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Things not going right politically – Magang

Former cabinet Minister and Phakalane property mogul David Magang has joined the few substantial voices expressing discontentment with the state of affairs in the ruling Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) which by extension has spiralled into the national government affairs of the country.

Since leaving office in April last year, non-conformist ex-president Lt. Gen. Seretse Khama Ian Khama has been involved in a bitter war with incumbent president Mokgweetsi Masisi after his advances were turned down including a request for a government aircraft to fly him around the country. The impasse between the duo has divided the nation and the impact of their warfare is hitting hard on the ruling party, with loyalists finding themselves having to defend either of the two leaders.

Some observers have even went on to an extent of pointing to the possibility of the ruling BDP splitting for the second time since the breakaway of the now Botswana Movement for Democracy (BMD) under Khama’s watch. Khama is continuing the war and has backed a Masisi declared challenger for President Pelonomi Venson-Moitoi who has since been dropped from cabinet.

Following Moitoi’s self-professed candidature, a BDP Elder Magang wondered “a ekare o ja le motho mo tafoleng lo le mmogo mo ga gagwe le mosadi wa gagwe a go hile dijo abe o ema hela o tloge o re jaanong ntlo ke a ya ga gago le mosadi ke wa gago?” (loosely translated: how could someone try to bite the hand that, at that particular time feeds them because as a minister she is at the mercy of the president as far as appointment to cabinet is concerned?), Magang asked rhetorically while speaking in parables with this publication.

Magang, a barrister by profession and one of only three in Botswana who was very reluctant to speak on the current state of democracy in the country due to his selection by incumbent president Masisi to sit in Council of Elders and mediate a rift between him (Masisi) and ex-president Khama, however could not hold his horse: “politically, things are not going right in the country.” He told Weekend Post that they have not completed their work as Elders Committee in as far as mediation of the two statesmen is concerned.

“We have not managed to meet both Masisi and Khama in our mediation efforts as it seems the two are very busy in their respective schedules,” he said. According to Magang, who has been a member of the ruling BDP in good standing in which he served as a Member of Parliament for Kweneng East/Lentsweletau Constituency from 1979 to 2002, “currently and politically in the country, things are moving very fast in the both the party and country.”

He added that there is already a party faction calling themselves the New Jerusalem in addition to declared candidature of Pelonomi Venson Moitoi for the presidency of the BDP which he said sounds absurd. In his judgement, the University of London graduate who was the first Motswana native to open a private law practice in the country stated that the development makes their task arduous.  “It makes things worse, it makes our duty not smooth as we might be linked to the factions or people may not interpret us in a way as not objective in terms of how they see us.”

The party elder went on to question whether they need to continue with the task or revert to the incumbent president Masisi to reassess the mandate or if need be call it off altogether, depending on how the president will view it. Masisi first made a public record of his differences with former President Khama in his State of the Nation Address on November 5th.

Concluding his address on SONA, Masisi admitted to Khama animosity: “Batswana are all aware that the transition from the previous administration has not been as smooth as expected…however, it ought to be noted, I have in my attempt to smoothen the process engaged senior citizens namely; the third president Dr. Festus Mogae, ex Vice President Dr. Ponatshego Kedikilwe, two former speakers of national assembly Ray Molomo as well as Patrick Balopi to assist and lead in smoothening the transition.”

Masisi pointed out then that, “I regret to announce that their efforts have not borne fruit up to this point.” Magang, the Phakalane suburban proprietor, was at one point hinted for a Vice President position at the height of BDP factions and however was bypassed by president Mogae who went on to nominate the then Botswana Defence Force (BDF) military Commander in the form of Khama.

Feeling disillusioned by the move, the author of three books; “the Magic of Perseverance” followed by two volumes of “Delusions of Grandeur” could not hang on as he call it quits by retiring from active politics two years later (2001) to focus on his Phakalane property businesses.   

