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We broke the law to please Khama – Morupisi

Permanent Secretary to the President (PSP) Carter Morupisi has admitted on Friday (yesterday) that government has gone overboard with regard to the law just to please former President Lt Gen Ian Khama.

Morupisi made this startling revelation at a media briefing in Gaborone which was aimed at discussing the pension and benefits of former presidents especially with regard to Khama. The public service chief said former presidents; the late Sir Ketumile Masire and Festus Mogae never wanted special treatment extended to them from government with regard to pensions and benefits, but Khama continues to expect preferential treatment.

 “In all honesty I will be not fair and authentic to the late ex-president Masire if I state that he wanted the government to treat him with kids gloves and extended his benefits beyond what is in the rule book,” he stated. According to Morupisi, Masire never troubled government, even though he had many financial shortcoming and needs. In addition to Masire, the PSP also highlighted that even former president Mogae was welcoming and engaging.

“Most importantly he never wanted more than we can provide. When he had some displeasure over something he would rightly say it out to us without reaching such news into the public domain. We spoke in-house and resolved issues amicably in-house,” he pointed out.
The PSP confirmed that there is absolutely nothing special out of the ordinary known benefits and privileges that government has done for both former president Masire and Mogae, unlike Khama, those of which they can speak of.

PSP confirmed that government has awarded former President Khama 13 additional home and office staff against the law. “In other words if he was supposed to have four, we have given him 13 additional staff which is against the law. We broke the law here. It was just to help to second Khama,” he explained. He added: “There is a senior catering officer, a chief catering officer, which ordinarily only should work in the State House. But since Masisi has not moved into the State House we borrowed the staff to Khama.”

According to Morupisi, the straw that broke the camel’s back is now when government asks the staff to return stressing, “that is why we are in disagreement with Khama.”  At home, a former president is entitled to, in terms of the law, 2 maids, 1 gardener, and 1 bursary worker. So, it is understood that, with Mogae it is like that and its fine but for Khama, instead of having 2 maids, he was also awarded a chief catering officer sand senior catering officer on top of 2 bursary workers.

Morupisi tried to justify why he broke the law: “so, to avoid an out lash from tax payers and Batswana in general, I have employed a clause in the General Orders that speaks of secondment. I conferred the staff of the president to a secondment to office of the former President.”
The PSP said they admit being wrong with regard to the fact that, they did this when Khama was still president. In other words, he added that, Khama took decisions concerning the office he was heading to, of former President, while he was still president.

“He took away the prerogative of the then incoming president, to take such decisions as the law provides for that. A sitting president now, is the one entitled to take such decisions with regard to the benefits of the retired president (office of the former president.)  Morupisi emphasised that by then it was a very amicable understanding as they could not anticipate the hullabaloo that they are currently faced with regarding the fight between Khama and Masisi.

Even when he came into power, Morupisi stated that the incumbent President Mokgweetsi Masisi also asked where the PSP was getting the powers to take such central decisions.  “I failed to answer this key inquiry. And I said we were doing this with the then president to facilitate his exit, and acknowledged that we were wrong and asked the president for forgiveness and understanding,” Morupisi said.

“There is no one that we are going to sue. In fact, the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) is waiting to hold us accountable on this, in terms of who authorised the payment of additional staff that assists the former President Khama. That’s where they are going to catch us.”
I advised Khama, Morupisi highlighted adding that but Khama did not take the advices and the buck stopped with him as president. That is why, Morupisi continued, am not divorcing myself from those decisions that were still taken under Khama.
And to put more blame to him, the PSP admitted that the secondment was done as an advice from him as he wanted the staff to work for Khama and return them to their respective previous offices after 12 months.

Government also favoured Khama on overtime allowances

Despite admitting that the former presidents have to be treated equally, Morupisi conceded that with Khama it was not the case. We, he said, normally give overtime allowances to former president to use them on staff when circumstances requires to do so and they realised that, in 2018/19, Mogae’s office was reimbursed 160 000 for overtime while Khama’s was awarded 650 000 signalling the disparity between the former presidents.

“Out of that amount, Mogae only utilised 109 000 and Khama used a whopping 546 000. When you look at the records, Khama spent most money on villages to give away bread and soup as well as assisting his team, Super IV to play football. You be the judge on how this money is used,” he said.  

