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Khama’s top PS ducks possible jail time

 Permanent Secretary in the Ministry for Presidential Affairs, Governance and Public Administration, Kebonye Moepeng has evaded possible jail time after intercepting a court case being mounted by lawyers acting for a BTV producer.


Moepeng risked contempt of court after stalling the execution of a Court of Appeal ruling favouring a Botswana Television producer, Koketso Joshua Ntopolelang. Moepeng is perhaps one of the most significant Permanent Secretaries in government as she operates from the heart of central government controlling the public service and state media among others.


The Court of Appeal issued a decision on the 9th of February ruling that Ntopolelang’s transfer to the former Ministry of Minerals Energy and Water Resources (MMEWER) be reversed as it was deemed unlawful. Legal sources told this publication this week that lawyers representing the BTV producer are again marshalling his case to seek the High Court to compel the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry for Presidential Affairs, Governance and Public Administration, Kebonye Moepeng to formally reverse Ntopolelang’s nullified transfer.


However, Moepeng this week formally nullified the transfer in the nick of time through a short letter seen by this publication intercepting a fresh application by Collins Chilisa Consultants to sue for contempt of court. It is understood that Moepeng had been notified of Ntopolelang’s notice to apply for contempt of order. Ntopolelang’s lawyer, Mboki Chilisa had argued at the Court of Appeal in January that Ntopolelang was transferred without proper consultation.


He had been shipped off to MMEWER’s post of Principal Public Relations Officer II on the 22nd of August after Department of Broadcasting Services(DBES) Director, Lesole Obonye told him in a meeting that he was not trusted enough to head BTV’s News and Current Affairs section especially in election year.


As he was locked in the process of fending off his transfer to MMEWER at the Industrial Court, he was hastily redeployed from the News and Current Affairs Section (NCAS) to the less strategic Programs Section still in BTV. Ntopolelang’s court papers seen by WeekendPost stated that Obonye remarked to Ntopolelang: “Gase gore gare bone bokgoni jwa gago jaaka o bona DPS (Deputy Permanent Secretary) a kgona go go assigner high profile assignments. Re ntse re diilwe ke go bua le bagolo and we were waiting for instructions…kana ke ngwaga wa ditlhopho. Ga se gore gare bone bokgoni jwa gago…ba batla yo ba mo tshephang.” the document reads in part.


Literally translated, Obonye told Ntopolelang that, “It is not that we cannot see your competence, as you can see, the DPS sometimes gives you high profile assignments. The delay was due to discussions with elders and we were waiting for instructions…mind you this is election year. It is not that we don’t acknowledge your competence, but they want somebody they can trust.” The NCAS is reportedly a bastion under heavy political control and scrutiny where leaders come and go at the slightest whiff of suspicion.


It is the most critical of BTV’s sections as it deals with the news and current affairs. In a four year period from 2013 to 2016 it has had 4 of directors among them Sakaeyo Jane, Edson Malebane, and Ntopolelang himself shipped out. The former and the latter have had to duel with the employer in court and won.


Last month a panel of three CoA Justices comprising Isaac Lesetedi, C Howie and Lord Alistair Abernathy found that Ntopolelang’s employer, being the Secretary in the Ministry of Presidential Affairs, Kebonye Moepeng had not properly consulted him regarding his transfer.
They highlighted that in consultation, “what follows is not exhaustive and that such consultation is not to be treated perfunctorily or as mere formality. It entails a genuine invitation to the person concerned to say what he wishes to say and a genuine consideration of what he said.”


They further continued: “Sufficient time must be given to enable the person concerned to say what he wishes to say and how to say it.” The judges also determined that sufficient time must then be available to allow the decision maker to consider what has been said and that all this must be done before a decision maker reaches his decision. If his mind is already made up before the consultation process is complete, that is not compatible with a proper consultation.”


They further continued to say that even though his redeployment to the Programs Section was not illegal, “in my opinion it would be stretching credulity too far to say that it was altogether unconnected with what the Industrial Court might do on 12 September(possibly halt transfer to MMEWER).”


The precedent of top government management who seem to stall implementing court orders is not a new phenomenon. Recently the Commander of Botswana Defense Force (BDF) also escaped serving time by a whisker after he stalled reinstating an expelled BDF couple back into service.


Justice Zein Kebonang of the Gaborone High Court issued a ruling on the 18th of November 2016 for BDF to reinstate Pvt Kazondou Uariua and his partner Thabang Tlhapisang after they were expelled for a love relationship. Segokgo escaped jail time for contempt of court 29 days after the court ruling. Moepeng also intercepted the raising of contempt of court on the 29th day after the ruling was issued.

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Free at last: Ian Kirby Speaks Out

6th December 2021
Justice Ian Kirby

The outgoing President of the Court of Appeal, Justice Ian Kirby, shares his thoughts with us as he leaves the Bench at the end of this year.

WeekendPost: Why did you move between the Attorney General and the Bench?

Ian Kirby: I was a member of the Attorney General’s Chambers three times- first in 1969 as Assistant State Counsel, then in 1990 as Deputy Attorney General (Civil), and finally in 2004 as Attorney General. I was invited in 2000 by the late Chief Justice Julian Nganunu to join the Bench. I was persuaded by former President Festus Mogae to be his Attorney General in 2004 as, he said, it was my duty to do so to serve the nation. I returned to the Judiciary as soon as I could – in May 2006, when there was a vacancy on the High Court Bench.

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Civil society could rescue Botswana’s flawed democracy’ 

6th December 2021
Parliament

Botswana’s civil society is one of the non-state actors that could save the country’s democracy from sliding into regression, a Germany based think tank has revealed.  This is according to a discussion paper by researchers at the German Development Institute who analysed the effects of e-government usage on political attitudes In Botswana.

In the paper titled “E-government and democracy in Botswana: Observational and experimental evidence on the effects of e-government usage on political attitudes,” the researchers offer a strongly worded commentary on Botswana’s ‘flawed democracy.’  The authors noted that with Botswana’s Parliament structurally – and in practice – feeble, the potential for checks and balances on executive power rests with the judiciary.

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Bangwato at loggerheads over Moshupa trip

6th December 2021

Bangwato in Serowe — where Bamagwato Paramount Chief and former President Lt. Gen Ian Khama originates – disagree on whether they must send a delegation to dialogue with President Mokgweetsi Masisi’s family in Moshupa. Just last week, a meeting was called by the Regent of Bamagwato, Kgosi Sediegeng Kgamane, at Serowe Kgotla to, among others, update the tribe on the whereabouts of their Kgosi (Khama). 

Further, his state of health was also discussed, with Kgamane telling the attendees that all is well with Khama. The main reason for the meeting was to deliberate on the escalating tension between Khama and Masisi — a three-year bloodletting going unabated.

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