Vice President Mokgweetsi Masisi, who is also the Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) Chairman, has promised party faithful that former party members who left to join the opposition will soon retrace their steps to the ruling party.
Masisi, who was speaking at the memorial of the slain Mochudi East legislator, Isaac Davids, was perhaps living up to the words of outgoing President Lt Gen Ian Khama who said said, “Go tsile go nna monate” during the leadership of his successor. “They are troubled on the other side [opposition]. It is always nice to be home. Fa o sa utlwe dikgang tse o tla salwa morago ke dikgaba,” he said. “Many like Davids [Isaac] are coming back home. It is not a matter of why or how. It is a matter of when.”
When narrating how, the late Mochudi East MP ended up at BDP, Masisi said it all began with when he visited Letsibogo la Phalane in Mochudi to appreciate the effort of the community after they built a foot bridge that crosses Notwane River at Phalane in collaboration with DeWet Drilling Company.
At that encounter, where he met among others chieftainship in Kgatleng; senior government officials as well as other members of the polity, he came in contact with Davids where they had a hearty discussion over various issues. Since that day, Davids started drifting towards Masisi until he decided to re-join. Tati East legislator, Samson Moyo Guma, an influential member in the Masisi circle, who facilitated Davids’ comeback said he “received a call from Davids who informed him of his desire to return to the party.”
“He told me that he was impressed by the leadership of Masisi and that he wanted to help him in 2019,” said Guma. Davids was also remembered as a staunch factionist who always stuck to his gun wherever he believed in something. The outspoken legislator was a staunch member of Barataphathi faction in his first stint in the BDP , and the founding member of Botswana Movement for Democracy (BMD), a BDP splinter party formed in 2010 at the height of factional tension in the ruling party.
He first became a member of parliament in 1999, when he dethroned Isaac Mabiletsa of the opposition Botswana Congress Party (BCP). Mabiletsa had initially won the constituency in 1994 under the Botswana National Front (BNF) but defected to the splinter party in 1998. In 2004, Mabiletsa back with BNF, reclaimed the constituency from Davids. The two will battle it out again in 2009, with Mabiletsa again coming on top. However, in 2014 Davids bounced back to parliament this time under the ticket of Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC).
Because of his association with Barataphathi, Davids became close to Tshelang Masisi, the late elder brother to Mokgweetsi Masisi. Tshelang, who was a long time MP for Francistown West was a member of Barataphathi faction. “On his death bed, during his final days, my brother [Tshelang] advised me to keep in touch with Davids. He told me that he is a good man and I should keep him within my reach,” said Masisi poignantly.
Masisi said he has always wished Davids would re-join BDP and he is happy that he dies a member of BDP. “I urge you to be like Davids. He was a brand that all of us wanted to associate with. Even when he was in the opposition, we used to salivate at him,” said Masisi.
Both Masisi and Guma regret that Davids departed without being officially welcomed into the BDP fold as he had wished. Guma said a day before Davids met his untimely death, he called him inquiring about his pending official welcome. One thing that cropped out at the memorial service was Davids’ love for his tribe’s chieftainship, and he was troubled by the way things turned out between government and Bakgatla.
In 2016, when debating a motion tabled by Francistown West Member of Parliament, Ignatius Moswaane on improvement of Dikgosi’s conditions of service, Davids called on Minister of Local Government and Rural Development Slumber Tsogwane to apologise to Bakgatla over the ill-treatment of Kgosi Kgafela Kgafela II.
Davids contended that the two previous Ministers of Local Government and Rural Development had disrespected Bakgatla when they derecognized their chief. He then said, until Tsogwane found the courtesy to visit Bakgatla to make amends, the dust will never settle and the animosity between government and Bakgatla will continue unabated.
According to Masisi, there was assurance on his part to Davids that the rift would be dealt with sooner or later. Part of the reconciliation efforts saw Mmusi Kgafela, the younger brother to the BaKgatla chief Kgafela Kgafela II being welcomed into the BDP and today he is battling Batlhalefi Leagajang in the BDP primaries for Kgatleng West parliamentary seat.
