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Balopi, Dada meet Khama

In the aftermath of the Botswana Democratic Party (BDP), Palapye retreat, the party’s Secretary General Mpho Balopi and Treasurer Satar Dada in the cover of darkness have been holding meetings with former President Lt Gen Ian Khama separately to pledge alliance to him.

Balopi who is reported to have shown a cold shoulder towards Khama during the retreat by refusing to acknowledge him on his arrival had later visited Khama at his office.  “He told Khama he is still loyal to him in his fight against President Mokgweetsi Masisi.  Balopi pretended to show remorse and said his actions were caused by President Masisi, saying he gives him instructions to talk ill of the former president,” said a source close to the events.

Balopi’s recent visits to Khama is seen as a strategic move on his part after he learnt that the pro-Masisi camp intends to drop him as SG of the BDP in the upcoming Elective Congress scheduled for July.  “This alone made Balopi trace his footsteps back to Khama who was instrumental to descending him from an ordinary member of the party, to the SG position. Prior to the developments, Balopi did not mince his words when he got to choose who he supports in the fight between Masisi and Khama.  He was explicit saying ‘BDP is bigger than Khama’, adding that the former president should toe the line.”  

“But with recent events sensing a broader Khama momentum nationally and the intruding of Khama in his parliamentary area of Gaborone North by conducting charitable programs in his constituency, this has gotten Balopi trying much to endear himself to Khama.  And this is typical of Balopi, he always wants to be where the honey is.  He is spreading his legs in the event that a Khama faction comes in to power,” said a BDP activist. Those within the new Khama circle have rebuffed Balopi’s efforts and blamed Khama for entertaining Balopi. 

They opine that Khama is making the same prior mistakes of entertaining people who have questionable characters, and only out there to use him. “There is no genuineness in Balopi’s visits. Balopi is an unwanted child by the Masisi camp, and now all of a sudden he remembers Khama. We are going to shield Khama of opportunists and we want sincere people. The man has been lied to by many.  It is time for Khama to fix his legacy, and mend fences with people he wrongly hurt by being used by people like the likes of Balopi,” said a Khama aide.

This publication also learnt that in the same week, businessmen Satar Dada visited Khama as well.  “Being a shrewd businessman, Dada called for peace between Khama and Masisi and that he distances himself from some of the actions of Masisi. He said he is embarrassed by some of the current administration’s decisions and questioned the judgement of Masisi. He is quoted as saying, ‘the truth is we have a problem with Masisi.  He is behaving erratic, and no one ever knows his next move’”.

Khama is thought to have felt hard done by many people he went out of his way to uplift.  “Not only Masisi, but many people within the BDP. Kitso Mokaila is one, and so has been Dada.  And Khama finds this as a betrayal of the highest magnitude.  But those close to Khama say he was warned of many people.  It is for surprise he did not even know the man he made his VP and eventually his successor.  All he relied on was cork eyed views of Isaac Kgosi which had his self-interests,” said an ally of Khama.

Dada, who has always rose above factions throughout his tenure at the party is the currently longest serving BDP Central Committee member, having been party treasurer since 1995. Sources indicated that former party secretary generals, Jacob Nkate and Kentse Rammidi are being considered to replace Balopi in Masisi camp. Nkate, who contested the secretary general against Balopi in 2017 after a fallout with Masisi camp, recently closed ranks with Masisi.

Nkate, a former co-leader of A-Team faction served as party secretary general 2007-2009. Prior to that, he was party deputy secretary general from 2003-2007. Meanwhile Rammidi, who served as Nkate’s understudy between2007-2009, briefly served as secretary general from 2011, before resigning from BDP to join opposition. Rammidi returned to BDP last year, shortly after Masisi became president. 

Contacted for comment, Balopi said as SG of the BDP, Khama is his former president, “and his office is a public office,” he said. He also noted that he has a president and is loyal to him. “Whatever I did under the leadership of Khama I will do so under Masisi. We need each other at BDP.” “There is no camp under President Masisi. President Masisi is the leader of both the ruling BDP and Botswana. We are all under his leadership,” he said. 

