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Bathoen II Nature Management Trust mismanagement mystery unravels

A management committee assigned with overseeing the Bathoen II Dam Nature Sanctuary are trampling on its deed of trust and/or constitution, a classified audit report leaked to Weekend Post has revealed.  

The audit report came as a result of special investigations of the Trust Management books of accounts and operations.

The audit has painted a dire picture of operations by the trust management.  

Bathoen II trust is an initiation by Bangwaketse to manage the morafhe resources which were accumulated during the reign and inspiration of the ex- paramount Chief and visionary leader, the late Kgosikgolo Bathoen Gaseitsiwe II.

Bathoen is the grandfather to the current Kgosikgolo Malope. However the audit report has revealed that there are misappropriations in the trust albeit at the grandson’s watch.
No board elections held since 2001

According to the audit, there are no records to show that any elections were held since the establishment of the trust on the 18th December 2001.

Nevertheless, clause 5.3 of the deed of trust provides for a two year term of office for board members from the date of election.

Some board members have served the trust way beyond the 2 year term – and fall short of almost being life members.

“It is also observable that some board members may have been co-opted as there are no records to show participation of the general members in nominating candidates for election to the board at kgotla meetings,” the audit pointed out.

It has since been acclaimed that the board be dissolved and a new board be elected, adhering to the deed of trust.
Board treasurer still has not been appointed

Furthermore, the audit states that clause 5.12 of the trust’s deed provides that a board member should hold the position of treasurer. However, the records “show that the board has not appointed anyone to hold the position of treasurer.”

Consequently it was highlighted that the board should have a treasurer who has a financial background and, the importance of such position was also emphasised as it can enhance the management and utilization of the trust’s funds.

It was also suggested that the responsibilities of the board as shown in the deeds of trust should be to ensure that financial reports are maintained and audited each year.

No general meetings have been convened so far    

The audit also highlighted that the trust had never held any general meetings, according to minutes availed.

According to the deed of trust clause 11, the board committee members should hold a general meeting once every two months with the Bangwaketse public for consultation and reporting trust business to the general membership.

Clause 11.5 gives other stakeholders such as Kgosi Kgolo Malope Gasitsiwe II or his representative, Ngwaketse Land Board, Councillor, District Administration, Department of

Wildlife and National Parks, Agriculture, Department of Forestry and Range Resources the right to attend all general meetings.

General Meetings are to be held at Kanye main Kgotla and the board should extend the invitation to other stakeholders.  

The involvement of all stakeholders in all stages of management processes was stressed by the audit report.

Take-over of Kanye Brigade marred with contradictions

As it stands, the audit posits that there are neither minutes nor records which show when the trust took over Kanye Brigade Development Trust (KBDT). In addition, information gathered through interviews is not consistent.

“According to telephone conversations with Mr. E Thabeng on the 27/07/2015 at 15:20 hours he mentioned that the takeover was on August 2010,” and while another “conversation with Mr J. Nyarabi on the 27/07/2015 at 15:40 hours he mentioned that the takeover was on August 2011.”

It is understood that, after the takeover the deed of trust was never amended to change the mandate of the trust.

Kgosi Kgolo Malope’s role in the Trust

Kgosi Malope II is a patron to the Trust. Sources close to the Trust have told Weekend Post that he is too soft and too close to the life-long Trust board members and this raises more eyebrows.

“Some of the board members are old folks and also act like advisors to the Kgosi, consequently making it unlikely for him to call them to order – especially for accountability purposes and adherence to the constitution of the trust,” a source close to the developments highlighted.   

Meanwhile, during a lebatla (meeting) called by Kgosi Malope at Kanye main kgotla recently, in the course of questions and comments session, a tribesman cautioned about morafe’s various committees’ noncompliance of their established constitutions.

“There is the Agricultural show committee, museum committee, Mmakgodumo sanctuary committee and others. My only advice is that their constitutions should be strictly observed at all times, as it’s not the case now,” he stressed in a carefully worded warning to the fully packed tribe gathering.

Who are the Trust board members?

