Archive for August 3rd, 2007

source: allAfrica
Mmegi/The Reporter (Gaborone)

2 August 2007
Posted to the web 3 August 2007

Monkagedi Gaotlhobogwe

The Botswana Telecommunications Authority (BTA) is set to lose unspecified millions of Pula in refunds after cellular phone operator Orange successfully challenged the regulator’s tariffs in court.

And the BTA’s earnings from cellular phone companies are bound to take a dip after Orange successfully appealed against tariffs that the regulator has been levying on operators since 2002, when the cellular phone business began in Botswana.

Orange successfully argued that it was unlawful for the BTA to charge the cellular phone operator tax on money earned from scratch cards and to charge a tax on free airtime the cellular company occasionally awards its customers.

The ruling by the High Court of Appeal now means the BTA will no longer receive tax from the sale of scratch cards and free airtime offered by the mobile operators to their customers. An official at Orange’s legal department told Mmegi yesterday that the operator will be claiming back over P 1 million per year that Orange has paid to the BTA in taxes from sales of scratch cards and airtime given as a freebie over the years.

Said the official, who did not want to be named: ” It is over P1million a year. It is a lot of money because we will be claiming from 2002 when we started paying the tax.”

The official said their rival, Mascom, would similarly [continue reading]

source: allAfrica
Mmegi/The Reporter (Gaborone)

2 August 2007
Posted to the web 3 August 2007

Keto Segwai

The commission on the review of public service salaries and conditions of service kicked off public hearings here on Monday. The Group A team that is chaired by attorney and UB lecturer, Michael Mothobi, is comprised of former governor of Bank of Botswana, Quill Hermans, Bulgasa representative, Kabo Kote, and Pearl Matome of the Department of Public Service Management (DPSM) and Major General Geoff Thokwane.

Former Clerk of the National Assembly, Alpheus Matlhaku heads the group’s secretariat, whose other member is Rapula Okaile.

In its briefing the commission noted that “the public service continues to experience difficulty in attracting, motivating and retaining local personnel with essential skills and value adding competencies at various levels’.

The commission further acknowledges that “for grades below FO, the public service continues to pay between 20 and 30% below market.

The overall aim of the commission is to “review public service salaries and conditions of service in order to make the public service on employer of choice”.

Perhaps Keiponye Tlhage of the Botswana Public Employee Union (BOPEU) aptly summed up the civil servants’ expectations when he noted that “whanever a commission is set, it raises our hopes”.

He however decried the situation whereby the outcome of such commissions are disregarded as happened with the second university. That is tantamount to waste of public funds. The Tshabong submissions were drawn from the [continue reading]

source: News24
03/08/2007 18:03 – (SA)

Johannesburg – Taxpayers will be able to file their tax returns online by Monday, the SA Revenue Service (SARS) said on Friday.

Commissioner Pravin Gordhan told reporters in Johannesburg that the new electronic filing system would enable taxpayers to have their assessments done easier and faster.

The e-filing system would also make it possible for SARS to refund taxpayers more quickly.

Gordhan said the new system, which would cost R40m, came with a security feature which made it difficult for people to manipulate it.

Its total cost included expansion of infrastructure to areas far from town and cities, and training of staff.

None of the 10 000 people employed at SARS would lose their jobs because of the new system.

He said taxpayers need not submit any supporting documents with their tax returns this year, but should keep them safe for five years in case of queries.

“What is needed is to [continue reading]

source: BOPA
03 August, 2007

GABORONE – Access to information about where to find businesses or their services across Botswana has been made easy thanks to Prodott Holdings The company has launched a Short Message Service (SMS) based directory enquiry service dubbed “Locate Easy”, which offers users access to company information The listing service is accessible across both networks Orange and Mascom to anyone with a cell phone, anywhere in the country where there is signal. It also allows businesses to advertise directly to people with specific needs.

Mr Goodwill Molapisi,the managing director of Prodott Holdings, said in an interview that to obtain information from Locate Easy one had to send an SMS with the name of the company they wish to access, to code 15050.

Thereafter, the sender would receive an SMS in response detailing, the companys name, contact person, telephone lines, address and location, email address, websites, and the services rendered by the company.

