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Batlokwa, Jamali in land scuffle

Tensions between Batlokwa tribal leadership and businessman, Sayeed Jamali over the construction of some facilities in the Batlokwa tribal land have reached boiling point. Information suggests that behind the scenes, temperatures have been rising as Batlokwa say the construction took place without their knowledge.

Jamali is said to own a 50 hectares piece of land in which the construction of an 8000-seater stadium, hostels, hotel and other facilities are under way in the area. WeekendPost can reveal that the two parties, particularly Batlokwa Bogosi has been seething in anger following the continued amassing of land in their territory by the tycoon. The argument has always been that Batlokwa need the land more for residential and development purposes.

This notwithstanding, Jamali has gone on to acquire chunks of land in the area, mostly through purchasing it from some individuals. On the other hand, there is belief there could be underhand dealings between him and senior government officials who may have assisted him to accumulate such.

A source close to developments told this publication in an interview this week that the construction mogul could be doing things in an illegal manner. “Not only is the Morafe unhappy, we as the Bogosi also have complaints on that development, our issue is Jamali gaa dire dilo ka semolao. Molao wa gagwe ke madi (Jamali is not following the route of the law; to him having money is his law). We have always had land shortage, but he has never struggled to acquire it, it appears he has someone at the top backing up these land requests and effectively protecting him,” the source revealed.

This publication is also alive to the fact that Batlokwa Tribal leadership under Kgosi Puso Gaborone, have registered their grievances with the South East District Council (SEDC) and Tlokweng Land Board (TLB). The two, according to sources at Tlokweng Kgotla failed to mediate on the issue as the issue was allegedly agreed on by former minister of Land Prince Maele, President Ian Khama, Masisi (then VP) and Carter Morupisi without their (SEDC and TLB) involvement.

Initially Jamali is said to have approached the tribal leadership with a plan to construct a road with a tollgate linking the eastern side of the village with Phakalane/Ruretse. This was immediately shot down by the village leaders who conceived the development a money making gimmick. ”We couldn’t allow for that, where will the money go?” asked a source rhetorically. Additionally, the businessman was never given the green light either by the council or lands board hence the leadership could not approve the development.

After the plan failed, it is said Jamali bought a 50 hectares piece of land in which the construction of the 8000-seater stadium, hostels, hotel and other facilities are under way. The development, which encompasses the Batlokwa trust land, was done without the knowledge of the leadership.

“This is the same land that the tribe had agreed it would erect a palace for Kgosi Gaborone on. We were surprised to see part of it being used for the road construction which we were not aware of. We approached him and asked him to avail coordinates of his land of which did not correspond and he returned it and he continued with the road construction in another piece of land,” a highly placed source said this week.

Sources tell this publication that the SEDC only gave the investor the go ahead to construct a road on condition that he consults Batlokwa and complies with whatever requests they have. The road connects the eastern side of the village with University of Botswana. This publication has learnt that “it is a 3 km road to ease congestion from other roads once the construction of the stadium finishes”. A worker on the site revealed that, “Right now we don’t have the plan, we are just grating it, the Chinese company will do the real road.”

However a source from the Tlokweng Kgotla insists that, “But we never gave permission for that because the road goes through people’s farms and homes. We are surprised that he is continuing despite that fact.” says a source from Tlokweng Kgotla.
The road is reported to have encroached on some people’s plots who have registered their complaints with the tribal leadership, which has on numerous occasions met both the land board and SEDC but without any tangible results.

It said Jamali insists that his road development has been approved by the council, but it appears he was never given servitude by the tribal administration, council nor land board. “All the developments in our area have been freezed as we are told to wait for a moratorium by the local authorities.

On the other hand Jamali’s projects are ongoing,” said the informant before adding that, “Right now Tlokweng Development Plan is still on and we have asked for a number of things including the nature park, but we were told to wait for the moratorium but it seems we are being overlooked whilst he gets to continue his plans.”

JAMALI, LAND BOARD COMMENTS
 

Jamali’s response

“The road has been gazzeted and since the government was too slow for me as a private business, I financed the project. This is so because I have attachment to the area. The developments have not demolished anything except part of the tribe’s trust land which is not affected anymore.  Those who make noise are against the developments.
 

Office of the president issued an instruction to lower authorities to ratify the construction and there was no how they can refuse. This happened under the leadership of former President Lt Gen Ian Khama. On the other hand I don’t have any special relationship with former Minister Prince Maele. I relate with him the same way I do to other people including ministers, MPs and general public like you.


Yes I wanted to install tollgates in the soon to be made Phakalane-Tlokweng road, even in the undergoing construction I wanted to install them. That was rebuffed by the government as it is not in their policy yet. I wanted to do that to recover monies im spending on doing those developments especially the road which cost between P40-50 million.”


