In order to fight crime through its financial lifeblood and to create a fair and just society in which crime does not pay, the newly established Office of the Receiver under the Ministry of Defence, Justice and Security (MDJS) has already recovered millions of Pula from the proceeds of crime.
The Office which was created in September last year following the introduction of the Proceeds and Instruments of Crime Act (PICA) which came into effect in January 2015 is responsible for preserving the value of the confiscated property or money in respect of an order made under the Act or any written law of Botswana.
Giving a presentation at the Third Ordinary Full Council Session on Tuesday at Selebi Phikwe Town Council (SPTC), the Receiver, Bafi Nlanda revealed that his office has already in a short period of time recovered millions in both cash and the value of the impounded movable and immovable assets which have been deemed by the courts to be gains or proceeds of crime.
Because the majority of criminals are motivated by money and profit, it is critical that Government pay sufficient attention to the financial aspects of crime by creating a criminal justice system that is fashioned to take away from criminals the gains they have accumulated or made from crime, the Receiver has emphasised.
PICA was passed by Parliament in August 2014 to deprive criminals of their illegally gained profits by introducing new forfeiture provisions which were lacking in the previous legislation. He noted that the Act repealed the Proceeds of Serious Crime Act which provided only for criminal forfeiture and did not resolve the issue of management of proceeds. “Nobody took responsibility for proceeds forfeited to state and proceeds still piled up in courtroom yards and storerooms while livestock disappeared as there was a question of who is the state, is it the Court, law enforcement or the DPP?” said the Receiver.
Speaking at the 2017 Annual General Meeting of the Asset Recovery Inter-Network for Southern Africa (ARINSA) last year, the then Minister of Presidential Affairs, Governance and Public Administration, Eric Molale revealed that money exceeding P20 million has been restrained or forfeited to the state since (PICA) came into operation in January 2015.
Without telling the exact amount recovered on Tuesday, Nlanda said his office has recovered millions which will be invested into the state. “Despite being only two in the office, we have already recovered millions from proceeds of crime and you can imagine how much more we can recover if we have more officers. My office is currently manned by only three officers being the Receiver, a Secretary and a Driver. We are already in possession of court orders to seize and manage both movable and immovable property including plots, houses, buildings, money and even livestock,” he said.
The Receiver’s duties include the coordination of strategic direction on development and review of policies, legislation and programmes in line with Proceeds and Instruments of Crime Act, 2014, coordinating bilateral and multilateral relations and cooperation as well as administering the Confiscated Assets Trust Fund.
The Receiver noted that the Confiscated Assets Trust Fund will receive, deposit and administer money collected under PICA, compensate and rehabilitate victims of crime and pay such sums as the Minister of Finance and Economic Development may approve in writing subject to advice by the Receiver.
The Fund Committee will be appointed by Minister of Defence, Justice and Security to monitor administration of the Fund. The Committee which report quarterly to the Permanent Secretary (PS) on the management of the fund will keep the books of accounts and submit them to the Auditor General for auditing.
The Receiver highlighted that they conduct valuation of every asset impounded at the time of seizure. He explained that if suspects before the courts win their cases, such suspects will be paid the value of the assets if the property has already been sold. He said the reason they value the asset at the time of seizure is so that they be responsible for any depreciation in value of such an asset if the depreciation is evidently caused by them.
“The Receiver can to do anything reasonably necessary to preserve value such as becoming party to any civil proceedings affecting property, maintenance and insuring of seized property and realizing or dealing with securities or investment,” said the Receiver. He also stated that he is also empowered by law to exercise rights attaching to shares as if he is the registered owner to the exclusion of the owner, employ, terminate employment in a business deemed a proceed of crime; and if volatile or depreciating in nature or likely to be so before the case is over, dispose seized assets by public auction.
The Receiver is working hand in hand with stakeholders such as Botswana Police Service (BPS) Directorate on Corruption and Economic Crime (DCEC), Botswana Unified Revenue Services (BURS), Directorate of Intelligence Services (DIS), Financial Intelligence Agency (FIA), Directorate of Public Prosecutions (DPP) and the Judiciary.
All these investigating agencies carry out their investigations and send cases to the DPP for prosecution. The DPP receive cases from investigative agencies and apply for pecuniary penalty Order, criminal and civil forfeiture. The courts will then make a determination and issue out seizure orders. Nlanda said that the DPP has a Dedicated Forfeiture Unit and prosecutors trained by the SA Asset Forfeiture Unit.