Morupisi also broke the law to accommodate Khama’s Pvt Sec Tlhalerwa

In another turn of events, it appeared that Khama’s Private Secretary Brigadier George Tlhalerwa earned for a salary scale that he was not supposed to be earning. Morupisi explained that: “Khama’s Tlhalerwa was awarded a three-year contract on May 2016 running for three years. But in 1 April 2018, was redeployed to be a Senior Private Secretary to former President Khama but he still retained all his benefits.”

But in a normal case, he added that when one becomes a Senior Private Secretary to former president it is a lower position than a Senior Private Secretary to a sitting President. “The former is Deputy Permanent Secretary Scale and the latter is Permanent Secretary Scale. So Tlhalerwa was paid the way he was previously, although in June 2018 he resigned on unclear grounds and we accepted,” he said.

Why government rejected Isaac Kgosi as Khama’s Pvt Sec

Tlhalerwa’s exit created a vacuum, and that is then that Khama asked government to hire for ex Directorate of Intelligence and Security (DIS) Director General, Colonel Isaac Kgosi as his Senior Private Secretary.  “But it was turned down because Kgosi has been expelled by President Masisi on controversial circumstances so it was for government to re-hire him again and we explained. However the matter is currently before court.”

Every new president presents a Policy shift

According to Morupisi, every new president comes with agenda that should be respected and followed. It is lawful, he said that every new president may come with a policy shift while they ascends to power like President Masisi is currently doing.  A leader of the Executive he directs the direction that a new government should take, the PSP emphasised. 

As examples, “from 1982 to 2017, at Ministry of Agriculture there was ALDEP. It was later reformed to ARAP until 2008 when it became ISPAAD under Khama. Masisi will review it to improve it. There was also SLOCA 1982 – 1987 it gave birth to LIMID. In 1978 – 1994 there was Constituency Community Programe, LG 70 to LG 110, at Ministry of Local Government. So with every new president comes with new direction.” 

Presidential Housing Appeal was started by Masire – PSP

The president housing appeal was started by not Khama, but former President Masire in 1994, and then it was named Small Borrowers Fund, Morupisi told the press adding that it assisted with a lot of things like school fees. “So the truth is Khama, you did not start this housing appeal,” he lashed out. According to Morupisi, Khama only made it to appeal to the private sector.

He justified: “the destitute housing programme, from 2006, it built 3336 houses and 1972 in some areas. We did these, from the Office of the President, even under Khama. But now we took an action, to avoid personalising programmes, that we started presidential housing appeal funds.”   

Dalai Lama visit: Khama’s security personnel was unlawful

In 2017, the 14th Dalai Lama, the head of state and spiritual leader of the Tibetan government-in-exile based in Dharamshala, India was invited to Botswana and cabinet discussed his visit 2 to 3 times in cabinet. Morupisi stated that they advised Khama against contravening one China policy and that as a sovereign state Botswana should meddle in other countries affairs “but Khama had the last word, as he wanted Lama to come saying he is human right activist.”

The PSP narrated that China assists Batswana with scholarships, they loan Botswana with little interests, send their specialist doctors to Botswana while paying for them. Most importantly, he revealed that as Debswana deputy Chair, 20% of Botswana diamonds are sold to China. “They also threated to close their Embassy. We urged Khama that the national interest far outweighs his interest. But Khama went ahead with his decision despite all these. He took security personnel with him.”

Morupisi confirmed that the security personnel that accompanied Khama to India, against governments order faces disciplinary hearing. “All security personnel must know that their allegiance is mostly to, nobody else but a sitting Commander In Chief. All the disciplinary forces, the ultimate responsibility and direction, they take them from the President. When he orders them they should take such orders without hesitation through his operatives. When he says go to war you go to war, when he says don’t you should not.”

Khama wants Morupisi to account for his retirement gifts 

Against what he said at Serowe, Morupisi told the media that when Khama retired Batswana gave him gifts those gifts he said, Khama should ask Tlhalerwa and his team about them not him. Meanwhile on Khawa, the PSP also reminisced that Khama said they are refusing his team to play at Khawa. “I want to clarify that his team is not owned by government but is for him as an individual and therefore government can’t spend on it.”

