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P29 million ‘Butterfly’ in her own words…

Welheminah ‘utterfly’ Mpheong Maswabi  writes: “All the facts deposed to herein are, save as otherwise provided, within my personal knowledge, information and / belief and are true and correct in every respect.

Where I make legal submissions, I do so on the basis of legal advice I received from my attorneys, which I verify believe to be true and correct. I also make reference to what I have been told by my attorney Phatshimo Mphetolang, who has deposed to a confirmatory affidavit.
I am an adult female of full legal capacity, presently held at the Women’s Prison at the Village Gaborone, where I am remand prisoner, otherwise I am ordinarily resident in Gaborone, plot 60407, block 7 Gaborone where until my arrest and detention I lived.

I am employed by the Directorate of Intelligence and Security Services as a senior intelligence officer. I bring this application to seek the reliefs set out on the notice of motion. In particular, I beseech the court to rescind and set the Remand order issued on the 18th October 2019 by court a quo. The basis for the challenge stems from a violation of my sacrosanct constitutional right to legal representation.

On the 17th of October 2019 at around 1515 hours, I was in staff meeting at my work place when I was abruptly summoned out of the meeting by investigating officer who indicated that I am under arrest and that they had a warrant of my arrest which empowers them to take me away into custody. They immediately took away my personal belongings, in particular my hand bag which contained my mobile phone, house keys, car keys and my wallet that contains my bank cards and national identity cards.

At that point I requested to contact a family member and my attorneys and I was informed that I will get a chance to contact them after I have been charged. I was then ushered into a police into a driven at a high speed to the Criminal Investigation Division (CID) in Gaborone. On our way there I insisted on talking to my lawyer and family member. Even upon arrival at the CID I reiterated my request to make contact with my attorney or any member of my family. I was vehemently denied the opportunity to do so. Instead, I was told that I am a difficult person and that they were forewarned about my difficult disposition. They didn’t say by who.

I was kept at the CID for questioning form the time we arrived until 2000hrs and the entire time I was grilled with unending questions by several officers among the being Mr Mashabile, Mr  Mabona, Mr Gaotingwe, Mr Hobona and Ms Seretse. Afterwards I was taken to Naledi Police Station where I was put in a holding cell overnight. Even at that point I requested to contact my lawyer or family member to no avail.

I was not surprised at the refusal by the Police because when I arrived at Naledi Police Station, the above officer who handed me over to the police officers were strictly instructed, in my presence and hearing, that I should not be assisted with anything. More specifically not to be given access to a phone or have any contact with anyone outside Police station.

 On the morning of the 18th October 2019, at around 0730hours, I was taken from Old Naledi Police Station by the investigating officer, I was taken to my work place where a search of my office was conducted as well as a my personal motor vehicle albeit without search warrant.
Afterwards, I was then immediately whisked away to Broadhurst Magistrate Court. Even on my way to court and at court, I made the request to talk to my lawyer, It was refused. When we arrived inside the court room that is when I was serve with a copy of charge sheet dated the 17th October 2019. Immediately afterwards, court was in session and the proceedings began. The magistrate was ushered into the courtroom and the matter was called up by the Court bailiff.

It is crucial to note that the proceedings by the magistrates were forced to halt momentarily as I was still reading the charge sheet as I was only having sight of it then. When court began, I openly made a request to call a lawyer so that they can represent me. Instead, the prosecuting officer summited that the matter is one which required to be held in camera/ private and away from the public. I then inquired as to whether this excludes the attendance of my attorney and I did not get an answer and instead the matter nonetheless proceeded
I also made the request to engage a lawyer after the charge were read to me and after my right were explained to me that I have a right to legal representation. Despite the fact that I had made it clear that I want a lawyer to represent me, court proceedings did not halt, instead an order for my remand was issued and I was informed that I will detained at the Women’s prison in pursuance  thereof for 14 days.

