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DISS, FIA to be guarantors of whistle blowing

DISS Boss; Isaac Kgosi

The Directorate of Intelligence and Security Services (DISS), Botswana Unified Revenue Services (BURS) and Financial Intelligence Agency (FIA) will be among a host of state security organs that will act as guarantors to the mooted Whistle blowers Act, whose bill is presently being debated in parliament.

Other bodies that will act as guarantors of the Act are The Auditor General (AG), Directorate on Corruption and Economic Crimes (DCEC), Ombudsman, and Botswana Police. They will be expected to appoint persons to receive the disclosures.

The bill was tabled by Assistant Minister of Presidential Affairs and Public Administration, Phillip Makgalemele on Wednesday.

Its draft states that, “the object of the bill is to provide for the manner in which a person may, in the public interest, disclose information adverse to the public interest; to provide for the manner of reporting and investigation of disclosures of impropriety and the protection against victimisation of persons who make the disclosures.”

Clause 3 of the bill states that a whistleblower may make a disclosure of information where he or she has reasonable cause to believe that; a criminal or other unlawful act has been committed or is likely being committed; another person has failed, is failing or is likely to fail to comply with any obligation to which that person is subject.

It further states that, information which its disclosure is protected, encompasses, where a miscarriage of justice has occurred, is occurring or likely to occur and where the health and safety of any person has been, is being or is likely to be endangered or the environment has been, is being or is likely to be endangered.

Furthermore, according to it where the conduct of a person, whether or not a public officer, adversely affects, or could adversely affect, either directly or indirectly, the honest or impartial performance of official functions by the person, public officer or public body.

The bill which was published in November 2015, also says that, a disclosure can be made where the conduct of a public officer amounts to the performance of any of the public officer’s functions dishonestly or with partiality; the conduct of the person whether or not a public officer, a former public officer or a public body, amounts to a breach of public trust.

Its goes on to say that, instances where the conduct of a person, whether or not a public officer amounts to maladministration, which is action or inaction of a serious nature that is; contrary to any law, unreasonable, unjust, oppressive or discriminatory or based wholly or partly on improper motives or the conduct of the person or public officer would, if proven, constitute a criminal offence, a disciplinary offence, serious or substantial public wastage or abuse of financial or other public resources, would be covered for protected disclosure.

However the draft states that, protection of disclosures will only be effected if the disclosure is made in good faith, the whistleblower reasonably believes that the disclosure and an allegation of impropriety contained in the disclosure is substantially true and when the disclosure is made to an authorized person.

It also says that an authorized person may decline to investigate or discontinue investigations if the disclosures are made in bad faith, for illegal purposes, frivolously and maliciously.

The Act, if it succeeds, will not protect disclosures of impropriety by public officers against the merits of government policy, including policies of local authorities as well as disclosures made solely or substantially with the motive of avoiding dismissal or other disciplinary action.

It will criminalise actions such as making false disclosures, disclosing the identity of a whistleblower, disclosure of information to third party, victimisation of whistleblowers and failure to take action by an authorised person.

The absence of the whistle blowing Act and its reporting channels had made it a criminal offence to make disclosures about impropriety.

Recently, an attempted disclosure of alleged impropriety through the media landed presidency records officer Abueng Sebola in jail, charged with stealing a file.

Sebola is said to have passed a file to a local Freelance journalist who was himself, charged with receiving stolen property. The secret file was said to have contained a letter written on an official Botswana Coat of Arms, guaranteeing open ended medical fees to one Tsaone Nkarabang, after he was injured in a private rendezvous. It was alleged that a litany of medical bills was billed to government by medical facilities that the latter had attended.

Still, in 2015 a public officer based in Central District was charged with misconduct and accessing confidential information after she had revealed alleged acts of corruption and mismanagement.

The officer has said that she was being forced to go on a transfer as an attempt to silence her. She revealed that she had been required to directly appoint a company to clear the District Commissioner’s (DC) residence contrary to financial instruction.

