A pending defamation case lodged by Member of Parliament (MP) for Tati East Samson Moyo Guma against Gaborone North legislator, Haskins Nkaigwa over a facebook post has this week taken a new twist.
Fresh information reaching this publication suggests that an attorney representing the Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) law maker (Nkaigwa), Joram Matomela of JJ Matomela Attorneys slapped Moyo Guma with demands of documents relating to his alleged corruption business deals currently before the courts. It is believed the information would assist Nkaigwa to beef-up his defense in the defamation lawsuit.
In the contentious array of demands by Matomela to Ramalepa Attorneys who are representing the Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) MP Guma, he points out that: “the aid documents are in the custody of and are necessary for ensuring that justice is dispensed in this matter.” He stated that “we wish to put you on notice that, as part of his defense, Nkaigwa requires that you avail to him the following documents which he intends to use for his defense. The documents relating to your client’s tax returns.”
Among the official papers, Matomela also wants copies of the documents relating to the ongoing corruption case pending before the Village Magistrate Court wherein Guma’s companies are a subject of interest of the Financial Intelligence Agency (FIA) and the Directorate on Corruption and Economic Crime (DCEC). “The above matters are important as they have a direct bearing on Moyo’s character, which is the subject of the defamation suit launched by him.”
The Tati East legislator has had his bank accounts at Standard Chartered Bank frozen in what was said to be a result of “instructions from the highest office in the land.” It is understood that the Directorate of Public Prosecutions (DPP) who were then acting on behalf of the DCEC filed the application that effected the freezing of bank accounts belonging to Moyo Guma’s company, IRB Transport.
Guma co-owned the company with Minister of Youth Empowerment, Sport and Culture Development, Thapelo Olopeng, who later ceased his shareholding in the latter. It is understood that IRB Transport, owned by Guma, although not yet charged, has been for some time under surveillance by Botswana’s financial intelligence and security organs.
Guma was also caught off guard when the Botswana Unified Revenue Service (BURS) smacked him with a close to 30 million tax bill. He was accused and being investigated for allegedly flouting tax disbursements in addition to the corruption allegations. In the communication by Matomela to Ramalepa attorneys, another contention he alludes is that Guma’s attorneys make unnecessary postponements on the matter.
“We wish to register our concern that to date, the parties have not held a final case management conference as required by the rules. It will be recalled that at the last court appearance, you were not ready to proceed and you requested a postponement we did not object to,” the lawyer communicated.
He added that as the owner of the lawsuit (dominus litis), the responsibility of ensuring that meetings of the parties as per the rules of the court fall squarely on them and that therefore he demands that Ramalepa attorneys advise them as to whether Moyo is still interested in proceeding with the suit against Nkaigwa. “Delay on finalizing this matter causes a lot of prejudice on Nkaigwa as it takes his time and financial resources. Client is a Member of Parliament and has more serious issues to attend to relating to his constituents.”
Guma is suing the Gaborone North counterpart for P2 million in damages for defamation over a face book post of 22 April 2016 which was said to have been posted on the political face book group “All Parties Conference.” The defamatory post is said to have stated that “Guma can only cheat those who don’t know him, jang dijo betsho, le madi lea tsee le dino le dinwe. Madi a bogodu a tshwanetse go jewa akere ga a huhulelwa.”
When justifying the post as defamatory, Guma’s lawyers at Ramalepa Attorneys pointed out that the statement was understood to mean that Guma is a dishonest and corrupt public figure and politician who steals public funds for use in personal political campaigns. “The publication of the said statement was made with intention to humiliate, degrade or impair the dignity, self-esteem and reputation of Moyo; the publication of the defamatory aforesaid was an aggression upon Moyo’s personality rights, dignity, self-esteem and reputations a result of which he was aggrieved,” the letter addressed to Nkaigwa highlighted.
The lawsuit, which is believed to be the first facebook defamation case in local courts, comes at the backdrop of a controversial Cybercrime and Computer Related Crimes Act which was passed by parliament not so long ago. The new internet Act allow people to sue over the information that is presented on the internet and it also criminalizes publication of information that may be considered injurious to people’s character.
Government is currently sitting on 4 400 vacant posts that remain unfilled in the civil service. This is notwithstanding the high unemployment rate in Botswana which has been exacerbated by the recent outbreak of the deadly COVID-19 pandemic.
Just before the burst of COVID-19, official data released by Statistics Botswana in January 2020, indicate that unemployment in Botswana has increased from 17.6 percent three years ago to 20.7 percent. “Unemployment rate went up by 3.1 percentage between the two periods, from 17.6 to 20.7 percent,” statistics point out.
