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DIS guns for Khama aides in planned raids

Four more high profile figures are expected to be raided and investigated in a planned Directorate of Intelligence and Security (DIS) operation, Weekend Post has established. High noon came on Tuesday when former DIS chief, Colonel Isaac Kgosi was apprehended by his successor retired Brigadier Peter Magosi at Sir Seretse Khama International Airport left many tongues wagging.  Ironically the arrest the arrest of Kgosi was made by the very organisation he formed in conjunction with the military police and Botswana Unified Revenue Services (BURS).

Kgosi was arrested around 10 pm in front of his own family; wife and daughter upon their arrival from a holiday in India, where he reportedly attended the wedding of the daughter of Choppies supremo, Ramachandran Ottapathu. Sources reveal that a network of prominent individuals have teamed up with Khama to assist former cabinet minister, Pelonomi Venson-Moitoi to topple Masisi from power.  The events of Tuesday night were a watershed moment in the political battle that is expected to ensue. 
Why was he arrested at the airport and not at his home or elsewhere?

Sources close to the events suggest that the airport was the only convenient and safest place for Kgosi’s arrest. They say arresting Kgosi immediately after passing through the security scanners at the airport they were sure he was harmless and disarmed.  “Allowing a former spy boss to get inside his property and you come following him with bad news can be deadly. Obviously he has his stuff in his car and at his house. So, the airport was the safest place,” said the source.

Questions remain on what will be the ramifications of the arrest of the former spy boss. Will this lead to more arrests and what are the implications for his former boss, Dr Ian Khama? It is a well held belief that Kgosi and Khama have a close relationship. Kgosi was forced out of office in May after signing a five year contract. He has all along denied wrong doing but the DIS feels confident he is cornered and will confess to many transgressions under his reign.

 Late last year, some agents from the Directorate on Corruption and Economic Crime (DCEC) were denied entry and subjected to insults at Kgosi’s Phakalane house in their attempt to get a statement from him in connection with corruption offences. They were forced to go back without doing the job and were only allowed to get a statement at the premises of his attorney Unoda Mack the following day.

The search

After spending a night at the Sir Seretse Khama BDF barracks in Mogoditshane, Kgosi was released on compassionate grounds after complaining of a back ache. However, the search on his properties continued throughout. Speaking to a source in the intelligence, the release of Kgosi was also done after the DIS was satisfied with what they were looking for amongst which was the laptop containing vital information. “Within the laptop was information on undisclosed DIS safe houses which contained hundreds of millions of Pula and foreign currency,” said the source.

Throughout the search and subsequent release, Kgosi is thought to have been visibly shaken and cooperated fully with the authorities. This was a stark contrast to his earlier demeanour of using threatening language.

Offences presented to the DPP so far

WeekendPost can confirm that the tax evasion issue that the DIS agents claimed to be arresting Kgosi for on Tuesday was just a holding charge. The State intends to pursue him on a multiple charges known to this publication, both criminal and civil. All these charges dodged his tenure as head of Intelligence. A few of the possible charges have so far been handed over to the Department of Public Prosecutions (DPP), for further assessment by the DCEC.

Possible charges before the DPP office which it is alleged are yet to be finalised are: The P900 000 Sentlhane farm which Kgosi purchased in 2009.  Allegations are that the money was deposited by Vladacom; the P300 000 Debswana tender. It is alleged that money was deposited into Kgosi’s Silver Shadows account from Debswana in 2010. It is not clear whether the money was for the government or his personal things; Gakgatla farm, before being bought by Kgosi, the farm was previously presented for auction on a number of occasions.

Allegations are that Kgosi has manipulated the mortgage sale process; Lifestyle audit, it is alleged that Kgosi has during his tenure accumulated so much wealth that was impossible to acquire with his salary and property alone; Maboane farm, it is also alleged the farm was illegally acquired. Kgosi is thought to have raided many government funds using the non-accountability of the DIS to government.  Some of the funds were from Bank of Botswana Reserves, disaster management funds, alcohol levy and BURS funds.

He is also alleged to have amassed well by blackmailing many corporates to give him shares in their companies. Choppies and CMB are one of the companies he is being associated with. He is also alleged to have run a scheme of getting foreigners to pay huge amounts to get citizenship or working visas through the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Immigration.

