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Human trafficking still Africa’s billion Dollar industry

The United Nations 2019 Human Trafficking report shows that Africa, especially Sub-Saharan Africa is a global player in this crisis. The report shows that while most African countries how have proper laws in place, some countries do not use these laws and report no investigations and no prosecutions.

One study quoted by the UN report estimated that 357 million children lived in conflicts areas in 2016. Every one of them would have been at risk of exploitation by armed groups or other traffickers. According to the report, Africa is home to armed conflicts, government corruption and extreme poverty. Consequently, many people are living in or seeking to escape these conditions. By trying to get out of the continent to a better place, the report stressed that these people face a high risk of human trafficking. Large, profitable networks of human traffickers often go on uninterrupted because of the disunity between African countries.

There are 9.2 million Africans that are victims of modern slavery as of 2016, accounting for 23 per cent of total global modern slavery, the report said. Africans are vulnerable to forced labor, sexual exploitation and forced marriages. It underlined that human trafficking in Africa is a 13.1 Billion US Dollar industry. Out of this number, 8.9 Billion comes from sexual exploitation, adding that victims of sex trafficking yield 21.8 US Dollars each due to high demand, so even while forced labor has three times more victims, sexual exploitation generates more than double the profits.

Furthermore, no African country completely complies with the Trafficking Victims Protection Act, minimum standards for fighting human trafficking, the report alleged. It designated that twenty-two African countries fall under Tier 2 that acknowledges that significant efforts are being made towards improvement and 19 countries fall under Tier2’s watch list, indicating that not enough progress has been made in the country. Nine countries, eight of which are not considered free, fall under Tier 3, where significant efforts have not yet been made.

UN organization said forty per cent of girls are married before they turn 18, with that number being even higher in some countries such as Nigeria and Chad. Forced marriage is, unfortunately, a cultural norm, leaving girls susceptible to domestic and sexual violence as well as serious health risks. The report further highlighted that these girls are also in the risk of being trafficked. Poverty and a lack of education perpetuate its cultural acceptance, making it harder for police to identify and help victims.

Armed conflicts throughout the continent make children vulnerable to be trafficked and to becoming child soldiers, the UN said. In the Central Africa Republic six thousand children were forced into military. With many African countries sharing this reality, Africa accounts for 40 per cent of all child soldiers in the world. The reckless and easily influenced nature of children makes them easy targets for traffickers, who view them as expendables, the report emphasized.

It further stressed that human trafficking in Africa especially of children and women is facilitated by the cultural climate. With child labor being widely accepted, many parents living in poverty consider it an option when they cannot afford to raise their children. Many traffickers are close family or friends, so parents view the exchange as sending their children away for a while in order to make money. The report also indicated that other parents may view trafficking as people who enable their children to do work in order to prepare for married life or adulthood.

Libya has been named as a destination where majority of human trafficking takes place. Migrants attempting to reach Europe through Libya in order to escape the turmoil in their home country are especially vulnerable, the report claims. It underlined that elaborate trafficking networks stretch throughout Libya from Sub-Saharan states and traffickers target migrants on these routes with false and misleading job offers before pushing them into forced labor or sexual exploitation.

According to the UN report, human trafficking in Africa is able to flourish partly because of minimal interstate cooperation in response to major trafficking rings. Currently, the report said, some states do succeed in identifying individual perpetrators, but often fail to dismantle the wide networks of traffickers that across state borders. Eradicating human trafficking requires coordinated efforts, especially that of international police.

Despite all the bad things, slow progress is still being made. The amount of African countries in TVPA’s third tier has decreased since 2015. Many countries strengthened the persecution of traffickers and six countries developed better anti-human trafficking laws. Regardless of whether armed conflict was involved or not, more than half of Sub-Saharan victims of trafficking were children, with boys and girls nearly equal. East Africa involved a far larger proportion of adults who were trafficked, while Southern Africa involved more women.

Girls are rarely detected in East and Southern Africa, whereas in West Africa, they are the most frequently detected victim profile. The report indicated that Nigeria reported a particularly large number of girl victims, while Kenyan authorities reported many victims who were men.Traffickers were usually male, but Sub-Saharan Africa stood out from other regions because of the larger number of female offenders.

Globally, most countries reported more male offenders than female, but Mauritius reported more prosecutions of women than men. At the end of 2017, 25 suspected traffickers had been arrested in Botswana. Of these, 60 per cent were men from Botswana and Malawi. The rest were from other Sub-Saharan countries and from the Caribbean.

