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Masisi worried by Magosi’s litigations

President Mokgweetsi Masisi is said to be on a mission to revamp and restore the integrity of the Directorate of Intelligence Security (DIS) office and has talked to its Director General Peter Magosi, to tone down and avoid unnecessary lawsuits that could make matters worse for the already disgraced institution.

Magosi has already been slapped with three charges as well as a complaint to Ombudsman from Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC). The latest case for the spy Chief is due soon, a case where the Sebina brothers are suing him for unlawful search at their offices. Former President Lt Gen Ian Khama has also sued Magosi and his office for defamation of character, a matter in which they linked him to the stolen P5.6 billion.

WeekendPost has gathered that Masisi and Magosi in their routine meetings, discussed the matter relating to preserving DIS credibility. Masisi is said to be very concerned by the manner in which Magosi does his business, as it has the potential to further tarnish the image of the institution. “Not like he was hard at him, but it was just an advise for Magosi to tone down and not be trigger happy as it could put the institution in a bad light,” revealed a source.

The meeting is said to have been staged prior to elections where Masisi expressed his concerns. WeekendPost understands that Magosi accepted the advice and it is expected that there will be minimum litigations. UDC has also reported the Director General of the Directorate, Peter Magosi, to the Ombudsman for acts of mal-administration and abuse of office.

“It is our greatest concern that the Director General has overstepped his security functions and crossed into political landscape.

His overzealous body guard behaviour, seemingly to impress his political appointer, has left many Batswana puzzled by the state of affairs. The important question is; can an unethical and unprofessional public servant be expected to deliver on his mandate? In the case of Mr Magosi, we say he can’t,” writes the UDC President Duma Gideon Boko.

SEBINA BROTHERS’ CASE

The Sebina brothers, Tshepo and Kegone Sebina have swiftly moved an application to counter sue the State Brigadier Peter Magosi, over an ex parte search warrant that was issued against them earlier this year. Earlier this year, Magosi successfully applied for ex parte search warrant on the brothers before the Village Magistrate Court.

The two brothers were accused of being involved in corrupt dealings with former DIS spy Chief, Colonel Isaac Kgosi. It was alleged that the brothers had been corruptly awarded tenders in about 52 companies in which 48 of these pointed to have the three brothers as Directors/shareholders. Whilst the properties of Kegone and Tshepo were raided and the properties were also allegedly linked to Kgosi.  The investigators allegedly made way with documents.

KHAMA’S CONCERN

Former President Khama and his brother Tshekedi Khama, along with Ms. Tahlia Naledi Khama (Tshekedi’s daughter) are also suing the Director General, for defamation of character. This came after Magosi revealed that an amount of P5.6 billion was stolen from the Bank of Botswana when Dr. Khama was President; and Tshekedi Khama’s daughter, Ms. Tahlia Naledi Khama, maintains a certain “offshore” bank account in her names.

According to the Attorneys representing Tshekedi Khama and Former President Khama, the article at Magosi’s participation implies that they secretly deposited the alleged stolen funds (P5.6 billion) into the alleged “offshore” bank account maintained under Ms. Tahlia Naledi Khama’s names.

MAGOSI’S DCEC TROUBLES

High profile investigative officers at the Directorate on Corruption and Economic Crime (DCEC) have also written a letter in which they complained about the interference of the Directorate of Intelligence and Security Services (DIS) on the operations of the DCEC. The letter, which has been seen by this publication, details the frustrations of investigating officers and make allegations against the Director Generals.

The officers complain that they have lost their independence to the DIS Director General and in some instances the Financial Intelligence Agency (FIA) Director General. They complain that their Director General, Brigadier Joseph Mathambo, gets operational direction, especially regarding high profile investigations from the two DGs at FIA and DIS. In the letter, they complain that in terms of the DCEC Act and international best practices, investigations must remain confidential and not communicated to any unauthorized persons.

They allege that in their case, the DIS Chief, Magosi dictates to their DG Mathambo, on who to investigate and who not to investigate. Because of this, some reports are not authorized for investigations and if authorized, the investigations are being frustrated and investigating officers victimised. They state in the letter that when he first addressed them after his appointment, Mathambo told them that he was appointed by DIS DG Peter Magosi and President Mokgweetsi Masisi and he has to serve their interests.  

The officers say that they are inundated with reports against the DIS DG but because of his close relationship with their DG, they are scared of forwarding the reports for classification to investigate. The officers complain that they were investigating their DG and his wife, who was working at Botswana Telecommunications Corporation (BTC), on accounts of corruption and also for insurance fraud, but they don't know what happened to his files after the departure of Bruno Paledi.

