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DIS targets PAC members over NPF saga

Things have now turned ugly in the most publicized multimillion pula corruption scandal implicating names of high profile people including politicians and technocrats.

Former minister of Energy Sadique Kebonang was at the helm when Bakang Seretse, Botho Leburu and Kenneth Kerekang were slapped with money laundering charges in relation to the illegal drawing of money from the National Petroleum Fund (NPF).

Fresh information reaching this publication is to the effect that members of the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) who have been tasked to review the said National Petroleum fund (NPF) and report back to parliament are living in fear after being warned that there was a plan within the DIS to either harm or kill them.

The PAC is currently seized with what is possibly considered as the worst financial scandal ever to hit the country. The financial scandal which is a matter of court determination and has been a subject of public scrutiny in various media and social platforms has also currently come under the scrutiny of the PAC.

The PAC is chaired by Kanye South legislator Abraham Kesupile; and comprises of other members of parliament in Samson Guma Moyo, Ndaba Gaolathe, Ignatoius Moswaane, Konstantinos Markos, Mephato Reatile and Shaun Nthaile. Keorapetse had yesterday (Friday) reported the matter to the Deputy Speaker of the National Assembly and the Commissioner of Police. In his affidavit to the police, the lawmaker for Selibe-Phikwe West stated that, “In our last siting in the Parliament Public Accounts Committee Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Minerals Resources was extensively questioned on the transactions related to the National Petroleum Fund. Following that enquiry and in subsequent days particularly on the 5th April 2018 in the late afternoon I received a phone call from Guma Samson Moyo relating to our work in the PAC concerning and relating to the NPF.”

“In the cause of our conversation aforesaid Moyo informed me that he had received a tip off from an anonymous member of the DIS that there was a plan within the DIS to either harm me or kill myself and him following what was perceived as our hostile and intense attitude in the questioning and interrogation of the National Petroleum Funds in particular the permanent Secretary who appeared before us.”

Keorapetse went on to narrate that Moyo pointed out to him that his anonymous source whom he said was a member of the DIS had informed him that they had been particularly so targeted because of their unrelenting interest and extensive questioning which seemed to expose maladministration and short comings within the government bureaucracy in respect of how the NPF was dealt with.

“I subsequently called Moyo later in the evening to discuss further this matter. We later met physically at the National Assembly on the following day. Our conversation in large part was to echo the concerns and strategies as to how best we can deal with this matter.”

He said following their conversation, he went to meet the Chairman of the PAC, Kesupile. Kesupile Informed him that Moyo had met with him to inform him about the threats that had been made to him and suggested that the entire members of the Parliament Public Accounts Committee must be given public protection following these threats.

“Kesupile informed me that following his discussion with Moyo he had met with the Vice President with respect to the need to provide Parliamentary protection for all those dealing with matter and that those discussions are ongoing and remain inconclusive.” It was then agreed between me and Mr Kesupile that I must perhaps take the matter up with the office of the Speaker of the National Assembly, of which I did-he narrated.

Keorapetse stated that he was advised by the Deputy Speaker to take the matter forward with the police who may be well best suited to investigate the matter further. “I therefore submit this statement as a report to the police for further investigation and request that I be accorded the necessary protection whilst the matter is being investigated.

In this regard it seems to me that the matter of my protection is an eminent urgent matter which must be attended to so as to afford me the opportunity to interrogate the issue of the National Petroleum Fund as an elected representative of the people of Selebi Phikwe and Batswana at large,” he told the commissioner in his affidavit.

This publication has further learnt of the fact that Kesupile has since recused himself from chairing the committee. Keorapetse is expected to chair the meeting as the committee resumes on Monday. When contacted for comment, Kesupile only said “people like talking too much.”

In an interview with the speaker of the National Assembly, Gladys Kokorwe on Friday, she confirmed receiving reports from Moyo, but stated that, “I told him to come on Monday so we discuss the issue further.” Kgosi’s phone rang unanswered. He has been subpoenaed by the PAC to give evidence in the matter

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UDC founder warns against merger

19th October 2020
Ex UDC Convener: Mpotokwane

Lebang Mpotokwane, one of the conveners who presided over the opposition cooperation talks that resulted in the formation of the Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC), has advised against changing the current umbrella model in favour of a merger as proposed by others.

The Botswana Congress Party (BCP) leader, Dumelang Saleshando recently went public to propose that UDC should consider merging of all opposition parties, including Alliance for Progressives (AP) and Botswana Patriotic Front (BNF).

Saleshando has been vehemently opposed by Botswana National Front (BNF), which is in favour of maintaining the current model.  BNF’s position has been favoured by the founding father of UDC, who warned that it will be too early to ditch the current model.

“UDC should be well developed to promote the spirit of togetherness on members and the members should be taught so that the merger is developed gradually. They should approach it cautiously. If they feel they are ready, they can, but it would not be a good idea,” Mpotokwane told WeekendPost this week.

Mpotokwane and Emang Maphanyane are the two men who have since 2003 began a long journey of uniting opposition parties in a bid to dethrone the ruling Botswana Democratic Party (BCP) as they felt it needed a strong opposition to avoid complacency.

Tonota born Mpotokwane is however disappointed on how they have been ejected from participating in the last edition of talks ahead of the 2019 general elections in which BCP was brought on board.  However, despite the ejection, Mpotokwane is not resentful to the opposition collective.

He said the vision of opposition unity was to ultimately merge the opposition parties but he believes time has not arrived yet to pursue that path. “The bigger picture was a total merger and we agreed that with three independent parties, members might be against merger eventuality so the current model should be used until a point where they are now together for as long as possible,” he said.

