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Govt wants to seize all of Seretse’s property

The High Court will soon listen to heated arguments in the multimillion money laundering scandal in which the Government is seeking an order to possess permanently Bakang Seretse’s properties and credit account balances.

In the case, Bakang, Botho Leburu and Kenneth Kerekang were alleged to have between September, 05, 2017 and November, 27, 2017 in Gaborone, received over P320 million stolen from the National Petroleum Fund (NPF).  The case also implicates the who’s who of this country.

Only a month after High Court Judge Godfrey Radijeng granted the Government an application to freeze Bakang’s properties and credit account balances pending the finalisation of the saga, the Government has approached the court again, now demanding forfeiture of the said assets. The application is dated January 23, 2018.

Bakang’s attorney Kgosietsile Ngakaagae is however challenging the application. He is of the view that though it was not in dispute that the P69 million belonged to Government, Government intended to rob his client of his own properties and assets. Things started taking a nasty turn in December 13, 2017 when the Directorate of Public Prosecutions (DPP) applied for an ex parte application against Seretse’s properties and credit account balances, and was granted the application. Seretse had later in December 28, through his attorney Kgosietsile Ngakaagae approached the court on urgency and applied for the order to be reversed. But he was dismissed with costs in January 12, 2018.

THE WHO’S WHO

Since the case was registered before the courts last year, there has been a mention of names of several people in high positions in the public sector though they never appeared before the court to join their alleged co-accused. Ngakaage has on the past mentions decried that the prosecution was chasing after small fish while the big fish walk free men.

This has now become more like a slogan in the courts of this country that the prosecution always runs after the nobody’s and let alone the big men who rob the nation of billions of pulas. The names that are always heard in the courts through the bar are the DIS boss, Isaac Kgosi, Minister of Minerals and Energy, Sadique Kebonang and permanent secretary in the ministry Dr Obakeng. Ngakaagae has challenged the DPP to bring them to book.

His argument has always been that Kgosi and Dr Obakeng who were authorising the transactions have not been charged or accused. He said the deal was a ministerial issue which involved people at the top. He noted that his clients were just working on instructions. He averred that if there was misappropriation of such funds then Kgosi, Dr Obakeng and the portfolio Minister Kebonang would have been charged alongside his clients. “Kgosi has paid P118 million to a company in Israel, and DPP is just running away from this reality.”

THE ASSETS IN QUESTION

The list of bank accounts and assets
All the following listed properties and credit account balances namely:-

Positive balance of BWP69, 734, 260. 00 standing to the credit of Call Account number 0002504001499 held by Khulaco (Proprietary) Limited with Capital Bank Limited as at 30 November 2017;

Positive balance of BWP24, 953, 63 standing to the credit of Current Account number 0002704015955 held by Khulaco (Proprietary) Limited as at 30 November 2017;

The amount of BWP118, 945, 045.70 telegraphically transferred on 21 November to Dignia System Limited a company situate at 9 Shenkar St Herzliya in Israel being holders of Account No. 528379 with Mizrahi Tefahot Bank Limited Bank in Israel;

Positive balance of BWP10, 881,199.64 standing to the credit of Call Account number 0002504001550 held by M&B Properties (Proprietary) Limited with Capital Bank Limited as 30 November 2017;

Positive balance of BWP 199, 971. 00 standing to the credit of Current Account number 0002704016860 held by M&B Properties (Proprietary) Limited with Capital Bank Limited as at 30 November 2017, whose registered office is 1st Floor, Plot 8881, African Mall, Gaborone. M&B Properties (Proprietary) Limited is the interested person in this property.

Positive balance of BWP162, 000. 00 standing to the credit Account 62415126417 held by Outer Limit (Proprietary) Limited with First National Bank Botswana Limited;

Positive balance of BWP57,186. 15 standing to the credit of Current Account number 1509505 held by STM Connections (Proprietary) Limited formerly known as STM Holdings (Proprietary) Limited with Barclays Bank Botswana Limited as at 24 November 2017;

Positive balance of BWP76, 186. 15 standing to the credit of Current Account number 1028225 held by Sandune International (Proprietary) Limited with Barclays Bank Botswana Limited as at 27 November 2017;

Positive balance of BWP750, 000. 00 standing to the credit account number 62655842790 held by Leomog Investment (Pty) Ltd with First National Bank Botswana Limited;

Positive balance of BWP430, 000. 00 standing to the credit account number 62088477528 held by Bakang Seretse with First National Bank Limited;

Positive balance of BWP384, 600. 30 standing to the credit Account number 6236672300099 held by Bakang Seretse with First National Bank Botswana Limited;

Property being lease area No. 3338- KO bought for the sum of BWP 2, 850, 000. 00 passed on the 25 October 2017 in favour of Raging Bull (Proprietary) Limited held under Notarial Deed Cession No. MA901/2017;


