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Bruce Nkgakile dumps BDP

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Three weeks ago, controversial Bruce Nkgakile revealed in an interview with The Midweek Sun that come rain or shine, he would stand for parliamentary elections in Mogoditshane. It was a curious revelation then, as it was already known that his political home, the Botswana Democratic Party, had already identified Tshepang Mabaila to represent them at parliamentary level for the 2019 general election. He however stated in an unequivocal tone then, that he could be standing under the ticket of the Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC).

Yesterday, on the occasion of his party leader Ian Khama’s 65th birthday, the BDP received a letter from him dated February 26, which contained a one-sentence line declaring his resignation from the party. “I hereby notify your office of my termination of my membership with the above mentioned organisation; Yours; Bruce Leonard Nkgakile; Mogoditshane Constituency,” the letter read. There was neither an attempt to state reasons, but Bruce has been public saying the BDP was no longer the party he knew when he joined, adding that he no longer believed in some of the policies of the party. He said upon his resignation that he had decided it was time he stopped associating with things he did not believe in.

He further asserted that he was ready for anything that would come his way as a result of jumping ship. The controversial figure that he is, he has made his mark in politics, business and has been implicated in a few money scandals. Most recently, he was reportedly kicked out of the Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) Youth executive committee following an accusation of “theft.” In his recent interview with this publication, Nkgakile revealed he had plans to stand in Mogoditshane in the upcoming general election. “I will stand, even if it is under the UDC ticket. If they approach me, I will go on board,” he insisted then. His politics, he said, was not about the stomach or ideology but about serving people.

“I love doing my bit for my community. I won’t be standing out of hunger but a genuine desire to serve people,” he said then. With the Alliance for Progressives already represented by Sedirwa Kgoroba, and the BDP by Mabaila, it is not surprising that he has chosen to stand under the UDC ticket. Prior to the defection of Kgoroba, the BMD were the custodians of the constituency under the UDC, and although he could not confirm it, it is widely believed he will join the BMD so that they field him as their candidate under the UDC. There had been talk before of the UDC giving the constituency to the BCP to field Tumiso Rakgare, but BMD President Sidney Pilane came out clear to say no such thing was going to happen.

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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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