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Maele blames Powerful People

The Minister of Land Development, Water and Sanitation, Prince Maele says he is ready to put his head on the bloc to prove that he has not been corrupted or is being corrupt in any format.

This follows a series of media reports that link him to controversial deals and decisions, with some questioning the manner in which he has acquired some of his assets. The Minister has reserved his rights in all the allegations made against him, however he pointed out that “this matter may be more than what meets the eye.”


POWERFUL PEOPLE TARGETING MAELE?


According to Maele, the matter is politically motivated because it stems from a decision that he made to unbundle a water 5 billion pula project into four so that it may be implemented faster in the interest of Batswana, particularly in the southern part of the country.
He says most people were going for months without water hence his decision to unbundle the project.


“Unfortunately, unbundling the project deprived some powerful people a chance to further enrich themselves from the misery of thirsty citizens in the southern part of Botswana. Had the project continued as it were, the project would have been completed in 5-7 years, and cost more than the original price, while the unbundling will see it completed in 2-3 years,” he told Weekend Post in a statement. Maele says the malicious people behind the smear campaign are hell bent on tarnishing anyone who gets in their way. “While I am a firm proponent of freedom of the press, I will not stand idle when this freedom is abused at the instance of nefarious characters. I therefore intend to do everything to restore my integrity and reputation, including taking legal recourse.”


MAELE TAKES AIM AT DCEC


The minister says he also takes note that the conduct of the Directorate on Corruption and Economic Crime (DCEC) leaves much to be desired. If the DCEC progress report was leaked, then it suffices to doubt the integrity and credibility of the whole process of investigations.


“To see snippets of an investigation or investigations purportedly about me appearing in newspapers when I have not been warned of them, nor been told what I am being investigated for or the scope of the probe is troubling in the extreme. I shudder to imagine how the reporter got hold of the progress report when my side of the story is not being put forward. Of course, I am not above the law and so I have no problem with any organ of state investigating me if it believes it has cause to investigate me, in good faith,” said Maele.     

 
Maele said as a Minister, he is aware that he is subject to public scrutiny. “I do not mind much because I have nothing to hide. But I will never confuse pursuit of my personal interests with my duties and responsibilities as a Minister in which my country and fellow citizens come first. I take full responsibility for what happens in my Ministry; its successes and failures together. Above all, I have the Constitution of the Republic of Botswana and an oath of office to uphold.”


BUT WHAT DOES MAELE SAY TO THE ALLEGATIONS   


Maele confirms reports that he went to China with his wife, accompanied by a friend of Chinese origin, on a private trip. However, Maele says the Chinese companion did not and does not have any contract with his Ministry. “The trip was therefore not in exchange of any tender. But most of all, like any other Motswana, I have freedom of movement in the global village that the world has become, and am at liberty to choose where to go and with whom.”


Furthermore, Maele confirms that he has more than 200 cattle at his farm in Kaka. He says the purchasing of the cattle was a matter of straightforward commercial transactions “that entailed no money laundering because no such shady conduct was necessary”. Maele also confirms that he purchased a vehicle worth P100,000.00 in cash, some six years ago. “I was not a Minister, then. The vehicle, is a 2004 model BMW 725. When I purchased it in 2011, it was a 7-year old second-hand that no bank was prepared to finance. A personal loan was therefore raised to pay for the car.”

Furthermore the Minister says he has been in a helicopter to his farm with some friends. He says he sees nothing wrong with his actions. He labels allegations of suspicious transactions in his bank account as “fallacious”.

MAELE’S VERSION OF ‘LIES’ IN THE ALLEGATIONS

The embattled minister says he never had P300, 000.00 cash in my house or anywhere. “More importantly, no such sums were found by the DCEC or any person or organ in my house or any other place I have control over.” He rubbishes reports that he was involved in improper and corrupt dealings that led to the award of tenders such as the Phakalane link road without following due process.

Furthermore, he says, “I was neither involved in the adjudication of the said tender nor am I aware of any investigations that were or are being carried out by the DCEC or any organ of the state with regard to the tendering and/or execution of such a project. Ministers in government do not adjudicate, evaluate nor award tenders.”  Maele says he did not exert pressure for a change of land use in favour of Khato Civils, he calls this a blatant lie. He points out that Kgatleng Landboard took an independent resolution without any coercion from anybody.

