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BTO misses rose, kisses thorn

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It would appear that Botswana Tourism Organisation (BTO) has money to splurge on concerts and enriching international artistes at the expense of local talent. The first-ever Baskets and Song concert, initially scheduled for 10 March, that was slated to feature Seal as well as other artistes from Botswana and neighbouring countries has been postponed following alleged contractual disagreements. Indications reaching us are that BTO contravened the contractual agreement with the ‘Kiss by a rose’ hit singer of the 90s, who had already been paid a sum of P3.2million and decided he would not come to Botswana. When contacted for comment, Communications Manager at BTO Keitumetse Setlang refused to be drawn to comment and said they had stated their point at a previous press briefing held last week.

At the briefing, BTO presented the stand that the concert had indeed been postponed and would be held at a later date. They refused to divulge further details indicating that this would contravene their contractual obligations. But this move has rubbed a few local artistes the wrong way. One local artiste who spoke on condition of anonymity, said that BTO claimed to be an organisation that represented local talent but was willing to give a “has been” so much money. “Our local music artistes are struggling but all that money is given to someone who has had one hit.

Who listens to Seal anyways?” But the outspoken rapper Scar did not hide behind a finger. He took to social media and blasted the organisation, writing a status update that read: “HanC makes good music and gets P5000 at an awards ceremony but Seal gets P3.2 million and he is not even coming.” It is not the first time that organisations geared at branding the country and bringing in tourism have come under fire. In 2014, then Brand Botswana, spent P200, 000 on controversial US rapper JaRule (real name Jeffery Atkins), and he was given a diamond on his departure. The organisation argued that the rapper would “market the country to the rest of the world.”

Ironically, during his tour of local mines and sorting facilities, the rapper, who had been booked for a show here, had admitted that he did not know about Botswana and its diamonds, noting that he thought African diamonds came from Sierra Leone. There have not been any tangible returns on this unlikely “investment” in the now ageing rapper.

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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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