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Khama/Masisi dispute “needs” a Presidential Museum

The ongoing feud between the former President Ian Khama and incumbent President Mokgweetsi Masisi needs a presidential museum for documentation to act as a reference point for the future and to see who went off the rails.

This was revealed by members of Ntlo Ya Dikgosi this week in Gaborone during their just ended 3rd session of the14th meeting of the House. When presenting the motion, which eventually was passed, specially elected member of Ntlo Ya Dikgosi, Kgosi Thabo Maruje III of Masunga said that the dispute between Khama and Masisi is largely owing to the deficit of a presidential museum which should define dialogue.

“A presidential museum will define dialogue. Currently there is a hot dialogue in which people have divergent views (between Masisi and Khama). This is largely because we have a deficiency of a process where anytime we can declassify material which is outdated,” Kgosi Maruje observed. To add onto Kgosi Maruje’s sentiment, Tswapong Region's Kgosi Galeakanye Modise said the presidential museum is essential and surely could be providing an answer to the current disagreement between Khama and Masisi.

“But if there is a process that is well packaged, even the dispute between Masisi and Khama that is happening now, that presidential museum could provide an answer,” Kgosi Modise pointed out while stressing that “it could provide clear references for the dispute.” According to Kgosi Maruje, if this nation can undergo through such a crisis, the nation will hold dikgosi accountable in terms of where they were during such current crisis like that of Masisi and Khama.

Kgosi Maruje’s motion read “that this honourable house requests government to set up a presidential museum which will not only house all matters that have been declassified but also be used as a depository for very important moments in the life of a president, and the decisions they made which will boost researchers, media and the nation at large.”

The nature of the Botswana presidential museum

Kgosi Maruje III of Masunga emphasized during the tabling of the motion that he came up with this motion because Botswana is growing, and so what can do to document every error by every president. “We have to start now as the number of president is evidently increasing. This means that for us not to lose history, time has come for us to erect a very big infrastructure, of a presidential museum which I envision it to be a combination of an integrated facility that will include tourism, research, restaurants, and all the things you can imagine,” he stated.

Maruje said he was looking at the history of Botswana, as Botswana is changing it must have a cardinal point, to show how Botswana is changing, and how the events are linking up. He added that: “repositories of papers, historical moments, irreplaceable items, that the president receives as certain gifts, that are very profound, that even when he dies, relatives doesn’t want to do with these things. They can be taken to the museum to be national monuments. Or the government can pay the families so that he can custody of those crucial items.”

Starting with the founding father Sir Seretse Khama; in terms of those who saw him, lived with him, will tell us how he was; those who knew him and have written about him, from the time of Frontline States to the setting of Organisations of African Union (OAU). He added: “even the time of his controversial marriage with an English woman Ruth Williams against his uncles like Tshekedi Khama can be documented in the museum as well as how he, together with Sir Ketumile Masire, started the multi-party democracy in Botswana.”

The specially elected Kgosi also said the Museum will be also like a library in that, the museum will put together the lives of all Botswana presidents; from the 1st President Khama, 2nd Sir Ketumile Masire, and Festus Mogae who was the third, and Ian Khama the fourth as well as the current President Masisi.

According to Maruje, it also has to come out clear which ideologue is every president following, in running the affairs of the country, or his thinking or ideologues, in terms of is it exclusively his or he learned and probably borrowed it from a predecessor. “This things guide a country.” “The other thing is the culture. Culture we live in is dynamic but how are we using our history for the coming or future presidents to refer to? So that they don’t go off the rails in terms of the presidency? It means how a president has been running the country in terms of the relations, the law, the developments and so forth.”  

In addition Botswana is generally poor in keeping records. For example, Maruje asked how they are keeping the records on appointing dikgosi and where, and who are the custodians and are they easily accessible to everyone? Can someone pull a paper to provide evidence in many bogosi disputes that have engulfed this country? He asked rhetorically.

By this time, Maruje said he believes the presidency of Sir Seretse Khama and Sir Ketumile Masire, and the presidency to some part of Festus Mogae, there could be some things that could have been declassified at this point to distinguish between the presidents.
According to Kgosi Maruje, Botswana has historical facts that can be packaged and sold as an intervention of leadership somewhere else.