As part of the process to settle the dust, Tsogwane has even re-instated Bana Sekai as Bakgatla Deputy Chief as Kgosi Kgafela has directed. Tsogwane had also hinted that Kgosi Kgafela and President Khama are having secret talks to resolve some of the outstanding disputes. Davids died on the 14th of January, after being stabbed by two of his farmer in an affray. He will be laid to rest today (Saturday) in his home village of Mochudi.
Botswana has made improvements on preventing and ending arbitrary deprivation of liberty, but significant challenges remain in further developing and implementing a legal framework, the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention said at the end of a visit recently.
Head of the delegation, Elina Steinerte, appreciated the transparency of Botswana for opening her doors to them. Having had full and unimpeded access and visited 19 places of deprivation of liberty and confidentiality interviewing over 100 persons deprived of their liberty.
She mentioned “We commend Botswana for its openness in inviting the Working Group to conduct this visit which is the first visit of the Working Group to the Southern African region in over a decade. This is a further extension of the commitment to uphold international human rights obligations undertaken by Botswana through its ratification of international human rights treaties.”
Another good act Botswana has been praised for is the remission of sentences. Steinerte echoed that the Prisons Act grants remission of one third of the sentence to anyone who has been imprisoned for more than one month unless the person has been sentenced to life imprisonment or detained at the President’s Pleasure or if the remission would result in the discharge of any prisoner before serving a term of imprisonment of one month.
On the other side; The Group received testimonies about the police using excessive force, including beatings, electrocution, and suffocation of suspects to extract confessions. Of which when the suspects raised the matter with the magistrates, medical examinations would be ordered but often not carried out and the consideration of cases would proceed.
“The Group recall that any such treatment may amount to torture and ill-treatment absolutely prohibited in international law and also lead to arbitrary detention. Judicial authorities must ensure that the Government has met its obligation of demonstrating that confessions were given without coercion, including through any direct or indirect physical or undue psychological pressure. Judges should consider inadmissible any statement obtained through torture or ill-treatment and should order prompt and effective investigations into such allegations,” said Steinerte.
One of the group’s main concern was the DIS held suspects for over 48 hours for interviews. Established under the Intelligence and Security Service Act, the Directorate of Intelligence and Security (DIS) has powers to arrest with or without a warrant.
The group said the “DIS usually requests individuals to come in for an interview and has no powers to detain anyone beyond 48 hours; any overnight detention would take place in regular police stations.”
The Group was able to visit the DIS facilities in Sebele and received numerous testimonies from persons who have been taken there for interviewing, making it evident that individuals can be detained in the facility even if the detention does not last more than few hours.
Moreover, while arrest without a warrant is permissible only when there is a reasonable suspicion of a crime being committed, the evidence received indicates that arrests without a warrant are a rule rather than an exception, in contravention to article 9 of the Covenant.
Even short periods of detention constitute deprivation of liberty when a person is not free to leave at will and in all those instances when safeguards against arbitrary detention are violated, also such short periods may amount to arbitrary deprivation of liberty.
The group also learned of instances when persons were taken to DIS for interviewing without being given the possibility to notify their next of kin and that while individuals are allowed to consult their lawyers prior to being interviewed, lawyers are not allowed to be present during the interviews.
The UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention mentioned they will continue engaging in the constructive dialogue with the Government of Botswana over the following months while they determine their final conclusions in relation to the country visit.
Standard Chartered Bank Botswana (SCBB) has informed the government that it will not be accepting new loan applications for the Government Employees Motor Vehicle and Residential Property Advance Scheme (GEMVAS and LAMVAS) facility.
This emerges in a correspondence between Acting Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Finance Boniface Mphetlhe and some government departments. In a letter he wrote recently to government departments informing them of the decision, Mphetlhe indicated that the Ministry received a request from the Bank to consider reviewing GEMVAS and LAMVAS agreement.
