Serowe Sub-Council this week moved swiftly to sabotage Pelonomi Venson-Moitoi’s much anticipated meeting which was scheduled to take place at Lady Khama Community hall on Wednesday. Venson-Moitoi’s planned meeting followed former President Lt Gen Seretse Khama Ian Khama’s meeting which was held in Serowe at the show grounds over the weekend.
Venson-Moitoi was scheduled to address Bangwato on the outcome of the Kang congress and to give them an update on her political future. On Tuesday night, Venson-Moitoi received information that the planned meeting at Lady Khama might not see the light of the day as the hall is fully booked until May 18th something that was never communicated to her before. However WeekendPost investigations can safely reveal that the said hall is not occupied at the moment and is heavily locked with chains.
On Wednesday afternoon it seems the message was not communicated to some democrats who thronged Lady Khama to attend Venson-Moitoi’s meeting but to their dismay the premises were locked and there was no activity going on. When contacted for comment on Tuesday night Venson- Moitoi said she might be forced to postpone the meeting because she was told the hall is not available at the eleventh hour. Venson-Moitoi confirmed to WeekendPost that she will be travelling to Serowe to look for another venue to host the meeting.
“At the moment I can only share with you what they told me. They said the hall is not available and I have to come up with an alternative or wait until after the 18th May otherwise I will have to call members of the media to address a press conference”, she said. Venson-Moitoi said she is a democrat and that if it means waiting she will have to wait because she is too patient. A source close to the developments said this is a move by Serowe sub-council who seems to be working on a directive to deny Venson-Moitoi a place to host her much anticipated meeting.
“Last week former President Ian Khama almost suffered the same fate. Khama had initially wanted to use the Serowe Sports Complex but they refused until the organisers resorted to using the showgrounds,” said a source. A few weeks before the Kang Special Congress where Pelonomi Venson-Moitoi challenged President Masisi for the position of party president, Khama, Venson- Moitoi, Tati East legislator Samson Moyo Guma, Specially elected Councillor Roseline Panzirah-Matshome and other 30 councillors from central district convened at Lady Khama hall at a heated campaign that saw speakers one by one taking swipe at President Masisi and his administration.
The 30 councillors would later be called for disciplinary hearing but they were acquitted on the grounds that the complainant did not turn up. However, Guma was expelled from the party with Lerala- Maunatla Member of Parliament Prince Maele being suspended for 12 months and Tati West legislator Biggie Butale bing side-lined for six months. Venson-Moitoi and Khama have challenged President Masisi that if he wants unity he should desist from suspending people from the party and concentrate his energies on uniting the party towards the elections.
Over the weekend Khama held a consultative meeting in Serowe where he engaged Morafe to help him decide his future in politics. At the centre of controversy was whether he should quit the ruling Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) or not. Khama told the magnitudes who attended the meeting that he no longer agree with the BDP policies and how they have been treating him. Many people agreed with his decision to quit but he advised them to meet and give him feedback after three weeks.
Contacted for comment of the organisers who spoke on condition of anonymity said they booked the hall well on time but they were surprised to hear that it was booked last minute. “We are still working around the corner to have the hall but we have been told that it can only happen after the 18th May. My guess is as good as everyone else, I cannot say somebody denied us the hall but that is the message we are getting”, he said.
The Minister of Foreign Affairs, Dr. Lemogang Kwape says Botswana has not taken any position regarding the killing of a renowned human rights lawyer, Thulani Maseko, who was gunned down at his house in Mbabane, Eswatini.
In a brief interview with WeekendPost, Dr Kwape said Botswana has not yet taken any position regarding his death. He said the purported incident should be thoroughly probed before Botswana can form an opinion based on the findings of the inquiries.
“Botswana generally condemns any killing of human life by all means,” says Dr. Kwape. He wouldn’t want to be dragged on whether Botswana will support the suspension of Eswatini from SADC.
“We will be guided by SADC organ Troika if they can be an emergency meeting. I am not sure when the meeting will be called by Namibian president,“ he said.
However, the Namibian president Hage Geingob notes with deep concern reports coming out of Eswatini about the killing of Mr. Maseko. In a statement, he called upon the “Government of the Kingdom of Eswatini to ensure that the killing of Maseko is swiftly, transparently and comprehensively investigated, and that any or all persons suspected of committing this heinous crime are brought to justice.”
Maseko was chairperson of the Multi-Stakeholder Forum which was established as a coalition of non-State actors to advocate for a process of national political dialogue aimed at resolving the security and political challenges confronting the Kingdom.
“SADC expresses its deepest and heartfelt condolences to the family of Mr. Maseko, his friends, colleagues, and to the people of the Kingdom of Eswatini for the loss of Mr. Maseko. In this context, SADC further calls upon the people of the Kingdom of Eswatini to remain calm, exercise due care and consideration whilst the appropriate structures conduct the investigations and bring the matter to completion,” the statement says.
Geingob reiterated the need for peaceful resolution of the political and security challenges affecting the country.
Meanwhile political activists are calling on SADC to suspend Eswatini from the block including the African Union as well.
State prosecutor, Seeletso Ookeditse revealed before the Broadhurst Magistrate Jobbie Moilatshimo that the third accused involved in the murder of Barulaganye Aston, has interfered with the State witnesses again.