On transport, Morupisi pointed out that there is where they disagree, as government believes that the law states that former president can be availed transport on a case by case scenario as determined by a sitting president and that it is the prerogative of the president. “Now Khama interprets it differently that it’s a must for transport to be availed to him upon request,” he said. 

On transport, the PSP also confirmed that “out of 13 requests made by Khama, Masisi accepted 7 and rejected 4. Now all these issues are before court; Khama is using government.” When narrating this, the PSP wants the nation to make a sound judgement on whether they are on the right track or not treating Khama well – in terms of the law.  

What the law says: benefits of former presidents

The Pensions and Retirement benefits Act provides that; a former President is, upon ceasing to hold office, entitled to receive a tax free monthly pension equivalent to the monthly basic salary attached to the office of President the time that he or she ceases to hold office, or 80 percent of the incumbent President’s salary, whichever is greater.“The President shall upon dissolution of Parliament, or immediately ceasing to hold office as such, be entitled to receive a gratuity equal to 30 percent of his or current monthly basic salary multiplied by the number of months completed by him or her as President,” it further provides.

The Act states, however, that the benefits will not be paid should the former leader of state pay allegiance to a foreign power or State. When they are sentenced to death or to serve a prison term and the sentence has not been wholly suspended, a sitting President may withhold the benefits if he sees it fit. The gratuity, pension and all other benefits will be stopped in case the former President dies, or in case of marriage of the surviving spouse or when their dependent child reaches the age of 21 years.

The bill also states that when the former President, spouse or their offspring is ruled to be bankrupt, the pension, other benefits and their value shall not form part of the assets of their insolvent estate. In addition, the former President is entitled to a number of security officers as determined by the sitting President, two drivers, one private secretary, one secretary and one office attendant. It states that first class air travel is extended to international trips up to a maximum of 4 trips per annum(including a spouse if accompanying)and per diem for each trip as may be determined by a sitting President.

For transport needs a former president receives one sedan (Mercedes Benz or an equivalent or similar class of motor vehicle), one 4 wheel drive station wagon and one pick-up van and they will be replaced as and when necessary, like other government vehicles, albeit being in the permanent disposal of the former President. Every former president also receives entertainment allowance determined by a sitting President, telephone expenses as well as water and electricity expenses for the office and residence.

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Plight of GBV amid Covid-19

26th November 2020
16-days-of-activism

The United Nation’s UNiTE campaign has marked the beginning of 16 days of activism against Gender-based Violence which will end in December 10 2020, under the global theme, “Orange the world: Fund, Respond, Prevent, Collect!”

The UN Secretary-General’s UNiTE by 2030 to End Violence against Women campaign (UNiTE campaign), managed by UN Women — is a multi-year effort aimed at preventing and eliminating violence against women and girls around the world.

The UN Women’s generation equality campaign emphasises the call for global action to bridge funding gaps, ensure essential services for survivors of violence during the COVID-19 crisis, focus on prevention, and collection of data that can improve life-saving services for women and girls.

Furthermore, the UN Secretary General’s report maintains that this year is like no other. Even before Covid-19 hit, violence against women and girls had reached pandemic proportions.

Globally, according to United Nations, 243 million women and girls were abused by an intimate partner in the past year.

Meanwhile, less than 40 percent of women who experience violence report it or seek help.

Evidently they suggest that as countries implemented lockdown measures to stop the spread of the coronavirus, violence against women, especially domestic violence, intensified- in some countries, calls to helplines have increased five-fold.

“In others, formal reports of domestic violence have decreased as survivors find it harder to seek help and access support through the regular channels. School closures and economic strains left women and girls poorer, out of school and out of jobs, and more vulnerable to exploitation, abused, forced marriage, and harassment,” said the UN.

According to the UN, in April 2020 as the pandemic spread across the world, the UN Secretary-General called for “peace at home”, and 146 member states responded with their strong statement of commitment.

“In recent months 135 countries have strengthened actions and resources to address violence against women as part of the response to Covid-19. Yet, much more is needed,” said the report.

Moreover, they submit that as today, although the voices of activists and survivors have reached a crescendo that cannot be silenced or ignored, ending violence against women will require more investment, leadership and action.

