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Moroka not yet out of the woods

Daniel Neo Moroka

High powered De Beers Botswana Resident Director and one time Minister of Trade and Industry, Daniel Neo Moroka’s attempt to wriggle free of having a Magistrate relook at his case of killing a Tsabong teenager suffered a potentially grave setback this week.

In a characteristic David and Goliath case that saw a peasant from deep in the hinterlands overcoming a power charged diamond executive, the deceased Kealeboga Danster’s mother, Margaret Danster won a relief before Lobatse High Court to have a Magistrate in Tsabong or Gaborone carry out  a preparatory examination against Moroka, in respect to the death of the late Danster.

A preparatory examination is a process done within the context of a trial for purposes of a trial or to establish if there is evidence upon which a suspect can be indicted in the case of matters before the High Court. It is carried out in context of ongoing proceedings where there is already a charge laid before court and the decision to be taken is whether to commit the accused to trial before High Court.

Moroka’s counsel Kgosiitsile Ngakaagae had argued that Danster could have actually applied for an Inquest and not a preparatory examination. Justice Nthomiwa highlighted that inquests are normally conducted in any case where a person dies other than by natural causes or under unclear or suspicious circumstances.

The late Danster who was Moroka’s farmhand allegedly died in a hail of gunshot projectiles to the lower right chest and lower abdomen area that had injured his lungs and liver.

In delivering his ruling, Justice Godfrey Nthomiwa observed that although the procedure is part of the country’s Criminal Procedure and Evidence Act it has not been used for a very long time, which suggested that the elder Danster’s council fought tooth and nail and practically resurrected a dead case .

He stated: “A search through our Law Reports shows that the last time it was used was around 1974…if the system was used again it would have been in unreported cases.

This therefore makes its use very rare indeed.” He also stated that his search through the South African system which is closely linked to Botswana’s yielded very old cases on the also giving the impression that the procedure is slowly dying away.

He continued: “today cases on indictment are not subjected to preparatory examination but go straight for trial leaving the decision of whether there is enough evidence or not to the presiding officer. The same is the case with cases that are tried before the magistrate court.”

Section 77(1) of the Criminal Procedure and Evidence Act states that: “If at the close of the case for the prosecution or after hearing any evidence in defence, the magistrate considers that the evidence against the accused person is not sufficient to put him on his trial, the magistrate shall forthwith order him to be discharged as to the particular charge under enquiry; but such a discharge shall not be a bar to any subsequent charge in respect of the same facts nor derogate from the powers of the Director of Public Prosecutions under section 81.”

Moroka was saved from prosecution after Directorate of Public Prosecutions (DPP) issued a ‘nolle prosequi certificate’ on the 2nd of September 2014.The certificate is a declaration that DPP shall not prosecute. It argued that the case could not be strong enough to secure a conviction.

In his defence, Moroka argued that the elder Danster has not obtained the certificate to prosecute in terms of the Criminal Procedure and Evidence Act, stating: “she therefore has not assumed the capacity of a private prosecutor within provisions of the Act.”

He added that the DPP and the Botswana Police Service have not been cited as parties to the application when the conduct of the preparatory examination involves them.

Moroka also argued that there are no charges registered against him and hence no legal basis for a preparatory examination and that the elder Danster had not disclosed to him the material and witnesses on the basis of which she seeks a preparatory examination.

Meanwhile the elder Danster stumbled in another case where she sought P 2 million in compensation from Moroka. Danster argued that the actions of Moroka in killing the deceased deprived him (the deceased) of the opportunities of working and enjoying the normal period of life and her of prospective financial support from the deceased.

Moroka counter-argued that Danster did not disclose a cognizable cause of action and did not disclose a factual basis for alleged liability.

Nthomiwa ruled by granting Moroka leave to file the notice to except or plea out of time within three court days.

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Veteran journalist Karima Brown succumbs to COVID-19

4th March 2021
Karima-Brown

South Africa’s veteran journalist and broadcaster, Karima Brown has died on Thursday morning from COVID-19 related complications.

