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HYPOCRITE DOMI MPs

Keikantse Lesemela

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Parliament has approved the motion to repeal the Electoral Amendment Bill, which was passed in 2016 to introduce the use of electronic voting machines in Botswana and abolish supplementary voter registration.

In August last year, the Office of The President issued a statement that since the Electoral (Amendment) Act of 2016 is not in operation, the 2019 elections will be conducted in accordance with the Electoral Act [Cap. 02:09], which does not provide for the use of Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs,) nor prohibits supplementary registration. Presenting the Bill on Thursday, Member of Parliament for Ramotswa Samuel Rantuana said position of the law as introduced by the electoral amendment of 2016 is undesirable and should not be allowed.

“In fact there is a real danger that if we as parliament do not take this necessary step to remove this law, the executive can easily and lawfully really sneak up on us and commence this law without giving parliament the opportunity to revisit it,” said Rantuana. He said there are no compelling reasons why Botswana with its small population must resort to electronic gadgets to run elections especially that there is a common feeling and understanding across the political divide that this piece of legislation is not good for democracy of the country.

“It is not possible for the public or individual voters to check the trustworthiness of the software installed in each machine. My criticism of this machine is the danger associated with possible manipulation. “Lately even the Germany who actually are very advanced in terms of technology have in fact abolished the use of electronic voting machines,” said Rantuana.

President Dr Mokgwetsi Masisi said the government supports this motion but for entirely different reasons as stated by MP Rantuana for the sake of transparency and democracy.  “We as the government, including but sometimes led by the opposition, badly wanted the EVMs. But what is lacking from our colleagues from the opposition is honesty and transparency. “There is nothing wrong with changing your mind but let it be for true reasons. The opposition was the chief marketer of these machines,” said Dr Masisi.

He said the machines have been used reliably and successfully and Botswana could have been the first to use the machines but the plan changed after several meetings and concerns with the opposition parties. “We bolted on the way and Namibia took it upon themselves and the efficiencies were addressed including speed and accuracy. Any issue to do with literacy was addressed, this is a customized machine,” he said.

Alliance for Progressives (AP) Vice President, Wynter Mmolotsi said most MPs in the ruling party are dishonest because they agreed with the decision to use the EVMs and now they are all reversing it. “I want the President to see and understand that his MPs can be hypocrites. I do not want to see this situation whereby we make laws simply because we want to please the leader not considering the interests of the citizens,” said Mmolotsi.

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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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