“Balopi is the SG of the BDP elected to the position of SG by the congress, democratically. There is no undemocratic and unconstitutional process that can reverse this. Those who are peddling all the lies are badly advised and the prophets of doom driven by individualism, hate and love for instability.” Balopi said he served the BDP under the leadership of former President Khama to the best of his ability and that he was loyal to both the leadership and the BDP.

“I am currently serving under the leadership of President Masisi and I am still very loyal to both the BDP and its leadership. Those who are peddling these issues and causing the current confusion are the usual suspects and icons of instability,” he said. “They have to engage me directly and stop being cowards by running to the media.” Balopi went on to state that while people might be going there for different reasons, his visit is solely because of the BDP. We have to respect the elders and need not be seen causing divisions.

For his part, Khama confirmed to this publication on Thursday that he met with both Balopi and Dada at his office on several occasions. “Balopi came to my office to see me. I understand he is under too much pressure at his constituency, and he needs support. Remember I am the one who made him what he is today,” Khama said, stressing that though many BDP activists were still loyal to him he does not want to be seen causing divisions within the BDP.

 The former president also stated that he met with Dada several times at his office. He said, as a party treasurer, Dada cannot be perceived as taking sides. “’Dada cannot be on Mma Venson-Moitoi’s side by virtue of him being a party treasure. He is obviously on the side of Masisi.”

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Major public services shake-up looms

24th January 2022
Emmah

Public Servants should brace themselves for some changes as the government is in an overdrive mode to overhaul the public sector. The government has also set the tone for the looming changes as it has added the public sector to its looming list of major and sweeping reforms.

This is contained in a savingram from the Permanent Secretary to the President (PSP) Emmah Peloetletse’s office showing how the government intends to “take stock” of all reforms in the public sector through the establishment of an inventory.  Peloetletse’s savingram addressed to various ministries and the Directorate of Public Service Management (DPSM) reveals that the government is working around the clock to implement some changes in the Public Service.

The savingram reminded Permanent Secretaries of various ministries and DPSM that the public sector reforms unit (PSRU) at the Office of the President is mandated with Coordinating Reforms across the Public Service.  “This essentially entails providing the strategic guidance and facilitation in the implementation of reforms across the Public Service. In this endeavour the Unit has in the past with Technical Assistance from European Union developed a template for documenting Reforms in the Public Service and documented ten (10) major reforms across the Public Service,” reads the savingram in part. It added that “The Unit has lately rolled out the Change Management Framework in an effort to facilitate effective and efficient management of change in the Public Service.”

According to the savingram, it has been noted that for a variety of reasons the use of the template for documenting reforms has not been universally used across the Botswana Public Service.  It further states that to facilitate the documentation of the reforms it is essential that an inventory of the various reforms across the Public Service (Central Government, Local Government and State Owned Entities) is established.

“By this correspondent we are seeking your assistance in populating the attached template to provide basic information on the various reforms. The PSRU will, through the various Coordination of focal Persons facilitate the full documentation of the reforms once the inventory is established,” the savingram further stated. The copy of the template among others calls on the focal persons to fill out them form under several headings; they include title of reform, start date, reform objectives, reform components, reform components, progress status.

The savingram echoes President Mokgweetsi Masisi’s announcement last year during his state of the nation address that as a nation Botswana has set itself a lofty goal of becoming a high income country by 2036 and has come up with a list of reforms among them digitisation of government infrastructure. He said the path to achieving this goal dictates that, Botswana takes deliberate steps that will transform its institutions; the way Batswana think and the way they act.

“It is with this in mind, that I presented a Reset Agenda in May 2021, with the following priorities: Save Botswana‘s population from COVID-19, by implementing a series of life saving measures that include a successful and timely vaccination programme, Adherence to COVID-19 health protocols remains key and align Botswana Government’s machinery to the Presidential Agenda, to ensure that the national transformation agenda will be embodied in the public service of the day,” said Masisi. He added that, “this will come with significant Government reforms in all public institutions. We need greater agility and responsiveness like never before in the delivery of public services.”

