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Venson-Moitoi in final push for AU chairmanship

Foreign Affairs Minister, Pelonomi Venson-Motoi has intensified her bid for African Union (AU) chairpersonship as she enters the final phase of her campaign.


Following the postponement of the election to 19th January 2017 in July last year, Venson-Moitoi will face four other candidates in a contest that will put to an end to a lengthy spell of campaigns. Observers express that the fact that there are four other candidates puts Venson-Moitoi in a pole position to ascend to the throne. Venson-Moitoi will face Dr Amina Mohammed (Kenya), Moussa Mahmat (Chad), Agapito Mokuy (Equatorial Guinea), and Dr Abdoulaya Bathily (Senegal).


Venson-Moitoi currently enjoys the backing of the Southern African Development Community (SADC) having got the at last year’s July summit in Kigali, Rwanda, and latter in Swaziland for a second bid.  In July last year Venson-Moitoi faced only two contenders for the position in; Dr Specioza Wandira Kazibwe of Uganda and Agapito Mba Mokuy of Equatorial Guinea. Other candidates had dropped off the race during the course of voting.  Venson-Moitoi emerged with more votes in July Last year but could not garner the two third majority required by the regulations to ascend to the post. Dr Venson-Moitoi garnered 23 votes far cry from the required minimum of 36 votes.


About 28 countries had abstained from the second round of voting, citing wanting qualifications among the two candidates. Since then, Moitoi, who refused to suspend her campaign after falling to win enough support in July has been sourcing for support across the continent and has expressed optimism that she will get the required support at the next summit.


Venson-Moitoi has premised her campaign around the good standing that Botswana enjoys from the international community. Botswana, often referred to as the miracle of Africa is has managed to stay conflict free, stable and peaceful in continent raved by unending civil wars and corruption.


“I strive to share the peace and stability that Botswana is known for and champion this across our beautiful continent,” she said. As Africa’s longest standing democracy, Botswana have managed to hold general elections every five years without fail and have seen three presidents since independence leaving office voluntarily. Botswana also have a good record in human rights and its home to thousands refugees who flee their home countries as result of war and other human right violations acts. Botswana is currently ranked the least corrupt country in Africa by Transparency International, the prestige it has enjoyed in the last few decades.  


Venson-Moitoi who has also led ministries such; Ministry of Education and Skills Development, and Ministry of Environment, Wildlife and Tourism has spent the better part of her career in the public service as top civil servant. From the early 1980s to the late 1990s, Moitoi was part of civil service which transformed Botswana’s economy. Between that ear, owing to discovery of diamonds at Jwaneng and prudent public service, Botswana’s economic growth averaged 13 percent.


Venson-Moitoi, if she triumphs will have to preside over a continent which is still not conflict free, ravaged by poverty and disease. The former minister of Education and Skills Development has emphasised that dialogue should be at the centre of problem solving in African and has pledged to promote it during her tenure.


“Dialogue is African. It is one thing that binds us together. We talk and we act, this is how we show progress,” she said. “I believe in the power of dialogue, of getting involved, and of working with others to drive progress.” Botswana’s former head of states; Sir Ketumile Masire and Festus Mogae have been engaged on African missions before to broker peace and end conflicts in various nations. Masire was instrumental in Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) peace negotiations in the early 2000s while Mogae was recently engaged to try to bring to an end a conflict in South Sudan.


Mogae has been spearheading Venson-Moitoi’s bid. Mogae who is also the winner of the Mo Ibrahim $5 million award, last year grabbed the opportunity at United Nations in New York introduced Venson-Moitoi to many African countries where he is highly respected. Dr. Venson-Moitoi, on her part, gave an impassioned speech about her own qualifications, why she is quite suited for the post of Chairperson of the AUC.


Venson-Moitoi is vision is to an “integrated, prosperous and peaceful Africa, driven by its own citizens and representing a dynamic force in the international arena” is one that is very much within reach in championing a sustainable future for Africa. She says this is because the AU Assembly adoption of Agenda 2063 was grounded upon this vision.