They also complain that they have been investigating the DIS DG Magosi but they don't know what happened to his files after the appointment of Joseph Mathambo. Magosi’s investigations involved his time at the Botswana Defence Force (BDF). At the time when the DCEC was investigating this case, the DCEC DG was an Inspector General at the BDF doing audits, it is alleged that he was already close to the DIS DG at the time.

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Civil Service volatility: Democracy vs Bureaucracy

19th April 2021
President Masisi

Here is how one Permanent Secretary encapsulates the clear tension between democracy and bureaucracy in Botswana: “President Mokgweetsi Masisi’s Government is behaving like a state surrounded with armed forces in order to capture it or force its surrender. The situation has turned so volatile, for tomorrow is not guaranteed for us top civil servants.

These are the painful results of a personalized civil service in our view as permanent secretaries”. Although his deduction of the situation may be summed as sour grapes because he is one of the ‘victims’ of the reshuffle, he is convinced this is a perfect description of the rationale behind frequent changes and transfers characterising the current civil service.

The result of it all, he said, is that “there is too much instability at managerial and strategic levels of the civil service leading to a noticeable directionless civil service.” He continued: “Changes and transfers are inevitable in the civil service, but to a permissible scale and frequency. Think of soccer team coach who changes and transfers his entire squad every month; you know the consequences?”

The Tsunami has hit hard at critical departments and Ministries leaving a strong wave of uncertainty, many demoralised and some jobless. In traditional approaches to public administration, democracy gives the goals; and bureaucracy delivers the technical efficiency required for implementation. But the recent moves in the civil service are indicative of conflicting imperatives – the notion of separation between politicians and administrators is becoming blurred by the day.

“Look at what happened to Prisons and BDF where second in command were overlooked for outsiders, and these are the people who had sacrificially served for donkey’s years hoping for a seat at the ladder’s end. The frequency of the changes, at times affecting the same Ministry or individual also demonstrates some level of ineptitude, clumsiness and lack of foresight from those in charge,” remarked the PS who added that their view is that the transfers are not related to anything but “settling scores, creating corruption opportunities and pushing out perceived dissident and former president, Ian Khama’s alleged loyalists and most of these transfers are said to be products of intelligence detection.”

Partly blaming Khama for the mess and his unwillingness to let go, the PS dismissed Masisi for falling to the trap and failing to outgrow the destructive tiff. “Khama is here to stay and the sooner Masisi comes to terms with the fact that he (Masisi) is the state President, the better. For a President to still be making these changes and transfers signals signs of a confused man who has not yet started rolling his roadmap, if at all it was ever there. I am saying this because any roadmap comes with key players and policies,” he concluded.

The Ministry of Health and Wellness seems to be the most hard-hit by the transfers, having experienced three Permanent Secretaries changes within a year and a half. Insiders say the changes have everything to do with the Ministry being the centre of COVID-19 tenders and economic opportunities. “The buck stops with the PS and no right-thinking PS can just allow glaring corruption under his watch as an accounting officer. Technocrats are generally law abiding, the pressure comes with politically appointed leaders racing against political terms to loot,” revealed a director in the Ministry preferring anonymity.

The latest transfer of Kabelo Ebineng she says was also motivated by his firm attitude against the President’s blue-eyed Task Team boys. “The Task Team wants to own the COVID-19 pandemic and government interventions and always cry foul when the Ministry reasserts itself as mandated by law,” said the director who added that Masisi who was always caught between the crossfire decided on sacrificing Ebineng to the joy of his team as they (Task Team) were in the habit of threatening to resign citing Ebineng as the problem.

Ebineng joins the Office of the President as a deputy Coordinator (government implementation and coordination office).The incoming PS is the soft-spoken Grace Muzila, known and described by her close associates as a conformist albeit knowledgeable.

One of the losers in the grand scheme is Thato Raphaka who many had seen as the next PSP because of his experience and calm demeanour following a declaration of interest in the Southern African Development Community (SADC) Secretary post by the current PSP, Elias Magosi.

But hardly ten months into his post, Raphaka has been transferred out to the National Strategy Office in what many see as a demotion of some sort. Other notable changes coming into OP are Pearl Ramokoka formerly with the Employment, Labour and Productivity Ministry coming in as a Permanent Secretary and Kgomotso Abi as director of Public Service Reforms.

One of the ousted senior officers in the Office of the President warned that there are no signs that the changes and transfers will stop anytime soon: “If you are observant you would have long noticed that the changes don’t only affect senior officers but government decisions as well. A decision is made today and the government backtracks on it within a week. Not only that, the President says this today, and his deputy denies it the following day in Parliament,” he warned.

