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Suspended Judges want High Court Registrar to release transcripts

Presiding High Court Judges Singh Lackvinda Walia, Zibani Makhwade and Leatile Dambe have reserved judgement in a matter in which the four suspended Judges, likewise of the High Court, Justices Key Dingake, Modiri Letsididi, Mercy Garekwe and Ranier Busang want the Registrar to furnish them with court transcripts.

The applicants in the matter are the four suspended judges while the 1st respondent is Registrar of the High Court, and President Dr. Lt. Gen. Seretse Khama Ian Khama is being cited as the 2nd respondent. The Judicial Service Commission is the 3rd respondent with Chief Justice Maruping Dibotelo mentioned as the 4th while the Attorney General is the 5threspondent.

The judges say they want proper and accurate records of the court proceedings with regard to their matter of 4th February 2016, 31st March 2016, 28th April 2016, and 19th May 2016 to enable them to prosecute another application currently before court for recusal.

In the recusal matter, they want Justices Walia, Dambe and Makhwade to recuse themselves as they believe they have demonstrated biasness towards them in the main application for the review of the decisions taken by the Chief Justice Maruping Dibotelo, the JSC and President Khama. 

According to the suspended judges’heads of argument, failure to provide them with the said proper and accurate record would be prejudicial to the applicants and would deny them the right to a fair hearing.

“Absence of such transcript impeach our ability to argue our case,” they insisted during their submissions in court on Thursday. They added that they vehemently trust that the case is urgent as they believe the transcript is essential to enable them to argue their case and present facts including arguing their matter properly before the court.

According to the suspended judges, they require the transcripts in order to be able to properly and effectively, backed by sufficient evidence, deal with their recusal application. “The recusal application is set down for Thursday 22nd September 2016 and the transcript contains the evidence that the suspended judges intended to use in the said matter. If the Registrar had furnished the quartet with a proper transcript on the 1st September 2016 or even by 15th September 2016 then the applicants would not have needed to move the court on urgency.”

The suspended judges maintained that they could not be afforded redress at a later date for the reason being that they intend to use the contents of the transcript as evidence in the recusal application which was set to be heard on Thursday this week, 22nd September 2016.

“The record of proceedings contain the utterances and questions and exchanges between the Honourable judges and applicants attorneys that have resulted in the applicants having a reasonable apprehension of bias against them,” they said.

The quartet emphasised that: “without the transcript of the record of proceedings (and an accurate one at that; which captures all that took place during the proceedings) being made available for use at the recusal application hearing, the applicants will be effectively denied the right to a fair hearing.”

Moreover, they insist that without the record of proceedings they will be denied an opportunity to put their case properly before the court and fully ventilate the same which is inherent in the right to a fair trial. The four-some stated in their heads of argument that they will therefore suffer irreparable harm in that the recusal application will then proceed without the necessary evidence to back up their averment of bias on the part of the Honourable judges based on the court interactions.

As such the judges ‘on thin ice’ highlighted that the application has to be heard first and an order granted compelling the Registrar to provide a proper and accurate transcript before the recusal application can be properly ventilated.

In their response to the application, the Advocate representing government stated that the process whereby the suspended judges are seeking for the court transcripts is a clear abuse of the legal process. He said there is no dispute at hand on the matter requiring a transcript and that “there is no need for a record to substantiate what they want the court to do.”

The government lawyers further contended in court that they are not convinced by the applicants’ arguments and believe that the quartet is just “applying delaying tactics” to the main application in which they are querying their suspension.

The judgement was thereafter deferred to 13th October 2016 where the presiding trio will make a ruling on whether or not the matter is urgent and, whether or not the suspended judges are entitled to be given the said court recordings.

The suspended Judges were represented by Patience Pepsi Thuto (who presented the arguments) and Bonolo Selelo from Chibanda Makgalemele and Company.

Standing in for the AG was Advocate Anuar Albertus (arguing in court floor) and Awald De Villers Jansen from South Africa who were accompanied by Pulane Kgoadi and Yarona Sharp also from the Attorney General’s offices.

