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The Dalai Lama no show: Who is fooling who?

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There is more than meets the eye in the way His Holiness Dalai Lama cancelled his controversial trip to Botswana – allegedly due to ill health. Contrary to the official version from Dalai Lama’s private office, The Midweek Sun can reveal that miles away from this country, the Tibetan spiritual leader is continuing to honour his tight schedule. Not only does this evoke many questions, but speculation as well.

Among these are whether there was double booking, or was the Dalai Lama’s change of heart influenced by the small number of tickets that were bought for his event. Only 100 people are said to have bought the tickets. While Dalai Lama’s followers bought tickets with the hope of physically meeting him, they had a shock of their lives on Saturday when a public statement from his private office allegedly sent to both President Lt. Gen. Dr Ian Khama and the Mind & Life Dialogue – organisers of the event – advised that he would no longer make the trip due to exhaustion.

But surprisingly, on Monday August 14, 2017 two days before he was set to arrive in Botswana in a trip that was vehemently opposed by the Chinese government, Dalai Lama, who looked healthy, took to the podium to deliver the inaugural address at the launch of the Tata Institute of Social Sciences (TISS) course on Secular Ethics at the TISS Convention Centre in Mumbai, India. The previous day, he had addressed the Interfaith Dialogue in Mumbai, Maharashla, India at the National Sports Council of India Dome in an address that lasted for 34 minutes.

At TISS, he spoke for close to an hour before taking his seat to continue with taking questions on secular ethics from the floor. In between the two parts of his address, he received different types of appreciation tokens. Throughout the address by organisers and other speakers, Dalai Lama kept on tapping his hand on the seat, when he took to the podium, he was just his usual jolly self, cracking jokes and laughing. In his usual trade mark style, he took his time sufficiently answering all the questions from his audience.

In his cancellation message, Lama says: “I was very much looking forward to coming to Africa again and visiting your country. I was especially interested in taking part in discussions of Ubuntu, which I feel reflects my fundamental belief that we are all interdependent and need to conduct ourselves with a sense of universal responsibility. “Despite my absence, I am urging the conference organisers to continue with their plans, to hold valuable discussion and publish the results.” Examining African values and healing practices in light of new scientific research on social connection and trauma, the Mind & Life Dialogue in Botswana explores the potential of Botho/Ubuntu as a framework for healing the legacy and trauma of wars and colonialism, and advancing social justice and women’s equality.

The last minute cancellation has no doubt hit hard on personnel and organisations that were involved in organising his trip as they either had to cancel some events or offer refunds for those that had bought tickets. Mind & Life Dialogue noted that the conference will continue as planned, but stated that instructions for refunds will be provided directly to ticket holders by the email address that was used to register. Speaking to this publication, Donald Molosi BlueBlack Productions, who had arranged a private concert by veteran South African musician, Vusi Mahlasela for the 100 people who bought the tickets, said the concert has been cancelled and Mahlasela will just render a musical piece during the conference.Playing along Mahlasela was going to be local stars Tomeletso Sereetsi, Punah Gabasiane and Kabo Leburu. On why Dalai Lama is still continuing with his schedule while he is reported to have been asked to rest for health reasons, a statement issued by Ngodup Dorjee, a representative of Dalai Lama for Africa ,states that His Holiness the Dalai Lama had to cancel visiting Gaborone, Botswana for the Mind & Life conference as in the past few weeks, he has found himself unusually tired in carrying out his activities and felt a strong need to take rest. “His physicians have also advised him to avoid undertaking long journeys for the next few weeks, however, it was agreed that he would finish his current programme in Mumbai, India and then return to Dharamsala for rest and recuperation.” In what is a blow to those who had hoped to at least hear from other prominent speakers, Graca Machel has also dropped out of being part of the Mind & Life conference. There was no official announcement from the organisers at the time of going to press. But on Monday night, Machel was removed from the official website.

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BRING IT ON Ignatius Moswaane ready to serve Francistown West again

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READY TO LEAD AGAIN: Francistown West MP Ignatius Moswaane

Ignatius Moswaane is a former Francistown City Mayor and he served as Monarch Councillor until he took over the reigns as Francistown West constituency in 2014. The constituency had been in the hands of the late Tshelang Masisi before Moswaane took over.