The second and third accused (Lefty Kosie and Outlwile Aston) were previously accused of interference when they were caught in possession of cellphones in prison. They were further accused of planning to kill the deceased’s brother, who is currently the guardian to the children of the deceased.
Ookeditse indicated that Outlwile had earlier went to challenge the magistrate’s decision of denying him bail at the High Court before Judge Michael Motlhabi.
“The third accused approached the High Court and made a bail application, which was dismissed on the same day,” Ookeditse said.
However, even after the High Court verdict on their bail application, the duo (Kosie and Aston) has once again applied for bail this week.
Ookeditse plead with the court to stop the accused from abusing the court process.
“Yesterday, Directorate of Public Prosecutions (DPP) received papers of his bail application filed before the Broadhurst Magistrates Court. However, the papers do not speak to changed circumstances, therefore this back and forth about bail must be put to a stop,” said the State prosecutor.
While giving evidence before court, the Investigations Officer, Detective Inspector Quite Zhalamonto, said his investigations have proved that there is interference continuing regarding the accused trio.
He told the court that on the 12th of January 2023, he received a report from Thato Aston, who is the son of the accused and the deceased. The son had alleged to the Investigation Officer that he received a call from one Phillip Molwantwa.
According to Zhalamonto, Thato revealed that Molwatwa indicated that he was from prison on a visit to the Outlwile Aston and went on to ask where he was staying and where his siblings (Aston’s children) are staying.
“Thato revealed that Phillip went on to ask if he or his siblings saw their father murdering their mother, and he was referring to the crime scene. Thato told me that he, however, refused to answer the questions as he was afraid especially because he was asked about where him and his siblings stay,” said Zhalamonto.
Zhalamonto alluded to the court that he then went to Orange to confirm the communication between Thato and Molwantwa where he found the case.
“I have arrested Philip yesterday and when I interviewed him, he did not deny that he knows Aston and that he has indeed called Thato and asked questions as to where him and his siblings resides even though he failed to give reasons for asking such questions,” Zhalamonto told the court.
He further revealed that Molwantwa indicated that he had received a call from an unknown man who refused to reveal himself.
“Phillip told me that the unknown man said he was sent by the accused (Aston), and that Aston had instructed him to tell me to check if there was still some money in his bank accounts, and he also wanted to know where the kids were residing, the unknown man even asked him to meet at Main Mall” the Investigation Officer told the court.
He further informed the court that he is working tirelessly to identify the “unknown caller” and the route of the cell number.
Furthermore, the fourth accused, Kebaleboge Ntsebe, has revealed to the court through a letter that she was abused and tortured by the Botswana Police Services. She wrote in her letter that she suffered miscarriage as a result of being beaten by the police.
Ntsebe is on bail, while a bail ruling for Aston and Kosie will be delivered on the 6th of next month
Cattle farmers from Eretsha and Habu in the Ngamiland district, supported by the Community Based Trade (CBT) project, recently generated over P300 000.00 for sales of 42 cattle to the Botswana Meat Commission (BMC) in Maun. This milestone was achieved through support from various stakeholders in conservation, commodity-based trade and the government, in collaboration with farmers. Ordinarily, these farmers would not have made this direct sale since the area is a designated Foot and Mouth Disease (FMD) Red Zone.
Traditional livestock farming contributes toward livelihoods and formal employment in the North-West District (Ngamiland) of Botswana. However, primarily due to the increase in FMD outbreaks over the past two decades and predation by wildlife, the viability of livestock agriculture as a source of income has declined in the region. This has led to a greater risk of poverty and food insecurity. Access across the Okavango River (prior to the construction of a bridge) restricted access for farmers in Eretsha. This lack of access hampered sales of cattle beyond Shakawe, further discouraging farmers from investing in proper livestock management practices. This resulted in negative environmental impacts, poor livestock health and productivity.
To address this challenge, farmers are working with a consortium led by Conservation International (CI), with funding secured from the European Union (EU) to pilot a CBT beef project. The project focuses on supporting and enabling communal farmers to comply with standards and regulations that will improve their chances to access markets. An opportunity to earn higher income from cattle sales could incentivize the adoption of restorative rangelands management practices by farmers.
“We spend a lot of money getting our cattle to Makalamabedi quarantine site, the herder spends on average two months taking care of the cattle before they are taken into quarantine – that needs money. All these costs lead to us getting less money from BMC,” said one of the farmers in the programme, Mr Monnaleso Mosanga.
Farmers that participate in the project agree for their cattle to be herded and kraaled communally by fulltime professional herders (eco-rangers). At the core of this pilot is the use of predator-proof bomas (cattle kraals), planned grazing systems and mobile quarantine bomas (electrified enclosures) for the cattle, facilitated in support with the Department of Veterinary Services. The first successful exit from the mobile quarantine bomas in the Habu and Eretsha villages, in December 2022, saw cattle quarantined on-site and directly transported to BMC in Maun. Farmers received almost double the average sales within this region, as costs including transportation to quarantine sites, herder’s fees and other associated costs incurred before qualifying for BMC sales were no longer included.
“This pilot mobile quarantine is leveraging the techniques and protocols we are using at our current permanent quarantine sites, and we are still observing the results of the project. The outcome of this pilot will be presented to the World Organisation of Animal Health to assess its effectiveness and potentially be approved to be used elsewhere,” said Dr Odireleng Thololwane, the Principal Veterinary Officer (Maun).