Isaac Kgosi not going alone
Former Directorate on Intelligence and Security Services (DISS) Director, Isaac Kgosi will not be the only casualty in the new President Mokgweetsi Masisi’s ‘clean up’ campaign. Many more are bound to face the axe as the mission takes shape, WeekendPost can reveal.
In an ambush style, President Masisi removed Kgosi from office on Wednesday, appointing Brigadier Peter Magosi as the new director. Masisi did not even meet Kgosi; Permanent Secretary to the President (PSP), Carter Morupisi was the bearer of the “bad news”.
Impeccable sources within the presidential circle say President Masisi’s axe is yet to accomplish its mission as he still wants to send home a number of people in the Office of the President, with a large number coming from the Intelligence department. This publication is aware of at least four names that are to join Kgosi.
“President Masisi says while he cannot fire everyone, he wants to do a lot of cleaning as possible as he can. A lot of people are on the list to follow Kgosi. And no one is aware of their exit just like Kgosi was caught off guard,” narrated the source. She stated that Kgosi never had a thought that he could be shown the door. Even when he was called to the office of PSP, Morupisi, Kgosi never had an idea that Morupisi would hit him with the bad news. Morupisi had kept the communication a top secret just as the President had asked him to do – probably this is the reason why Morupisi had won loyalty to most of his seniors – he is good at keeping the elders’ secrets safe.
“Had Kgosi sensed his eminent departure beforehand, things could not have been as smooth. But, the idea worked because he was caught off guard in a lot of things in his office.” WeekendPost is also alive to the allegations that President Masisi wants Kgosi to face the wrath of the law just like any other person, if there is any wrong he has committed. “After all is put together as there appears to be a lot of allegations besides what is already in the public domain, President Masisi could allow for Kgosi’s possible prosecution.”
In a modus operandi that smacks of poor governance, Kgosi is said to have been jacking almost all the departments in the Intelligence office alone. Other senior people were just there doing nothing and getting salaries at the end of every month. It is said that President Masisi’s man of choice, Brigadier Magosi is expected to bring a totally new perspective to the intelligence office. “He is expected to work hand in hand with his subordinates and empower them as it is procedural.”
In an interview on Thursday, Magosi said he was not in a position to talk to the media as he had just assumed office. On allegations that former President Lt General Ian Khama gave Kgosi a contract of 10 years just before leaving office in April, the PSP, Morupisi stated that, “Kgosi was not working on contract. He was permanent and pensionable. And he is going to get his terminal benefits like any other civil servant. And I will not discuss reasons for his dismissal as they are personal.”
“He was permanent and pensionable while under the Botswana Defence Force (BDF), and he was just enrolled in the intelligence security just like that. Usually people opt whether they want to work on a contractual agreement or on permanent basis,” added Morupisi, who also dismissed allegations that Kgosi was going to be given the position of Ambassador.
When asked to remark on the comments trending on social media, that he should be the next to be shown the exit door, Morupisi said, “People can say whatever they want to say about me, but the bottom line is they do not determine whether I should stay or not. Nna I am working, and I am still going to work,” he said confidently.
WHAT BROKE THE CAMEL BACK?
Observers are of the view that Kgosi’s recent performance before the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) which is investigating alleged maladministration at the National Petroleum Fund (NPF) could have been the final straw that broke the camel’s back, President Masisi has had enough. The axed DIS boss had declared that he does not account to anyone.
At the PAC hearing Kgosi refused to divulge vital information relating to the DISS involvement in the P250 million NPF scandal citing reasons that the information was classified. Kgosi was adamant that the Act that established DISS protected him for not revealing the information to the committee. Following a stalemate that ensued in the PAC proceedings, PAC wrote to the Speaker of the National Assembly, Gladys Kokorwe seeking the permission to invoke section 13 of the Powers and Privileges Act.
