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Khama’s critique of Mugabe garners support

President Lt Gen Ian Khama’s courageous but dicey remarks calling for ageing President of Zimbabwe, Robert Mugabe to step down have attracted support, intriguingly from an unlikely political figure.

In September last year president Khama told United Kingdom (UK) based news agency that it is time for Mugabe to step down from the presidency of Zimbabwe and allow a new leader to take over. His reasons then was that Mugabe is too old and therefore is unable to provide the kind of leadership that Zimbabwe needs and now, a long time Mugabe sympathiser and admirer, Julius Malema who is a leader of South African opposition party, Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) has come out clear this week stating that the time has arrived for the veteran leader to step aside.

While Malema praised the legacy of Mugabe, when speaking in Braamfontein early this week, he said with his age and ailing health the wise thing for Mugabe would be to “let go and allow other people to continue that legacy”.
“The Zimbabwean situation is bad… President Mugabe cannot even handle a spade when he tried to plant a tree just recently… that is how old he is. He is no longer capable of discharging his duties and then they nominate him for presidency again in 2018,” said the concerned Malema during a press conference on Monday.

The South African firebrand was basically echoing concerns raised by Botswana President, Lieutenant General Dr Seretse Khama Ian Khama who had earlier stated that, “it is obvious that at his (Mugabe’s) age and the state Zimbabwe is in, he's not really able to provide the leadership that could get it out of its predicament.”

Khama’s contention was that, Mugabe’s continued stay in power, “is a big concern, it is a problem for all of us in the region – and it is a burden. There's no doubt about that." His stand was dicey given the silence that the entire continent had kept regarding the situation in Zimbabwe and given the fact that Botswana has also been accused of not being part of the “African agenda” but always taking the side of the west on various issues concerning Africa.


Malema for instance, had in the past criticised Khama’s foreign policy, labelling Botswana a puppet of the west for the decision the country’s leadership made in the past; decisions which were completely different from the rest of other African countries. Conversely, this time around Malema shares the same sentiment as Khama.

 “We do not hate Mugabe, they can respond and insult us however they want… but those comrades in Zanu-PF are a group of cowards for not being able to tell an old man like Mugabe to go. Fidel Castro (Former Cuban president) let go when he was no longer able to lead. Grandpa, it is enough now… allow other people to take the revolution forward in Zimbabwe," Malema is now chanting this chorus.  

Malema said African revolutionaries such as EFF were following the footstep of the Zimbabwean leader, but by staying in power for long, it undermines what was initially achieved through revolution. "Those leading (the) struggle tend to overstay and destroy a legitimate revolution… and that is not good for the struggle, the SA Development Community (SADC) and reclaiming the land back in Africa. There are capable young people in the Zanu-PF to continue the legacy."

Malema also criticised the leadership of AU, saying it should have taken the leading role in the political crisis which was ensuing in Gambia following last year’s elections. Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) was able to avert the danger through political and military intervention.

Following negotiations, Yahya Jammeh who had been in power for more than two decades agreed to pave way peacefully.  He then went on exile in Equatorial Guinea. "The ECOWAS work is something that we wish to see happening across the continent. The AU should have been the first body to declare that stand taken by ECOWAS… but then the AU, toothless and useless as it is, is led by people who have no idea where they want to take the continent to and were found wanting,” said Malema who then suggested that, “The upcoming AU summit should focus on finding ways to deepen democratic practices, and how to avoid long term presidencies in the continent."

Botswana’s Dr Pelonomi Venson-Moitoi will be running for the leadership of AU, a victory will give her a challenge to transform Africa with regard to democratic process and transition of power. The continent is still marred by leaders who refuse to leave power at the end of their constitutional term.

Botswana has openly spoken against leaders who refuse to leave power or extended political terms amid violent situations. On the Gambia political crisis, Botswana was the first African country to state that it has stopped recognising Jammeh as president of The Gambia.  The stand earned Botswana admiration from the international community and enhanced Venson-Moitoi’s bid for AU chairmanship.