“Documentation, as in minutes, is readily available for public scrutiny. That I attended the Bot50 party sponsored by Khato Civils in Sandton, South Africa can best be described as hallucination. I do not know anything about such a party or who may have attended it.”
Maele further denies issuing instructions to the PPADB to cancel a tender for the benefit of Khato Civils.

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Botswana still weighing in on Maseko’s assassination

27th January 2023

The Minister of Foreign Affairs, Dr. Lemogang Kwape says Botswana has not taken any position regarding the killing of a renowned human rights lawyer, Thulani Maseko, who was gunned down at his house in Mbabane, Eswatini.

In a brief interview with WeekendPost, Dr Kwape said Botswana has not yet taken any position regarding his death. He said the purported incident should be thoroughly probed before Botswana can form an opinion based on the findings of the inquiries.

“Botswana generally condemns any killing of human life by all means,” says Dr. Kwape. He wouldn’t want to be dragged on whether Botswana will support the suspension of Eswatini from SADC.

“We will be guided by SADC organ Troika if they can be an emergency meeting. I am not sure when the meeting will be called by Namibian president,“ he said.

However, the Namibian president Hage Geingob notes with deep concern reports coming out of Eswatini about the killing of Mr. Maseko. In a statement, he called upon the “Government of the Kingdom of Eswatini to ensure that the killing of Maseko is swiftly, transparently and comprehensively investigated, and that any or all persons suspected of committing this heinous crime are brought to justice.”

Maseko was chairperson of the Multi-Stakeholder Forum which was established as a coalition of non-State actors to advocate for a process of national political dialogue aimed at resolving the security and political challenges confronting the Kingdom.

“SADC expresses its deepest and heartfelt condolences to the family of Mr. Maseko, his friends, colleagues, and to the people of the Kingdom of Eswatini for the loss of Mr. Maseko. In this context, SADC further calls upon the people of the Kingdom of Eswatini to remain calm, exercise due care and consideration whilst the appropriate structures conduct the investigations and bring the matter to completion,” the statement says.

Geingob reiterated the need for peaceful resolution of the political and security challenges affecting the country.

Meanwhile political activists are calling on SADC to suspend Eswatini from the block including the African Union as well.

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Kopong Murder: Accused interferes with witnesses again!

27th January 2023

State prosecutor, Seeletso Ookeditse revealed before the Broadhurst Magistrate Jobbie Moilatshimo that the third accused involved in the murder of Barulaganye Aston, has interfered with the State witnesses again.

The second and third accused (Lefty Kosie and Outlwile Aston) were previously accused of interference when they were caught in possession of cellphones in prison. They were further accused of planning to kill the deceased’s brother, who is currently the guardian to the children of the deceased.

Ookeditse indicated that Outlwile had earlier went to challenge the magistrate’s decision of denying him bail at the High Court before Judge Michael Motlhabi.

“The third accused approached the High Court and made a bail application, which was dismissed on the same day,” Ookeditse said.

However, even after the High Court verdict on their bail application, the duo (Kosie and Aston) has once again applied for bail this week.

Ookeditse plead with the court to stop the accused from abusing the court process.

“Yesterday, Directorate of Public Prosecutions (DPP) received papers of his bail application filed before the Broadhurst Magistrates Court. However, the papers do not speak to changed circumstances, therefore this back and forth about bail must be put to a stop,” said the State prosecutor.

While giving evidence before court, the Investigations Officer, Detective Inspector Quite Zhalamonto, said his investigations have proved that there is interference continuing regarding the accused trio.

He told the court that on the 12th of January 2023, he received a report from Thato Aston, who is the son of the accused and the deceased. The son had alleged to the Investigation Officer that he received a call from one Phillip Molwantwa.

According to Zhalamonto, Thato revealed that Molwatwa indicated that he was from prison on a visit to the Outlwile Aston and went on to ask where he was staying and where his siblings (Aston’s children) are staying.

“Thato revealed that Phillip went on to ask if he or his siblings saw their father murdering their mother, and he was referring to the crime scene. Thato told me that he, however, refused to answer the questions as he was afraid especially because he was asked about where him and his siblings stay,” said Zhalamonto.

Zhalamonto alluded to the court that he then went to Orange to confirm the communication between Thato and Molwantwa where he found the case.

“I have arrested Philip yesterday and when I interviewed him, he did not deny that he knows Aston and that he has indeed called Thato and asked questions as to where him and his siblings resides even though he failed to give reasons for asking such questions,” Zhalamonto told the court.