“Now is the time for the implementation of Agenda 2063 as clearly articulated in the first ten-year implementation plan. Implementation of this will result in quick wins and galvanise the desired transformation programme,” she stated. Venson-Moitoi also envisages AU as an efficient and effective organisation and notes the need to bring institutional culture of a high performance organisation for the purpose of the successful implementation of Agenda 2063.


“We need to develop and implement communications strategy that is aimed and popularising Agenda 2063 and ensuring the kind of buy-in that drives its success. This is another critical activity coinciding with the next tenure of Office of Chairperson. I will therefore ensure the development of the effective communications strategy to gamer further understand and support for Agenda 2063, thus instilling the culture of ownership among the citizen of Africa,” she said.


With Africa experiencing changes in population dynamics, Moitoi says the contennet is now dominated by young men and women who have not been given the opportunity to utilise their creative to propel the country forward. Venson-Moitoi says she has the plan do deal with this matter and ensure that Africa reaches its potential and become in influential player in global affairs.


MOITOI’S VISION FOR AFRICA


Ambitious Africa
Guided by our shared principles peace, justice and equality, we as citizens of Africa we must keep on working for greater democratic governance in international decision making. This includes working to ensure that global institutions and bodies including the United Nations, Security Council accurately reflect the realities and dynamics of today’s world. To this end, the need for reform of Security Council cannot be overemphasised.

The time is now and we are on the right path. We cannot look back after more than seventy years of existence of the global body, to place this reform agenda on the priority list. We have continued as African leaders, to agitate for extending the number of permanent members to Security Council, thus making it more representative and better equipped to address the challenges and opportunities that the world faces, particularly in the area of international peace and security.


From MGDs to SGDs
According to annual reports on the implementation of annual MGDs, African countries were recording steady improvements on most targets. The focus now is Sustainable Development Goals (SGDs). To achieve this, I believe policy makers must pursue inclusive goals strategies that promote broader participation of the active labour force. At the same time, we must ensure that returns from growth are invested in programmes that enhance productivity capacities of broad segments of society particularly women, young people and the vulnerable.   Furthermore, African governments  need to keep expanding agricultural policies through better policies and heavy investment in improved seeding, integrated farming, used of fertilizers and increased access to finance.


Realising Agenda 2063
Much has already been achieved by au through the development of the Agenda 2063, and the ground work has begun. I believe as the chairperson of the AUC I will be well placed to drive our continent to “The Africa we want!” that is ensuring that Agenda 2063 and its 10 year implementation plan delivers on its ultimate objective; to change the lives of all African people for the better.  My focus will be putting in place the systems and procedures that will help us deliver of those aspirations. I believe my visions and experience, coupled with the internal expertise at the AUC, will help me deliver of this task.


Transformation Agenda
I consider myself a transformist, rather than a conformist. Thus I fully support the transformation agenda of the AUC and am pleased to have this opportunity at a time when the development trajectory of the continent is strong. The AUC’s agenda 2063 enhances the momentum of this and makes clear the desired objective through the key strategic levels. Implementation of flagship projects will constitute the real vehicle for transforming Africa and achieving its integration, development and prosperity goals. I am confident that this dream that we have and share at the AUC is where within reach.

The Africa we want
One of the greatest wishes of all AU members is to “silence the guns” on our continent. To see all school going age children attend class and get an education. To see the rights of women and men; girls and boys on the continents given their rightful place in the laws of the country they live in. To see democracy flourish. This is the Africa we want. It is my dream to be a part of that process.


Driving the democratic development across Africa
As chairperson, the AUC, i will commit to promoting practices that seek to enhance Africa’s quest for democratic development. I will galvanised the support of all members states of the AUC to ensure that, together, we champion democratic governance by promoting the strengthening  of democratic institutions, safe guarding human rights and guaranteeing the rule of law.


A United and Prosperous Africa
We live in world with daunting challenges that respect no borders. No country, big or small, rich or poor, can solve these challenges on their own. They require a concerted effort from all of Africa citizens. This is an era of collective action and we, as the people of Africa, need to work together to make a different to ensure an integrated, peaceful, developed, and prosperous Africa. We have the resources, expertise, passion and evolving mindset in political, social and economic spheres to work together to make this vision of a united Africa a reality.