“UDC should gradually perform better in elections and gain confidence. They should not rush the merger. We have been meeting since 2003, but if they rush it might cause endless problems. If they are ready they can anyway,” he advised. For now the constituent parties of the umbrella have been exchanging salvos with others (BCP and BNF).

“There are good reasons for and against merging the parties. Personally, I am in favour of merging the parties (including AP and BPF) into a single formation but I know it’s a complex mission that will have its own challenges,” Saleshando said when he made his position known a week ago.

“Good luck to those advocating for a merger, it will be interesting to observe the tactics they will use to lure the BPF into a merger,” former BNF councillor for Borakalalo Ward and former BNF Youth League Secretary General, Arafat Khan, opined in relation to BCP’s proposed position.

Mpotokwane, who is currently out in the cold from the UDC since he was ejected from the party’s NEC in 2017, said the current bickering and the expected negotiations with other parties need the presence of conveners.

“We did not belong to any party as conveners so we were objective in our submissions. If party propose any progressive idea we will support, if it is not we will not, so I would agree that even now conveners might be key for neutrality to avoid biasness,” he observed. Despite being abandoned, Mpotokwane said he will always be around to assist if at all he is needed.

“If they want help I will be there, I have always been clear about it, but surely I will ask few questions before accepting that role,” he said. UDC is expected to begin cooperation talks with both AP and BPF either this week or next weekend for both upcoming bye-elections (halted by Covid-19) and 2024 general elections and it is revealed that there will be no conveners this time around.

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BDP attaches Boko’s property

19th October 2020
DUMA BOKO

The Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) moved through its lawyers to attach the property of Umbrella for Democratic (UDC) President Duma Boko and other former parliamentary contestants who failed in their court bid to overturn the 2019 general elections in 14 constituencies.

WeekendPost has established that this week, Deputy Sheriffs were commissioned by Bogopa Manewe Tobedza and Company who represented the BDP, to attach the properties of UDC elections contents in a bid to recover costs.  High Court has issued a writ of execution against all petitioners, a process that has set in motion the cost recovery measures.

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COVID-19 exposes decay in the education system

19th October 2020
Education Systm

Botswana Sectors of Teachers Union (BOSETU) says COVID-19 as a pandemic has negatively affected the education sector by deeply disrupting the education system. The intermittent lockdowns have resulted in the halting of teaching and learning in schools.

The union indicated that the education system was caught napping and badly exposed when it came to the use of Information System (IT), technological platforms and issues of digitalisation.

“COVID-19 exposed glaring inefficiencies and deficiencies when it came to the use of ITC in schools. In view of the foregoing, we challenge government as BOSETU to invest in school ITC, technology and digitalization,” says BOSETU President Kinston Radikolo during a press conference on Tuesday.

As a consequence, the union is calling on government to prioritise education in her budgeting to provide technological infrastructure and equipment including provision of tablets to students and teachers.

“Government should invest vigorously in internet connectivity in schools and teacher’s residences if the concept of flexi-hours and virtual learning were to be achieved and have desired results,” Radikolo said.

Radikolo told journalists that COVID-19 is likely to negatively affect final year results saying that the students would sit for the final examinations having not covered enough ground in terms of curriculum coverage.

“This is so because there wasn’t any catch up plan that was put in place to recover the lost time by students. We warn that this year’s final examination results would dwindle,” he said.

The Union, which is an affiliate of Botswana Federation of Public, Private and Parastatal Union (BOFEPUSU), also indicated that COVID-19’s presence as a pandemic has complicated the role of a teacher in a school environment, saying a teacher’s role has not only transcended beyond just facilitating teaching and learning, but rather, a teacher in this COVID-19 era, is also called upon to enforce the COVID-19 preventative protocols in the school environment.

“This is an additional role in the duty of a teacher that needs to be recognized by the employers. Teachers by virtue of working in a congested school environment have become highly exposed and vulnerable to COVID-19, hence the reason why BOSETU would like teachers to be regarded as the frontline workers with respect to COVID-19,” says Radikolo.

BOSETU noted that the pandemic has in large scales found its way into most of the school environments, as in thus far more than 50 schools have been affected by COVID-19. The Union says this is quite a worrying phenomenon.

“As we indicated before when we queried that schools were not ready for re-opening, it has now come to pass that our fears were not far-fetched. This goes out to tell that there is deficiency in our schools when it comes to putting in place preventative protocols. In our schools, hygiene is compromised by mere absence of sanitizers, few hand-washing stations, absence of social distancing in classes,” the Union leader said.

Furthermore, Radikolo stressed that the shifting system drastically increased the workload for teachers especially in secondary schools. He says teachers in these schools experience very high loads to an extent that some of them end up teaching up to sixty four periods per week, adding that this has not only fatigued teachers, but has also negatively affected their performance and the quality of teaching.

In what the Union sees as failure to uphold and honour collective agreements by government, owing to the shift system introduced at primary schools, government is still in some instances refusing to honour an agreement with the Unions to hire more teachers to take up the extra classes.

“BOSETU notes with disgruntlement the use of pre-school teachers to teach in the mainstream schools with due regard for their specific areas of training and their job descriptions. This in our view is a variation of the terms of employment of the said teachers,” says Radikolo.

The Union has called on government to forthwith remedy this situation and hire more teachers to alleviate this otherwise unhealthy situation. BOSETU also expressed concerns of some school administrators who continuously run institutions with iron fists and in a totalitarian way.

“We have a few such hot spot schools which the Union has brought to attention the Ministry officials such as Maoka JSS, Artesia JSS, and Dukwi JSS. We are worried that the Ministry becomes sluggish in taking action against such errant school administration. In instances where action is taken, such school administrators are transferred and rotated around schools.”

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