The Act itself grants the speaker the power to use his or her own discretion in ruling on whether the person appearing before a parliamentary committee can be compelled to answer as required by the committee or not. The sitting president too, Masisi has the power, as per the Powers and Privileges Act to recuse Kgosi from answering the probing PAC.
Kgosi had last year requested P250 from NPF for building of fuel storage reserves in strategic places but he later diverted the funds requesting for a variance at the Ministry of Energy, Green Technology and Mineral Resources. So far only three people; Bakang Seretse, Botho Leburu and Kenneth Kerekang have been charged in relation to the said sum while Kgosi has been instructed to return the same funds by taking it from this year’s financial year.
MASISI HEAD ON WITH KHAMA
However, more drama is expected between the trio of Lt Khama, President Masisi and the ousted Kgosi. While he was still in power, Lt Gen Khama forced Brigadier Magosi into early retirement. In his dismissal letter, Magosi was never made aware of reasons for his dismissal albeit he was paid his terminal benefits.
As they would say, what comes around goes around, barely two months after Lt Gen Khama left the office of the president; President Masisi has moved swiftly to remove his predecessor’s favourite civil servant, Isaac Kgosi. In fact, Masisi has dismissed Lt Gen Khama’s favourite and replaced him with his rival. As things stand, Kgosi will get his terminal benefits.
TSHEKEDI AND MASISI?
After he was discarded by the Khama administration Magosi found favour on the side of Former President Khama’s brother, Minister of Wildlife and Tourism (MEWT), Tshekedi Khama who has never been a favourite of Isaac Kgosi. In the aftermath of Magosi’s sacking, Tshekedi volunteered to give him a position in his ministry as the head of intelligence for the Department of Wildlife.
The move left many tongues wagging as people said it could signal a fall out between the two brothers. However, WeekendPost can confirm that Magosi never joined the Wildlife Department full time. He spent most of his time at the cattle post and was only called in during tough situations to assist in anti-poaching missions.
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Batswana owe banks P79 billion
The Minister of Finance, Peggy Serame, has disclosed that the total bank credit extended by commercial banks amounted to P79 billion, out of which P53.4 billion was retail loans and advances to households.
Parliament was informed this week in response to a question by the Member of Parliament for Selibe-Phikwe West and Leader of Opposition (LOO), Dithapelo Keorapetse.
“As at 31st December 2022, loans and other advances extended to households by banks constituted the largest share of bank-lending at 67.6 percent, the majority of which was unsecured personal loans at P36.2 billion (67.8%),” said Serame.
She added that the total household Debt to GDP ratio was 21.9%, while the total private business credit to Gross Domestic Product (GDP) ratio was 10.8%.
On the other hand, it was noted that outstanding mortgage loans extended to households were P14.2 billion (26.6% of household debt) or 5.9% of GDP. Overall, total bank credit as a ratio of GDP stood at 32.7 percent.
It was acknowledged that there are 10 deposit-taking banks in the country, that is, nine commercial banks and one statutory bank (Botswana Savings Bank). This statistics excludes the National Development Bank (NDB), which is a development finance institution. The nine commercial banks include an indigenous bank, Botswana Building Society Bank Limited (BBSBL), which was issued with a commercial banking license by the Bank of Botswana in October 2022.
Still in December 2022, it was recorded that there were 376 non-bank lenders in Botswana consisting of 246 micro lenders, 66 finance companies, three leasing companies and 61 registered pawnshops.
According to Minister Serame, the loan book value representing the principal amount lent by these entities to individuals and to small, medium and micro Enterprises (SMMEs) is collated by the Non-Bank Financial Institutions Regulatory Authority (NBFIRA), which at 31st of December 2021, the loan book values were P5.6 billion for micro lenders, P1.6 billion for finance companies, P225 million for leasing companies and P14 million for pawnshops.
Government policy is that price control is not effective or desirable, and, as such, interest rates are not regulated. Non-regulation may, among other things, result in an increase in non-interest rate fees and commissions, reduced price transparency, lower credit supply and loan approval rates.
