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FIA rejects corruption claims

The Director General of Financial Intelligence Agency (FIA) Botswana Dr. Abraham Sethibe, has this week denied allegations that his department is embroiled in corruption scandals that are investigated and under the watchful eye of the Directorate on Corruption and Economic Crime (DCEC).

Several reports accused FIA and its boss Dr. Sethibe, of receiving inducements from some contractors tasked with building FIA offices. FIA Director General was also accused of favoring none performing officers who failed to deliver on their tasks which led to the country being grey listed by the Financial Action Task Force(FATF). Botswana was grey listed by the FATF over poor standards on anti- money laundering and combating financing of terrorism with a September 2019 deadline.

President Mokgweetsi Masisi has told journalists that the grey listing by FATF has affected foreign direct investment and Botswana’s relationship with external financial regulators. Addressing the media after his Qatar State visit early this year, Masisi admitted that the grey listing of Botswana is a developmental challenge adding that there were gaps in the analysis that was made and found in the country’s legislation.

When talking to WeekendPost this week, FIA Director General Abraham Sethibe denied ever protecting any of his officers. He said reporters should know that Financial Intelligence issues are very sensitive and therefore should exercise caution while dealing with them as they may negatively impact the country outside.

While commenting on allegations of corruption at his office, Sethibe said FIA is a department under the Ministry of Finance and Development Planning. He said accordingly, the Ministry has centralized building projects. All building projects are handled by the Ministry Head Quarters under the division of the Corporate Services who are responsible for all process ranging from the budget, procurement of the services, monitoring of the progress in collaboration with the Ministry of Infrastructure and Housing Development.

“To the best of knowledge, this process was followed with regard to the FIA building project. I receive progress reports from FIA officer who is representing the department in the team responsible for the project. I am not, personally, in any way, involved in the project. I have never met any of the contractors involved in this project. To be honest, I do not even know and had no reasons to know any of the contractors to this project personally”, said Sethibe. He challenged that if there is somebody who disputes that to come forth with evidence.

Sethibe said that as a matter of fact, the effectiveness and efficiency of the Financial Intelligence Agency in fulfilling its core mandate is assessed on regular basis by the regional body, the Eastern and Southern African Anti- Money Laundering Group (ESAAMLG), and currently, the International Corporation Review Group (ICRG). He said contrary to the reports, both bodies have acknowledged the significant and positive contribution by the FIA in the development and implementation of the Anti- Money Laundering and Combating of the Financing of Terrorism and Proliferation of Arms of Mass Destruction regime. He also said TATF listing is a serious matter as it affects the economy of the country.     

The FIA is statutorily mandated to act as a central agency responsible for requesting, receiving, analysing and disseminating to an investigatory authority, supervisory authority or comparable body, disclosures of financial information, concerning suspicious transactions, required by or under any enactment in order to counter financial offences; or concerning the financing of any activities or transactions related to money laundering, terrorism and the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction in order to protect the integrity and stability of the financial system at national and international level.

The Unit is also going to assist in informing policy direction by conducting research on trends of money laundering and terrorist financing and educate and inform the public about trends in money laundering and related crimes. The FIU further exchanges and shares information with its foreign counter parts and undertakes typology studies on money laundering and terrorist financing techniques.

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African countries call on WHO to increase funding

2nd February 2023

Minister of Health Dr Edwin Dikoloti says Africa member states call on World Health Organization (WHO) to ensure equitable resource allocation for 2024-2025. Dr Dikoloti was speaking this week at the WHO Executive Board Meeting in Geneva, Switzerland.

He said countries agreed that there is need to address the budget and funding imbalances by increasing the programme budget share of countries and regions to 75% for the next year.

“The proposed budget for 2024-2025 marks an important milestone as it is the first in Programme Budget in which country offices will be allocated more than half of the total budget for the biennium. We highly welcome this approach which will enable the organization to deliver on its mandate while fulfilling the expectations for transparency, efficiency and accountability.”

The Botswana Health Minister commended member states on the extension of the General Programme of Work (GPD 13) and the Secretariat work to monitor the progress towards the triple billion targets, and the health-related SDGs.

“We welcome the Director’s general proposed five priorities which have crystalized into the “five Ps” that are aligned with the GPW 13 extension. Impact can only be achieved through close coordination with, and support to national health authorities. As such, the strengthening of country offices is instrumental, with particular focus on strengthening national health systems and on promoting more equitable access to health services.”

According to Dr Dikoloti, the majority of countries with UHC index that is below the global median are in the WHO Africa region. “For that, we call on the WHO to enhance capacity at the regional and national levels in order to accelerate progress. Currently, the regional office needs both technical and financial support in order to effectively address and support country needs.”

