Kgosi not off the hook yet
WeekendPost investigations have revealed yet another multi-million-pula investigation on procurement that happened when Isaac Kgosi was still Director General of the Directorate on Intelligence and Security (DIS).
Kgosi was recently interviewed by the the Directorate on Corruption and Economic Crime (DCEC) on the ongoing P250 million National Petroleum Fund (NPF) scandal in which he requested the funds to procure firearms and Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) in 2017. It has emerged from the latest charges against the accused persons that he was given false information.
In August 2017, he proposed that Ministry of Mineral Resources, Green Technology and Energy Security releases an amount of P250 million for the design and construction of additional strategic fuel storages sites in a bid to further expand these sites to cater for other essential government organs. After the ministry responded by acceding to the request and stipulated the funds within the NPF, Kgosi then later said procurement of petroleum facilities was no longer a priority, saying he would divert the funds to wildlife poaching, human and drug trafficking.
Fresh information gathered is that the records states that the same equipment that he allegedly procured was also procured in 2010, though the directorate has only one set of equipment. “The same goods that he procured last year were also procured sometime in 2010, which means the department has to have two sets of that equipment. But there is only one set at the DIS office,” said a source at the DCEC. “One other set has to be accounted for.
Either the 2010 equipment was bought and taken elsewhere, or it was never bought at all though the money was taken out to purchase such.” Other sources from the DIS stated that the directorate was facing a difficult time in terms of records because during Kgosi’s reign there was no properly constituted procurement committee.
NPF case: Kgosi was a ‘victim’
According to the latest charges in the NPF case, Kgosi is a victim, he was given false information as a public officer. New faces in the NPF case are former Minister of Minerals, Sadique and his twin brother Judge Zein Kebonang, Kago Setimela, and Mogomotsi Seretse who were arraigned on Thursday.
Bakang’s attorney, Kgosietsile Ngakaagae has always stated before the courts that there was no how his client could be charged with money laundering when the key players in the deal were free men. He said, his client was mainly acting on the instructions given by Kgosi in all the transactions that he has done. This publication has it in good authority that investigations against Kgosi were still continuing. “Though the DIS has paid the P118 million to NPF account, there are still many questions than answers concerning the said deal,” said the source.
“The investigations against him are to establish whether the equipment brought recently is worth P118 million. The other loophole is the date in which the contract was signed and the date in which money was allegedly paid to the Israeli company. He paid the money in August and later signed a contract when the scandal started in November last year,” said the source, who is in the intelligence security.
In the new amended charge sheet that was presented by the DPP on Thursday, the first accused person, Kenneth Kerekang is facing three counts of abuse of office; giving false information, uttering a false document, theft and three counts of money laundering in the sum of P120 million. Kerekang is alleged to have entered into an unauthorized contract with Kgori Capital (Pty) Ltd in terms of which Kgori was to earn 0.80 percent of the total value of the NPF assets in consequence of which the NPF Fund lost P11 million.
He is also accused of lying to Kgosi to the effect that a company called Khulaco (Pty) Ltd had been contracted by the government of Botswana to manage the NPF Fund, which information he knew was false. Bakang is facing a single count of uttering false information, theft in the sum of P60 million and 58 counts of money laundering in the sum of P208 million.
On the other hand, Sadique is facing three counts of money laundering in the sum of P7 million, Zein two counts of money laundering in the sum of P4 million, Mogomotsi 41 counts of money laundering in the sum of P3.3 million while Setimela is charged with six counts of money laundering in the sum of P3.3 million. The accused persons will appear before court again in February 18, 2019 where the case is expected to be committed to the high court for trial.
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ENVIRONMENT ISSUES: Masisi asks Virginia for help
President Mokgweetsi Masisi says the issue of sustainable natural resources management has always been an important part of Botswana’s national development agenda.
Masisi was speaking this week on the occasion of a public lecture at Virginia Polytechnic, under theme, “Merging Conservation, Democracy and Sustainable Development in Botswana.”
Botswana, according to Masisi, holds the view that the environment is fragile and as such, must be managed and given the utmost protection to enable the achievement of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
“It is necessary that we engage one another in the interchange of ideas, perspectives, visualizations of social futures, and considerations of possible strategies and courses of action for sustainable development,” said Masisi.
On the other hand, dialogue, in the form of rigorous democratic discourse among stakeholders presents another basis for reconfiguring how people act on their environments, with a view to conserving its resources that “we require to meet our socio-economic development needs on a sustainable basis,” Masisi told attendees at the public lecture.
He said government has a keen interest in understanding the epidemiology and ecology of diseases of both domestic and wild animals. “It is our national interest to forestall the dire consequences of animal diseases on our communities livelihoods.”
President Masisi hoped that both Botswana and Virginia could help each other in curbing contagious diseases of wildlife.
“We believe that Virginia Tech can reasonably share their experiences, research insights and advances in veterinary sciences and medicines, to help us build capacity for knowledge creation and improve efforts of managing and containing contagious diseases of wildlife. The ground is fertile for entering into such a mutually beneficial partnership.”
When explaining environmental issues further, Masisi said efforts of conservation and sustainable development might at times be hampered by the emergence and recurrence of diseases when pathogens mutate and take host of more than one species.
“Water pollution also kills aquatic life, such as fish, which is one of humanity’s much deserved sources of food. In this regard, One Health Approach imposes ecological responsibility upon all of us to care for the environment and the bio-diversity therein.”