He further revealed that Molwantwa indicated that he had received a call from an unknown man who refused to reveal himself.

“Phillip told me that the unknown man said he was sent by the accused (Aston), and that Aston had instructed him to tell me to check if there was still some money in his bank accounts, and he also wanted to know where the kids were residing, the unknown man even asked him to meet at Main Mall” the Investigation Officer told the court.

He further informed the court that he is working tirelessly to identify the “unknown caller” and the route of the cell number.

Furthermore, the fourth accused, Kebaleboge Ntsebe, has revealed to the court through a letter that she was abused and tortured by the Botswana Police Services. She wrote in her letter that she suffered miscarriage as a result of being beaten by the police.

Ntsebe is on bail, while a bail ruling for Aston and Kosie will be delivered on the 6th of next month

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Ngamiland Cattle Farmers Gain Green Zone Revenue

27th January 2023

Cattle farmers from Eretsha and Habu in the Ngamiland district, supported by the Community Based Trade (CBT) project, recently generated over P300 000.00 for sales of 42 cattle to the Botswana Meat Commission (BMC) in Maun. This milestone was achieved through support from various stakeholders in conservation, commodity-based trade and the government, in collaboration with farmers. Ordinarily, these farmers would not have made this direct sale since the area is a designated Foot and Mouth Disease (FMD) Red Zone.

Traditional livestock farming contributes toward livelihoods and formal employment in the North-West District (Ngamiland) of Botswana. However, primarily due to the increase in FMD outbreaks over the past two decades and predation by wildlife, the viability of livestock agriculture as a source of income has declined in the region. This has led to a greater risk of poverty and food insecurity. Access across the Okavango River (prior to the construction of a bridge) restricted access for farmers in Eretsha. This lack of access hampered sales of cattle beyond Shakawe, further discouraging farmers from investing in proper livestock management practices. This resulted in negative environmental impacts, poor livestock health and productivity.

To address this challenge, farmers are working with a consortium led by Conservation International (CI), with funding secured from the European Union (EU) to pilot a CBT beef project. The project focuses on supporting and enabling communal farmers to comply with standards and regulations that will improve their chances to access markets. An opportunity to earn higher income from cattle sales could incentivize the adoption of restorative rangelands management practices by farmers.

These collaborative efforts being piloted in Habu and Eretsha villages also include the Pro-Nature Enterprises Project for the People of Southern Africa, funded by Agence Française de Développement (AFD) and Le Fonds français pour l’environnement mondial (FFEM). This complementary funding from AFD and FFEM supports the implementation of the Herding4Health (H4H) model and Rangeland Stewardship Agreements across four rangeland sites in Southern Africa, including Habu and Eretsha, to incentivize best practices that could offer sustainability in the long term for livelihoods, conservation and human-wildlife coexistence.

“We spend a lot of money getting our cattle to Makalamabedi quarantine site, the herder spends on average two months taking care of the cattle before they are taken into quarantine – that needs money. All these costs lead to us getting less money from BMC,” said one of the farmers in the programme, Mr Monnaleso Mosanga.

Farmers that participate in the project agree for their cattle to be herded and kraaled communally by fulltime professional herders (eco-rangers). At the core of this pilot is the use of predator-proof bomas (cattle kraals), planned grazing systems and mobile quarantine bomas (electrified enclosures) for the cattle, facilitated in support with the Department of Veterinary Services. The first successful exit from the mobile quarantine bomas in the Habu and Eretsha villages, in December 2022, saw cattle quarantined on-site and directly transported to BMC in Maun. Farmers received almost double the average sales within this region, as costs including transportation to quarantine sites, herder’s fees and other associated costs incurred before qualifying for BMC sales were no longer included.

“This pilot mobile quarantine is leveraging the techniques and protocols we are using at our current permanent quarantine sites, and we are still observing the results of the project. The outcome of this pilot will be presented to the World Organisation of Animal Health to assess its effectiveness and potentially be approved to be used elsewhere,” said Dr Odireleng Thololwane, the Principal Veterinary Officer (Maun).

Through co-financing of almost P1 billion from the Botswana government and Green Climate Fund, these interventions will be replicated, through The Ecosystem Based Adaptation and Mitigation in Botswana’s Communal Rangelands project, across the country. Both projects aim to improve the economic benefits of cattle owners and multitudes of Batswana households, while contributing to land restoration and climate change efforts by the Botswana government

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