Together with the above agencies, the Receiver said they shall turn the tide against criminals and ensure that criminals do not cling on to their unlawful gains. Nlanda advanced that his office has “a very good working relationship” with the investigating agencies and they cooperate very well with each other as some have offered to second some of their officers to the Office of the Receiver. He revealed further that these stakeholders even refer cases to each other if they feel the matter is better investigated by other agencies.
“These stakeholders are wworking on Memoranda of Agreements (MoA) between themselves for better working relations and they are to have a common template used to collect and keep statistics,” said Nlanda. Challenges in the management of recovered and returned assets
The Receiver however said there are challenges hampering the successful execution of his mandate as his office is till new and currently under staffed. He said the law is operational and he has court order to execute despite not having knowledgeable officers in the management of property to seize and manage the property as well as not having warehouses to keep the seized property.
However, BURS has given them space in some of their warehouses across the country in the meanwhile. With stock theft being one of the many crimes prosecuted by the courts, the Receiver has no farms to keep cattle, no budget for feeding cattle and for the remuneration of the farm workers.
While it takes a lot to penetrate and thrive in the male dominated political space in Botswana, Block 3 Ward councillor Motamma Horatius, is one of the few females defying the odds.
Driven by passion, Horatius has always worn many hats and today she has become one of the few women who are thriving in the political space in Botswana. Prior to pursuing politics, she was an active participated in the creative space.
Horatius, a beauty queen, notably famous for her reign as Miss World Tourism Botswana represented Botswana in a television show famously known as Big Brother Africa. During her stay in the house, she got termed darling of the continent for an outstanding performance that promoted unity, humility and culture.
After serving for some time in public space, and making a name for herself as well as serving as a brand ambassador she decided to step in a career that will forever challenge her. This was after she had travelled the world and demonstrated her unique leadership skills and brilliance.
“I stopped and asked myself why am I not incorporating this brilliance back home. And wherever you go worldwide Botswana with all her faults is a beacon of hope in everything. And even successful countries came here to benchmark and implemented our policies and are flourishing such as Rwanda. So I decided to join active politics and go straight to the ruling party to add a youthful feel to an already existing force and help modernise it to serve better not from afar but from within,” she clarified.
“So my ample experience in civic leadership across countries around the world catapulted me to join active politics because I wondered, if I can do as much as an individual even across nations, how much can I do whilst in office, locally. And I chose to start from the ground up, in order to avoid leaving the locals behind.”
The stern and tenacious young leader, currently sit as the Chairperson of Finance Committee at Gaborone City Council, and also chairs Performance Monitoring Committee.
While a typical girl would dream of becoming either a nurse or choose a ‘girl’ orientated deemed career, she had a heart for politics from a very young age. By the time she left the creative space, she had already made a name for herself, that she needed no introduction.
“I had to acknowledge first that I am a woman, and being a woman means you have to work 200 percent more than your male counterparts. So it took sleeplessness nights, and a massive amount of working smart to win legitimately,” she said.
She acknowledges that she faced a lot of challenges during the 2019 elections which she had to overcome through the assistance of her loved ones and family.
“Politics is expensive but I managed by God’s grace, family, friends, acquaintances and good Samaritans but my mind helped. I am a very good planner when it comes to execution,” she said.
“Another hurdle is, being a young woman, I had conceived during the time of primary elections; so campaigning whilst expectant, managing your emotions through betrayals, insults, stress, house-to-house then giving birth and having to hit the ground in less than two weeks having given birth via C-section, was a hurdle I overcame by God’s mercy and I am thankful to my family for helping me with the kids because politics means a lot of time away from home.”
“Another hurdle was to portray an all rounded culturally grounded Motswana woman soft but yet stern, respectful but can articulate issues well. Because even though we are civilized our society still upholds unwritten yet practiced values of what a woman is and what a man is, and if you defy societal expectations, it judges you harshly. But thankfully I remained focused on who I was and didn’t try alternate anything When I lost some of the original members of my campaign team. The pain was deep. But I wiped my tears. Soldiered on, and God increased twice the initial number.”
At some point she had to face demeaning words from other male contestants, but the best to do at the time was to shun negativity and stay focused. Male intimidation never tugged her down.
“My experience with 2019 elections was rather inclined to learning as it was my first time running for office as a politician, so I wanted to see if really hard work has results because I always hear stories of how people are bought,” she said.
