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INSIDE PANDOR’S BOX

Keletso Thobega

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EYEING VICTORY: Shaffie Pandor is hopeful he will become victorious and become Lobatse MP

The Botswana Meat Commission (BMC) is deliberately being “driven to the ground” through privatisation to render it easy prey for some BDP “fatcats” and their cronies.

This is the contention of Shaffie Pandor, the Alliance for Progressives’ parliamentary candidate for Lobatse. He replaced Walter Sebate, who pulled out of the race two months ago to focus on a business project.  Pandor told The Midweek Sun that now that BMC was being privatised, there was need to audit the institution first. “BMC has a lot of land so if it is privatised where does this land go?” he asked before offering an opinion.

“We know that one of the reasons BMC was driven to the ground is because some “fatcats” including some BDP members and their cronies were eyeing the lucrative vast land owned by the company,” he said. Although BMC’s spokesperson Brian Dioka had not responded to our questions at press time, the beef parastatal has insisted in past comments that the company’s restructuring was motivated by market demands rather than politics. BDP’s secretary general Mpho Balopi was not immediately available Tuesday at press time either. Pandor, who is unfazed by his late campaign trail, said that he could not refuse when his comrades asked him to step in.

He is working closely with seven youthful AP council candidates.
Lobatse is one of the highly contested constituencies in the country. Former MP Nehemiah Modubule is fighting to regain his seat under the Botswana Movement for Democracy ticket.
Orapeleng Kakoma of UDC is promising fresh leadership, while Kamal Jacobs who lost the BDP primaries has resurfaced as an independent who curiously was recently launched by Botswana Patriotic Front patron Ian Khama.

It is a nail-biting race and the tallied results will have many on the edge of their seats when they are finally announced. But Pandor is confident that AP has what it takes to turn around Lobatse which has now been branded a “ghost town.” Economic revitalisation, he said, was vital and the fact that Lobatse is the oldest town in Botswana carries rich historical heritage which could be tapped into to create tourism returns. He also pointed out that shortage of water is a big and urgent problem in the town. He warned President Mokgweetsi Masisi not to touch the funds allocated to NS2 Master Water Project in Lobatse. “In the unfortunate event that Masisi takes power, he should not consider touching that money because it was set aside to improve water in Lobatse,” he said.

He added that many people in Lobatse still lived below the poverty line to the extent that many households still cannot afford to connect power in their homes. The 44-year-old is no political novice. He sits on the AP central committee. His political roots can be traced to Botswana Movement for Democracy (BMD).  He dumped the party in 2016 following the Bobonong fiasco. He said he decided to join the AP because it upholds values that resonate with his political ethics. Pandor comes from a political family. His mother is a councillor for BDP in Phitshane Molopo while his father is political activist and BNF stalwart Hussein Pandor, known as “Matlhola-adibona,” a popular call-in listener to local radio stations.

His father was close to the late Kenneth Koma. His late grandfather, Soleiman Pandor, was a business and political activist with close ties to South Africa’s ruling African National Congress (ANC).
He passed away in the 1970s after failing to get medical assistance in SA because he was on the apartheid government’s list of prohibited immigrants. Pandor joked that in his family they have “planted politics in their backyard.” Despite being from different political camps, Pandor said they have learned to appreciate that they are individuals with different ideologies.

He learnt political tolerance from a young age as he lived with his uncle, the late Isho Abdul, who at one point was Member of Parliament for Lobatse. “From that young age I saw different politicians visiting our family such as the late Michael Tshipinare, Quett Masire and Khama among others. “Although my political ideologies changed as I grew older, that principle of political tolerance stuck with me,” he said.

Pandor was born in Kanye but raised in Lobatse and completed his schooling at Gaborone Secondary School. He did his Tirelo Sechaba in Sua Pan during which he fell in love with tourism and worked in the Delta for many years but his love for politics remained.
He has served as treasurer for BMD South East region and was once interim treasurer for BMD in Tlokweng.

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Youth lament slow pace towards ICPD commitments

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Young people representing Botswana at the International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD25) in Nairobi, Kenya last week have expressed disappointment at the slow pace at which governments are moving towards achieving ICPD25 ideals.

Trevor Oahile, a youth advocate and student at the University of Botswana participated at the Nairobi Summit to highlight on Sexual Reproductive Health and Rights (SRHR) of men and boys.
Oahile hosts a radio show sponsored by the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), Don’t Get It Twisted on Yarona FM. The show deals with issues that affect boys and men. Oahile participated in a panel discussion at the Summit on the involvement of men and boys in accelerating the ICPD promise.

He is of the view that countries needs to work together to end violence that is perpetuated by harmful gender norms that are antagonistic to progress towards the ideals of the ICPD agenda. “Botswana government and private sector are still challenged to invest a lot of money into implementing their commitments,” Oahile said, adding that Comprehensive Sexual Education on the other hand has to be rolled out to every school in the country.