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Covid-19 Task Force meddled in tenders-report

24th January 2022
Dr. Kereng Masupu

The Presidential COVID-19 Task Force reportedly meddled in the awarding of tenders for COVID-19, a new Public Accounts Committee (PAC) report has revealed.

The Committee expressed concern that it has noted that there are two centres for covid procurement being the Ministry of Health and the Covid Task team in the Office of the President. The report says the Committee questioned the Accounting Officer on why the COVID 19 task team is usurping the powers of the Ministry of Health by engaging in covid procurement when the Ministry of Health is the one which has the experience and mandate of dealing with the pandemic. The report says clarification was also sought on why direct appointment is the preferred method for covid procurement.

“In her response the Accounting Officer stated that the task team was mainly engaged in the procuring of quarantine facilities and was assisting the Ministry of Health due to the heavy workload brought about by the COVID 19 pandemic,” the report says. The report says the Accounting Officer further stated that direct procurement was used because COVID 19 was treated as an emergency and that procurement was mainly from companies that have been traditionally used by the Ministry of Health.

“This however, is not the case as there has been report of new companies being awarded COVID -19 contracts. The use of direct procurement method should only be used in exceptional cases as it’s a non-competitive method which increases the risk of inflated pricing and close relations with particular suppliers to the detriment of others,” the report says.

It says since most covid procurement fell under emergency, there is need for openness and transparency regarding the procurement.  The PAC recommended that in order to ensure transparency and accountability all COVID 19 related procurement should be periodically published in the PPADB website giving full details of the companies receiving procurement contracts and the beneficial owners of the companies.

It says with the passage of time the impact of covid is no longer unexpected so direct awards should gradually be abandoned as the medium and long-term needs of the pandemic can now be predicted. “Judgement should be used even during direct awards to ensure that prices are not higher than the market prices,” the report says.

In a related matter, the report says the Central Medical Stores (CMS) was unable to cater for the required quantities of medical supplies with order fulfilments of about 35% resulting in shortages and insufficient drugs to Athlone Hospital and the surrounding clinics.
“In his submission the Accounting Officer had indicated that CMS was unable to supply the exact quantities required by the hospital and surrounding clinics due to the fact that supplies from CMS have to be rationed in order to cover other facilities around the country,” says the report.

The committee expressed concern about the inadequate supply of drugs to government facilities which puts the lives of patients at risk due to non- availability of essential supplies. It recommended that the Ministry identifies and prioritise measures that need to be taken to ensure that there is adequate supply of essential medicines which are needed in the public health system.

Meanwhile the report says the Ministry of Health and Wellness coordinates the operations and functions of some institutions which receive government subventions and secondment of staff from the government. These institutions include 10 NGO’s, two mission Hospitals, three mission clinics and two schools of Nursing.

It says in its endeavour to enhance efficiency and effectiveness of government support to NGOs the Ministry of Finance and Economic Development developed some Policy Guidelines for Financial Support to Non- Governmental Organisations.  According to the PAC report, the guidelines were meant to ensure that there is consistency, accountability and transparency in administering public funding to NGOs. However, the Ministry of Health did not comply with the very important guidelines.

“The main areas of non-compliance were the following: (i) There was no Evaluation Committee to vet proposals from NGOs, in some instances NGOs had formed part of the evaluation forum when their requests were being considered,” the report says.  It says there was continued funding of NGOs even when they failed to submit narrative and financial progress reports; and (iv) Continued funding of NGOs that failed to submit audited financial statements and management letters as required. The Committee expressed concern at the lapses in the administration of grants by the Ministry despite the large sums of public money awarded to these NGOs.

