Archive for August 6th, 2008

source: BOPA
04 August, 2008

GABORONE – The ITEX conference served to strengthen Botswanas information and Communication (ICT) and close the digital divide in the country,the Minister of Communications, Science and Technology Mrs Pelonomi Venson-Moitoi, said.

Officially opening the first ITEX ICT Conference in Gaborone last week, Mrs Venson-Moitoi said the digital gap was an obstacle to development.

Mrs Venson-Moitoi added that government recognised that the public private cooperation to overcome the digital divide was crucial to the building of an information society.

She described the exhibition as a step that would add momentum to government efforts to close the digital divide in Botswana.

She said the government was committed to an ICT supported development agenda, as evidenced by the swift steps taken in adopting the national ICT policy, the cyber crime law and other supporting ICT related policies. Mrs Venson-Moitoi said the government, for 20 years, has been committed to electronic government (e- government).

“We just did not give it that name 20 years ago,” she explained. “For the past 15 years, many government activities had been computerized to bring efficiency.” She said the government believed that digital and the web lifestyle would give it an opportunity to reinvent itself around constituents.

The electronic initiatives contemplated by the government, she said, would bring Botswana into [continue reading]

source: IOL
August 06 2008 at 09:40AM

By Staff Reporters and Sapa

There were few taxis or buses operating in Joburg on Wednesday morning as drivers heeded the Cosatu call to stay away from work.

Workers in major cities around the country were expected to take to the streets by 10am in a protest against rising prices of food, fuel and electricity.

Early this morning, groups of workers were seen walking to work in the dark, many people trying to hitch lifts to the city. A few people waited in much shorter queues for transport to the city.

The usually busy Gandhi Square bus terminus was deserted with two Putco buses waiting to ferry workers to Pretoria for the march. Bara and Bree taxi ranks in Soweto and Joburg were empty.

Metrorail city manager Tony Games said trains would be [continue reading]

source: BOPA
05 August, 2008

GABORONE – Members of Parliament have asked media stakeholders to thoroughly consult on the Media Practitioners Bill and come up with convincing reasons for the rejection of some of the proposed laws provisos.

They said during a breakfast meeting convened by the Botswana Chapter of the Media Institute of Southern Africa (MISA) in Gaborone yesterday that their arguments against some of the clauses in the bill were insufficient to persuade Parliament to amend them.

The MPs, who included Mr Duke Lefhoko of Shoshong, the Specially Elected MP, Mr Botsalo Ntuane, Mr Moiseraele Goya of Palapye and Mr Keletso Rakhudu of Gaborone North argued that the stakeholders could have identified the clauses they disagreed with.

Consequently, the legislators requested the media stakeholders to write down the proposed amendments to guide the MPs in informing Parliament of the areas that the concerned parties had difficulties with.

The media stakeholders, who included MISA and the Press Council of Botswana, concurred with MPs, saying they would present their [continue reading]

source: Daily Monitor

Owino Wene

With its powerful neighbour, South Africa treading carefully on the Zimbabwe crisis, Botswana’s new president Ian Khama has shown very little regard for Zimbabwe’s Robert Mugabe and the southern Africa old boys’ club of presidents, writes Owino Wene, a Daily Monitor correspondent in Gaborone.

Dismissed as an upstart in African diplomacy and regional power politics for long, Botswana has suddenly emerged as the most vocal and concerted voice in the continent against the Zimbabwe crisis.
The diamond-rich southern African country now rivals South Africa and Zambia as the focal points of southern African diplomacy. Through straight talk and bold pre-emptive actions, Botswana has won the diplomatic initiative on Zimbabwe and emerged as an important player in the region, thanks to the new administration of President Ian Khama who took over in April.

As the rest of Africa wrings its hands at every turn on how to handle the unfolding crisis in Zimbabwe, previously less regarded Botswana has provided leadership by being very clear and proactive on [continue reading]

source: Mmegi
Staff Writer

The promoters of the Mmamantswe Integrated Coal and Power Project have received interest from global independent power producers (IPPs) to jointly fulfil an Expression of Interest (EOIs) invitation from South Africa’s Eskom for the supply of power totalling 2100 MW.

The company says in a statement that following the submission of expressions of interest to supply 1000MW to Eskom, it is now expecting short-listed companies to be asked to avail qualification documents during the third quarter.

“Aviva has received interest from global IPPs to join the qualification process for the Mmamantswe project and is in discussions with one of these parties to jointly submit a qualification document,” reads the statement, which is addressed to the Australian Stock Exchange (ASX).

