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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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Veteran journalist Karima Brown succumbs to COVID-19

4th March 2021
Karima-Brown

South Africa’s veteran journalist and broadcaster, Karima Brown has died on Thursday morning from COVID-19 related complications.

Media reports from the neighbouring country say Brown had been hospitalized and on a ventilator.

Brown anchored eNCA’s The Fix and was a regular political analyst on the eNCA channel.

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Botswana imports in numbers

1st March 2021
Botswana-imports

For so many years, Botswana has been trying to be a self-sufficient country that is able to provide its citizens with locally produced food products. Through appropriate collaborations with parastatals such as CEDA, ISPAAD and LEA, government introduced initiatives such as the Horticulture Impact Accelerator Subsidy-IAS and other funding facilities to facilitate horticultural farmers to increase production levels.

Now that COVID-19 took over and disrupted the food value chain across all economies, Botswana government introduced these initiatives to reduce the import bill by enhancing local market and relieve horticultural farmers from loses or impacts associated with the pandemic.

In more concerted efforts to curb these food crises in the country, government extended the ploughing period for the Southern part of Botswana. The extension was due to the late start of rains in the Southern part of the country.

Last week the Ministry of Agriculture extended the ploughing period for the Northern part of the country, mainly because of rains recently experienced in the country. With these decisions taken urgently, government optimizes food security and reliance on local food production.

When pigs fly, Botswana will be able to produce food to feed its people. This is evident by the numbers released by Statistics Botswana on imports recorded in November 2020, on their International Merchandise Trade Statistics for the month under review.

The numbers say Botswana continues to import most of its food from neighbouring South Africa. Not only that, Batswana relies on South Africa to have something to smoke, to drink and even use as machinery.

According to data from Statistics Botswana, the country’s total imports amounted to P6.881 Million. Diamonds contributed to the total imports at 33%, which is equivalent to P2.3 Million. This was followed by food, beverages and tobacco, machinery and electrical equipment which stood at P912 Million and P790 Million respectively.

Most of these commodities were imported from The Southern African Customs Union (SACU). The Union supplied Botswana with imports valued at over P4.8 Million of Botswana’s imports for the month under review (November 2020). The top most imported commodity group from SACU region was food, beverages and tobacco, with a contribution of P864 Million, which is likely to be around 18.1% of the total imports from the region.

Diamonds and fuel, according to these statistics, contributed 16.0%, or P766 Million and 13.5% or P645 Million respectively. Botswana also showed a strong and desperate reliance on neighbouring South Africa for important commodities. Even though the borders between the two countries in order to curb the spread of the COVID-19 virus, government took a decision to open border gates for essential services which included the transportation of commodities such as food.

Imports from South Africa recorded in November 2020 stood at P4.615 Million, which accounted for 67.1% of total imports during the month under review. Still from that country, Botswana bought food, beverages and tobacco worth P844 Million (18.3%), diamonds, machinery and fuel worth P758 Million, P601 Million and P562 Million respectively.

Botswana also imported chemicals and rubber products that made a contribution of 11.7% (P542.2 Million) to total imports from South Africa during the month under review, (November 2020).

The European Union also came to Botswana’s rescue in the previous year. Botswana received imports worth P698.3 Million from the EU, accounting for 10.1% of the total imports during the same month. The major group commodity imported from the EU was diamonds, accounting for 86.9% (P606.6 Million), of imports from the Union. Belgium was the major source of imports from the EU, at 8.9% (P609.1 Million) of total imports during the period under review.

Meanwhile, Minister of Finance and Economic Development Thapelo Matsheka says an improvement in exports and commodity prices will drive growth in Sub-Saharan Africa. Growth in the region is anticipated to recover modestly to 3.2% in 2021. Matsheka said this when delivering the Annual Budget Speech virtually in Gaborone on the 1st of February 2021.

He said implementation of the African Continental Free Trade Area Agreement (AfCFTA), which became operational in January 2021, could reduce the region’s vulnerability to global disruptions, as well as deepen trade and economic integration.

