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Masisi pokes Khama on Kalafatis, Motswaledi

President Mokgweetsi Masisi has thrown a political salvo towards his predecessor former President Ian Khama by threatening to reopen the cases of the late Gomolemo Motswaledi and John Kalafatis. 

President Masisi is said to have been angered by continuous maneuvers by his predecessor to unseat him as State President and leader of the ruling Botswana Democratic Party (BDP).  “The announcement by former Minister of Local Government and Rural Development Pelonomi Venson Moitoi to challenge Masisi as BDP party president is what broke the camel’s back. It has angered Masisi so much that he has vowed to do everything in his power to hit back at Khama,” a Cabinet member told this publication.

Prior to Moitoi’s decision, there were threats to impose a motion of no confidence against President Masisi by some BDP members of parliament and those in the opposition. Motswaledi and Kalafatis both died mysterious deaths and many within the opposition suspected a foul play by the State.  The deaths of the two remain the darkest period in the country’s post-independence history. The State has never owned up to full responsibility on the deaths of the two blaming fatigue causing an accident for Motswaledi and rogue intelligence officers having killed Kalafatis.

“Motswaledi having been suspended from the BDP as Secretary General went to form a breakaway political party the BMD, which became a national obstacle for the BDP.  BMD enjoyed overwhelming support amongst the youth and was seen as going to be an impediment to the BDP, more so that elections were in the horizon.  That was in 2014.  Indeed, even after the passing of Motswaledi, the BMD in cooperation with the BNF invigorated many Batswana voters and made a serious dent into the BDP’s majority in parliament winning 20 constituencies with BCP to BDP’s 37.”

Kalafatis’ family lawyer, Dick Bayford was recorded in one of the radio stations some years back revealing that the family was being systematically hunted down by State security because of an alleged controversial sex tape that the state security believe came into the late Kalafatis’ possession. The alleged video, according to Bayford, supposedly shows visuals stored on a laptop of a prominent State official in comprising sexual acts. The state security, so it is alleged, believes that the laptop containing the sexually explicit material was stolen by the late Kalafatis in 2009.

John was murdered by the Botswana Defence Force Military Intelligence in 2009 for undisclosed reasons. After public outcry and pressure from the family lawyers, the state prosecuted his killers who were convicted by the High Court. They had barely served their 11-year prison sentences when former President Khama pardoned them. Reasons for granting the convicts a rare presidential pardon has not been explained to the public.

In 2012, Kalafatis’ father was assaulted by unknown assailants and subsequently passed away from injuries sustained by the assault. He had been left severely beaten and left for dead behind Sir Seretse Khama Barracks in Mogoditshane. On December 18, 2013, near a residential location commonly referred to as Partial, Kalafatis’ younger brother, Costa, was unlawfully and wrongly shot by members of a kindred Botswana security agency. He sustained serious injuries and was hospitalised at Princess Marina Hospital where he died five days later.

“Now that Masisi and Khama have fallen out, Masisi who was Khama’s number 2 feels he knows a lot behind the killings.  This is supported by Peter Magosi taking over Isaac Kgosi’s role as DIS director,” said the source. “Magosi may have firsthand information on what went wrong with the killing of Kalafatis. He was head of Military Intelligence when the killing was conducted by his team.  Papers, augmented by testimonies of intelligence officers and witnesses appear to substantiate what scholars have always suspected: Ian Khama, then President and Isaac Kgosi DIS Director at the time, know something about the deaths of Motswaledi and Kalafatis.” 

Khama’s Orders

The little that Khama or his administration has said ever since about the death of Gomolemo and Kalafatis has been obfuscation and denial.  The closest that his administration has come to admitting official responsibility was after Former Vice President Mompati Merafhe was quoted saying “one or two deaths by the state is not bad”. 

Another incident is of a leaked WhatsApp message sent to a group of friends by a former Minister in Khama’s cabinet who felt betrayed by Khama and Masisi, shared with friends to say Kalafatis was assassinated at the instance of the state and that the BDP sponsored the breakaway of the BMD.   Now that Masisi himself is said to have threatened to open the cases brings to credibility that the demise of the two citizens was at the hands of the state.

In private conversation with BDP members, one of Khama’s remaining Ministers in Masisi Cabinet reportedly said to a senior Khama supporter, that “not only was Khama fully aware of what was going on, but the DIS led by Kgosi was operating under Khama’s explicit orders”.  So much he Khama and Kgosi bypassed the Minister of Justice and Defence at the time. In his defense last year, Isaac Kgosi was quoted to have said to one local publication that Peter Magosi is the one who should take responsibility and that he dares anyone to accuse of him of the killings. 

