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Alcohol consumption increases under Khama

President Lt. Gen. Dr. Seretse Khama Ian Khama’s administration failed in its attempts to fight alcohol abuse in the country.

Khama’s notable disdain for alcohol saw him introduce drastic measures including; a hefty fee as the alcohol levy, lately at 55%, in order to reduce its consumption. However it appears the punitive punishment for alcohol imbibers may be falling on deaf ears as more continue binge drinking alcohol and indulge in associated offences in the form of drunken driving, domestic violence, rape and murder.

Botswana Police Service (BPS) indicated through the Traffic Division statistics that alcohol consumption among Batswana especially with regard to drunken driving continue to swell. In fact the numbers have increased since 2008 when Khama took office and in the process introduced the levy.

During that year when Khama became president, 1118 number of cases was registered for motorists driving under the influence of alcohol. The number kept escalating in 2009 to 1538 and in 2010 they sat at 2464 while in 2011 the number ballooned to 2740. In 2012 more motorists were stopped for drunken driving at a whooping 3748, while 4495 were caught in 2013 and in 2014 the number again skyrocketed to 5187.

However there was a slight decrease in 2015 of the drunken drivers who were at 4882 and 4432 in 2016 while the number pierced through the sky again in 2017 when the Police registered the all time towering figure of 8218. Botswana Police also registered 255 fatal crashes in 2008 while in 2017 the number slightly increased to 366 in 2017. It also indicates that there were 455 people who died in 2008 due to accidents compared to 366 in 2017.

In terms of the accidents and casualties in which alcohol was a contributor, 14 people died in 2008 and the number also swelled to 23 lately in 2017. For the same period, 19 were detected as fatal crashes in 2017 from 10 in 2018. According to Khama, in his State of the Nation Address (SONA) 2017, road accidents particularly which are a result of alcohol continue to be an issue of concern. “During 2016, there were a total of 450 deaths, while we recorded 328 fatalities as of 30 September 2017,” he highlighted then.

Apart from the accidents, Khama also pointed out that alcohol in its form continues to be a serious concern to his administration: “an evaluation of the National Alcohol Campaign has also been completed which found that the share of expenditure on alcohol and tobacco has decreased at national level, albeit increased in rural areas. While 60% of Batswana have indicated reduced drinking, drinking levels nonetheless remain high with about 18% being binge drinkers.”  

In terms of social impact Khama told the nation during SONA that the study further confirmed that alcohol abuse continues to have a negative health impact, as reflected, in part, in the high cost of treating associated injuries, which were estimated at P3, 580, 849 for the 2016/17 financial year. It is understood that the cost also prompted Khama to introduce the controversial health policy that denied medical coverage to people who got injured during alcohol related activities – although later rescinded.    

In addition, Khama told the nation that alcohol abuse is associated with increased domestic violence, theft, assaults, road traffic accidents, rapes and murder. Alcohol abuse further contributes to teenage pregnancies and STIs including HIV/AIDS, as well as the failure of some to adhere to their ART and TB treatment, he added. He also added that additional findings included the need for a more comprehensive advertising ban on alcoholic beverages and the lowering of breath and blood alcohol content limits for drivers under the Road Traffic Act.

According to Khama the findings further confirmed that the alcohol levy has coincided with decrease in the household expenditure on tobacco as well as alcohol at the national level. Since its inception when Khama took office, he said the levy has raised just over 2.6 billion pula.
Immaculate sources closer to the levy indicate that close to 12 million pula are channelled to Ministry of Health and Wellness, Department of Public Health under the Alcohol and Substance Abuse division. It is understood that the division gets around 1 million on monthly basis.

Apart from their Alcohol campaigns, the division also funds Botswana Police especially with regard to Mercedes Benz sprinter Booze buses, and also some Non Governmental Organisations like Botswana Substance Abuse Support Network (BOSASNet) who educate the public about dangers of alcohol.

The other larger chunk then goes to Ministry of Youth Empowerment, Sport and Culture Development to fund Youth businesses through Youth Development Fund (YDF). Department of Women’s Affairs also receives some to help fight gender violence. It is further understood that other unspecified funds then go to the government coffers.  

Meanwhile part of the money accrued from the alcohol levy was to be channelled to the construction of rehabilitation centres to assist alcohol addicts and binge drinkers as well as educate them on responsible drinking. Indications however suggest that albeit billions accrued from the alcohol levy, there is still no structure of any rehabilitation centres across the country.

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Botswana Parliament Okays Financial Intelligence Bill

28th January 2022
Peggy Serame

The National Assembly recently passed the Financial Intelligence Bill, 2021 (Bill No. 34 of 2021) during an Emergency Parliament Meeting. The Bill was first published on 23rd December, 2021 by the Minister of Finance and Economic Development, Honourable Peggy Serame.

The Act aims to re-enact with amendments the Financial Intelligence Act; to continue the establishment of the Financial Intelligence Agency and to re-constitute the National Financial Intelligence Coordinating Committee as a high level committee; to provide for third parties to perform certain customer due diligence measures on behalf of specified parties; to enable the Financial Intelligence Agency to initiate an analysis of information based on information in its on possession or information received from other sources to establish a suspicious transaction, and for matters connected therewith and incidental thereto. The Financial Intelligence Bill has eight parts with a total of 63 clauses.