Immediately thereafter, I was whisked away to police headquarters in Central Business District (CBD). When we arrived there, that is when a phone was availed to me by one Mr Mashabile to call my lawyer’s office at around 1430 hours. I informed them that I have been arrested and being taken to Women’s Prison and they should come quickly. From there I was taken to women’s Prison to be received by the prison officials. Immediately after being checked in I was the escorted out by the same investigating officer to be taken to my residence in Block 7, Gaborone where I was informed that a search is going to be conducted.

As we were exiting through the gates of Women’s prison, my attorney Phatsimo Mphetolang and my nephew Sean Maswabi were waiting outside the gate. I quickly handed my attorney a copy of the charge sheet and told her that I am being taken to have my house for searching where she shortly arrived behind us.

When my attorney proceed to inquire from myself within earshot of the investigation officer of the investigation officers into details of the charge sheet and my arrest to engage with me, she was lashed at the investigating officers and fearfully told that she is obstructing justice and interfering with police investigation and demanded to leave the residence. She left, but returned a few minutes later to observe the search. The search was concluded at around 1730 hours and I was taken to CBD later on to Women’s Prison at around 1900hrs.

I only managed to consult and speak to my attorney on the Saturday morning. 19th of October 2019 after the fact. My lawyers verily inform me hat on the 21st October 2019 they attended at the Broadhurst magistrate Court to secure copies of the court record detailing all that transpired leading to the issuance of the granting of court order for my remand. They inform me that they managed to secure a copy of the court as I had not been furnished with it by the prosecuting team after it was granted against me.

They proceeded to request for a formal record of proceedings from court to confirm my assertions made in the affidavit herein and at the time of making this application it was still made available to them. Annexed hereto is a copy of letter making the request marked “WHM 1-3.”
My attorney informs me that she met with the court reporter, Ms Baleseng who verify informed her that she will be away from the office from the 22nd October 2019 onwards as she is an election officer in the upcoming 2019 general elections and will only assist with the transcribed record after the elections when she has reported for duty bearing in mind that the 23rd, 24th and 25th of October 2019 has been declared public holidays and she will not be working.

My attorney proceeded to draft the urgent application and came to see me to go over the court documents together for my input around 1500Hours. Count 1, I am accused of having pecuniary resource disproportionate with my present or past known sources of income. I have not been questioned about my assets and means and even if I had being, the prosecution does not need me in jail as I believe they would have already investigated to come up with such charge.

I submit that the first element of the charge is clearly not met as I have not been given the opportunity to explain my assets, which would have would have been the first logical thing to do as demanded by the law. I find it strange that u could be said to have amassed wealth or asserts disproportionate to my means when I do not even have a house to my name or hefty bank account to myself.  Firstly, I am accused of transferring money to Isaac Kgosi on the date unknown, the date in my view should be easy to establish from the documents or whatever instrument that gave rise to the charges.

Secondly, I do not have an offshore account in the names given or any other name. Thirdly, I have no knowledge of Blue File (PTY) Ltd and have never been a signatory to its account.  I was then handed the affidavit to me in my prison cell by Ms Makula. I am advised that the prison official refused to commissioner of oaths to see me in a person in order to depose to the affidavit as required by the law. No amount of persuasion helped and I am told Ms Makula telephoned Ms Nfila who apparently is the boss and ask if they can open the cell for me to meet the commissioner of oaths and that she refused.

I am advised that my attorney Ms Phatshimo  Mphetolang, Mr Uyapo Ndadi, together with Mr Maswabi had to turn back at around 2000hrs and arranged with Ms Makula to come the next day and were informed that the earliest opportunity to see me is at 0830hours. The refusal by the prosecution to allow me legal representation has greatly prejudiced me. It is also unclear that my efforts to seek redress from the court are also frustrated by the authority’s refusal to assist me with commissioning my affidavit.

With respect to the Third count, I do not have to be incarcerated for it as the charge clearly states the nature and specifics of it.” If I had been given the opportunity to engage a lawyer, it would have come out that the passport was used for one intelligence mission abroad which details I am happy to share with the court in camera and was at the behest of my employer, being the DIS and Mr Mabuse Pule, the head of the Immigration Department at the time. The name was my operational name as it is customary in the intelligence field.

