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DIS wants Guma to account for P30 million CEDA, BDC funds

The Director General of the Directorate of Intelligence and Security (DIS), Brigadier Peter Magosi has revealed that the intelligence has developed keen interest in knowing how the self-exiled Member of Parliament for Tati East, Samson Guma used the P30 million his company, Unified Refineries Botswana (Pty) Ltd  acquired from state funding institutions. 

The DIS, according to its chief, believes the flamboyant businessman falsely acquired millions from different state-owned funding institutions to fund his different business dealings, contrary to what the funds were intended for. Guma this week fled Botswana and sought refuge in the neighbouring South Africa, alleging that he has been alerted by security sources that his life is in danger. Guma has emerged as the strongest critic and opponent of President Mokgweetsi Masisi’s government and been a leading campaign strategist for former cabinet Pelonomi Venson-Moitoi, who is challenging the former for the presidency.

However, DIS chief told this publication this week that their only interest in Guma is to know what he used the P30 million his company acquired from different quasi-government banks. “As the DIS our only interest is for him to tell us what he used the P30 million that he took from different banks for. It was not used for its purpose,” said Magosi. It is reported that Unified Refineries Botswana, which is currently under judicial management acquired loans amounting to P30 million from Citizen Entrepreneurial Development Agency (CEDA) and Botswana Development Corporation (BDC). 

Magosi has rubbished allegations of assassination by Guma. “He is the one to tell us the alleged perpetrators otherwise he is lying. If he fails to mention the names of the perpetrators he is lying,” said Magosi. Earlier last month Guma found himself in trouble with the Directorate on Corruption and Economic Crime (DCEC) together with the Botswana Unified Revenue Services (BURS) as they called him for questioning.

Alongside his disputes with the tax man, Guma is expected to account for his dealings with CEDA and BDC as well as his finances for his multi-million pula cooking oil manufacturing plant in Francistown. Guma, who spoke to this publication while in South Africa, denied obtaining money from any bank stating that he challenges any bank to come out public about it. Guma said he was not even aware of any investigations carried on him by the DIS.

“I have never borrowed P30 million from any bank. Whoever is spreading this must give you proof. I give permission to any bank that I owe that amount to make it public. If there is a crime I have committed let them bring it. No one is above the law.” He further clarified that allegations on him that he acquired funds from CEDA and BDC for his company (Unified Refineries Botswana) and never serviced the loan were not true, “it is under judicial management. All records are there with the judicial manager to inspect.

There are audited accounts. I am not the only shareholder. CEDA are partners and have always been the major shareholder whilst BDC matter is in court on this matter.” Ironically, Guma later confirmed during the interview that he is aware of all these investigations and is convinced that they are being instigated by President Masisi. Guma, once a politically ally of Masisi, WeekendPost that he is not sure whether he will be able to attend the Kang Congress as he was still unsure of his safety.

“If I am safe yes, I will attend the Kang congress but as long as President Masisi is in power I will not be safe in Botswana. I know all these investigations are coming from him and I challenge him to deny it. He must stop using state resources to fight,” he highlighted.  This publication is privy to a text message Guma claims to have sent to the Speaker of the National Assembly Gladys Kokorwe which read, “Morning Madam Speaker. I am out of the country. I had to leave urgently yesterday after getting a brief that my life is in danger.

I am in South Africa trying to get asylum. I don’t think I will come back madam speaker. I wish you and fellow members of parliament the best and pray that one day sanity will prevail in our country.” When speaking to this publication, Kokorwe denied receiving report about any assassination plans indicating that she only learnt about it from this publication. She further stated that the only report she received from Guma was an apology for absence from parliament later that day.

“What I read is that he told your paper, he only gave me an apology for absence from parliament, “she clarified. The Tati East legislator, is also contesting for the Secretary General position under the auspices New Jerusalem faction, which Venson-Moitoi belongs to. The faction enjoys the backing of former President Lt Gen Ian Khama.  

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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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