction), Gosego Motsumi (short stories, poetry and non-fiction), and Boitshepo Balozwi (non-fiction), among others.  The material was sourced through print media and from entries to the Bessie Head writing competition. Those in attendance were given a chance to skim through the thick manuscript for the book, anticipated to have 400-500 pages.

Published in Style

On May 25th, when the rest of the continent celebrates Africa Day, Botswana and DStv customers will witness history-in-the-making as Zambezi Magic (DStv Channel 160) premieres locally produced Botswana documentary film, “We Are All Blue.” It will be the first time Zambezi Magic, a channel that is dedicated to telling stories from Southern Africa airs a locally produced documentary film since its first broadcast in 2015.

“Written and starring award-winning Broadway and Hollywood actor, Donald Molosi (30), and produced by local production company, Torch Studios, “We Are All Blue” was commissioned by M-Net and MultiChoice Africa in celebration of Botswana’s 50th Anniversary of Independence.

Published in Style
Friday, 21 April 2017 08:56

Furnmart upbeat on half-year results

Furniture group, Furnmart Limited has announced that it expects more than 10 percent increase in its half-year results ended January 2017 than the previous period. This will be good news to shareholders, who last year watched by as the BSE listed group closed its operations in Zambia among others stores, citing poor performance. However, it will seem the move was not a bad one after all, as positive results have started to trickle in.

In a published statement signed by Furnmart Managing Director D S le Roux, the company advised shareholders to exercise caution when dealing in its ordinary shares until announcement of the results is made. In the same period last year(H1:2016), the group recorded P4,4million as profit, a massive  89.3 percent decline in profits due to weak currencies in South Africa and Namibia. Revenue for the previous period amounted to P622.2 million, a decrease of 5percent while the operating income of P75 .1 million was 1.3 percent lower than the prior period.

Furnmart Limited retails domestic furniture and electrical appliances through its network of stores in Botswana, South Africa and Namibia.
In the 2015 annual report released last year, the group said it expects trading conditions in the region to remain subdued for the foreseeable future.

“The economies in the region continue to be impacted by high unemployment, low consumer confidence and high levels of indebtedness.
“Maintaining real sales growth will present challenges in the short term especially given the group’s stricter credit granting criteria,” stated the management report. However, the group said despite the negative economic outlook, management believes that opportunities still exist for growth.

“The group will continue to invest in new stores in the region,” it said adding that many of these stores will be in South Africa. “The group will however be very selective with site location and capital commitment,” states Mynhardt in the report.

Published in Business
Wednesday, 19 April 2017 11:41


This past Easter Sunday, April 16, award-winning Broadway and Hollywood actor Donald Molosi, 30, debuted the trailer of his latest project online, a documentary film project called ‘We Are All Blue.” The trailer, which is also on YouTube is fast circulating around the world garnering praise from Batswana and Molosi’s own Hollywood colleagues alike.

In 'We Are All Blue' (2017), modern Botswana is seen through the eyes of Donald Molosi, a Botswana-born Broadway actor and playwright, who embarks on a journey to discover more about himself, his people and Botswana, the country he calls home. He believes that in order to create your future, you need to understand your past – and this is what he sets out to do.

“With this film I aim to cinematically capture Botswana’s soul and spirit. The camera follows me to my home village of Mahalapye and my ancestral village of Serowe, and along the way I encounter elders who impart to me wisdom like former President Sir Ketumile Masire whom I am honored to feature and personally thank in this film,” Molosi says from Johannesburg where he is currently in meetings with media houses that have shown interest in his latest offering.

Thus, in the documentary Molosi explores some fundamental life questions about identity and belonging, about being a Motswana, and about the contradictions inherent in the country he loves. Towards the end of the film Molosi reflects on how far Botswana has come in the 50 years since independence, but also on how far it still has to go – and what needs to be done to regain and maintain Botswana’s reputation as Africa’s success story.

“I am grateful that I got to partner with Multichoice, Torch Studio Films and Hambrook Films on this project. I wrote 19 versions of the script, with different storylines and endings et cetera before I picked which script to go with. I put my all into this film and so did my whole team,” says Molosi. 

The film features Molosi’s conversations with other notable Batswana including Former Deputy Secretary-General Mrs. Mmasekgoa Masire-Mwamba; Kgosikgolo of Batawana Kgosi Tawana Moremi II; and Former President of Botswana, Sir Ketumile Masire.

Donald Molosi made history ten years ago when he became the first Motswana actor to perform on Broadway. Over the past decade, Molosi has scooped many major awards on Broadway and off-Broadway for his acting and writing, prompting the New York Times to call his award-winning performances “inflamed with passion.” Molosi’s critically-acclaimed plays are taught around the world as part of the school curriculum in various countries including the United States.

Molosi currently divides his time between Botswana, US and UK working as an actor, writer and film producer.

Published in Style

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