He said: “In summary SCBB requested the following; Government should consider reviewing GEMVAS and LAMVAS interest rate from prime plus 0.5% to prime plus 2%.” The Bank indicated that the review should be both for existing GEMVAS and LAMVAS clients and potential customers going forward.
Mphetlhe said the Bank informed the Ministry that the current GEMVAS and LAMVAS interest rate structure results into them making losses, “as the cost of loa disbursements is higher that their end collections.”
He said it also requested that the loan tenure for the residential property loans to be increased from 20 to 25 years and the loan tenure for new motor vehicles loans to be increased from 60 months to 72 months.
Mphetlhe indicated that the Bank’s request has been duly forwarded to the Directorate of Public Service Management for consideration, since GEMVAS and LAMVAS is a Condition of Service Scheme. He saidthe Bank did also inform the Ministry that if the matter is not resolved by the 6th June, 2022, they would cease receipt of new GEMVAS and LAMVAS loan applications.
“A follow up virtual meeting was held to discuss their resolution and SCB did confirm that they will not be accepting any new loans from GEMVAS and LAMVAS. The decision includes top-up advances,” said Mphetlhe. He advised civil servants to consider applying for loans from other banks.
In a letter addressed to the Ministry, SCBB Chief Executive Officer Mpho Masupe informed theministry that, “Reference is made to your letter dated 18th March 2022 wherein the Ministry had indicated that feedback to our proposal on the above subject is being sought.”
In thesame letter dated 10 May 2022, Masupe stated that the Bank was requesting for an update on the Ministry’s engagements with the relevant stakeholder (Directorate of Public Service Management) and provide an indicative timeline for conclusion.
He said the “SCBB informs the Ministry of its intention to cease issuance of new loans to applicants from 6th June 2022 in absence of any feedback on the matter and closure of the discussions between the two parties.” Previously, Masupe had also had requested the Ministry to consider a review of clause 3 of the agreement which speaks to the interest rate charged on the facilities.
Masupe indicated in the letter dated 21 December 2021 that although all the Banks in the market had signed a similar agreement, subject to amendments that each may have requested. “We would like to suggest that our review be considered individually as opposed to being an industry position as we are cognisant of the requirements of section 25 of the Competition Act of 2018 which discourages fixing of pricing set for consumers,” he said.
He added that,“In this way,clients would still have the opportunity to shop around for more favourable pricing and the other Banks, may if they wish to, similarly, individually approach your office for a review of their pricing to the extent that they deem suitable for their respective organisations.”
Masupe also stated that: “On the issue of our request for the revision of the Interest Rate, we kindly request for an increase from the current rate of prime plus 0.5% to prime plus 2%, with no other increases during the loan period.” The Bank CEO said the rationale for the request to review pricing is due to the current construct of the GEMVAS scheme which is currently structured in a way that is resulting in the Bank making a loss.
“The greater part of the GEMVAS portfolio is the mortgage boo which constitutes 40% of the Bank’s total mortgage portfolio,” said Masupe. He saidthe losses that the Bank is incurring are as a result of the legacy pricing of prime plus 0% as the 1995 agreement which a slight increase in the August 2018 agreement to prime plus 0.5%.
“With this pricing, the GEMVAS portfolio has not been profitable to the Bank, causing distress and impeding its ability to continue to support government employees to buy houses and cars. The portfolio is currently priced at 5.25%,” he said. Masupe said the performance of both the GEMVAS home loan and auto loan portfolios in terms of profitability have become unsustainable for the Bank.
Healso said, when the agreement was signed in August 2018, the prime lending rate was 6.75% which made the pricing in effect at the time sufficient from a profitable perspective. “It has since dropped by a total 1.5%. The funds that are loaned to customers are sourced at a high rate, which now leaves the Bank with marginal profits on the portfolio before factoring in other operational expenses associated with administration of the scheme and after sales care of the portfolio,” said the CEO.