Some observers have blamed the turmoil in the civil service partly to lack of accountable presidential advisers or kitchen cabinet properly schooled on matters of statecraft. They point out that politicians or those peripheral to them should refrain from hampering the technical and organizational activities of public managers – or else the party (reshuffling) won’t stop.

In the view expressed by some Permanent Secretaries, Elias Magosi, has not really been himself since joining the civil service; and has cut a picture of indifference in most critical engagements; the most notable been a permanent secretaries platform which he chairs. As things stand there is need to reconcile the imperatives of democracy and democracy in Botswana. Peace will rein only when public value should stand astride the fault that runs between politicians and public managers.

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Morupisi fights for freedom in court

19th April 2021
morupisi

Former Permanent Secretary to the President, Carter Morupisi, is fighting for survival in a matter in which the State has charged him and his wife, Pinnie Morupisi, with corruption and money laundering.

Morupisi has joined a list of prominent figures that served in the previous administration and who have been accused of corruption during their tenure in office. While others have been emerging victorious, Morupisi is yet to find that luck. The High Court recently dismissed his no case to answer application.

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Pressure mounts on Biden to suspend Covid-19 vaccine patents

19th April 2021
Joe Biden

United States President, Joe Biden, is faced with a decision to make relating to the Covid-19 vaccine intellectual property after 175 former world leaders and Nobel laurates joined the campaign urging the US to take “urgent action” to suspend intellectual property rights for Covid-19 vaccines to help boost global inoculation rates.

According to the world leaders, doing so would allow developing countries to make their own copies of the vaccines that have been developed by pharmaceutical companies without fear of being sued for intellectual property infringements.

“A WTO waiver is a vital and necessary step to bringing an end to this pandemic. It must be combined with ensuring vaccine know-how and technology is shared openly,” the signatories, comprising more than 100 Nobel prize-winners and over 70 former world leaders, wrote in a letter to US President Joe Biden, according to Financial Times.

A measure to allow countries to temporarily override patent rights for Covid related medical products was proposed at the World Trade Organization by India and South Africa in October, and has since been backed by nearly 60 countries.

Former leaders who signed the letter included Gordon Brown, former UK Prime Minister; François Hollande, former French President; Mikhail Gorbachev, former President of the USSR; and Yves Leterme, former Belgian Prime Minister.

In their official communication, South Africa and India said: “As new diagnostics, therapeutics and vaccines for Covid-19 are developed, there are significant concerns [about] how these will be made available promptly, in sufficient quantities and at affordable prices to meet global demand.”

While developed countries have been able to secure enough vaccine to inoculate their citizens, developing countries such as Botswana are struggling to source enough to swiftly vaccine their citizens, something which world leaders believe it would work against global recovery therefore proving counter-productive.

Since the availability of vaccines, Botswana has been able to secure only 60 000 doses of vaccines, 30 000 as donation as from the Indian government, while the other 30 000 was sourced through COVAX facility.  Canada, has pre-ordered vaccines in surplus and it will be able to vaccinate each of its citizens six times over. In the UK and US, it is four vaccines per person; and two each in the EU and Australia.

For vaccines produced in Europe, developing countries are forced to pay double what European countries are paying, making it more expensive for already financially struggling economies.  European countries however justify the price of vaccines and that they deserve to buy them cheap since they contributed in their development.

It is evident that vaccines cannot be made available immediately to all countries worldwide with wealthy economies being the only success story in that regard, something that has been referred to as a “catastrophic moral failure”, head of the World Health Organisation (WHO), Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus.

The challenge facing developing countries is not only the price, but also the capacity of vaccine manufactures to be able to do so to meet global demand within a short time. The proposal for a patent waiver by India and South Africa has been rejected by developed countries, known for hosting the world leading pharmaceutical companies such US, European Union, the United Kingdom, and Switzerland.

According to the Financial Times, US business groups including pharmaceutical industry representatives, have urged Biden to resist supporting a waiver to IP rules at the WTO, arguing that the proposal led by India and South Africa was too “vague” and “broad”.

The individuals who signed the letter, including Nobel laureates in economics as well as from across the arts and sciences, warned that inequitable vaccine access would impact the global economy and prevent it from recovering.

“The world saw unprecedented development of safe and effective vaccines, in major part thanks to US public investment,” the group wrote. “We all welcome that vaccination rollout in the US and many wealthier countries is bringing hope to their citizens.”

“Yet for the majority of the world that same hope is yet to be seen. New waves of suffering are now rising across the globe. Our global economy cannot rebuild if it remains vulnerable to this virus.”
The group warned that fully enforcing IP was “self-defeating for the US” as it hindered global vaccination efforts. “Given artificial global supply shortages, the US economy already risks losing $1.3tn in gross domestic product this year.”

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