He said this directory service was unique in that it provided location-specific results to an unparalleled number of potential customers, which was more than a million cell phone subscribers across both the Mascom and Orange networks.

Mr Molapisi said the 24-hour, easy to use service costs P100 per entity per month and [continue reading]

source: allAfrica
BuaNews (Tshwane)

3 August 2007
Posted to the web 3 August 2007

Vivian Warby
Cape Town

The pace of finding lasting solutions to environmental problems could be increased by making information and knowledge readily accessible to a multitude of people.

Deputy Minister of Environmental Affairs and Tourism, Ms Rejoice Mabudafhasi said only when knowledge was much more freely available and generally embraced, could “our collective efforts drive us closer to achieving lasting solutions”.

Speaking at the official launch of the Environmental Resources Centre (ERC) at Cape Peninsula University of Technology (CPUT), the Deputy Minister said: “It is open secret that our planet Earth faces unprecedented environmental challenges from unsustainable use of resources by mankind.

“The threats that global climate change brings is on the news every day. Never before in our lifetimes, or over the last number of millennia, have we experienced the precarious situation that we are in now.”

The minister explained that there are many ecological disasters looming such as [continue reading]

source: Engineering News

By: Terence Creamer
Published: 3 Aug 07 – 0:00

Africa’s leading power utility, which is planning to nearly double its installed base of generation capacity to 77 960 MW by 2025, has confirmed that nuclear energy will constitute about half of those additional megawatts. But Eskom CEO Jacob Maroga tells Engineering News that the State enterprise is also keeping close tabs on generation prospects in the Southern African region, which he believes could be supportive of its aspirations to spread risk, decrease pressure on limited in-house financial and technical resources, as well as in diversifying its primary-energy mix.

The utility has taken a strategic decision not to rely on imports for more than its ‘optimal’ reserve margin of 15% – its reserve margin is likely to remain in the 8% to 10% band until new base-load capacity is added from 2011 through to 2013. Nevertheless, 15% of nearly 80 000 MW is material, standing at almost 12 000 MW, and could unlock a number of regional projects that potentially require offtake agreements with Eskom to proceed to financial closure.

Maroga reports that it is engaged in serious power- purchase agreement (PPA) negotiations with the initiators of the $9-billion Mmamabula coal mine and power station project, in Botswana, and that a deal could be struck within months.

The project, which is being pursued by [continue reading]

source: BOPA
03 August, 2007

KASANE – The vacancy rate in the public service is way above the desirable two per cent set by the cabinet.

The principal public relations officer at the Department of Public Service Management (DPSM) Mr Matlapeng Kgotlele says the current vacancy rate is between eight and 12 per cent which translates into a total of over 1 000 vacancies across all government ministries and departments.

He said there are about 283 vacancies at C scale, 664 at D scale, 100 at E scale, nine at L scale and 25 at F scale.

Mr Kgotele said most of the vacant posts at the C1 scale are at the Ministry of Health. The ministries of education, state president, and works and transport have the most vacancies at the D scale. Mr Kgotele said the nine vacancies at the L scale are for consultants.

The international best practice rate is also set at two per cent, and Mr Kgotele admitted that the current vacancy rate is very high.

He said some ministries fail to attract suitable candidates, but that [continue reading]

source: BOPA
03 August, 2007

PARLIAMENT – Law makers on Wednesday took almost an hour deciding whether to debate the draft National Information and Communications Technology (ICT) Policy or the draft National Forestry Policy.

The Order Paper for Wednesday showed that Minister Pelonomi Venson-Moitoi was to present the ICT draft policy to be followed by Minister Kitso Mokaila with the forestry draft policy.

But when the Speaker, Mr Patrick Balopi, called Mrs Venson-Moitoi to the floor, Gaborone West South legislator, Mr Robert Molefhabangwe, stood on a point of procedure and said to his knowledge, Mr Mokaila was supposed to present first.

The speaker concured and informed the House that changes were made in the line up because Mr Mokaila was to have travelled abroad on the day he was to table the policy. Thus they had to adjust the programme.

