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Basarwa in Boteti demand their ancestral land back

Keletso Thobega

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Basarwa in the Boteti area are disgruntled that they have been kicked off their ancestral land without any consultation or compensation.  Since December 2017 there have been land displacements that have not only confused the residents but also taken them further away from basic resources, plunging them into further poverty and struggle.

The Spokesperson of Botswana Khwedom Council Banyatsi Salutu fumed in an interview with The Midweek Sun that the landboard does not acknowledge the importance of ancestral land nor uphold the rights of Basarwa. “They make decisions and implement them without consulting us. Basarwa are entitled to their land and should not be kicked out like that. It violates their human rights,” he said.

Salutu said that they had proposed that local government conduct a commission on the ancestral land but nothing had transpired to date. “They told us that they’d meet and discuss the matter but they did not get back to us.When we reach out to them they tell us that they are still busy because there have been changes in the minsitry since Tsogwane (VP Slumber Tsogwane) changed office.” Salutu said that the Botswana Khwedom Council should be engaged on the matter because they understand better the issues related to Basarwa and other indigenous tribes and also represent their ideals. He noted that affirmative action was not implemented and that remote areas Acts such as the RADP did not benefit the Basarwa. He said that the Land policy doesn’t intricately make amends for ancestral land. “Instead, the policy discriminates and violates the rights of the Basarwa,” he said.

Salutu pointed out that in 2014 former president Ian Khama visited them and they aired their grievances about the land to him. “He instructed that the Basarwa in the area be allocated their land. However, this has not happened.” He added that they were instead told that the land belonged to Bakhurutshe bo rra Sekwe.

“This has now created tribal tensions,” he said. He noted that all they wanted was to be given back their land or moved to an area that is closer to basic amenities and resources.” Ancestral land in Botswana is a longstanding issue centred on land historically occupied by the Basarwa and other indigenous tribes. Botswana government has over the years come under fire for relocating the Basarwa from their ancestral land to make way for farms and mining.

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BATTLE FOR MMADIKOLO

The MidweekSun Admin

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University of Botswana students are bracing themselves for the Student Representative Council (SRC) elections. Contenders are fighting tooth and nail to appease the electorate. Three camps are in contention to fill the 13 council positions.

Umbrella for Democratic Change’s (UDC) Moono-wa-Baithuti has the onerous task of defending all the 13 seats which they hauled at the last elections of 2018. “As Moono wa Baithuti, we have lots of achievements. We are on the verge of getting the student bar open, so we need to go back and fix what we started,” said UDC’s Tumelo Legase who is vying for the position of Vice President.

He said they have advocated for student empowerment policies and are also proposing a third arm of student representation. “We have the SRC and the Judiciary, what we need is the student Parliament so that we have a large number of leaders who can independently attend to problems across the university.” The dark horse in this race is the University of Botswana’s Alliance for Progressive (AP) which will take another leap of faith despite their loss in the previous election.

They are rejuvenated and redefined. Candidate for Vice President Karabo Bokwe said central to their mandate is making the welfare of the student community a priority. “We want to help eradicate school policies that border on oppression, and through new polices call for initiatives that come with enterprenuership benefits to students.”

AP candidate for Information and Publicity, a first year Criminal Justice student Gracious Selelo said they are more united than other parties even at national level. “We don’t have internal squabbles within our party, we are more focused and can deliver our mandate easily,” she noted.

However the ruling party’s BDP GS-26 will come with all guns blazing after an embarrassing defeat in the previous elections. Preparations have been made and the GS-26 is looking to take the elections by storm.

According to their Presidential Candidate Boniface Seane, they come with the message of hope that addresses the current status quo at the University.“The university is not functioning so we drew three policies that embrace inclusiveness. We want to lead collectively with the students, through the student body meetings which the previous SRCs have failed to do. “We will consult with the students with no discrimination.”

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Healthcare system to improve

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The Health ministry has developed a seven-point programme to guide the country in improving the healthcare system, says Minister of Health and Wellness, Dr Alfred Rabashemi Madigele.

“The seven priority areas will serve as a roadmap and a guardian angel towards improving the overall healthcare system and increasing access to health care while fighting the burden of disease that confronts us,” said Madigele at Masa Square Hotel on Tuesday.

The focal areas include decentralisation; Universal Health Coverage, Tertiary Care, Strategic leveraging on the Private sector; Supply Chain; Research as well as Staff welfare and accountability.
Point-one of the seven priority areas according to Dr Madigele is about empowering the District Health Management Teams (DHMTs) and transforming them into fully fledged Regional Health Authorities.

“In this case, they will be rationalised from 27 to 18 and have the authority to hire A and B Scales, promote up to C1 and manage micro procurement,” he said. Point two is about improving the quality of healthcare services. “The main causes of mortality and their risk factors in Botswana are Primary Health Care issues,” Dr Madigele said.

He added that “Our efforts for the attainment of Universal Health Coverage should thus focus on: Prevention; Comprehensive screening; Early treatment; and Surveillance at the community.”
This he said, would require revamped grassroots efforts in which adequate numbers of community health workers through partnerships with the non-governmental sector will be deployed as necessary.

According to Dr Madigele, the top five causes of death in Botswana in 2017 were HIV/AIDS, Ischemic heart disease, stroke, lower respiratory infections and Diabetes. He said compared to 2007, NCDs among these had increased in burden by an average of 34%. The top five risk factors related to these causes of mortality were unsafe sex; poor diet; high blood pressure; alcohol abuse and tobacco use.

Improving the quality of care, Madigele said will also include the safety and security of patients; attitudes of staff as experienced by patients; time taken in queues either before seeing a health worker or receiving medication and the availability of drugs.

Meanwhile, the health minister revealed that the commissioning of Sir Ketumile Masire Teaching Hospital (SKMTH) is ongoing with the facility scheduled for opening on April 24th. “This will be a phased approach commencing with some services including paediatric oncology, internal medicine, rheumatology and endocrinology, diagnostic radiology, laboratory services and pharmacy”.

A phased commissioning of SKMTH will reduce overdependence on South Africa for referrals, reduce costs and also institutionalise provision of super specialist services within Botswana.

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