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Jail beckons for Facebook bullies

Government plans to adopt an aggressive law to counter cyber-bullying especially on social media. The Minister of Justice Defence and Security, Shaw Kgathi has confirmed to this publication that he has Gazetted a cybercrime law aimed at addressing a number of concerns emanating from the abuse of social media by some users.

“From the several kgotla meetings I have addressed Batswana welcome the law and we are hopeful that Parliament will pass it in November,” he said. Kgathi should be smiling already because from social media postings, a number of legislators have already expressed support for the proposed law. This is how others define cyberbullying: “Cyberbullying is the use of the Internet, cell phones, or other technology to spread hurtful or embarrassing pictures and messages about other people. Cyberbullies use social media, blogs, and texting to harass and spread hurtful messages and pictures about other people. Cyberbullying is in the top five offenses most experienced by young adults.”

Kgathi said he hopes that the law gives the police and other law enforcement agencies a weapon to fight anyone who posts intimate pictures of others without their consent. Furthermore the Minister pointed to the now common phenomena of people arriving at accident scenes, taking pictures and posting them on social media, “This is hurtful to relatives of those involved in these accidents, and this one issue that people have raised in the various kgotla meetings I have addressed. They want this act to be criminalized so that we put controls on this kind of behavior,” he said.

Images nude women and men have been shared on a public websites without their consent. And in most cases the victims of this cyberbullying have no defined recourse, it may mean a lengthy court process but Kgathi is confident that the proposed law spells out the crimes and the penalties for acts. He said: "It makes it a new offence to do a number of things with videos or photos of a person in an intimate setting without that person's consent — including publishing, distributing, transmitting those images."

Sharing on social media in support of the proposed law, the Member of Parliament for Gabane-Mankgodi, Major General Pius Mokgware wrote: “It is important that most of us should familiarise ourselves with the new Cybercrime laws which are coming to Parliament this November. I will share them here from next week. They cover amongst others issues like; Sharing information which is not true even if you took it from someone, taking pictures in accidents and posting them on social media, posting nude pictures or pictures of people trying to tarnish their image, posting untruths about people on social media, posting information on social media with a view to defame or scandalise a former lover or someone. I will support this bill in order to bring sanity and order in the social media.”

Minister Kgathi said they are concerned at the level of abuse of social media by some people in the country and they want to try and address the challenge. Parliament will convene on November 6th this year starting with a State of the Nation Address by President Lt Gen Ian Khama. "This new law applies no matter what the age of the person," Kgathi said.

A Gaborone based attorney explained that he expects the proposed law to define certain terms such as an intimate image as being one in which the subject is nude, partially nude, or engaged in explicit sexual activity. He said in other countries with similar laws, "The definition is that at the time the photo or video was taken, there was some circumstances that led to a reasonable expectation of privacy, at least in the mind of the person in the photo or video."

There has sporadic posting of evidently private pictures on social media in Botswana whose aim has been to potentially embarrass the victim or lower their estimation in the eyes of the public. "The key difference and or functional word in the proposed new law is ‘consent’ for distributing photos or videos of another person— the consent of the person in the photo or video," the attorney emphasized. If found guilty, those indicted on charges could face up to five years in prison while summary convictions could carry a six-month jail sentence and monetary fines.

Although laws against cyberbullying vary, cyberbullying legislation generally includes the following: Harassment via computer, telephone, cell, or text messaging device; Any verbal, textual, or graphic communications that would cause fear of physical harm, intimidation, humiliation, or embarrassment to another person; Any threatening communication sent electronically to another person; Any explicit pictures intended to harm another person; In addition, sexting is often included in cyberbullying legislation.

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Over 2 000 civil servants interdicted

6th December 2022

Over 2,000 civil servants in the public sector have been interdicted for a variety of reasons, the majority of which are criminal in nature.

According to reports, some officers have been under interdiction for more than two years because such matters are still being investigated. Information reaching WeekendPost shows that local government, particularly councils, has the highest number of suspended officers.

In its annual report, the Directorate on Corruption and Economic Crime (DCEC) revealed that councils lead in corrupt activities throughout the country, and dozens of council employees are being investigated for alleged corrupt activities. It is also reported that disciplined forces, including the Botswana Defence Force (BDF), police, and prisons, and the Directorate of Intelligence and Security (DIS) have suspended a significant number of officers.

The Ministry of Education and Skills Development has also recorded a good number of teachers who have implicated in love relationships with students, while some are accused of impregnating students both in primary and secondary school. Regional education officers have been tasked to investigate such matters and are believed to be far from completion as some students are dragging their feet in assisting the investigations to be completed.

