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Seretses money laundering figure shoots to P600m

New investigations in the landmark case in which Bakang Seretse and two others are accused of money laundering, have indicated that the money in question is not just P250m as initially alleged, but close to P600m.

In the case, Seretse, Botho Leburu and Kenneth Kerekang were alleged to have between September, 05, 2017 and November, 27, 2017 in Gaborone, illegally received the sum from the National Petroleum Fund (NPF). In the last seating of parliament around November last year, it was instructed that the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) should interrogate the saga and report back to parliament.

In an interview, PAC Chairman and Member of Parliament for Kanye South, Abram Kesupile, said they were only waiting for the audited financial statements from the Office of Auditor General (OAG) to commence the work. “I do not know when the OAG will finish whatever work they are doing and furnish us with the information we need. They might have established some difficulties along the exercise because there are allegations of new developments in the matter,” said Kesupile.

“DCEC is doing investigations, and whatever information they come across they will give it to the OAG,” he said, stressing that, DCEC is not obliged to inform the PAC whatever difficulties they come across. Kesupile said he last spoke with Auditor General, Pulane Letebele last week whereupon she told him some significant progress has been done but could not specify when they will complete the work.

In an interview with Letebele on Tuesday, she could not specify the time frame as to when her office will submit the documents needed by the PAC. She told this publication that, “we are working on that and we will give information to the relevant authorities when it is complete.”
MP for Mmankgodi and Manyana Constituency, Pius Mokgware said in an interview on Thursday that the process was taking longer than anticipated. “It is a worrying situation. Government has last year asked PAC to investigate this matter and provide a report, but up to now nothing is happening. There is nothing that we are being told. They are just silent.”

Mokgware also stated his displeasure at the way the case is being handled. “I do not think enough is being done. You see, if you have public servants who are implicated in the corruption case and they are left to perform their normal duties as if nothing has happened is very questionable and frustrating. You wonder if these individuals are not manipulating the case.”

“This shows you that some people are above the law. The Directorate of Intelligence and Security boss, Isaac Kgosi is mentioned in this case from time to time, but he continues working. And the government is not even saying a thing, not even in their budget speech,” said Mokgware. He said this alone was an embarrassment on the part of the government. He said the government was supposed to take action to make sure the same thing does not happen in other ministries. “But government sees it as normal.”

Government Spokesperson Jeff Ramsay would not comment on whether government would release a statement addressing the ongoing saga or why Kgosi was not suspended from work pending the case. When asked to comment on Mokgware’s sentiments, Ramsay only said, “I said I’m not going to say anything. That one is a politician.” Umbrella for Democratic Congress (UDC) President Duma Boko had on his response to the budget speech last week also expressed his disappointment.

“It is still fresh in our minds that over P 250 million was stolen from the National Petroleum Fund through a manifestly fraudulent scheme, but senior people under whose watch and perhaps with whose collusion this happened remain firmly in their positions. One has in mind here the Director of Intelligence and Security Services, whose agency obtained funds under the guise of building fuel storage facilities only to divert the funds toward the purchase of spying equipment, all in contravention of the Public finance Management Act,” he stated in his speech.
Boko decried that there has been deafening silence from the President and the Minister of Finance and Economic Development.

OF SADIQUE AND GUMA MOYO

MP for Tati East, Guma Moyo has recently accused the Minister of Minerals and Energy and MP for Lobatse Sadique Kebonang of abuse of power. Moyo had said that even if Kebonang was present in parliament he was going to tell him to his face to stop abusing power.
In an interview on Wednesday, Kebonang dismissed Moyo’s sentiments as silly. “Moyo’s comments were made in my absence, and they were very unfortunate,” he said.

“When you say someone has abused power, you are saying they have used powers they do not have. And I have never acted contrary to powers I do have. There has never been abuse of power. It was a silly political statement.” Bakang Seretse’s attorney Kgosietsile Ngakaagae had on the previous mentions told the court that the key players in the ‘money laundering movie’ were walking free men, saying law enforcement officials were afraid of them.

He decried that the matter was a ministerial issue which involved people at the top, saying his clients were just working on instructions. According to Ngakaagae, the money was properly released in all the transactions that involved his clients as transactions were made with the best knowledge of the ministry.

IT WAS A SECRET

This publication has also learnt from impeccable sources that some in Government want the matter withdrawn from the courts because it should have never reached that stage. It is said that that Kebonang’s Ministry is puzzled as to how the matter reached the DCEC because it was a closely kept secret. The concerns raised at Government enclave is that the case is tarnishing names of senior people – some of whom have already complained that they have children and parents, who are always asking them, “what is all these?”.

Weekend Post learns that the DIS money request was a secret appeal and the ministry was asked to keep it tight. “The thing is we do not have those storage tanks, so to me they were not wrong to divert the money. They did not do any wrong. It is not true the money is around P600m, The P600m is the large sum that was given to the fund, and it is always fluctuating,” said a source within Government.