After completing the mission, I personally handed over the passport to the director General at the time, and I saw him put it on the safe. I have no knowledge of what he did with it afterwards. But I can confirm to the court that I never had to use it again afterwards.” Uyapo Ndadi who is also representing her in this matter said, “the court postponed her bail application to the 29th October 2019, at 830am.

In summary, she details how she was denied contact with her lawyers and family upon arrest and that she was only allowed to talk to her lawyers after the court issued an order detaining her. After that, the prison officials refused to commission her affidavit saying they have been instructed not to do so. This meant she could not approach court earlier. Her lawyers had to bring another lawyer from outside to assist with the commissioning of documents so that she can then apply for bail.”

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Travel ban unfair and unjustified – Masisi

7th December 2021
President Dr Mokgweetsi Masisi

For the past two years, the world has been at combat with various COVID-19 variants. A new variant of concern which is considered to have a combination of the greatest hits (Alpha, Beta, Gamma, and Delta) has sent alarm bells around the world.

Botswana’s COVID-19 genomic surveillance, which actively monitors COVID-19 variants in Botswana, picked four samples that were concerning and discovered a completely new variant. In accordance with international obligations, as a responsible member state under the International Health Regulations of 2005, Botswana submitted the suspected new variant for the entire global scientific community to respond to this early finding. Shortly after, the Republic of South Africa, also submitted a similar concerning variant.

The new variant, ‘Omicron’ is named after the 15th letter of the Greek Alphabet to avoid public confusion and stigma.
The news spread like wild fire which resulted in European Union member states, the United Arab Emirates and United States of America imposing travel bans on Botswana and other sister SADC nations, resulting in drawing a wedge between nations.

In his address on the occasion of an update on Government’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic President Dr Mokgweetsi Masisi has shunned the response by some countries to Botswana’s detection of the Omicron variant stating that it is unfortunate as it appears to have caused unnecessary panic amongst the public across the world. He considers it defeating the spirit of multilateral cooperation in dealing with this global pandemic.

“The decision to ban our citizens from travelling to certain countries was hastily made and is not only unfair but is also unjustified while remain confident that reason and logic will prevail, the harshness of the decision has the effect of our shaking our belief in the sincerity of declared friendship and commitment of equality and economic prosperity for us,” he said.

President Masisi has appealed to the nations that have imposed travel restrictions on Botswana to reflect and review their travel restrictions stance against the Southern African region.

African leaders and heads of state are in agreement on a matter. Some stating that the travel bans are ‘uncalled for, afro phobic, unscientific, strict, unfair and unjustified’. They have come out to bash the unilateral travel bans and request immediate upliftment of the restrictions imposed on SADC member states by European Union member states, the United Arab Emirates and United States of America.

While Batswana are banned from international travel, locally as at 26th November 2021, a total of 195 068 COVID19 cases and 2 418 deaths had been reported since the beginning of the pandemic.

“We have been steadily witnessing a decrease in the number of new cases and deaths in the last three months. We are currently reporting an average of less 10 infections per 100 000 people compared to 648 cases per 100 000 people at the peak of the third wave. We have also observed a gradual decline in hospitalizations across the country with an average of less than 10 patients at a time at Sir Ketumile Masire Teaching Hospital (SKMTH) and our other health facilities countrywide,” pointed out President Masisi.

Masisi encouraged Batswana not to despair as to date, all the nations’ key indicators remain stable. “This is comforting although it still does not warrant any complacency on our part in terms of behaviour and other attitudinal patterns towards this dreadful disease. We are actively monitoring the evolving situation in view new variant of concern,’’ he sternly advised.

Government through the different Ministries leading the different sectors, has been working tirelessly to prepare for potential outbreaks and a fourth (4th) wave. This will be achieved through; installing oxygen generating plants and increasing skilled human capacity.

With regards to the vaccination programme; as of 29th November 2021, an estimated One Million and Fifty Three Thousand Three Hundred and Sixty One (1 053 361) people translating to 75.7% of the target Batswana citizens and residents over the age of 18 years have received at least 1 dose of the COVID-19 vaccines. A total of Nine Hundred and Fifty Thousand Nine Hundred and Seventy Three (950 973) people translating to 68.4% have been fully vaccinated. This number exceeds the 64% target Botswana has set to achieve by end of December 2021.

