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Drug trade fuelled by top Gov’t officials

Illicit drugs are on the loose in Botswana, fresh information turned up by WeekendPost has revealed. Most of the drugs are smuggled into Botswana from neighbouring countries through un-gazetted areas, including through the border where there is a defective routine search and check-ups.

There are no electronic x-ray machines or scans at the border or points of entry to roughly detect drugs and law enforcers rely only on “intelligence”, this publication has learnt. This publication has further turned up information to the effect that a high number of citizens of Botswana are recorded as involved in this cross border drug smuggling than foreigners. Point of entry check-ups are seen as flawed and an uncomplicated freeway by drug lords who hide the illegal substances in strategic car parts, restaurants food packs boxes, credulous body parts like armpits, beneath private parts including out rightly swallowing them.

They would later excrete them through the anal passage. According to highly placed sources in the fight for substance abuse and rehabilitation, the most smuggled drug used by clients remains Marijuana (dagga) followed by Methcathinone which is known as CAT, then crack cocaine (madaena), and cocaine, including others like Heroin. Botswana Police Service (BPS) Director of Criminal Investigations Department (CID), Busang Lesola has raised the red flag concerning drug usage in Botswana. He told this publication that illegal drug use and trade is of serious concern in Botswana and they (CID) are doing everything within their power to address it.

The sentiment was also echoed by Officer Commanding at Narcotics, Fauna and Flora Investigations (NFFI), Detective Senior Superintendent Miriam Kilano who also confirmed to WeekendPost in an interview that they have many cases in relation to the said drugs which regrettably find their way into the country and are utilized by citizens and foreigners. She described the state of affairs as “seriously of concern” to her department and the public in general. Investigations by this publication have uncovered that cocaine can be categorized as the most expensive with a customer base cutting across all socio-economic groups – particularly people with financial power.

The illegal drug is in powder form and costs around BWP 300 per sachet which its effect lasts for almost a month. More investigations by this publication also reveal that although drug use cuts across the education sector, both public and private schools, it is however said to be very rampant at Private Schools. It is understood that dealers may be tapping on the students’ financial significance as a result of their lucrative pocket money as mostly are from well off families.

Recently, the son of Minister of Defence, Justice and Security, Shaw Kgathi, together with three alleged crime partners were nabbed with drugs in their possession at a road block in Pitsane en-route to Gaborone from South Africa. On the matter, Kgathi (23) is charged with Tumisang Tlhalefang (24), Kgosietsile Geoffrey Dihutso (23) and Alphius Raditladi (25). The quartet underwent BPS routine search at a road block and were caught with pants down in possession of “11 white blocks packaged in Romany cream biscuits box and thirty pieces contained in a packet of Simba chips suspected to be methacatinone.”

They are due to appear in court on December 6 to face the charges of “unlawful possession of habit forming drugs.” When WeekendPost asked why the drug trade and usage is continuing whilst the hotspots and trade spots are well known by the community and some CID operatives, the CID official was at pains to answer and almost fell short of critiquing the law governing drugs saying it has its own limitations when it comes to arresting the situation.

Information turned up indicates that the lucrative market for the drugs and some of the hotspots drug infested places in Gaborone are said to be the suburban area Phakalane, Phase 2, Maruapula and Tlokweng just to mention a few. In terms of the said places, BPS, CID Officer in Charge, Petrus Nkgetse also confirmed in his interaction with the WeekendPost at CID headquarters, NFFI department in Gaborone. He said that the current law does not speak to those who have smoked the illegal drugs ‘per se’ but only provides that they can only have a case against drug users once they catch them red handed and ‘in possession of such illegal drugs’.

Prior, the police utilized the Drugs and Related Substance Act which was later reviewed to the current one named Medicine and related Substance Act. The new Act, the police say, carries more hefty penalties for perpetrators than the previous. In terms of the new Act and other interventions the CID officials were adamant that the situation is under control as far as they are concerned. Meanwhile, a non- governmental organisation that provides substance abuse education, prevention, and rehabilitation services to the general public, Botswana Substance Abuse Support Network (BOSASNet) said it was equally concerned about the rampant drug use and abuse.

“Drugs, yes, it’s now a very serious problem in Botswana, it’s now rampant,” the oganisation through its Clinical Programs Manger, Lorato Koosaletse told this publication. According to Koosaletse, more of illegal drugs and substances are emerging and the country cannot keep up with the rise. She gave an example of concoction of drugs said to be on the rampage where students and other drug users release faeces, dry them and later mix them with dagga and inhale.

