Africa’s richest man, Aliko Dangote has not applied for a VISA to visit Botswana; this is according to documents belonging to the Directorate of Intelligence Security Services (DISS) which were seen by this publication this week.
The documents, which this publication could not establish whom they were intend for, state that the security services has never at any point received nor rejected the application of Africa’s richest man. Instead, the documents state that the only Dangote who applied for VISA is Ado Dangote, the former’s brother who is a businessman based in Kenya. “The only Dangote that applied for VISA is Ado Dangote and on all three occasions he was granted the VISA to visit the country,” said the document.
The document, which is believed to be a classified intelligence brief indicate that Ado Dangote had visited the country first in 2013 at the invitation Botswana Investment Trade Centre (BITC) to participate in the Global Expo Botswana. He later visited Botswana on two more occasions the following year thus in January and May 2014.It is indicated in the document that Ado Dangote, on all three occasions applied for VISA from Botswana Embassy in Kenya.
In the document, the intelligence unit is responding to allegations levelled against the institution for being infamous for making it difficult for investors to visit the country for the purpose of setting up enterprises. This document comes on the back of reports which were rife that the spy agency was rejecting VISA of foreign nationals who had wanted to invest in the country’s economy therefore defeating the BITC’s mandate of luring investors to the country.
There have been reports that Isaac Kgosi’s men have rejected Aliko Dangote’s VISA application when he wanted to visit Botswana on investment missions. This also surfaced last year when it was reported that he was scheduled to participate in the InBusiness Breakfast Seminar organised by law maker Samson Guma Moyo’s company.
News that DIS is involved in the the approval of VISA and permits first surfaced in 2015 when Tati East legislator Guma during a Public Accounts Committee (PAC) blamed then Ministry of Labour and Home Affairs for the unprecedented number of foreign nationals who are denied opportunity to set up businesses in Botswana without clear reasons. Moyo then told the accounting officer, Pearl Matome that the ministry is failing the nation due to misguided immigration practices such as rejection of working permits under the guise of security threats.
Previously, Letsebe Sejoe Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of BITC a state-owned institution mandated with promoting foreign direct investments and export promotion of locally manufactured goods listed Permits and VISAs as the biggest challenge facing investors as he noted that delays in issuing the two frustrates inventors who end up going to other countries such as Rwanda, which has built a more conducive environment for investors.
Sejoe has said this when briefing the Parliamentary Committee on Statutory Bodies and Enterprises at its last sitting in 2016. He had also revealed that Sejoe said not only are new investors facing problems of permits, but that foreign owned companies, some which have employed hundreds of citizens are facing the same problem when they want to renew their permits.
“Botswana is not an open economy like we say we are to the world. There are people who have been doing business in Botswana for over 30 years and government rejected their application for citizenship over the period and all of a sudden they were told to go,” he said. â€¨“Investors are cagey on this. Some who are already doing business in Botswana are sceptical about expanding their business because their future in Botswana is uncertain. Investors need certainty and some level of predictability,” he further advised.
Sejoe narrated that some companies with operational businesses in Botswana but with their directors residing outside Botswana have had their directors’ VISAs rejected when they wanted to attend a business meeting in Botswana; he said this recount proved that Botswana is a difficult environment to do business in.
Hospitality and Tourism Association of Botswana (HAATAB) has also accused the intelligence for rejecting VISA for tourist who had wanted to visit Botswana. Interestingly in the document, the DISS admits to rejecting VISAs for some foreign nationals who had wanted to visit Botswana “under the disguise of being tourists” while they could be having other ulterior motives. The document further gives an example of people “stating silly locations such as Gaborone Dam as places they want to visit as tourists.” When contacted for comment, DISS boss Kgosi declined to comment on the matter saying “he is not allowed to speak to the media on the operations of the DISS.”
The Directorate of Public Prosecutions (DPP)’s decision to reject and appeal the High Court’s verdict on a case involving High Court Judge, Dr Zein Kebonang has frustrated the Judicial Service Commission (JSC) and Judge Kebonang’s back to work discussions.
JSC and Kebonang have been in constant discussions over the latter’s return to work following a ruling by a High Court panel of judges clearing him of any wrong doing in the National Petroleum Fund criminal case filed by the DPP. However the finalization of the matter has been hanged on whether the DPP will appeal the matter or not – the prosecution body has since appealed.
Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) top brass has declined a request by Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) to negotiate the legal fees occasioned by 2019 general elections petition in which the latter disputed in court the outcome of the elections.
This publication is made aware that UDC Vice President Dumelang Saleshando was left with an egg on his face after the BDP big wigs, comprising of party Chairman Slumber Tsogwane and Secretary General Mpho Balopi rejected his plea.
“He was told that this is a legal matter and therefore their (UDC) lawyer should engage ours (BDP) for negotiations because it is way far from our jurisdiction,” BDP Head of Communications, Kagelelo Kentse, told this publication.
This spelt doom for the main opposition party and Saleshando who seems not to have confidence and that the UDC lawyers have the dexterity to negotiate these kind of matters. It is not clear whether Saleshando requested UDC lawyer Boingotlo Toteng to sit at the table with Bogopa Manewe, Tobedza and Co, who are representing the BDP to strike a deal as per the BDP top echelons suggested.
“From my understanding, the matter is dealt with politically as the two parties are negotiating how to resolve it, but by far nothing has come to me on the matter. So I believe they are still substantively engaging each other,” Toteng said briefly in an interview on Thursday.
UDC petitioners saddled with costs after mounting an unprecedented legal suit before the court to try and overturn BDP’s October 2019 victory. The participants in the legal matter involves 15 parliamentary candidates’ and nine councillors. The UDC petitioned the court and contested the outcome of the elections citing “irregularities in some of the constituencies”.
In a brief ruling in January 2020, Judge President Ian Kirby on behalf of a five-member panel said: “We have no jurisdiction to entertain these appeals. These appeals must be struck out each with costs including costs of counsel”. This was a second blow to the UDC in about a month after their 2019 appeals were dismissed by the High Court a day before Christmas Day.
This week BDP attorneys decided to attach UDC petitioners’ property in a bid to settle the debts. UDC President Duma Boko is among those that will see their property being attached with 14 of his party members. “We have attached some and we are on course. So far, Dr. Mpho Pheko (who contested Gaborone Central) and that of Dr, Micus Chimbombi (who contested Kgalagadi South) will have their assets being sold on the 5th of February 2021,” BDP attorney Basimane Bogopa said.
Asked whether they met with UDC lawyers to try solve the matter, Bogopa said no and added. “Remember we are trying to raise the client’s funds, so after these two others will follow. Right now we are just prioritising those from Court of Appeal, as soon as the high court is done with taxation we will attach.”
Saleshando, when contacted about the outcomes of the meeting with the BDP, told WeekendPost that: “It would not be proper and procedural for me to tell you about the meeting outcomes before I share with UDC National Executive Committee (NEC), so I will have to brief them first.”
UDC NEC will meet on the 20th of next month to deal with a number of thorny issues including settling the legal fees. Negotiations with other opposition parties- Alliance for Progressives and Botswana Patriotic Front (BPF) are also on the agenda.
Currently, UDC has raised P44 238 of the P565 000 needed to cover bills from the Court of Appeal (CoA). This is the amount in a UDC trust account which is paltry funds equating 7.8 per cent of the overall required money. In the past despite the petitioners maintaining that there was promise to assist them to settle legal fees, UDC Spokesperson, Moeti Mohwasa then said the party has never agreed in no way to help them.
“We have just been put in debt by someone,” one of the petitioners told this publication in the past. “President’s (Duma Boko) message was clear at the beginning that money has been sourced somewhere to help with the whole process but now we are here there is nothing and we are just running around trying to make ends meet and pay,” added the petitioner in an interview UDC NEC has in December last year directed all the 57 constituencies to each raise a minimum of P10, 000. The funds will be used to settle debts that are currently engulfing the petitioners with Sheriffs, who are already hovering around ready to attach their assets.
The petitioners, despite the party intervention, have every right to worry. “This is so because ‘the deadline for this initiative (P10, 000 per constituency) is the end of the first quarter of this year (2021),” a period in which the sheriffs would have long auctioned the properties.
President of the Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) Duma Boko’s alliance with former President Lt Gen Ian Khama continues to unsettle some quarters within the opposition collective, who believe the duo, if not managed, will once again result in an unsuccessful bid for government in 2024.
While Khama has denied that he has undeclared preference to have Boko remaining as leader of UDC, many believe that the two have a common programme, while other opposition leaders remain on the side-lines.