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BONELA speaks on same-sex decriminalization case

18th October 2021
BONELA

In June 2019, a case involving the Attorney General was brought before the High Court, in which the applicant Letsweletse Motshidiemang challenged Sections 164 (a) and 167 of the Penal Code. The applicant contended that these sections are unconstitutional because they violate the fundamental rights of liberty and privacy. 

The applicant argued that these sections violated his right and freedom to liberty as he was subject to abject ignominy. These laws subjected the LGBTIQ community to brutal and debasing treatment through social control and public morality. On the 1st of November 2017, the Botswana High Court further allowed Lesbians, Gays and Bisexuals of Botswana (LEGABIBO) to join the case as amicus curiae.

However, in July 2019, the respondents, in this case, i.e. the Government, filed an appeal against this iconic High Court ruling seeking re-criminalization of homosexuality. Human Rights Group has criticized this move of the Government all over the world.  The appeal was heard before five judges at the Court of Appeal on Tuesday. The State was represented by Advocate Sidney Pilane, while LEGABIBO and Letsweletse Motshidiemang were represented by Tshiamo Rantao and Gosego Rockfall Lekgowe, respectively.

Non-Governmental Organizations advocating for the LGBTIQ+ community joined the two parties at the Court of Appeal during this case. They argue that the minority group should enjoy their rights, especially the right to privacy and health. Botswana Network on Ethics, Law and HIV/AIDS (BONELA) Chief Executive Officer, Cindy Kelemi says the issues being raised by LEGABIBO are that as individuals belonging to the LGBTIQ community, they have and must share equal rights, including the right to privacy, which also speaks to being able to involve in sexual activities, including anal sex.

“Those rights are framed within the constitution, and therefore a violation of any of those rights allow them to approach the courts and seek for redress. We do not need the law to be regulating what we do in the privacy of our homes. The law cannot determine how and when we can have sex and with who, so the law does not have any business in that context. What we are saying is that the law is violating the right to privacy,” she said on the sidelines of the decriminalization case in Gaborone on Tuesday.

The first case involving the homosexual act was the Utjiwa Kanane vs the State in 2003. Contrary to section 164(c) of the Penal Code, Kanane was charged with committing an unnatural offence and engaging in indecent practices between males, contrary to section 167. The conduct at issue involved Graham Norrie, a British tourist, and occurred in December 1994. (Norrie pleaded guilty, paid a fine, and left the country.)

Kanane pleaded not guilty, alleging that sections 164(c) and 167 both violated the constitution. The High Court ruled that these sections of the Penal Code did not violate the constitution. Kanane then appealed to the Court of Appeal. BONELA CEO recalls that in its judgment then, the High Court indicated, Batswana were not ready for homosexual acts. Twenty years later, the same courts are saying that Batswana are ready, she says.

“They gave the explicit example that shows that indeed Batswana are ready. There are policies and documents in place that accommodate people from marginalized communities and minority populations. The question now is that why is it hard now to recognize the full rights of an individual who is of the LGBTI community?” She further says intimacy is only an expression. The law that restricts homosexuality makes it hard for LGBTIQ members to express themselves in a way that affirms who they are.

“We want a situation where the law facilitates for the LGBTIQ community to be free and express themselves. The stigma that they face in communities is way too punitive. They are called names; some have been physically violated and raped at times. It shows that the law doesn’t not only prevent them from expressing themselves, it also exposes them to violence.” The law on its own, Kelemi submits, cannot change the status quo, adding that there is a need for more awareness and education on human rights and what it means for an individual to have rights.

“As it is now, it is very tough for some to do that because of a legal environment that is not enabling. We also want to see a situation where LGBTIQ+ people can access services and be confident that they are provided with non-discriminatory services. It is challenging now because health care providers, social workers and law enforcement officers believe that it is illegal to be homosexual. What we are saying is that if you have an enabling law, then that will facilitate for people to be able to express themselves, including accessing health services,” Kelemi said.