Masisi enthusiastically revealed that; “We are one of the three countries in Africa that have achieved the World Health Organisation target of vaccinating at least 40% of the entire population by December 2021. We are committed to ensure that all is done to reduce the transmission of the virus in the country.

More vaccines are being procured to ensure availability for those who have not yet received any dose. Government is also considering booster doses for those who may be identified as qualifying for them.”

President Masisi urged Batswana to continue observing the COVID-19 health protocols of social distancing, washing hands or sanitizing and wearing masks and avoid unnecessary travelling.

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China pledges a billion vaccines to Africa

7th December 2021

As COVID-19 pandemic continues to shake the world, China has promised to donate a billion coronavirus vaccines, advance billions of dollars for African trade and infrastructure, and write off interest-free loans to African countries to help the continent recover from the coronavirus pandemic. All these promises emerged at the Conference of the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC) held in Senegal at the end of November 2021.

Chinese President Xi Jinping announced that China will provide one billion doses of vaccines to Africa when delivering keynote speech at the Eighth Ministerial FOCAC via video link on 29th November. Of those, 600 million would be via donations and the rest would be produced jointly by African countries and Chinese companies. In addition, China would send medical teams to help the continent deal with the pandemic.

President Xi also announced nine programmes that China will work closely with African countries in the next three years. He mentioned the medical and health program, the poverty reduction and agricultural development program, the trade promotion program, the investment promotion program, the digital innovation program, the green development program, the capacity building program, the cultural and people-to-people exchange program, the peace and security program. President Xi hailed China-Africa relations as a shining example for building a new type of international relations.

Furthermore, Xi said Beijing would pump US$10 billion into African financial institutions for onward lending to small and medium enterprises. He promised to extend another US$10 billion of its International Monetary Fund allocation of special drawing rights, which would help stabilise foreign exchange reserves. In addition, China will write-off interest-free loans due this year, to help the economies that had been ravaged by the pandemic. Last year, China also promised to write off interest-free loans due at the end of 2020.

Beijing pledged US$60 billion to finance Africa’s infrastructure at the forum in Johannesburg in 2015, and a similar amount when the gathering was held in the Chinese capital in 2018. But in the past few years, Chinese lenders, including the policy banks – Exim Bank of China and China Development Bank – have become more cautious and are now demanding bankable feasibility studies amid debt distress in the continent.

Besides seeking more money for projects, Xi said China would encourage more imports of African agricultural products, and increase the range of zero-tariff goods, aiming for US$300 billion of total imports from Africa in the next three years.

China would also advance US$10 billion of trade financing to support African exports into China. He said the country would also advance another US$10 billion to promote agriculture in Africa, send 500 experts and establish China-Africa joint agro-technology centres and demonstration villages. African countries are pushing to grow exports of agricultural products into China. At the moment, Beijing maintains an enormous trade surplus over the continent. African imports from China include machinery, electronics, construction equipment, textiles and footwear.

Meanwhile, State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi summarized FOCAC achievements when meeting with journalists ahead the 8th FOCAC Ministerial Conference. Wang said that the FOCAC is a crucial platform for collective dialogue between China and Africa and an effective mechanism for practical cooperation.

He said since the inception of the FOCAC 21 years ago, Chinese enterprises have built over 10,000 kilometers of railways, nearly 100,000 kilometers of roads, nearly 1,000 bridges, nearly 100 ports, and over 80 large-scale power facilities in Africa.

In addition, they have assisted Africa in building over 130 medical facilities, 45 gymnasiums and more than 170 schools, and training over 160,000 professionals in various fields. Chinese medical teams have provided medical service to an accumulated number of 230 million, and China’s network service has covered around 700 million user terminals.

Yi said that the Eighth FOCAC Ministerial Conference was a great success. According to Yi, the success of the conference confirmed the strong will of China and Africa to work together to overcome difficulties and seek common development, and showed the huge potential and bright prospects of China-Africa cooperation.

