In the wake of the much anticipated Serowe meeting to be addressed by the former President Lt Gen Seretse Khama Ian Khama scheduled for May 25th 2019, reports gathered by WeekendPost state that Khama is likely to be arrested immediately after the meeting.
The scheduled meeting is a follow up to his first meeting which was held on the 5th April 2019 at Serowe Showgrounds where Khama consulted with Bangwato on whether to leave Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) or not. Reports suggests that immediately after the meeting in what is believed to scare multitudes that will throng the event, the government machinery that will be deployed at the meeting will immediately whisk him away where he will be detained for only 3 hours. “This is a move to show him that he is not immune to anything.
They want to send a strong message and scare people to stay away from him as much as possible”, said the source close to the development. A reliable source also told WeekendPost that the mobilization for buses has started in the whole central region to ferry people to the meeting on the 25th May. “Already now 27 buses have been secured and the number is still increasing to make sure that the people attend the meeting in large numbers”.
A source close to government enclave who spoke on condition of anonymity said President Masisi is now fed up with his predecessor. “We will not be surprised if he arrests him, he once told his close associates that Khama will one day wake up in jail,” said the source. In an interview with this publication this week Khama said he is not aware of any plans to arrest him.
He said he is not doing anything illegal, but just consulting with his tribe on his future and that of the BDP. According to Khama the meeting will go on as planned and no one should be afraid to attend. Khama also highlighted that he is in constant communication with Samson Moyo Guma who fled the country last month amid assassination claims.
Reports suggest that Moyo Guma is likely to arrive back in the country anytime soon to launch the independent candidates prior to the general elections. Following the recent suspensions and expulsion from the party, a number of independent candidates is expected to increase to a record breaking figure this election year.
Khama on Olopeng feud
Former President Ian Khama also took the opportunity to deny allegations that he and his longtime ally Minister of Tertiary Education, Research, Science and Technology Thapelo Olopeng have a fall out. He confirmed that he has some cattle that he is currently keeping at Olopeng’s farm and is working on captivating them not that they are having a problem.
“Olopeng and I haven’t had any fallout, we still remain very close. Olopeng has no livestock at my farm in fact I am the one who has cattle at his farm. I am in the process of retaining them as soon as I am done with fencing and drilling a borehole at my farm near Letlhakane”, he said.
“I am not bigger than the party”
Khama dismissed allegations that he acts like he is bigger than the Botswana Democratic Party (BDP). An association that identifies itself as Association of former Members of Parliament (MPs) has this week came out attacking former President Ian Khama on a statement accusing him of fueling regionalism, acting like he is bigger than the BDP and causing instability within the party.
“How can I be bigger than the party when I am not even in any of the BDP structure? I am just an ordinary member, I haven’t been involved in any of the party works in the recent past and I don’t know how I can be bigger than the party. I don’t know who these people are, I have never heard of the association but I think they are a group of people who have been sent to attack me”, he said. He however emphasized that he does not dispute raising concerns on how the current administration runs the party.
“The BDP is in decline currently, the current leadership is killing it, democrats are being treated badly and I have also been treated badly and I have been thinking about whether I should leave or not,” Khama said. The former President further revealed that he had a meeting with the Director General of the Directorate of Intelligence and Security Services (DIS) Brigadier Peter Magosi who tried to initiate a meeting of reconciliation between him and President Masisi.
Khama confirmed that according a response he got from Magosi. Masisi declined to meet on two attempts initiated by the country’s Spy Chief. “Masisi turned Magosi down, it must be understood that this was all Magosi’s initiative. This was not the first time. Magosi has been one of those who has been constantly trying to bring about reconciliation and that was his last effort but it turned down that his master was determined to upset him”, he said.
Khama accused Masisi of hiding behind elders to avoid reconciliation, emphasizing that it has been over year and Masisi has never attempted to meet. “Masisi has refused to meet on different accounts, and when Magosi approached me I knew Masisi would reject. I know that after Kang he immediately meet Venson- Moitoi and even instructed Slumber Tsogwane to carry on attempts for the party unity. It was so easy for him to meet Moitoi after but never with me it seem impossible up to today”.
The former President says there were two attempts where he had agreed to meet with Masisi but he has declined using the elders as an excuse saying they were the ones who should bring them together. “I have BDP best interest at heart, and I put them before my own. So I know that the best outcome for the party or even the nation is to find common grounds between us but if he wants to continue doing like he did recently at Khawa then it is a problem”.
Khama said with the kind of thing that they continue to do, treating people badly, it is in their DNA now saying one is left with very little choice with the leadership that they now have in the BDP. “It is an organization I still want to belong to, but the way they suspend people, members of parliament, kicking people out of cabinet who may not agree with him is just immature.