“As we are doing this advocacy work, one of the issues that we picked up is that there is lack of capacity, especially on the part of healthcare workers. We noted that when we provide services or mobilize Men who have sex with other men (MSM) to access health facilities, health care workers are not welcoming, forcing them to hideaway. We must put an end to this to allow these people the freedom that they equally deserve.”

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Masisi warns Gov’t officials

18th October 2021
President Masisi

The President, Dr Mokgweetsi Masisi, has declared as an act of corruption the attitude and practice by government officials and contractors to deliver projects outside time and budget, adding that such a practice should end as it eats away from the public coffers.

For a very long time, management problems and vast cost overruns have been the order of the day in Botswana, resulting in public frustrations. Speaking at the commissioning of the Masama/Mmamashia 100 Kilometres project this week, Masisi said: “There is a tendency in government to leave projects to drag outside their allocated completion time and budget. I want to stress that this will not be tolerated. It is an act of corruption, and I will be engaging offices on this issue,” Masisi said.

In an interview with this publication over the issue, the Director-General of the Directorate on Corruption and Economic Crime (DCEC), Tymon Katholo, says, “any project that goes beyond its scope and budget raises red flags.” He continued that: “Corruption on these issues can be administrative and criminal. It may be because government officials have been negligent or been paid to be negligent by ignoring certain obligations or procedures. “This, as you may be aware has serious implications on not only of the economy but even the citizens who use these facilities or projects,” Katlholo said, adding that his agency is equally concerned.

According to the DCEC director, the selection, planning and delivery of infrastructure or projects is critical. In most cases, this is where the corruption would have occurred, leading to a troubled project. A public finance expert at the University of Botswana (UB), Emmanuel Botlhale, attributes poor project implementation to declining public accountability, lack of commitment to reforming the public sector, a decline in the commitment by state authorities and lack of a culture of professional project management.

In his research paper titled, ‘Enhancing public project implementation in Botswana during the NDP 11 period,’ Botlhale stated that successful implementation is critical in development planning. If there is poor project implementation, economic development will be stalled.
Corruption is particularly relevant for large and uncommon projects where the public sector acts as a client, and experts say Megaprojects are very likely to be affected by corruption. Corruption worsens both cost and time performance and the benefits expected from such projects.

Speaking during this week’s Masama/Mmamashia pipeline commissioning, Khato Civils chairman said Africans deserve a chance because they are capable, further adding that the Africans do not have to think that only Whites and Chinese people can do mega projects.  During his rule, former president Ian Khama went public to attack Chinese contractors for costing the government a move that ended up fuelling tensions between China and Botswana after Khama dispatched the then Minister of Foreign Affairs, Pelonomi Venson Moitoi, to China to register Botswana’s complaints with Chinese government-owned construction companies.  Botswana had approached the Chinese government for help in its marathon battle with Chinese companies contracted to build, among others, the failed controversial Morupule B power plant and refurbishment of Sir Seretse Khama International Airport (SSIK).

 

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Guma’s battle for millions of Pula give Court headache

18th October 2021
Guma Moyo

A legal battle between former Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) legislator Samson Moyo Guma and First National Bank (FNB) over a multimillion oil refinery project intensified this week with Justice Zein Kebonang referring the matter to Court of Appeal for determination.  The project belongs to Moyo Guma’s company called United Refineries which he has since placed under judicial management.

The war of words between Moyo Guma and FNB escalated after the company’s property worth millions of Pula were put up for sale in execution by the bank and scheduled to take place on 8th October. It emerges from Court papers that the bank had secured an order from the High Court to place the company’s property under the hammer.

Moyo Guma then also approached the High Court seeking among others that the public auction scheduled for 8th October 2021 be stayed. He contended that the assets that were to be sold belonged in reality to United Refineries and that as the company had been under judicial management at the time of the attachment, the intended sale in execution was unlawful.

He also sought the Court to declare that the writs of execution against the properties of guarantors and sureties of United Refineries Botswana Holdings Propriety Limited (the company) are unlawful.  Moyo Guma also sought a stay of the execution against the property known as Plot 43556 in Francistown, that is, the land buildings, plant and machinery which make up the property and any all immovable or movable property belonging to the guarantors and sureties of the company pending finalization of the winding up of United Refineries.

