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My bond with Masisi is no more – Khama

Former President Lt. General Dr Seretse Khama Ian Khama says the only relationship he previously had with the current President, Mokgweetsi Masisi was that of a president and his vice, “and that relationship is no more”.

Khama’s remarks come at the height of talks that his successor, Masisi has failed him, since many believe he was appointed to the power seat through an arrangement that Khama would continue to run the show from behind the scenes. Many are of the belief that there was a secret agreement that once appointed, President Masisi, who once confessed publicly that he was Lt. Khama’s bootlicker would continue to appease Khama by fulfilling his wishes.

Lately, Masisi has been seen to be reversing a lot of Khama’s initiatives. His current changes are seen as a total reverse of the ‘Khama administration.’ While many have praised Masisi’s changing of some of the initiatives for the benefit of the nation, they posit that Khama has been caught off guard.

“I wouldn’t say I wouldn’t want the current president to change this and that. Of course there are things I wouldn’t want him to change, but I will not go public about it,” Former President Lt. Khama told WeekendPost in an exclusive interview on Thursday. Among the changes is the axing of former DIS Director General Isaac Kgosi who is an ally of Khama’s. The Masisi administration is also reviewing the alcohol levy, with a view of scraping it altogether or lowering the levy.

When asked if he had expected Kgosi’s removal from the security agency, Lt. Khama’s response was that, “Whether one expects it or not is not really an issue. What I expect is that he will make changes the way he wants to make changes. So when he makes changes, we must all expect that changes will be made.” When pressed further to comment specifically on Kgosi’s case, he said, “Kana I’m dodging your question.”

In the interview, which was his first since leaving office, Lt. Khama kept on stressing that he would not want to comment on the current administration, saying in his view it is not appropriate to do so. He noted that in the United States there is some kind of an agreement between the incumbent president and his predecessor that they don’t criticize one another’s administration. “But I’m not here talking about criticism. I’m talking about commenting on an administration. And I think that has worked well for them until Donald Trump came.

And of course being the chaotic president that he is, he has spent all his time criticizing President Barak Obama.” I don’t undermine Masisi’s administration
Recently, there have been allegations that Khama was undermining Masisi’s administration. This notwithstanding, the former president this week refuted the allegations. There have been at least three incidents that have been pointed out as a way of undermining the current president.

This publication is alive to the fact that during the Botswana Defence Force (BDF) day in April, the former president did not stand up with everyone else as is norm during the passing of the flag at the end of the parade. However, in his own defence Khama says, “The procedure is that when the parade ends, only the president stands up with the commander, the rest of the crowd remained seated. After the flags have passed the president, everybody should sit down and the president and the commander remain standing until the rest of the parade has passed.”

He stated, “I do not recall that whatsoever. When the flags passed on every occasion I stood up. Why wouldn’t I stand for the flags? He questioned. “That’s the procedure which I introduced. So I know when to stand up and when not to stand up. And even if I had not stood up, which I say I did, it would have nothing to do with the president, it would be me not recognizing or honouring our national symbols, the flags. It would have nothing to do with him but more to do with the flags.” He is also said to have left the stadium before the current president.

On the issue of leaving before the current president, he admitted that he left before Masisi as he had explained to the commander that he had two engagements in Palapye at the time, and he “would want to sit at the back so I could sneak out before the final display”. “How can I undermine somebody when I’m not in a position to undermine him? I’m not in government or any formal party structure. I’m just a member of the party,” said the former president. 

THE KHAWA INCIDENT

Another incident that Khama is said to have shown disrespect towards Masisi was at Khawa where he arrived after the current president. “If he arrived first, I remember that the evening before they were discussing the time when the race will start. There was a discussion around the fact that the race should start at 9am. So, I arrived for the race to begin at 9am, akere I was racing. So as a racer I knew that I would be starting at 9am. I think what happened on that occasion, is that they had not told him that there was a change in the time that the race was going to start. So, he probably got there before us. “

KHAMA AND POLITICS

Lt. Khama says he is very active in the Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) campaign for 2019. He noted that he has already offered to the BDP that he is prepared to engage in campaigning for them. “And that would really come about dependent on the central committee if it wants to engage me in any formal campaign structure or it could be as I would expect and as I already have requested that candidates for each constituency would come and ask me to engage with them in their campaigns in those constituencies,” he said.

He said some have already been coming forward. ”As you are probably aware, BDP held some primary elections in some of the constituencies already. And the rest are going to happen later this year.  So, those who have already emerged as candidates have already asked me to assist them. So that’s what I have done.”

He also stated that recently he also took part in a pledging exercise where they were asked to raise money for the party campaign, where he pledged that he would raise by the end of the year around P1m. “But I just want to say that some have chosen to misunderstand the pledge thinking that I’m going to be giving the million pula myself.

