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Friday, 19 April 2024

BDP suspended executives face purge

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Botswana Democratic Party (BDP)’s two suspended executives faces expulsion from the party, after the duo exposed plans to rig the Kgalagadi North elections in favour of incumbent, Itumeleng Moipisi ahead of party primaries in July this year.

According to information gathered by this publication, in a bid to protect President Mokgweetsi Masisi’s blue-eyed boys, the party secretariat conspired to have names of members believed to be sympathetic to Talinta Monnakgotla removed from the voters roll. Although Monnakgotla was the target, and had 250 names of people sympathetic to her removed from the voter roll, she triumphed against Moipisi in the party primaries.

Following the accusation leveled against the two employees, the party central committee dispatched a task team led Dr Lemogang Kwapa, party parliamentary candidate for Kanye South, to investigate the allegations. WeekendPost has been informed by insiders that Dr Kwapa’s exercise was an academic exercise aimed at legitimising the actions of those who wanted to bring down Monnakgotla, also to legitmise the imminent expulsion of the two suspended party executives.

“Now therein lies two issues, who can with confidence claim that they know everyone. It is hogwash,” said an insider. “Only eight were reinstated. The sub-plot to removing names as to disadvantage Talita Monnakgotla. Even Talita’s mother and biological sisters were removed.” The source further revealed to this publication that it would be unfair for the party to expel the suspended executives simply because they refused to play to the gallery.

WeekendPost was also informed that the conspiracy was sponsored by some in the central committee, with two prominent names being associated with the move. According to the charge sheet, written to one of the suspended executives, party Executive Secretary, Merapelo Moloise state that: “It is alleged that while you were assigned to capture corrections after verification process had been completed by various PEEC Deployee you received the lists for blacklisting for Kang North Ward and Kang South Ward from One Montshiwa and proceeded to call the Ward secretaries and enquired about the lists. This action was non-compliant with operations procedure and negligent.”

Although the suspended employees are on full pay, justice has not been forthcoming. The scheduled disciplinary hearing for the two has been postponed on several occasions. One of the accused has also accused the BDP Executive Secretary of witch-hunt in letter date 14 September 2018 responding to the Moloise’s charge sheet.

“I wish to highlight what I perceive as prejudice by the Executive Secretary. You led in my suspension. The Executive Secretary is the one who has decided that the said allegations are sufficient to charge me. Assuming a negative outcome, it would be expected of me to appeal to you as the highest ranking officer in the administrative structures of Botswana Democratic Party. Potential prejudice   is perceived,” said the complainant.

“By playing the different roles, the Executive Secretary might be unable to make impartial assessment on the probabilities of the case she was so intrinsically involved with the facts of the case before the hearing started.” The suspended executive stated that he will lead the evidence regarding Moloise’s impartiality in the process even at later stage of dispute resolution.

BULELA DITSWE CONUNDRUM CONTINUES

The party primary election system, which was introduced for the first time ahead of 2004 general elections, replacing the vulnerable Committee of 18, has also proved to be problematic. A re-run held recently at Lentsweleta-Mmopane  proved that indeed the system is being manipulated. Incumbent Vincent Seretse had won the constituency, but stashed box of ballot papers was later discovered, necessitating a re-run. Nnaniki Makwija won the resultant re-run.  

Scores of defeated incumbents have also lodged complaints, citing irregularities in recent elections.  It is believed that the party’s 2014 general elections dismal performance was partly due to how the elections were conducted.  Bulela Ditswe created a rift between contestants in 2013 leading to significant number of candidates contesting elections as independent candidates.

The BDP had one of the worst electoral performances in 2017, losing an unprecedented 20 seats to combined opposition in 2014. The party’s popular vote plummeted to below 50 percent for the first time since 1965. Following disastrous performance BDP Central Committee tasked party veteran and former cabinet minister Peter Siele to lead a commission that would investigate the niggling primary elections and offer recommendations to the party

Siele was tasked with look at among others; if the system of Bulela Ditswe still working for the BDP; Why were there so manyproblems; the nature of these problems; whether the system can be fixed and how and if the party still had to continue with it, and if not what is the alternative that can be pursued to unite the party. According to Siele report, during the 2013 Bulela Ditswe season, a record 108 complaints were registered with the party about the manner in which party primaries were conducted.

