Archive for April, 2009

source: Mmegi
Staff Writer

The Ministry of Labour and Home Affairs has said it has sacked 18 immigration officers for selling Botswana passports to foreign nationals.

The employees were dismissed after thorough investigations. The ministry’s permanent secretary, Segakweng Tsiane has said that some foreign nationals were arrested when they were found in possession of the stolen Botswana documents. “When they were interrogated, the foreigners revealed that they bought the documents from certain people in the ministry. We are still investigating these cases and I can assure you we will leave no stone unturned,” she said. She added that they are following due process to address the issue.

The ministry spokesperson, Lebogang Bok said that some of the officers were bribed to issue passports, residence permits and to aid illegal immigrants to enter or work in the country. Some were dismissed for failure to comply with financial instructions and [continue reading]

source: The Botswana Gazette
Written by JFG
Wednesday, 29 April 2009

The Bank of Botswana (BoB) has reduced interest rates for the second time in four months to bolster an underperforming economy.
The central bank announced last week that it had decided to reduce the bank rate by one percent, from 14 percent to 13 percent. The 100 basis points cut adds to the 150 points worth of reductions since December last year. The interest rate cut also comes at a time when inflation is on a downward trend. In March inflation was steady at 11.7 percent because of food prices which remained high.
BoB has reiterated that it remains committed to responding appropriately to all economic and financial developments to maintain inflation within the medium term objective range, which contributes to long run sustainable economic growth.

A statement from the central bank say: “The constant inflation between February and March 2009 reflects offsetting movements for [continue reading]

source: IOL
April 29 2009 at 10:40AM

The Airports Company of SA (Acsa) is planning to install technology to check the temperatures of passengers arriving from countries affected by swine flu, an official said on Wednesday.

“These thermal image detection systems, we had all along planned on employing them,” said director of operations Bongani Maseko.

He told SABC radio that the recent arrests of flight personnel for drug possession “exacerbated” the decision to deploy the new technology.

Maseko said there were no direct flights to South Africa from the high risk swine flu areas of Mexico and Canada.

“We do plan on installing such technology to detect people with unusual temperatures…

“They would certainly help… to detect people who may be carrying the [continue reading]

BNF to expel members?

source: Mmegi

FRANCISTOWN: Botswana National Front (BNF) is reportedly planning to suspend and expel more than 50 members for supporting an independent candidate during Thamaga West ward by-election. The members are waiting to know their fate following a disciplinary hearing at the weekend.

BNF sources have revealed that a number of activists from Gaborone, Molepolole, Kanye, Lobatse and Thamaga have received letters from the party leadership asking them to show cause why they should not be suspended or expelled from the party.

The BNF members landed in trouble after allegedly backing independent candidate Tona Selala during Thamaga West council by-election in January. Selala was suspended from the BNF after winning the party primaries for the by-election. He stood as an independent and lost to Botswana Democratic Party’s Goitseone Janie by 358 votes to 283.
Meanwhile former BNF Youth League deputy secretary general, Duncan Basenyapelo has said he snubbed [continue reading]

source: SW Radio Africa
By Tichaona Sibanda
29 April 2009

The making of a new constitution is slowly turning into one big fight. That our country needs to revitalise itself is in no doubt, and the fact that it needs a constitutional overhaul is also a well known fact.

But the road to constitutional reform is full of landmines, and more will be planted if threats by the National Constitutional Assembly and the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions are to be taken seriously.

Political analysts fear that if the country does not overhaul its constitution to suit its 21st century needs then the next elections in two years time, especially for the Presidency, will still divide the country.

NCA chairperson Dr Lovemore Madhuku argues that since Independence every modification to the constitution has been selfishly driven by ZANU PF with dire consequences for the general populace, as it has been aimed at consolidating power in [continue reading]

source: The Botswana Gazette
Written by JFG
Wednesday, 29 April 2009

I have in the past written on how education is potentially a politically destabilising force. I want to reiterate this point in light of recent developments at the Ministry of Education and Skills Development. The decision of the ministry to sponsor only students with 40 points and above might have deleterious long-term effects on national security. Although I see government back-tracking on this decision very soon we must nonetheless still comment on it.

