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Masisi rejects MPs P1 billion for election

President Dr Mokgweetsi Masisi has amid budget constraints thrown out of the window Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) legislators’ electioneering plan to increase Constituency Fund budget which they believed was going to earn the party more votes in the October general elections.

The plea was made early this year and was emphasized before the national budget approval at a number of party meetings with Vice President, Slumber Tsogwane asked to relay the message to his superior, President Masisi. The appeal, according to its proponents – majority of MPs, would work wonders for the BDP in the October elections later this year. BDP MPs proposed that the fund be increased from P10 million to P20 million per constituency.

This, they said, will ensure that their constituencies push a number of developmental agendas and backlog projects. Have members succeeded in their request; the government was going to be forced to be spend a whooping P1.1 billion on the initiative from the current budget of P570 million.  

The P570 million constituency fund was introduced during former President Lt Gen Ian Khama’s administration. Constituency Fund is modelled in such a way that it channels money from central government directly to electoral constituencies for local infrastructure projects.
Initially, many, including BDP politicians were skeptical of the whole idea positing that it is a scheme vulnerable to corruption and abuse.  

However, BDP members have somersaulted and now want it increased as it has proved popular among electorates.  “We have discussed this issue and suggested to the leadership that funds permitting the government must look at this initiative and increase its budget,” said one party insider. “For now the suggestion was it should be increased from P10 to P20 million because since its inception a number of communal projects have been pushed. These are the developments that are not in the National Development Plans or that will take time to be included in the NDP in the near future.” These recommendations were among a litany of those were given to parliamentary representatives by electorates.

However at last week’s all BDP candidates retreat at the party’s Treasurer Satar Dada’s plush home in Mmokolodi, Masisi did not buy the idea saying they should use the available funds like money sourced from investors to advance their campaigns.  He went on to advise candidates that with few months before the polls they should use P10 million for constituency fund to lure votes. “You have P570 million of constituency funds including opposition constituencies and what are you doing with that monies. You should use it strategically so that you can show tangible results to voters. You should have charm so that people are happy. Campaign is like menstrual cycle,” he said when responding to the calls of increasing the fund.

He continued; “Let’s make people happy, the BDP should make Batswana happy. There are many attributes to it. Let’s not shout, hate and critique people. You are not representing the party. If you do that Le jelwe, he said. “Polotiki gase maikgantsho, don’t come with your fancy car at rallies because it might depict you as motho yoo maikgantsho. Fancy cars belong somewhere. We are about people feeling good, not yourself. Many of you should become politicians.”

It is said ever since the idea was sold to him Masisi never entertained it as there are number of priorities the government should invest in. “He is very weary of the budget implications on this issue. In fact, he believes the government could rather invest or increase budget of the relevant authorities depending on the needs of the area so that they could curb the shortcomings because needs vary per constituency rather than increasing by 100% monies across all the constituencies. Because constituency fund will directly and diligently push those works especially water deficiency and or erection of fences separating wildlife and humans; but Water Utilities or Wildlife department could use the money much better,” revealed a source.

The other factor that Masisi’s advisors gave him according to those in the know was that, “after making a number of adjustments to the budget like increasing public servants salaries, de-linking members of the disciplined forces as well as increasing members of the National Assembly wages he could be seen as reckless when it comes to spending public money.” All these plus increasing constituency fund, sources and observers alike say it was going to attract publish backlash and negativity on Masisi’s presidency.

Legislators on the other hand were of the view that this initiative could make it easy for BDP even in constituencies that are considered opposition stronghold, “because this is the idea of BDP and not the opposition, the voters should be made aware of that fact to show them that as a party we care about them.” When appearing before the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) last year, Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development (MLGRD), Boipolelo Khumomatlhare revealed that they are in the process of reviewing the initiative.

“It has been said in the past that programs like Ipelegeng and lately constituency fund should be reviewed. It is difficult to say, but, yes, they should be reviewed. But they can be coordinated in a manner that could help in the National Development Plan or District Development Plan,” he said.

The Constituency Fund focuses on seven areas: Environment (planting of trees, cleaning the environment and establishment of parks in open spaces); Public Health (public health seminars, mobile clinics and improvement of health infrastructure); Education (extra-lessons for struggling students and additional facilities for schools, students and teachers); Sports and the Arts (sports and arts training clinics for the youth, aiding access to sporting, arts and music facilities, coordination of events and development of sport fields); Community Safety and Security (coordination of neighborhood-watch initiatives, procurement of security cameras and others); Infrastructure (financing of backlogs in infrastructure projects, including sewerage, dilapidated schools, clinics, and roads); and Small, Medium Enterprise and Business Development (training of hawkers and business-people on management and facilitating business development by supporting initiatives for access to funding and markets).

