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Khama, Motsepe will not testify for State

The Directorate of Public Prosecutions yesterday failed to secure former President Lt Gen Ian Khama and his South African business-woman associate Bridgette Motsepe as State witnesses in the controversial case involving Welheminah Maswabi, otherwise known as “Butterfly”.

High Court Judge Mothobi this week finally granted Maswabi bail after a tussle in court by his Defense Attorneys Unoda Mack and Uyapo Ndadi. Maswabi was given bail under condition that she does not interfere with state witnesses amongst the witnesses Maswabi’s attorney Ndadi revealed that the State had included South African business woman Bridgette Motsepe, former President Ian Khama and South African businessman Prince Mokgatlha.

Ndadi says they objected because the State cannot implicate the two in their case and later want to include them as their State witnesses. Khama and Motsepe are alleged to be involved in the controversial Butterfly case. Khama already testified against the state in a written affidavit through Maswabi’s attorneys.

Both Khama and Motsepe have dismissed allegations levelled against them and Maswabi as nonsensical. The documents allegedly show that Khama and Kgosi funneled more than $400-million to countries including Indonesia, South Africa, Britain, Scotland, the United States and Hong Kong with Maswabi’s help.

In his written affidavit he denies ever instructing the Bank of Botswana whilst serving as the President of Botswana, to open any special unit accounts. He further denied any knowledge of instruction by Kgosi instructing Bank of Botswana to open any account.
 “I expect in any banking environment or in any financial institution, instructions of the nature alleged by Hubona must necessarily be recorded for, among many reasons, audit evidence.  It would therefore be very easy for the State to obtain evidence of such instruction and disclose it to the court.”

Khama warned the Court in his affidavit-that in support of which application he is advised- that his affidavit will be used, the court should know that Mr. Jako Hubona’s conduct of fabricating evidence is actually his personality and character trait. Hubona has allegedly according to Khama, once fabricated evidence by adding extrinsic content to a witness’ sworn statement under a criminal case that was before the Regional Magistrate for the Gaborone Magisterial Region.

Jako Hubona is the investigating officer at the Directorate on Corruption and Economic Crime (DCEC) in the matter. Maswabi will once again appear before court on the 27th of November 2019. The state allege that in June 2008, Khama instructed Botswana’s central bank to open three secret accounts and deposited in excess of P908-million (US$90 million) in one, P700 000 000.00 ($70-million) in the second, and P592 million ($60 million) in the third.

Maswabi is charged with financing terrorism, falsifying her names to Lorato Hilton and allegedly using different passports. Earlier this week the State had asked the court to give them time to file opposing papers against the bail application, however in an unexpected turn of events fortnight to the application hearing the state filed a non-opposition notice for bail abandoning the position that they had previously held.

Meanwhile Mokgatlha who is implicated in the alleged is accused [in an affidavit filed by the State in the prosecution of intelligence operative, Welheminah Mphoeng Maswabi] of partnering with Kgosi in a company that allegedly received multi million dollars from Botswana.
Mokgatlha however had said he is the sole signatory of Kgetha Pty Ltd and that he has never met Kgosi or Maswabi. Prosecutors however argue in court papers that Kgosi became a signatory of Kgetha on the 12th of February 2019 with the help of a banker known as Mpule Konopi at Standard Bank. Prosecutors further say Kgetha’s account No. 200904299 was credited with $48 million on the 21st of February 2019.

In an exclusive interview with this publication Ngakaagae accused the DPP of settling political scores.  He pointed out that it is worrisome that the State has been unable to deny evidence levelled against them by the applicant, ‘The state is losing the DPP’s creditability, and it has become professionally doubtful. Rushing to charge Butterfly and being unable to defend their position so early in the case. Whereas the pressure coming from? The DPP must begin to assert their independence. They are on a head long rush to please politicians.”  

SA Banks deny knowledge of accounts

South African commercial banks, Nedbank and Absa, have vehemently criticized state evidence against one DIS agent code named “Butterfly” or Welheminah Maswabi in a case in which she is alleged to be responsible for P4.2 billion that went missing at the Bank of Botswana. The case also implicates former President Lt Gen Ian Khama and former DIS Director General Isaac Kgosi. Khama has since disposed an affidavit in support of Maswabi rubbishing the State case and registering a ‘come get me’ attitude.

Welheminah Maswabi was earlier last month arrested on three counts; financing terrorism (on account of claims that she transferred from an offshore account the sum of P29 million to former DIS spy Chief Isaac Kgosi, in January this year); possession of different passports and falsifying her names to Lorato Hilton. Upon her arrest, Maswabi made an application with the Gaborone High Court for bail which was denied without doubt, as the State found her a possible flight risk.

The State brought laden evidence against the accused after the court was told that the accused had an enormous sum of P360 million in her different personal accounts. Maswabi- in her personal capacity was also allegedly accused as one of the signatories of Blue Files (PTY) Ltd.’s Royal Bank of Scotland, a bank account held in S.A facilitated the commission of an act of terrorism by transferring an amount of 950000. 00 American Dollars to Isaac Seabelo Kgosi, who earlier this year upon his arrest threatened to commit acts of terror against Botswana.