Politically motivated

While Kgosi’s arrest seem to have been welcomed by many Batswana, some hold the view that the whole arrest thing is politically motivated. Kgosi was former President Ian Khama’s right hand man during his tenure. They were running the day to day of the country together with Kgosi being the Intelligence boss. Many people were even of the view that Kgosi did not deserve the said post. At some point Kgosi implicated Magosi in stealing the spy equipment which was said to be a lie as Magosi was seen as a threat to Kgosi on issues of intelligence.

This led to Khama firing Magosi. Immediately after Khama retired as the president of the country and handing over to Masisi, Masisi fired Kgosi and replaced him with Magosi. The decision pit Khama and Kgosi against Masisi and Magosi. Currently, there is a tussle between Khama and Masisi. Masisi is seen to be reversing almost everything that Khama implemented, and Khama is seen to be frustrating Masisi’s administration and sponsoring contestants to topple Masisi from the presidency.

After firing Kgosi as DIS director, Masisi went on to reject his name after it was submitted by Khama for a post of Senior Private Secretary in the former president’s office. The decision is said to have worsened relations between the two men to an extent that it has reached irretrievable stage. Just a few weeks ago, Khama confessed that he was supporting Venson-Moitoi to contest against Masisi for presidency. Venson-Moitoi was immediately fired from as Minister of Local Government and Rural Development after announcing her intention to contest for the BDP presidency against Masisi.

Those in the political circle say, the move against Kgosi is just to frustrate Khama by touching his ‘touch not’. Kgosi is said to be sharing a lot of property with Khama. And searching him and confiscating some documents carrying what is deemed as secrets is hoped to put Khama in a panic mode.  =In terms of the Income Tax Act, the commissioner General can issue a warrant of arrest for unpaid tax. And the procedure is often resorted to against foreigners attempting to flee the country before settling their tax. It is rarely used against citizens.

Before one can also be deemed to have failed to pay tax, one must have filed their tax returns and an assessment done by BURS to determine how much owes. In Kgosi’s case, this was not done. There are strong allegations that Kgosi was in the process of doing something which warranted all these procedures to be broken.  A political commentator says the former spy boss appearing in court on corruption charges is hugely symbolic for a small country like Botswana.

 “This is an era of impunity coming to an end. The government led by new president Masisi is keen to distance itself from the controversy as it prepares to contest the national elections in a few months’ time.  But the faction of Moitoi is not having any of that, but said it has been a well calculated move to intimidate and harass those close to Masisi.” Kgosi’s opponents had long fought for him to be charged over his deed. Khama is thought to be the one who stood between DPP prosecuting Kgosi using his presidential powers.

Choose between Khama and family

Kgosi was arrested in the presence of his family, wife and daughter. His daughter cried in front of the media and DIS officials as her father was escorted inside the car. Kgosi politely decried to Magosi, “Let me hug my daughter first,” and he was allowed to,where upon he uttered the words,  “I will topple this government, I am telling you.” 

“You see that trauma that the family went through at the airport will force Kgosi to choose between Khama and his immediate family. Kgosi has done a lot because of Khama’s influence. He thinks he is untouchable because of Khama, and Khama thinks he is what he is because of Kgosi. So, really, Kgosi will have to choose between his friend and family. The family will have to call a meeting and ask him to reverse his steps so that they also stay peacefully in the country,” said a witness at the airport.

The humble Kgosi

DIS boss, Magosi could not stop praising Kgosi for the cooperation during the search. Though he was to be detained in safe custody for two days, Kgosi was only detained for a day and released as the search continued. “We are happy at the way he is cooperating with us. And we have decided to release him though the search will be continuing,” said Magosi at the end of the first day of the search at Phakalane. The search took a day and half at the Phakalane house; a few hours at Maboane farm and half a day at the Extension 11 house and Sentlhane farm. More documentation was collected at the Phakalane house.

Unidentified man spotted during the search

During the prolonged search at Kgosi’s Phakalane an unknown man was seen being escorted by the DISS officials into the yard covered with a beige towel. Two black laptop bags were confiscated from his car by BURS officials.

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Jackdish Shah loses interest in BDP

17th May 2022
Jackdish

As the preparations for the Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) congress are about to kick off, reports on the ground suggest that the party’s Deputy Treasurer Jackdish Shah will not defend the position in August as he contemplates relocation.

According to sources, the businessman who joined the BDP Central Committee in 2015 at the 36th Congress held in Mmadinare is ready to leave the party’s politburo. It is said he long made up his mind not to defend the position last year. A prominent businessman, Shah, when he won the position to assist Satar Dada in 2015 was expected to improve the party’s financial vibrancy. By then the party was under the leadership of Ian Khama.