“As chairperson, the AUC, I will commit to promoting practices that seek to enhance Africa’s quest for democratic development. I will galvanise 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,” said Venson-Moitoi in her campaigning message.

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13 AUGUST 2022 Publication

12th August 2022

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DIS blasted for cruelty – UN report

26th July 2022
DIS BOSS: Magosi

Botswana has made improvements on preventing and ending arbitrary deprivation of liberty, but significant challenges remain in further developing and implementing a legal framework, the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention said at the end of a visit recently.

Head of the delegation, Elina Steinerte, appreciated the transparency of Botswana for opening her doors to them. Having had full and unimpeded access and visited 19 places of deprivation of liberty and confidentiality interviewing over 100 persons deprived of their liberty.

She mentioned “We commend Botswana for its openness in inviting the Working Group to conduct this visit which is the first visit of the Working Group to the Southern African region in over a decade. This is a further extension of the commitment to uphold international human rights obligations undertaken by Botswana through its ratification of international human rights treaties.”

Another good act Botswana has been praised for is the remission of sentences. Steinerte echoed that the Prisons Act grants remission of one third of the sentence to anyone who has been imprisoned for more than one month unless the person has been sentenced to life imprisonment or detained at the President’s Pleasure or if the remission would result in the discharge of any prisoner before serving a term of imprisonment of one month.

On the other side; The Group received testimonies about the police using excessive force, including beatings, electrocution, and suffocation of suspects to extract confessions. Of which when the suspects raised the matter with the magistrates, medical examinations would be ordered but often not carried out and the consideration of cases would proceed.

“The Group recall that any such treatment may amount to torture and ill-treatment absolutely prohibited in international law and also lead to arbitrary detention. Judicial authorities must ensure that the Government has met its obligation of demonstrating that confessions were given without coercion, including through any direct or indirect physical or undue psychological pressure. Judges should consider inadmissible any statement obtained through torture or ill-treatment and should order prompt and effective investigations into such allegations,” said Steinerte.

One of the group’s main concern was the DIS held suspects for over 48 hours for interviews. Established under the Intelligence and Security Service Act, the Directorate of Intelligence and Security (DIS) has powers to arrest with or without a warrant.

The group said the “DIS usually requests individuals to come in for an interview and has no powers to detain anyone beyond 48 hours; any overnight detention would take place in regular police stations.”

The Group was able to visit the DIS facilities in Sebele and received numerous testimonies from persons who have been taken there for interviewing, making it evident that individuals can be detained in the facility even if the detention does not last more than few hours.

Moreover, while arrest without a warrant is permissible only when there is a reasonable suspicion of a crime being committed, the evidence received indicates that arrests without a warrant are a rule rather than an exception, in contravention to article 9 of the Covenant.

Even short periods of detention constitute deprivation of liberty when a person is not free to leave at will and in all those instances when safeguards against arbitrary detention are violated, also such short periods may amount to arbitrary deprivation of liberty.

The group also learned of instances when persons were taken to DIS for interviewing without being given the possibility to notify their next of kin and that while individuals are allowed to consult their lawyers prior to being interviewed, lawyers are not allowed to be present during the interviews.

The UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention mentioned they will continue engaging in the constructive dialogue with the Government of Botswana over the following months while they determine their final conclusions in relation to the country visit.

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Stan Chart halts civil servants property loan facility

26th July 2022

Standard Chartered Bank Botswana (SCBB) has informed the government that it will not be accepting new loan applications for the Government Employees Motor Vehicle and Residential Property Advance Scheme (GEMVAS and LAMVAS) facility.

This emerges in a correspondence between Acting Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Finance Boniface Mphetlhe and some government departments. In a letter he wrote recently to government departments informing them of the decision, Mphetlhe indicated that the Ministry received a request from the Bank to consider reviewing GEMVAS and LAMVAS agreement.