Serame highlighted that these laws are drawn because they are in line with international agreements the country has signed upon. Although implementation of the laws passed in parliament is a still a challenge. She urged public institutions to introspect if there are grievances within the community and deal with them. Emphasising that the perceptions people have about public servants and institutions are often based on a certain form of truth.

By way of background; the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) has 40 Recommendations which countries have to comply with in order to tackle money laundering, terrorist financing and the financing proliferation.

During 2017 assessment; Botswana was found to have serious strategic deficiencies in her anti money laundering and combating the financing of terrorism and proliferation framework. No recommendation was rated Compliant, 23 of the recommendations were non-compliant resulting in the country being grey listed by the FATF in 2018 and blacklisted by the European Union in 2020.

The country went right ahead into remedial actions towards being removed from the grey list, passing 25 pieces of legislation in 2018 and a further six in 2019. Resulting in the country being removed from the grey list in October 2021.

To address the deficiencies identified during assessments carried out by the Eastern and Southern Africa Anti Money Laundering Group (ESAAMLG) and Financial Action Task Force (FATF). There was a proposal to overhaul the Financial Intelligence Act and consequential amendments to several other laws.

The amendments of these laws aim to strengthen the Anti-Money laundering, countering Financing of Terrorism and proliferation efforts in Botswana and will also put the country in a good position during the next Mutual Evaluation in 2024.

In her presentation’ Peggy Serame enunciated that; “the procedure at ESAAMLG is that after a country has amended its legislation, they are allowed to request for rerating of FATF Recommendations that are still rated Non-Compliant and partially compliant. “

Adding that “the request for re-rating has to be made at least six months in advance of the ESAAMLG Task Force Plenary meetings. This means for Botswana, the request for re-rating can only be considered during the September meeting of ESAAMLG. In its request for re-rating, the country has to submit all other information supporting the request for re-rating to the ESAAMLG Secretariat.

This supporting information refers to relevant laws, regulations or other AML/CFT/CFP measures that are in force and effect. It is crucial that the FI Bill and others are enacted expeditiously for the country to submit a request for re-rating in February 2022.”

Member of Parliament for Selibe Phikwe West, Dithapelo Keorapetse has expressed concern over the Financial Intelligence Bill stating that; “the discussion of this bill is relevant to what we are trying to do in prevention of financial and economic crimes, that is physical and revenue crimes. However; if virtual assets have value and can be digitally traded; it means that physical and revenue crimes can be committed using cryptocurrencies.

ESAAMLAG and FATF are very clear that money laundering and terrorist financing exist with the purview of virtual assets. What needs to happen is public education surrounding virtual assets and the risks that come with them. Research ought to be done on the implications surrounding virtual assets, this in turn will help guide in drawing laws and regulations. Without established regulation and oversight, the virtual assets space will become the wild west of the financial industry.”

The re-enactment of the Financial Intelligence Act has caused consequential amendments to 13 other pieces of legislation which have already caused an uproar in the country, these are; Companies Act, Trust Property Control Act, Counter Terrorism Act, Criminal procedure and Evidence Act, Criminal Procedure and Evidence Act, Extradition Act, Mutual Assistance in Criminal Matters Act, Biological and Toxin Weapons (Prohibition) Act, Nuclear Weapons (Prohibition) Act, Precious and Semi-Precious Stones (Protection) Act and the Real estate Professionals Act.

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Sebetlela drills GCC Cllrs on reset agenda

28th January 2022
Boyce Sebetela

Chief of Staff at the Office of the President, Lephimotswe Boyce Sebetela has addressed Councillors of Gaborone City Council (G.C.C) on the Reset Agenda, at their retreat in Palapye.

A number of resource persons facilitated on different topics of importance. The retreat is said to have been aimed at appreciating the role of Councillors in governance, leadership development, promoting team work and sharing better ways on how they could improve service delivery to their constituents.

The retreat comes at a time when Councillors country wide demands clarity on their roles and responsibilities to their electorates, Sebetlela emphasized the need for G.C.C Councillors, as other leaders to board-in the drive of reset agenda. Noting that, it is people-centric. It is said at the meeting Sebetela explained to councillors that Reset agenda, should be understood, as an action plan that seeks primarily, to ameliorate the status-quo in Botswana. Further imploring the councillors to link their priorities with those of the government.

Sebetlela whose key responsibility is to direct and oversee implementation of national priorities, in alignment with political pronouncements made by President Masisi, reportedly told Councillors that they are an important stakeholders in this reform. He further noted that, the rest agenda is nothing short of Batswana’s needs and desires. Therefore as leaders, they should be cognizant of the priorities set by their own government.

Other resource persons were from the Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development and Botswana National Productivity Centre (BNPC).

For his part, Boseja Ward, Block 6 and Block 7 Councillor Khumo Sebereko applauded and revealed the significance of this retreat, noting that it was long overdue. “This is of utmost importance for community leaders, as we get time to imbibe knowledge at each other’s knee” he said.  He further explained that they get to assess their own productivity versus efficiency on public service which really help them improve as public servants.