The State brought before courts bank statements that showed how the money was transferred from on offshore account to another. They further sought with the court to be given time to seek legal assistance for admissible evidence which will be used during trial.
This publication is in possession of affidavits from the alleged banks denying any knowledge or trace of the alleged bank accounts.

In their opposing affidavit, Nedbank states that “the opposing affidavit references accounts in the names of Blue Files (Pty) Ltd and Fire Flies (Pty) Ltd, are non-existent accounts. After conducting a search on our Nedbank systems, we have been unable to find any accounts in those names, nor any accounts with the mentioned account numbers.” Absa Bank also denied having any record of any account with designated account numbers nor account names. They further inquired that the document obtained by the State as evidence does not appear as an Absa generated document.

One of the investigators engaged by Maswabi’s legal representatives, Johaan Minaar has also revealed in a report possessed by this publication that the emails used by the State as evidence against the accused are also fraudulent, based on the vast differences between the attached email and those which are relied upon by the High Court. The report alleged that the messages attached as evidence by the State appear to be fraudulent, as they could very easily have been produced by a word processor such as Microsoft Word, in order to provide veneer of authenticity to those emails which are relied on in the High Court.

The investigation company pointed out that unless the original electronic version of the email messages set out as annexures to the High Court application can be produced and authenticated, the annexures have no evidentiary values presented as they are presented to the relevant Tribunal in isolation as the original source data/document is not available for verification, further scrutiny and examination.

Upon establishing whether or not Royal Bank Scotland, Blue Files Inc. and Fire Flies were South African registered companies, the investigating team could not positively verify the entities. They however stated that they conducted searches on two public registries, namely Companies and Intellectual Property Commission in South Africa and Dun & Bradstreet (a similar registry in Botswana) and the search strings submitted to conduct such queries were as follows; Royal Bank, Blue File and Fire File.

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Veteran journalist Karima Brown succumbs to COVID-19

4th March 2021
Karima-Brown

South Africa’s veteran journalist and broadcaster, Karima Brown has died on Thursday morning from COVID-19 related complications.

Media reports from the neighbouring country say Brown had been hospitalized and on a ventilator.

Brown anchored eNCA’s The Fix and was a regular political analyst on the eNCA channel.

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Botswana imports in numbers

1st March 2021
Botswana-imports

For so many years, Botswana has been trying to be a self-sufficient country that is able to provide its citizens with locally produced food products. Through appropriate collaborations with parastatals such as CEDA, ISPAAD and LEA, government introduced initiatives such as the Horticulture Impact Accelerator Subsidy-IAS and other funding facilities to facilitate horticultural farmers to increase production levels.

Now that COVID-19 took over and disrupted the food value chain across all economies, Botswana government introduced these initiatives to reduce the import bill by enhancing local market and relieve horticultural farmers from loses or impacts associated with the pandemic.

In more concerted efforts to curb these food crises in the country, government extended the ploughing period for the Southern part of Botswana. The extension was due to the late start of rains in the Southern part of the country.

Last week the Ministry of Agriculture extended the ploughing period for the Northern part of the country, mainly because of rains recently experienced in the country. With these decisions taken urgently, government optimizes food security and reliance on local food production.

When pigs fly, Botswana will be able to produce food to feed its people. This is evident by the numbers released by Statistics Botswana on imports recorded in November 2020, on their International Merchandise Trade Statistics for the month under review.

The numbers say Botswana continues to import most of its food from neighbouring South Africa. Not only that, Batswana relies on South Africa to have something to smoke, to drink and even use as machinery.

According to data from Statistics Botswana, the country’s total imports amounted to P6.881 Million. Diamonds contributed to the total imports at 33%, which is equivalent to P2.3 Million. This was followed by food, beverages and tobacco, machinery and electrical equipment which stood at P912 Million and P790 Million respectively.

Most of these commodities were imported from The Southern African Customs Union (SACU). The Union supplied Botswana with imports valued at over P4.8 Million of Botswana’s imports for the month under review (November 2020). The top most imported commodity group from SACU region was food, beverages and tobacco, with a contribution of P864 Million, which is likely to be around 18.1% of the total imports from the region.

Diamonds and fuel, according to these statistics, contributed 16.0%, or P766 Million and 13.5% or P645 Million respectively. Botswana also showed a strong and desperate reliance on neighbouring South Africa for important commodities. Even though the borders between the two countries in order to curb the spread of the COVID-19 virus, government took a decision to open border gates for essential services which included the transportation of commodities such as food.

Imports from South Africa recorded in November 2020 stood at P4.615 Million, which accounted for 67.1% of total imports during the month under review. Still from that country, Botswana bought food, beverages and tobacco worth P844 Million (18.3%), diamonds, machinery and fuel worth P758 Million, P601 Million and P562 Million respectively.

Botswana also imported chemicals and rubber products that made a contribution of 11.7% (P542.2 Million) to total imports from South Africa during the month under review, (November 2020).