“We will tell other countries that, this is the package of leadership over the years. Through the medium, we will know who was advising either of the presidents; to see how he was taking his decisions; what was happening; what were their challenges and low moments; when was he happy and under what circumstance; how did all these influence the decisions he takes concerning the affairs of the country and so forth.”

The Specially Elected Kgosi said Botswana today has the 5th president being Mokgweetsi Masisi and this is a blessing indeed because in other countries they have known only one president for decades and others undergoing coup de tat. “If you look at the history of the US, who are on their 45th president, if you look at how their presidencies are well documented, and meaning behind every presidential detail, and even every error committed by every one of them – it’s so beautiful,” he said.

Maruje reminisced about a very profound one president of America: the journey he took leading him to the presidency of US. “Many failures that he encountered for many years. He failed at many things but he never gave up, until that one moment in which he tried again and ultimately became the president. That person is Abraham Lincoln, the 16th US president. You see these it is through such records that are there that guides a nation.” The other thing, Maruje said it is leadership experience of a leader being a leader; how does it guide. We need to go back to leadership experience to see in the event of a crisis, who the president consults, and when, he concluded.

Botswana presidents can be a reference point in good governance

Meanwhile Kgosi Galeakanye Modise of Tswapong region who supports the motion said he believes Botswana if unchecked stands a chance to lose the national historical moments. “We can even guide Africa. So that when they have problems they can refer to Botswana. In terms of good governance and democracy benchmarking they can go to Botswana. You will find a package there, through the presidential museum for all that,” he said.

Kgosi Modise also added that he remembers somewhere students arguing about a presidential/national issue in which they had nowhere to refer to so as to settle their disagreement. When Mogae received the Mo Ibrahim award he didn’t know where to put it because there is no presidential museum for such honours on a president, he said.  

Museum will reveal which president derails from the foundation in which the country was built on

Supporting the motion, Kgosi Tshipe Tshipe of Mahalapye region added that the presidential museum will define clearly the ideologies of all the presidents. “My believe is that they will unearth where Botswana comes from starting with Sir Seretse where democracy will be revealed in light of the fact that it was built from a traditional Tswana kgotla system which truly defines the true essence of Batswana,” he highlighted.

So this documentation, he observed that could assist the researchers and everyone to point out when a president derails from the foundation in which the country was built on. “In terms of which president derailed. Those who come after the current ones, could therefore use the road map to bring the country to rails, of which it was known for. I also like the advisors to the president part, which is very important. We need to know which advisors helped the president at every move. When we derailed who helped to bring the country back.”  

According to Tshipe, history of US shows that during the height of Civil rights activism by Martin Luther King Jr., it took a long time for the US to see a black president thereafter. “But when Barack Obama took power as US president, and when you pay closer attention to what he said, he could see that he adopted Luther’s ideologue. Luther guided Obama. What Luther fought for, to see justice to the blacks, was evident in Obama and what he also frequently spoke of,” he said.

In her answer to the motion, Assistant Minister of local Government and Rural Development Botlogile Tshireletso said the concept of a presidential museum is an accepted norm and standard in the world. In principle, she said “as government we agree with the motion and its intent but the motion’s intent is also covered by the Botswana National Archives and Records Services Act.” He however added that he will also take into consideration issues raised by Kgosi Masunga and seconders of his motion so that the Minister can act and see to it that if there is need for amendments of the Act, to consider their views as there are important.

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Masisi, DIS come under scrutiny at UN Rights Committee 

25th October 2021
masisi & magosi

President Dr Mokgweetsi Masisi and the Directorate of Intelligence (DIS) came under the lens of the United Nations Human Rights Committee during the just ended dialogue between committee members and the Botswana delegation. 

Scores of issues, among them the country’s reports on topics including whether Masisi abused the State of Emergency Act during the COVID-19 pandemic and alleged surveillance and harassment of members of the public by DIS, were addressed at the session.

A Committee expert asked about legislation in the Penal Code allowing the Government to investigate people who expressed opinions against public figures, particularly the President. How many cases were there of journalists who had been investigated, prosecuted and tried?
Concerning the COVID-19 Emergency Powers Act, there was a provision for a fine or a five-year jail term for journalists using “source(s) other than the Director of Health Services or the World Health Organization” when reporting on COVID-19. The Committee Expert asked for the number of cases and other measures taken under this Act.