“So since I was not buying anyone, I was on a learning curve to test my hard work style of delivery against what is believed out there. So it was exciting and again I say it was a learning curve as most NGOs fighting to increase women participation in politics were continuously training us.’
Despite everything she feels women political participation in Botswana is still low. She has pleaded with the media to cover them more often as she believes maybe it will help more women to run for office.
Botswana has few women in parliament, giving men dominance in policy decisions. In a 63-seat parliament, Botswana has only seven female MPs, four of them being specially elected lawmakers.
According to the 2019 edition of the biennial Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU) Map of Women in Politics. Among the top African countries with a high percentage of women in ministerial positions are Rwanda (51.9%), South Africa (48.6%), Ethiopia (47.6%), Seychelles (45.5%), Uganda (36.7%) and Mali (34.4%).
The lowest percentage in Africa was in Morocco (5.6%), which has only one female minister in a cabinet of 18.
Other countries with fewer than 10% women ministers include Nigeria (8%), Mauritius (8.7%) and Sudan (9.5%).Other African countries with high percentages of women MPs include Namibia (46.2%), South Africa (42.7%) and Senegal (41.8%), according to the report.
Though a slight increase, Botswana is still lagging behind when it comes to women political participation.
According to a report made by IEC for the 2019 elections, there is 11.1% women representation in parliament. There has been a 1.6% slight increase from the 2019 election compared to the 2014 elections.
According to United Nations, there are two main obstacles that prevent women from participating fully in political life.
These are structural barriers, whereby discriminatory laws and institutions still limit women’s ability to run for office, and capacity gaps, which occur when women are less likely than men to have the education, contacts and resources needed to become effective leaders.
As it stands though, Botswana has continued to recognize gender equality as central to socio-economic, political and cultural development through its National Vision 2036.
Following the adoption of the National Policy on Gender and Development in 2015, the National Gender Commission was established in September 2016, to monitor implementation of the policy.
Government ministries and departments have moved to cut expenditure in the last quarter of financial year in order to survive the economic hardship occasioned by the covid-19 pandemic. Since the outbreak, Government and the private sector have been hard hit financially due to limited economic activity brought about by government response to fighting the pandemic.
In an urgent savingram by the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development, Molefi Keaja addressed to all council secretaries and town clerks, the government informs that it is facing unprecedented budgetary challenges for Financial Year 2020/2021.
“This has necessitated measures to be put in place to conserve cash and ensure that government is able to honour its financial obligations in the remaining (3) months of the financial year,” said the savingram dated 24 December 2020.
The Government has cut all travel by Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) including State owned entities (SOEs) and Local Authorities until the next financial year in April 2021. It has also taken a decision that all meetings, interviews, seminars, workshops, conferences, retreats, annual ceremonies and hospitality events should be conducted virtually, which save on the cost of securing venues, conference facilities and meals/refreshments.
“No replenishment of refreshments for the Executive Cadre (E2 salary scale and above) until the end of the financial year,” Keaja directed. Last year government also resolved that due to the financial effects of Covid-19 the government will no longer recruit for any jobs during the 2020/2021 financial year.
The Cabinet directed that the 2020/2021 provision for vacancies be withdrawn from Ministries, Departments and Agencies recurrent budgets to cater for supplementary estimates. According to the saving gram then by the Directorate on Public Service Management (DPSM) said the country faces fiscal challenges which have been accentuated by the emergence and the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Amongst key ministries and departments affected were the Botswana Defence Force, National Strategy Office, Directorate of Intelligence and Security (DIS), Commissioner of Police, Commissioner of Prisons, Clerk of National Assembly and the Directorate on Corruption & Economic Crime (DCEC).
It further deliberated that all various institutions that had begun recruitment for existing vacant positions be frozen for the remaining period of the 2020/2021 financial year. “Since funds for the vacancies will only be recruited in the next financial year 2020/20121, Ministries, Department and Agencies are advised to discontinue recruitment into such vacancies until 1st April 2021. Those who are already at an advanced stage of recruitment process are advised to withhold appointments until further notice.”
The Director of Directorate on Public Service Management (DPSM), Goitseone Mosalakatane, told the parliamentary Public Accounts Committee (PAC) in September that despite the high unemployment rate, they cannot hire for the posts because part of the funds have been withdrawn to fight the Coronavirus.
