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Right candidate for the crown

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Once she was crowned the opinions started to rage. Social media was alight with both negative and positive, but mainly negative comments. The gripe was that she was not black enough or she did not represent the Motswana woman; her critics went as far as wanting her to be substituted with either the first or second princesses.

Difficult as it was, the mature 19-year-old from Mmadinare village did her best to focus on her task at hand and leave the naysayers aside. “People spoke about different issues including the colour of my skin not being dark enough for the crown. I was very sad. My initial thoughts were that I am not being accepted. I had to quickly change my attitude and realise that people will always talk. I will never be the number one for everyone. I chose to focus on thinking that I am the right candidate for the crown.”

The beautiful and friendly Mabengano had to develop a thick skin quite early in life. The bombardment of negativity from her critics only served to make her stronger. She reveals that her mother passed away when she only 14 years, she has since been raised by her aunts and uncles. She also has an older brother who is now 23-years-old.

“There was a time when I was young and my mother was the only thing I had. I then lost her and learnt a lot- most importantly to depend on myself, and not on other people.” Mabengano is aware that everything happens for a reason and has since accepted her loss.

“I have people who have played their role in my life since my mother passed on and I would not be here without them – my aunts and uncles.” On the night she was crowned all her loved ones were there and she is happy she made them proud.

Being genuine and original is something that she prides herself in. “I like to say ‘be original and don’t repeat legacies’. Sometimes when you look at people you see a little bit of Beyonce or Rihanna. You have to be you at all times.” The pretty face has had to suspend her Design Studies until 2017, when her year of reign ends. Her project for the ‘beauty with a purpose theme’ is called, ‘They need us’.

She started the project after a visit to Princess Marina Hospital where she had discussions with social workers who explained that there are abandoned children in the hospital who have no home to go to due to poverty.

“The project ‘They need us’ aims to nurture and protect these children who are underprivileged, sick and abandoned. We want to bridge the gap between social workers and the community. We will aim to give emotional support to the children; play, talk and mobilise resources for them to help with food, clothes and housing. I hope the next beauty queen will also take it over.”  

Despite the backlash after her crowning, Mabengano is adamant that she would have still entered, that she has no regrets. “I have always wanted to be an influential woman and I saw Miss Botswana as providing the first step to this goal. Miss Botswana is actually not about me, it is about what I can do for the people of Botswana. What I will bring to the table.”

Missosology.org, a pageant site also ran with the story of the backlash Miss Botswana received based on the social online commentary by Batswana. In conclusion the article’s writer stated that, ‘Unfortunately, racism though goes both ways. If the European nations are hailed for crowning dark skinned women, why do fair skinned women get bashed in most of the African nations? If we expect that being black should not impede victory, why should being white be fair? But what Botswana should do in the future is to clearly define the criteria so that they can fully justify the winner regardless whether she’s black, white, yellow or green skinned for that matter.

This is the 21st century. Haven’t we learned enough from Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. that we shouldn’t be judged by the colour of our skin but by the content of our character?’

Tshepo Maphanyane, the event organiser says they will continue to host the pageant and to meet all the international requirements set. “I am hesitant to comment about the criticism from Batswana. We have set standards we must meet, based on how Miss World operates. All I can humbly emphasise is that people should seek clarity and information to gain a better understanding before criticising.” Maphanyane explains that they are more motivated than ever to host the next Miss Botswana.

The idea is that the public must be involved with the pageant from the starting phases of the competition, when they skim down the contestants. “We are very ambitious about the next pageant but we need a lot of support from the public, starting with the auditions to the end of the competition.

Everyone should know that they have a role to play because after all this country and this beauty queen representative is ours, together. Whether we win or lose at the Miss World pageant we are in this together.” Maphanyane urges the public to take ownership of the pageant because without the public support the pageant will be not run. “We need the support of the public to run the pageant. Lastly we need financial support we cannot be able to run this project without finances.”

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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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