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SA dagga legalisation to frustrate Lesetedi drug bust mission

The South African Constitutional Court’s ruling to legalise marijuana will have a negative impact on Botswana’s fight against drug abuse, Botswana Police Service Crime Intelligence Director and Senior Assistant Commissioner, Nunu Lesetedi conceded.

Towards the end of last year, Lesetedi has been the top police intelligence officer at the helm of publicised Botswana Police drug bust mission to sweep out the country’s drug dealers. With close to four decades experience in the police service, Lesetedi spearheaded the crusade to embark on war against drug abuse, but it proved to be a gruelling and dangerous campaign coming with death threats.

Another challenge has now emerged according to Lesetedi, the legalisation of marijuana by neighbouring South Africa’s Constitutional Court which will make his drug bust crusade uncontrollable or handful, especially the police cross border operations.  Lesetedi has referred to marijuana as the most used drugs and the police statistics shows the same too. In his televised drug bust, Lesetedi has previously that illegal drugs mostly come into the country from Swaziland, South Africa and other foreign drug dealers.

He once told the state owned Botswana Television that foreign traders are working hand in hand with local consumers. “It’s going to have an impact on us; we will definitely see an increase in the usage. South Africa is our neighbouring country,” Lesetedi said in a brief interview with Weekend Post. However, Lesetedi told this publication that he could not comment further on the matter since he is still studying the judgement and yet to seek legal advice on the matter.

Asked whether it might be time for Botswana to also consider legalisation of marijuana, Lesetedi indicated that only the Parliament has the power to decide whether to legalize marijuana or not. Marijuana legalisation debate has proved to be a hot potato in this country during the years.

Recently, the opposition led a debate which sought to make a law which will legalise the medicinal use of marijuana but the ruling Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) with its majority shot down the attempt. Some Batswana including Bakgatla Paramount Chief Kgafela Kgafela have for a considerable time advocated for the legalisation of dagga.  Kgafela like opposition politician said dagga has a medicinal value as it could fight diseases like asthma. Last week Ministry of Health and Wellness Permanent Secretary Ruth Maphorisa told the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) that they will consider use of dagga for medicinal purposes subject to parliamentary approval.

The ruling

Before the recent landslide South African Constitutional Court ruling, a lower court judgement had legalised the use of dagga. The ConCourt, as it is known, this week upheld the lower court’s judgement of legalisation of cannabis. The South African government had tried to argue that cannabis is not in line with South Africa’s constitutional value and could harm citizens.

The ruling allows adults to consume marijuana privately and to grow it for self-consumption. The constitutional court ruling also focuses on the issue of privacy and the right of a person to do as they please in their own home. However, what remains illegal is the selling of marijuana to others or smoking it outside the confines of your own home. Possession and growing of marijuana in large bulk is also prohibited.

The official line is that adults are allowed to grow, use and cultivate the substance on their own property. Everything else-including the potential for sin taxes and “the where and when” of how users can buy dagga must be outlined by the government. 

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Ministers key to Masisi presidency revealed

7th December 2021
President Dr Mokgweetsi Masisi

President Dr Mokgweetsi Masisi has identified at least 12 cabinet ministers who form part of his long-term plans owing to their loyalty and tenacity in delivering his vision. Masisi, who will see-off his term in 2028 — provided he wins re-election in 2024 — already knows key people who will help him govern until the end of his term, WeekendPost has learnt.

Despite negative criticism towards ministers from some quarters over a number of decisions and their somewhat cold deliberations and failure to articulate government programs, Masisi is said to be a number one cheer leader of his cabinet. He is said to have more confidence in his cabinet and believes going forward they will reach the aspired levels and silence the critics.

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Free at last: Ian Kirby Speaks Out

6th December 2021
Justice Ian Kirby

The outgoing President of the Court of Appeal, Justice Ian Kirby, shares his thoughts with us as he leaves the Bench at the end of this year.

WeekendPost: Why did you move between the Attorney General and the Bench?

Ian Kirby: I was a member of the Attorney General’s Chambers three times- first in 1969 as Assistant State Counsel, then in 1990 as Deputy Attorney General (Civil), and finally in 2004 as Attorney General. I was invited in 2000 by the late Chief Justice Julian Nganunu to join the Bench. I was persuaded by former President Festus Mogae to be his Attorney General in 2004 as, he said, it was my duty to do so to serve the nation. I returned to the Judiciary as soon as I could – in May 2006, when there was a vacancy on the High Court Bench.

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Civil society could rescue Botswana’s flawed democracy’ 

6th December 2021
Parliament

Botswana’s civil society is one of the non-state actors that could save the country’s democracy from sliding into regression, a Germany based think tank has revealed.  This is according to a discussion paper by researchers at the German Development Institute who analysed the effects of e-government usage on political attitudes In Botswana.

In the paper titled “E-government and democracy in Botswana: Observational and experimental evidence on the effects of e-government usage on political attitudes,” the researchers offer a strongly worded commentary on Botswana’s ‘flawed democracy.’  The authors noted that with Botswana’s Parliament structurally – and in practice – feeble, the potential for checks and balances on executive power rests with the judiciary.

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