The European Union also came to Botswana’s rescue in the previous year. Botswana received imports worth P698.3 Million from the EU, accounting for 10.1% of the total imports during the same month. The major group commodity imported from the EU was diamonds, accounting for 86.9% (P606.6 Million), of imports from the Union. Belgium was the major source of imports from the EU, at 8.9% (P609.1 Million) of total imports during the period under review.

Meanwhile, Minister of Finance and Economic Development Thapelo Matsheka says an improvement in exports and commodity prices will drive growth in Sub-Saharan Africa. Growth in the region is anticipated to recover modestly to 3.2% in 2021. Matsheka said this when delivering the Annual Budget Speech virtually in Gaborone on the 1st of February 2021.

He said implementation of the African Continental Free Trade Area Agreement (AfCFTA), which became operational in January 2021, could reduce the region’s vulnerability to global disruptions, as well as deepen trade and economic integration.

“This could also help boost competition and productivity. Successful implementation of AfCFTA will, of necessity, require Member States to eliminate both tariffs and non-tariff barriers, and generally make it easier to do business and invest across borders.”

Matsheka, who is also a Member of Parliament for Lobatse, an ailing town which houses the struggling biggest meat processing company in the country- Botswana Meat Commission, (BMC), said the Southern African Customs Union (SACU) recognizes the need to prioritize the key processes required for the implementation of the AfCFTA.

“The revised SACU Tariff Offer, which comprises 5,988 product lines with agreed Rules of Origin, representing 77% of the SACU Tariff Book, was submitted to the African Union Commission (AUC) in November 2020. The government is in the process of evaluating the tariff offers of other AfCFTA members prior to ratification, following which Botswana’s participation in AfCFTA will come to effect.”

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Sheila Tlou: On why women don’t get votes

1st March 2021
Sheila Tlou

BARAPEDI KEDIKILWE

Women continue to shadow men in politics – stereotypes such as ‘behind every successful man there is a woman’ cast the notion that women cannot lead. The 2019 general election recorded one of Botswana’s worst performances when it comes to women participation in parliamentary democracy with only three women elected to parliament.

Botswana’s former Minister of Health, Professor Sheila Tlou who is currently the Co-Chair, Global HIV Prevention Coalition & Nursing Now and an HIV, Gender & Human Rights Activist is not amused by the status quo. Tlou attributes this dilemma facing women to a number of factors, which she is convinced influence the voting patterns of Batswana when it comes to women politicians.

Professor Tlou plugs the party level voting systems as the first hindrance that blocks women from ascending to power. According to the former Minister of Health, there is inadequate amount of professionalism due to corrupt internal party structures affecting the voters roll and ultimately leading to voter apathy for those who end up struck off the voters rolls under dubious circumstances.

Tlou also stated that women’s campaigns are often clean; whilst men put to play the ‘politics is dirty metaphor using financial muscle to buy voters into voting for them without taking into consideration their abilities and credibility. The biggest hurdle according to Tlou is the fallacy that ‘Women cannot lead’, which is also perpetuated by other women who discourage people from voting for women.

There are numerous factors put on the table when scrutinizing a woman, she can be either too old, or too young, or her marital status can be used against her. An unmarried woman is labelled as a failure and questioned on how she intends on being a leader when she failed to have a home. The list is endless including slut shaming women who have either been through a divorce or on to their second marriages, Tlou observed.

The only way that voters can be emancipated from this mentality according to Tlou is through a robust voter education campaign tailor made to run continuously and not be left to the eve of elections as it is usually done. She further stated that the current crop of women in parliament must show case their abilities and magnify them – this will help make it clear that they too are worthy of votes.

And to women intending to run for office, Tlou encouraged them not to wait for the eleventh hour to show their interest and rather start in community mobilisation projects as early as possible so that the constituents can get to know them and their abilities prior to the election date.

Youthful Botswana National Front (BNF) leader and feminist, Resego Kgosidintsi blames women’s mentality towards one another which emanates from the fact that women have been socialised from a tender age that they cannot be leaders hence they find it difficult to vote for each other.

Kgosidintsi further states that, “Women do not have enough economic resources to stage effective campaigns. They are deemed as the natural care givers and would rather divert their funds towards raising children and building homes over buying campaign materials.”

Meanwhile, Vice President of the Alliance for Progressives (AP), Wynter Mmolotsi agrees that women’s participation in politics in Botswana remains a challenge. To address this Mmolotsi suggested that there should be constituencies reserved for women candidates only so that the outcome regardless of the party should deliver a woman Member of Parliament.

Mmolotsi further suggested that Botswana should ditch the First Past the Post system of election and opt for the proportional representation where contesting parties will dutifully list able women as their representatives in parliament.

On why women do not get elected, Mmolotsi explained that he had heard first hand from voters that they are reluctant to vote for women since they have limited access to them once they have won; unlike their male counterparts who have proven to be available night or day.

The pre-historic awarding of gender roles relegating women to be pregnant and barefoot at home and the man to be out there fending for the family has disadvantaged women in political and other professional careers.

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