The findings of Siele commission were shared with the BDP central committee later and the recommendations are discussed at the 2015 Mmadinare Congress. The party resolved to retain Bulela Ditswe system nevertheless. The current problems, which have led to the suspension of the two employees, were raised by the Siele Report. Siele said the success of any election is dependent on having a credible voters’ roll with full security features.

According to Siele Report the voters roll lacked secure features and dishonest officials included and removed people freely. Other findings were that some candidates were denied access to the voters’ rolls while some were favoured. Bulela Ditswe was introduced in 2003, ahead of the 2004 general elections in the aftermath of the increase in the number of constituencies. This saw the party doing away with the committee of 18, which was initially the organ responsible for choosing a candidate who would contest a particular constituency or ward.

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Nigerians, Zimbabweans apply for Chema Chema Fund

16th April 2024

Fronting activities, where locals are used as a front for foreign-owned businesses, have been a long-standing issue in Botswana. These activities not only undermine the government’s efforts to promote local businesses but also deprive Batswana of opportunities for economic empowerment, officials say. The Ministry of Trade and Industry has warned of heavy penalties for those involved in fronting activities especially in relation to the latest popular government initiative dubbed Chema Chema.

According to the Ministry, the Industrial Development Act of 2019 clearly outlines the consequences of engaging in fronting activities. The fines of up to P50,000 for first-time offenders and P20,000 plus a two-year jail term for repeat offenders send a strong message that the government is serious about cracking down on this illegal practice. These penalties are meant to deter individuals from participating in fronting activities and to protect the integrity of local industries.

“It is disheartening to hear reports of collaboration between foreigners and locals to exploit government initiatives such as the Chema Chema Fund. This fund, administered by CEDA and LEA, is meant to support informal traders and low-income earners in Botswana. However, when fronting activities come into play, the intended beneficiaries are sidelined, and the funds are misused for personal gain.” It has been discovered that foreign nationals predominantly of Zimbabwean and Nigerian origin use unsuspecting Batswana to attempt to access the Chema Chema Fund. It is understood that they approach these Batswana under the guise of drafting business plans for them or simply coming up with ‘bankable business ideas that qualify for Chema Chema.’

Observers say the Chema Chema Fund has the potential to uplift the lives of many Batswana who are struggling to make ends meet. They argue that it is crucial that these funds are used for their intended purpose and not siphoned off through illegal activities such as fronting. The Ministry says the warning it issued serves as a reminder to all stakeholders involved in the administration of these funds to ensure transparency and accountability in their disbursement.

One local commentator said it is important to highlight the impact of fronting activities on the local economy and the livelihoods of Batswana. He said by using locals as a front for foreign-owned businesses, opportunities for local entrepreneurs are stifled, and the economic empowerment of Batswana is hindered. The Ministry’s warning of heavy penalties is a call to action for all stakeholders to work together to eliminate fronting activities and promote a level playing field for local businesses.

Meanwhile, the Ministry of Trade and Industry’s warning of heavy penalties for fronting activities is a necessary step to protect the integrity of local industries and promote economic empowerment for Batswana. “It is imperative that all stakeholders comply with regulations and work towards a transparent and accountable business environment. By upholding the law and cracking down on illegal activities, we can ensure a fair and prosperous future for all Batswana.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Merck Foundation and African First Ladies mark World Health Day 2024

15th April 2024

Merck Foundation, the philanthropic arm of Merck KGaA Germany marks “World Health Day” 2024 together with Africa’s First Ladies who are also Ambassadors of MerckFoundation “More Than a Mother” Campaign through their Scholarship and Capacity Building Program. Senator, Dr. Rasha Kelej, CEO of Merck Foundation emphasized, “At Merck Foundation, we mark World Health Day every single day of the year over the past 12 years, by building healthcare capacity and transforming patient care across Africa, Asia and beyond.

I am proud to share that Merck Foundation has provided over 1740 scholarships to aspiring young doctors from 52 countries, in 44 critical and underserved medical specialties such as Oncology, Diabetes, Preventative Cardiovascular Medicine, Endocrinology, Sexual and Reproductive Medicine, Acute Medicine, Respiratory Medicine, Embryology & Fertility specialty, Gastroenterology, Dermatology, Psychiatry, Emergency and Resuscitation Medicine, Critical Care, Pediatric Emergency Medicine, Neonatal Medicine, Advanced Surgical Practice, Pain Management, General Surgery, Clinical Microbiology and infectious diseases, Internal Medicine, Trauma & Orthopedics, Neurosurgery, Neurology, Cardiology, Stroke Medicine, Care of the Older Person, Family Medicine, Pediatrics and Child Health, Obesity & Weight Management, Women’s Health, Biotechnology in ART and many more”.

