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Boko must pay P12 million to fly

After untidy skirmishes between the Botswana Unified Revenue Services (BURS) and the Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) over the ‘illegal’ flying of aircrafts over Botswana skies by the leader of the main opposition party, the former has availed a checklist of temporary admission of aircraft into the Botswana skies to the party’s lawyers.

After two of the aircrafts he was using for electioneering were grounded by the BURS and his pilots interrogated and later fined P50 000 by the tax collector, UDC President Duma Boko has taken steps to distill the process. The aircrafts were landed to Boko by Waleed Helicopter Services (PTY) Ltd. Boko recently instructed the UDC, Bayford and Associates to ask for a requisite BURS checklist for purposes of temporary importation into Botswana of aircraft intended for use in election campaign.

Dick Bayford, the UDC lawyer held a meeting with BURS officials on the 8th of May 2019 attended by attorney, Aobakwe Monamo and BURS General Manager, Investigations, Compliance and Enforcement Department, Mr Kanone B Molapo. The purpose of the meeting was to push BURS officials to share a checklist with the UDC for purposes of temporarily importing aircraft for election campaign.

“We explained to your Mr Molapo that our clients are desirous of importing into the country on temporary basis a fixed wing aircraft and helicopter for election campaign purposes and none other. That upon expiry of the period of their use in Botswana, as would be advised in due course, same would be re-exported,” reads Bayford’ memo dated 9th May 2019 to BURS. Bayford further notes that “Mr Molapo has not availed us a templated checklist of the requirements sought, but has drawn our attention to relevant provisions in both the Customs Act, 2018 and the Value Added Tax Act which are applicable.”

For the avoidance of doubt and to distill a common understanding on the said provisions and the advice rendered by Mr Molapo, Bayford took liberty to share his interpretation of the two Acts in relation to temporary importation of aircrafts for purposes of an election campaign.
In terms of Section 184(1) BURS shall grant a temporary admission procedure where it is possible to ensure the identification of imported goods at the time of re-export. “In our respectful view, usage of the word “shall” denotes that once the condition precedent is met (ie assurance as to identification) it is mandatory upon BURS to grant a temporary admission procedure,” writes Bayford.

The UDC lawyer also notes that Mr Molapo had drawn their attention to section 185(1) of the Act which provides that BURS may clear goods for temporary admission without a standard customs declaration if it is satisfied that goods will be subsequently re-exported.
“Our instructions are that the aircraft intended for temporary admission would be subsequently re-exported. They will be kept at all material time, save when they are in use, at an officially designated customs airport in Botswana until exportation and by reason of this fact, their subsequent re-exportation is assured. Therefore we pray that they be exempted from standard customs declaration,” says Bayford.

When addressing Section 189 of the Act which deals with temporary admission with conditional relief, Bayford notes that the Customs Act, “means of transport” may be placed under temporary admission procedure with conditional relief of import duties and taxes. “As the above provision is not mandatory, but consider upon yourselves a discretion, Mr Molapo advised that clients could make a proposal on imposition of conditional relief of import duties and taxes.”

UDC, through its lawyers proposed that their aircrafts, as and when they arrive in Botswana, be placed under temporary admission procedure with conditional relief of import duties and taxes. “We respectfully submit that such an exercise of discretion would in the circumstances be apposite considering the fact that same are not to be used for any commercial purposes, but as a facility for advancing the democratic process of electioneering guaranteed under the national constitution,” explained Bayford in his letter to BURS.

Section 196 of the Customs Act indicates that the customs office may require that a means of transport for commercial use that is registered abroad be subject to a customs document and adequate guarantee. The UDC has pleaded with the BURS to apply its discretion as per the law and exempt from the provisions.

In itsv response BURS has noted that section 184 authorizes it to allows “a temporary admission procedure where it is possible to ensure the identification of imported goods at the time of re-export” or where “in view of the nature of the goods or nature of the operations to be carried out, the absence of identification measures is not likely to lead to abuse of the procedure.” The BURS through Mr Molapo notes that “BURS may clear goods for temporary admission without a standard customs declaration if it is satisfied that the goods will be subsequently re-exported.”  

Molapo further observes that if temporarily admitted goods are not the subject of a carnet, BURS may require the submission of a guarantee if it is satisfied that the goods will subsequently be re-exported. “Under section 189 (1) of the Act, goods, including means of transport “may be placed under the temporary admission procedure with conditional relief of import duties and taxes.” The essence of the provision is that there will be relief from, or suspension of, the otherwise chargeable duties/taxes on the affected goods/means of transport. However BURS is given latitude to impose such conditions as it deems fit to safeguard the suspended taxes. Such condition may be the guarantee requirement introduced by section 186 of the Act,” Molapo explained to UDC lawyers.

