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Wealthy International fugitive suspected to be holed-up in Tuli block

A wealthy British aristocratic alleged nanny-killer is suspected to be holed-up in Botswana in the white Tuli Block enclave after fleeing the UK following the murder of his children’s minder 35 years ago.

According to communication on a UK on-line police platform, John Bingham, the 7th Earl of Lucan otherwise commonly known as Lord Lucan, has been sighted in Gaborone and allegedly stays in Tuli Block, in the North Eastern tip of the country. The disappearance of Lord Lucan, a scion of a wealthy and traditionally privileged caste of the English society has baffled and captivated the English imagination in equal measure for decades.

Lord Lucan allegedly murdered Sandra Rivett on the 7th of November 1974.Rivett was a nanny to his children, hired by his estranged wife. It is alleged that Lord Lucan had mistaken Rivett for his ex-wife, Veronica Duncan with whom they had been engaged in a marathon custody battle for their three children. Lucan disappeared into thin air a few days after the murder of Rivett.

So privileged and blue-blooded was Lord Lucan that he was once turned down an offer to play the role of James Bond. In his heyday he pursued playboy exploits, cruising around the streets of London in a high end Aston Martin automobile and rattling the blues with expensive powerboats. Lucan had also lived for some time in the United States with family friend and multi-millionaire Marcia Brady Tucker. The news of his engagement had allegedly been covered in UK publications, The Times and The Daily Telegraph in 1963 while the actual wedding was attended by among others a royal princess.

Furthermore, he had received his education at Eton College, one of the most exclusive European schools, founded in 1447 by King Henry VI, where the offspring of the European nobility continue to be tutored. An anonymous comment posted to an unofficial UK Police forum called UK Police, on the 4th of February 2016 has alleged that Lord Lucan has been sighted in Botswana and is living out his days in Tuli. The forum identifies the poster as a resident forum member posting from Southern Africa, under the username of OldAfricaHand.

The character behind OldAfricaHand writes that: “The last “sighting” of Lord Lucan was actually in Gaborone, Botswana, in a building called Debswana House-where Barclays Bank head office was located at that time (about 35 years ago).” “The story attached to this sighting was that Lucan was living in the Tuli Block, which is a sparsely populated area in Eastern Botswana, close to the South Africa border and had come to Gaborone to get some funds (possibly from friends in the UK).” he continues, “The suggestion is that he was being supported by friends who lived in one of the very substantial wildlife lodges that are in Tuli Block. If he was/is-he would be difficult to find.”

The writer then philosophises on possible motives for the murder of the child minder, before adding that, Lucan who would be 83 years old in 2017, might already be late and buried somewhere in an unmarked grave. The forum member also offered British adventurers some support if they wished to pursue the story for British tabloids, The Mirror, The Mail and The Daily Sun and earn some money and fame in the process.

“I guess all this is now moot-Lucan may well have passed away, been buried anonymously and forgotten. Mind you, if there are any forum members who fancy making a name for themselves and a few bob from the Sun, Mirror, Daily Mail, by finding him, il be happy to provide logistical support.” the poster added, but not before including a cheeky smiley face. Another newspaper article in The Gurdian of UK titled ‘Anniversary boots Lucan cottage industry” shares the same sentiments as OldAfricaHand.

It lists as one of the theories that he might have lived in Botswana, “He was smuggled out of Britain by wealthy friends and has spent his life moving around southern Africa. Much of the interest has focused on the Tuli Block in Botswana. Over the years Lucan has been "spotted" playing craps in a hotel there and drinking with expats in a bar.” Another source is a book which chronicles the Lucan hunt by Television crews in theTuli, titled, ‘Twenty chickens for a saddle: The story of an African childhood.’ The book was written by Robyn Scot, a New Zealander and a daughter of medical expatriates who grew up in the north and north east of Botswana.

Her book was reviewed in The Telegraph of UK in 2008. Scot came into the country aged 7 in 1987.She chronicles an encounter with an English television crew following the trail of Lucan in Tuli Block. She writes:”…an English TV crew appeared in Tuli Block after another sinister sighting: ‘fugitive lord seen in Botswana’s Tuli Block, gambling with the local residents.’

She continues to write: “for hours the crew drove up and down the Tuli Block road, finding only abandoned old farmsteads and homes of Afrikaans farmers. “Have you seen this man?” they asked again and again, displaying a constructed picture of what an elderly lord would probably look like. “You know the famous English Lord Lucan, who killed his children’s nanny.” Each time shaking heads. No one had heard of him.”Scot wrote. Other separate online accounts also mention the Tuli connection.Another poster to online has also alleges “Lucky” Lucan’s possible presence in the Tuli. Lucan was sometimes called “Lucky” Lucan because of his apparent success in his career as a high stakes gambler.

The anonymous online poster said that they had lived in Cape Town over 20 years ago and that there had been an aristocratic mutual friend who had also been a personal friend of Lucan’s in the 1970’s. However, they stated that with renewed press interest on the case, they mentioned to their friend about the presence of Lucan in the sub region and particularly in the Tuli Block,only to be angrily told off. The online persona,who posted to Quora on the 3rd of  March last year wrote:”…My friend who was normally a passive person was very agitated at this when i told him and he said, “they must stop looking for him.He is certainly dead.He drowned in the (English) Channel and people must stop looking for him.They should leave the poor man alone.”

The writer continues:”i was surprised by the vehemence with which he insisted that Lucan was dead and not to be looked for anymore,but got the feeling that my friend might have known more about it.What he said sounded more like a ‘party line’ for his social group when anyone mentioned Lucan.I had a distinct impression of ranks closing.”

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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

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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