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.
Dr Pelonomi Venson-Moitoi has refuted claims that she is under the radar of the Financial Intelligence Agency. Dr Venson-Moitoi who pulled out of the Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) presidential race at the eleventh hour, was last week reported to have had her accounts frozen because she was being investigated by FIA.
It was alleged that the freezing of the accounts would have a negative bearing on her campaign as she could not access her funds. Responding to enquiries on the issue during a media briefing in Kang Village, Dr Venson-Moitoi said the allegations were far from the truth.
According to the former cabinet minister, all her accounts were clean and she was accessing her funds without any challenge. “The person who was saying all those things was lying. My accounts are clean as we speak. I was never confronted by FIA or anyone. As far as I know I am not under any investigations,” she said.
Linked to that, it had emerged that Dr Venson-Moitoi’s campaign was being funded from outside the country especially by the some rich families in South Africa. Reports then suggested that her source of funding was blocked through the intervention of FIA, and that even her accounts were frozen. She dismissed the reports as propaganda that was perhaps spread to soil her campaign.
“I am clean. This is why I am never mentioned in missing funds from National Petroleum Fund or those of Capital Management Botswana,” said the Serowe South Member of Parliament. Last month Dr Venson-Moitoi had reported to the Directorate of Intelligence and Security (DIS) Director General Peter Magosi that she was not happy that she is being followed around the country by security agents.
Magosi dismissed the claims on grounds that his organisation is not the only one that uses private motor vehicles.
ARRESTED FOR RECKLESS DRIVING
Simba Mooketsi Mampori, 31, of Mbalambi allegedly killed his girlfriend in Bontleng, Gaborone and used her blood to scribble a message on the wall.
The message read, ‘Ke lapisitswe ke maaka’- translated to mean ‘I am tired of lies.’ Matlhogonolo Moshashu’s body was found inside his sister’s rented house in Bontleng.Mampori and Moshashu, 34, had a two year-old child together. Mampori allegedly killed her in March 31 by stabbing her with a screw driver, which was found inside the house. In an interview with The Midweek Sun this week, Otilia Kholiya, one of the tenants in the yard, said that she arrived on that fateful Sunday to find a yellow tape surrounding the yard with the police all over the place.
She said that she was the one who helped with cleaning. “He used her blood and wrote ‘Ke lapile ke maaka.’ I washed all the blood in the house by myself. Although police officers suspect that he used the screw driver they found in the house to kill her, I beg to differ. “That blood was just too much, it must have been something bigger,” she said, adding that they found a new dress that the deceased was going to wear to Mampori’s sister’s baby shower.
Another tenant Nicah Mandefu said that the house belonged to Mampori’s sister and that she rarely slept there and preferred her parents’place in Gaborone. She stated that she saw Mampori with his girlfriend arrive on Saturday around 4pm. “I don’t know him much because the house belongs to his sister. He probably just needed it for the weekend to spend time with his girlfriend who was staying and working outside Gaborone.
“They just greeted me and another tenant as we were sitting in front of our house. They stayed for 30 minutes and left. They would come again around 7pm,” she said. Mandefu said it was the first time she saw the deceased.
Mandefu said that Mampori’s sister arrived on Sunday around 9am, found her house locked and asked about his whereabouts. “She then told me that the lady he was with was actually his girlfriend and mother of his child,” she said. After some time, the sister returned to tell them that she received a report to say Mampori was found in Mmankgodi where he had tried to hang himself on a tree after killing Mashashu.
Upon failing to kill himself, he drove off recklessly at high speed, thus catching the attention of the police who stopped and charged him with reckless driving. “The police then noticed that he was not well as he had bruises from trying to kill himself. He could not even speak to the police but wrote down his mother’s phone number and gave them the keys to the sister’s house.
“They then took him to Thamaga Primary Hospital to be attended for his wounds on the neck, and later the police called his family and finally drove together to Bontleng where they found his girlfriend dead inside the sister’s house,” the neighbour tenant narrated to The Midweek Sun.
According to Botswana Police Service Deputy Public Relations Senior Superintendent Near Bagali, Mampori is also linked to another murder that occurred on 26 March in Gaborone in which a 39-year old woman from Molepolole was found with stab wounds.
At the time of his arrest, Mampori was awaiting trial for two murder cases committed in Mahalapye and Gaborone in 2016 and 2017 respectively. The deceased were his girlfriends. He was arraigned before Extension 2 Magistrate Court last Wednesday. He is incarcerated and expected back in court on April 17.
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