“This could also help boost competition and productivity. Successful implementation of AfCFTA will, of necessity, require Member States to eliminate both tariffs and non-tariff barriers, and generally make it easier to do business and invest across borders.”

Matsheka, who is also a Member of Parliament for Lobatse, an ailing town which houses the struggling biggest meat processing company in the country- Botswana Meat Commission, (BMC), said the Southern African Customs Union (SACU) recognizes the need to prioritize the key processes required for the implementation of the AfCFTA.

“The revised SACU Tariff Offer, which comprises 5,988 product lines with agreed Rules of Origin, representing 77% of the SACU Tariff Book, was submitted to the African Union Commission (AUC) in November 2020. The government is in the process of evaluating the tariff offers of other AfCFTA members prior to ratification, following which Botswana’s participation in AfCFTA will come to effect.”

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Sheila Tlou: On why women don’t get votes

1st March 2021
Sheila Tlou

BARAPEDI KEDIKILWE

Women continue to shadow men in politics – stereotypes such as ‘behind every successful man there is a woman’ cast the notion that women cannot lead. The 2019 general election recorded one of Botswana’s worst performances when it comes to women participation in parliamentary democracy with only three women elected to parliament.

Botswana’s former Minister of Health, Professor Sheila Tlou who is currently the Co-Chair, Global HIV Prevention Coalition & Nursing Now and an HIV, Gender & Human Rights Activist is not amused by the status quo. Tlou attributes this dilemma facing women to a number of factors, which she is convinced influence the voting patterns of Batswana when it comes to women politicians.

Professor Tlou plugs the party level voting systems as the first hindrance that blocks women from ascending to power. According to the former Minister of Health, there is inadequate amount of professionalism due to corrupt internal party structures affecting the voters roll and ultimately leading to voter apathy for those who end up struck off the voters rolls under dubious circumstances.

Tlou also stated that women’s campaigns are often clean; whilst men put to play the ‘politics is dirty metaphor using financial muscle to buy voters into voting for them without taking into consideration their abilities and credibility. The biggest hurdle according to Tlou is the fallacy that ‘Women cannot lead’, which is also perpetuated by other women who discourage people from voting for women.

There are numerous factors put on the table when scrutinizing a woman, she can be either too old, or too young, or her marital status can be used against her. An unmarried woman is labelled as a failure and questioned on how she intends on being a leader when she failed to have a home. The list is endless including slut shaming women who have either been through a divorce or on to their second marriages, Tlou observed.

The only way that voters can be emancipated from this mentality according to Tlou is through a robust voter education campaign tailor made to run continuously and not be left to the eve of elections as it is usually done. She further stated that the current crop of women in parliament must show case their abilities and magnify them – this will help make it clear that they too are worthy of votes.

And to women intending to run for office, Tlou encouraged them not to wait for the eleventh hour to show their interest and rather start in community mobilisation projects as early as possible so that the constituents can get to know them and their abilities prior to the election date.

Youthful Botswana National Front (BNF) leader and feminist, Resego Kgosidintsi blames women’s mentality towards one another which emanates from the fact that women have been socialised from a tender age that they cannot be leaders hence they find it difficult to vote for each other.

Kgosidintsi further states that, “Women do not have enough economic resources to stage effective campaigns. They are deemed as the natural care givers and would rather divert their funds towards raising children and building homes over buying campaign materials.”

Meanwhile, Vice President of the Alliance for Progressives (AP), Wynter Mmolotsi agrees that women’s participation in politics in Botswana remains a challenge. To address this Mmolotsi suggested that there should be constituencies reserved for women candidates only so that the outcome regardless of the party should deliver a woman Member of Parliament.

Mmolotsi further suggested that Botswana should ditch the First Past the Post system of election and opt for the proportional representation where contesting parties will dutifully list able women as their representatives in parliament.

On why women do not get elected, Mmolotsi explained that he had heard first hand from voters that they are reluctant to vote for women since they have limited access to them once they have won; unlike their male counterparts who have proven to be available night or day.

The pre-historic awarding of gender roles relegating women to be pregnant and barefoot at home and the man to be out there fending for the family has disadvantaged women in political and other professional careers.

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