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Teachers headed for good times

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They say new brooms sweep clean. And hopefully, the new minister at Basic Education Bagalatia Arone may be destined to change the fortunes of thousands of the country’s teaching cadres. That is if words were deeds! Arone, a trained teacher by profession who says like Botswana’s second president, the late Sir Ketumile Masire, he is “seconded to politics,” and will go back to teaching, made a bold statement last week at Kgale Hill Junior Secondary in Gaborone that had teachers cheering and whistling in apparent joy. The occasion was the ground breaking ceremony to mark the construction of a special education unit at the school, courtesy of a US$ 77, 488 (P849, 187) grant contract under Japan’s grant scheme – Grant Assistance for Grassroots Human Security Projects. Speaking at the auspicious occasion graced by Japan’s Ambassador to Botswana Kozo Takeda and deputy permanent secretary at Basic Education including the school’s headmaster Solomon Setswe and PTA chairman Maramba, minister Arone promised teachers that he was working tirelessly to ensure that they get time to rest when schools close. He said he could never understand why teachers don’t go for holidays but are kept in schools when they should be resting and meeting their parents. Under the current dispensation in which teachers are bundled with all other civil servants under the Public Service Act, teachers are required to fill leave days when schools close.

When they were regulated by the Teaching Service Management Act, which has since been tossed into the dustbin, teachers had rest days when schools closed. But ever since the advent of the Public Service Act, teachers have suffered under a heavy yoke. The met result of these working conditions in which teachers are required to supervise students’ extracurricular activities including travelling with them for sports activities, has been poor and dismal academic results every year. Minister Arone said he is going to present his proposals for teachers’ holidays to Cabinet for discussion and possible approval and pleaded with teachers to do “what is within your right” as he assured them of “all support you need” to make the education system a success. Arone said he had already spoken to teachers’ unions about this issue. He also made a revelation that he was President of the Student Representative Council (SRC) at College from the first year until he finished. He said he was thrust into politics by his colleagues that he trained with at College, one of whom is a teacher at Kgale Hill JSS. Arone said he is ready to change teachers’ work conditions provided they do their bit.

“This is the only country that we have, it’s a gift from God and our parents, we must commit to serving our country,” he said. He said the country’s president – Mokgweetsi Masisi – is a teacher as well as the vice president, Slumber Tsogwane and that he too is a teacher responsible for teachers’ welfare, hence there is hope they can set this country on the right path. Speaking at the same occasion, His Excellency Ambassador Takeda said the special education unit being built by local contractor, Singa Joiners and Shop Fitters, is the 51st project among a total of 52 projects that the embassy has assisted under the grant scheme in Botswana since 1997. For his part school headmaster, Setswe promised that school management would adhere to the terms and conditions set under the grant contract as well as committed to finish the construction of the classroom block on September 10, 2018 and within budget. The special education unit will house some 68 special needs students.

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‘My life is a living hell’

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A Zimbabwean double amputee, Gift Ncube who received a lot of public sympathy after a farmer, Keitumetse Khunou shot him in 2013 over a payment dispute thereafter losing both arms, says that his life is a living hell.

This is because his former employer, Khonuo has not honoured terms of agreement to compensate him for his lost arms. As of September 2017, the two through their lawyers agreed on an out of court settlement in which Khonou undertook to give him 20 goats and eight heads of cattle to start a new life. Khunou, through his lawyers K. Sekgabo Attorneys further proposed to transfer his rights and title in respect of his only residential house consisting of a two-bedroom house, main house with two rooms, toilet bath and a kitchen situated at Radisele.

They also agreed that they were going to pay, Ncube a sum of P100 000, which was proposed to be paid on or before the end of May 2018. However, Ncube through his lawyers, Chibanda Makgelemele & Co said May was far and proposed end of February 2018, which was accepted.

At one point, the parties agreed to pay P125 000 from the initial P130 000 demanded by Ncube, but Khunou’s lawyers said he could pay him P22 000 per month commencing December 1, 2017.
Narrating his story, Ncube cut a frustrated figure. “I now knock on people’s doors, asking for money to buy food. This is not who I am and who I had thought I’d be at any point in my life. This man has destroyed my life and I’m finding it hard to accept that I don’t have my hands,” he said.

He stated that Khunou’s lawyers had told him that their client was not cooperative. “They even told me to seek the assistance of the media,” he said, adding that life is hard as he has a three year old daughter to look after.

As of May 7, 2018, the parties went to the High Court where there was also another settlement made regarding compensation. Khunou signed to give Ncube his plot in Radisele, with its two houses. The agreement was that should he fail to procure transfer of the property to Ncube through the Landboard, then he shall within six months of failure to procure transfer cause it to be sold at a price to be agreed by both parties and the proceeds shall be paid to Ncube.

The agreement also entailed eight cows and 20 goats, and P130 000 payment in installments of P5 470 per month commencing March 31, 2018 until May 1, 2020. The court papers have the certificate of Customary Court Grant, which is yet to be given to Ncube.

The shooting incident happened at Khunou’s ploughing field at Diphateng lands near Radisele where he had temporarily engaged Ncube to de-bush his field.Meanwhile, Ncube said he has opened an account with a local bank where he wanted to save money for Myo-electric prosthesis. Quotations from Gaborone Private Hospital show that he needs P172 500 to get it done. The system consists of wrist insert, wrist/elbow unit, functional hand, prosthetic glove, cable above elbow, harness above elbow and prosthetic sheath.

Khunou’s lawyer Kgololesego Segabo confirmed that there was a settlement agreed that was signed between his client and Ncube. “What is left is for my client to act on the agreement. He is in the process of mobilising resources to honour the agreement,” he said.

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G-west community reunion-walk a resounding success

Keletso Thobega

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Multitudes turned up for the Mosengwaketsi community walk and braai session this past Saturday in Gaborone West. The walk was held in the morning and was preceded by football games and a braai session that went on until late in the evening.

According to the event director Tshenolo Palai, the aim of the community day event was to revive community spirit and address crime and social ills. “The Mosengwaketsi community reunion will be held not only to create a platform to build unity but also address the social ill of passion killings,” he said.

Palai said that they had also invited health stakeholders for a wellness segment because they had realised that there are many health related conditions that affect the quality of people’s lives hence they had joined forces with religious organisations, the business community, neighbourhood outreach policing and other stakeholders in the area to encourage a culture of unity and create dialogue between all the parties.

He noted that they had wanted to create a relaxed environment conducive for different people to engage and strengthen their networks. He said they were also concerned with the high rate of crimes of passion in Botswana and also wanted to create a platform for both men and women to open up on issues that affect them because most people tend to be more relaxed in a social setting.

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