Molapo has advised UDC that they are required to submit a guarantee worth 12% of the market value of the aircraft and upon satisfying this condition the aircraft would be temporarily admitted for a period of not more than three months. “In case of conformance to all the stipulated condition, on exportation of the goods the undertaking for the payment of the otherwise payable taxes shall be discharged; in case of failure to export within the pre-stated timeframe or violation of any of the imposed conditions, then the hitherto suspended Value Added Tax (VAT) become payable, and reckoned from the date of first importation,” further explains Molapo.

The BURS General Manager also explained that the recipient of the services rendered by the owners of the aircraft (Waleed Helicopter Services Pty Ltd) should account for the VAT payable. On the full checklist, the UDC must provide a declaration concerning the aircraft; its itinerary; the goods onboard; any passengers and crew on board; the destination of such passengers’ crew and goods; and any stores on board; valuation of the aircraft. Finally the UDC must pay a temporary deposit equivalent to applicable duties and taxes.

So far Boko has used a 2017 Augusta A109SP which is valued at US$ 5 950 000 which translates to about P50 million of which 12% translates to P6 million. But depending on their age, other models could come at a bit lower prices of just under P20 million which would require the UDC to fork out about P2 million as guarantee to the BURS and further ensure that there is no violation of the preset conditions for the temporary admission of the aircraft or face penalties including paying all tax payable.

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State forged Kgosi’s arrest warrant

22nd July 2021
FORMER DIS BOSS: ISAAC KGOSI

In a classic and shocking case of disgrace and dishonour to this country, the law enforcement agencies are currently struggling to cover up a damaging and humiliating scandal of having conspired to forge the signature of a Palapye Chief Magistrate, Rebecca Motsamai in an unlawful acquisition of the much-publicised 2019 warrant of arrest against Isaac Kgosi, the former director of the Directorate of Intelligence Services (DIS).

The cloak-and-dagger arrest was led by the DIS director, Brigadier Peter Magosi supported by the Botswana Police, Botswana Defence Force (BDF), with the Botswana Unified Revenue Services (BURS) which accused Kgosi of tax evasion, in the backseat.

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UDC parties discuss by-elections

22nd July 2021
UDC

Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) constituent members are struggling to reach an agreement over the allocation of wards for the imminent ward by-elections across the country.

Despite a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC), Botswana Patriotic Front (BPF) and Alliance for Progressives (AP) are said to be active, but the nitty-gritties are far from being settled.

The eight bye-elections will be a precursor of a somewhat delayed finalisation of the brittle MoU. The three parties want to draw a plan on how and who will contest in each of the available wards.

This publication has gathered that the negotiations will not be a run off the mill because there is already an impasse between the Botswana Congress Party (BCP) which is a UDC constituent and AP (currently negotiating to join umbrella).

The by-elections joint committee met last week at Cresta President Hotel in a bid to finalise allocation but nothing tangible came out of the gathering, sources say.

The cause of the stalemate according to those close to events, is the Metsimotlhabe Ward which the two parties have set their eyes on.

In 2019, he ward was won by Botswana Democratic Party’s (BDP) Andrew Sebobi who unfortunately died in a tragic accident in February last year.

Sebobi had convincingly won by 1 109 votes in the last elections; and was trailed by Sephuthi Thelo of the UDC trailed him with 631 votes; while Alliance for Progressives’ Innocent Moamogwe got 371 votes.

Thelo is a BCP candidate and as per UDC norm, incumbency prevails meaning that the BCP will contest since they were runners up. On the other hand, AP has also raised its hand for the same.

“AP asked for it on the basis that they have a good candidate but BCP did not agree to that request also arguing they have a better contestant,” one UDC member confided to this publication.

Notwithstanding Metsimotlhabe Ward squabble, it is said the by-election talks are almost a done deal, with Botswana National Front (BNF) tipped to take Boseja South ward in Mochudi East constituency. Botswana Patriotic Front (BPF) will be awarded Tamasane Ward in Lerala/Maunatlala constituency, sources say.

“But the agreement has to be closed by National Executive Committee (NEC),” emphasized the informant.

The NEC is said to have been cautioned not to back the wrong horse but rather rate with reason and facts.

UDC President, Duma Boko has told this publication that, “allocation is complete with two wards already awarded but with only one yet to be finalized,” he could not dwell into much details as to which party got what and the reasons for the delay in finalisation.

Chairperson of the by-elections committee, Dr. Phenyo Butale responded to this publication regarding the matter: “As AP we contested and as you may be aware we signed the MoU with UDC and BPF to collaborate on bye-elections. The opposition candidate for all bye-elections will be agreed by these parties and that process is still ongoing,” he said when asked if AP is interested on the ward and how far with the talks on bye-elections.

Butale, a former Gaborone Central Member of Parliament, who is also AP Secretary General continued to say, “As the chairperson of the bye-elections committee we are still seized with that matter. We should also do some consultations with the local structures. Once the process is complete we will issue a notice for now we cannot talk about the other two while the other is still pending the other one”.