But it’s not the case that one would have P1m to donate. I said I would raise the P1m from donors,” he emphasized, adding that before he left office, there were some donors who had indicated that they were prepared to donate towards the party’s campaign towards 2019 as they had done in 2014.

RETIREMENT ROAD MAP

Lt. Khama noted that he was a very busy man, saying he has been tasked with a number of things to do. “I have not retired. I have just stepped down as the constitution provides,” he said. He noted quite a number of things like being given the tittle of the Champion of 2036 vision where he has already started attending meetings with the council as they put together their plans.

He is also tourism Ambassador for the country; the patron of Arts and Culture where he will continue to promote the Arts and Culture and major sporting codes. Further, he is board member of an international conservation organisation called Conservation International based in Washington. He continues his involvement with charitable organisations like the housing appeal.

He has since stepping down two months ago, been invited to countries like South Africa, and Mozambique where the president had invited him as a keynote speaker during an international event: And he will be visiting Gabon soon. Asked whether he has received any formal invitation from President Masisi, Lt. Khama said, “President Masisi said he would, so it really depends on him- what the issue is, whether he wants to do that or that. The thing is he was a vice for a long time. So, things are not new to me. So I don’t really expect him to be calling on me, but if he does, we will wait for that day to happen.”

ON ALCOHOL

“That is one issue I will never relax on. Facts are out there, it’s not me inventing stories of how alcohol destroys people’s lives.  At the rate that Batswana drink, we are heading for a train smash.”

ADVICE TO BATSWANA

Khama stressed that he has always appealed to Batswana to be patriotic, which is their dedication to the nation. And not to do anything or say anything which undermines nation building. “For me that is very important. We only have one country.” The former president said he was not happy about some of the things that people say on social Media.  He said it was highly disappointing that people engage themselves in some cases in a negative way like they do. He pointed out that social media should be used in a positive manner.

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BONELA speaks on same-sex decriminalization case

18th October 2021
BONELA

In June 2019, a case involving the Attorney General was brought before the High Court, in which the applicant Letsweletse Motshidiemang challenged Sections 164 (a) and 167 of the Penal Code. The applicant contended that these sections are unconstitutional because they violate the fundamental rights of liberty and privacy. 

The applicant argued that these sections violated his right and freedom to liberty as he was subject to abject ignominy. These laws subjected the LGBTIQ community to brutal and debasing treatment through social control and public morality. On the 1st of November 2017, the Botswana High Court further allowed Lesbians, Gays and Bisexuals of Botswana (LEGABIBO) to join the case as amicus curiae.

However, in July 2019, the respondents, in this case, i.e. the Government, filed an appeal against this iconic High Court ruling seeking re-criminalization of homosexuality. Human Rights Group has criticized this move of the Government all over the world.  The appeal was heard before five judges at the Court of Appeal on Tuesday. The State was represented by Advocate Sidney Pilane, while LEGABIBO and Letsweletse Motshidiemang were represented by Tshiamo Rantao and Gosego Rockfall Lekgowe, respectively.

Non-Governmental Organizations advocating for the LGBTIQ+ community joined the two parties at the Court of Appeal during this case. They argue that the minority group should enjoy their rights, especially the right to privacy and health. Botswana Network on Ethics, Law and HIV/AIDS (BONELA) Chief Executive Officer, Cindy Kelemi says the issues being raised by LEGABIBO are that as individuals belonging to the LGBTIQ community, they have and must share equal rights, including the right to privacy, which also speaks to being able to involve in sexual activities, including anal sex.

“Those rights are framed within the constitution, and therefore a violation of any of those rights allow them to approach the courts and seek for redress. We do not need the law to be regulating what we do in the privacy of our homes. The law cannot determine how and when we can have sex and with who, so the law does not have any business in that context. What we are saying is that the law is violating the right to privacy,” she said on the sidelines of the decriminalization case in Gaborone on Tuesday.

The first case involving the homosexual act was the Utjiwa Kanane vs the State in 2003. Contrary to section 164(c) of the Penal Code, Kanane was charged with committing an unnatural offence and engaging in indecent practices between males, contrary to section 167. The conduct at issue involved Graham Norrie, a British tourist, and occurred in December 1994. (Norrie pleaded guilty, paid a fine, and left the country.)

Kanane pleaded not guilty, alleging that sections 164(c) and 167 both violated the constitution. The High Court ruled that these sections of the Penal Code did not violate the constitution. Kanane then appealed to the Court of Appeal. BONELA CEO recalls that in its judgment then, the High Court indicated, Batswana were not ready for homosexual acts. Twenty years later, the same courts are saying that Batswana are ready, she says.