“It is important to note that, from a macroeconomic perspective, household debt in Botswana is neither a pandemic nor considered to be excessive. Indeed, the Bank of Botswana’s periodic and continuous assessments of household debt, including through the annual Household Indebtedness Surveys, suggest moderate household indebtedness and therefore, is of no apparent risk to the safety and soundness of the domestic financial system,” said Serame.
She also alluded this assessment is validated by the recently concluded Financial Sector Assessment Programme (FSAP) on Botswana undertaken by the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank Group.
Keorapetse however rebuked the issue of debt not being excessive and noted the Minister thinks it’s fine for Batswana to be debt burdened in a way that their debts diminishes their quality of life.
“A significant portion of Batswana’s salaries go to servicing debts and because she doesn’t see this as a challenge, there can never be any intervention from her side. There is no price regulation on interest, which can go up to 30%+ a month. Since President Masisi ascended to the high office in 2018, 2 384 Batswana were put in prison for failure to pay debts, that is 467 Batswana every year. So, for us, debt problems are big and concerning,” said Keorapetse.
He said they are worried because Batswana are drowning in debts because of relative poverty, slave wages and unemployment/underemployment, they buy basic needs and services with borrowed money and noted predatory and unethical lending has become a major problem in Botswana’s financial sector.
How to fleece P14 million from Chinese investor
The modus operandi of how five men allegedly swindled a Chinese national P14 million last week continue to unravel. Highly placed sources from the intelligence, the Directorate on Corruption and Economic Crime (DCEC) and Botswana Unified Revenue Services (BURS) revealed to this publication how the whole scam was concocted.
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ENVIRONMENT ISSUES: Masisi asks Virginia for help
President Mokgweetsi Masisi says the issue of sustainable natural resources management has always been an important part of Botswana’s national development agenda.
Masisi was speaking this week on the occasion of a public lecture at Virginia Polytechnic, under theme, “Merging Conservation, Democracy and Sustainable Development in Botswana.”
Botswana, according to Masisi, holds the view that the environment is fragile and as such, must be managed and given the utmost protection to enable the achievement of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
“It is necessary that we engage one another in the interchange of ideas, perspectives, visualizations of social futures, and considerations of possible strategies and courses of action for sustainable development,” said Masisi.
On the other hand, dialogue, in the form of rigorous democratic discourse among stakeholders presents another basis for reconfiguring how people act on their environments, with a view to conserving its resources that “we require to meet our socio-economic development needs on a sustainable basis,” Masisi told attendees at the public lecture.
He said government has a keen interest in understanding the epidemiology and ecology of diseases of both domestic and wild animals. “It is our national interest to forestall the dire consequences of animal diseases on our communities livelihoods.”
President Masisi hoped that both Botswana and Virginia could help each other in curbing contagious diseases of wildlife.
“We believe that Virginia Tech can reasonably share their experiences, research insights and advances in veterinary sciences and medicines, to help us build capacity for knowledge creation and improve efforts of managing and containing contagious diseases of wildlife. The ground is fertile for entering into such a mutually beneficial partnership.”
When explaining environmental issues further, Masisi said efforts of conservation and sustainable development might at times be hampered by the emergence and recurrence of diseases when pathogens mutate and take host of more than one species.
“Water pollution also kills aquatic life, such as fish, which is one of humanity’s much deserved sources of food. In this regard, One Health Approach imposes ecological responsibility upon all of us to care for the environment and the bio-diversity therein.”
He said the production and use of animal vaccines is an important space and tool for conservation, particularly to deal with trans-border animal diseases.
“In Botswana, our 43-year-old national premier pharmaceutical institution called Botswana Vaccine Institute has played its role well. Through its successful production of highly efficacious Foot and Mouth vaccines, the country is able to contain this disease as well as supply vaccines to other countries in the sub-region.:
He has however declared that there is need for more help, saying “We need more capacitation to deal with and contain other types of microbial that affect both animals and human health.”