Government silence

Batswana have always questioned the extent of government’s knowledge in these deaths.  Evidence so far shows that former Vice Presidents, Cabinet Ministers and MPs of the ruling party though not necessarily in agreement came to understand that the two killings were the result of a formal, broad based decision by the leadership.  Their silence however can later prove to them being eager accomplices.

Whilst accurately it will never be known, the existence of DIS body bags and secret houses is evidence enough to suggest that killings happened under Khama’s administration.  Oral testimony from some DIS agents during Kgosi’s leadership points to host of killings that were unknown. Batswana’s only hope is that the political fight between Masisi and Khama intensifies so that they get to know many untold stories about the state.

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Botswana still weighing in on Maseko’s assassination

27th January 2023

The Minister of Foreign Affairs, Dr. Lemogang Kwape says Botswana has not taken any position regarding the killing of a renowned human rights lawyer, Thulani Maseko, who was gunned down at his house in Mbabane, Eswatini.

In a brief interview with WeekendPost, Dr Kwape said Botswana has not yet taken any position regarding his death. He said the purported incident should be thoroughly probed before Botswana can form an opinion based on the findings of the inquiries.

“Botswana generally condemns any killing of human life by all means,” says Dr. Kwape. He wouldn’t want to be dragged on whether Botswana will support the suspension of Eswatini from SADC.

“We will be guided by SADC organ Troika if they can be an emergency meeting. I am not sure when the meeting will be called by Namibian president,“ he said.

However, the Namibian president Hage Geingob notes with deep concern reports coming out of Eswatini about the killing of Mr. Maseko. In a statement, he called upon the “Government of the Kingdom of Eswatini to ensure that the killing of Maseko is swiftly, transparently and comprehensively investigated, and that any or all persons suspected of committing this heinous crime are brought to justice.”

Maseko was chairperson of the Multi-Stakeholder Forum which was established as a coalition of non-State actors to advocate for a process of national political dialogue aimed at resolving the security and political challenges confronting the Kingdom.

“SADC expresses its deepest and heartfelt condolences to the family of Mr. Maseko, his friends, colleagues, and to the people of the Kingdom of Eswatini for the loss of Mr. Maseko. In this context, SADC further calls upon the people of the Kingdom of Eswatini to remain calm, exercise due care and consideration whilst the appropriate structures conduct the investigations and bring the matter to completion,” the statement says.

Geingob reiterated the need for peaceful resolution of the political and security challenges affecting the country.

Meanwhile political activists are calling on SADC to suspend Eswatini from the block including the African Union as well.

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Kopong Murder: Accused interferes with witnesses again!

27th January 2023

State prosecutor, Seeletso Ookeditse revealed before the Broadhurst Magistrate Jobbie Moilatshimo that the third accused involved in the murder of Barulaganye Aston, has interfered with the State witnesses again.

The second and third accused (Lefty Kosie and Outlwile Aston) were previously accused of interference when they were caught in possession of cellphones in prison. They were further accused of planning to kill the deceased’s brother, who is currently the guardian to the children of the deceased.

Ookeditse indicated that Outlwile had earlier went to challenge the magistrate’s decision of denying him bail at the High Court before Judge Michael Motlhabi.

“The third accused approached the High Court and made a bail application, which was dismissed on the same day,” Ookeditse said.

However, even after the High Court verdict on their bail application, the duo (Kosie and Aston) has once again applied for bail this week.

Ookeditse plead with the court to stop the accused from abusing the court process.

“Yesterday, Directorate of Public Prosecutions (DPP) received papers of his bail application filed before the Broadhurst Magistrates Court. However, the papers do not speak to changed circumstances, therefore this back and forth about bail must be put to a stop,” said the State prosecutor.

While giving evidence before court, the Investigations Officer, Detective Inspector Quite Zhalamonto, said his investigations have proved that there is interference continuing regarding the accused trio.

He told the court that on the 12th of January 2023, he received a report from Thato Aston, who is the son of the accused and the deceased. The son had alleged to the Investigation Officer that he received a call from one Phillip Molwantwa.

According to Zhalamonto, Thato revealed that Molwatwa indicated that he was from prison on a visit to the Outlwile Aston and went on to ask where he was staying and where his siblings (Aston’s children) are staying.

“Thato revealed that Phillip went on to ask if he or his siblings saw their father murdering their mother, and he was referring to the crime scene. Thato told me that he, however, refused to answer the questions as he was afraid especially because he was asked about where him and his siblings stay,” said Zhalamonto.

Zhalamonto alluded to the court that he then went to Orange to confirm the communication between Thato and Molwantwa where he found the case.