The then Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development, Khumo Matlhare is said to have instructed the Police and Criminal Investigation Department(CID) to confiscate her memory stick, CPU, laptops and other gadgets.

Matlhare is said to have effectively availed the letter written by the officer, to minister Slumber Tsogwane, about the actions of the DC, to the same DC. His gripe was that, he was allegedly incensed that the officer had not routed the letter through the same officer she was complaining about.

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Gov’t shy to shame failing ministers

22nd February 2021
Morwaeng

Minister of Presidential Affairs, Governance and Public Administration, Kabo Morwaeng together with Permanent Secretary to the President (PSP) Elias Magosi, this week refused to name and shame the worst performing Ministries and to disclose the best performing Ministries since beginning of 12th parliament including the main reasons for underperformance.

Of late there have been a litany of complaints from both ends of the aisle with cabinet members accused of providing parliament with unsatisfactory responses to the questions posed. In fact for some Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) backbenchers a meeting with the ministers and party leadership is overdue to address their complaints. Jwaneng-Mabutsane MP, Mephato Reatile is also not happy with ministers’ performance.

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Bokamoso, Gov’t in P10M womb removal suit

22nd February 2021
Bokamoso

Bokamoso Private Hospital is battling a P10 million legal suit for a botched fibroids operation which resulted in a woman losing an entire womb and her prospects of bearing children left at zero.

The same suit has also befallen the Attorney General of Botswana who is representing the Ministry of Health and Wellness for their contributory negligence of having the unlawful removal of a patient, Goitsemang Magetse’s womb.

According to the court papers, Magetse says that sometimes in November 2019, she was diagnosed with fibroids at Marina Hospital where upon she was referred to Bokamoso Private Hospital to schedule an appointment for an operation to remove the fibroids, which she did.

Magetse continues that at the instance of one Dr Li Wang, the surgeon who performed the operation, and unknown to her, an operation to remove her whole womb was conducted instead.
According to Magetse, it was only through a Marina Hospital regular check-up that she got to learn that her whole womb has been removed.

“At the while she was under the belief that only her fibroids have been removed. By doing so, the hospital has subjected itself to some serious delictual liability in that it performed a serious and life changing operation on patient who was under the belief that she was doing a completely different operation altogether. It thus came as a shock when our client learnt that her womb had been removed, without her consent,” said Magetse’s legal representatives, Kanjabanga and Associates in their summons.

The letter further says, “this is an infringement of our client‘s rights and this infringement has dire consequences on her to the extent that she can never bear children again”. ‘It is our instruction therefore, to claim as we hereby do, damages in the sum of BWP 10,000,000 (ten million Pula) for unlawful removal of client’s womb,” reads Kanjabanga Attorneys’ papers. The defendants are yet to respond to the plaintiff’s papers.

What are fibroids?

Fibroids are tumors made of smooth muscle cells and fibrous connective tissue. They develop in the uterus. It is estimated that 70 to 80 percent of women will develop fibroids in their lifetime — however, not everyone will develop symptoms or require treatment.

The most important characteristic of fibroids is that they’re almost always benign, or noncancerous. That said, some fibroids begin as cancer — but benign fibroids can’t become cancer. Cancerous fibroids are very rare. Because of this fact, it’s reasonable for women without symptoms to opt for observation rather than treatment.

Studies show that fibroids grow at different rates, even when a woman has more than one. They can range from the size of a pea to (occasionally) the size of a watermelon. Even if fibroids grow that large, we offer timely and effective treatment to provide relief.

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Masisi warned against a sinking Botswana

22nd February 2021
Ndaba GAolatlhe

The Alliance for Progressives (AP) President Ndaba Gaolathe has said that despite major accolades that Botswana continues to receive internationally with regard to the state of economy, the prospects for the future are imperilled.

Delivering his party Annual Policy Statement on Thursday, Gaolathe indicated that Botswana is in a state of do or die, and that the country’s economy is on a sick bed. With a major concern for poverty, Gaolathe pointed out that almost half of Botswana’s people are ravaged by or are about to sink into poverty.  “Our young people have lost the fire to dream about what they could become,” he said.

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