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Media have a Role in Accelerating Harm Reduction Adoption

8th December 2022

African Scientists and Experts Call for the adoption of a Harm Reduction in approach in Public Health Strategies and Tobacco Control. Media have a critical role to play in accelerating Harm Reduction efforts by informing and sensitizing cigarette smokers on the availability and benefits of alternative, potentially lower risk products to cigarretes. Traditional cessation and smoking prevention norms are not the only ways that smokers who cannot or don’t’ want to quit can make healthier choices that cause less harm to themselves and those around them.

This was said during the 2nd Harm Reduction Exchange conference for African journalists held in Nairobi, Kenya on the 1st of December 2022. Speaking at the Harm Reduction Exchange Conference, Integra Africa Principal Dr. Tendai Mhizha emphasized the role that journalists and media houses should play in handling misinformation and disinformation in tobacco harm reduction discourse that is actually perpetuating the death and disease caused by people continuing to smoke combustible cigarettes. “There has been a lot of disinformation surrounding the topic of nicotine and the alleged negative effects that e-cigarettes have on public health.

This has led to policies that disfavour risk reduces products and narratives that completely deny their benefits. The media have the difficult responsibility to curb the scourge of disinformation and misinformation on harm reduction just like on other socio-political stances that are prescriptive and do not uphold consumers’ right to healthier lifestyle choices,” Dr Mhizha said.

The Harm Reduction Exchange cast a spotlight on alternative ways to reduce harm among tobacco smokers. Held under the theme Harm Reduction: Making a difference in Africa, the conference focused on the progress being made through harm reduction strategies in all fields related to public health such as drug and alcohol abuse, excessive sugar consumption, skin lightening and other addictive and behavioral practices. A wide array of harm reduction strategies and initiatives that are deployed towards reducing unnecessary deaths through non-communicable diseases were presented and discussed.

On his part, Prof. Abdoul Kassé, a world renowned and awarded Oncologist and a Professor of Surgery at the Cancer Institute in Senegal, said that Harm Reduction is a powerful public A Summary of the HR Exchange 30th November  1st December 2022 health tool that has the potential to reduce cancer by 30% and should be at the centre of all public health development strategies. Harm reduction, he said, has already benefited many people in public health and is the most viable alternative in tobacco control.

It applies to areas where there is a need to reduce the harm associated with a practice or consumption of a substance that is overused in society leading to increased morbidity and mortality. “Innovative Harm Reduction initiatives will help to keep more Africans alive. Tobacco Harm Reduction initiatives, including the use of popular e-cigarettes, nicotine patches and chewing gums, have continued to generate a lot of misunderstanding in both the public health community and in the media. However, there is evidence that the use of potentially less harmful alternatives than cigarettes for those who are not willing or cannot give up smoking with currently approved methods may be a solution, not necessarily the best for everyone but by far better than continuous smoking.

Where cessation repeatedly fails, switching to less harmful products is expected to result in benefits for many smokers,” Prof. Abdoul Kassé said. Similarly, views were expressed by Kenya’s Dr. Vivian Manyeki who said tobacco Harm Reduction has a solid scientific and medical basis, and it has a lot of promise as a public health measure to assist millions of smokers. “Many smokers are unable, or at least unwilling, to achieve cessation through complete nicotine and tobacco abstinence. They continue smoking despite the very real and obvious adverse health consequences and against the multiple public health campaigns. Conventional smoking cessation proposals should be complemented with alternative but more realistic options through Harm Reduction,” Dr. Manyeki said.

Tobacco Harm Reduction was introduced to mitigate the damage caused by cigarette smoking—the most dangerous form of tobacco use, and the leading cause of preventable diseases, including cardiovascular disease, lung cancer, and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. “Nicotine has an addictive potential but plays a minor role in smoking-related morbidity and mortality. Across the world, there is growing interest among experts in novel approaches towards tobacco control and there is an ongoing discussion that reducing the negative effects of smoking can be also achieved by tobacco harm reduction,” Dr. Kgosi Letlape, an ophthalmologist and President of Africa Medical Association and the president of the Association of Medical Councils of Africa, said.