Now that Mr Mokaila was in the House, some members felt he should present but Mrs Venson-Moitoi, with support from other legislators, said she had to take the floor first.

Mahalapye East MP, Ms Botlogile Tshireletso, said lawmakers had known since Monday that Mrs Venson-Moitoi was to take the floor first.

Tonota South MP, Mr Pono Moatlhodi, also said the Order Paper must be followed. Also supporting [continue reading]

source: BOPA
03 August, 2007

PARLIAMENT – Minister of Communications, Science and Technology, Mrs Pelonomi Venson-Moitoi, has asked Parliament to adopt the draft National Information and Communications Technology (ICT) policy.

Presenting the draft, Mrs Venson-Moitoi said the technology could be used to meet Botswanas economic diversification plans.

The policy focuses on seven key areas that are expected “to deliver the level of impact required to transform our society and economy,” she said.

The main objective of the Community Access and Development theme, would be to provide communities with ICT connectivity, enabling people to have relevant information and access to global markets.

As for e-government, she said, it would provide service directly to the public, improve productivity, efficiency and effectiveness in the public sector.

Mrs Venson-Moitoi said electronic learning (thuto net) would facilitate the provision of universal access to education through on line learning.

The electronic healthcare (e-health) theme is aimed at providing health information systems for telemedicine, holding of patients records and providing health information and other services on line.

The e-commerce initiative, she said, has the potential to create significant employment growth and provide an important diversification strategy.

The minister said the primary thrust of this focus area is extended use of the operations of the International Financial Services and to support growth of the Business Process out sourcing sector. This would result in a software development industry that would encourage innovation.

Regarding the infrastructure theme, Mrs Venson-Moitoi, said the focus was to develop state of the art ICT infrastructure to support e-commerce and transformation of Botswana into an e society.

She also mentioned e-legislation which provides for [continue reading]

source: BOPA

August 03 2007 at 10:12AM

Bhavna Sookha, Solly Maphumulo, Botho Molosankwe and Bonile Ngqiyaza

To fill up or not to fill up? That is the question on all motorists’ lips.

With several petrol stations reporting that their pumps have run dry – as a result of the current industrial action in the petroleum sector – motorists were queueing up to fill up their cars – just in case.

Fuel Retailers Association (FRA) says motorists should fill up while the Automobile Association (AA)says they should only if they really need to.

Peter Morgan, chief executive of the FRA, said this morning that the situation at petrol pumps was dire. He said the association’s initial request was for people not to panic but “buying patterns had changed” and the situation had reached a stage where he advised people to rather fill up.

“People rather fill up this week so that they have fuel for the weekend and for next week. There is going to be nationwide chaos next week if the strike is not resolved,” he said.

The effects of the strike, he said, was [continue reading]

source: BOPA
03 August, 2007

GABORONE – Biggie is back by popular demand and come Sunday, Batswana will be glued to their screens to find out who is the local candidate in the reality show.

Big Brother Africa II promises to be bigger, better and more captivating than the initial show which saw Botswanas Warona Setshwaelo holding her own against formidable opposition from the continent.

Multichoice Botswanas Public Relations Officer Tshepo Maphanyane has declined to reveal the identity of the local contestant.

“Come Sunday as all will be revealed, we do not even know if the person is male or female, and we are also dying to see that person,” was all she could say. However, the rumour making rounds indicate that the sole local candidate is a man.

The 12 contestants will stay in Biggies house for 98 days and will be on air on DStvs channel 37, 102 and 103.

Maphanyane said the 12 housemates have been chosen from Angola, Botswana, Ghana, Kenya, Malawi, Namibia, Nigeria, South Africa, Tanzania, Uganda, Zambia and Zimbabwe.

After 98 days in isolation, one of them will win [continue reading]

source: BOPA
03 August, 2007

MOCHUDI – The Chief Executive Officer of the Local Enterprise Authority (LEA), Dr Tebogo Matome, is expected to officially open the Kgatleng Agricultural Show on Saturday.

