Former South African prosecutor Gerrie Nel has spoken against regulation of social media, indicating that Government should instead try to figure out how to use it to prove that crime has been committed.
Recently Minister of Defence, Justice and Security Shaw Kgathi confirmed to this publication that Government plans to adopt an aggressive law to counter cyber-bullying especially on social media. According to the Minister the proposed cybercrime law is aimed at addressing a number of concerns emanating from the abuse of social media by some users. Cyber-bullying, which is considered the use of the Internet, cell phones, or other technology to spread hurtful or embarrassing pictures and messages about other people is said to be among the top five offenses most experienced by young adults.
“There have been few criminal matters as far the use of social media is concerned except slander and cimen injuria, which could be dealt with under the civil law. From criminal perspective there is no need to regulate except on issues of real big crime matters such as murder, corruption and fraud,” said Nel. “Instead we should consider taking advantage of social media to use it to prove that people have committed crimes. The more people use the social media and traverse the law the better for the prosecutor. The debate should be how we can use social media to prove that the crime has been committed.”
Nel was in Botswana on Thursday, to participate in the Social Media and Cyber Security Symposium organised by e-Learning Botswana-Hlanganani ICT. Nel led the prosecution in the trial of former national police commissioner and Interpol president Jackie Selebi, who was convicted of corruption in 2010 and also received attention during the Oscar Pistorious case as the prosecutor. Nel said social media could come in handy in investigations of real crime matters such as corruption, murder and fraud as it can help evidence be obtained easily when those crimes were being planned and committed.
“Facebook is the best tool for obtaining evidence. It is easy to study the suspect’s activities on Facebook, and know their friends, and other people they associate with.” The tenacious prosecutor said during the Pistorious case, whatsApp conversations were used as evidence before the case, something which he indicated as having been helpful. Nel spoke in support of rather coming up with ways in which social media can be used to provide more evidence in criminal cases. He is against the state regulating the usage of social media by controlling what people write and post on social media.
“I am against ‘let’s limit and let’s control’ social media. To me freedom of speech is important and should not be regulated. Let’s use what is in the cyber space to investigate people who commit crimes. We should make laws that adapt to technology not that oppose it,” he said. He however admitted that the digital space has made it easier for people to commit crime but argues that in the same manner the digital space has helped to easily investigate crime. Nel said he is against the hacking of private individuals’ social media accounts except in a situation where it is the only means to explore to have that kind of evidence.
BROADCASTING OF HIGH PROFILE CASES
Nel said he initially was unsure about the importance of broadcasting court proceedings especially in high profile cases that generate interest from the large section of the society. He said initially in the Pistorious case, he opposed the broadcasting of the court proceedings but concurred with media houses that pointed out that the constitution requires all cases to be held in public courts where everyone can have access to. “They argued that if a person in Pretoria can walk in to watch proceedings of the court, those who are not in Pretoria may also want to watch the case,” he said.
Nel said broadcasting of court proceedings promotes transparency and accountability, and also allows citizens to form an opinion on the matter either by criticizing or praising. In South Africa, parliament proceedings are also broadcasted live.
Former Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) Member of Parliament for Gaborone North, Haskins Nkaigwa has confirmed his departure from opposition fold to re-join the ruling Botswana Democratic Party (BDP).
Nkaigwa said opposition is extremely divided and the leadership not in talking terms. “They are planning evil against each other. Nothing much will be achieved,” Nkaigwa told WeekendPost.
“I believe my time in the opposition has come to an end. It’s time to be of value to rebuilding our nation and economy of the country. Remember the BDP is where I started my political journey. It is home,” he said.
“Despite all challenges currently facing the world, President Masisi will be far with his promises to Batswana. A leader always have the interest of the people at heart despite how some decisions may look to be unpopular with the people.
“I have faith and full confidence in President Dr Masisi leadership. We shall overcome as party and nation the current challenges bedevilling nations. BDP will emerge stronger. President Masisi will always have my backing.”
Nkaigwa served as opposition legislator between 2014-2019 representing Botswana Movement for Democracy (BMD) under UDC banner. He joined BMD in 2011 at the height public servant strike whilst Gaborone City Deputy Mayor. He eventually rose to become the mayor same year, after BDP lost majority in the GCC.
Nkaigwa had been a member of Botswana National Front (BNF), having joined from Alliance for Progressives (AP) in 2019.
Botswana has received assistance worth over P100 million from Japanese government since 2019, making the latter of the largest donors to Botswana in recent years.
The assistance include relatively large-scale grant aid programmes such as the COVID-19 programme (to provide medical equipment; P34 million), the digital terrestrial television programme (to distribute receivers to the underprivileged, P17 million), the agriculture promotion programme (to provide agricultural machinery and equipment, P53million).
“As 2020 was a particularly difficult year, where COVID-19 hit Botswana’s economy and society hard, Japan felt the need to assist Botswana as our friend,” said Japan’s new Ambassador to Botswana, Hoshiyama Takashi.