“It cannot be sidelined; it must be part of every country’s national response, especially during the unfolding COVID-19 crisis,” contended the UN report.

For the 16 Days of Activism, UN Women handed over the mic to survivors, activists and UN partners on the ground, to tell the story of what happened after COVID-19 hit.

According to Dubravka Šimonovic, special rapporteur on violence against women, there is urgent need to end pandemic of femicide and violence against women.

Ahead of the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women, she emphasizes that as the world grapples with the devastating impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and its negative impact on women, a pandemic of femicide and gender-based violence against women is taking the lives of women and girls everywhere.

Therefore, she is calling on all States and relevant stakeholders worldwide to take urgent steps to prevent the pandemic of femicide or gender related killings of women, and gender-based violence against women, through the establishment of national multidisciplinary prevention bodies or femicide watches/observatories on violence against women.

These bodies should be mandated to 1) collect comparable and disaggregated data on femicide or gender-related killings of women; 2) conduct an analysis of femicide cases to determine shortcomings, and recommend measures for the prevention of such cases, and 3) ensure that femicide victims are not forgotten by holding days of remembrance.

“Data this mandate has collected since 2015 through my Femicide Watch initiative corroborates the data available from the UN Office on Drugs and Crime, and indicates that among the victims of all intentional killings involving intimate partners, more than 80% of victims are women.  Many of these femicides are preventable. Since 2015, a growing number of States have either established femicide watches or observatories, and in an increasing number of countries, it is the independent human rights institutions, civil society organizations, women’s groups and/or academic institutions that have established femicide watches or observatories,” she argued.

GBV in Botswana

UNFDP (United Nations Population Fund) Botswana cites that, locally over 67 percent of women have experienced abuse, which is over double the global average.

“Gender-based violence undermines the health, dignity, security and autonomy of its victims, yet it remains shrouded in a culture of silence and normalization. Victims of violence, the majority of which are women and girls, can suffer sexual and reproductive health consequences, including forced and unwanted pregnancies, sexually transmitted infections including HIV, and even death,” indicated UNFDP

In his 2020 State of the Nation Address (SONA) he delivered on Monday 9th November at the Gaborone International Convention Centre (GICC), President Mokgweetsi Masisi said government is concerned about the snowballing of GBV incidences, saying, they have prioritized drafting of a Sexual Offenders Bill to be tabled during the sitting of the 12th Parliament.

“The Bill will establish a Sex Offenders’ Registry to record and publicise names and particulars of all persons convicted of sexual offences. To date twelve districts have set up the District Gender Committees in Chobe, Kweneng, Kgatleng, Kgalagadi, Maun, Serowe, Selibe-Phikwe, North East, Bobirwa Sub District, Mabutsane Sub District, Goodhope Sub District as well as Mahalapye Sub District. These committees will promote gender equality and women’s empowerment, and also address gender based violence,” Masisi said.

The President highlighted that the Botswana Police Service, which has been dealing a lot with GBV cases has taken swift action and introduced a Toll-Free number for reports on gender based violence. He further indicated that the Police will establish a Gender and Child Protection Unit

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Transgender persons in Botswana live a miserable life

23rd November 2020
Transgender persons

An international report complied in South Africa dubbed ‘Legal Gender Recognition in Botswana’ says that the transgender and gender non-conforming people in Botswana live a miserable life. The community experiences higher levels of discrimination, violence and ill health.

In this report, it has been indicated that this is because their gender identity, which does not conform to narrowly define societal norms, renders them more vulnerable. Gender identity is a social determinant of health, which means that it is a factor that influences people’s health via their social context, their communities and their experiences of social exclusion. The Ministry of Health and Wellness has recognized this, and transgender people are considered a vulnerable population under the Botswana Second National Strategic Framework for HIV and AIDS 2010-2017.

In a recent study that shed light on the lived experiences of transgender and gender non-conforming people in Botswana, transgender persons often experience discrimination because of their gender identity and expression. The study was conducted by the University of Cape Town, LEGABIBO, BONELA, as well as Rainbow Identity Association and approved by the Health Ministry as well as the University of Botswana.

Of the 77 transgender and gender non-conforming people who participated in the study, less than half were employed. Two thirds, which is approximately 67% said that they did not have sufficient funds to cover their everyday needs. Two in five had hidden health concerns from their healthcare provider because they were afraid to disclose their gender identity.

