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Mokaila, Tshekedi’s Big money swap

Following his arrival at the Ministry of Transport and Communications, Minister Kitso Mokaila could find himself handing over Air Botswana to Tshekedi Khama’s Ministry of Environment, Wildlife and Tourism, if what was recently relayed at the parastatal’s board persists.

Mokaila was shuffled from the former Ministry of Energy and Water Resources. The reason advanced for moving Air Botswana to Tshekedi’s ministry is that most of the Air Botswana customers, roughly about 70 percent of them are tourists. This publication has been informed that the Air Botswana board chaired by former Botswana Defence Force (BDF) Commander, retired Major General Tebogo Masire was recently briefed on the possible developments following the re-organisation of Ministries.

The decision is also accompanied by a development that will see a P2.6 billion tender to acquire four jets and turboprops being cancelled and re-started at the new parent Ministry.  The tender process was almost at the final stages of due process. Three companies, Bombadier of Canada; ATR of France; and Embraer of Brazil had entered the race to scoop the lucrative deal. The Acting General Manager of Air Botswana, Agnes Khunwane had mentioned in passing at the Samson Guma Moyo chaired Parliamentary Committee on Statutory Bodies that they intend to acquire new Aircrafts in the near future.

Over a pro-longed period of time, Air Botswana has been using ATRs. The Air Botswana engineers and pilots are trained and upskilled in ATRs. The stock and tools are customised to ATRs. Weekend Post gathers that even this time around, ATR had put a convincing bid and was on the verge of outdoing Bombardier and Embraer. In fact this is the tender that forced former Minister of Transport and Communications, Tshenolo Mabeo into the controversial trips to Brazil, Canada and France to do some form of window shopping for aircrafts. The trip has since invited the wrath of the Parliamentary Committee because Mabeo and his then permanent secretary were found to be not fit to decide on the mode of aircraft to be procured by Air Botswana.

ATR’s PROPOSAL WAS APPEALING 

In its proposal, ATR of France was to also buy back Air Botswana aging fleet at market price. Indications from Air Botswana sources are that the whole fleet has reached end of useful life.  The Board is said to have been impressed with this offer. In addition ATR had pledged to further train Air Botswana engineers and pilots for free on the new Aircrafts in the event that they get the job. The Board had also considered the fact that its staff and the tools for maintenance were compliant with ATRs models. ATR was most likely to get the job to supply the three turboprops.

BOMBADIER WANTS “ALL OR NOTHING”

For its part, Bombardier, which sliced in half the 2016 delivery forecast for its C Series aircraft this week, and said it expected full-year revenue to be at the lower end of its previously announced range, had made it clear that it wanted to do the job as a whole, “all or nothing”. They wanted to supply both the jets and the turboprops. The Board had considered Bombardier for the jets, but following their “all or nothing” demand, they were dropped on the basis that their proposal was inferior to that of ATR when it comes to turboprops. Bombardier, which has agents in Botswana, has in the past supplied the Presidential jet to Botswana. The Department of Wildlife and National Parks operate the KODIAK, also from Bombardier for various logistical missions and departmental duties as well as for anti-poaching and law enforcement.

The setback is the latest for the CSeries program, which took years to get off the ground and has been hit by production delays and cost overruns, causing the Montreal-based plane and train maker to agree to a C$1 billion ($774 million) investment from the Quebec government. The company remains in talks with the Canadian government about further funding.

Bombardier Inc. cautioned that private-aircraft prices will remain under pressure as it posted a wider-than-expected loss, adding to Chief Executive Officer Alain Bellemare’s burdens as he tries to turn around Canada’s largest aerospace company. Reports from Canada indicate that shrinking demand for corporate planes–typically Bombardier’s most profitable business–is weighing on Bellemare as he works to increase profit and cash flow.

The planemaker cut production of its Global 5000 and 6000 business jets last year, and delayed entry into service of another model by two years as sales of large private planes dropped.

EMBRAER WAS CONSIDERED FOR JETS

The Brazilian company is currently doing well in the market and was most likely to be considered for the supply of jets, which is dominantly their stock in trade.

World demand for jet aircraft in the segment of 70-130 seats from 2016 to 2035 will total 6,400 units, according to the forecasts of Brazilian aeronautical company Embraer disclosed at the Farnborough Air Festival in the United Kingdom.

Embraer projects demand for aircraft with between 70 and 90 seats to total 2,300 units while for aircraft with 90 to 130 seats demand is expected to reach 4,100 units, with the overall demand in the period valued at around US$300 billion.

The Brazilian company also said that the world’s fleet of jet aircraft in the segment of 70-130 seats will increase from 2,670 in operation in 2015 to 6,690 in 2035, with the fastest growth of all commercial aviation segments.

AIR BOTSWANA AG GM WITHDRAWS FROM SHORTLIST

As the search for a permanent General Manager at Air Botswana continues, the Board could find itself in a position where they present just one name for consideration to Cabinet. This publication has learnt that Agnes Khunwane withdrew her name from the shortlist of candidates earmarked for the position.