Some members who it is understood have associated, served and/or still serve in the Bathoen II Dam Nature Sanctuary Management Trust include the likes of its Chairperson Mr Basiamang Ramokone, Mr Leach Tlhomelang, Ms Lehela Sebonego, Ms Elizabeth Mabe, Mr Frank Ramantele, Mr Pontius Mokgosana, Mr Geoffrey Serebolo, and Stephen Sorinyana.

What valuable assets does Bathoen II Dam Nature Sanctuary oversee?

The infamous Trust owns ample land in the region of 275 139 hectares that encompasses good-looking forest landscape comprising Pharing caves and the famous Bathoen II Dam (also known as Mmakgodumo Dam).

The Sanctuary was to be used as a tourist attraction. Some of the activities that take place in the area include recreational activities, partying, fishing, camping, bird viewing, visitors can also explore the Pharing forestry, Gorge and Cave.

Of recent, the Trust has also acquired the Kanye Brigade Development Trust.

The trust, through some of its notable achievements originated by Bathoen II which make part of the Trust include Marapalalo Hall, the King George Hall, Kanye Library and Tomela Chambers. He also initiated annual agricultural shows, developed thriving co-operative societies, and spearheaded the development of Moshaneng and Kgakgwe mines.

In addition, more assets managed by Bathoen trust also include Mmakgodumo farm and ranch, shops at Kanye Central Business District (CBD) which has been leased out. 

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Botswana confirms new COVID-19 variant

17th May 2021
covid19

Botswana health officials have confirmed the new COVOD-19 variant, which was first found in India. The Ministry of Health and Wellness has through a press statement informed members of the public that a new COVID-19 variant (B.1.617), first discovered in India. The Indian variant was confirmed in Botswana on 13 May 2021.

According to Christopher Nyanga, spokesperson at the Ministry, this followed a case investigation within Greater Gaborone, involving people of Indian origin who arrived in the country on the 24th April 2021.

“As at 16 May 2021, the B. 1. 617 variant was confirmed in two (2) people. The clients are currently receiving medical care and remain stable with no life-threatening symptoms. The two (2) cases were part of 383 people (both Batswana and some Indian nationals) who were tested for COVID-19. From this number, 43 tested positive, with two (2) showing the B. 1. 617 variant as already alluded to. Contact tracing has been expanded in line with COVID-19 protocols. All contacts and confirmed cases have been evacuated to facility based quarantine and isolation respectively, for close monitoring,” Nyanga narrated.

The World Health Organization recently announced that the Indian Covid-19 variant was a global concern, with some data suggesting the variant has “increased transmissibility” compared with other strains.

Meanwhile in the wake of Botswana’s confirmation of the Indian variant, Nyanga reminded the public of the government intervention to control the introduction of new variants of public health concern into the country. He stated that all those who have travelled or transited through areas of high risk as previously communicated on 3rd May 2021 upon return shall immediately quarantine in a central area to be identified by the Ministry of Health and Wellness for a period not exceeding ten (10) days; Repeat Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) test after seven (7) days of quarantine and be discharged as per the outcome of the results.

He said the requirements are complementary to the mandatory requirements of producing on arrival a negative PCR test not older than 72hrs from the time the sample was collected

“The public is advised to remain vigilant and minimize the spread of COVID-19 by following the already outlined preventative measures such as washing of hands with soap or use of a hand sanitizer, wearing of face masks, avoiding crowded places/social distancing and avoiding non-essential movement,” Nyanga said.

The India variant – officially called B.1.617.2 – is one of four mutated versions of coronavirus which have been designated as being “of concern” by transitional public health bodies, with others first being identified in Kent, South Africa and Brazil.

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Khama lawyers dismiss BDP’s MacD

17th May 2021
former President Lt Gen Ian Khama

The lawyers representing former President Lt Gen Ian Khama, Ramalepa Attorneys have come forth dismissing a response letter penned down by Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) activist MacDonald Peloetletse after he was slapped with a P1.5 million lawsuit for defamation of their client.

Tebogo Tladi, an attorney at Ramalepa, said last week Thursday Peloetletse took to social media to publish a substantively false, wrongful and unlawful statement about Khama. MacDonald Peloetletse’s commentary which was posted on Gabz FM News page reads, “I am a former soldier. Everything former President SKI Khama said here is a LIE. In fact, soldiers suffered more under Khama than under his predecessors.

