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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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Opposition talks: Conveners ditched, experts engaged

13th October 2021

The much-anticipated opposition unity talks that will see Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) engage Botswana Patriotic Front (BPF), and Alliance for Progressives (AP) are expected to kick off any time from now.

According to informants, the talks, which were preceded by-elections negotiations, aim to be as inclusive as possible. As the talks start, the UDC, composed of Botswana National Front (BNF), Botswana Congress Party (BCP) and Botswana People’s Party (BPP), insist on retaining its preferred model of Umbrella; on the other hand, the BPF is proposing a PACT; and AP is in favour of an alliance model.

BPF is reportedly sceptical on the umbrella model and wants cooperation with the flexibility to allow other parties to join hands with UDC but without necessarily contesting elections using UDC symbols and colours.

BPF, which is currently the fastest-growing party, seems to be focused on self-actualization, self-preservation and securing institutional capacity in case of any political calamity. Although often profitable, cooperation politics can often leave individual political parties battered by political events and weakened beyond meaningful survival.

Discussions with some BPF members suggest that the party has big ambitions and harbour serious intentions of taking the BDP by its horns-all by itself-one day. “The position by some of our leaders is that the future of the UDC remains uncertain. The position and advice are that we should not put all our eggs in one basket. And the party elders think the pact model of cooperation is the safest under prevailing circumstances. Some, however, are worried that we should not overestimate our worth despite being the fastest-growing party in the country.

However, the matter is yet to be concluded once we receive the official invite,” revealed a BPF member of the NEC. Asked about the specifics of the pact idea, another high ranking party official revealed that the party Patron, Lt Gen Ian Khama and his brother Tshekedi Khama are among those who are for the election pact model.

BPF Spokesperson Lawrence Ookeditse has earlier this year told this publication that: “We have not settled on a model yet.” He also added that as a party, they are ready and willing to work with UDC, “but we will have our thoughts on how the cooperation or the talks should transpire, and they too will tell us their preference, and we will sit on the table to see how best to work together”.

AP heads into these negotiations with proposals of its own. On the model part, AP has expressed flexibility but want its partners to consider other models. AP believes that beyond the umbrella model, the coalition could also have a matrix to ensure that opposition parties select the best candidates for parliamentary and council seats.

AP, a splinter party of the beleaguered Botswana Movement for Democracy (BMD), asks for the constituencies allocated to BMD in the previous talks before it was kicked out on the eve of the 2019 elections.

AP, which garnered a popular vote of under 40 000 in the 2019 general elections, is confident that it brings tremendous value to the UDC, and state power could be within reach in 2024.
To reconcile the various interest of political parties, the leaders have agreed to engage political experts in a bid to arrive at the best decisions.

“There will be no conveners because parties in the past believed that they (conveners) took decisions on behalf of the constituent parties, though they are not representing any. So, the idea is to rope in political experts to direct UDC and the negotiating parties as to which path of cooperation model to follow,” a highly placed informant said this week.

UDC convener Lebang Mpotokwane has also defended the umbrella model in the past, noting that it creates fewer problems for the participants. The negotiations will be the fourth opposition cooperation talks since the 2009 elections. The opposition has held talks in 2011, 2012 and 2017. The 2012 talks resulted in Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC), which has been anchoring negotiations since then.

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‘Dingake’ name spoils Botswana’s interest in ILO top post

13th October 2021

When the Chairperson of the International Labour Organization (ILO) Governing Body invited member states to submit candidates for the vacant Director-General post for consideration, Botswana developed a keen interest.

It swiftly mobilized to beat the deadline, but the unions, upon consultation, nominated Justice Key Dingake as their preferred candidate, much to the government’s disappointment, who then decided to dump the whole issue altogether.

In accordance with the Rules governing the appointment of the Director-General and the decisions made by the Governing Body at its 341st and 342nd Sessions, the Chairperson of the Governing Body calls for candidates for appointment to the office of Director-General of the ILO through communication to all Governing Body members and all ILO Member States and candidatures must be submitted by a Member State of the ILO or by a regular or deputy member of the Governing Body.