“It is for this reason that grants of over P100 million were awarded to Botswana for the above mentioned projects.”
Japan is now the world’s fourth highest ranking donor country in terms of Official Development Assistance (ODA).
From 1991 to 2000, Japan continued as the top donor country in the world and contributed to Asia’s miracle economic development.
From 1993 onwards, the TICAD process commenced through Japan’s initiative as stated earlier. Japan’s main contribution has been in the form of Yen Loans, which are at a concessional rate, to suit large scale infrastructure construction.
“In Botswana, only a few projects have been implemented using the Yen Loan such as the Morupule “A” Power Station Rehabilitation and Pollution Abatement in 1986, the Railway Rolling Stock Increase Project in 1987, the Trans-Kalahari Road Construction Project in 1991, the North-South Carrier Water Project in 1995 and the Kazungula Bridge Construction Project in 2012,” said Ambassador Hoshiyama.
“In terms of grant aid and technical assistance, Japan has various aid schemes including development survey and master planning, expert dispatch to recipient countries, expert training in Japan, scholarships, small scale grass-roots program, culture-related assistance, aid through international organizations and so on.”
In 1993, Japan launched Tokyo International Conference on African Development (TICAD) to promote Africa’s development, peace and security, through the strengthening of relations in multilateral cooperation and partnership.
TICAD discuss development issues across Africa and, at the same time, present “aid menus” to African countries provided by Japan and the main aid-related international organizations, United Nations (UN), United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the World Bank.
“As TICAD provides vision and guidance, it is up to each African country to take ownership and to implement her own development following TICAD polices and make use of the programmes shown in the aid menus,” Ambassordor Hoshiyama noted.
“This would include using ODA loans for quality infrastructure, suited to the country’s own nation-building needs. It is my fervent hope that Botswana will take full advantage of the TICAD process.”
Since then, seven conferences where held, the latest, TICAD 7 being in 2019 at Yokohama. TICAD 7’s agenda on African development focused on three pillars, among them the first pillar being “Accelerating economic transformation and improving business environment through innovation and private sector engagement”.
“Yes, private investment is very important, while public investment through ODA (Official Development Assistance) still plays an indispensable role in development,” the Japanese Ambassador said.
“For further economic development in Africa, Japan recognizes that strengthening regional connectivity and integration through investment in quality infrastructure is key.”
Japan has emphasized the following; effective implementation of economic corridors such as the East Africa Northern Corridor, Nacala Corridor and West Africa Growth Ring; Quality infrastructure investment in line with the G20 Principles for Quality Infrastructure Investment should be promoted by co-financing or cooperation through the African Development Bank (AfDB) and Japan.
Japan also emphasized the establishment of mechanisms to encourage private investment and to improve the business environment.
According to the statistics issued by Japan’s Finance Ministry, Japan invested approximately 10 billion US dollars in Africa after TICAD 7 (2019) to year end 2020, but Japanese investment through third countries are not included in this figure.
“With the other points factored in, the figure isn’t established yet,” Ambassador Hoshiyama said.
The next conference, TICAD 8 will be held in Tunisia in 2022. This will be the second TICAD summit to be held on the African continent after TICAD 6 which was held in Nairobi, Kenya, in 2016.
According to Ambassador Hoshiyama, in preparation for TICAD 8, the TICAD ministerial meeting will be held in Tokyo this year. The agenda to be discussed during TICAD 8 has not yet been fully deliberated on amongst TICAD Co-organizers (Japan, UN, UNDP, the World Bank and AU).
“Though not officially concluded, given the world situation caused by COVID-19, I believe that TICAD 8 will highlight health and medical issues including the promotion of a Universal Health Coverage (UHC),” said Hoshiyama.
“As the African economy has seriously taken a knock by COVID-19, economic issues, including debt, could be an item for serious discussion.”
The promotion of business is expected to be one of the most important topics. Japan and its partners, together with the business sector, will work closely to help revitalize private investment in Africa.
“All in all, the follow-up of the various programs that were committed by the Co-Organizers during the Yokohama Plan of Actions 2019 will also be reviewed as an important item of the agenda,” Ambassador Hoshiyama said.
“I believe that this TICAD follow-up mechanism has secured transparency and accountability as well as effective implementation of agreed actions by all parties. The guiding principle of TICAD is African ownership and international partnership.”
Directorate on Intelligence Services (DIS) Director General, Brigadier Peter Magosi is said to be hell-bent and pushing President Mokgweetsi Masisi to reshuffle his cabinet as a matter of urgency since a number of his ministers are conflicted.
The request by Magosi comes at a time when time is ticking on his contract which is awaiting renewal from Masisi.
This publication learns that Magosi is unshaken by the development and continues to wield power despite uncertainty hovering around his contractual renewal.