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UB don criticises rushed key appointments

President Mokgweetsi Masisi’s swift decision to appoint key personnel, among them Director Generals of the Directorate on Intelligence and Security (DIS), and of the Directorate on Corruption and Economic Crime (DCEC) was ill-advised, according to University of Botswana academic, Leonard Sesa.  

Sesa who teaches Political Science at UB, is of the opinion that the appointments made by Masisi were rushed, therefore creating unnecessary enemies for him. According to Sesa, Masisi should have taken time to assess and make all changes after the 2019 general elections, due to be held in October.  “It is advisable that when making some of the major changes you should carry out thorough research on the new appointments making sure they are capable,” contended the UB don.

“Masisi could have just waited for the elections [general] to pass.  Look what he went through prior the congress [Kang], this somehow has a negative impact as it may create enemies unnecessarily.”After taking over the reins from Lt Gen Ian Khama at the beginning of April, Masisi unceremoniously fired the founding Director General of the DIS, Colonel Isaac Kgosi, and had him replaced with retired former BDF chief of staff, Brigadier Peter Magosi.

The decision raised suspicion on two prongs; first Col Kgosi was considered Khama most important official during his reign. Secondly his replacement. Brig Magosi was a man considered Khama’s enemy, having been dismissed from the army by the latter. Masisi’s appointments raised suspicions that he wanted to replace all key personnel associated with the Khama administration.

Recently, under again cloudy circumstances, DCEC chief, Bruno Paledi was transferred and replaced by one Brigadier Joseph Mathambo. Paledi was barely new into office, having been appointed to the post towards the fall of 2017 by Khama.  Sesa gave credit to the current administration noting that it is evident that they are doing a great job in trying to build strong relationships with the media.

“You have to admit and embrace that people are different. We have always advocated that we want to see our former [Khama] engaging and interacting with the media, we are only seeing him now after leaving, why couldn’t he capitalize on that during his time?  I believe that is when he could have heard Batswana’s cries and problems they face. Not now after his retirement through the very same platforms he could not engage,” he contended.

Sesa applauded Masisi on his efforts to interact with the media emphasising that this would work at his advantage and help him gain Batswana’s trust and support.  “This is what we expect in a liberal democracy, this is not new other former presidents engaged with media, and it was a bit of a shock to have Khama end this media engagements,” he said.

Since assuming office in April 2018, President Mokgweetsi Masisi has promised to run a consultative governance. Masisi’s chorus was a “clean up campaign, ” which would later see many people being removed from positions, replaced with his trusted ones and later launch some raids amongst which they deemed corrupt. Masisi has repeatedly said one of his aim is to fight corruption and to take to book every alleged perpetrator.

Masisi has said he intend to protect the country and fight corruption in the country, adding that in attaining that they would work closely with the media. New recruits in Masisi administration; Brig Magosi and Brig Mathambo, who now head DIS and DCEC respectively, two institutions known for the secrecy, have opened up to the media.

NEW DCEC CHIEF TARGETS BIG GUN

 “In this position, you don’t get appointed by anybody except the highest office which is the office of the president. I was appointed by the president himself,” Mathambo told media this week. “And I promise you, I am so determined to fight corruption in this country. I am going to resuscitate cases without sparing any name.” Mathambo also highlighted that already he is living in fear because of his determination to fight corruption.

“You know when you investigate someone; they would wish you all bad things. They would wish you could be hit by a train even where there is no railway line. I have already started seeing faces which I have never seen before as I drive about in town, but this will not stop me from fighting corruption.” Mathambo also pointed out that he is aware of some of the cases that have been shelved due to favouritism, had the cases resumed.

He also emphasised that he is well aware that some of the cases have been left unattended to on purpose by the previous investigators, stating that it was vital for them to change the way the old administration have been carrying out its investigations,.
“Relationships mess up investigations, having friends who are later called to task can have a negative impact on the outcomes of investigations.”

He further highlighted that he will not continue doing nothing when billions go missing on a daily basis.  “Of recent we were told to cut our budget by 4 percent because there is no money. Corruption is really bad and requires a certain posture, it comes with character. If I sit here and continue doing nothing the country will continue to be at risk. I must tell you today that I am going to fight hard with my team to fight against corruption. We are not going to be sparing any names,” he said.

Mathambo assured the media that all money laundering cases including the CMB scandal, National petroleum fund, BMC, Pula steel, BCL were being attend to on a daily basis and that investigations are going well. “We will be taking a lot of interest in cases of public interest such as that of BCL, Pula steel, BMC. We all tax payers here and we all know what’s it is like when you pay your due diligence and another person collects and abuses it,” Mathambo concluded.

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Botswana still weighing in on Maseko’s assassination

27th January 2023

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.

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Kopong Murder: Accused interferes with witnesses again!

27th January 2023

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

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Ngamiland Cattle Farmers Gain Green Zone Revenue

27th January 2023

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.

These collaborative efforts being piloted in Habu and Eretsha villages also include the Pro-Nature Enterprises Project for the People of Southern Africa, funded by Agence Française de Développement (AFD) and Le Fonds français pour l’environnement mondial (FFEM). This complementary funding from AFD and FFEM supports the implementation of the Herding4Health (H4H) model and Rangeland Stewardship Agreements across four rangeland sites in Southern Africa, including Habu and Eretsha, to incentivize best practices that could offer sustainability in the long term for livelihoods, conservation and human-wildlife coexistence.

“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).

Through co-financing of almost P1 billion from the Botswana government and Green Climate Fund, these interventions will be replicated, through The Ecosystem Based Adaptation and Mitigation in Botswana’s Communal Rangelands project, across the country. Both projects aim to improve the economic benefits of cattle owners and multitudes of Batswana households, while contributing to land restoration and climate change efforts by the Botswana government

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