Media reports from the neighbouring country say Brown had been hospitalized and on a ventilator.

Brown anchored eNCA’s The Fix and was a regular political analyst on the eNCA channel.

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Botswana imports in numbers

1st March 2021
Botswana-imports

For so many years, Botswana has been trying to be a self-sufficient country that is able to provide its citizens with locally produced food products. Through appropriate collaborations with parastatals such as CEDA, ISPAAD and LEA, government introduced initiatives such as the Horticulture Impact Accelerator Subsidy-IAS and other funding facilities to facilitate horticultural farmers to increase production levels.

Now that COVID-19 took over and disrupted the food value chain across all economies, Botswana government introduced these initiatives to reduce the import bill by enhancing local market and relieve horticultural farmers from loses or impacts associated with the pandemic.

In more concerted efforts to curb these food crises in the country, government extended the ploughing period for the Southern part of Botswana. The extension was due to the late start of rains in the Southern part of the country.

Last week the Ministry of Agriculture extended the ploughing period for the Northern part of the country, mainly because of rains recently experienced in the country. With these decisions taken urgently, government optimizes food security and reliance on local food production.

When pigs fly, Botswana will be able to produce food to feed its people. This is evident by the numbers released by Statistics Botswana on imports recorded in November 2020, on their International Merchandise Trade Statistics for the month under review.

The numbers say Botswana continues to import most of its food from neighbouring South Africa. Not only that, Batswana relies on South Africa to have something to smoke, to drink and even use as machinery.

According to data from Statistics Botswana, the country’s total imports amounted to P6.881 Million. Diamonds contributed to the total imports at 33%, which is equivalent to P2.3 Million. This was followed by food, beverages and tobacco, machinery and electrical equipment which stood at P912 Million and P790 Million respectively.

Most of these commodities were imported from The Southern African Customs Union (SACU). The Union supplied Botswana with imports valued at over P4.8 Million of Botswana’s imports for the month under review (November 2020). The top most imported commodity group from SACU region was food, beverages and tobacco, with a contribution of P864 Million, which is likely to be around 18.1% of the total imports from the region.

Diamonds and fuel, according to these statistics, contributed 16.0%, or P766 Million and 13.5% or P645 Million respectively. Botswana also showed a strong and desperate reliance on neighbouring South Africa for important commodities. Even though the borders between the two countries in order to curb the spread of the COVID-19 virus, government took a decision to open border gates for essential services which included the transportation of commodities such as food.

Imports from South Africa recorded in November 2020 stood at P4.615 Million, which accounted for 67.1% of total imports during the month under review. Still from that country, Botswana bought food, beverages and tobacco worth P844 Million (18.3%), diamonds, machinery and fuel worth P758 Million, P601 Million and P562 Million respectively.

Botswana also imported chemicals and rubber products that made a contribution of 11.7% (P542.2 Million) to total imports from South Africa during the month under review, (November 2020).

The European Union also came to Botswana’s rescue in the previous year. Botswana received imports worth P698.3 Million from the EU, accounting for 10.1% of the total imports during the same month. The major group commodity imported from the EU was diamonds, accounting for 86.9% (P606.6 Million), of imports from the Union. Belgium was the major source of imports from the EU, at 8.9% (P609.1 Million) of total imports during the period under review.

Meanwhile, Minister of Finance and Economic Development Thapelo Matsheka says an improvement in exports and commodity prices will drive growth in Sub-Saharan Africa. Growth in the region is anticipated to recover modestly to 3.2% in 2021. Matsheka said this when delivering the Annual Budget Speech virtually in Gaborone on the 1st of February 2021.

He said implementation of the African Continental Free Trade Area Agreement (AfCFTA), which became operational in January 2021, could reduce the region’s vulnerability to global disruptions, as well as deepen trade and economic integration.

“This could also help boost competition and productivity. Successful implementation of AfCFTA will, of necessity, require Member States to eliminate both tariffs and non-tariff barriers, and generally make it easier to do business and invest across borders.”