The BOSANET official stressed that students are involved in unlawful drug use “as early as 12 years” and others “old as 60 years” as well as “the rich and the poor” which make part of their client base for rehabilitation. As causes of substance abuse, Koosaletse said most people get into drugs for various reasons such as a public expectation; as a result of peer pressure; for entertainment; and others do drugs out of curiosity, ending up in addiction, among others. The BOSASNet executive also called for “more stricter and punitive laws; more rehabilitation centres or facilities where people can easily get help.”

According to official statistics of a testing and rehabilitation centre, Elite Life Coaching, there cases of a 15 years old female and a 16 years old male who tested positive for crack cocaine as at January 2017. 52 people of all genders also tested positive for marijuana, 42 for crack cocaine, 31 for CAT and 28 for cocaine between April 2015 and January 2017 in Gaborone.

Habit forming Dagga (Marijuana):

According to official statistics by BPS CID, NFFI department, in 2017 between January and March, they arrested 172 citizens and 11 non citizens in connection with 111 cases of 204.6945 kg of Dagga possession. In 2016, there were 617 cases recorded of dagga weighing 1053.422kg from 871 Batswana and 44 non citizens. 652 cases of Dagga possession were also recorded in 2015 weighing 253.6322 kg and 732 citizens and 45 non citizens were arrested to the cases. There were 639 cases of dagga possession also in 2014 and 837 Batswana as well as 33 foreigners were arrested. The said dagga weighed 359.173 kg.   

Marijuana (DAGGA) is a green or grey mixture of dried, shredded flowers and leaves of the hemp plant Cannabis sativa. The drug contains a number of substances called cannabinoids and it is these cannabinoids that affect the brain, heart and lungs.
It is smoked in the form of hand-rolled cigarettes or in a pipe. Signs of marijuana abuse are frequently visible in users: red, blurry, bloodshot eyes; constant, mucus-filled cough; rapid heartbeat; hunger, referred to as munchies; dry mouth; anxiety, paranoia, or fear; poor memory; poor coordination.

The recreational Methcathinone (CAT):

Sometimes called “cat” or “jeff” or “catnip” or “intash” is used as a recreational drug due to its potent stimulant and euphoric effects and is considered to be addictive, with both physical and psychological withdrawal occurring if its use is discontinued after prolonged or high-dosage administration.It is usually snorted, but can be smoked, injected, or taken orally; and effects include; feelings of euphoria; Increased alertness; Slurred speech; Shaking of the limbs; Increased heart rate; Risk of blood clots on the brain, heart attacks or strokes; Headaches or Migraine attacks; Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) or pains in the stomach; Increased empathy and sense of communication; Both decreased and increased sexual function and desire; Bruxism. The effects of methcathinone usually last from four to six hours.

BPS CID, NFFI statistics illustrate that in 2017 from January to March, only 10 cases were recorded in relation to 106.1g of CAT. 14 citizens and 2 expatriates were arrested. In 2016, there was 1560.8273g of CAT confiscated from 40 Batswana and 2 foreigners emanating from the 24 cases recorded. CAT weighing 130.8989g was confiscated from 14 cases involving 25 Batswana and 2 non citizens in 2015. Only 1 case was recorded in 2014 involving 1 citizen in possession of CAT weighing 0.05g.
The addictive Cocaine:

In terms of cocaine, official statistics from CID, NFFI indicate that in the first quarter of 2017, 38 g of the drug was confiscated from 5 Batswana and 4 foreigners in which there were 4 cases. The Cocaine weighed 38g. In 2016, there were 21 cases of 23 Batswana and 3 expatriates found in possession of 4313.7216 g of cocaine. Before that, in 2015, 18 cases were recorded of cocaine weighing 188.5 g involving 22 citizens and 5 non citizens. 19 Batswana where arrested in 2014 in connection to 12 cases of cocaine weighing 146. 915g. Cocaine is an addictive drug derived from coca or prepared synthetically, used as an illegal stimulant and sometimes medicinally as a local anaesthetic.