It is understood that she is not happy because she was initially the only candidate left in the shortlist after another set of five fell off on technicalities and lack of business background, but the Board chairman, Masire was unsettled by the prospect of submitting just one name to cabinet for consideration.

The chairman then embarked on a head hunting exercise which led him to former MVA Chief Executive Officer, Cross Kgosidiile. When Khunwane heard of this development she wrote a letter withdrawing her name, pushing the Board back to square one. It is not clear if she will be coerced to rescind her withdrawal or Kgosidiile, a former Air Botswana Finance Manager will be unchallenged before cabinet. The twist into the whole matter is that Kgosidiile left MVA without an explanation for his departure. 

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Greef reports Madigele to Tsogwane

20th June 2022

Gaborone Bonnignton South Member of Parliament (MP) Christian Greef has submitted a letter of complaint to party chairman Slumber Tosogwane to take stern action against former minister Dr Alfred Madigele for causing chaos in the constituency.

There has been simmering tension between the two in Gaborone Bonnignton South, where former minister Dr. Madigele is said to be busy working the ground with the intention of contesting the constituency in 2024.  Greef is said to have fallen out of favour with the party top hierarchy due to his association with the beleaguered party secretary general Mpho Balopi, something which he says is “unfounded”.  Greef told this publication that “there are some with mischievous attempts here, but I will sort them out.”

Insiders, however, reveal that it is Madigele who has been causing unrest in the constituency as he plots his comeback to parliament in 2024. This is notwithstanding the fact that Madigele has also been promised the position of secretary general, should the party faithful ratify a proposal by the party politburo to reconfigure the position.

However, Madigele does not want to count on the SG position, hence the decision to to contest the Gaborone Bonnington South constituency. There are reports that there is a spirited campaign by some party members to reject a mulled plan to have the SG being a full-time employee of the party.  This has irked Greef and has since approached the party structures for redress. “We are writing this letter to issue a complaint regarding misconduct by certain members of the BDP in our constituency.

There are several incidents where these individuals have been causing uncalled-for disruptions during party activities in Gaborone Bonnington South,” a letter penned by Greef, addressed to the regional chairperson, reads. He further added, “The group of people who are causing all these unnecessary tension in our constituency is identified and allegedly known by Madigele’s teams who is said to be campaigning for 2023 primary elections.

As the branch we witnessed the same team with similar misconduct during Bophirima Ward by election which we believe caused the party to lose the ward and continue to bring the image of the party in disrepute.” Lately, Madigele has relocated to the same constituency and that has created anxiety to Greef who is a first-time MP. Greef is concerned about how his rival was accepted in his constituency without his knowledge. If he had his wish, he would kick out Madigele from the constituency.

Greef, in another letter copied to President Dr Mokgweetsi Masisi and Chairman Slumber Tsogwane, says Madigele has brought the branch into disarray by campaigning for a parliamentary seat contrary to the party’s regulations for conduct of primary elections. “I therefore humbly appeal to you to call Dr Madigele, who is not a member of our branch, to order,” he said.  Party officials in the region are aware of the matter; some say the MP’s complaint is baseless. However, the MP, according to sources, will fight to the bitter end to ensure that his arch rival is purged out.

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Katlholo’s lawyers slap DCEC with bill in its row with DIS

20th June 2022
Tymon Katlholo

Monthe and Marumo Attorneys who are representing suspended Director General of the Directorate on Corruption and Economic Crime (DCEC) Tymon Katlholo in a legal dispute pitting him against the Directorate of Intelligence and Security (DIS) have said that they would submit a legal bill to the agency.

This was after DCEC’s acting Director General, Tshepo Pilane had written a letter to the law firm demanding that some files and documents belonging to the agency be returned.  “We refer to your letter dated 3rd June 2022 wherein you advised of termination of our mandate. In view thereof we have to file a notice of withdrawal as attorneys of record for and on behalf of the Organisation (DCEC),” Monthe Marumo Attorneys said in their letter.

The lawyers also indicated that, “the firm is in the process of finalizing your invoice and upon settlement of same, we will duly release the contents of the file, in so far as it relate to DCEC.”  Pilane had informed the law firm that, “Following the Directorate’s termination of any and/or mandate between the Director General of the Directorate on Corruption and Economic Crime (DCEC) and your law firm and/or attorney of an Associate law firm of Monthe Marumo and Company on the 3rd June 2022.”

He added that, “I do hereby request that all DCEC documents in custody be returned to the DCEC on or before 12hours today the 6th June 2022. You are also informed that none of this information shall be used by your office under any circumstances.”  Meanwhile Katlholo has told the High Court that the Directorate of Intelligence and Security was on the rampage as it continues to act with impunity.