More than half said that because of their gender identity, they had been treated disrespectfully at a healthcare facility (55%), almost half (46%) said they had been insulted at a healthcare facility, and one quarter (25%) had been denied healthcare because of their gender identity.

At the same time, the ‘Are we doing right’ study suggests that transgender and non-conforming people might be at higher risks of experiencing violence and mental ill-health, compared to the general population. More than half had experienced verbal embarrassment because of their gender identity, 48% had experienced physical violence and more than one third (38%) had experienced sexual violence.

The study showed that mental health concerns were high among transgender and gender non-conforming people in Botswana. Half of the transgender and gender non-conforming study participants (53%) showed signs of depression. Between one in four and one in six showed signs of moderate or severe anxiety (22% among transgender women, 24% among transgender men and 17% among gender non-conforming people).

Further, the study revealed that many had attempted suicide: one in three transgender women (32%), more than one in three transgender men (35%) and three in five gender non-conforming people (61%).

International research, as well as research from Botswana, suggests that not being able to change one’s gender marker has a negative impact on access to healthcare and mental health and wellbeing. The study further showed that one in four transgender people in Botswana (25%) had been denied access to healthcare. This is, at least in part, linked to not being able to change one’s gender marker in the identity documents, and thus not having an identity document that matches one’s gender identity and gender expression.

In its Assessment of Legal and Regulatory Framework for HIV, AIDS and Tuberculosis, the Health Ministry noted that “transgender persons in Botswana are unable to access identity documents that reflect their gender identity, which is a barrier to health services, including in the context of HIV. In one documented case, a transwoman’s identity card did not reflect her gender identity- her identity card photo indicated she was ‘male’. When she presented her identity card at a health facility, a health worker called the police who took her into custody.”

The necessity of a correct national identity document goes beyond healthcare. The High Court of Botswana explains that “the national identity document plays a pivotal role in every Motswana’s daily life, as it links him or her with any service they require from various institutions. Most activities in the country require every Motswana to produce their identity document, for identification purposes of receiving services.”

According to the Legal Gender Recognition in Botswana report, this effectively means that transgender, whose gender identity and expression is likely to be different from the sex assigned to them at birth and from what is recorded on their identity document, cannot access services without risk of denial or discrimination, or accusations of fraud.

In this context, gays and lesbians advocacy group LEGABIBO has called on government through the Department of Civil and National Registration to urgently implement the High Court rulings on gender marker changes. As stated by the High Court in the ND vs Attorney General of Botswana judgement, identity cards (Omang) play an important role in the life of every Motswana. Refusal and or delay to issue a Motswana with an Omang is denying them to live a complete and full-filing life with dignity and violates their privacy and freedom of expression.

The judgement clarified that persons can change their gender marker as per the National Registrations Act, so changing the gender marker is legally possible. There is no need for a court order. It further said the person’s gender is self-identified, there is no need to consult medical doctors.

LEGABIBO also called on government to develop regulations that specify administrative procedure to change one’s gender marker, and observing self-determination process. Further, the group looks out for government to ensure members of the transgender community are engaged in the development of regulations.

“We call on this Department of Civil and National Registration to ensure that the gender marker change under the National Registration Act is aligned to the Births and Deaths Registry Act to avoid court order.

Meanwhile, a gay man in Lobatse, Moabi Mokenke was recently viciously killed after being sexually violated in the streets of Peleng, shockingly by his neighbourhood folks. The youthful lad, likely to be 29-years old, met his fate on his way home, from the wearisome Di a Bowa taverns situated in the much populated township of Peleng Central.

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Khato Civils fights back, dares detractors

23rd November 2020
Khato-civil

CEO of Khato Civils Mongezi Mnyani has come out of the silence and is going all way guns blazing against the company’s adversaries who he said are hell-bent on tarnishing his company’s image and “hard-earned good name”

Speaking to WeekendPost from South Africa, Mnyani said it is now time for him to speak out or act against his detractors. Khato Civils has done several projects across Africa. Khato Civils, a construction company and its affiliate engineering company, South Zambezi have executed a number of world class projects in South Africa, Malawi and now recently here in Botswana.

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