Cocaine short term effects include; Loss of appetite; Increased heart rate, blood pressure, body temperature; Contracted blood vessels; Increased rate of breathing; Dilated pupils; Disturbed sleep pattern; Nausea; Hyperstimulation; Bizarre, erratic, sometimes violent behavior; Hallucinations, hyperexcitability, irritability; Tactile hallucination that creates the illusion of bugs burrowing under the skin; Intense euphoria; Anxiety and paranoia; Depression; Intense drug craving; Panic and psychosis; Convulsions, seizures and sudden death from high doses (even one time); Cocaine causes heart, kidney, brain and lung damage.

Cocaine Long-term effects include: Permanent damage to blood vessels of heart and brain; High blood pressure, leading to heart attacks, strokes, and death; Liver, kidney and lung damage; Destruction of tissues in nose if sniffed; Respiratory failure if smoked; Infectious diseases and abscesses if injected; Malnutrition, weight loss; Severe tooth decay; Auditory and tactile hallucinations; Sexual problems, reproductive damage and infertility (for both men and women); Disorientation, apathy, confused exhaustion; Irritability and mood disturbances; Increased frequency of risky behavior; Delirium or psychosis; Severe depression; Tolerance and addiction (even after just one use).

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Motamma Horatius on politics and motherhood

13th January 2021
motamma

While it takes a lot to penetrate and thrive in the male dominated political space in Botswana, Block 3 Ward councillor Motamma Horatius, is one of the few females defying the odds.

Driven by passion, Horatius has always worn many hats and today she has become one of the few women who are thriving in the political space in Botswana. Prior to pursuing politics, she was an active participated in the creative space.

Horatius, a beauty queen, notably famous for her reign as Miss World Tourism Botswana represented Botswana in a television show famously known as Big Brother Africa. During her stay in the house, she got termed darling of the continent for an outstanding performance that promoted unity, humility and culture.

After serving for some time in public space, and making a name for herself as well as serving as a brand ambassador she decided to step in a career that will forever challenge her. This was after she had travelled the world and demonstrated her unique leadership skills and brilliance.

“I stopped and asked myself why am I not incorporating this brilliance back home. And wherever you go worldwide Botswana with all her faults is a beacon of hope in everything. And even successful countries came here to benchmark and implemented our policies and are flourishing such as Rwanda. So I decided to join active politics and go straight to the ruling party to add a youthful feel to an already existing force and help modernise it to serve better not from afar but from within,” she clarified.

“So my ample experience in civic leadership across countries around the world catapulted me to join active politics because I wondered, if I can do as much as an individual even across nations, how much can I do whilst in office, locally. And I chose to start from the ground up, in order to avoid leaving the locals behind.”

The stern and tenacious young leader, currently sit as the Chairperson of Finance Committee at Gaborone City Council, and also chairs Performance Monitoring Committee.

While a typical girl would dream of becoming either a nurse or choose a ‘girl’ orientated deemed career, she had a heart for politics from a very young age.  By the time she left the creative space, she had already made a name for herself, that she needed no introduction.

“I had to acknowledge first that I am a woman, and being a woman means you have to work 200 percent more than your male counterparts. So it took sleeplessness nights, and a massive amount of working smart to win legitimately,” she said.

She acknowledges that she faced a lot of challenges during the 2019 elections which she had to overcome through the assistance of her loved ones and family.

“Politics is expensive but I managed by God’s grace, family, friends, acquaintances and good Samaritans but my mind helped. I am a very good planner when it comes to execution,” she said.

“Another hurdle is, being a young woman, I had conceived during the time of primary elections; so campaigning whilst expectant, managing your emotions through betrayals, insults, stress, house-to-house then giving birth and having to hit the ground in less than two weeks having given birth via C-section, was a hurdle I overcame by God’s mercy and I am thankful to my family for helping me with the kids because politics means a lot of time away from home.”

“Another hurdle was to portray an all rounded culturally grounded Motswana woman soft but yet stern, respectful but can articulate issues well. Because even though we are civilized our society still upholds unwritten yet practiced values of what a woman is and what a man is, and if you defy societal expectations, it judges you harshly. But thankfully I remained focused on who I was and didn’t try alternate anything When I lost some of the original members of my campaign team. The pain was deep. But I wiped my tears. Soldiered on, and God increased twice the initial number.”

At some point she had to face demeaning words from other male contestants, but the best to do at the time was to shun negativity and stay focused. Male intimidation never tugged her down.

“My experience with 2019 elections was rather inclined to learning as it was my first time running for office as a politician, so I wanted to see if really hard work has results because I always hear stories of how people are bought,” she said.

