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SADC gets Euro 18.7 million to build capacity

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Southern African Development Community (SADC), the European Union Delegation to Botswana and the government of Germany have officially launched the SADC Integrated Institutional Capacity Building (IICB) Programme.

The European Union has committed Euro 13.2 million to the Programme, while the German government is co-funding with Euro 5.5 million; bringing the total to Euro 18.7 million. The IICB Programme that is expected to expand country coverage to at least ten Member States from the three countries of Malawi, Mozambique and Zambia, will be implemented by the SADC Secretariat supported by the GIZ.

According to SADC Executive Secretary, Dr. Stergomena Lawrence Tax, efforts are already underway to establish or revamp SADC National Committees in Botswana, Eswatini, Lesotho and Tanzania. Dr Tax added that the support under the Integrated Institutional Capacity Building Programme will be more targeted at activities with impact, therefore the focus will be placed on sectoral coordinating structures in three sectors; industrialisation, agriculture and infrastructure development.

Aligned to the Revised SADC Regional Indicative Strategic Development Plan (RISDP), the programme is envisaged to strengthen country-level structures, especially SADC National Committees to implement the regional integration programme at the national level.It is also envisaged to enhance collaboration between National Planning Entities and SADC National Committees, to foster the integration of the regional programmes and their implementation frameworks into national plans. Dr. Tax added that the newly launched programme will develop regionally agreed performance benchmarks that Member States will adhere to in relation to SADC National Committees and programme/project management.

IICB Programme will also improve the involvement of civil society, non-governmental organisations, women and youth groups, judicial and legislative structures in the implementation of the regional integration agenda; and improve the alignment of International Cooperating Partners (ICP) technical and financial support to SADC priorities at national and regional level to the achievement of regional integration indicators and targets.

Speaking at the launch on Friday, German Ambassador, Ralf Andreas Breth said the launch of the IICB programme reflects and reinforces their belief in sharing the European experiences and providing opportunities to SADC and other regional organisations to benefit from them. “Implementation requires more than just passion and commitment; it also needs capacity. Germany is taking great pride in supporting the continuous capacity development of SADC structures at all levels and in many sectors,” Breth said. He said at the centre of the Programme’s efforts stands the realisation that with competing commitments and insufficient capacities, effective coordination of the SADC agenda at the national level is crucial.

“The Programme did not need to reinvent the wheel; it only needed to run back to the SADC Treaty. In article 16A of its Treaty, SADC has mandated National Committees to bring together national governments, the private sector, civil society and other non-state actors to work on implementing the SADC agenda in their Member States,” Breth said. For his part, European Union Ambassador, Jan Sadek said EU support addresses among others areas; peace and security, regional political cooperation and migration, contributing to the implementation of the Strategic Indicative Plan for the Organ on Politics, Defense and Security in the region (SIPO).

“I am proud to announce that in the next four years, the EU support to SADC will reach a total of more than Euro150 million, of which around Euro 80 million will be managed directly by SADC in four years,” Sadek said, adding that SADC has to ensure a stable, consistent and competent structure capable of managing, implementing and monitoring the programmes that are benefitting SADC.

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BATTLE FOR MMADIKOLO

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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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