Leading commercial bank, First National Bank Botswana (FNBB), expects the central bank to sharpen its monetary policy knife and cut the Bank Rate twice in the last quarter of 2020.
The bank expects a 25 basis point (bps) in the beginning of the last quarter, which is next month, and another shed by the same bps in December, making a total of 50 bps cut in the last quarter. According to the bank’s researchers, the central bank is now holding on to 4.25 percent for the time being pending for more informed data on the economic climate.
An audit of the accounts and records for the supply of food rations to the institutions in the Northern Region for the financial year-ended 31 March 2019 was carried out. According to Auditor General’s report and observations, there are weaknesses and shortcomings that were somehow addressed to the Accounting Officer for comments.
Auditor General, Pulane Letebele indicated on the report that, across all depots in the region that there had been instances where food items were short for periods ranging from 1 to 7 months in the institutions for a variety of reasons, including absence of regular contracts and supplier failures. The success of this programme is dependent on regular and reliable availability of the supplies to achieve its objective, the report said.
There would be instances where food items were returned from the feeding centers to the depots for reasons of spoilage or any other cause. In these cases, instances had been noted where these returns were not supported by any documentation, which could lead to these items being lost without trace.
The report further stressed that large quantities of various food items valued at over P772 thousand from different depots were damaged by rodents, and written off.Included in the write off were 13 538 (340ml) cartons of milk valued at P75 745. In this connection, the Auditor General says it is important that the warehouses be maintained to a standard where they would not be infested by rodents and other pests.
Still in the Northern region, the report noted that there is an outstanding matter relating to the supply of stewed steak (283×3.1kg cans) to the Maun depot which was allegedly defective. The steak had been supplied by Botswana Meat Commission to the depot in November 2016.
In March 2017 part of the consignment was reported to the supplier as defective, and was to be replaced. Even as there was no agreement reached between the parties regarding replacement, in 51 October 2018 the items in question were disposed of by destruction. This disposal represented a loss as the whole consignment had been paid for, according to the report.
“In my view, the loss resulted directly from failure by the depot managers to deal with the matter immediately upon receipt of the consignment and detection of the defects. Audit inspections during visits to Selibe Phikwe, Maun, Shakawe, Ghanzi and Francistown depots had raised a number of observations on points of detail related to the maintenance of records, reconciliations of stocks and related matters, which I drew to the attention of the Accounting Officer for comments,” Letebele said in her report.
In the Southern region, a scrutiny of the records for the control of stocks of food items in the Southern Region had indicated intermittent shortages of the various items, principally Tsabana, Malutu, Sunflower Oil and Milk which was mainly due to absence of subsisting contracts for the supply of these items.
“The contract for the supply of Tsabana to all depots expired in September 2018 and was not replaced by a substantive contract. The supplier contracts for these stocks should be so managed that the expiry of one contract is immediately followed by the commencement of the next.”
Suppliers who had been contracted to supply foodstuffs had failed to do so and no timely action had been taken to redress the situation to ensure continuity of supply of the food items, the report noted.
In one case, the report highlighted that the supplier was to manufacture and supply 1 136 metric tonnes of Malutu for a 4-months period from March 2019 to June 2019, but had been unable to honour the obligation. The situation was relieved by inter-depot transfers, at additional cost in transportation and subsistence expenses.
In another case, the contract was for the supply of Sunflower Oil to Mabutsane, where the supplier had also failed to deliver. Examination of the Molepolole depot Food Issues Register had indicated a number of instances where food items consigned to the various feeding centres had been returned for a variety of reasons, including food item available; no storage space; and in other cases the whole consignments were returned, and reasons not stated.
This is an indication of lack of proper management and monitoring of the affairs of the depot, which could result in losses from frequent movements of the food items concerned.The maintenance of accounting records in the region, typically in Letlhakeng, Tsabong, and Mabutsane was less than satisfactory, according to Auditor General’s report.
In these depots a number of instances had been noted where receipts and issues had not been recorded over long periods, resulting in incorrect balances reflected in the accounting records. This is a serious weakness which could lead to or result in losses without trace or detection, and is a contravention of Supplies Regulations and Procedures, Letebele said.
Similarly, consignments of a total of 892 bags of Malutu and 3 bags of beans from Tsabong depot to different feeding centres had not been received in those centres, and are considered lost. These are also not reflected in the Statement of Losses in the Annual Statements of Accounts for the same periods.