Matsheka, who is also a Member of Parliament for Lobatse, an ailing town which houses the struggling biggest meat processing company in the country- Botswana Meat Commission, (BMC), said the Southern African Customs Union (SACU) recognizes the need to prioritize the key processes required for the implementation of the AfCFTA.

“The revised SACU Tariff Offer, which comprises 5,988 product lines with agreed Rules of Origin, representing 77% of the SACU Tariff Book, was submitted to the African Union Commission (AUC) in November 2020. The government is in the process of evaluating the tariff offers of other AfCFTA members prior to ratification, following which Botswana’s participation in AfCFTA will come to effect.”

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Sheila Tlou: On why women don’t get votes

1st March 2021
Sheila Tlou

BARAPEDI KEDIKILWE

Women continue to shadow men in politics – stereotypes such as ‘behind every successful man there is a woman’ cast the notion that women cannot lead. The 2019 general election recorded one of Botswana’s worst performances when it comes to women participation in parliamentary democracy with only three women elected to parliament.

Botswana’s former Minister of Health, Professor Sheila Tlou who is currently the Co-Chair, Global HIV Prevention Coalition & Nursing Now and an HIV, Gender & Human Rights Activist is not amused by the status quo. Tlou attributes this dilemma facing women to a number of factors, which she is convinced influence the voting patterns of Batswana when it comes to women politicians.

Professor Tlou plugs the party level voting systems as the first hindrance that blocks women from ascending to power. According to the former Minister of Health, there is inadequate amount of professionalism due to corrupt internal party structures affecting the voters roll and ultimately leading to voter apathy for those who end up struck off the voters rolls under dubious circumstances.

Tlou also stated that women’s campaigns are often clean; whilst men put to play the ‘politics is dirty metaphor using financial muscle to buy voters into voting for them without taking into consideration their abilities and credibility. The biggest hurdle according to Tlou is the fallacy that ‘Women cannot lead’, which is also perpetuated by other women who discourage people from voting for women.

There are numerous factors put on the table when scrutinizing a woman, she can be either too old, or too young, or her marital status can be used against her. An unmarried woman is labelled as a failure and questioned on how she intends on being a leader when she failed to have a home. The list is endless including slut shaming women who have either been through a divorce or on to their second marriages, Tlou observed.

The only way that voters can be emancipated from this mentality according to Tlou is through a robust voter education campaign tailor made to run continuously and not be left to the eve of elections as it is usually done. She further stated that the current crop of women in parliament must show case their abilities and magnify them – this will help make it clear that they too are worthy of votes.

And to women intending to run for office, Tlou encouraged them not to wait for the eleventh hour to show their interest and rather start in community mobilisation projects as early as possible so that the constituents can get to know them and their abilities prior to the election date.

Youthful Botswana National Front (BNF) leader and feminist, Resego Kgosidintsi blames women’s mentality towards one another which emanates from the fact that women have been socialised from a tender age that they cannot be leaders hence they find it difficult to vote for each other.

Kgosidintsi further states that, “Women do not have enough economic resources to stage effective campaigns. They are deemed as the natural care givers and would rather divert their funds towards raising children and building homes over buying campaign materials.”

Meanwhile, Vice President of the Alliance for Progressives (AP), Wynter Mmolotsi agrees that women’s participation in politics in Botswana remains a challenge. To address this Mmolotsi suggested that there should be constituencies reserved for women candidates only so that the outcome regardless of the party should deliver a woman Member of Parliament.

Mmolotsi further suggested that Botswana should ditch the First Past the Post system of election and opt for the proportional representation where contesting parties will dutifully list able women as their representatives in parliament.

On why women do not get elected, Mmolotsi explained that he had heard first hand from voters that they are reluctant to vote for women since they have limited access to them once they have won; unlike their male counterparts who have proven to be available night or day.

The pre-historic awarding of gender roles relegating women to be pregnant and barefoot at home and the man to be out there fending for the family has disadvantaged women in political and other professional careers.

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