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Opposition parties not ready

Tshepo Kehemile

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As the 2019 general elections edge closer, the Jwaneng Mabutsane constituency, one of the most crucial areas in Botswana’s economy, remains open and up for grabs.

While other political parties are still working on deciding who their parliamentary candidates will be, the Botswana Democratic Party’s (BDP) Reatile Mephato is surging ahead with preparations.
According to spokesperson of the Botswana National Front (BNF) Justin Hunyepa, the Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) is still to field a candidate. The incumbent Member of Parliament Shawn Nthaile lost out to Celsius Rande in the BNF primaries and contested the results. The matter is yet to be concluded, hence the UDC is without a candidate at the moment.

Meanwhile the Alliance for Progressives (AP) are still sorting out their vetting processes. This was confirmed by AP’s Secretary General Phenyo Butale in a brief interview with Midweek Sun this week.

On the other hand, Reatile of the BDP would not be drawn into discussing his candidacy and an insight into his roadmap for the constituency when contacted this past week, saying he still needs to liaise with his constituency branch. “I agreed with my branch that we need to consult when matters like this arise, so it will not be in order, to update the press on my progress within the constituency without their knowledge,” he said.

Nevertheless, in a simple random survey that The Midweek Sun conducted in the area this past week, it emerged that the constituents are unhappy that their every year distresses are not being addressed by the people who they elect into power. Furthermore, most Jwaneng-Mabutsane residents say they no longer find the importance of voting as there has been no change.

With a population of 38 335, the constituency consists of 13 wards which include Kgalagadi, Khakhea, Korong-Morwamosu, Mabutsane-Kanaku, Masa-A-Sele, Mogale, Mokomma, Molopo, Ngami, Raphalane, Sekoma, Seole and Sese. One of the voters in the constituency, 27-year old Bishop Gaborone, complained that the presence of Jwaneng Mine in their area was of no help to them as they still remain unemployed despite the load of work at the mine. “It is difficult for us (residents) of the area to get jobs as the mine usually gives out contracts to certain companies and those particular companies would then come with their own people from outside our localities to work there hence putting us at a disadvantage,” he said.

Ketlapetswe Terena who hails from Mokhomma ward agonised about their concerns not being addressed. “We always vote hoping that the person we voted for will help us but it is not the case as they usually disappear immediately after being voted.

“We have no good roads that we can use when connecting with smaller villages in the constituency and in other places such as Sese, you will find that they can go up to three weeks without water and that is a concern,” said Terena.

Violet Tegedi, 24, said they have long applied for youth funds but there has not been any response. “Life is hard here, especially when you did not do well at school. If we resort to finding means of survival, in this case applying for youth funds, it takes too long. We also need electricity, some of the places do not have electricity and it encourages crime,” she said.

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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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