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Gaborone youth rap MYSC, CEDA

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Gaborone based youth have singled out the turnaround time for funding of their projects and the lack of attention to the Arts by the Ministry of Youth, Sport and Culture (MYSC) as the main hindrances they face. This emerged during an interactive session between the MYSC minister, Thapelo Olopeng and Gaborone based youth at the National Youth Centre in Gaborone. Senwelo Mere, a tailor who specialises in curtain making, complained that her application for funding has never been responded to.

Mere revealed that she started her small business through self-funding. She also said that has since lost four employees due to the lack of financial support. She pleaded with the minister to fast track the turnaround time for responses so that they are kept in the loop on their application progress.
In response Olopeng stated that the turnaround time in processing applications is the main concern that he is tackling. He concurred that if indeed a business has shut down due to the lengthy turnaround time then the ministry would have failed the applicant.

The minister emphasized that in the case of re-financing for previously funded businesses or projects they will be partnering with Citizen Entrepreneurial Development Agency (CEDA). However, one young upcoming entrepreneur was quick to express his hesitancy regarding CEDA. “CEDA is for people born with silver spoons in their mouths, I am really disappointed that what they preach at their open day events is not what is happening on the ground. They do not mention the issue of their outrageous demands in regards to security when they tell Batswana about their products and services,” complained Benny Masoro.

Olopeng stated that he will invite the CEDA Chief Executive Officer, Thabo Thamane to his upcoming sessions with the youth so they engage him with their concerns. A popular local DJ Tshephang Izzy Motsisi also added his displeasure at the turnaround time in regards to his application.
Motsisi is an approved Botswana Qualifications Authority (BQA) holder. He is also a general Arts teacher who aims to expand his craft beyond the classroom. Olopeng responded to Motsisi by explaining that Arts are a vital aspect when developing the economy and assured the youth that he is working on having them fully recognised.

The minister highlighted that they plan to establish a second television channel to support BTV, adding that the channel will be affiliated to DSTV to give local artists more international exposure. The minister reminded the youth to brace themselves for the Economic Stimulus Package. “I urge all of you to be ready for the ESP because I want the youth to be at the forefront.

We will first focus on small projects that will require local manpower. You should take advantage of this opportunity and not be left at the rear,” advised Olopeng. Olopeng concluded that the long-term strategy is to translate the local arts into recognized and respected professions to enable artists to make a living by generating income and creating employment. Moving forward, the minster intends to push for funding of ICT programs so the youth can attain and access more interactive platforms.  

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BATTLE FOR MMADIKOLO

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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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