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Masisi accused of dividing opposition parties along tribal lines

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Opposition parties have accused President Mokgweetsi Masisi of divisive tendencies that they believe are teetering on the brink of splitting them along tribal lines.

The accusations leveled against the president, come at a time when all parties are preparing for their respective congresses where central committees will be elected.

According to a source, Masisi wants only members from the southern part of the country to take charge of political parties.

“His target is Alliance for Progressives where he does not want its Vice President, Wynter Mmolotsi while at the Botswana National Front he doesn’t want its president, Duma Boko.”

It is said that Masisi already has influence at Botswana Congress Party (BCP) where some of his associates within the opposition party who had announced that they were not going to defend their central committee positions have since reneged.

In an interview with The Voice, BNF’s Spokesperson, Justin Hunyepa confirmed being aware of Masisi’s alleged dirty tactics.

“We have heard allegations of Masisi recruiting some of the BNF members and we are not surprised. He has already done so at BCP, BMD and recently at AP. He has also succeeded to recruit from trade unions and the worst thing is that public funds through DIS are being used to recruit these members who are unfortunately deep in poverty traps.”

Hunyepa explained that in some instances, lucrative positions are created but never advertised by the BDP government to buy the members of opposition parties.

He pointed out that some public institutions are also used by giving opposition members loans for recruitment purposes.

“It is on record that the talk of North-South division came with the BDP government under Masisi and if Batswana are not careful, the BDP will succeed in polarizing the nation.”

Hunyepa said that to make matters worse, the BDP sponsored the narrative further after elections by claiming that people from the Southern part of the country voted for BDP, despite what he called ‘massive evidence’ that BDP rigged the elections.

He said the ruling party was “lucky that the judges refused to listen to this matter of national interest under frivolous reasons”.

“The BNF calls upon all Batswana to defeat this dangerous BDP game of North-South.”

He said that the strategy of dividing members of different parties will backfire in no time when a party in government will have to deal with a divided nation that cannot pull together.

“The BDP may be enjoying this divisive game for now. Some spineless characters are given money and jobs to divide the opposition, we are watching them,” he said.

AP’s Secretary General, Dr Phenyo Butale, agreed with Hunyepa’s sentiments. “To be very honest, there is no way we can stop his recruitment drive. But I can assure you that the AP leadership is united and resolute. He must forget about his tactics.”

Butale said his party may lose members like any party, but added that they have full confidence in their leadership and majority of their members.”

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ATN advocates for tobacco ban

A call to stop the sales to tobacco products during the state of public emergency to save lives from COVID-19: Anti Tobacco Network, Botswana

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The Anti Tobacco Network Botswana (ATN, Botswana) recognizes that tobacco use is an immediate threat to  the control of COVID-19 spread, and calls on Government to stop the sales to tobacco products during the state of public emergency to save lives.

We note  and commend the Government for approving a regulation prohibiting the importation into Botswana of tobacco or tobacco-related products during the state of public emergency.

This action is indeed a testament of the cardinal recognition by the Government and confirmation to the whole nation  that tobacco and tobacco related products such as  e-cigarettes, hubbly bubbly, (Shisha), vapes are non-essential commodities and that tobacco is a non-essential business that cannot be allowed to continue during the state of public emergency. 

ATN Botswana however, urges the Government  as a matter of urgency to issue further regulation to suspend all  sale of tobacco and tobacco related products during the  COVID-19 pandemic period.

Such a ban will reduce easy access to tobacco products and therefore save lives of many people.

People who smoke or use other tobacco products should be assisted to quit in our health facilities.

Our urgent call to ban the sale of tobacco products during this time of public emergency is informed by scientific evidence that smoking damages human lungs and other body organs.

Smoking also destroys the immune system hence weakening a smoker’s responsiveness to infections.

As COVID -19 is primarily a disease affecting the respiratory system, smokers are therefore more vulnerable to developing severe COVID-19 which may result in prolonged hospitalization under life support machines in intensive care units (ICU) or death. Persons with long standing chronic non-communicable diseases (NCDs) are also susceptible to severe COVID -19.

There is compelling evidence from previous studies that smokers are twice more likely than non-smokers to contract influenza and have more severe symptoms.

While smokers were also noted to have higher mortality in the previous Middle East respiratory syndrome-related coronavirus (MERS-CoV) outbreak, emerging data from patients hospitalized with severe  COVID-19 show higher percentages of current and former smokers among patients that have needed ICU support, mechanical ventilation or those that have died.

The findings show that a higher percentage of smokers are among the severe cases.

We argue that tobacco products are not essential commodities and their sales must therefore be banned.

Allowing tobacco sales will expose smokers to COVID-19 who will repeatedly be going to the shops to purchase tobacco products.

In addition, Government should completely ban the sale and use of the hubbly Bubbly (Shisha) which is usually smoked in groups using shared mouth pieces that are a channel for transmission of COVID -19 and other respiratory diseases including tuberculosis.

During such smoking sessions, it is practically impossible to maintain social distance to avoid transmission of COVID -19 as well.

It must be remembered that the sharing of tobacco products by its users pose the danger of  spreading COVID-19 through contaminated saliva.

Several countries in Africa including Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, Rwanda, Gambia have banned sale of use of shisha.

Recently, 17 countries in the Eastern Mediterranean region have banned hubbly Bubbly (Shisha) as a measure to control spread of COVID -19.

South Africa banned the sale of tobacco products during its 21-day lockdown.

Botswana can join these countries, to further solidify its stance that tobacco is not an essential commodity and preventing its use can save lives.

We further call on the Government  to strictly enforce the provisions of section 13 of the Control of Smoking Act which bans the advertisement of tobacco products by the tobacco industry. 

ATN Botswana has noted with concern that recently, there has been an upsurge in advertisement, especially banners posted by irresponsible companies or individuals that boldly advertise and promote tobacco products in the face of COVID-19 and in full disregard of existing law prohibition of advertising and promotion of tobacco products in Botswana.

Such adverts even inviting  people to smoke shops when the Government of Botswana is urging people to keep physical distance, will negatively affect the effort to fight COVID-19 and also defeat other efforts by government to reduce tobacco use which is a known leading risk factor for non-communicable diseases (NCDs).

By Professor Bontle Mbongwe, Executive Director, Anti Tobacco Network

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Francistown’s peaceful night

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On the first day of the 28 days of extreme social distancing, the city of Francistown has experienced one of the most peaceful nights in a long time.

Officer Commanding Number 15 District Senior Superintendent Kabo Badirwang told The Voice in an interview that despite a few isolated incidents the night went on with no worries.

The top cop said stopping the sale of alcohol two weeks ago was a stroke of genius that will go a long way in the combat against Covid-19.

Badirwang said they were worried last night as at around 10pm, they could still see long queues at Automated Teller Machines and some quick shops.
“We announced at around 11:30 that people should be getting ready to go home and what we saw was absolute cooperation. By 12 midnight, the streets were quiet. It was an absolute pleasure to see,” Badirwang said.

He said in an isolated incident they came across three ladies who arrived on a late bus at the Francistown bus rank. “They were heading to areas around Somerset, but as you know there was no public transport. They however finally managed to get a lift and were allowed to proceed to their destination.”

Badirwang said even troublesome locations such as Coloured and Bluetown were very quite at night. “People in Francistown have headed the message and this in turn make our task easy,” he added.

He however noted that while the Francistown nights go on peacefully, it is during the day that they experience challenges with people who still feel they have a right to walk wherever they want.
“We do receive reports of people who are not observing the health tips and social distancing. Those will be dealt with. I’m hopeful that in the coming days, people will understand what this is all about,” he said.

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