Tobacco cessation is a key factor in the prevention of cardiovascular diseases and cancer. Abstinence from tobacco smoking is one of the primary goals for health promotion and management globally but it is unachievable in a huge amount of cases. This task remains unaccomplished despite extensive public campaigns on the health dangers of tobacco smoking. Thus, the development of novel strategies to reduce smoking is imperative. Moreover, the use of innovations in smoking products has been currently adopted by several smokers to reduce the health risks of smoking.

“The Harm Reduction approach prevents drug-related deaths and overdose fatalities and is the only way out for addicts. In the same way these alternative technologies can reduce tobacco harm and accelerate the journey to a smoke-free world as they reduce exposure to toxicants,” Bernice Apondi, A Policy Manager at Voices of Community Action and Leadership Kenya (VOCAL-Kenya), said.

During the Harm Reduction Exchange, journalists drawn from Southern, West and East African countries, including: Nigeria, Botswana, Ethiopia, Kenya, Lesotho, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, Rwanda, Eswatini, Tanzania, Uganda, South Africa, Zambia, and Zimbabwe debated and set forth several resolutions in regards to the present and future as well as the challenges and progress made in Harm Reduction,and science-led regulation.

The Harm Reduction Exchange brought together high-level policy makers, physicians, scientists and health policy experts with media stakeholders from Africa in a lively mix of speeches, presentations, and panel discussions. The key note speakers included Prof Abdoul Aziz Kasse, Ms Bernice Opondi, Joseph Magero, Jonathan Fell, Chimwemwe Ngoma, Clive Bates, Dr. Kgosi Letlape, Dr. Vivian Manyeki and Dr. Tendai Mhizha.

 

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Over 2 000 civil servants interdicted

6th December 2022

Over 2,000 civil servants in the public sector have been interdicted for a variety of reasons, the majority of which are criminal in nature.

According to reports, some officers have been under interdiction for more than two years because such matters are still being investigated. Information reaching WeekendPost shows that local government, particularly councils, has the highest number of suspended officers.

In its annual report, the Directorate on Corruption and Economic Crime (DCEC) revealed that councils lead in corrupt activities throughout the country, and dozens of council employees are being investigated for alleged corrupt activities. It is also reported that disciplined forces, including the Botswana Defence Force (BDF), police, and prisons, and the Directorate of Intelligence and Security (DIS) have suspended a significant number of officers.

The Ministry of Education and Skills Development has also recorded a good number of teachers who have implicated in love relationships with students, while some are accused of impregnating students both in primary and secondary school. Regional education officers have been tasked to investigate such matters and are believed to be far from completion as some students are dragging their feet in assisting the investigations to be completed.

This year, Mmadinare Senior Secondary reportedly had the highest number of pregnancies, especially among form five students who were later forcibly expelled from school. Responding to this publication’s queries, Permanent Secretary to the Office of the President Emma Peloetletse said, “as you might be aware, I am currently addressing public servants across the length and breadth of our beautiful republic. Due to your detailed enquiry, I am not able to respond within your schedule,” she said.

She said some of the issues raised need verification of facts, some are still under investigation while some are still before the courts of law.

Meanwhile, it is close to six months since the Police Commissioner Keabetwe Makgophe, Director General of the Directorate on Corruption and Economic Crime (DCEC) Tymon Katlholo and the Deputy Director of the DIS Tefo Kgothane were suspended from their official duties on various charges.

Efforts to solicit comment from trade unions were futile at the time of going to press.

Some suspended officers who opted for anonymity claimed that they have close to two years while on suspension. One stated that the investigations that led him to be suspended have not been completed.

“It is heartbreaking that at this time the investigations have not been completed,” he told WeekendPost, adding that “when a person is suspended, they get their salary fully without fail until the matter is resolved”.

Makgophe, Katlholo and Kgothane are the three most high-ranking government officials that are under interdiction.

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Masisi to dump Tsogwane?

28th November 2022

Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) and some senior government officials are abuzz with reports that President Mokgweetsi Masisi has requested his Vice President, Slumber Tsogwane not to contest the next general elections in 2024.

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