He revealed this in an urgent application in which he seeks among others that Pilane, Deputy Director General of DCEC Priscilla Israel and the agency’s senior legal advisor Edwin Batsalwelang to be committed to jail for contempt of a court. The Court order had directed that a deputy sheriff should collect files and dockets from the DCEC office and place them into the custody of the Court.  “Consequent to the order of his Lordship, the DISS has continued on its rampage and has arrested two officers of the DCEC and detained them in a Hitler style arrangement,” said Katlholo.

He added that, quite clearly the “DISS with the assistance of the 1st to 3rd Respondents seeks to conceal all the evidence by obstructing Judicial process.”  He said his latest current application has been brought at the earliest opportunity following defiance and acts of obstruction at the instance of the respondents. Katlholo saidthe conduct of the Pilane, Israel, Batsalelwang and DIS are an aggression on the rule of law, the Constitution of Botswana and the Judiciary in general.

“The DISS clearly has every intention of continuing to defy my rights and with the due assistance of the 1st to 3rd Respondents (Pilane, Israel and Batsalelwang). To refuse an interdict, thereby allowing the perpetration of an ongoing wrong is an anathema to the principle of legality,” said Katlholo. He said, “The DISS cannot be allowed to continue acting in contravention of the law, and to fragrantly invade an act of Parliament.”

He reiterated that the files or documents or dockets remain vulnerable and there is need that they be removed from the office and placed in the custody of the Registrar. There can never be a safe place than Court, said Katlholo.  “Should the matter not be heard as urgent, the likelihood of the files concerned and the information therein dissipating or being interfered with is high and once the evidence of the concerned files has been compromised or contaminated there is no other relief in law that fix such, there is therefore no alternative remedy,” he said.

Katlholo added that, “Most importantly, any unwarranted access to the files may compromise the integrity of ongoing investigations and expose informants and whistleblowers. Once they have been compromised, no court action may restore such.”  He said it was necessary and extremely urgent that the Court steps in to protect the rule of law against the respondents, more particularly the DIS and its agents.

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US monitoring Thuso Tiego arrests

20th June 2022
Thuso Tiego

The United States through its State Department’s annual report on global religious freedoms is keeping tabs on Botswana’s decision to arrest of controversial pastor Thuso Tiego by the police.

The report was released a week ago.  Tiego was re-arrested this week by the police after he allegedly attempted to spearhead a campaign aimed at shutting down some shops that are run by foreigners. The US’ State Department report says Police arrested a pastor from the Bethel Transfiguration Church September 7 when he tried to deliver a petition to President Mokgweetsi Masisi demanding his resignation over what the pastor said was mismanagement of the COVID-19 crisis.

“The pastor, Thuso Tiego, also criticized the government for restricting religious gatherings at a time when he said that individuals turned to churches for counselling and support during the pandemic,” the report says.  It says Tiego was held overnight at a police station and released without charge.  The report cites media reports saying that several of his supporters were beaten by police when they gathered outside the station demanding Tiego’s release.

“The national police service did not announce any disciplinary action against the officers involved,” the report says adding that, “The constitution provides for freedom of religion, with certain exceptions, and protection against governmental discrimination based on creed.”
On other related issues, the report said the government continued to pursue court cases involving unregistered churches (sometimes called “fire churches”) coming into the country to “take advantage of” local citizens by demanding tithes and donations for routine services or special prayers.

“The government required pastors of some of those churches to apply for visas – even those from countries whose nationals were normally allowed visa-free entry.  The government said in June 2019 that it was reviewing the visa policy for these foreign pastors, but by year’s end had not released the results of this review or announced any changes,” the report says.   According to the report, former members of one of the most prominent unregistered churches forced to close in 2019, the Enlightened Christian Gathering, subsequently formed their own smaller, independent churches with local leadership that was ultimately registered by the government.

The report says, under the COVID-19 state of emergency that ended in September, the government limited attendance at religious services to no more than 50 persons at one time and limited services to twice a week.  The government also banned all religious gatherings during “extreme social distancing” periods.  Although the limits on religious gatherings lasted 18 months and prevented some individuals from fully practicing their faith, most religious groups did not say their freedom of religion was being restricted and stated that the extraordinary measures were necessary for public health

The report says the US Embassy officials engaged with Muslim, Buddhist, Christian, and other religious representatives to discuss religious freedom, interreligious relations, and community engagement. “Topics included government tolerance of minority religious groups, the impact of COVID-19 restrictions on religious expression, and interfaith cooperation to address community challenges,” the report says.

The report says under its broader protections of freedom of conscience, the constitution provides for freedom of thought and religion, the right to change religion or belief, and the right to manifest and propagate religion or belief in worship, teaching, practice, and observance.
It says the constitution’s provision of rights also prohibits discrimination based on creed.

The constitution permits the government to restrict these rights in the interest of protecting the rights of other persons, national defense, public safety, public order, public morality, or public health when the restrictions are deemed “reasonably justifiable in a democratic society.”   “The state of emergency imposed from March 2020 to September 2021 to prevent the spread of COVID-19, which capped the size of regular religious gatherings and meetings, was the first time the government ever exercised this provision,” the report says.

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