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No talks between Masisi, Kgafela yet

Despite President Mokgweetsi Masisi‘s consistent remarks that he will fight with every weapon available to ensure that Bakgatla-ba-Kgafela paramount chief, Kgosi Kgafela  Kgafela II returns back to Botswana, his Mangana regiment has dismissed these statements saying they are just political gimmicks.

In the run-up to 2014 general elections, Government was at loggerheads with Kgosi Kgafela II, resulting in the latter fleeing to South Africa on self-imposed exile. BDP had plethora of problems in 2014, among them a standoff with public service trade unions as well as acrimonious relationship with various chiefs in Botswana. The situation also saw Batawana paramount chief, Kgosi Tawana Moremi II ditching the ruling party in favour of opposition, with Barolong paramount chief, Kgosi Lotlaamoreng II following suit in 2015.

In an audio leaked, Masisi who was addressing the BDP parliamentary candidates retreat workshop in May was heard saying a lot of tribal leaders were unhappy with the past administration, an anomaly that will be a priority on his agenda. “A lot of tribal leaders were also unhappy with us. The other even went to an extent of dumping Botswana for South Africa, Kgafela of Bakgatla. And we know very well that our country is not complete without our tribal leaders. We must accept this reality,” Masisi is heard saying in the clip to thunderous applause from his audience.

“I will not rest until Kgafela is back home. I will not, I will not,” he added. BDP is treading carefully this time around to avoid provocative issues to the tribes in the build-up to elections and acknowledges that the institution of Bogosi in Botswana, like in many countries still plays a major role in the political landscape. History has shown that chiefs are still very influential figures in their communities. In Botswana all the vocal chiefs’ constituencies are under opposition and an examination of previous developments show that all the tribes whose chiefs have expressed disgruntlement with the government have been voting for the opposition.

This past weekend when officially opening the 38th BDP congress in Mochudi, Masisi again reiterated the statement. "Mmusi Kgafela is from the royal family and it shows that as the BDP we respect the institution of Bogosi. And as BDP we will do everything to ensure that his brother is backing home. I mean his real home. I will do everything to ensure that he enjoys the warmness of his home. Home I mean here,” Masisi said

However, for their part Mangana regiment’s Matshwenyego Ramotswetla said as far as they know, they are no talks Kgosi Kgafela II and President Masisi relating to return of the Bakgatla chief. “I would not know if there is any but we would be aware if there were any negotiations. What we are aware is Kgabo [Kgosi Kgafela II] said he will only come here when the government has changed and during Khama’s era we once told that Tsogwane [Slumber] was in talks with Kgabo to come back but then nothing materialised,”
Another Mangana regiment member who preferred anonymity told this publication that what Masisi is doing is trying to score cheap political points.

“There has not been anything tangible. We are concerned that the President wants to get political mileage from this because he is not serious about it. If he was, he could have contacted Kgabo and talked to him, but for now there has not been anything to that effect. It is just talk,” a very concerned senior member of the regiment said in an interview on Thursday morning. UDC parliamentary hopeful for Mochudi West, Tona Mooketsi has also blasted President Masisi for using the name of Bakgatla Paramount chief, Kgosi Kgafela II as a campaign tool for the upcoming elections.  

"There is no way Masisi’s remarks can be true. He was just campaigning," said Mooketsi, adding that Masisi is just looking for sympathy votes from the disgruntled Bakgatla who lost their chief due to the conflicts with the government.  Incidentally, Masisi formed part of government as he was a minister at the time. “We are very surprised about Masisi who is now pretending to be Messiah to Bakgatla. He was there when Kgosi Kgafela was being harassed and today he is pretending to be a good man. He won’t fool Bakgatla and he must stop using our Kgosi Kgolo as campaign weapon,” he warned.

Mooketsi believes Kgosi Kgafela II will not by any means be excited by Masisi’ empty promises; “He is a man of his word and I can assure you that he will not be tricked by the sympathy tactics of getting votes by BDP. He once made it clear that he doesn’t want the BDP government. Bakgatla will also not be tricked.”

Bakgatla, Batawana, Balete, Barolong who have been having quarrels with the government have been voting for the opposition and changes in circumstances herald a fluid and unpredictable upcoming election. Bakgatla have fielded Kgafela’s brother, Mmusi in a bid to change its fortunes.  Batawana and Barolong chiefs, Kgosi Tawana II and Kgosi Lotlaamoreng who are serving as Members of Parliament now will not be seeking re-election. The Balete land saga still persists and they have taken the government to court. There are other tribes with other issues like Batlokwa and many others that are fighting for recognition.

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Major public services shake-up looms

24th January 2022
Emmah

Public Servants should brace themselves for some changes as the government is in an overdrive mode to overhaul the public sector. The government has also set the tone for the looming changes as it has added the public sector to its looming list of major and sweeping reforms.