Another committee expert wanted to know that the scale and scope of electronic surveillance, which had sharply increased in recent years, was concerning. Furthermore, the Committee was troubled at the lack of a sufficient independent oversight mechanism over the Directorate of Intelligence and Security Services that reportedly had contributed to a growing climate of fear and chilling effect on journalists, human rights defenders and opposition politicians. In this respect, a Committee Expert asked about the measures taken by Botswana during the COVID-19 pandemic to ensure that the right to privacy was protected (collection and management of personal data).

The Expert also enquired about a database website, which was not functioning but was supposed to contain documents of Botswana’s international human rights commitments.
In terms of the freedom of assembly, while the Constitution of the State party guaranteed it, the Committee had received information that, in practice, the Public Order Act required citizens to apply to the nearest police for a permit to hold an assembly, and police had sometimes denied requests for unclear reasons.

The Committee Expert asked if the Public Order Act of the State party had been applied in conformity with those tests. Would the State party indicate the measures it had taken and/or intended to take to make the application of the law in question strictly compatible with the requirements under article 21? Furthermore, the Committee had also received allegations that police officers sometimes used force to compel gathering people to disperse. In this regard, the Expert asked for information on legal provisions and practical guidelines under which police officers may resort to force and any training programme if any, for police and other law enforcement officers to respect and ensure the right of peaceful assembly.

A Committee Expert asked about cases of holding people for longer periods under pre-trial detention than the maximum period provided for in legislation, 36 months, instead of six. Were there any plans to shorten the duration of pre-trial detention in legislation? The Committee noted that there was no provision for local community broadcasting. What measures were the State party taking to ensure that the local communities could also communicate in their language in the media?

What measures had been undertaken by Botswana to increase sustainable development in the country regarding climate change in particular. What efforts had been undertaken to ensure that customary courts worked up to speed? A Committee Expert asked about children in rural areas who travelled a long way to their schools. The delegation was asked about the independence of the Ombudsman Office, including provisions for appointing the Ombudsman. What budget was envisaged for this Office?

The Expert acknowledged the established procedures and institutions for anti-human trafficking but expressed concerns about the lack of reported cases. The Expert asked about the accountability of the public prosecution, as well as the intelligence services. Replying, the Botswana delegation, led by Presidential Minister Kabo Morwaeng, said there was an ongoing consultation for revising provisions that would ensure better protection for journalists and media freedom in Botswana.

Still, the delegation said, freedom of expression was assured in the State party without any restrictions, including in Parliament. There was an education programme providing the opportunity for children in primary school to be taught in their mother tongue. It also explained that the Ombudsman would be dealing with issues of human rights promotion and protection.

“National policies and procedures were envisaged to control the distribution of natural resources. Botswana was also taking measures to increase the access of minority groups to education. Regarding pre-trial detention, the delegation explained that the criminal procedure assured justice was preserved in the country,” said the delegation.

On the issue of torturer and alleged use of unreasonable force on suspects, the Botswana delegation explained that police officers were trained to use minimal force, ensuring that human rights were preserved, including in the cases of assemblies. On the use of surveillance, no legal provisions were breached, and such measures were used in accordance with national legislation. Legal aid was very costly, and it was not possible to keep the record in detail as asked by the Committee.

Morwaeng told the Committee that the Government maintained a robust consultative approach to policy development and legislative process. He said this was a system of governance that ensured that the voices of ordinary citizens were respected and taken into account in the social, economic and political process that affected them the most, giving full effect to the full enjoyment of human rights across the board. The delegation took due note of the views of the Committee, including the importance of harnessing information technology to give a broader appreciation of the provisions of the Covenant.

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Masisi on P1 billion water investment

25th October 2021
water project

The P1 billion water project launched by President Dr vMokgweetsi Masisi this week is said to be critical to the success of key projects planned in Lobatse – the Lobatse Milk Afric and Leather Park. After commissioning the multi-million Pula Masama-Mmamashia water project last week following its completion, on Thursday, Masisi performed ground-breaking ceremony of yet another major water project, the Lobatse Water Supply Master Plan (LWSMP1).