This year, Mmadinare Senior Secondary reportedly had the highest number of pregnancies, especially among form five students who were later forcibly expelled from school. Responding to this publication’s queries, Permanent Secretary to the Office of the President Emma Peloetletse said, “as you might be aware, I am currently addressing public servants across the length and breadth of our beautiful republic. Due to your detailed enquiry, I am not able to respond within your schedule,” she said.

She said some of the issues raised need verification of facts, some are still under investigation while some are still before the courts of law.

Meanwhile, it is close to six months since the Police Commissioner Keabetwe Makgophe, Director General of the Directorate on Corruption and Economic Crime (DCEC) Tymon Katlholo and the Deputy Director of the DIS Tefo Kgothane were suspended from their official duties on various charges.

Efforts to solicit comment from trade unions were futile at the time of going to press.

Some suspended officers who opted for anonymity claimed that they have close to two years while on suspension. One stated that the investigations that led him to be suspended have not been completed.

“It is heartbreaking that at this time the investigations have not been completed,” he told WeekendPost, adding that “when a person is suspended, they get their salary fully without fail until the matter is resolved”.

Makgophe, Katlholo and Kgothane are the three most high-ranking government officials that are under interdiction.

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Masisi to dump Tsogwane?

28th November 2022

Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) and some senior government officials are abuzz with reports that President Mokgweetsi Masisi has requested his Vice President, Slumber Tsogwane not to contest the next general elections in 2024.

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African DFIs gear to combat climate change

25th November 2022

The impacts of climate change are increasing in frequency and intensity every year and this is forecast to continue for the foreseeable future. African CEOs in the Global South are finally coming to the party on how to tackle the crisis.

Following the completion of COP27 in Egypt recently, CEOs of Africa DFIs converged in Botswana for the CEO Forum of the Association of African Development Finance Institutions. One of the key themes was on green financing and building partnerships for resource mobilization in financing SDGs in Africa

A report; “Weathering the storm; African Development Banks response to Covid-19” presented shocking findings during the seminar. Among them; African DFI’s have proven to be financially resilient, and they are fast shifting to a green transition and it’s financing.

COO, CEDA, James Moribame highlighted that; “Everyone needs food, shelter and all basic needs in general, but climate change is putting the achievement of this at bay. “It is expensive for businesses to do business, for instance; it is much challenging for the agricultural sector due to climate change, and the risks have gone up. If a famer plants crops, they should be ready for any potential natural disaster which will cost them their hard work.”

According to Moribame, Start-up businesses will forever require help if there is no change.

“There is no doubt that the Russia- Ukraine war disrupted supply chains. SMMEs have felt the most impact as some start-up businesses acquire their materials internationally, therefore as inflation peaks, this means the exchange rate rises which makes commodities expensive and challenging for SMMEs to progress. Basically, the cost of doing business has gone up. Governments are no longer able to support DFI’s.”

Moribame shared remedies to the situation, noting that; “What we need is leadership that will be able to address this. CEOs should ensure companies operate within a framework of responsible lending. They also ought to scout for opportunities that would be attractive to investors, this include investors who are willing to put money into green financing. Botswana is a prime spot for green financing due to the great opportunity that lies in solar projects. ”

Technology has been hailed as the economy of the future and thus needs to be embraced to drive operational efficiency both internally and externally.

Executive Director, bank of Industry Nigeria, Simon Aranou mentioned that for investors to pump money to climate financing in Africa, African states need to be in alignment with global standards.

“Do what meets world standards if you want money from international investors. Have a strong risk management system. Also be a good borrower, if you have a loan, honour the obligation of paying it back because this will ensure countries have a clean financial record which will then pave way for easier lending of money in the future. African states cannot just be demanding for mitigation from rich countries. Financing needs infrastructure to complement it, you cannot be seating on billions of dollars without the necessary support systems to make it work for you. Domestic resource mobilisation is key. Use public money to mobilise private money.” He said.

For his part, the Minster of Minister of Entrepreneurship, Karabo Gare enunciated that, over the past three years, governments across the world have had to readjust their priorities as the world dealt with the effects and impact of the COVID 19 pandemic both to human life and economic prosperity.

“The role of DFIs, during this tough period, which is to support governments through countercyclical measures, including funding of COVID-19 related development projects, has become more important than ever before. However, with the increasingly limited resources from governments, DFIs are now expected to mobilise resources to meet the fiscal gaps and continue to meet their developmental mandates across the various affected sectors of their economies.” Said Gare.

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