With just a few days into the New Year, Covid-19 seems to be taking its toll and its effects will be felt vastly in the long run. Countries worldwide, including Botswana are injecting in millions of money in the fight against the deadly virus therefore placing immense uncertainty on country’s economy.
When delivering his speech at last year’s State of Nation Address President Mokgweetsi Masisi said during 2020, the domestic economy was expected to contract by 8.9 percent indicating that this is attributed to an expected sharp decline in major sectors such as mining, (minus 24.5 percent); trade, hotels and restaurants (minus 27.4 percent); construction (minus 6 percent); manufacturing (minus 3.9 percent); and transport and communications (minus 2.5 percent).
However, he assured that the economy is expected to rebound during 2021, with overall growth projected at 7.7 percent. The anticipated recovery will be driven by a rebound in growth of some major sectors such as mining (14.4 percent), trade, hotels and restaurants (18.8 percent), and transport and communications (4.2 percent).
Furthermore, Masisi pointed out that the recovery will also be supported by the Economic Recovery and Transformation Plan currently being implemented by Government. “It is critical to note that these projections are dependent on, among others, the duration of the COVID-19 pandemic and related restrictions.
These containment measures have the effect of reducing spending by firms and households and causing supply-chain disruptions. Beyond this, the recovery phase will be influenced by confidence effects on households and businesses; sectoral transformation and changes in work patterns; as well as prospects for the recovery of global financial markets and commodity prices.”
Emphasising this, he explained that despite the challenges of COVID-19 there still remains the delicate balance of opening the economy whilst containing the disease burden. “Inflation according to the latest data from Statistics Botswana, inflation fell significantly from 2.2 percent in September 2019 to 1.8 percent in September 2020, remaining below the lower bound of the Bank of Botswana’s medium-term objective range of 3 to 6 percent,” he said.
The significant decline in inflation mainly reflects the downward adjustment in fuel prices in June 2020. However, inflation may rise above the current forecasts if the international commodity prices increase beyond current projections and in the event of upward price pressures occasioned by supply constraints due to travel restrictions and lockdowns.
The Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) last year had to cancel its elective congress due to the strict measures that had to be put in place due to Covid-19 pandemic outbreak.
Two other party events Women’s Wing Congress including the much anticipated victorious election celebration were also postponed due to the pandemic as gatherings were cancelled indefinitely. However the BDP is adamant that the party will be able to hold its National Congress and all other events that had been frozen this year.
Speaking to this publication chairman of BDP Communication & International Relations Sub-Committee Kagelelo Kentse said that the party was readying itself for the congress with the main objective being to review resolutions that were taken at their 38th National Congress in Mochudi in 2019. Emphasising this, Kentse said it was commendable that most of the resolutions taken in 2019 have by far been fulfilled.
Moreover, he said it would mean a lot for the party to be able to meet at the congress, this he said would give them the opportunity to introspect and reflect with regards to their manifesto. In 2019 the BDP made about eleven resolutions of which five of these were resolved and gazetted. The abridged resolutions were that the amendment of the law to allow agricultural land owners to use up to 50 percent of their land for non-core purposes, to amend the law to cancel transfer duty on property transferred between the spouses.
President Masisi also passed a law to allow married couples to be independently allocated land and increase threshold for non-payment of transfer on property acquired from P250k to P750k. On the resolution in the tourism sector, Kentse said efforts are very advanced to have local play a part. He said there is ongoing work with the Ministry of Lands on concessions that will be allocated to citizens.
According to the BDP communications chair the Ministry of Tourism has availed more opportunities in dams for tourism thus far, having already issued expression of interest for Letsibogo, Dikgatlhong, and Gaborone dams. Citizens are said to have applied for tenders which are currently under evaluation. There are about 45 campsites set aside for citizens in game reserves and forest reserves for tourism.
The resolution on the declaration of assets and liabilities law which was passed and amended this year, was supported by all legislators including those from opposition. Emphasising this he explained that contentions were on issues to do with valuations, and leaders have started declaring.
With the Congress comprising of the elective congress, the BDP is yet to embark on it an objective Kentse said is on their to do list this year even though the calendar of events has not yet been made. The elective congress has aroused interest, especially the Secretary General position which has attracted a number of participants of which observers believe will accord the incumbent, Mpho Balopi, the current secretary general, the opportunity to buy time if at all he will seek re-election in the position.