The water project was conceptualized in 2009 to address water shortage in areas along the Greater Gaborone zone. These areas include Ramotswa, Otse, Mogobane, Mankgodi, Manyana, Goodhope, Lekgolobotlo, Mmathethe, Molapowabojang and villages surrounding. It was said that some major upcoming projects in Lobatse such as Lobatse Leather Park, Milk Afric and the Pioneer Border Gate are dependent on the success of this project, in order for them to take off and operate effectively. The two projects have been struggling to take-off despite government having put the necessary resources.

The Lobatse Leather Park is anticipated to create about 4700 jobs at the initial stage and 7000 jobs at full capacity. The project entails the development of a complex for different tanneries with the support of state-owned beef company, Botswana Meat Commission. It will comprise primary infrastructure such as a common effluent treatment plant, sewage treatment plant, and others.

When operational, the park is expected to supply the private sector with hides and skins, raw to finished leather tanneries, and the manufacturing of different leather products. These products include shoes, belts, jackets, and others, thereby playing an instrumental role in stimulating economic activity. Leather Beneficiation Park is seen as important for the leather industry as it would ensure that Botswana moves from exporting raw leather to finished leather goods. It is said research has established that there are plenty of hides and skins in the country from the three million cattle and 1.8 million goats.

Meanwhile, Milk Afric dairy farm project which was expected to be complete by the second half of 2018, is in the wilderness after the initial partnership between Botswana Development Corporation (BDC) and Milk Afric failed to bear fruits. BDC has been searching for a new partner for the project. Once fully operational, the farm will produce a total of 21.9 million litres or one third of the national milk demand, which is 65 million litres a year. At present, Botswana imports over 58.8 million litres from South Africa at a cost of P345 million annually.

The P120 million project is a Public Private Partnership deal between Lobatse Town Council (LTC),  with 10 percent shareholding through leasing its 1375.4 ha farm for 25 years; and 26 percent (P40 million) by Botswana Development Corporation (BDC). When speaking at the groundbreaking ceremony held in Ramotswa, Masisi said, in addition to improving the water supply for domestic needs and livelihoods, this infrastructural development will facilitate major projects in the Lobatse region, which are critical to the ailing, old town.

“Our objective as a country is to align developments with the National Vision 2036 Pillar 3 on Sustainable Development, which recognizes water as a very scarce resource which requires strategic management by key players.” Botswana is a developing country with an increasing population, Masisi said, adding that an increase in population naturally causes exponential growth in the demand for water. This is a reality that Botswana is faced with and challenged to address for sustainable water supply, the President said.

He indicated that this is why they are continuously witnessing major water projects undertaken by government, in collaboration with key partners. “Gaborone and surrounding areas have been experiencing an acute water supply deficit due to infrastructure that has outlived its potential to meet the growing demand for water by citizens. This particular project entails the construction of a Pump Station at Forest Hill in Gaborone, a 57 kilometre pipeline from Gaborone to Lobatse and a new Northern reservoir.”

The project, awarded China State Construction and Engineering Corporation/Van and Truck Hire Joint Venture at over P1 billion, is currently at 49% of its completion stage. There are 637 jobs created by this water project. “The transmission pipeline will convey 63 million litres of water a day from Gaborone to Lobatse. This is a great improvement compared to an average supply of 14 million litres of water that has been supplied to Lobatse, Borolong and surrounding areas,” Masisi said.

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UN quizzes Botswana on gays, Sebina defilement case

25th October 2021
EU

The United Nations Committee on Human Rights has taken Botswana to task over what it considers to be discrimination laws against lesbians and gays and delay in prosecuting suspects in the infamous Sebina defilement case.  The Botswana delegation led by Presidential Minister Kabo Morwaeng found itself against the wall before the United Nations Human Rights Committee of experts in Geneva, Switzerland.  