Property being a Unit consisting of Section No. 17, iTowers Scheme bought bought for the sum of BWP2,400,000. 00 passed on the 3 November 2017 in favour of raging Bull (Proprietary) Limited held under Deed of Sectional Transfer No. ST 307/ 2017;

Property being a Parking Bay P125, iTowers Scheme bought together Plot 54368 iTowers passed on the 3 November 2017 in favour of Raging Bull (Proprietary) Limited held under Notarial Deed of Cession of Real Right: Exclusive Use Areas CRR 161/ 2017;

Property being Townhouse Unit D4 Bemcoville, Sectional title scheme on Lot 75448, Gaborone bought for the sum of BWP1, 284, 800. 00 stiill held under Certificate of Consolidated Title No. 747/2015 in favour of Mwinda Alley (Proprietary) Limited;

Mercedes Benz GLC 250, Station Wagon, B 693 BFI, Chasis No. WDC2539462F280030, Engine No. 27492031092897 registered in the names of Kelebogile Ngwenya;

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Civil Service volatility: Democracy vs Bureaucracy

19th April 2021
President Masisi

Here is how one Permanent Secretary encapsulates the clear tension between democracy and bureaucracy in Botswana: “President Mokgweetsi Masisi’s Government is behaving like a state surrounded with armed forces in order to capture it or force its surrender. The situation has turned so volatile, for tomorrow is not guaranteed for us top civil servants.

These are the painful results of a personalized civil service in our view as permanent secretaries”. Although his deduction of the situation may be summed as sour grapes because he is one of the ‘victims’ of the reshuffle, he is convinced this is a perfect description of the rationale behind frequent changes and transfers characterising the current civil service.

The result of it all, he said, is that “there is too much instability at managerial and strategic levels of the civil service leading to a noticeable directionless civil service.” He continued: “Changes and transfers are inevitable in the civil service, but to a permissible scale and frequency. Think of soccer team coach who changes and transfers his entire squad every month; you know the consequences?”

The Tsunami has hit hard at critical departments and Ministries leaving a strong wave of uncertainty, many demoralised and some jobless. In traditional approaches to public administration, democracy gives the goals; and bureaucracy delivers the technical efficiency required for implementation. But the recent moves in the civil service are indicative of conflicting imperatives – the notion of separation between politicians and administrators is becoming blurred by the day.

“Look at what happened to Prisons and BDF where second in command were overlooked for outsiders, and these are the people who had sacrificially served for donkey’s years hoping for a seat at the ladder’s end. The frequency of the changes, at times affecting the same Ministry or individual also demonstrates some level of ineptitude, clumsiness and lack of foresight from those in charge,” remarked the PS who added that their view is that the transfers are not related to anything but “settling scores, creating corruption opportunities and pushing out perceived dissident and former president, Ian Khama’s alleged loyalists and most of these transfers are said to be products of intelligence detection.”

Partly blaming Khama for the mess and his unwillingness to let go, the PS dismissed Masisi for falling to the trap and failing to outgrow the destructive tiff. “Khama is here to stay and the sooner Masisi comes to terms with the fact that he (Masisi) is the state President, the better. For a President to still be making these changes and transfers signals signs of a confused man who has not yet started rolling his roadmap, if at all it was ever there. I am saying this because any roadmap comes with key players and policies,” he concluded.

The Ministry of Health and Wellness seems to be the most hard-hit by the transfers, having experienced three Permanent Secretaries changes within a year and a half. Insiders say the changes have everything to do with the Ministry being the centre of COVID-19 tenders and economic opportunities. “The buck stops with the PS and no right-thinking PS can just allow glaring corruption under his watch as an accounting officer. Technocrats are generally law abiding, the pressure comes with politically appointed leaders racing against political terms to loot,” revealed a director in the Ministry preferring anonymity.

The latest transfer of Kabelo Ebineng she says was also motivated by his firm attitude against the President’s blue-eyed Task Team boys. “The Task Team wants to own the COVID-19 pandemic and government interventions and always cry foul when the Ministry reasserts itself as mandated by law,” said the director who added that Masisi who was always caught between the crossfire decided on sacrificing Ebineng to the joy of his team as they (Task Team) were in the habit of threatening to resign citing Ebineng as the problem.

Ebineng joins the Office of the President as a deputy Coordinator (government implementation and coordination office).The incoming PS is the soft-spoken Grace Muzila, known and described by her close associates as a conformist albeit knowledgeable.

One of the losers in the grand scheme is Thato Raphaka who many had seen as the next PSP because of his experience and calm demeanour following a declaration of interest in the Southern African Development Community (SADC) Secretary post by the current PSP, Elias Magosi.

But hardly ten months into his post, Raphaka has been transferred out to the National Strategy Office in what many see as a demotion of some sort. Other notable changes coming into OP are Pearl Ramokoka formerly with the Employment, Labour and Productivity Ministry coming in as a Permanent Secretary and Kgomotso Abi as director of Public Service Reforms.