On the other hand, G.C.C Town Clerk, Lebuile Israel told Weekend Post that prior to the retreat, they had a special full council in Gaborone. The special full council was characterized by consultation of different Community Constituency Plans. “That was basically to identify real issues on the ground, which at Ministerial level culminates into National Key issues that guides the direction of money allotted to the Council for the coming financial year” he said. He explained that, this council ensures that their Community plans are in sync with Urban Development Plan 5 (UDP 5) and National Development Plan 12 (NDP 12).

The alignment of these Community plans with both UDP 5 and NDP 12 puts each constituency in a good position to be taken to form part of G.C.C Project Memorandum. He further explained that, projects proposed by Councillors sometimes get to be relegated to least critical projects by the order of importance or urgency. “Over the years there weren’t many projects, relegated into peripheral categories or rejected by the Council for not being in sync with either of UDP 5 or NDP 12”.

When closing Sebetlela said Botswana’s ability and potential to transform rests incumbent upon each citizen’s effort particularly those in leadership. Noting that, implementation of priorities put forth by the reset agenda requires collaborative effort.

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Botswana records rise in corruption – Report

28th January 2022
President Masisi

The 2021 Corruption Perceptions Index (CPI) released by Transparency International has shown that corruption levels remain at a standstill worldwide while it is on the rise in Sub Saharan Africa.

The results at a glance; The Corruption Perceptions Index (CPI) ranks of countries around the world, based on how corrupt their public sectors are perceived to be. The results are given on a scale of 0 to 100, where 0 is highly corrupt and 100 is very clean. This year’s CPI paints a grim picture of the state of corruption worldwide.

According to the report; this year the global average remains unchanged for the tenth year in a row, at just 43 out of a possible 100 points. Despite multiple commitments, 131 countries have made no significant progress against corruption in the last decade. More than two-thirds of countries score below 50 indicating that they have serious corruption problems, while 27 countries are at their lowest score ever.

And despite some progress, nearly half of all countries have been stagnant on the CPI for almost a decade. These countries have failed to move the needle in any significant way to improve their score and combat public sector corruption.”

Western Europe and European Union are the highest scoring region with 66 points.
The top countries are Denmark, Finland and New Zealand, each with a score of 88. Norway, Singapore, Sweden, Switzerland, the Netherlands, Luxembourg and Germany complete the top 10.

49 countries were assessed in the Sub Saharan African region. With an average score of 33, Sub Saharan Africa is the lowest performing region in the CPI, showing little improvement from previous years and underscoring a need for urgent action. The report puts forth the concern that the gains made by top scorers are overshadowed by the region’s poor performance. This reinforces the urgent need for African governments to implement existing anticorruption commitments if they are to alleviate the devastating effect of corruption on millions of citizens living in extreme poverty.

With a score of 66, Seychelles consistently earns top marks in the region. Botswana is also regarded as a top scorer in the region with a score of 60/100 and a domestic score 55/100. Bottom of the index are Somalia with a score of 12 and South Sudan coming in with 11.

“Although Botswana is regarded a top performer. It has hit a historic low in 2021, recording a significant 10 point decline from a score of 65 in 2012. The result corroborates the findings of Transparency International’s 2019 Global Corruption Barometer survey, which showed that most people in Botswana thought corruption had increased. Concerns over impunity such as in the case of the alleged looting of the National Petroleum Fund which implicated senior government officials-underscore the need to increase accountability for high-level corruption in the continent’s oldest” Revealed the report.

The research also shows that corruption is more pervasive in countries least equipped to handle the Covid-19 pandemic and other global crises. The global pandemic has been used in many countries as an excuse to curtail basic freedoms.

Local media in Botswana reported that the Directorate on Corruption and Economic Crime (DCEC) recorded 47 cases of corruption in relation to COVID-19 tendering processes. With 32 from the Gaborone region; 12 from Greater Francistown region and 3 in Maun region.

In regards to case backlog, the directorate had a backlog of 182 cases pending with the Directorate of Public Prosecutions (DPP) , this is in addition to cases that were still under investigation and corruption allegation reports that had been received. The corruption allegations included 69 COVID-19 reports which were received between April 2020 and May 2021. Out of the 69 cases, 27 were being investigated while most of the remaining cases were referred to the different ministries.

Generally, Bribery continues to impede access to basic services. In 2019, the Global corruption Barometer – Africa revealed that more than one out of four people or approximately 130 million citizens in 35 African countries surveyed paid a bribe to access public services like health care.

Unless these corruption challenges are addressed, many countries in sub Saharan Africa risk missing their sustainable development goal targets by 2030. Transparency International calls on governments to act on their anti-corruption and human rights commitments and for people across the globe to come together in demanding change.

Chief Executive Officer of Transparency International, highlighted that Daniel Eriksson; “In authoritarian context where control over government, business and the media rests with a few, social movements remain the last check on power. It is the power held by teachers, shopkeepers, students and ordinary people from all walks of life that will ultimately deliver accountability.”

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