The deadline for submission was on Friday, 1 October 2021, and candidatures were to be sent by postal or electronic mail to the following address to the Chairperson of the Governing Body.
This publication had established that when Cabinet sat to discuss the issue, it was resolved that the unions as key stakeholders should be consulted and requested to submit a name for consideration. They did and offered Justice Oagile Key Dingake-a distinguished scholar and labour law expert whose contribution to the country’s labour fraternity is unparalleled.

When asked this week to share their side of the story, the unions said they were first invited to partake in the process by the government but never got a response after they nominated judge Dingake as an ideal candidate.

“We sent our correspondence to the Minister of Employment, Labour and productivity, Mpho Balopi, with our suggested name being Justice Oagile Key Dingake, but since then we never got a response,” said unionist, Tobokani Rari who further expressed disappointment at how the government has handled the matter.

Rari said that while he would not want to impute any improper motives to anyone, the developments rekindled memories of the government’s hostility towards Judge Dingake, who has been forced by circumstances to take his skills and wealth of experience to the benefit of other countries. Balopi did not respond to questions sent to him and did not pick this publication’s calls at the time of going to press.

Cabinet insiders say Dingake’s name spoilt the party and dampened the spirits. “In the list of nominated names, he was the leading candidate, but I guess the powers that be could not imagine themselves campaigning for him and doing all they did for the Executive Secretary of SADC Secretariat, Elias Magosi.”

Dingake’s sin, observers say, has always been his progressive, independent mind and family’s political background, all of which have always stood in his way to progress to the country’s judicial ladder’s ends.

It is understood that also in the mix and preferred by the state was former Attorney General, judge, and now Ambassador and Permanent Representative of Botswana to the United Nations and other international organizations, Dr Athaliah Molokomme, who also has a background in human rights advocacy.

But insiders say many believed that the country should export Dingake to represent the country given his decorated experience and background. As a lawyer, Dingake represented 90% of Trade Unions in Botswana, drafted numerous Collective Labour Agreements, later presided overall trade disputes, including Collective Labour Agreements, and made determinations as Judge of the Industrial Court of Botswana.

Dingake has also written and lectured widely on trade, labour and human rights and holds numerous citations and awards for his work regarding peace, human rights, and social development. Had he contested and won, he would have been the first African to lead the ILO.

The ILO is built on the constitutional principle that universal and lasting peace can be established only if based on social justice. The ILO has been the source of such hallmarks of industrial society as the 8-hour day, maternity protection, child labour laws and a whole range of policies promoting workplace safety and peaceful industrial relations. Unique among UN organizations, the ILO has a tripartite structure involving governments, employers and workers.

ILO Director-General elections events lineup…

At its 341st (March 2021) and 342nd (June 2021) Sessions, the ILO Governing Body approved the following timetable for the appointment of the Director-General because the current term of office of the Director-General will come to an end on 30 September 2022:

1 July 2021: The Chairperson of the Governing Body calls for candidatures
1 October 2021: Last date for the reception of candidatures
A week in January 2022: The Chairperson of the Governing Body conducts interviews with candidates for the position of Director-General based on the format and principles contained in document GB.342/INS/6 and the guidance provided by the Governing Body at its 342nd Session
14-15 March 2022 (344th Session of the Governing Body): The Governing Body conducts candidate(s) hearings
25 March 2022 (344th Session of the Governing Body): The Governing Body conducts the ballot for the election of the Director-General
1 October 2022: The term of office of the Director-General commences.

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Botswana, EU clash over human rights issues 

13th October 2021
human-rights

Botswana and the European Union (EU) appear to have been at each other’s throats behind the scenes since last year, with the EU saying it held several meetings with Botswana to convince her to address human rights issues. 

This is contained in a 2020 Human Rights Report that reveals broad divisions in contentious issues boiling behind the scenes between Gaborone and the Union. According to the report, which was released recently, the EU says it “continues to follow closely three main human rights issues in Botswana: the application of the death penalty; the rights of LGBTI persons; and gender equality.”

