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Friday, 19 April 2024

Kgosi convinced Khama on Masisi

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As the relationship between President Mokgweetsi Masisi and former President Lt Gen Dr Seretse Khama Ian Khama continues to tumble, fresh information is emerging that reveals details of their journey – a journey that ultimately saw Khama appoint Masisi his Vice President four years ago.

Those close to the developments then have shared that Masisi’s name had never crossed Khama’s mind until Isaac Kgosi, the former Directorate on Intelligence and Security Services (DISS) Director General threw Masisi’s name into the bucket. This was after Khama’s favoured person for the position of Vice President Kitso Mokaila lost the 2014 general election in Goodhope-Mabule constituency.

At the time of Kgosi stepping in with a “safe name” Khama was at sixes and sevens as to whom he will appoint. Effectively Kgosi’s advice meant that Khama snubbed clear favourite after Mokaila’s loss, Nonofo Molefhi and even his brother, Tshekedi Khama lost out because of Kgosi’s intervention. At the time Kgosi and Khama were of the view that appointing Masisi was a masterstroke decision.

According to information passed to this publication, Khama had planned to appoint then Minister of Environment, Wildlife and Tourism Kitso Mokaila as his Vice President. Impeccable sources indicate that on the eve of the 2014 general elections, Khama had already drafted his cabinet, waiting for the announcement after the elections.

However, Khama was upset by the developments which saw his Vice President in-waiting and scores of other senior ministers losing their seats to resurgent UDC. For the first time in history, opposition managed to win 20 seats, with Botswana Congress Party (BCP) accounting for three seats.

Khama reportedly, in a disappointed gesture revealed to his inner circle that his cabinet and plans had been ruined. Among those who lost in the general elections who formed part of Khama’s cabinet included Johnnie Swartz (Ghanzi North) and the late Gaotlhaetse Matlhabaphiri (Molepolole North) among others.

Insiders revealed that Khama had already informed Mokaila that he would appoint him as his Vice President after the general elections. The plan was nullified by Mokaila’s shocking defeat at the hands of James Mathokgwane of UDC. Mathokgwane has since resigned his position as a legislator to join the corporate world.

Khama’s initial choice, according to informants was Ramadeluka Seretse, the then Minister of Defence, Justice and Security who is also his cousin.  The plan did not come to fruition as well because Seretse lost in the party primary elections in 2013 at the hands of Kgotla Autlwetse. There were efforts to revive Seretse and bring him back when the party Electoral Board chaired by Parks Tafa ruled in favour of a re-run amid reports of irregularities. Seretse lost the re-run as well.  The defeat of Seretse, Khama’s first choice for vice presidency meant that Khama opted for his second choice, Masisi, who was drafted in as Vice President.

Sources indicate that Khama even considered appointing his younger brother but only if he won a poll which ensued immediately after general elections. Khama was prepared to be brave enough to appoint Tshekedi because “it would have been a collective decision of the party caucus.” However, those privy to the developments indicate that the conducted poll, which Khama had wanted MPs to elect whom they wanted for Vice Presidency was won by Nonofho Molefhi followed by Pelonomi Venson-Moitoi.

The results of the poll were nevertheless shared with MPs. Several MPs told this publication that Khama had kept the result to himself and no reason was advanced on why the results were not shared. After the general election, Khama took the longest time since independence without announcing his Vice President. 

Khama announced his cabinet a few days after MPs were sworn but in had no vice president in it. Incidentally, the last time a sitting president had went for a long time without announcing his cabinet was in 1994 following the general elections in which BDP had performed dismally. The results were so dismal that President Sir Ketumile Masire took almost two weeks without cabinet.

After pondering, Khama in unexpected turn of events announced Masisi as his Vice President. Masisi’s appointment was however seen as marriage of convenience, with what is playing out in public now proving that the two were not necessarily in the same on the same page.
Masisi has proved to be his own man, and has also identified threats emerging from Khama’s camp. Kgosi had hoped that Masisi will not initiate a push against him and Khama, Masisi was made aware of the former’s efforts in lobbying for him to be Vice President.

Things have turned sour now, Masisi dismissed Kgosi from the position of DISS Director General and he is even refusing to accede to Khama’s request to have Kgosi appointed his private secretary. On the other hand Masisi is reversing some of Khama’s policies and Khama is threatening to withdraw his support for the BDP should this go on and replacement polices fail to address the challenges he was dealing with when he was president.  

OTHER LOSSES THAT MESSED KHAMA’S PLANS

Other loses in the party primary elections which ruined Khama’s future cabinet plans include the losses of Phandu Skelemani, Peter Siele, Dr John Seakgosing, and Lebonaamang Mokalake who all lost to new comers. None of the MPs who replaced the aforementioned, save for Dr Alfred Madigele were appointed to cabinet. Mokaila formed part of Khama’s trusted inner circle and when he lost the election, Khama was left with no option.

Mokaila’s family has close ties with the Khama family since the days of Sir Seretse Khama. Under Khama’s leadership Mokaila has headed his revered portfolio of Ministry of Environment, Wildlife and Tourism, currently occupied by Tshekedi Khama. The latter took over after Mokaila was moved to replace Ponatshego Kedikilwe at Ministry of Minerals, Energy and Water Resources. This followed Kedikilwe’s appointment as Vice President. Khama brought Mokaila back to parliament and cabinet after his loss in the 2014 general election through the Specially Elected Member of Parliament dispensation.

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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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