Now the outspoken MP is ready to defend it.
He lists the construction of an additional secondary school at Gerald Estate, the undertaking of a P36 million streetlights project and construction of a road network at Monarch among some of his achievements both as Councillor and later MP.

“The peripheral servicing of the planned Central Business District (CBD) at Gerald Estate has been completed.  “Over and above that we have used the P10 million community development money from government to build houses, some of which we are renting out to public servants.“We have divided the constituency into three (3) clusters and each will have a multi-purpose recreational hall,” said the Botswana Democratic (BDP) Member of Parliament (MP).

He added that Gerald Estates and Phase 6 in Monarch will soon have a local center each owned by the VDC which will lease the shopping area to business. Moswaane initiated Monarch Development Centre to help the youth access government economic projects by, among other things, doing business plans for them for free. His next phase is to push for industrialisation of Francistown by using local resources. “Besides, Francistown must become an industrial hub for the region where, instead of SADC countries going all the way to Johannesburg and Durban to collect their cargo, the cargo is brought to the Francistown airport from their source be it Asia, or where ever by plane for the owner to collect the cargo here.

Our airport is under-utilised at the moment,” he noted. Another way of creating employment is for government to increase its efforts of using ISPAAD to help small scale farmers next to Francistown to grow fruits and vegetables to the extent that we do not import anything. Moswaane regrets government’s slow pace on allocating plots at Gerald Estates. “Since 2012 some 2500 plots have been serviced yet a lot of people from as far back as 1990s are on the waiting list because government is yet to allocate the plots.

The Minister had promised that the process would commence in December last year but nothing has thus far happened. If elected, I will follow up on the matter,” pledged the MP. He is also of the view that more resources should be invested in Nyangabgwe to make it a health facility of choice. “It should be turned into a state of the art hospital where special medical care is provided to attract even people from outside the country. The residents of Francistown need a district hospital,” he observed.

If he returns to parliament, Moswaane will move that the Youth Development Fund (YDF) be increased from P120million to P1billion and the Gender Economic Empowerment Fund from P50 million to P1 billion as well. Moswaane believes the country should build more technical colleges and brigades to carter for the thousands of students who leave school every year without the necessary grade needed as the entry threshold to tertiary schools.

In 2014, Moswane garnered 5304 votes against second-placed Habaudi Hobona of the Botswana Congress Party (BCP) who was voted in by 3461 voters. UDC was represented by Shatiso Tambula who managed a paltry 950 votes. This year Moswaane will have to fend off competition from Dira Moalosi of the Alliance for Progressives (AP) and Mbaakanyi Lenyatso of the UDC.

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FREE AT LAST: LGBTI persons celebrate

Yvonne Mooka

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CELEBRATION TIME: The LGBT community celebrated the historic ruling on same sex romance this Tuesday

Thapelo Matshameko, a transgender woman who last year was attacked at Trekkers night club in Gaborone is over the moon about the High Court ruling that overturned a law that criminalised same sex relations.

A trans-woman is a woman who was assigned male at birth. In response to the ruling, she told The Midweek Sun that even though she has had it tough before with people calling her ‘Brazen’ and to stop behaving like a woman, she is now happy that the law recognises that they exist. She said that Batswana are now becoming tolerant towards Lesbians Gays Bisexual Transgender and Intersex persons.

“Recently I went out for dinner with my bae, and I came all the way from my house wearing a dress. People that know me loved it and my boyfriend loved it even more,” she says, adding that the verdict will also help other LGBTI persons that are in the closet to come out.

In a previous interview Metshameko pleaded for assistance from members of the public to help her do a surgery that would make her a complete woman. For Motswakgakala Sithole also known as Motswafere in music circles, the ruling shows that Botswana is one step closer to gay marriages.

“Thank you to all the visible gay people. We take punches for those hiding and those shaming us for being visible and exercising our rights. You guys attended court cases with pride and you have carried us to freedom,” he said.

He also thanked Lesbians, Gays and Bisexuals of Botswana (LEGABIBO), lawyers in the case, the media, and friends of the LGBTI community for their support. Phio Kenosi who identifies as trans non-binary asexual woma-romantic, (romantically attracted to the feminine essence), was also ecstatic.

“It is obviously showing that we are moving in a new direction that is positive and inclusive towards sexual and gender minority,” he said.

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