The chairperson of the show committee, Mr Phagane Tladi, said it would be held under the theme “A Diversified and Sustainable Economic Development: A Key to Globalisation.” Mr Tladi said his committee was not expecting a large number of exhibitors of crops because they have been affected by drought in the district.

He, however, said the committee expected a satisfactory number of livestock exhibitors as more farmers are feeding their livestock because of the drought.

He also said the drought could not be used as an excuse to postpone the show, as various organisations and government departments were expected to exhibit their products and services.

Mr Tladi appealed to [continue reading]

source: allAfrica
UN News Service (New York)

2 August 2007
Posted to the web 3 August 2007

The August work programme for the Security Council will focus largely on issues affecting Africa, its President for the month announced today.

Briefing reporters at United Nations Headquarters in New York, Ambassador Pascal Gayama of the Republic of the Congo (ROC) said that the 15-member body will discuss the political aspect of the Darfur crisis next Thursday. That meeting will take place after the Council earlier this week adopted a landmark resolution authorizing the creation of a hybrid African Union (AU)-UN operation to quell the violence in the Sudanese region.

The UN and AU Special Envoys for Darfur, Jan Eliasson and Salim Ahmed Salim, will also host three days of talks in Arusha, Tanzania, beginning tomorrow with those rebel groups and militias that have not signed the Darfur Peace Agreement.

“We expect a lot from that because, as you know, the solution to the Darfur situation is not a military one,” Mr. Gayama said. “It is political.”

Additionally, the Council will take up [continue reading]

source: IOL
August 03 2007 at 08:20AM

By Graeme Hosken and Jacques Breytenbach

The country faces a crippling petrol crisis now that thousands of fuel truck drivers have launched a strike demanding better wages. Pretoria is among the areas already hit.

There were also fuel disruptions in Johannesburg and the Eastern Cape this week when the Chemical, Energy, Paper, Printing, Wood and Allied Workers Union (Ceppwawu) refused to accept a 8,5 percent salary hike from the National Petroleum Employers’ Association (NPEA).

NPEA represents Sasol Synfuels, Natref, BP, Shell, PetroSA, Chevron, Total, Engen and Sapref.

NPEA’s offer of an 8 percent increase backdated from July 1 and an additional 0,5 percent from January 1 2008 “was not good enough”, says Ceppwawu, which is demanding a 9,5 percent increase.

Several Pretoria filling station managers on Thursday said they were rapidly running out of fuel.

On Wednesday, BP Hatfield Gardens, which provides fuel to [continue reading]

source: SW Radio Africa
By Tererai Karimakwenda
02 August, 2007

The growing number of Zimbabweans flooding into South Africa has clearly become a serious problem for the government of President Thabo Mbeki, yet officials there continue to deny there is a problem next door in Zimbabwe. SABC news reported on Thursday that the department of home affairs said “Zimbabweans streaming into South Africa cannot be classified as refugees, as they are not facing persecution in their home country.” The report also said the United Nations High Commission for Refugees agrees with this, saying it is not yet critical. The evidence on the ground shows otherwise.

The news comes on the same day that 300 protestors marched to the office of the Premier of Gauteng Province, to deliver a petition for President Mbeki urging him to reform the government’s policies towards Zimbabwean refugees. Also on Thursday The Cape Times reported that SA Police had called on farmers near the northern border to stop their vigilante campaign against Zimbabweans. A Sky News report in the UK on Wednesday had shown the border farmers hunting down desperate Zimbabweans who are cutting down the farm fences and killing game for food, as they escape hunger and persecution in Zimbabwe. And last week three Zimbabweans were stabbed and injured in Port Elizabeth, in an incident that was attributed to xenophobia.

MP Mark Lowe, the Home Affairs spokesperson for South Africa’s main opposition Democratic Alliance party, said clearly there is a problem but if the government of South Africa admits this then they will be admitting their policy of quiet diplomacy has failed. He added: “And they are obviously not going to do that. So we have this crazy situation where we have thousands of people coming across the border every day and the government saying there is no need to provide facilities for them.” Lowe explained that South Africa’s Home Affairs admitted Thursday that there are a growing number of Zimbabweans crossing over, but they are disputing the numbers. He said the problem has [continue reading]