“In the interim, the company is advancing all requisite activities for [continue reading]

source: Engineering News
By: Liezel Hill
Published: 5 Aug 08 – 15:36

Toronto- and Botswana Stock Exchange-listed CIC Energy, which plans to build a coal mine and power station at its Mmamabula project in Botswana, has unveiled the next step in its ambitious plans for the coal field, with an option agreement for a licence on technology from fuel heavyweight Royal Dutch Shell.

CIC Energy also published positive results on Tuesday from feasibility studies into a proposed coal-to-hydrocarbons (CTH) project at the Mmamabula coal field, which it hopes to have in commercial operation by 2014.

The plan is to convert coal from Mmamabula into fuels and petrochemicals by first gasifying the coal.

After studying various alternatives, an independent study identified [continue reading]

source: Standay Standard
05.08.2008 8:38:29 A

Next time you blow your horn in a fit of road rage at the motorist ahead, look carefully because it might be President Ian Khama behind the steering wheel, and he does not suffer road hogs gladly. In fact, “he hates impatient drivers” says his right hand man, Isaac Kgosi.

The career soldier turned state president will not slouch into the State House sedentary routine. Whenever the mood strikes, he jumps behind the steering wheel of his Range Rover and drives himself around town. On other days, when fair weather permits, he would take out his bicycle for a hard slog. But there is a hard road ahead.

Some members of the public are already complaining that it would be a national embarrassment if a car driven by the state president were to be involved in a road accident.

Isaac Kgosi, the man who insures the safety and security of the state president, however, says the president “should not be like he is in prison”.
Speaking to Sunday Standard, Kgosi, who is the director of DITS, said there is no law that says the president should not drive a motor vehicle or ride a bicycle.

He confirmed that the President normally drives himself around, adding that he also likes riding a bicycle as part of exercise and [continue reading]

source: Mmegi
Staff Writer

Media practitioners have distanced themselves from the Minister of Communications, Science and Technology, Pelonomi Venson-Moitoi’s claims that they themselves called for the Media Practitioners Bill.

During a consultative meeting with Members of Parliament (MPs) at the Gaborone Sun on Monday, Pamela Dube, of The Voice weekly asserted that the government was in fact imposing the Bill on the media and the nation at large.

Dube said a task force with representation from the Media Institute of Southern Africa (MISA), the Press Council of Botswana, the Editors’ Forum, the Botswana Confederation of Commerce, Industry and Manpower (BOCCIM) and Government was established in 2003 to solicit views on the instantly notorious Mass Media Bill.

“Consultation was done in four major villages, namely, Masunga, Maun, Tsabong and Molepolole,” Dube said. “The consensus of the public was that the country needed no such law.”

The government disregarded these views and pressed forward with [continue reading]

source: SW Radio Africa
By Violet Gonda
5 August 2008

Activists are extremely uneasy about the media blackout and the rumours that are surfacing concerning the talks between the Zimbabwean political parties.

The public and media are having difficulties penetrating the web of secrecy and many people are concerned that the future of the country is being carved out by a few politicians, leaving Zimbabweans with nothing to rely on but rumour.

Journalist Tanonoka Joseph Whande asks in an article this week: “But why? Look what’s happening now. Look at the confusion! And I, whose life and future is being debated, can only wait anxiously to know if I have been thrown to the crocodiles, or whether I remain in the same pool with a cautioned and warned croc. And what, may I ask, will I do, if I find out after they have signed more agreements, shook hands and toasted each other, that my life and future have been made worse?”

Arnold Tsunga from the Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights says: “Exclusion of CSOs (civil society) and the wider society in the mediation process, gives the impression that the problem in Zimbabwe is between Zanu (PF) and the MDC. It ignores the fact that the crisis is one of governance and therefore an issue for [continue reading]

source: Standay Standard
by Bashi Letsididi
05.08.2008 8:26:37 A

Despite the fact that its national economy has been helplessly slumped against the ropes for years, Zimbabwe remains one of Botswana’s major trading partners.

Except for South Africa, Botswana does more trade with her troubled neighbour to the north than she does with any other African country. Additionally, the Botswana-Zimbabwe trade volumes are higher than those for most European countries like France.