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Botswana still weighing in on Maseko’s assassination

27th January 2023

The Minister of Foreign Affairs, Dr. Lemogang Kwape says Botswana has not taken any position regarding the killing of a renowned human rights lawyer, Thulani Maseko, who was gunned down at his house in Mbabane, Eswatini.

In a brief interview with WeekendPost, Dr Kwape said Botswana has not yet taken any position regarding his death. He said the purported incident should be thoroughly probed before Botswana can form an opinion based on the findings of the inquiries.

“Botswana generally condemns any killing of human life by all means,” says Dr. Kwape. He wouldn’t want to be dragged on whether Botswana will support the suspension of Eswatini from SADC.

“We will be guided by SADC organ Troika if they can be an emergency meeting. I am not sure when the meeting will be called by Namibian president,“ he said.

However, the Namibian president Hage Geingob notes with deep concern reports coming out of Eswatini about the killing of Mr. Maseko. In a statement, he called upon the “Government of the Kingdom of Eswatini to ensure that the killing of Maseko is swiftly, transparently and comprehensively investigated, and that any or all persons suspected of committing this heinous crime are brought to justice.”

Maseko was chairperson of the Multi-Stakeholder Forum which was established as a coalition of non-State actors to advocate for a process of national political dialogue aimed at resolving the security and political challenges confronting the Kingdom.

“SADC expresses its deepest and heartfelt condolences to the family of Mr. Maseko, his friends, colleagues, and to the people of the Kingdom of Eswatini for the loss of Mr. Maseko. In this context, SADC further calls upon the people of the Kingdom of Eswatini to remain calm, exercise due care and consideration whilst the appropriate structures conduct the investigations and bring the matter to completion,” the statement says.

Geingob reiterated the need for peaceful resolution of the political and security challenges affecting the country.

Meanwhile political activists are calling on SADC to suspend Eswatini from the block including the African Union as well.

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Kopong Murder: Accused interferes with witnesses again!

27th January 2023

State prosecutor, Seeletso Ookeditse revealed before the Broadhurst Magistrate Jobbie Moilatshimo that the third accused involved in the murder of Barulaganye Aston, has interfered with the State witnesses again.

The second and third accused (Lefty Kosie and Outlwile Aston) were previously accused of interference when they were caught in possession of cellphones in prison. They were further accused of planning to kill the deceased’s brother, who is currently the guardian to the children of the deceased.

Ookeditse indicated that Outlwile had earlier went to challenge the magistrate’s decision of denying him bail at the High Court before Judge Michael Motlhabi.

“The third accused approached the High Court and made a bail application, which was dismissed on the same day,” Ookeditse said.

However, even after the High Court verdict on their bail application, the duo (Kosie and Aston) has once again applied for bail this week.

Ookeditse plead with the court to stop the accused from abusing the court process.

“Yesterday, Directorate of Public Prosecutions (DPP) received papers of his bail application filed before the Broadhurst Magistrates Court. However, the papers do not speak to changed circumstances, therefore this back and forth about bail must be put to a stop,” said the State prosecutor.

While giving evidence before court, the Investigations Officer, Detective Inspector Quite Zhalamonto, said his investigations have proved that there is interference continuing regarding the accused trio.

He told the court that on the 12th of January 2023, he received a report from Thato Aston, who is the son of the accused and the deceased. The son had alleged to the Investigation Officer that he received a call from one Phillip Molwantwa.

According to Zhalamonto, Thato revealed that Molwatwa indicated that he was from prison on a visit to the Outlwile Aston and went on to ask where he was staying and where his siblings (Aston’s children) are staying.

“Thato revealed that Phillip went on to ask if he or his siblings saw their father murdering their mother, and he was referring to the crime scene. Thato told me that he, however, refused to answer the questions as he was afraid especially because he was asked about where him and his siblings stay,” said Zhalamonto.

Zhalamonto alluded to the court that he then went to Orange to confirm the communication between Thato and Molwantwa where he found the case.

“I have arrested Philip yesterday and when I interviewed him, he did not deny that he knows Aston and that he has indeed called Thato and asked questions as to where him and his siblings resides even though he failed to give reasons for asking such questions,” Zhalamonto told the court.

He further revealed that Molwantwa indicated that he had received a call from an unknown man who refused to reveal himself.

“Phillip told me that the unknown man said he was sent by the accused (Aston), and that Aston had instructed him to tell me to check if there was still some money in his bank accounts, and he also wanted to know where the kids were residing, the unknown man even asked him to meet at Main Mall” the Investigation Officer told the court.

He further informed the court that he is working tirelessly to identify the “unknown caller” and the route of the cell number.

Furthermore, the fourth accused, Kebaleboge Ntsebe, has revealed to the court through a letter that she was abused and tortured by the Botswana Police Services. She wrote in her letter that she suffered miscarriage as a result of being beaten by the police.

Ntsebe is on bail, while a bail ruling for Aston and Kosie will be delivered on the 6th of next month

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