He said: “In summary SCBB requested the following; Government should consider reviewing GEMVAS and LAMVAS interest rate from prime plus 0.5% to prime plus 2%.” The Bank indicated that the review should be both for existing GEMVAS and LAMVAS clients and potential customers going forward.

Mphetlhe said the Bank informed the Ministry that the current GEMVAS and LAMVAS interest rate structure results into them making losses, “as the cost of loa disbursements is higher that their end collections.”

He said it also requested that the loan tenure for the residential property loans to be increased from 20 to 25 years and the loan tenure for new motor vehicles loans to be increased from 60 months to 72 months.

Mphetlhe indicated that the Bank’s request has been duly forwarded to the Directorate of Public Service Management for consideration, since GEMVAS and LAMVAS is a Condition of Service Scheme. He saidthe Bank did also inform the Ministry that if the matter is not resolved by the 6th June, 2022, they would cease receipt of new GEMVAS and LAMVAS loan applications.

“A follow up virtual meeting was held to discuss their resolution and SCB did confirm that they will not be accepting any new loans from GEMVAS and LAMVAS. The decision includes top-up advances,” said Mphetlhe. He advised civil servants to consider applying for loans from other banks.

In a letter addressed to the Ministry, SCBB Chief Executive Officer Mpho Masupe informed theministry that, “Reference is made to your letter dated 18th March 2022 wherein the Ministry had indicated that feedback to our proposal on the above subject is being sought.”

In thesame letter dated 10 May 2022, Masupe stated that the Bank was requesting for an update on the Ministry’s engagements with the relevant stakeholder (Directorate of Public Service Management) and provide an indicative timeline for conclusion.

He said the “SCBB informs the Ministry of its intention to cease issuance of new loans to applicants from 6th June 2022 in absence of any feedback on the matter and closure of the discussions between the two parties.”  Previously, Masupe had also had requested the Ministry to consider a review of clause 3 of the agreement which speaks to the interest rate charged on the facilities.

Masupe indicated in the letter dated 21 December 2021 that although all the Banks in the market had signed a similar agreement, subject to amendments that each may have requested. “We would like to suggest that our review be considered individually as opposed to being an industry position as we are cognisant of the requirements of section 25 of the Competition Act of 2018 which discourages fixing of pricing set for consumers,” he said.

He added that,“In this way,clients would still have the opportunity to shop around for more favourable pricing and the other Banks, may if they wish to, similarly, individually approach your office for a review of their pricing to the extent that they deem suitable for their respective organisations.”

Masupe also stated that: “On the issue of our request for the revision of the Interest Rate, we kindly request for an increase from the current rate of prime plus 0.5% to prime plus 2%, with no other increases during the loan period.” The Bank CEO said the rationale for the request to review pricing is due to the current construct of the GEMVAS scheme which is currently structured in a way that is resulting in the Bank making a loss.

“The greater part of the GEMVAS portfolio is the mortgage boo which constitutes 40% of the Bank’s total mortgage portfolio,” said Masupe. He saidthe losses that the Bank is incurring are as a result of the legacy pricing of prime plus 0% as the 1995 agreement which a slight increase in the August 2018 agreement to prime plus 0.5%.

“With this pricing, the GEMVAS portfolio has not been profitable to the Bank, causing distress and impeding its ability to continue to support government employees to buy houses and cars. The portfolio is currently priced at 5.25%,” he said.  Masupe said the performance of both the GEMVAS home loan and auto loan portfolios in terms of profitability have become unsustainable for the Bank.

Healso said, when the agreement was signed in August 2018, the prime lending rate was 6.75% which made the pricing in effect at the time sufficient from a profitable perspective. “It has since dropped by a total 1.5%. The funds that are loaned to customers are sourced at a high rate, which now leaves the Bank with marginal profits on the portfolio before factoring in other operational expenses associated with administration of the scheme and after sales care of the portfolio,” said the CEO.

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