As per the available data, Africa has only 34.6% of the required doctors, nurses, and midwives. It is projected that by 2030, Africa would need additional 6.1 million doctors, nurses, and midwives*. “For Example, before the start of the Merck Foundation programs in 2012; there was not a single Oncologist, Fertility or Reproductive care specialists, Diabetologist, Respiratory or ICU specialist in many countries such as The Gambia, Liberia, Sierra Leone, Central African Republic, Guinea, Burundi, Niger, Chad, Ethiopia, Namibia among others. We are certainly creating historic legacy in Africa, and also beyond. Together with our partners like Africa’s First Ladies, Ministries of Health, Gender, Education and Communication, we are impacting the lives of people in the most disadvantaged communities in Africa and beyond.”, added Senator Dr. Kelej. Merck Foundation works closely with their Ambassadors, the African First Ladies and local partners such as; Ministries of Health, Education, Information & Communication, Gender, Academia, Research Institutions, Media and Art in building healthcare capacity and addressing health, social & economic challenges in developing countries and under-served communities. “I strongly believe that training healthcare providers and building professional healthcare capacity is the right strategy to improve access to equitable and quality at health care in Africa.

Therefore, I am happy to announce the Call for Applications for 2024 Scholarships for young doctors with special focus on female doctors for our online one-year diploma and two year master degree in 44 critical and underserved medical specialties, which includes both Online Diploma programs and On-Site Fellowship and clinical training programs. The applications are invited through the Office of our Ambassadors and long-term partners, The First Ladies of Africa and Ministry of Health of each country.” shared Dr . Kelej. “Our aim is to improve the overall health and wellbeing of people by building healthcare capacity across Africa, Asia and other developing countries. We are strongly committed to transforming patientcare landscape through our scholarships program”, concluded Senator Kelej.

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Interpol fugitive escapes from Botswana

15th April 2024

John Isaak Ndovi, a Tanzanian national embroiled in controversy and pursued under a red notice by the International Criminal Police Organization (Interpol), has mysteriously vanished, bypassing a scheduled bail hearing at the Extension 2 Magistrate Court in Gaborone. Previously apprehended by Botswana law enforcement at the Tlokweng border post several months earlier, his escape has ignited serious concerns.

Accused of pilfering assets worth in excess of P1 million, an amount translating to roughly 30,000 Omani Riyals, Ndovi has become a figure of paramount interest, especially to the authorities in the Sultanate of Oman, nestled in the far reaches of Asia.

The unsettling news of his disappearance surfaced following his failure to present himself at the Extension 2 Magistrate Court the preceding week. Speculation abounds that Ndovi may have sought refuge in South Africa in a bid to elude capture, prompting a widespread mobilization of law enforcement agencies to ascertain his current location.

In an official communiqué, Detective Senior Assistant Police Commissioner Selebatso Mokgosi of Interpol Gaborone disclosed Ndovi’s apprehension last September at the Tlokweng border, a capture made possible through the vigilant issuance of the Interpol red notice.

At 36, Ndovi is implicated in a case of alleged home invasion in Oman. Despite the non-existence of an extradition treaty between Botswana and Oman, Nomsa Moatswi, the Director of the Directorate of Public Prosecution (DPP), emphasized that the lack of formal extradition agreements does not hinder her office’s ability to entertain extradition requests. She highlighted the adoption of international cooperation norms, advocating for collaboration through the lenses of international comity and reciprocity.

Moatswi disclosed the intensified effort by law enforcement to locate Ndovi following his no-show in court, and pointed to Botswana’s track record of extraditing two international fugitives from France and Zimbabwe in the previous year as evidence of the country’s relentless pursuit of legal integrity.

When probed about the potential implications of Ndovi’s case on Botswana’s forthcoming evaluation by the Financial Action Task Force (FATF), Moatswi reserved her speculations. She acknowledged the criticality of steering clear of blacklisting, suggesting that this singular case is unlikely to feature prominently in the FATF’s assessment criteria.

 

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