This is contained in a savingram from the Permanent Secretary to the President (PSP) Emmah Peloetletse’s office showing how the government intends to “take stock” of all reforms in the public sector through the establishment of an inventory.  Peloetletse’s savingram addressed to various ministries and the Directorate of Public Service Management (DPSM) reveals that the government is working around the clock to implement some changes in the Public Service.

The savingram reminded Permanent Secretaries of various ministries and DPSM that the public sector reforms unit (PSRU) at the Office of the President is mandated with Coordinating Reforms across the Public Service.  “This essentially entails providing the strategic guidance and facilitation in the implementation of reforms across the Public Service. In this endeavour the Unit has in the past with Technical Assistance from European Union developed a template for documenting Reforms in the Public Service and documented ten (10) major reforms across the Public Service,” reads the savingram in part. It added that “The Unit has lately rolled out the Change Management Framework in an effort to facilitate effective and efficient management of change in the Public Service.”

According to the savingram, it has been noted that for a variety of reasons the use of the template for documenting reforms has not been universally used across the Botswana Public Service.  It further states that to facilitate the documentation of the reforms it is essential that an inventory of the various reforms across the Public Service (Central Government, Local Government and State Owned Entities) is established.

“By this correspondent we are seeking your assistance in populating the attached template to provide basic information on the various reforms. The PSRU will, through the various Coordination of focal Persons facilitate the full documentation of the reforms once the inventory is established,” the savingram further stated. The copy of the template among others calls on the focal persons to fill out them form under several headings; they include title of reform, start date, reform objectives, reform components, reform components, progress status.

The savingram echoes President Mokgweetsi Masisi’s announcement last year during his state of the nation address that as a nation Botswana has set itself a lofty goal of becoming a high income country by 2036 and has come up with a list of reforms among them digitisation of government infrastructure. He said the path to achieving this goal dictates that, Botswana takes deliberate steps that will transform its institutions; the way Batswana think and the way they act.

“It is with this in mind, that I presented a Reset Agenda in May 2021, with the following priorities: Save Botswana‘s population from COVID-19, by implementing a series of life saving measures that include a successful and timely vaccination programme, Adherence to COVID-19 health protocols remains key and align Botswana Government’s machinery to the Presidential Agenda, to ensure that the national transformation agenda will be embodied in the public service of the day,” said Masisi. He added that, “this will come with significant Government reforms in all public institutions. We need greater agility and responsiveness like never before in the delivery of public services.”

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Covid-19 Task Force meddled in tenders-report

24th January 2022
Dr. Kereng Masupu

The Presidential COVID-19 Task Force reportedly meddled in the awarding of tenders for COVID-19, a new Public Accounts Committee (PAC) report has revealed.

The Committee expressed concern that it has noted that there are two centres for covid procurement being the Ministry of Health and the Covid Task team in the Office of the President. The report says the Committee questioned the Accounting Officer on why the COVID 19 task team is usurping the powers of the Ministry of Health by engaging in covid procurement when the Ministry of Health is the one which has the experience and mandate of dealing with the pandemic. The report says clarification was also sought on why direct appointment is the preferred method for covid procurement.

“In her response the Accounting Officer stated that the task team was mainly engaged in the procuring of quarantine facilities and was assisting the Ministry of Health due to the heavy workload brought about by the COVID 19 pandemic,” the report says. The report says the Accounting Officer further stated that direct procurement was used because COVID 19 was treated as an emergency and that procurement was mainly from companies that have been traditionally used by the Ministry of Health.

“This however, is not the case as there has been report of new companies being awarded COVID -19 contracts. The use of direct procurement method should only be used in exceptional cases as it’s a non-competitive method which increases the risk of inflated pricing and close relations with particular suppliers to the detriment of others,” the report says.

It says since most covid procurement fell under emergency, there is need for openness and transparency regarding the procurement.  The PAC recommended that in order to ensure transparency and accountability all COVID 19 related procurement should be periodically published in the PPADB website giving full details of the companies receiving procurement contracts and the beneficial owners of the companies.

It says with the passage of time the impact of covid is no longer unexpected so direct awards should gradually be abandoned as the medium and long-term needs of the pandemic can now be predicted. “Judgement should be used even during direct awards to ensure that prices are not higher than the market prices,” the report says.

In a related matter, the report says the Central Medical Stores (CMS) was unable to cater for the required quantities of medical supplies with order fulfilments of about 35% resulting in shortages and insufficient drugs to Athlone Hospital and the surrounding clinics.
“In his submission the Accounting Officer had indicated that CMS was unable to supply the exact quantities required by the hospital and surrounding clinics due to the fact that supplies from CMS have to be rationed in order to cover other facilities around the country,” says the report.

The committee expressed concern about the inadequate supply of drugs to government facilities which puts the lives of patients at risk due to non- availability of essential supplies. It recommended that the Ministry identifies and prioritise measures that need to be taken to ensure that there is adequate supply of essential medicines which are needed in the public health system.

Meanwhile the report says the Ministry of Health and Wellness coordinates the operations and functions of some institutions which receive government subventions and secondment of staff from the government. These institutions include 10 NGO’s, two mission Hospitals, three mission clinics and two schools of Nursing.