Arrogance and immaturity is where we are. Unfortunately for me the only thing left is the name, its values have been eroded, and that is why I thought to myself is this really the party I used to recognize, that I joined but bearing in mind that I shouldn’t just the decision on my own but consult and hear what others say and after hearing them I will decide. That is the purpose of the meeting on May 25th in Serowe.
The Khawa handshake
Khama also took swipe at some pundits who rushed to social media with pictures of him and Masisi greeting each other at Khawa and concluding that it was reconciliation. “We were just greeting each other, there was no agreement of any sort. When he came we all stood up and as he passes we exchanged greetings, this is our culture, this is showing respect to elders, it is just good manners. I respect the institution of the presidency, I don’t hate Masisi.
We have our differences, I don’t know what he feels towards me but the way I am being treated I would say it comes very close to hate and intense resentment of me but I don’t share those sentiments with him or anybody for that matter”, said Khama. Khama concluded that despite their already known differences he cannot greet the President when they meet at an event. We are people and must show respect at all times. He however said Masisi should feel free to engage him and not hide behind some biased elders who are not prepared to mediate.
Botswana health officials have confirmed the new COVOD-19 variant, which was first found in India. The Ministry of Health and Wellness has through a press statement informed members of the public that a new COVID-19 variant (B.1.617), first discovered in India. The Indian variant was confirmed in Botswana on 13 May 2021.
According to Christopher Nyanga, spokesperson at the Ministry, this followed a case investigation within Greater Gaborone, involving people of Indian origin who arrived in the country on the 24th April 2021.
“As at 16 May 2021, the B. 1. 617 variant was confirmed in two (2) people. The clients are currently receiving medical care and remain stable with no life-threatening symptoms. The two (2) cases were part of 383 people (both Batswana and some Indian nationals) who were tested for COVID-19. From this number, 43 tested positive, with two (2) showing the B. 1. 617 variant as already alluded to. Contact tracing has been expanded in line with COVID-19 protocols. All contacts and confirmed cases have been evacuated to facility based quarantine and isolation respectively, for close monitoring,” Nyanga narrated.
The World Health Organization recently announced that the Indian Covid-19 variant was a global concern, with some data suggesting the variant has “increased transmissibility” compared with other strains.
Meanwhile in the wake of Botswana’s confirmation of the Indian variant, Nyanga reminded the public of the government intervention to control the introduction of new variants of public health concern into the country. He stated that all those who have travelled or transited through areas of high risk as previously communicated on 3rd May 2021 upon return shall immediately quarantine in a central area to be identified by the Ministry of Health and Wellness for a period not exceeding ten (10) days; Repeat Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) test after seven (7) days of quarantine and be discharged as per the outcome of the results.
He said the requirements are complementary to the mandatory requirements of producing on arrival a negative PCR test not older than 72hrs from the time the sample was collected
“The public is advised to remain vigilant and minimize the spread of COVID-19 by following the already outlined preventative measures such as washing of hands with soap or use of a hand sanitizer, wearing of face masks, avoiding crowded places/social distancing and avoiding non-essential movement,” Nyanga said.
The India variant – officially called B.1.617.2 – is one of four mutated versions of coronavirus which have been designated as being “of concern” by transitional public health bodies, with others first being identified in Kent, South Africa and Brazil.
The lawyers representing former President Lt Gen Ian Khama, Ramalepa Attorneys have come forth dismissing a response letter penned down by Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) activist MacDonald Peloetletse after he was slapped with a P1.5 million lawsuit for defamation of their client.
Tebogo Tladi, an attorney at Ramalepa, said last week Thursday Peloetletse took to social media to publish a substantively false, wrongful and unlawful statement about Khama. MacDonald Peloetletse’s commentary which was posted on Gabz FM News page reads, “I am a former soldier. Everything former President SKI Khama said here is a LIE. In fact, soldiers suffered more under Khama than under his predecessors.
He actually stole money that the UN had paid to the soldiers who went for the operations and paid them less than a quarter of what was actually due to them. “Unhappy soldiers took the BDF to court and won, the BDF is still struggling to pay the debts! Khama can fool some people, but not all the people and not all the time.
“In fact many soldiers, serving, retired and those that resigned and were in the operations during Khama’s time get even more annoyed to such disrespectful statements by Ian Khama.” Khama’s lawyer says the impugned statement was published with the intention to injure his client (Khama) in his personality rights, good name and dignity, further indicating that the statement has damaged his good reputation.
“We have therefore been instructed by Client to demand, as we hereby do, that you publish on the same forum a retraction and a full and unconditional apology to Client within three days of receipt of this letter- and that you deliver such apology in a formal letter to the Office of the Former President, Dr Khama. In the event that you have not compiled with this demand by close of business on Monday 10th May 2021, our Client will assume that you have refused to comply with this demand.”
To top it all off, Khama demands that Peloetletse pay him P1.5 million in damages for defamation. “Furthermore, we hold instructions to demand as we hereby do, that you pay our Client damages for defamation in the sum of P1, 500,000.00 within seven days of receipt of this letter.” In the event that Peloetletse fails to pay the amount of damages demanded by Khama, Tladi says they will institute legal proceedings for the recovery of the aforesaid damages.