“They gave the explicit example that shows that indeed Batswana are ready. There are policies and documents in place that accommodate people from marginalized communities and minority populations. The question now is that why is it hard now to recognize the full rights of an individual who is of the LGBTI community?” She further says intimacy is only an expression. The law that restricts homosexuality makes it hard for LGBTIQ members to express themselves in a way that affirms who they are.

“We want a situation where the law facilitates for the LGBTIQ community to be free and express themselves. The stigma that they face in communities is way too punitive. They are called names; some have been physically violated and raped at times. It shows that the law doesn’t not only prevent them from expressing themselves, it also exposes them to violence.” The law on its own, Kelemi submits, cannot change the status quo, adding that there is a need for more awareness and education on human rights and what it means for an individual to have rights.

“As it is now, it is very tough for some to do that because of a legal environment that is not enabling. We also want to see a situation where LGBTIQ+ people can access services and be confident that they are provided with non-discriminatory services. It is challenging now because health care providers, social workers and law enforcement officers believe that it is illegal to be homosexual. What we are saying is that if you have an enabling law, then that will facilitate for people to be able to express themselves, including accessing health services,” Kelemi said.

“As we are doing this advocacy work, one of the issues that we picked up is that there is lack of capacity, especially on the part of healthcare workers. We noted that when we provide services or mobilize Men who have sex with other men (MSM) to access health facilities, health care workers are not welcoming, forcing them to hideaway. We must put an end to this to allow these people the freedom that they equally deserve.”

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Masisi warns Gov’t officials

18th October 2021
President Masisi

The President, Dr Mokgweetsi Masisi, has declared as an act of corruption the attitude and practice by government officials and contractors to deliver projects outside time and budget, adding that such a practice should end as it eats away from the public coffers.

For a very long time, management problems and vast cost overruns have been the order of the day in Botswana, resulting in public frustrations. Speaking at the commissioning of the Masama/Mmamashia 100 Kilometres project this week, Masisi said: “There is a tendency in government to leave projects to drag outside their allocated completion time and budget. I want to stress that this will not be tolerated. It is an act of corruption, and I will be engaging offices on this issue,” Masisi said.

In an interview with this publication over the issue, the Director-General of the Directorate on Corruption and Economic Crime (DCEC), Tymon Katholo, says, “any project that goes beyond its scope and budget raises red flags.” He continued that: “Corruption on these issues can be administrative and criminal. It may be because government officials have been negligent or been paid to be negligent by ignoring certain obligations or procedures. “This, as you may be aware has serious implications on not only of the economy but even the citizens who use these facilities or projects,” Katlholo said, adding that his agency is equally concerned.

According to the DCEC director, the selection, planning and delivery of infrastructure or projects is critical. In most cases, this is where the corruption would have occurred, leading to a troubled project. A public finance expert at the University of Botswana (UB), Emmanuel Botlhale, attributes poor project implementation to declining public accountability, lack of commitment to reforming the public sector, a decline in the commitment by state authorities and lack of a culture of professional project management.

In his research paper titled, ‘Enhancing public project implementation in Botswana during the NDP 11 period,’ Botlhale stated that successful implementation is critical in development planning. If there is poor project implementation, economic development will be stalled.
Corruption is particularly relevant for large and uncommon projects where the public sector acts as a client, and experts say Megaprojects are very likely to be affected by corruption. Corruption worsens both cost and time performance and the benefits expected from such projects.

Speaking during this week’s Masama/Mmamashia pipeline commissioning, Khato Civils chairman said Africans deserve a chance because they are capable, further adding that the Africans do not have to think that only Whites and Chinese people can do mega projects.  During his rule, former president Ian Khama went public to attack Chinese contractors for costing the government a move that ended up fuelling tensions between China and Botswana after Khama dispatched the then Minister of Foreign Affairs, Pelonomi Venson Moitoi, to China to register Botswana’s complaints with Chinese government-owned construction companies.  Botswana had approached the Chinese government for help in its marathon battle with Chinese companies contracted to build, among others, the failed controversial Morupule B power plant and refurbishment of Sir Seretse Khama International Airport (SSIK).

 

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Guma’s battle for millions of Pula give Court headache

18th October 2021
Guma Moyo

A legal battle between former Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) legislator Samson Moyo Guma and First National Bank (FNB) over a multimillion oil refinery project intensified this week with Justice Zein Kebonang referring the matter to Court of Appeal for determination.  The project belongs to Moyo Guma’s company called United Refineries which he has since placed under judicial management.

The war of words between Moyo Guma and FNB escalated after the company’s property worth millions of Pula were put up for sale in execution by the bank and scheduled to take place on 8th October. It emerges from Court papers that the bank had secured an order from the High Court to place the company’s property under the hammer.