“Botswana remains part of a small group of countries – in Africa and globally – which continue to retain the death penalty both in law and in practice. Three executions were recorded in 2020,” the report says. According to the report, the Botswana Government indicated that a public debate on the application of the death penalty should be part of its ongoing work towards developing a Comprehensive Human Rights Strategy and the related National Action Plan.

The report says further progress on the rights of LGBTI persons’ seen in 2019, when Botswana’s High Court decriminalised same-sex consensual relations, is still pending, subject to a final court decision over a government appeal.

“Finally, gender-based violence and the need to advance gender equality and women’s rights in society remain another challenge for the country. In response to the high incidence of gender-based violence – which has intensified in many countries during the current COVID-19 pandemic – the President and the First Lady launched a public campaign to fight gender-based violence and to promote equality,” the report says.

The report says the EU did not fold its arms and watch from the sidelines the human rights issues in question are concerned but confronted Botswana to have the contentious issue addressed. “The EU continued to engage with the Botswana Government, multilateral organisations, non-governmental organisations and the broader society in Botswana in three main areas: the death penalty, gender-based violence and empowerment of women, and rights of LGBTI persons, as well as on the support of media and implementation of Universal Periodic Review recommendations,” the report says.

The report says that in addition to ad hoc consultations and human rights-oriented outreach efforts, the EU engaged with the Botswana Government on human rights formally in the context of the Article 8 Political Dialogue, which took place in February 2020.

“The dialogue offered an opportunity to exchange views on EU’s and Botswana’s experiences concerning the three EU priority areas in Botswana (capital punishment, gender-based violence and rights of LGBTI persons) as well as other human rights challenges, while also exploring opportunities for EU-Botswana cooperation on human rights issues in the context of the EU-Africa partnership and at the multilateral level,” the report says.

In parallel to engagement with the government, the EU said it continued to maintain dialogue with representatives of civil society focusing on human rights and with UN organisations and other partners of the country.

“The EU continues to be the driving force behind the Gender Dialogue (in principle co-chaired with UN Women and the Gender Affairs Department in the Ministry of Immigration, Nationality and Gender), which brings together various stakeholders to discuss gender issues to chart a way forward regarding partnerships. The EU has also used public diplomacy efforts to stimulate broader dialogue in the country on human rights issues,” the report says.

The EU said it continued to provide financial support to projects funded through the European Instrument for Democracy and Human Rights, with activities focused primarily on helping Botswana tackle gender-based violence, strengthen the notion of gender equality in the country, and promote participation in political processes.

“With six projects already underway, the EU signed two new programmes, in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, to support victims of gender-based and domestic violence and defend the rights of marginalised people, with a combined budget of EUR 430,000,” the report says. It says one of the projects is designed to offer care services to victims of gender-based violence and provide clinical services, counselling, shelter, and a referral system for legal and social assistance. Another project provides legal, medical and psychosocial support to refugees, undocumented migrants and indigenous people.

It says Botswana remains an important like-minded partner for the EU on the human rights agenda at a multilateral level. “The country’s positive role on human rights in the multilateral context would be further strengthened by initiating a domestic process of reflection about the signature and ratification of several pending core human rights conventions and/or optional protocols (e.g. the Convention for the Protection of all Persons from Enforced Disappearances, the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, the Optional Protocol of the Convention against Torture, etc.)” the report says.

But the report acknowledged that Botswana is a stable and well-established democracy with a legal framework and institutions designed to guarantee respect for human rights in society. It says human rights complaints are addressed by the courts, with the government accepting decisions and implementing relevant rulings.

“Although the media scene in the country is relatively undeveloped, the World Press Freedom Index has noted a further positive trend concerning the role of the media in society (as was also the case in 2019) and has improved Botswana’s ranking from 44th to 39th place (out of 180 countries),” the report says.  Meanwhile, this week, President Dr Mokgweetsi Masisi met with the EU delegation led by the managing director for Africa of the European External Action Services, Ms Rita Laranjinha.

 

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