Magang held a number of high-ranking ministry portfolios under Presidents Sir Ketumile Masire and Mogae, including serving as Minister of Mineral Resources and Water Affairs (1994–97) and Minister of Works, Transport & Communications (1992–94, 1998-2001). Magang was also Governor of the African Development Bank from 1989 to 1992.

He was also invited by the current President of Botswana to be part of the Council of Elders established by the President himself for consultations by the Office of the President and the Government of Botswana. Cabinet minister Dr Unity Dow and ex-president Mogae have also made their voices heard in local publications while at the same time endorsing Masisi for president against Pelonomi Venson-Moitoi.

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Boko’s rivals plan new party

15th August 2022

Following their loss to the Duma Boko-led lobby in the Botswana National Front (BNF)’s national congress last month, some members of the party are reportedly considering forming a new political party.

According to members, the new party will be formed after they receive a tip-off that the BNF will do all it can to ensure that the aggrieved members do not participate in the 2024 national elections. This will reportedly done through a carefully orchestrated primary elections elimination campaign. 

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13 AUGUST 2022 Publication

12th August 2022

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DIS blasted for cruelty – UN report

26th July 2022
DIS BOSS: Magosi

Botswana has made improvements on preventing and ending arbitrary deprivation of liberty, but significant challenges remain in further developing and implementing a legal framework, the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention said at the end of a visit recently.

Head of the delegation, Elina Steinerte, appreciated the transparency of Botswana for opening her doors to them. Having had full and unimpeded access and visited 19 places of deprivation of liberty and confidentiality interviewing over 100 persons deprived of their liberty.

She mentioned “We commend Botswana for its openness in inviting the Working Group to conduct this visit which is the first visit of the Working Group to the Southern African region in over a decade. This is a further extension of the commitment to uphold international human rights obligations undertaken by Botswana through its ratification of international human rights treaties.”

Another good act Botswana has been praised for is the remission of sentences. Steinerte echoed that the Prisons Act grants remission of one third of the sentence to anyone who has been imprisoned for more than one month unless the person has been sentenced to life imprisonment or detained at the President’s Pleasure or if the remission would result in the discharge of any prisoner before serving a term of imprisonment of one month.

On the other side; The Group received testimonies about the police using excessive force, including beatings, electrocution, and suffocation of suspects to extract confessions. Of which when the suspects raised the matter with the magistrates, medical examinations would be ordered but often not carried out and the consideration of cases would proceed.

“The Group recall that any such treatment may amount to torture and ill-treatment absolutely prohibited in international law and also lead to arbitrary detention. Judicial authorities must ensure that the Government has met its obligation of demonstrating that confessions were given without coercion, including through any direct or indirect physical or undue psychological pressure. Judges should consider inadmissible any statement obtained through torture or ill-treatment and should order prompt and effective investigations into such allegations,” said Steinerte.

One of the group’s main concern was the DIS held suspects for over 48 hours for interviews. Established under the Intelligence and Security Service Act, the Directorate of Intelligence and Security (DIS) has powers to arrest with or without a warrant.

The group said the “DIS usually requests individuals to come in for an interview and has no powers to detain anyone beyond 48 hours; any overnight detention would take place in regular police stations.”

The Group was able to visit the DIS facilities in Sebele and received numerous testimonies from persons who have been taken there for interviewing, making it evident that individuals can be detained in the facility even if the detention does not last more than few hours.

Moreover, while arrest without a warrant is permissible only when there is a reasonable suspicion of a crime being committed, the evidence received indicates that arrests without a warrant are a rule rather than an exception, in contravention to article 9 of the Covenant.

Even short periods of detention constitute deprivation of liberty when a person is not free to leave at will and in all those instances when safeguards against arbitrary detention are violated, also such short periods may amount to arbitrary deprivation of liberty.

The group also learned of instances when persons were taken to DIS for interviewing without being given the possibility to notify their next of kin and that while individuals are allowed to consult their lawyers prior to being interviewed, lawyers are not allowed to be present during the interviews.

The UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention mentioned they will continue engaging in the constructive dialogue with the Government of Botswana over the following months while they determine their final conclusions in relation to the country visit.

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