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Modubule rules out fresh congress

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Even before the National Executive Committee (NEC) of the Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) makes a determination on the leadership crisis at the Botswana Movement for Democracy (BMD), the Sidney Pilane-led executive committee of the party is adamant that there will NEVER be another congress.

The national chairman of the Sidney Pilane-led faction of BMD Nehemiah Modubule stated this in an interview with The Midweek Sun on the backdrop of a meeting by the UDC in Francistown this past weekend. Modubule said he was aware that the UDC leadership met in Francistown and discussed the BMD split with a view to reconciling the two factions.

Modubule added that he is also aware that the rival faction led by Ndaba Gaolathe wants a fresh congress while his Pilane-led group never made a formal request to the UDC for intervention. “After the congress, we introduced the new committee to the UDC but never approached the coalition for any help. I understand the other group did that by way of a letter to the UDC. They did this because they know they are not a committee. “Because of the sense of insecurity consuming them, they are running all over the place screaming for help.

I must make this clear: there will be no fresh congress. We held a legal congress at Matshekge in Bobonong. Another one is out of the question. The matter is not negotiable,” said Modubule. He added that the UDC never sought their views before the meeting. “To me, the fact that they did not meet us before deliberating on our affairs is not a problem.

I hear they are preparing to meet us anyway,” he said. Secretary General of the Gaolathe-led BMD, Phenyo Butale told this publication that, he wrote a letter on behalf of his faction inviting the UDC to intervene in the impasse. “Our position is that there should be a fresh congress organised and run by the UDC. In the letter we wrote to the UDC, we asked them to recommend this to the other faction as a way forward,” said Butale who added that he was confident that the UDC would adjudicate fairly if allowed by the other faction to get involved.

When addressing a press conference after the NEC meeting, UDC president Duma Boko, who had been roasted for inaction with respect to the divisions within the BMD even before the split, said that the time was now ripe for the UDC to intervene. “This matter has reached an inflection point,” he said, noting that the UDC is concerned about the state of the BMD. “This is because the UDC is about opposition unity and nothing else.

This is the animating concern and it means that if any unhealthy situation occurs in any of the constituent members of the collective, we get concerned. UDC is now in charge of the matter,” said Boko. This marked a clear departure from his previous position on the matter, saying that he had confidence in the ability of the BMD to resolve its problems using its processes and protocols. The UDC leader refused to share the decision of the UDC NEC regarding the BMD because the principal stakeholders, which are the two BMD factions, need to be formally informed before anybody else.

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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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