According to close sources, Shah long decided not to contest because he has fallen out of favour with the party leadership. It is said he took the decision after some prominent businessmen who are BDP members and part of football syndicate decided to push him out and they used their proximity to President Mokgweetsi Masisi to badmouth him hence the decision.

“The fight at the Botswana Football Association (BFA) and Botswana Football League (BFL) has left him alone in the desert and some faces there used their close access to the President to isolate him,” said a source. Media reports say, Shah does not see eye to eye with BFA President MacLean Letshwiti who is also Masisi’s buddy hence the decision.

BFL Chairman Nicholas Zackhem is said to be not in good terms with Shah, who at one point Chaired the then Botswana Premier League (BPL). “He is seriously considering quitting because of what is unfolding at the team (Township Rollers) which is slowly not making financial gains and might be relegated and he wants to sell while it is still worth the investment,” said a highly placed source.

Shah is a renowned businessman who runs internet providing company Zebra net, H &G, game farm in Kasane, cattle farm in Ghanzi region and lot of properties in Gaborone. He also has two hotels in USA, his advisors have given him thumbs up on the possible decision of relocating provided he does not sell some of the investments that are doing well.

Asked about whether he will be contesting Shah could not confirm nor deny the reports. It is said for now it is too early as a public decision will have to be taken after the national council meeting and prior to the national congress. “As a BDP Central Committee member he cannot make that announcement now,” a BDP source said.

BDP is expected to assemble for the National Council during the July holidays while the National Congress is billed for August. It is then that the party will elect a new CC members. The last time BDP held elective congress was at Kang in 2019. The party is yet to issue writ.

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Govt ignores own agreements to improve public service

17th May 2022
Govt

The government has failed to implement some commitments and agreements that it had entered into with unions to improve conditions of public servants.

Three years after the government and public made commitments aimed at improving conditions of work and services it has emerged that the government has ignored and failed to implement all commitments on conditions of service emanating from the 2019 round of negotiations.

In its position paper that saw public service salaries being increased by 5%, the government the government has also signalled its intention to renege on some of the commitments it had made.
“Government aspires to look into all outstanding issues contained in the Labour Agreement signed between the Employer and recognised Trade Union on the 27th August 2019 and that it be reviewed, revised and delinked by both Parties with a view to agree on those whose implementation that can be realistically executed during the financial years 2022/23, 2023/24 and 2024/25 respectively,” the government said.

Furthermore, in addition to reviewing, revising and de-linking of the outstanding issues contained in the Collective Labour Agreement alluded to above and taking on a progressive proposal, government desires to review revise, develop and implement human resource policies as listed below during the financial year 2022/23,2023/24,2024/25

They include selection and appointment policy, learning and development policy, transfer guidelines, conditions of service, permanent and pensionable, temporary and part time, Foreign Service, expatriate and disciplinary procedures.

In their proposal paper, the unions which had proposed an 11 percent salary increase but eventually settled for 5% percent indicated that the government has not, and without explanation, acted on some of the key commitments from the 2019/2020 and 2021/22 round of negotiations.  The essential elements of these commitments include among others the remuneration Policy for the Public Service.

The paper states that a Remuneration Policy will be developed to inform decision making on remuneration in the Public Service. It is envisaged that consultations between the government and relevant key stakeholders on the policy was to start on 1st September 2019, and the development of the policy should be concluded by 30th June 2020.

The public sector unions said the Remuneration Policy is yet to be developed. The Cooperating Unions suggested that the process should commence without delay and that it should be as participatory as it was originally conceived. Another agreement relate to Medical Aid Contribution for employees on salary Grades A and B.

The employer contribution towards medical aid for employees on salary Grades A and B will be increased from 50% to 80% for the Standard Option of the Botswana Public
“Officers’ Medical Aid Scheme effective 1st October 2019; the cooperating unions insist that, in fulfilling this commitment, there should be no discrimination between those on the high benefit and those on the medium benefit plan,” the unions proposal paper says.

Another agreement involves the standardisation of gratuities across the Public Service. “Gratuities for all employees on fixed term contracts of 12 months but not exceeding 5 years, including former Industrial class employees be standardized at 30% across the Public Service in order to remove the existing inequalities and secure long-term financial security for Public Service Employees at lower grades with immediate effect,” the paper states.

The other agreement signed by the public sector unions and the government was the development of fan-shaped Salary Structure. The paper says the Public Service will adopt a best practice fan-shaped and overlapping structure, with modification to suit the Botswana context. The Parties (government and unions) to this agreement will jointly agree on the ranges of salary grades to allow for employees’ progression without a promotion to the available position on the next management level.