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Minister Kgafela begs self-exiled brother to return

4th August 2021
Kgafela

A heartfelt message of good wishes from Minister Mmusi Kgafela to his self-exiled brother and Bakgatla paramount chief, Kgafela Kgafela II, this week urged the latter to consider calls for his return to Botswana to visit his tribe and family.

“On behalf of our father’s people, your people, I wish to inform you that Bakgatla are thinking of you, and they miss you dearly. They request that you should find time to visit them. Please come to Botswana to spend some time with them, to see and greet them,” said Mmusi as part of his 50 years birthday message to Kgafela Kgafela II, who has vowed never to set foot in Botswana.

However, Mmusi Kgafela did not shed light on how his brother will deal with the arrest warrant, which triggers once he sets foot in Botswana.

The Bakgatla Kgosikgolo, who went on a self-imposed exile in 2012 to South Africa, faces a decade-old-plus warrant of arrest issued by the Village magistrate court after his non-appearance in Court over criminal charges relating to flogging of his subjects. Kgafela described the charges as ‘political persecution’ before jetting out to his second home in South Africa, Moruleng, where he is also a Chief.

Asked over his views on the complications around the warrant of arrest, Mmusi, a lawyer by training, said, “what people need to understand is that a warrant of arrest is not a prison sentence.”

He continued: “There is a need for reconciliation and discussions to put all these issues behind us. We need to move on. What I have also realized is that the state is not keen on pursuing the matter as they have not sought his extradition,” he said.

In 2017, the then Minister of Defence, Justice, and Security, Shaw Kgathi, told Parliament that the arrest warrant issued against Bakgatla Kgosi-kgolo is still valid.

“….because a Court order once issued remains valid and enforceable unless it is rescinded by the Court that issued it, in this case being Village Magistrate Court. It may also be revoked by a higher court being the High Court or the Court of Appeal,” Kgathi said.

As things stand, the Government will arrest Bakgatla Kgosi Kgafela II if he crosses over to Botswana, Parliament heard.

Kgathi responded to a question by the then Mochudi West Member of Parliament, Gilbert Mangole, who wanted to know if the arrest warrant imposed on Kgafela was still valid.  Further, he wanted clarity on what it would take for the Government to trigger the removal of the warrant to enable Kgosi to visit his tribe in Botswana if he so wishes.

Could Mmusi be under pressure to facilitate Kgafela’s return?

Although Mmusi denies the claim, some royal sources opine that he (Mmusi) is under pressure to help President Dr. Mokgweetsi Masisi fulfill his 2019 electoral campaign pledge to the tribe. The President had pledged that he would “not rest until their chief, Kgosi Kgafela Kgafela II, is back home.”

Mmusi, however, says Masisi has not personally engaged him on Kgafela.

Kgafela’s former lawyer, Advocate Sydney Pilane, has in the past told this publication that he suspects that as the leader of the BDP, President Masisi hopes that if he brings Kgosi Kgafela back, BaKgatla may be grateful to the BDP, and benefits might accrue in consequence.

While Mmusi says the matter will need to be discussed and dealt with, private attorney Kgosiitsile Ngakaagae who was prosecuting Kgafela, warned that there is nothing to address or facilitate.

“There is no need for political intervention. Kgosi Kgafela is officially a fugitive from Justice. It’s for the Directorate of Public Prosecutions (DPP) to issue a nolle prosequi (we shall no longer prosecute) to enable his return. Constitutionally the DPP cannot be dictated to by politicians. The matter is beyond the President unless he violates the DPP’s constitutional mandate,” charged Ngakaagae.

“An arrest is intended to bring someone to Court. Secondly, a party who has become aware that a warrant has been issued against them can apply to Court before it is implemented for it to be discharged.”

The only option for the state currently, which the state is reluctant to pursue, is to drop the charges and withdraw the warrant of arrest or decide on a deliberate non-enforcement of the warrant, according to lawyers who spoke to this publication.

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The secrecy behind BDF deployment budget

4th August 2021
President Masisi & BDF

In South Africa, President Cyril Ramaphosa recently told his parliament that the deployment of his army to Mozambique had cost close to a billion rand, with the exact figure placed at R984,368, 057. On the other hand, the Botswana government is yet to say a word on their budget concerning the deployment.

In his National Assembly report tabled last week Tuesday, Ramaphosa said:

“This serves to inform the National Assembly that I have authorized the employment of 1,495 members of the South African National Defence Force (SANDF) for service in fulfillment of an international obligation towards SADC, to assist Mozambique combat acts of terrorism and violent extremists in the Caba Delgado province. This deployment had cost close to a billion rand, with the exact figure placed at R984,368,057.”

The soldiers, he said, are expected to remain there for the next three months.

Botswana, however, is yet to publicize its expenditure. Asked by this publication over why they have not and whether they will, the Minister of Defence, Justice, and Security, Kagiso Mmusi, said they would when the time is right.