Tlokweng Land Board Response


“The development of the area has been sanctioned by a higher authority (Office of President) than the land board through a different act; correspondence was made to the land board with regards to the development. We however note the concern between the tribal leadership and Mr. Jamali and the land board is working on how it can facilitate tribal leadership on the resolution of the matter.
 

The Land Board is not aware of such allegations of plots/farms seized and currently investigations are being done as per the tribal leadership complaint. The tribal leadership had requested extension of their Ga-Manaleng property in the area, which would have been in conflict with the gazette road, and as such it would mean the cancellation of the gazetted road which is no sanctioned by land board rather Roads Department through the Town and Country planning act.”

 

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Civil Service volatility: Democracy vs Bureaucracy

19th April 2021
President Masisi

Here is how one Permanent Secretary encapsulates the clear tension between democracy and bureaucracy in Botswana: “President Mokgweetsi Masisi’s Government is behaving like a state surrounded with armed forces in order to capture it or force its surrender. The situation has turned so volatile, for tomorrow is not guaranteed for us top civil servants.

These are the painful results of a personalized civil service in our view as permanent secretaries”. Although his deduction of the situation may be summed as sour grapes because he is one of the ‘victims’ of the reshuffle, he is convinced this is a perfect description of the rationale behind frequent changes and transfers characterising the current civil service.

The result of it all, he said, is that “there is too much instability at managerial and strategic levels of the civil service leading to a noticeable directionless civil service.” He continued: “Changes and transfers are inevitable in the civil service, but to a permissible scale and frequency. Think of soccer team coach who changes and transfers his entire squad every month; you know the consequences?”

The Tsunami has hit hard at critical departments and Ministries leaving a strong wave of uncertainty, many demoralised and some jobless. In traditional approaches to public administration, democracy gives the goals; and bureaucracy delivers the technical efficiency required for implementation. But the recent moves in the civil service are indicative of conflicting imperatives – the notion of separation between politicians and administrators is becoming blurred by the day.

“Look at what happened to Prisons and BDF where second in command were overlooked for outsiders, and these are the people who had sacrificially served for donkey’s years hoping for a seat at the ladder’s end. The frequency of the changes, at times affecting the same Ministry or individual also demonstrates some level of ineptitude, clumsiness and lack of foresight from those in charge,” remarked the PS who added that their view is that the transfers are not related to anything but “settling scores, creating corruption opportunities and pushing out perceived dissident and former president, Ian Khama’s alleged loyalists and most of these transfers are said to be products of intelligence detection.”

Partly blaming Khama for the mess and his unwillingness to let go, the PS dismissed Masisi for falling to the trap and failing to outgrow the destructive tiff. “Khama is here to stay and the sooner Masisi comes to terms with the fact that he (Masisi) is the state President, the better. For a President to still be making these changes and transfers signals signs of a confused man who has not yet started rolling his roadmap, if at all it was ever there. I am saying this because any roadmap comes with key players and policies,” he concluded.

The Ministry of Health and Wellness seems to be the most hard-hit by the transfers, having experienced three Permanent Secretaries changes within a year and a half. Insiders say the changes have everything to do with the Ministry being the centre of COVID-19 tenders and economic opportunities. “The buck stops with the PS and no right-thinking PS can just allow glaring corruption under his watch as an accounting officer. Technocrats are generally law abiding, the pressure comes with politically appointed leaders racing against political terms to loot,” revealed a director in the Ministry preferring anonymity.

The latest transfer of Kabelo Ebineng she says was also motivated by his firm attitude against the President’s blue-eyed Task Team boys. “The Task Team wants to own the COVID-19 pandemic and government interventions and always cry foul when the Ministry reasserts itself as mandated by law,” said the director who added that Masisi who was always caught between the crossfire decided on sacrificing Ebineng to the joy of his team as they (Task Team) were in the habit of threatening to resign citing Ebineng as the problem.

Ebineng joins the Office of the President as a deputy Coordinator (government implementation and coordination office).The incoming PS is the soft-spoken Grace Muzila, known and described by her close associates as a conformist albeit knowledgeable.

One of the losers in the grand scheme is Thato Raphaka who many had seen as the next PSP because of his experience and calm demeanour following a declaration of interest in the Southern African Development Community (SADC) Secretary post by the current PSP, Elias Magosi.

But hardly ten months into his post, Raphaka has been transferred out to the National Strategy Office in what many see as a demotion of some sort. Other notable changes coming into OP are Pearl Ramokoka formerly with the Employment, Labour and Productivity Ministry coming in as a Permanent Secretary and Kgomotso Abi as director of Public Service Reforms.

One of the ousted senior officers in the Office of the President warned that there are no signs that the changes and transfers will stop anytime soon: “If you are observant you would have long noticed that the changes don’t only affect senior officers but government decisions as well. A decision is made today and the government backtracks on it within a week. Not only that, the President says this today, and his deputy denies it the following day in Parliament,” he warned.