Moyo Guma then also approached the High Court seeking among others that the public auction scheduled for 8th October 2021 be stayed. He contended that the assets that were to be sold belonged in reality to United Refineries and that as the company had been under judicial management at the time of the attachment, the intended sale in execution was unlawful.

He also sought the Court to declare that the writs of execution against the properties of guarantors and sureties of United Refineries Botswana Holdings Propriety Limited (the company) are unlawful.  Moyo Guma also sought a stay of the execution against the property known as Plot 43556 in Francistown, that is, the land buildings, plant and machinery which make up the property and any all immovable or movable property belonging to the guarantors and sureties of the company pending finalization of the winding up of United Refineries.

But FNB disputed Moyo Guma’s assertions and submitted that the properties in question belonged to TEC (Pty) Ltd and not United Refiners. TEC Pty Ltd which is one of the shareholders in United Refineries is one of the sureties and co-principal debtors of a debt amounting to P24 million owed by United Refineries to FNB.  FNB argued in papers that the properties belonged to TEC because it was TEC which had passed a covering mortgage bond in its favour over the property it now sought to execute.

Moyo Guma submitted that the covering mortgage bond passed in favour of FNB did not tell the full story as the property in question was in truth and fact owned by United Refineries and not TEC Pty Ltd. He maintained that the shares had been had been passed by the company in exchange for the properties in question and that the parties had always been guided by the spirt of the share agreement in dealing with each other despite delays in the change or transfer of ownership of plots 43556 and plot 43557 in Francistown.

Kebonang said it was clear to him that the two plots (43556 and 435570 belonged to United Refineries notwithstanding that TEC (Pty) Ltd had passed a mortgage bond over them in favour of FNB.  “For this reason the properties were immune from attachment or sale in execution so long as the judicial management order was in place,” he said.

The background of the case is that Moyo Guma together with five other investors, namely Elffel Flats (Pty) Ltd; Mmoloki Tibe; TEC (Pty) Ltd; Profidensico (Pty) Ltd and Tiedze Bob Chapi, each bound themselves as sureties and co-principal debtors in respect of a debt owed by a company called United Refineries Botswana Holdings (Proprietary) Limited (the Company), to First National Bank Botswana (FNBB) (1st Respondent).

FNB had extended banking facilities to the company in the amount of P24 million which was then secured through the suretyship of Moyo Guma and other shareholders.  Court records show that Moyo had on the 11th February obtained a temporary order for the appointment of a provisional judicial manager in respect of United Refineries and it was confirmed by the High Court on 24th September 2019.

In terms of the final court order by the High Court issued by Justice Tshepho Motswagole all judicial proceedings against the company, execution of all writs, summons and process were stayed and could only proceed with leave of Court. Court documents also show that First National Bank had sued the company and the sureties for the recovery of the debt owed to it and through a consent order, the bank withdrew its lawsuit against the company.

But FNB later instituted fresh proceedings against Moyo Guma and did not cite the company in its proceedings.  “There is no explanation in the record as to why the Applicant was now reflected as the 1st Defendant and why the company had suddenly been removed as the 1st Defendant. There was no application either for amendment or substitution by the bank,” said Justice Kebonang.

FNB had also argued that it sought to proceed to execute against Moyo Guma and other sureties on the basis of the suretyship they signed and that by signing the suretyship agreement, Moyo and other sureties had renounced all defence available to them and could therefore be sued without first proceedings against the principal debtor (United Refineries).  The question, Kebonang said, was that can FNB proceed to execute against Moyo Guma and other sureties on the basis of the suretyship contracts they signed?

“The starting point is that the Applicant (Moyo Guma) and others by binding themselves as sureties became liable for debts of the principal debtor and such liability is joint and several. He said the consequences of placing the company under judicial management means that every benefit extended to it should also extend to sureties.

“If the company is afforded more time to pay or its debt is discharged, reduced or compromised or suspended the obligation of sureties is to be likewise treated. It follows in my view that where judicial proceedings are suspended or stayed against the company, then any recourse against the sureties is similarly stayed or suspended,’ said Kebonang.

He added that “In the circumstances of this case, it seems to me that so long as the company is under judicial management, the moratorium that applies to it must also apply to its sureties/guarantors and no execution of the writs should be permitted against them. Any execution would be invalid.”

“Mindful that there is judicial precedent on this point in Botswana, at least none that I am aware of, and given its significance, I consider it prudent that the Court of Appeal must provide a determinative answer to the question whether a creditor can proceed against sureties where a company is under judicial management,” said Kebonang.

Pending the determination of the Court of Appeal, he issued the following order; the execution of writs issued in favour of FNB against Moyo and other sureties/guarantors of United Refinery are hereby stayed pending the determination of the legal question referred to the Court of Appeal.

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