Education is a very powerful tool that has been used to build or destroy nations. It is a distributor of life chances. It is, in my view, the most potent tool anyone can use to stratify society. You can use it to build an egalitarian society or a highly stratified one.

By and large, since the 1980s education in this country has been used to build an egalitarian society. This has been made possible by a conscious decision to ensure that no child is [continue reading]

source: allAfrica
AfricaFocus (Washington, DC)
29 April 2009

Washington, DC — “Investments in education and training were signaled in the G20 Communique as a priority to stimulate the economy – and as a key strategy to get out of the global recession. However, these warm words about education were focused on the G20 countries themselves — and most of the children out of school around the world are in low income countries (LICs).” – Global Campaign for Education

With the International Monetary Fund gaining new prominence and new resources following last month G20 summit in London, debate is intensifying on to what extent promises for reform in the institution are illusory. In a report released last week, the Global Campaign for Education looked at the implications for education, concluding that so far policy changes by the Fund in response to the global recession are more cosmetic than substantive.

This AfricaFocus Bulletin contains a press release and excerpts from the [continue reading]

source: allAfrica
UN Integrated Regional Information Networks
29 April 2009

Johannesburg — South Africa, the country with the most resources in Africa, has two suspected cases of swine flu, but does not have adequate supplies of the antiviral drugs known to be effective in treating the rapidly spreading disease that has so far claimed more than 150 lives in Mexico, according to an expert.

“I know for a fact we haven’t stockpiled. If you don’t have a national stockpile, that’s it – you’re not going to get the drugs in time,” said Ed Rybicki, a virologist who teaches at the University of Cape Town.

In the absence of a vaccine for swine flu, antiviral medicines such as oseltamivir (Tamiflu) and zanamivir (Relenza) have been used to treat the disease.

Dr Lucille Blumberg, of the South African National Institute for Communicable Diseases, confirmed on 29 April that two suspected cases of swine flu were being investigated. South Africa is a major transit hub for the continent and a destination of [continue reading]

source: Mmegi
Staff Writer

The high administrative costs of local commercial banks have been highlighted as one of the major detrimental factors that will hinder the introduction of the proposed broad-based occupational pension scheme for Botswana.
Various speakers at a workshop on developing the pension scheme organised by the Ministry of Labour and Home Affairs spoke of the need for administrative costs to be reduced for it to benefit the poor.

“Most employees in Botswana earn under the minimum wage”, economist Dr Keith Jefferis said. “We will have to find innovative ways for the scheme to benefit low income earners.”
In their recommendations, the workshop participants suggested for the government to engage and subsidise financial parastatals like the Botswana Savings Bank (BSB) and BotswanaPost to provide banking for the scheme.

Even though the administrative costs would initially go down if [continue reading]

BMC Makes Profit

source: The Botswana Gazette
Written by JFG
Thursday, 30 April 2009

Higher prices in the European Union (EU) markets due to import bans on South American products have seen Botswana Meat Commission (BMC) record handsome profits during the financial year ended December 2008.

As a result of the good returns from beef sales, BMC had a turnover of P687 million and made an operating profit of P84.2 million before tax.
However, the commission says it will not pay out any bonuses to farmers.According to the financial results for the year ended 31 December 2008, the P84.2 million before tax compares well to the P17 million profit achieved on a turnover of P750 million in 2007.
The commission has raked in a surplus of P25 million after tax and committed P31 million to statutory appropriations from its operating profits. In the past tax was remitted by government.

BMC’s Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Motshodi Raborokgwe has said the commission will not pay out any [continue reading]

source: SW Radio Africa
By Violet Gonda
29 April 2009

The three principals in the unity government, Robert Mugabe, Morgan Tsvangirai and Arthur Mutambara, have met five times recently to discuss the controversies surrounding the implementation of the Global Political Agreement, but they have still failed to come up with a solution. Observers say this ‘dilly-dallying’ has been part of ZANU PF’s strategy to wear the MDC down while not addressing the fundamental issues.

