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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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Opposition Will Never Achieve Anything- Nkaigwa

8th April 2021
Haskins Nkaigwa

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.

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Botswana benefits over P100 million in grants from Japan

7th April 2021
Ambassador HOSHIYAMA

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.”

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Magosi pushes for Cabinet reshuffle

6th April 2021
President Masisi

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.

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