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UB ’s academic shame

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Deputy Vice Chancellor ( Student Affairs) at the University of Botswana Professor Martin Mokgwathi is in hot soup after it was alleged that he has plagiarised an undergraduate orientation speech.

The speech Mokgwathi is alleged to have plagiarised was made by former Limerick University President Professor Don Barry while addressing prospective students during the welcome ceremony six years ago in Limerick, Ireland.

Mokgwathi seemed to have grown fond of the speech and could not let the opportunity to spill out well-decorated words elude him as he repeated the same speech during the Orientation of the University of Botswana freshmen in August 2018. According to several sources that were part of the orientation ceremony, Mokgwathi blew everyone away not just with his eloquence on the podium but with a flawless speech that many claimed to have heard before. “Several professors claimed to have heard the speech somewhere. We became suspicious when we media students requested for the speech and he didn’t want to give it away,” said one media student at the University who was in attendance.

Moreover, sources close to the matter say that a disciplinary hearing and harsh punishment awaits the renowned Professor. “The University of Botswana is a university of high reputation, many who have done this have seen the door and it’s highly possible that the Council can recommend the same for Mokgwathi,” said a source close to management in the school.

Moreover, this publication is in possession of a letter addresed to the Vice Chancellor of the University by the Student Representative Council (SRC), requesting that allegations levelled against Mokgwathi be investigated. “By ignoring this scandal and sweeping it under the carpet, the University is sending a wrong message to students, stakeholders and the general public that plagiarism and academic dishonesty is tolerable in the University.

“If these allegations are true and variable (sic), it is true that Professor Mokgwathi has put the good name of the University in serious disrepute. Further it is our considered view that his suspension be on full salary pending investigation and possible disciplinary hearing will be of public interest.” Reached for comment, Mogwathi ridiculed the allegations before citing that the issue is internal and therefore he cannot address it. He then referred us to the Director of Public Affairs.

“It’s an internal issue so if there is someone to shed light over the issue it’s the Director of Public Affairs,” he said. Efforts to get a comment from the Director of Public Affairs Mhitshane Reetsang however hit a snag as she was not in her office. Mokgwathi was appointed Deputy Vice Chancellor Student Affairs in January 2016, he succeeded Professor Lydia Nyati Saleshando who left at the end of 2015 when her contract expired. Mokgwathi has been with the university since 1986 and boasts a wealth of experience.

He is also celebrated for crafting and establishing the Department of Culture, Sports and Recreation in 1998, which he became its Director until 2000 when he left to become Head of Department of Physical Education.

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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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JUST PROPAGANDA

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Dr Pelonomi Venson-Moitoi has refuted claims that she is under the radar of the Financial Intelligence Agency. Dr Venson-Moitoi who pulled out of the Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) presidential race at the eleventh hour, was last week reported to have had her accounts frozen because she was being investigated by FIA.

It was alleged that the freezing of the accounts would have a negative bearing on her campaign as she could not access her funds. Responding to enquiries on the issue during a media briefing in Kang Village, Dr Venson-Moitoi said the allegations were far from the truth.

According to the former cabinet minister, all her accounts were clean and she was accessing her funds without any challenge. “The person who was saying all those things was lying. My accounts are clean as we speak. I was never confronted by FIA or anyone. As far as I know I am not under any investigations,” she said.

Linked to that, it had emerged that Dr Venson-Moitoi’s campaign was being funded from outside the country especially by the some rich families in South Africa. Reports then suggested that her source of funding was blocked through the intervention of FIA, and that even her accounts were frozen. She dismissed the reports as propaganda that was perhaps spread to soil her campaign.

“I am clean. This is why I am never mentioned in missing funds from National Petroleum Fund or those of Capital Management Botswana,” said the Serowe South Member of Parliament. Last month Dr Venson-Moitoi had reported to the Directorate of Intelligence and Security (DIS) Director General Peter Magosi that she was not happy that she is being followed around the country by security agents.

Magosi dismissed the claims on grounds that his organisation is not the only one that uses private motor vehicles.

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