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Khama reveals classified secrets

As the standoff between President Dr Mokgweetsi Masisi and former President, Lt Gen Dr Ian Khama takes twists and turns, it has come to the attention of this publication that in December 2016, the then Vice President, Mokgweetsi Masisi would surprise the last Central Committee meeting on a Monday by stepping down, and endorsing the name of Tshekedi Khama for chairmanship of the Botswana Democratic Party (BDP).

This was supposed to be a grand slam mastered by the legal brains of one Parks Tafa and it remained a secret that Khama says he would have gone to his cremation plate with had President Masisi not have discussed it at the party caucus last week. “What I am going to tell you now is not known, the reason why I am telling you is that Masisi is trying to shift the blame to me over the current situation,” former President Khama said.

 In his search for a new Vice President in 2014 prior to 2015 Mmadinare elective congress President Khama suggested at the party caucus for a poll to endorse a name for a possible Vice President, something that was never done before. Tshekedi Khama led the poll followed Pelonomi Venson- Moitoi and Nonofo Molefhi. Masisi knew about the results of the poll but Khama had his reservations particularly that Tshekedi is his younger brother. Khama also wanted to break a barrier of North versus South and had to appoint Mokgweetsi Masisi against party caucus, a plan that would later backfire completely.

It was Khama’s long trusted man Parks Tafa who objected and later said, “This is a wrong man for the Vice Presidency.” After making his mind General Khama then sent Tafa to tip Masisi of the decision that is hatching. Upon receiving the good news Mokgweetsi Masisi then told Parks Tafa at his residence that he will make way for Tshekedi in position of party chairman as the caucus has entrusted him and later appoint him Vice President when he finally takes over from Ian Khama.

This is how the deal was hatched: 1) Tshekedi Khama approved that Masisi must take over and in return, he would appoint him Vice President. 2) Masisi being appointed Vice President when Ponatshego Kedikilwe retires. 3) Tshekedi Khama to become party chairman. In his own words Khama said: “One of the reasons I choose Masisi is because when he was the Minister in Presidential Affairs, he showed a lot of support for me especially during the 2011 public service strike where the unions were threatening MPs. He was bold and said no increment could be made and I thought he is someone who is very firm,” said Khama.

 “Tafa was totally against Masisi’s appointment and he gave me reasons that I would not reveal to you.” When Tafa broke the news to Masisi, he assured him that he is indeed very humbled and was not expecting it. He then asked what about TK because he was up there? “I will make it up to him, I will make TK my Vice President,” Masisi told Tafa. Khama’s response to Tafa was that it is between TK and Masisi because when he becomes President, he has prerogative to nominate his Vice President.

Masisi is the one who broke the news to TK on the undertaking that he made to Parks Tafa. “I knew about it because they told me and was expecting that, that is what is going to happen. I am his older brother, I was disappointed when that didn’t happen but in life and in politics you have a lot of disappointments, that’s when you have to demonstrate maturity,” said Khama.

Khama said there is another Minister who came to him after Masisi became the President telling him that they are very disappointed because he has promised that person that he will appoint him the Vice President. At least two people were promised the post. When Tsogwane was appointed Chairman of the party, Khama called him and congratulated him, he knew automatically that he will eventually become Vice President.  Khama later invited Tsogwane over lunch at his official residence.

“I even assured him that I will not be contesting the party chairman against him as people suggested. This thing of going around and telling people I am bitter is not true, all the extra things I asked from him… I was begging looking at the conditions that I will be facing. All these were agreed on in writing,” he said. “Now they are using the powers that they have to retaliate and withdraw my employees which were seconded to my office”.  

Khama is of the view that the current feud will negatively impact the prospects of the BDP winning the 2019 general elections. A lot of democrats are unhappy, there is no unity after the recent primary elections and how the appeals were handled. I see a party divided going forward”.  Khama said the reconciliation process that Masisi is proposing is likely to be a temporary arrangement. “After 2019 it will be business as usual, where is the goodwill? Is there sincerity that he needs to reconcile?”

Khama said he never had a succession plan because that does not work in a democratic system, people can reject your choice of successor. Contacted for comment Parks Tafa confirmed having struck a deal with Masisi and this would have been a secret he would go with to his cremation tray. He said he considered Masisi lucky because he would never had been Vice President nor President. Tafa still recalls events as they evolved in the build up to Tonota Congress in 2017 where Tshekedi was supposed to assume the party chairman.

He went to see Masisi at his home on Thursday evening and the two went through what was initially agreed and Masisi fine with the whole arrangement. He was going to resign as party chairman at the Central Committee meeting on Monday.  Tafa communicated the results of the meeting to both Ian Khama and Tshekedi Khama. All the four agreed to meet on Friday but Masisi excused himself saying he is meeting with the wife in Johannesburg, South Africa.

On Friday morning at 0500hrs Tafa says he woke up to long WhatsApp message from Masisi saying he is not stepping down. They were hugely surprised, and this is when TK started not to trust Masisi and the brew of their long standoff. The terms have been broken completely and now Masisi was now proposing strongly and refusing to stepdown.

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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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