“I have arrested Philip yesterday and when I interviewed him, he did not deny that he knows Aston and that he has indeed called Thato and asked questions as to where him and his siblings resides even though he failed to give reasons for asking such questions,” Zhalamonto told the court.

He further revealed that Molwantwa indicated that he had received a call from an unknown man who refused to reveal himself.

“Phillip told me that the unknown man said he was sent by the accused (Aston), and that Aston had instructed him to tell me to check if there was still some money in his bank accounts, and he also wanted to know where the kids were residing, the unknown man even asked him to meet at Main Mall” the Investigation Officer told the court.

He further informed the court that he is working tirelessly to identify the “unknown caller” and the route of the cell number.

Furthermore, the fourth accused, Kebaleboge Ntsebe, has revealed to the court through a letter that she was abused and tortured by the Botswana Police Services. She wrote in her letter that she suffered miscarriage as a result of being beaten by the police.

Ntsebe is on bail, while a bail ruling for Aston and Kosie will be delivered on the 6th of next month

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Ngamiland Cattle Farmers Gain Green Zone Revenue

27th January 2023

Cattle farmers from Eretsha and Habu in the Ngamiland district, supported by the Community Based Trade (CBT) project, recently generated over P300 000.00 for sales of 42 cattle to the Botswana Meat Commission (BMC) in Maun. This milestone was achieved through support from various stakeholders in conservation, commodity-based trade and the government, in collaboration with farmers. Ordinarily, these farmers would not have made this direct sale since the area is a designated Foot and Mouth Disease (FMD) Red Zone.

Traditional livestock farming contributes toward livelihoods and formal employment in the North-West District (Ngamiland) of Botswana. However, primarily due to the increase in FMD outbreaks over the past two decades and predation by wildlife, the viability of livestock agriculture as a source of income has declined in the region. This has led to a greater risk of poverty and food insecurity. Access across the Okavango River (prior to the construction of a bridge) restricted access for farmers in Eretsha. This lack of access hampered sales of cattle beyond Shakawe, further discouraging farmers from investing in proper livestock management practices. This resulted in negative environmental impacts, poor livestock health and productivity.

To address this challenge, farmers are working with a consortium led by Conservation International (CI), with funding secured from the European Union (EU) to pilot a CBT beef project. The project focuses on supporting and enabling communal farmers to comply with standards and regulations that will improve their chances to access markets. An opportunity to earn higher income from cattle sales could incentivize the adoption of restorative rangelands management practices by farmers.

These collaborative efforts being piloted in Habu and Eretsha villages also include the Pro-Nature Enterprises Project for the People of Southern Africa, funded by Agence Française de Développement (AFD) and Le Fonds français pour l’environnement mondial (FFEM). This complementary funding from AFD and FFEM supports the implementation of the Herding4Health (H4H) model and Rangeland Stewardship Agreements across four rangeland sites in Southern Africa, including Habu and Eretsha, to incentivize best practices that could offer sustainability in the long term for livelihoods, conservation and human-wildlife coexistence.

“We spend a lot of money getting our cattle to Makalamabedi quarantine site, the herder spends on average two months taking care of the cattle before they are taken into quarantine – that needs money. All these costs lead to us getting less money from BMC,” said one of the farmers in the programme, Mr Monnaleso Mosanga.

Farmers that participate in the project agree for their cattle to be herded and kraaled communally by fulltime professional herders (eco-rangers). At the core of this pilot is the use of predator-proof bomas (cattle kraals), planned grazing systems and mobile quarantine bomas (electrified enclosures) for the cattle, facilitated in support with the Department of Veterinary Services. The first successful exit from the mobile quarantine bomas in the Habu and Eretsha villages, in December 2022, saw cattle quarantined on-site and directly transported to BMC in Maun. Farmers received almost double the average sales within this region, as costs including transportation to quarantine sites, herder’s fees and other associated costs incurred before qualifying for BMC sales were no longer included.

“This pilot mobile quarantine is leveraging the techniques and protocols we are using at our current permanent quarantine sites, and we are still observing the results of the project. The outcome of this pilot will be presented to the World Organisation of Animal Health to assess its effectiveness and potentially be approved to be used elsewhere,” said Dr Odireleng Thololwane, the Principal Veterinary Officer (Maun).

Through co-financing of almost P1 billion from the Botswana government and Green Climate Fund, these interventions will be replicated, through The Ecosystem Based Adaptation and Mitigation in Botswana’s Communal Rangelands project, across the country. Both projects aim to improve the economic benefits of cattle owners and multitudes of Batswana households, while contributing to land restoration and climate change efforts by the Botswana government

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