The report said during the same period, 30 adults and children were identified as victims of trafficking in Botswana. Most of them were citizens of Malawi and the rest came from other Sub-Saharan countries. Adult forced labor made up 77% of the victims, child forced labor 10% and child sex trafficking the remaining 13%.

 Meanwhile, the US State Department put out its own global report on trafficking earlier in 2018, categorizing countries according to how nearly they fulfilled minimum standards for eliminating trafficking. Zimbabwe was categorized as a country that does not meet the minimum standards but that is making significant efforts to do so. However, the 2018 report said that the government did not show increasing efforts compared to the previous reporting period.

 The report critized Zimbabwe’s laws on trafficking, saying the offence were characterized as a movement-based crime’ and that it did not adequately define ‘exploitation’. Forced labor was criminalized, but prescribed penalties of up to two years which is not tough enough. Just two possible cases of forced labor were investigated in Zimbabwe during the period of the report, compared with more than 70 in the previous period. And although there was a special police Victim Friendly Unit, responsible for investigating cases involving women and children, the unit was ‘largely inactive’ and did not report investigating any trafficking case during the year.

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P500 million Tshesebe-Masunga road dispute lands in Court

25th January 2021
500-Million-Tshesebe-Masunga-road-on-a-stand-still

The Tshesebe-Mosojane-Masunga road estimated costs stand at P500 million, the tender which was awarded to Bash Carriers in 2017 has not taken shape four years after the project was commissioned.

Tshesebe-Mosojane-Masunga road when it was commissioned, was estimated at P500 million in value, this included construction of 22.50km of the two lane carriage way and 28.70km of access roads including associated bridge works, cross drainage works, storm water drainage works and relocation of services.

When it was first tendered the contract was awarded to Bash Couriers but was terminated after it was alleged that the contractor failed to deliver. It was said that Bash Couriers Construction Company was lagging behind schedule.

This publication visited the sites of Tshesebe-Masunga road last year December and it was evident that the project was at a standstill as deserted machinery on site could be seen with the gravel road also in a devastating state.

Information revealed then indicated that there had been issues of mining rights for aggregates, availability of structural engineers and manpower and a criteria for awarding tender to the specific company when the contract was terminated.

In 2016, as part of the ESP projects, government funded the 25 kilometres (Km) road project to link Tshesebe and Masunga.

Construction of the road, which also connects some of the villages within the district, commenced early in 2016 and was scheduled to be completed within 18 months.

The company had done nothing when their contract was terminated with allegations that it never had the capacity to carry out the project in the first place.

The major ESP project had ultimately robbed a lot of people potential employment when it succumbed to termination.

It was then that the government restarted the tendering process.

The project was awarded to Bango Trading Company and Zebra Construction in a joint venture at a value of P319 Million Pula.

However, information reaching this publication from the Ministry of Transport and Communications confirms that indeed there are no current works carried out on the Tshesebe Masunga road.

Responding to a questionnaire sent to them by this publication through their Public Relations Officer Doreen Moapare, the Ministry indicated that the Tshesebe-Masunga road project is before the courts therefore their response is limited by such a pending outcome.

“As a background the project had been awarded to Bash Carriers at a contract sum of P400, 044,365.68 to begin the works in May 2017 and complete the project in January 2019. Scopes of works included 51.2km main road inclusive of seven access roads. Due to non-performance, Bash Carriers contract was terminated on the 25th of September 2018. ”

Further, Moapare indicated that upon termination of Bash Carriers, a process began to ensure that the development project completes.

Five companies went for a selective tendering bid which she listed as; Lobkom Investments (Pty) Ltd, Landmark (Pty) Ltd and Truck Hire (Pty) Ltd Joint venture, ACE /Excavator Hire (Pty) Ltd and Asphalt Botswana (Pty) Ltd Joint venture, Cul De Sac, Bango Trading and Zebra Construction Joint venture.

“Some companies have since queried the results of the tendering adjudication landing the issue in the courts. We are currently awaiting a ruling expected in February/March 2021, and this will determine the course of action thereafter,” concluded Moapare.

At one point last year, reports indicated that Bango Trading Construction Company had faced raiding by the Directorate on Intelligence and Security, Botswana Police and Botswana Unified Revenue Services, with allegations that there was an emerging pattern targeting overscheduled construction companies with powerful political connections.

Bango Trading Managing Director, Moffat James, was reported to have had close links to former DIS Director Isaac Seabelo Kgosi. Bango Trading and Estate Construction Company which has obtained close to P 1, 5 billion government contracts under former President Lt Gen Ian Khama has been the subject of a parliamentary probe due to the many government contracts awarded to them.