He said the production and use of animal vaccines is an important space and tool for conservation, particularly to deal with trans-border animal diseases.
“In Botswana, our 43-year-old national premier pharmaceutical institution called Botswana Vaccine Institute has played its role well. Through its successful production of highly efficacious Foot and Mouth vaccines, the country is able to contain this disease as well as supply vaccines to other countries in the sub-region.:
He has however declared that there is need for more help, saying “We need more capacitation to deal with and contain other types of microbial that affect both animals and human health.”
Masisi saddened by deaths of elephant attacks
President Mokgweetsi Masisi has expressed a strong worry over elephants killing people in Botswana. When speaking in Virginia this week, Masisi said it is unfortunate that Batswana have paid a price with their own blood through being attacked by elephants.
“Communities also suffer unimaginable economic losses yearly when their crops are eaten by the elephants. In spite of such incidents of human-elephant conflict, our people embrace living together with the animals. They fully understand wildlife conservation and its economic benefits in tourism.”
In 2018, Nthobogang Samokwase’s father was attacked by an elephant when travelling from the fields, where he stayed during the cropping season.
It was reported that the man couldn’t run because of his age. He was found trampled by the elephant and was pronounced dead upon arrival at the hospital.
In the same year, in Maun, a 57-year-old British woman was attacked by an elephant at Boro and died upon arrival at the hospital. The woman was with her Motswana partner, and were walking dogs in the evening.
Last month, a Durban woman named Carly Marshall survived an elephant attack while on holiday in the bush in Botswana. She was stabbed by one of the elephant’s tucks through the chest and was left with bruises. Marshall also suffered several fractured ribs from the ordeal.
President Masisi Botswana has the largest population of African elephants in the world, totaling more than 130 000. “This has been possible due to progressive conservation policies, partnerships with the communities, and investment in wildlife management programmes.”
In order to benefit further from wildlife, Masisi indicated that government has re-introduced controlled hunting in 2019 after a four-year pause. “The re-introduction of hunting was done in an open, transparent and democratic way, giving the communities an opportunity to air their views. The funds from the sale of hunting quota goes towards community development and elephant conservation.”
He stressed that for conservation to succeed, the local people must be involved and derive benefits from the natural resources within their localities.
“There must be open and transparent consultations which involve all sectors of the society. It is against this backdrop that as a country, we lead the continent on merging conservation, democracy and sustainable development.”
Masisi stated that Botswana is open to collaborative opportunities, “particularly with identifiable partners such as Virginia Tech, in other essential areas such as conservation, and the study of the interplay among the ecology of diseases of wild animals and plants, and their effects on human health and socio-economic development.”
Gov’t commit to injecting more funds in fighting HIV
Minister for State President Kabo Morwaeng says government will continue to make resources available in terms of financial allocations and human capital to ensure that Botswana achieves the ideal of eradicating HIV and AIDS as a public health threat by 2030.
Morwaeng was speaking this morning in Gaborone at the High-Level Advocacy event to accelerate HIV Prevention in Botswana. He said the National AIDS and Health Promotion Agency (NAPHA), in partnership with UNAIDS, UN agencies, the Global Fund and PEPFAR, have started a process of developing transition readiness plan for sustainability of HIV prevention and treatment programmes.
“It is important for us, as a country that has had a fair share of donor support in the response to an epidemic such as HIV and AIDS, to look beyond the period when the level of assistance would have reduced, or ceased, thus calling for domestic financing for all areas which were on donor support.”
Morwaeng said this is important as the such a plan will guarantee that all the gains accrued from the response with donor support will be sustained until the end when “we reach the elimination of HIV and AIDS as a public health threat by 20230,” he said.
“I commit to continue support efforts towards strengthened HIV prevention, accentuating HIV primary prevention and treatment as prevention towards Zero New Infections, Zero Stigma, Discrimination and Zero AIDS related death, to end AIDS in Botswana.”
He reiterated that government commits to tackle legislative, policy and programming challenges that act as barriers to the achievement of the goal of ending AIDS as a public health threat.
In the financial year 2022/2023, a total of 119 Civil Society Organizations, including Faith Based Organizations, were contracted with an amount of P100 million to implement HIV and NCDs prevention activities throughout the country, and the money was drawn from the Consolidated Fund.
Through an upcoming HIV Prevention Symposium, technical stakeholders will use outcomes to develop the Botswana HIV Prevention Acceleration Road Map for 2023-2025.
Morwaeng stated that government will support and ensure that Botswana plays its part achieving the road map. He said there is need to put hands on the deck to ensure that Botswana sustains progress made so far in the fight against HIV and AIDS.
“There are tremendous achievements thus far to, reach and surpass the UNAIDS fast track targets of 95%- 95%- 95% by the year 2025. As reflected by the BAIS preliminary results of 2021, we now stand at 95- 98- 98 against the set targets.”
“These achievements challenge us to now shift our gears and strive to know who are the remaining 5% for those aware of their HIV status, 2% of enrolment on treatment by those aware of their status and 2% of viral suppression by those on treatment.”
Explaining this further, Morwaeng said shift in gears should extend to coming up with robust strategies of determining where these remaining people are as well as how they will be reached with the necessary services.
“These are just some of the many variables that are required to ensure that as a country, we are well positioned to reaching the last mile of our country’s response to the HIV and AIDS pandemic.”