Some observers have blamed the turmoil in the civil service partly to lack of accountable presidential advisers or kitchen cabinet properly schooled on matters of statecraft. They point out that politicians or those peripheral to them should refrain from hampering the technical and organizational activities of public managers – or else the party (reshuffling) won’t stop.

In the view expressed by some Permanent Secretaries, Elias Magosi, has not really been himself since joining the civil service; and has cut a picture of indifference in most critical engagements; the most notable been a permanent secretaries platform which he chairs. As things stand there is need to reconcile the imperatives of democracy and democracy in Botswana. Peace will rein only when public value should stand astride the fault that runs between politicians and public managers.

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Morupisi fights for freedom in court

19th April 2021
morupisi

Former Permanent Secretary to the President, Carter Morupisi, is fighting for survival in a matter in which the State has charged him and his wife, Pinnie Morupisi, with corruption and money laundering.

Morupisi has joined a list of prominent figures that served in the previous administration and who have been accused of corruption during their tenure in office. While others have been emerging victorious, Morupisi is yet to find that luck. The High Court recently dismissed his no case to answer application.

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Pressure mounts on Biden to suspend Covid-19 vaccine patents

19th April 2021
Joe Biden

United States President, Joe Biden, is faced with a decision to make relating to the Covid-19 vaccine intellectual property after 175 former world leaders and Nobel laurates joined the campaign urging the US to take “urgent action” to suspend intellectual property rights for Covid-19 vaccines to help boost global inoculation rates.

According to the world leaders, doing so would allow developing countries to make their own copies of the vaccines that have been developed by pharmaceutical companies without fear of being sued for intellectual property infringements.

“A WTO waiver is a vital and necessary step to bringing an end to this pandemic. It must be combined with ensuring vaccine know-how and technology is shared openly,” the signatories, comprising more than 100 Nobel prize-winners and over 70 former world leaders, wrote in a letter to US President Joe Biden, according to Financial Times.

A measure to allow countries to temporarily override patent rights for Covid related medical products was proposed at the World Trade Organization by India and South Africa in October, and has since been backed by nearly 60 countries.

Former leaders who signed the letter included Gordon Brown, former UK Prime Minister; François Hollande, former French President; Mikhail Gorbachev, former President of the USSR; and Yves Leterme, former Belgian Prime Minister.

In their official communication, South Africa and India said: “As new diagnostics, therapeutics and vaccines for Covid-19 are developed, there are significant concerns [about] how these will be made available promptly, in sufficient quantities and at affordable prices to meet global demand.”

While developed countries have been able to secure enough vaccine to inoculate their citizens, developing countries such as Botswana are struggling to source enough to swiftly vaccine their citizens, something which world leaders believe it would work against global recovery therefore proving counter-productive.

Since the availability of vaccines, Botswana has been able to secure only 60 000 doses of vaccines, 30 000 as donation as from the Indian government, while the other 30 000 was sourced through COVAX facility.  Canada, has pre-ordered vaccines in surplus and it will be able to vaccinate each of its citizens six times over. In the UK and US, it is four vaccines per person; and two each in the EU and Australia.

For vaccines produced in Europe, developing countries are forced to pay double what European countries are paying, making it more expensive for already financially struggling economies.  European countries however justify the price of vaccines and that they deserve to buy them cheap since they contributed in their development.

It is evident that vaccines cannot be made available immediately to all countries worldwide with wealthy economies being the only success story in that regard, something that has been referred to as a “catastrophic moral failure”, head of the World Health Organisation (WHO), Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus.

The challenge facing developing countries is not only the price, but also the capacity of vaccine manufactures to be able to do so to meet global demand within a short time. The proposal for a patent waiver by India and South Africa has been rejected by developed countries, known for hosting the world leading pharmaceutical companies such US, European Union, the United Kingdom, and Switzerland.

According to the Financial Times, US business groups including pharmaceutical industry representatives, have urged Biden to resist supporting a waiver to IP rules at the WTO, arguing that the proposal led by India and South Africa was too “vague” and “broad”.

The individuals who signed the letter, including Nobel laureates in economics as well as from across the arts and sciences, warned that inequitable vaccine access would impact the global economy and prevent it from recovering.

“The world saw unprecedented development of safe and effective vaccines, in major part thanks to US public investment,” the group wrote. “We all welcome that vaccination rollout in the US and many wealthier countries is bringing hope to their citizens.”

“Yet for the majority of the world that same hope is yet to be seen. New waves of suffering are now rising across the globe. Our global economy cannot rebuild if it remains vulnerable to this virus.”
The group warned that fully enforcing IP was “self-defeating for the US” as it hindered global vaccination efforts. “Given artificial global supply shortages, the US economy already risks losing $1.3tn in gross domestic product this year.”

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