“So since I was not buying anyone, I was on a learning curve to test my hard work style of delivery against what is believed out there. So it was exciting and again I say it was a learning curve as most NGOs fighting to increase women participation in politics were continuously training us.’

Despite everything she feels women political participation in Botswana is still low. She has pleaded with the media to cover them more often as she believes maybe it will help more women to run for office.

Botswana has few women in parliament, giving men dominance in policy decisions. In a 63-seat parliament, Botswana has only seven female MPs, four of them being specially elected lawmakers.

According to the 2019 edition of the biennial Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU) Map of Women in Politics. Among the top African countries with a high percentage of women in ministerial positions are Rwanda (51.9%), South Africa (48.6%), Ethiopia (47.6%), Seychelles (45.5%), Uganda (36.7%) and Mali (34.4%).

The lowest percentage in Africa was in Morocco (5.6%), which has only one female minister in a cabinet of 18.

Other countries with fewer than 10% women ministers include Nigeria (8%), Mauritius (8.7%) and Sudan (9.5%).Other African countries with high percentages of women MPs include Namibia (46.2%), South Africa (42.7%) and Senegal (41.8%), according to the report.

Though a slight increase, Botswana is still lagging behind when it comes to women political participation.

According to a report made by IEC for the 2019 elections, there is 11.1% women representation in parliament. There has been a 1.6% slight increase from the 2019 election compared to the 2014 elections.

According to United Nations, there are two main obstacles that prevent women from participating fully in political life.

These are structural barriers, whereby discriminatory laws and institutions still limit women’s ability to run for office, and capacity gaps, which occur when women are less likely than men to have the education, contacts and resources needed to become effective leaders.

As it stands though, Botswana has continued to recognize gender equality as central to socio-economic, political and cultural development through its National Vision 2036.

Following the adoption of the National Policy on Gender and Development in 2015, the National Gender Commission was established in September 2016, to monitor implementation of the policy.

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Gov’t imposes austerity as financial year closes

11th January 2021
President Masisi

Government ministries and departments have moved to cut expenditure in the last quarter of financial year in order to survive the economic hardship occasioned by the covid-19 pandemic. Since the outbreak, Government and the private sector have been hard hit financially due to limited economic activity brought about by government response to fighting the pandemic.

In an urgent savingram by the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development, Molefi Keaja addressed to all council secretaries and town clerks, the government informs that it is facing unprecedented budgetary challenges for Financial Year 2020/2021.

“This has necessitated measures to be put in place to conserve cash and ensure that government is able to honour its financial obligations in the remaining (3) months of the financial year,” said the savingram dated 24 December 2020.

The Government has cut all travel by Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) including State owned entities (SOEs) and Local Authorities until the next financial year in April 2021.
It has also taken a decision that all meetings, interviews, seminars, workshops, conferences, retreats, annual ceremonies and hospitality events should be conducted virtually, which save on the cost of securing venues, conference facilities and meals/refreshments.

“No replenishment of refreshments for the Executive Cadre (E2 salary scale and above) until the end of the financial year,” Keaja directed. Last year government also resolved that due to the financial effects of Covid-19 the government will no longer recruit for any jobs during the 2020/2021 financial year.

The Cabinet directed that the 2020/2021 provision for vacancies be withdrawn from Ministries, Departments and Agencies recurrent budgets to cater for supplementary estimates. According to the saving gram then by the Directorate on Public Service Management (DPSM) said the country faces fiscal challenges which have been accentuated by the emergence and the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Amongst key ministries and departments affected were the Botswana Defence Force, National Strategy Office, Directorate of Intelligence and Security (DIS), Commissioner of Police, Commissioner of Prisons, Clerk of National Assembly and the Directorate on Corruption & Economic Crime (DCEC).

It further deliberated that all various institutions that had begun recruitment for existing vacant positions be frozen for the remaining period of the 2020/2021 financial year. “Since funds for the vacancies will only be recruited in the next financial year 2020/20121, Ministries, Department and Agencies are advised to discontinue recruitment into such vacancies until 1st April 2021. Those who are already at an advanced stage of recruitment process are advised to withhold appointments until further notice.”

The Director of Directorate on Public Service Management (DPSM), Goitseone Mosalakatane, told the parliamentary Public Accounts Committee (PAC) in September that despite the high unemployment rate, they cannot hire for the posts because part of the funds have been withdrawn to fight the Coronavirus.