One of the ousted senior officers in the Office of the President warned that there are no signs that the changes and transfers will stop anytime soon: “If you are observant you would have long noticed that the changes don’t only affect senior officers but government decisions as well. A decision is made today and the government backtracks on it within a week. Not only that, the President says this today, and his deputy denies it the following day in Parliament,” he warned.

Some observers have blamed the turmoil in the civil service partly to lack of accountable presidential advisers or kitchen cabinet properly schooled on matters of statecraft. They point out that politicians or those peripheral to them should refrain from hampering the technical and organizational activities of public managers – or else the party (reshuffling) won’t stop.

In the view expressed by some Permanent Secretaries, Elias Magosi, has not really been himself since joining the civil service; and has cut a picture of indifference in most critical engagements; the most notable been a permanent secretaries platform which he chairs. As things stand there is need to reconcile the imperatives of democracy and democracy in Botswana. Peace will rein only when public value should stand astride the fault that runs between politicians and public managers.

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Morupisi fights for freedom in court

19th April 2021
morupisi

Former Permanent Secretary to the President, Carter Morupisi, is fighting for survival in a matter in which the State has charged him and his wife, Pinnie Morupisi, with corruption and money laundering.

Morupisi has joined a list of prominent figures that served in the previous administration and who have been accused of corruption during their tenure in office. While others have been emerging victorious, Morupisi is yet to find that luck. The High Court recently dismissed his no case to answer application.

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Pressure mounts on Biden to suspend Covid-19 vaccine patents

19th April 2021
Joe Biden

United States President, Joe Biden, is faced with a decision to make relating to the Covid-19 vaccine intellectual property after 175 former world leaders and Nobel laurates joined the campaign urging the US to take “urgent action” to suspend intellectual property rights for Covid-19 vaccines to help boost global inoculation rates.

According to the world leaders, doing so would allow developing countries to make their own copies of the vaccines that have been developed by pharmaceutical companies without fear of being sued for intellectual property infringements.

“A WTO waiver is a vital and necessary step to bringing an end to this pandemic. It must be combined with ensuring vaccine know-how and technology is shared openly,” the signatories, comprising more than 100 Nobel prize-winners and over 70 former world leaders, wrote in a letter to US President Joe Biden, according to Financial Times.

A measure to allow countries to temporarily override patent rights for Covid related medical products was proposed at the World Trade Organization by India and South Africa in October, and has since been backed by nearly 60 countries.

Former leaders who signed the letter included Gordon Brown, former UK Prime Minister; François Hollande, former French President; Mikhail Gorbachev, former President of the USSR; and Yves Leterme, former Belgian Prime Minister.

In their official communication, South Africa and India said: “As new diagnostics, therapeutics and vaccines for Covid-19 are developed, there are significant concerns [about] how these will be made available promptly, in sufficient quantities and at affordable prices to meet global demand.”

While developed countries have been able to secure enough vaccine to inoculate their citizens, developing countries such as Botswana are struggling to source enough to swiftly vaccine their citizens, something which world leaders believe it would work against global recovery therefore proving counter-productive.

Since the availability of vaccines, Botswana has been able to secure only 60 000 doses of vaccines, 30 000 as donation as from the Indian government, while the other 30 000 was sourced through COVAX facility.  Canada, has pre-ordered vaccines in surplus and it will be able to vaccinate each of its citizens six times over. In the UK and US, it is four vaccines per person; and two each in the EU and Australia.

For vaccines produced in Europe, developing countries are forced to pay double what European countries are paying, making it more expensive for already financially struggling economies.  European countries however justify the price of vaccines and that they deserve to buy them cheap since they contributed in their development.

It is evident that vaccines cannot be made available immediately to all countries worldwide with wealthy economies being the only success story in that regard, something that has been referred to as a “catastrophic moral failure”, head of the World Health Organisation (WHO), Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus.

The challenge facing developing countries is not only the price, but also the capacity of vaccine manufactures to be able to do so to meet global demand within a short time. The proposal for a patent waiver by India and South Africa has been rejected by developed countries, known for hosting the world leading pharmaceutical companies such US, European Union, the United Kingdom, and Switzerland.

According to the Financial Times, US business groups including pharmaceutical industry representatives, have urged Biden to resist supporting a waiver to IP rules at the WTO, arguing that the proposal led by India and South Africa was too “vague” and “broad”.

The individuals who signed the letter, including Nobel laureates in economics as well as from across the arts and sciences, warned that inequitable vaccine access would impact the global economy and prevent it from recovering.

“The world saw unprecedented development of safe and effective vaccines, in major part thanks to US public investment,” the group wrote. “We all welcome that vaccination rollout in the US and many wealthier countries is bringing hope to their citizens.”

“Yet for the majority of the world that same hope is yet to be seen. New waves of suffering are now rising across the globe. Our global economy cannot rebuild if it remains vulnerable to this virus.”
The group warned that fully enforcing IP was “self-defeating for the US” as it hindered global vaccination efforts. “Given artificial global supply shortages, the US economy already risks losing $1.3tn in gross domestic product this year.”

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