“We also acknowledge that it is important to avoid stereotypes that impact decisions that people make. Men and boys often avoid certain services because they are known to be for girls and women,” Oahile said. Millicent Sethaile was at the Summit as a youth ambassador from an organisation called Her Voice, which funds and offers grants to smaller organisations that advocate for SRHR in communities. In her view the summit was significant because it was an opportunity for countries including Botswana to make commitments to fulfill the unfinished business of the ICPD made 25 years ago.

“What struck me the most is that I realised that Botswana has a long way to go to achieve the commitments she set for herself.”Sethaile also observed that the four commitments including to strengthen access to family planning, the reduction of maternal deaths, reduction of Gender Based Violence, provision of quality, timely and disaggregated data are activities that were already in the pipeline and have been discussed before. “I believe we now have to come up with actionable items that we can work on so that we can effectively deal with current challenges.”
For 18 year old University student Michelle Simon, the Nairobi Summit was a reality check, an opportunity to reflect and map the way forward.

“I realised that there are so many challenges, especially in Africa concerning SRHR,” Simon said. She also realised that Botswana has a lot of catching up to do to implement the commitments of the ICPD. “I also realised that issues including youth in power were left out.” Botho Mahlunge on the other hand comes back from the Summit with a conclusion that there are a lot of predicaments that young people find themseles in across the African continent including GBV and teenage pregnancy.

Programmes need to be intensified to ensure implementation. Mahlunge is also of the view that there is minimum youth engagement on issues that affet them the most. “Young people are tired of always convening about the same issues. It’s time to see the outcomes of Summits and Conferences,” Mahlunge said. She advised the youth to also be willing to engage when the oppotunity avails itself and to take up programmes that have been set to help them. Mahlunge said that failure to educate our young people on sexuality “is the reason so many girls are getting pregnant and infected with HIV.”

She said the continued exclusion of young people in rural areas from sexual and reproductive health and rights discussion is also to blame for the prevailing state of affairs. “Young people in rural areas are completely vulnerable. They are so far removed from the little information and services available to young people in urban areas,” Mahlunge observed.

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Safe communities for our women and girls – Moalosi

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Gender Based Violence (GBV) has been identified as one of the critical issues that impede women, girls and men from fully enjoying their human rights and unleashing their potential. Delivering his State of the National Address (SONA) on Monday, President Dr Mokgweetsi Masisi said government is concerned about the rising statistics of those affected.

The National Relationship Study of 2018 revealed that 37 percent of women and 21 percent of men have suffered some form of violence in their lifetime, which occurred within Intimate Partner Relationships.

To address this problem, President Masisi says government will intensify the implementation of the National Strategy Towards Ending GBV. The Strategy focuses on the comprehensive care and support of GBV survivors; the Prevention of new GBV incidences; Strengthening national capacity to address GBV; Improving efficiency and effectiveness of the coordination and management of the national GBV response; and Strategic information and knowledge management on GBV.

Just last week, Botswana Non-Governmental Organisations represented at the Nairobi Summit on ICPD25, committed to ensuring that all is done to end GBV.CEO of Botswana Gender Based Violence Prevention and Support Centre, Lorato Moalosi who was presenting on behalf of Botswana NGOs said having reflected on the International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD) agenda since 1994 and on what has changed on Sexual GBV, they are equally disturbed by increasing levels of SGBV in Botswana communities.

Her desire is to empower communities to come up with their own solutions to end SGBV. Moalosi told participants at the Summit that NGOs in Botswana commit to contracting and ensuring robust community engagement, including starting indigenous and disability movements on SGBV to galvanise and mobilise communities to prevent and respond to SGBV. Their plan is to also develop sustained gender transformative programmes that mainstream HIV and GBV, as well as to expand reach and coverage of services and create community safe spaces for the hard to reach, as well as improve services in urban areas.

“We commit to utilising social contracting and ensure NGOs lead in the prevention of SGBV and in the response to ending SGBV at community level,” Moalosi said, adding that they also commit to mainstreaming gender equality conversations and break the silence on SGBV.

“We can no longer hold back. Our communities have to be safe for our women and girls,” she said. The Nairobi Summit on ICPD25 that concluded hursday last week in the Kenyan capital, Nairobi represents a renewed, re-energised vision and community working together to act and deliver.

“Together, we will make the next ten years a decade of action and results for women and girls, keeping their rights and choices at the centre of everything we do,” said UNFPA Executive Director Dr. Natalia Kanem.

Denmark’s Special Envoy for the ICPD25, Ambassador Ib Petersen said there will be no ICPD50 because women and girls around the world have waited long enough to have rights and choices.

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