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DPP halts JSC, Judge’s back to work plan

25th January 2021
Kebonang

The Directorate of Public Prosecutions (DPP)’s decision to reject and appeal the High Court’s verdict on a case involving High Court Judge, Dr Zein Kebonang has frustrated the Judicial Service Commission (JSC) and Judge Kebonang’s back to work discussions.

JSC and Kebonang have been in constant discussions over the latter’s return to work following a ruling by a High Court panel of judges clearing him of any wrong doing in the National Petroleum Fund criminal case filed by the DPP. However the finalization of the matter has been hanged on whether the DPP will appeal the matter or not – the prosecution body has since appealed.

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BDP rejects Saleshando payment proposal

25th January 2021
MP saleshando

Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) top brass has declined a request by Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) to negotiate the legal fees occasioned by 2019 general elections petition in which the latter disputed in court the outcome of the elections.

This publication is made aware that UDC Vice President Dumelang Saleshando was left with an egg on his face after the BDP big wigs, comprising of party Chairman Slumber Tsogwane and Secretary General Mpho Balopi rejected his plea.

“He was told that this is a legal matter and therefore their (UDC) lawyer should engage ours (BDP) for negotiations because it is way far from our jurisdiction,” BDP Head of Communications, Kagelelo Kentse, told this publication.

This spelt doom for the main opposition party and Saleshando who seems not to have confidence and that the UDC lawyers have the dexterity to negotiate these kind of matters. It is not clear whether Saleshando requested UDC lawyer Boingotlo Toteng to sit at the table with Bogopa Manewe, Tobedza and Co, who are representing the BDP to strike a deal as per the BDP top echelons suggested.

“From my understanding, the matter is dealt with politically as the two parties are negotiating how to resolve it, but by far nothing has come to me on the matter. So I believe they are still substantively engaging each other,” Toteng said briefly in an interview on Thursday.

UDC petitioners saddled with costs after mounting an unprecedented legal suit before the court to try and overturn BDP’s October 2019 victory. The participants in the legal matter involves 15 parliamentary candidates’ and nine councillors. The UDC petitioned the court and contested the outcome of the elections citing “irregularities in some of the constituencies”.

In a brief ruling in January 2020, Judge President Ian Kirby on behalf of a five-member panel said: “We have no jurisdiction to entertain these appeals. These appeals must be struck out each with costs including costs of counsel”. This was a second blow to the UDC in about a month after their 2019 appeals were dismissed by the High Court a day before Christmas Day.

This week BDP attorneys decided to attach UDC petitioners’ property in a bid to settle the debts. UDC President Duma Boko is among those that will see their property being attached with 14 of his party members. “We have attached some and we are on course. So far, Dr. Mpho Pheko (who contested Gaborone Central) and that of Dr, Micus Chimbombi (who contested Kgalagadi South) will have their assets being sold on the 5th of February 2021,” BDP attorney Basimane Bogopa said.

Asked whether they met with UDC lawyers to try solve the matter, Bogopa said no and added. “Remember we are trying to raise the client’s funds, so after these two others will follow. Right now we are just prioritising those from Court of Appeal, as soon as the high court is done with taxation we will attach.”

Saleshando, when contacted about the outcomes of the meeting with the BDP, told WeekendPost that: “It would not be proper and procedural for me to tell you about the meeting outcomes before I share with UDC National Executive Committee (NEC), so I will have to brief them first.”

UDC NEC will meet on the 20th of next month to deal with a number of thorny issues including settling the legal fees. Negotiations with other opposition parties- Alliance for Progressives and Botswana Patriotic Front (BPF) are also on the agenda.

Currently, UDC has raised P44 238 of the P565 000 needed to cover bills from the Court of Appeal (CoA). This is the amount in a UDC trust account which is paltry funds equating 7.8 per cent of the overall required money. In the past despite the petitioners maintaining that there was promise to assist them to settle legal fees, UDC Spokesperson, Moeti Mohwasa then said the party has never agreed in no way to help them.

“We have just been put in debt by someone,” one of the petitioners told this publication in the past. “President’s (Duma Boko) message was clear at the beginning that money has been sourced somewhere to help with the whole process but now we are here there is nothing and we are just running around trying to make ends meet and pay,” added the petitioner in an interview
UDC NEC has in December last year directed all the 57 constituencies to each raise a minimum of P10, 000. The funds will be used to settle debts that are currently engulfing the petitioners with Sheriffs, who are already hovering around ready to attach their assets.

The petitioners, despite the party intervention, have every right to worry. “This is so because ‘the deadline for this initiative (P10, 000 per constituency) is the end of the first quarter of this year (2021),” a period in which the sheriffs would have long auctioned the properties.

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