However, it has emerged that Robert Mugabe has agreed to swear into office MDC Deputy Minister of Agriculture appointee Roy Bennett, but only after the former commercial farmer has been acquitted of the charges hanging over his head. Bennett was arrested in February and spent a month in prison, charged with ‘conspiring to acquire arms with a view to disrupting essential services’. Although he is out on bail his trial has yet to start and could drag on for a long time.

MDC insists he is innocent until proven guilty.

Mugabe argues that Bennett is facing serious ‘terrorism’ charges, and that he is only prepared to swear-in the MDC official after his case has been finalised by the courts. Most analysts agree that these are [continue reading]

source: Mmegi
Staff Writer

The annual inflation rate is likely fall within the Bank of Botswana (BoB) medium to long-term target of between 3-6 percent by the third quarter of the year, economist Keith Jefferis has said.

In the first quarter economic review of BIFM, Jefferis who is chairman of the financial institution’s investment committee said that the annual inflation rate will go down because the consumer price index is expected to continue falling steadily throughout the year. He said the inflation level will fall below six percent – the upper end of central bank’s target – by August.

He predicted that the figure will remain around the 5-6 percent level for the remainder of the year.When oil prices were spiralling last year and driving up inflationary pressure, the central bank abandoned short term inflation targeting and adopted a medium to long-term objective of 3-6 percent. Last month the annual inflation rate stagnated after a five-month decrease. The annual inflation rate remained [continue reading]

source: allAfrica (Washington, DC)
Cheryl Pellerin
27 April 2009

Outbreaks of a new strain of influenza virus that began in north-central Mexico March 22 and have spread to the United States, Canada and Spain so far have prompted the World Health Organization (WHO) to declare the event a public health emergency of international concern.

Mexican authorities have reported up to 1,600 influenza cases and more than 100 influenza deaths. Twenty six of the deaths have been confirmed as caused by the new H1N1 swine flu virus, WHO spokesman Gregory Hartl said in an April 27 briefing.

The number of U.S. cases has risen to 40, and on April 26 the United States declared a public health emergency, which “allows us to free up federal, state and local agencies and their resources for prevention and mitigation,” Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano said. Flu cases in the United States so far have been mild.

“We do not yet have a complete picture of the epidemiology or the risks,” WHO Director-General Dr. Margaret Chan said at an April 25 briefing, including possible spread beyond the [continue reading]

source: Mmegi
Staff Writer

Driven mainly by a conducive environment and infrastructure set up by government, Botswana’s Information, Technology and Communications (ICT) sector continues to develop although at a slower pace than expected, an economist said yesterday.

Dr Phumzile Thobokwe of the Botswana National Productivity Centre (BNPC) told an ICT seminar in Gaborone that the private sector is not doing enough to help the country to develop into a knowledge-based society with an industry that thrives on ICT advancement.

Presenting a paper on the Global Information Technology (GIT) report, Thobokwe said that this year, Botswana has moved one place up to position 77 out of 134 countries on Networked Readiness Index.

She said that although Botswana had a slight improvement, there is still [continue reading]

source: SW Radio Africa
By Violet Gonda
28 April 2009

Finance Minister Tendai Biti was expected to leave the US on Tuesday evening, following a fundraising trip to try and get immediate financial rescue packages from the US government, the International Monetary fund (IMF) and the World Bank.

It is understood that although there was no sign of an immediate bail out by the institutions, the IMF has agreed to set up a multi donor trust fund to be run by itself, the United Nations Development Program, the World Bank and the African Development Bank. It’s reported the money will be used ‘for budgetary support until the inclusive government has a track record’.

Massive corruption and the bad financial policies of the Reserve Bank Governor Gideon Gono have meant that the Zimbabwean government has no economic credibility. It is understood that this trust fund will be used as a stop gap measure, until such a time as the government can be trusted by the international funding institutions. The funds will be sent direct to Tendai Biti’s Ministry of Finance and will completely bypass the Reserve Bank.

The news comes after the IMF’s Africa Department Director, Antoinette Sayeh, said that the actions taken [continue reading]