In his response letter addressed to Ramalepa Attorneys, Peloetletse said that he requests enlightenment and clarification that he be provided with proof that the allegations and comments which they attribute to him were indeed authored by him and that the platform which the comments were placed was not hacked.
“Please also advise if whether your clients has been endowed with a “special particular privilege status” that restricts the citizens of this country from commenting or responding to public statements made by your client in the course of political discourse especially when made on public forum and relate to matters of general public concern. (I trust that your brilliant legal mind is well informed with respect to the jurisprudence in such matters)”.
Peloetletse also said he would like to share with the attorneys a video which was posted on a public forum. “Please listen carefully to the conversations and discussion herein and advice if possibly such discussions form a reasonable basis for a justifiably rebuttal by any Motswana Citizen to the public pronouncements and defamatory statements made by your client about our government (bearing in mind of course a citizens constitutional right to freedom of speech and freedom of expression).’’
Consulted for further comment on the matter on Thursday after receiving Peloetletse’s response, Khama’s attorney Tebogo Tladi said the letter doesn’t hold any water. “The only way out for him is to prove the truth of the allegations on his comment or deny publication. He does not answer substantively to the defamation and does not respond to the demand of an apology or payment of damages.
So his letter really contains largely matters irrelevant to the substance of the letter of demand. His response in fact presents no legally cognizable defence at all- it would appear he responded without the benefit of legal advice, which would not be prudent for such an important case. So we will proceed to issue summons and wait to see what defences he will plead in court.’’
Botswana and Zambia this week celebrated the opening of a multi-million Dollar infrastructural project, the Kazungula Bridge, projected to contribute around P100 million annually for Botswana. This project comes after the signing of the 2012 Agreement between the two countries to construct a bridge that would ease movement of goods.
President Mokgweetsi Masisi said the Kazungula Bridge will open avenues for improved trade, job creation and economic diversification in both countries. Further, the Bridge will significantly accelerate Southern African Development Committee (SADC) regional integration agenda which Botswana and Zambia are vigorously pursuing.
“By growing our strategic partnerships through this project, we have improved the development and competitiveness of our economies to attract more private sector investment, thereby, supporting our efforts to create employment, especially for the burgeoning youth,” Masisi said at the opening ceremony in Kazungula on Monday.
The Kazungula Bridge comprises a road and rail bridge over the Zambezi River, directly linking Botswana and Zambia. It has One-Stop-Border Post facilities on both sides, which will enhance the operational efficiency at entry points, replicated on both sides of the boarder.
The Bridge was originally conceived as a critical link in the African North-South Corridor under the African Union’s New Partnership (NEPAD) for Africa’s Development programme. It has since evolved to encompass a multimodal transport plan under the Programme for Infrastructure Development in Africa (PIDA).
The PIDA programme, which encompasses liberalisation of air travel, rail links, road, water and all other modes of transport has only one objective: to unite the States of Africa in order to foster trade on the continent
“Connectivity of our nations will in no small measure, promote people to people interactions and uplifts their standard of living. I am pleased to state that the completion of this project is a clear demonstration of our commitment to PIDA.”
The 260 million US Dollar Kazungula Bridge was commissioned by Zambian President, Edgar Lungu and President Masisi. President Lungu said the bridge was a monumental effort linking Zambia internally and externally to ease the movement of goods and services.
“I have held talks with my counterpart in Botswana that this project must run daily up to 22 hours as soon as possible and you the technocrats must not play ping-pong with us after making these public procurements,” Lungu said at the official opening in Kazungula.
For his part, DRC President Felix Tshisekedi said the project was tandem with the Africa Union (AU) goals and priority areas for Agenda 2063 which called for a prosperous Africa, based on inclusive growth and sustainable development.
The new Kazungula Bridge replaces the Kazungula Ferry, a pontoon ferry across the 400-metre-wide Zambezi River between Botswana and Zambia. It was one of the largest ferries in South-Central Africa, having a capacity of 70 tonnes.
In 2003 the ferry was the site of a disaster when a severely overloaded Zambian truck capsized one of the pontoons and 18 people drowned. The accident was blamed on the lack of weighbridges in Zambia to check the weight of trucks.
In August 2007, the governments of Zambia and Botswana announced a deal to construct a bridge at the site to replace the ferry. The existence of a short boundary of about 150 meters between Zambia and Botswana was apparently agreed to during various meetings involving Heads of State and officials from all four States in the 2006-2010 period.
The route for this new bridge crosses the boundary without entering Zimbabwe and Namibia. Zimbabwe already has a bridge into Zambia at Victoria Falls, 70KM from Kazungula. Namibia on the other hand has a bridge into Zambia at Katima Mulilo about 150KM upriver.