The latest figures released by the Central Statistics Office (CSO) show that in March this year when Zimbabwe held its presidential elections, it received 5.1 percent of Botswana’s total exports. That was 1.3 percent more than Botswana exported to China. Exports to Zimbabwe were valued at P155.7 million while those received by China were valued at P116.1 million. On the other hand, the combined total of goods exported to France, Germany, Belgium, Greece, Netherlands, Sweden and Portugal came to P71.3 million.

The following month, exports to Zimbabwe were valued at P102.4 million, which represented 4.2 percent of total exports. That was more business than Botswana did with Israel, whose exports were valued at P59.2 million.

Exports to Zimbabwe comprise salt and soda ash, copper/nickel ores and [continue reading]

source: Mmegi
Staff Writer

Buoyed by the property boom in Botswana that has defied the sub-prime crisis in the US, the Botswana Building Society’s (BBS) mortgage advances increased by 14 percent to hit the P1 billion mark, boosting its profit to rise by 20 percent to P69 million.

According to its financial year ending 31 March, BBS profits increased to P69 million compared to P58 million made in the previous year. The Society’s mortgage advances now stand at P1.031 billion, while its total assets stand at P1.5 billion.

BBS continues to deliver sterling results despite its mortgage rates being below the prime rate. The Society has kept its variable interest rates unchanged (15.25 percent) even though the central bank increased the Bank Rate twice in the space of a month recently.

“It is not necessary to always follow suit when the Bank Rate increases,” says BBS Head of Corporate Affairs, Sipho Showa. “We want to offer Batswana affordable mortgage rates.”

The 14-percent increase in mortgage advances is a sign that [continue reading]

source: Standay Standard
by Kagiso Madibana
05.08.2008 8:39:12 A

Long distance commuters face another fare hike because bus operators are unhappy with the rate of increase granted recently.

The increase, which was introduced to the public by the Ministry of Transport on July 28th, stated that long distance buses traveling on bitumen roads will charge 18.58 thebe per kilometer while those traveling on sandy and gravel roads will now cost 20.55 thebe per kilometer effective immediately.

Long distance refers to any distance over 22 kilometers.
As it stands, the price hike is applicable to only those buses traveling 22 kilometers and more.

Tirafalo Mponang, the chairman of the Botswana Bus Association (BBA) said that although this increase is welcome and long overdue, it falls far too short of their expectations as an association.

“The initial agreement was that the new increases would put all buses at a state where the prices would be above 20 thebe per [continue reading]

source: SW Radio Africa
By Lance Guma
05 August 2008

The MDC have requested that South African President Thabo Mbeki hold separate talks with Zimbabwean military junta to see if they will endorse a proposed unity government and it’s set up. Party officials told Newsreel Tuesday that Mbeki will most likely have to engage in talks with members of the Joint Operations Command (JOC) who, under Emerson Mnangagwa, led the wave of political violence that killed over 120 MDC activists and has injured and tortured tens of thousands since the March 29 poll. The grouping of military, police, prison and spy chiefs have vowed never to serve under Tsvangirai, worried a new government will leave them open to prosecution.

MDC negotiators expressed concern that any deal thrashed out might come to nothing if the security chiefs are not brought onboard. With sources saying the MDC might be given the Home Affairs Ministry in a new government analysts have interpreted the alleged bomb blast at Harare Central Police station as a reminder of the power wielded by members of the JOC. Some media outlets speculating on the blast have blamed a faction within Zanu PF led by Mnangagwa, who are said to be unhappy at the concessions being made at the talks. Speculation is rife the attack might have been an attempt to scuttle the talks.

It is against this background that Mbeki will ultimately have to [continue reading]

source: Mmegi
Staff Writer

Members of Parliament (MPs) were yesterday still grappling with the section of the Finance and Audit Act under which they are supposed to debate the Sir Seretse Khama International Airport Upgrading and Expansion Project (Arab Bank for Economic Development in Africa (BADEA)) (Loan Ratification) Bill.

The Bill seeks to ratify an agreement entered into between the Botswana government and Arab Bank for Economic Development in Africa (BADEA), based in Sudan, for the purpose of facilitating the financing, in part, of the upgrading and expansion of Sir Seretse Khama International Airport.

The debate on the loan was adjourned last week when Assistant Minister of Finance and Development Planning, Guma Moyo, could not explain what Section of the Finance and Audit Act was to guide the House on the matter.

MP for Lobatse, Nehemiah Modubule, had then queried the Section of the Act under which they were debating the loan agreement.

Moyo tried to convince Parliament yesterday that it was Section 4 of the Finance and Audit Act that should guide the [continue reading]