“The fan-shaped structure is envisaged to be in place by 1st June 2020, to enable factoring into the budgetary cycle for the financial year 2021/22,” the unions’ proposal paper states. It says the following steps are critical, capacity building of key stakeholders (September – December 2019), commission remuneration market survey (3 months from September to November 2019), design of the fan-shaped structure (2 to 3 months from January to March2020) and consultations with all key stakeholders (March to April 2020).

The unions and government had also signed an agreement on performance management and development: A rigorous performance management and reward system based on a 5-point rating system will be adopted as an integral part of the operationalization of the new Remuneration System.

Performance Management and Development (PMD) will be used to reward workers based on performance. The review of the Performance Management System was to be undertaken in order to close the gaps identified by PEMANDU and other previous reports on PMS between 1st September 2019 and 30th June 2020 as follows; internal process to update and revise the current Performance Management System by January 2020.

A job evaluation exercise in the Public Service will also be undertaken to among others establish internal equity, and will also cover the grading of all supervisory positions within the Public Service.
Another agreement included overtime Management. The Directorate of Public Service Management (DPSM) was to facilitate the conclusion of consultations on management of overtime, including consideration of the Overtime Management Task Team’s report on the same by 30th November 2019.

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Health Expert rejects ‘death rates’ links to low population growth

17th May 2022
Health-Expert

A public health expert, Dr Edward Maganu who is also the former Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Health has said that unlike many who are expressing shock at the population census growth decline results, he is not, because the 2022 results represents his expectations.

He rushed to dismiss the position by Statistics Botswana in which thy partly attributes the low growth rates to mortality rates for the past ten years. “I don’t think there is any undercounting. I also don’t think death rates have much to do with it since the excessive deaths from HIV/AIDS have been controlled by ARVs and our life expectancy isn’t lower than it was in the 1990s,” he said in an interview with this publication post the release of the results.

Preliminary results released by Statistics Botswana this week indicated that Botswana’s population is now estimated to be 2,346,179 – a figure that the state owned data agency expressed worry over saying it’s below their projected growth. The general decline in the population growth rate is attributed to ‘fertility’ and ‘mortality’ rates that the country registered on the past ten years since the last census in 2011.

Maganu explained that with an enlightened or educated society and the country’s total fertility rate, there was no way the country’s population census was going to match the previous growth rates.
“The results of the census make sense and is exactly what I expected. Our Total Fertility Rate ( the average number of children born to a woman) is now around 2.

This is what happens as society develops and educates its women. The enlightened women don’t want to bear many children, they want to work and earn a living, have free time, and give their few children good care. So, there is no under- counting. Census procedures are standard so that results are comparable between countries.

That is why the UN is involved through UNFPA, the UN Agency responsible for population matters,” said Maganu who is also the former adviser to the World Health Organisation. Maganu ruled out undercounting concerns, “I see a lot of Batswana are worried about the census results. Above is what I have always stated.”

Given the disadvantages that accompany low population for countries, some have suggested that perhaps a time has come for the government to consider population growth policies or incentives, suggestions Maganu deems ineffective.

“It has never worked anywhere. The number of children born to a woman are a very private decision of the woman and the husband in an enlightened society. And as I indicated, the more the women of a society get educated, the higher the tendency to have fewer children. All developed countries have a problem of zero population growth or even negative growth.

The replacement level is regarded as 2 children per woman; once the fertility level falls below that, then the population stops growing. That’s why developed countries are depending so much on immigration,” he said.

According to him, a lot of developing countries that are educating their women are heading there, including ourselves-Botswana. “Countries that have had a policy of encouraging women to have more children have failed dismally. A good example is some countries of Eastern Europe (Romania is a good example) that wanted to grow their populations by rewarding women who had more children. It didn’t work. The number of children is a very private matter,” said Maganu

For those who may be worried about the impact of problems associated with low growth rate, Maganu said: “The challenge is to develop society so that it can take care of its dependency ratio, the children and the aged. In developed countries the ratio of people over 60 years is now more than 20%, ours is still less than 10%.”

The preliminary results show that Mogoditshane with (88,098) is now the biggest village in the country with Maun coming second (85,293) and Molepolole at third position with 74,719. Population growth is associated with many economic advantages because more people leads to greater human capital, higher economic growth, economies of scale, the efficiency of higher population density and the improved demographic structure of society, among many others.

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