Wang summarized the most important consensus reached at the conference as following: 1) both sides will promote the spirit of China-Africa friendship and cooperation; 2) China and Africa will work together to defeat the pandemic; 3) both sides will work to enrich China-Africa cooperation in the new era; 4) the two sides will work together to practice true multilateralism; 5) China and Africa will jointly build a China-Africa community with a shared future in the new era.

FOCAC, is one of the developments that came as a major shift in the dynamics of the China-Africa relationships came about in the 1980s when China embarked upon its “Opening up and Reform Policy” –a wide-ranging policy that gave birth to the new China. Economic and geo-strategic interests rather than the desire to export a specific political philosophy drive China’s current relationship with Africa.

For Africa though, the key problem is that our economies are weak in value creation. 
As argued by one economist, what workers and factories produce is produced more efficiently, with better quality and at lower cost, by other economies. “In such circumstances, making money is easier through rent than through value creation.

African governments should be capable of guiding their private sector towards value creation, a key factor for achieving a sustainable competitive edge in the global market. Furthermore, partnerships that Africa forges should be targeted to enhance such an environment”. The question remains as to whether China’s intervention in Africa will help address this challenge.

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COVID-19 has pushed cost of living up – report

7th December 2021

A report by The Economist Intelligence Unit (The EIU) has given its outlook for the rise and fall of living costs around the world.

The report is based on current and past trends impacting the cost of living, including currency swings, local inflation and commodity shocks. In addition, it compares more than 400 individual prices across over 200 products and services in 173 cities.

The Worldwide Cost of Living (WCOL) rankings continue to be sensitive to shifts brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic, which have pushed up the cost of living across the world’s major cities. Although most economies are now recovering as covid-19 vaccines are rolled out, the world’s major cities still experience frequent surges in cases, prompting renewed social restrictions. In many cities this has disrupted the supply of goods, leading to shortages and higher prices.

The report highlights that “the inflation rate of the prices tracked in the EIU’s WCOL across cities is the fastest recorded over the past five years. It has accelerated beyond the pre-pandemic rate, rising by 3.5% year on year in local-currency terms in 2021, compared with an increase of just 1.9% in 2020 and 2.8% in 2019.”

However; supply-chain problems, as well as exchange-rate shifts and changing consumer demand, have led to rising prices for commodities and other goods. The most rapid increases in the WCOL index were for transport, with the price of a litre of petrol up by 21% on average.

Tel Aviv, a city on Israel’s Mediterranean coast tops the WCOL rankings for the first time ever, making it the most expensive city in the world to live in. The Israeli city climbed from fifth place last year, pushing Paris down to joint second place with Singapore. Tel Aviv’s rise mainly reflects its soaring currency and price increases for around one-tenth of goods in the city, led by groceries and transport, in local-currency terms. Property prices (not included in the index calculation), have also risen, especially in residential areas.

The cheapest cities are mainly in the Middle East and Africa, or in the poorer parts of Asia. Damascus has easily retained its place as the cheapest city in the world to live in. It was ranked the lowest in seven of the ten pricing categories, and was among the lowest in the remaining three. While prices elsewhere have generally firmed up, in Damascus they have fallen as Syria’s war-torn economy has struggled. Tripoli, which also faces political and economic challenges, is ranked second from the bottom in our rankings, and is particularly cheap for food, clothing and transport.

“Over the coming year, we expect to see the cost of living rise further in many cities. Inflationary expectations are also likely to feed into wage rises, further fuelling price rises. However, as central banks cautiously raise interest rates to stem inflation, price increases should moderate from this year’s level. We forecast that global consumer price inflation will average 4.3% in 2022, down from 5.1% in 2021 but still substantially higher than in recent years. If supply-chain disruptions die down and lockdowns ease as expected, then the situation should improve towards the end of 2022, stabilising the cost of living in most major cities.”

“The survey has been designed to enable human resources and finance managers to calculate cost-of-living allowances and build compensation packages for expatriates and business travellers. It can also be used by consumer-goods firms and other companies to map pricing trends and determine optimum prices for their products across cities. In addition, the data can be used to understand the relative expense of a city to formulate policy guidelines,” highlights the report.

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