But FNB disputed Moyo Guma’s assertions and submitted that the properties in question belonged to TEC (Pty) Ltd and not United Refiners. TEC Pty Ltd which is one of the shareholders in United Refineries is one of the sureties and co-principal debtors of a debt amounting to P24 million owed by United Refineries to FNB.  FNB argued in papers that the properties belonged to TEC because it was TEC which had passed a covering mortgage bond in its favour over the property it now sought to execute.

Moyo Guma submitted that the covering mortgage bond passed in favour of FNB did not tell the full story as the property in question was in truth and fact owned by United Refineries and not TEC Pty Ltd. He maintained that the shares had been had been passed by the company in exchange for the properties in question and that the parties had always been guided by the spirt of the share agreement in dealing with each other despite delays in the change or transfer of ownership of plots 43556 and plot 43557 in Francistown.

Kebonang said it was clear to him that the two plots (43556 and 435570 belonged to United Refineries notwithstanding that TEC (Pty) Ltd had passed a mortgage bond over them in favour of FNB.  “For this reason the properties were immune from attachment or sale in execution so long as the judicial management order was in place,” he said.

The background of the case is that Moyo Guma together with five other investors, namely Elffel Flats (Pty) Ltd; Mmoloki Tibe; TEC (Pty) Ltd; Profidensico (Pty) Ltd and Tiedze Bob Chapi, each bound themselves as sureties and co-principal debtors in respect of a debt owed by a company called United Refineries Botswana Holdings (Proprietary) Limited (the Company), to First National Bank Botswana (FNBB) (1st Respondent).

FNB had extended banking facilities to the company in the amount of P24 million which was then secured through the suretyship of Moyo Guma and other shareholders.  Court records show that Moyo had on the 11th February obtained a temporary order for the appointment of a provisional judicial manager in respect of United Refineries and it was confirmed by the High Court on 24th September 2019.

In terms of the final court order by the High Court issued by Justice Tshepho Motswagole all judicial proceedings against the company, execution of all writs, summons and process were stayed and could only proceed with leave of Court. Court documents also show that First National Bank had sued the company and the sureties for the recovery of the debt owed to it and through a consent order, the bank withdrew its lawsuit against the company.

But FNB later instituted fresh proceedings against Moyo Guma and did not cite the company in its proceedings.  “There is no explanation in the record as to why the Applicant was now reflected as the 1st Defendant and why the company had suddenly been removed as the 1st Defendant. There was no application either for amendment or substitution by the bank,” said Justice Kebonang.

FNB had also argued that it sought to proceed to execute against Moyo Guma and other sureties on the basis of the suretyship they signed and that by signing the suretyship agreement, Moyo and other sureties had renounced all defence available to them and could therefore be sued without first proceedings against the principal debtor (United Refineries).  The question, Kebonang said, was that can FNB proceed to execute against Moyo Guma and other sureties on the basis of the suretyship contracts they signed?

“The starting point is that the Applicant (Moyo Guma) and others by binding themselves as sureties became liable for debts of the principal debtor and such liability is joint and several. He said the consequences of placing the company under judicial management means that every benefit extended to it should also extend to sureties.

“If the company is afforded more time to pay or its debt is discharged, reduced or compromised or suspended the obligation of sureties is to be likewise treated. It follows in my view that where judicial proceedings are suspended or stayed against the company, then any recourse against the sureties is similarly stayed or suspended,’ said Kebonang.

He added that “In the circumstances of this case, it seems to me that so long as the company is under judicial management, the moratorium that applies to it must also apply to its sureties/guarantors and no execution of the writs should be permitted against them. Any execution would be invalid.”

“Mindful that there is judicial precedent on this point in Botswana, at least none that I am aware of, and given its significance, I consider it prudent that the Court of Appeal must provide a determinative answer to the question whether a creditor can proceed against sureties where a company is under judicial management,” said Kebonang.

Pending the determination of the Court of Appeal, he issued the following order; the execution of writs issued in favour of FNB against Moyo and other sureties/guarantors of United Refinery are hereby stayed pending the determination of the legal question referred to the Court of Appeal.

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