First to take Botswana head-on was the UN Committee member, C SOH, who noted that the recent ruling of the High Court pays particular attention to the penal code penalising same-sex sexual conduct as it found that it infringed on the constitutional rights, dignity, liberty and privacy of the LGBTI persons (lesbians and gays).  “Nonetheless, I note with deep concern that those discriminatory provisions of the of the penal code remain in effect and regrettably the government stated in its periodic review before deciding whether or not to repeal section 164 it would still await the final determination of the court of appeal in the case of Motshidiemang vs State,” said Soh.

According to Soh, “This statement makes us cast doubt on the will of the government to vigorously” strike out section 164, which criminalises sex between people of the same sex.  “In this respect, I would like to ask the delegation to explain what the intended goal by the government was when it filed an appeal against the unconstitutionality ruling of the High Court,” he said. Soh said the Botswana Government had also explained that no persons had been convicted under this provision, section 164, ever since the penal code was enacted.

“However, media reports indicate that in August 2016, the government of a Gaborone Magistrate Court sentenced a man three years in prison who had been charged and convicted under section 164 for engaging in unnatural acts. Can the delegation explain these discrepancies relating to persons who have been convicted and sentenced under section 164 of the penal code,” he said.  He also wanted the Botswana delegation to explain how the government addresses how customary courts have been discriminating against LGBTI persons.

Another member of the UN Committee, Duncan Muhumuza, expressed concern that the Directorate of Public Prosecution (DPP) has taken more than four years to prosecute suspects in the Sebina saga in which a councillor was alleged to have slept with a student who was also a minor.
Replying to concerns raised by the UN experts, Mogakolodi Segwagwa, chief state counsel at the Attorney General Chambers, noted that one of the UN committee members has “become fearful that the fact that government appealed the case could be a sign that there is lack of will or doubt on the part of the government as to abolishing or outlawing of same-sex relations.”

“But I would like to assure the panel that Botswana has over the years proved itself at all times to be compliant with court orders. There are many examples I could put forward where the government had to make sure that court orders were executed. That is the assurance I can give out to the committee,” said Segwagwa.  He said there was a good reason for appealing the decision of the High Court in which it outlawed section 164.

“This was a High Court decision, and as you know in our jurisdiction when a judge is at the same court with his brothers and his sisters and fellow judges, whatever decision he puts out so far as that particular court is concerned, it is not law because it is not binding on his fellow brothers and sisters and it is not binding on fellow judges,” explained Segwagwa. He added that “It is merely persuasive so much so that some other judges may choose to when a similar case comes before him or her, depart and ignore the position that that particular judge espoused, and he or she can do so with ease.”

Segwagwa further explained that “There was a very pressing need for this matter to be appealed to the Court of Appeal for purposes of crystalising the law and for purposes of ensuring that if there is any aspect of the law that the High Court had overlooked in arriving at this particular decision, then such an aspect can be taken into consideration by the Court of Appeal.” “So we are waiting for that judgement, and once it comes, it will be implemented. I take it that the committee would like the Court of Appeal to uphold the decision below and strike out this particular section.”

He assured the UN experts that when the High Court struck out section 164 in 2019, the country did not erupt into violence, adding that this was an “indication that we don’t have anything against people of LGBT. They are our brothers and sisters, and we co-exist with them.”  Regarding the Sebina saga, Segwagwa said the painful case “where this councillor was said to have had sexual intercourse with a child is the police dealt with a matter as it is the law and we all know that the police are bound by their Act to do so without fear and prejudice.”

He said Upon completion of their investigation, “the matter was handed over to the prosecuting authority, as Mr Muhumuza had indicated, it has been four years and we concede that four years is a long time and that it is unreasonably a long time and that it defeats the whole adage that justice should be sweetest and freshest so much so that the case needed to be speeded along.”

He added that “But the problem we have which is not a problem in the sense of it being a problem, but the impediment we have in the sense that the Constitution created the Office of the Director of Prosecutions under section 51 subsection A and if you go to that particular section and you read subsection six, the director shall not be subjected to the control of another authority.”

Segwagwa said, “this is the section that was inserted in this constitution to safeguard the independence of the Director of DPP to ensure that he or she prosecutes matters without fear, favour and prejudice and it presents impediment where we can’t try and say to the DPP, go and register or indicate your position now, tomorrow or next year and that is why it has taken all this time, but we believe attempts are being made that it finds its way to the court.”

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