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BDF killings of Namibians: Court unable to rule on missing gun

24th January 2022
BDF

The Kasane Regional Magistrate Court refused this week to rule on whether three Namibians and their Zambian cousin shot dead by members of the Botswana Defence Force (BDF) were in possession of a rifle or not prior to their deaths.

Ruling in favour of the BDF members, Regional Magistrate Taboka Mopipi who presided over the inquest said, “It is acknowledged that no rifle has been produced before court to confirm that indeed the deceased were armed and or that there was indeed a gun shot.”  She said the evidence before the court is that search for the rifle(s) that allegedly triggered the gunfire exchange was done by both Namibia and Botswana SCUBA divers and nothing was found. She said when the said search was done, an area of search was demarcated around the scene area which was partly searched due to water animals such as hippos that launched an attack at the area during the search.

“The search was therefore never concluded. This therefore leaves a gap. To that end, the area not extensively searched, the court cannot make a finding whether the rifle in issue was there or not. This is a very crucial piece of evidence,” added Mopipi. She said the joint search did not conclude the exercise and I cannot properly make a finding of fact adding that that the rifle was there as the BDF allege can therefore not be ruled out.

The deceased are Martin Munilweye Nchindo, Ernest Nchindo, Tommy Sinvula Nchindo and Sivula Munyeme. The four deceased persons died on the night of the 5th November 2020, in the waters of the Chobe River (Southern Channel) near Sedudu/Kasikili Island in Botswana. Mopipi said the incident took place at night, in a gloomy atmosphere and that as at the time, movement in that particular area was restricted and or not permitted.

She said it was the evidence of some of the witnesses that the injuries as observed on the four deceased reflected that they were brutally assaulted and or beaten either before or after being shot. “Their evidence gained support from Witness 34, Dr. Bithoma Thotho Amis who observed post mortem on behalf of the families of the deceased and Government of Namibia. This witness however conceded during cross-examination that the injuries as observed have been caused by other contacts and or impacts such as falling and hitting the hard surface of a wooden canoe,” said Mopipi.

She emphasized that inquest proceedings have very serious consequences and therefore, whatever evidence brought before court must be produced by persons of right qualifications particularly the post mortem report which the court has to rely upon.
“The qualification of the expert is crucial in determining the credibility of the report. Upon assessment of both experts, I am inclined to adopt the reports from Witness 18, who is a qualified pathologist. A closer look at the other report indicates that the author, Witness 34 is not a qualified pathologist and it is meddled by issues outside an expert opinion,” she said.

Mopipi said reports compiled by a consultant Forensic Pathologist Dr. Kaone Panzirah-Mabaka show the causes of death as follows; Sivula Munyeme, gunshot injury to the chest and extremities, Martin Nchindo, gunshot wound to the abdomen and pelvis, Ernest Nchindo, multiple gunshot injuries to the chest and extremities and Tommy Nchindo, gunshot wound to the chest and abdomen.

“Medical evidence therefore prove conclusively that the four deceased persons died due to gunshots injuries. It is undisputed that the injuries were inflicted by seven (7) members of the Botswana Defence Force; Lieutenant Moreri Kenneth Mphela, Sergeant Ndingisano Nfazo, Sergeant Puisano Pistor Kgokong, Private Mbikiso Tafila, Private Emmanuel Moganetsi Majuta, Private Barulaganyi Rannosang and Private Oromilwe Motlhabi,” said Mopipi.

Mopipi found that there was a gunshot from the direction of the men to the direction of the BDF section.  “The BDF members retaliated and returned fire. This was done in accordance with Standard Operation Procedures (SOPs) within the BDF. According to the SOPs, in case a soldier is being fired at, they fire back and do not have to wait for a command,” she said. She added that “The gunfire exchange was brief and after it ceased, they used a torch to light where the men were and established that all the four men were motionless, two in one canoe, one in the other and the other man lying on the edge of the river on the Island.”

She said, “The evidence of the witnesses is that, when they followed the intel, the intent was to conduct an investigation. There was clearly no intent on their part to shoot the deceased, they did that as an act of retaliation.”

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