Butale further clarified: “There is no such thing as AP and BCP not in agreement. It is an issue of signatories discussing and determining the opposition candidates across the three wards.”

Apart from the three wards, there are five more council wards that UDC is yet to allocate to cooperating partners.

FROM PALAPYE MEET: BPP CAUTION NEC MEMBERS  

With the UDC cheerful from last weekend’s meeting in Palapye, the meeting however was very tense on the side of both BCP and BNF, with only BPP flexing its muscle and even lashing out.

BCP going into the meeting, had promised to ask difficult questions to the UDC NEC.

BCP VP and also acting Secretary General, Dr. Kesitegile Gobotswang, presented their qualms which were addressed by UDC Chairperson Motlatsi Molapisi, informants say.

It is said Molapisi is fed up and concerned by some UDC members especially those in the NEC who ‘wash party’s dirty linen in public’.

Insiders say the veteran politician cautioned the NEC members that they “will not expel any party but individuals who tarnish the image of the UDC.”

It is not the first time BPP play a paternalistic role as it once expressed its discontent with BCP in 2020, saying it should never wash UDC linen in public.

At first it is said, BPP, the oldest political formation in Botswana, claims disappointment on BCP stance that UDC should be democratised especially by sharing their stand with the media. Again, BPP was not happy with BCP leader Dumelang Saleshando’s decision to air his personal views on social media regarding the merger of UDC party.

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DIS infiltrates Police fingerprint system

22nd July 2021
Makgope

Botswana Police Service (BPS) Commissioner, Keabetswe Makgophe, has of late been dousing raging fires from various quarters of society following the infiltration of the police fingerprint system by the Directorate on Intelligence and Security (DIS), WeekendPost has learnt.

Fresh information gleaned from a number of impeccable sources, points to a pitiable working relationship between the two state organs. Cause of concern is the DIS continuous big brother role to an extent that it is now interfering with other institutions’ established mandates.

BPS which works closely with the DIS has been left exasperated by the works of the institution formed in 2008. It is said, the DIS through its Information Technology (IT) experts in collusion with some at BPS forensics department managed to infiltrate the Fingerprint system.

The infiltration, according to those in the know, was for the DIS to “teach a lesson” to some who are on their radar. It is said the DIS is playing and fighting dirty to win the fights they have lost before.

By managing to hack the police finger print system, a number of renowned businessmen and other politically exposed persons found their fingers in the system. What surprised the victims is the fact that they have never been charged of any wrongdoing by the police and they were left reeling in shock to learn that their fingers are on the data-base of criminals.

In fact, some of those who their fingerprints were falsely included in the records of those on the wrong side of law learnt later when other errands demanded their fingerprints.

“We learnt later when we had to submit and buy some documents and we were very shocked,” one politician who is also a businessman confided to this publication this week.

“We then learn that there are some fabricated criminality recorded for us, as to when did we commit those remained secret to the police, but then we had to engage our lawyers on the matter and that is when we were cleared,” said the politician-cum- tenderpreneur.

The lawyers have confirmed engaging the police and that the matters were settled in a gentlemen’s agreement and concluded.

All these happened behind the scenes with the police top brass oblivious only to be confronted by the irked lot, police sources also add. The victimized group who most of them have been fighting lengthy battles with the DIS read malice and did not blink when it was revealed that these were done by the DIS.

“And it was clear that they (DIS) are the ones in this dirty war which we don’t understand. Remember when we sue, it will be the Police at the courts not the DIS and that is why we agreed to a ceasefire more so they also requested that be kept under carpet,” said the victim.

Nonetheless, the Police through its spokesperson Assistant Commissioner, Dipheko Motube, briefly said: “we do not have any system that has been hacked.” On the other hand DIS mouthpiece Edward Robert was not in office this week to comment on the matter.

Reports however say DIS boss, Peter Magosi, who most of the victims accuse of the job, is said to have met his police counterpart Makgophe to put the matter to bed.

COVID-19 RAVAGES POLICE

As frontline workers, Police have not escaped the wrath of Covid-19. Already the numbers of those infected has reached the highest of high and they suggest that they be priorities on vaccine rollout.

“Our job is complicated, firstly we arrest including those who are non-compliant to Covid protocols and we go to accidents and many more. These put us at risk and it seems our superiors are not bothered,” said one police officer this week.

The cops further complain about that working spaces are small, as such expose them to contact the virus.

“Some tests positive and go for quarantine while the rest of the unit will be left without even test carried out. If at all the bosses are serious all the police officers should every now and then be subjected to testing or else we will be no more because of the virus,” added another officer based in Gaborone.

The government has since placed teachers on the priority list for the vaccines, it remains to be seen whether the police, who also man road blocks, will be considered.

“But our bosses should convince the country leadership about this, if not then we are doomed,” concluded a more senior officer.

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