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ENVIRONMENT ISSUES: Masisi asks Virginia for help

24th March 2023

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.”

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Masisi saddened by deaths of elephant attacks

24th March 2023

President Mokgweetsi Masisi has expressed a strong worry over elephants killing people in Botswana. When speaking in Virginia this week, Masisi said it is unfortunate that Batswana have paid a price with their own blood through being attacked by elephants.

“Communities also suffer unimaginable economic losses yearly when their crops are eaten by the elephants. In spite of such incidents of human-elephant conflict, our people embrace living together with the animals. They fully understand wildlife conservation and its economic benefits in tourism.”

In 2018, Nthobogang Samokwase’s father was attacked by an elephant when travelling from the fields, where he stayed during the cropping season.

It was reported that the man couldn’t run because of his age. He was found trampled by the elephant and was pronounced dead upon arrival at the hospital.

In the same year, in Maun, a 57-year-old British woman was attacked by an elephant at Boro and died upon arrival at the hospital. The woman was with her Motswana partner, and were walking dogs in the evening.

Last month, a Durban woman named Carly Marshall survived an elephant attack while on holiday in the bush in Botswana. She was stabbed by one of the elephant’s tucks through the chest and was left with bruises. Marshall also suffered several fractured ribs from the ordeal.

President Masisi Botswana has the largest population of African elephants in the world, totaling more than 130 000. “This has been possible due to progressive conservation policies, partnerships with the communities, and investment in wildlife management programmes.”

In order to benefit further from wildlife, Masisi indicated that government has re-introduced controlled hunting in 2019 after a four-year pause. “The re-introduction of hunting was done in an open, transparent and democratic way, giving the communities an opportunity to air their views. The funds from the sale of hunting quota goes towards community development and elephant conservation.”

He stressed that for conservation to succeed, the local people must be involved and derive benefits from the natural resources within their localities.

“There must be open and transparent consultations which involve all sectors of the society. It is against this backdrop that as a country, we lead the continent on merging conservation, democracy and sustainable development.”

Masisi stated that Botswana is open to collaborative opportunities, “particularly with identifiable partners such as Virginia Tech, in other essential areas such as conservation, and the study of the interplay among the ecology of diseases of wild animals and plants, and their effects on human health and socio-economic development.”

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Gov’t commit to injecting more funds in fighting HIV

24th March 2023

Minister for State President Kabo Morwaeng says government will continue to make resources available in terms of financial allocations and human capital to ensure that Botswana achieves the ideal of eradicating HIV and AIDS as a public health threat by 2030.

Morwaeng was speaking this morning in Gaborone at the High-Level Advocacy event to accelerate HIV Prevention in Botswana. He said the National AIDS and Health Promotion Agency (NAPHA), in partnership with UNAIDS, UN agencies, the Global Fund and PEPFAR, have started a process of developing transition readiness plan for sustainability of HIV prevention and treatment programmes.

“It is important for us, as a country that has had a fair share of donor support in the response to an epidemic such as HIV and AIDS, to look beyond the period when the level of assistance would have reduced, or ceased, thus calling for domestic financing for all areas which were on donor support.”

Morwaeng said this is important as the such a plan will guarantee that all the gains accrued from the response with donor support will be sustained until the end when “we reach the elimination of HIV and AIDS as a public health threat by 20230,” he said.

“I commit to continue support efforts towards strengthened HIV prevention, accentuating HIV primary prevention and treatment as prevention towards Zero New Infections, Zero Stigma, Discrimination and Zero AIDS related death, to end AIDS in Botswana.”

He reiterated that government commits to tackle legislative, policy and programming challenges that act as barriers to the achievement of the goal of ending AIDS as a public health threat.

In the financial year 2022/2023, a total of 119 Civil Society Organizations, including Faith Based Organizations, were contracted with an amount of P100 million to implement HIV and NCDs prevention activities throughout the country, and the money was drawn from the Consolidated Fund.

Through an upcoming HIV Prevention Symposium, technical stakeholders will use outcomes to develop the Botswana HIV Prevention Acceleration Road Map for 2023-2025.

Morwaeng stated that government will support and ensure that Botswana plays its part achieving the road map. He said there is need to put hands on the deck to ensure that Botswana sustains progress made so far in the fight against HIV and AIDS.

“There are tremendous achievements thus far to, reach and surpass the UNAIDS fast track targets of 95%- 95%- 95% by the year 2025. As reflected by the BAIS preliminary results of 2021, we now stand at 95- 98- 98 against the set targets.”

“These achievements challenge us to now shift our gears and strive to know who are the remaining 5% for those aware of their HIV status, 2% of enrolment on treatment by those aware of their status and 2% of viral suppression by those on treatment.”

Explaining this further, Morwaeng said shift in gears should extend to coming up with robust strategies of determining where these remaining people are as well as how they will be reached with the necessary services.

“These are just some of the many variables that are required to ensure that as a country, we are well positioned to reaching the last mile of our country’s response to the HIV and AIDS pandemic.”

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