With just a few days into the New Year, Covid-19 seems to be taking its toll and its effects will be felt vastly in the long run. Countries worldwide, including Botswana are injecting in millions of money in the fight against the deadly virus therefore placing immense uncertainty on country’s economy.

When delivering his speech at last year’s State of Nation Address President Mokgweetsi Masisi said during 2020, the domestic economy was expected to contract by 8.9 percent indicating that this is attributed to an expected sharp decline in major sectors such as mining, (minus 24.5 percent); trade, hotels and restaurants (minus 27.4 percent); construction (minus 6 percent); manufacturing (minus 3.9 percent); and transport and communications (minus 2.5 percent).

However, he assured that the economy is expected to rebound during 2021, with overall growth projected at 7.7 percent. The anticipated recovery will be driven by a rebound in growth of some major sectors such as mining (14.4 percent), trade, hotels and restaurants (18.8 percent), and transport and communications (4.2 percent).

Furthermore, Masisi pointed out that the recovery will also be supported by the Economic Recovery and Transformation Plan currently being implemented by Government. “It is critical to note that these projections are dependent on, among others, the duration of the COVID-19 pandemic and related restrictions.

These containment measures have the effect of reducing spending by firms and households and causing supply-chain disruptions. Beyond this, the recovery phase will be influenced by confidence effects on households and businesses; sectoral transformation and changes in work patterns; as well as prospects for the recovery of global financial markets and commodity prices.”

Emphasising this, he explained that despite the challenges of COVID-19 there still remains the delicate balance of opening the economy whilst containing the disease burden. “Inflation according to the latest data from Statistics Botswana, inflation fell significantly from 2.2 percent in September 2019 to 1.8 percent in September 2020, remaining below the lower bound of the Bank of Botswana’s medium-term objective range of 3 to 6 percent,” he said.

The significant decline in inflation mainly reflects the downward adjustment in fuel prices in June 2020. However, inflation may rise above the current forecasts if the international commodity prices increase beyond current projections and in the event of upward price pressures occasioned by supply constraints due to travel restrictions and lockdowns.

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BDP readies for Congress

11th January 2021
BDP congress

The Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) last year had to cancel its elective congress due to the strict measures that had to be put in place due to Covid-19 pandemic outbreak.

Two other party events Women’s Wing Congress including the much anticipated victorious election celebration were also postponed due to the pandemic as gatherings were cancelled indefinitely.
However the BDP is adamant that the party will be able to hold its National Congress and all other events that had been frozen this year.

Speaking to this publication chairman of BDP Communication & International Relations Sub-Committee Kagelelo Kentse said that the party was readying itself for the congress with the main objective being to review resolutions that were taken at their 38th National Congress in Mochudi in 2019. Emphasising this, Kentse said it was commendable that most of the resolutions taken in 2019 have by far been fulfilled.

Moreover, he said it would mean a lot for the party to be able to meet at the congress, this he said would give them the opportunity to introspect and reflect with regards to their manifesto. In 2019 the BDP made about eleven resolutions of which five of these were resolved and gazetted. The abridged resolutions were that the amendment of the law to allow agricultural land owners to use up to 50 percent of their land for non-core purposes, to amend the law to cancel transfer duty on property transferred between the spouses.

President Masisi also passed a law to allow married couples to be independently allocated land and increase threshold for non-payment of transfer on property acquired from P250k to P750k. On the resolution in the tourism sector, Kentse said efforts are very advanced to have local play a part. He said there is ongoing work with the Ministry of Lands on concessions that will be allocated to citizens.

According to the BDP communications chair the Ministry of Tourism has availed more opportunities in dams for tourism thus far, having already issued expression of interest for Letsibogo, Dikgatlhong, and Gaborone dams. Citizens are said to have applied for tenders which are currently under evaluation. There are about 45 campsites set aside for citizens in game reserves and forest reserves for tourism.

The resolution on the declaration of assets and liabilities law which was passed and amended this year, was supported by all legislators including those from opposition. Emphasising this he explained that contentions were on issues to do with valuations, and leaders have started declaring.

With the Congress comprising of the elective congress, the BDP is yet to embark on it an objective Kentse said is on their to do list this year even though the calendar of events has not yet been made.
The elective congress has aroused interest, especially the Secretary General position which has attracted a number of participants of which observers believe will accord the incumbent, Mpho Balopi, the current secretary general, the opportunity to buy time if at all he will seek re-election in the position.

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