“As you may be aware, nobody planned for this. It was not budgeted for. We had to take our BDF resources to Mozambique, and we are still doing our calculations. We also need to replace what we took from the BDF to Mozambique,” he said.

This week, President Dr. Mokgweetsi Masisi revealed that the Southern African Development Community (SADC) and the Botswana government would share the sustainment of the Mozambique military combat deployment. SADC has given Botswana its share to use according to its needs.

The costs in such deployments are typically categorized into three parts-boots on the ground or handling the system, equipment, and operational sustenance logistics.

It is unknown how much combat pay, danger pay, or sustenance allowance the soldiers will get upon return. However, President Masisi has assured the soldiers that they will get their money.

Masisi has said deployment comes when the country is faced with economic challenges that have been exacerbated to a great extent by the COVID-19 Pandemic, which is inflicting enormous health, financial, and social damage to all nations.

Botswana has sent 296 soldiers who left on Monday to Mozambique to join the SADC standby force.

Parliament fumes over being snubbed

In the 1994 Lesotho mission, the Botswana Parliament was engaged after the soldiers were long deployed. A repeat of history this week saw members of parliament grilling the executive over snubbing parliament and keeping it in the dark about the Mozambique military deployment.

Zimbabwe pledges 304 soldiers

Meanwhile, Zimbabwe has pledged 304 soldiers to the SADC Standby Force Mission in Mozambique to train an infantry battalion-size unit at a time, Defence and War Veterans Affairs Minister Oppah Muchinguri-Kashiri has said.

In a statement to journalists, Minister Muchinguri-Kashiri said the contingent would consist of 303 instructors and one specialist officer to coordinate the SADC Force Headquarters in Maputo.

Minister Muchinguri-Kashiri said that in terms of Section 214 of the Constitution of Zimbabwe, Parliament would be informed accordingly.

During the Extraordinary Summit of the 16-member regional bloc held in Maputo, Mozambique, last month, member states resolved to deploy a force to help Mozambique contain insurgency in its northern provinces where terrorists have left a trail of destruction that also threatens regional peace.

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Isaac Kgosi awarded PhD

4th August 2021
FORMER DIS BOSS: ISAAC KGOSI

Former director general of the Directorate of Intelligence Service, Isaac Kgosi has been awarded doctorate in International and Diplomatic Studies by a Slovenian institution-New University after successfully defending his doctoral dissertation last year.

The institution‘s website shows that in February 2020 Kgosi defended his dissertation titled ‘Southern African Development Community [SADC] Diplomatic Conflict Management Response for Enhancing Human Security: The Case of Mozambique.’

“Faculty of government and European Studies hereby certifies that Seabelo Isaac Kgosi born in Francistown, on 15th December 1958 completed all obligations of the international and Diplomatic Studies doctoral programme on March 22,2021. On these grounds the Faculty of Government and European Studies is conferring  upon him the scientific  title of Doctor of Science in International  and Diplomatic Studies, abbr:PhD,” reads the institution’s conferment certificate dated  O6 July 2021.

Kgosi’s thesis was a study of SADC’s mediation and diplomacy in the Mozambican conflict that is mainly between the ruling Front for the Liberation of Mozambique (Frelimo) government and forces of the National Resistance (Renamo) that was once mediated by the late former president Sir Ketumile Masire in 2016 when it re-emerged after a revival by Renamo in 2012, driven by several grievances including allegations of economic marginalisation, regional economic imbalances and breach of the 1992 Rome General Peace Accords which had ended the post-independence civil war fought from 1977 to 1992. The escalation of conflict in Mozambique in early 2016 resulted in displacement of citizens in affected areas whilst thousands of people crossed the borders into Malawi and eastern Zimbabwe as refugees.

Efforts to search for and locate the document were unsuccessful at the time of going for press.

Kgosi’s curriculum vitae suggests that he has a Diploma in Mechanical Engineering and a Masters in Intelligence and Security obtained from Brunel University, a public research university located in Uxbridge, West London, United Kingdom. The latter qualification was obtained in 2007.

It is not yet known on whether Kgosi will use his qualifications to seek employment locally or internationally, or will decide to open a consultancy firm in line with his experience and academic achievements once the dust surrounding him goes way.

The former spy chief is currently fighting to clear his name in a series of cases against the state, which accuses him of owing the tax man, capturing images of the intelligence agents, as well as their identity between the 18th and 25th February 2019 as well as the identity cards of the officers engaged in a covert operation of the DIS. He is also accused of instructing Bank of Botswana (BoB) to open three bank accounts that were used to loot public funds amounting to over P100 billion together with former president Lt Gen Ian Khama.

Kgosi has countered on all the cases demanding the evidence which links him to the crimes levelled against him, all of which the state is currently struggling to submit before the courts. The state has lost and appealed the photographs case while the P100 billion case has been described as a big lie by various institutions.

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