It says in its endeavour to enhance efficiency and effectiveness of government support to NGOs the Ministry of Finance and Economic Development developed some Policy Guidelines for Financial Support to Non- Governmental Organisations.  According to the PAC report, the guidelines were meant to ensure that there is consistency, accountability and transparency in administering public funding to NGOs. However, the Ministry of Health did not comply with the very important guidelines.

“The main areas of non-compliance were the following: (i) There was no Evaluation Committee to vet proposals from NGOs, in some instances NGOs had formed part of the evaluation forum when their requests were being considered,” the report says.  It says there was continued funding of NGOs even when they failed to submit narrative and financial progress reports; and (iv) Continued funding of NGOs that failed to submit audited financial statements and management letters as required. The Committee expressed concern at the lapses in the administration of grants by the Ministry despite the large sums of public money awarded to these NGOs.

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BDF killings of Namibians: Court unable to rule on missing gun

24th January 2022
BDF

The Kasane Regional Magistrate Court refused this week to rule on whether three Namibians and their Zambian cousin shot dead by members of the Botswana Defence Force (BDF) were in possession of a rifle or not prior to their deaths.

Ruling in favour of the BDF members, Regional Magistrate Taboka Mopipi who presided over the inquest said, “It is acknowledged that no rifle has been produced before court to confirm that indeed the deceased were armed and or that there was indeed a gun shot.”  She said the evidence before the court is that search for the rifle(s) that allegedly triggered the gunfire exchange was done by both Namibia and Botswana SCUBA divers and nothing was found. She said when the said search was done, an area of search was demarcated around the scene area which was partly searched due to water animals such as hippos that launched an attack at the area during the search.

“The search was therefore never concluded. This therefore leaves a gap. To that end, the area not extensively searched, the court cannot make a finding whether the rifle in issue was there or not. This is a very crucial piece of evidence,” added Mopipi. She said the joint search did not conclude the exercise and I cannot properly make a finding of fact adding that that the rifle was there as the BDF allege can therefore not be ruled out.

The deceased are Martin Munilweye Nchindo, Ernest Nchindo, Tommy Sinvula Nchindo and Sivula Munyeme. The four deceased persons died on the night of the 5th November 2020, in the waters of the Chobe River (Southern Channel) near Sedudu/Kasikili Island in Botswana. Mopipi said the incident took place at night, in a gloomy atmosphere and that as at the time, movement in that particular area was restricted and or not permitted.

She said it was the evidence of some of the witnesses that the injuries as observed on the four deceased reflected that they were brutally assaulted and or beaten either before or after being shot. “Their evidence gained support from Witness 34, Dr. Bithoma Thotho Amis who observed post mortem on behalf of the families of the deceased and Government of Namibia. This witness however conceded during cross-examination that the injuries as observed have been caused by other contacts and or impacts such as falling and hitting the hard surface of a wooden canoe,” said Mopipi.

She emphasized that inquest proceedings have very serious consequences and therefore, whatever evidence brought before court must be produced by persons of right qualifications particularly the post mortem report which the court has to rely upon.
“The qualification of the expert is crucial in determining the credibility of the report. Upon assessment of both experts, I am inclined to adopt the reports from Witness 18, who is a qualified pathologist. A closer look at the other report indicates that the author, Witness 34 is not a qualified pathologist and it is meddled by issues outside an expert opinion,” she said.

Mopipi said reports compiled by a consultant Forensic Pathologist Dr. Kaone Panzirah-Mabaka show the causes of death as follows; Sivula Munyeme, gunshot injury to the chest and extremities, Martin Nchindo, gunshot wound to the abdomen and pelvis, Ernest Nchindo, multiple gunshot injuries to the chest and extremities and Tommy Nchindo, gunshot wound to the chest and abdomen.

“Medical evidence therefore prove conclusively that the four deceased persons died due to gunshots injuries. It is undisputed that the injuries were inflicted by seven (7) members of the Botswana Defence Force; Lieutenant Moreri Kenneth Mphela, Sergeant Ndingisano Nfazo, Sergeant Puisano Pistor Kgokong, Private Mbikiso Tafila, Private Emmanuel Moganetsi Majuta, Private Barulaganyi Rannosang and Private Oromilwe Motlhabi,” said Mopipi.

Mopipi found that there was a gunshot from the direction of the men to the direction of the BDF section.  “The BDF members retaliated and returned fire. This was done in accordance with Standard Operation Procedures (SOPs) within the BDF. According to the SOPs, in case a soldier is being fired at, they fire back and do not have to wait for a command,” she said. She added that “The gunfire exchange was brief and after it ceased, they used a torch to light where the men were and established that all the four men were motionless, two in one canoe, one in the other and the other man lying on the edge of the river on the Island.”

She said, “The evidence of the witnesses is that, when they followed the intel, the intent was to conduct an investigation. There was clearly no intent on their part to shoot the deceased, they did that as an act of retaliation.”

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