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Prof. Norris cracks the whip at UB



MEAN MOOD: Vice Chancellor David Norris

The Vice Chancellor of the University of Botswana Professor David Norris is a man on a mission.Norris told an impromptu student body meeting on Tuesday that as part of his cleaning exercise at the University he will boot out incompetent staff members this Friday.

Norris said he will kick out anyone who engenders and stimulates the delay of processing and paying of students allowances at the highest institution of learning in the country.
In a recent interview Professor Norris said their students receive their allowances and for that allowance to be credited there should be a submission of names to the Department of Tertiary Education Finance (DTEF)

“Certain offices in the University should do that work but they did not do their work, the list was submitted late and most of the details on the list were not correct, we are currently investigating such issues to see where the inefficiency was, which office was incompetent and if these things are done deliberately or not.”“After investigations, if our staff was sleeping on the job they will be out of the system because we want efficient people at the University, we are going to investigate the finance division, IT division and the academic services and after that appropriate disciplinary steps will be taken accordingly.”

The head of the University said if they feel certain individuals should be subjected to a disciplinary process they will do so with the disciplinary committee expected to be at the forefront. “The disciplinary committee will advise on appropriate disciplinary action to take.” Moreover, Norris is pushing efforts of making the University a student centered institution. “We need to groom these young people to be business people while they are still here, it’s critical to have their business ideas advanced further, if they have ideas they should implement them while they are here.”

“We outsource a lot of things which can be done by our students, if we have to replace bulbs in our offices why should we get a company from outside to do that for us while we have electrical engineering students who can come and do these things, staff members in this institution who studied outside the country will tell you they worked part-time at those institutions.” Norris said students can supplement their allowance if they are well empowered. “Students can make money by just cleaning their room, we should award them opportunities based on what they are studying, we have students studying Tourism we should award them the catering opportunities,” he said.

Quizzed on how soon these things can be implemented, Norris said they are currently receiving proposals from students. “I have met with several students and the Student Representative Council we have proposed that they bring forth ideas and we give them opportunities.“If we are not student-centred we might as well close the University and go home, we don’t want to create a burden for the government of today, if we don’t train our students we are condemning them”.

For his part SRC President at the University Mpho Molokwane said the VC is doing a commendable job. “We have been a victim of people’s incompetence. As the SRC we are glad those days are over under the new leadership of Professor Norris.“As the Student community we have always lacked this kind of leadership, this is what should have been happening over the years. At the moment we are knocking at the doors of every challenge and we are attacking, for the first we have a progressive VC.”

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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



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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