He actually stole money that the UN had paid to the soldiers who went for the operations and paid them less than a quarter of what was actually due to them.  “Unhappy soldiers took the BDF to court and won, the BDF is still struggling to pay the debts! Khama can fool some people, but not all the people and not all the time.

“In fact many soldiers, serving, retired and those that resigned and were in the operations during Khama’s time get even more annoyed to such disrespectful statements by Ian Khama.” Khama’s lawyer says the impugned statement was published with the intention to injure his client (Khama) in his personality rights, good name and dignity, further indicating that the statement has damaged his good reputation.

“We have therefore been instructed by Client to demand, as we hereby do, that you publish on the same forum a retraction and a full and unconditional apology to Client within three days of receipt of this letter- and that you deliver such apology in a formal letter to the Office of the Former President, Dr Khama. In the event that you have not compiled with this demand by close of business on Monday 10th May 2021, our Client will assume that you have refused to comply with this demand.”

To top it all off, Khama demands that Peloetletse pay him P1.5 million in damages for defamation. “Furthermore, we hold instructions to demand as we hereby do, that you pay our Client damages for defamation in the sum of P1, 500,000.00 within seven days of receipt of this letter.” In the event that Peloetletse fails to pay the amount of damages demanded by Khama, Tladi says they will institute legal proceedings for the recovery of the aforesaid damages.

In his response letter addressed to Ramalepa Attorneys, Peloetletse said that he requests enlightenment and clarification that he be provided with proof that the allegations and comments which they attribute to him were indeed authored by him and that the platform which the comments were placed was not hacked.

“Please also advise if whether your clients has been endowed with a “special particular privilege status” that restricts the citizens of this country from commenting or responding to public statements made by your client in the course of political discourse especially when made on public forum and relate to matters of general public concern. (I trust that your brilliant legal mind is well informed with respect to the jurisprudence in such matters)”.

Peloetletse also said he would like to share with the attorneys a video which was posted on a public forum. “Please listen carefully to the conversations and discussion herein and advice if possibly such discussions form a reasonable basis for a justifiably rebuttal by any Motswana Citizen to the public pronouncements and defamatory statements made by your client about our government (bearing in mind of course a citizens constitutional right to freedom of speech and freedom of expression).’’

Consulted for further comment on the matter on Thursday after receiving Peloetletse’s response, Khama’s attorney Tebogo Tladi said the letter doesn’t hold any water. “The only way out for him is to prove the truth of the allegations on his comment or deny publication. He does not answer substantively to the defamation and does not respond to the demand of an apology or payment of damages.

So his letter really contains largely matters irrelevant to the substance of the letter of demand. His response in fact presents no legally cognizable defence at all- it would appear he responded without the benefit of legal advice, which would not be prudent for such an important case. So we will proceed to issue summons and wait to see what defences he will plead in court.’’

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Inside the multi-million Dollar Kazungula Bridge business

17th May 2021
kazungula bridge

Botswana and Zambia this week celebrated the opening of a multi-million Dollar infrastructural project, the Kazungula Bridge, projected to contribute around P100 million annually for Botswana. This project comes after the signing of the 2012 Agreement between the two countries to construct a bridge that would ease movement of goods.

President Mokgweetsi Masisi said the Kazungula Bridge will open avenues for improved trade, job creation and economic diversification in both countries. Further, the Bridge will significantly accelerate Southern African Development Committee (SADC) regional integration agenda which Botswana and Zambia are vigorously pursuing.

“By growing our strategic partnerships through this project, we have improved the development and competitiveness of our economies to attract more private sector investment, thereby, supporting our efforts to create employment, especially for the burgeoning youth,” Masisi said at the opening ceremony in Kazungula on Monday.

The Kazungula Bridge comprises a road and rail bridge over the Zambezi River, directly linking Botswana and Zambia. It has One-Stop-Border Post facilities on both sides, which will enhance the operational efficiency at entry points, replicated on both sides of the boarder.

The Bridge was originally conceived as a critical link in the African North-South Corridor under the African Union’s New Partnership (NEPAD) for Africa’s Development programme. It has since evolved to encompass a multimodal transport plan under the Programme for Infrastructure Development in Africa (PIDA).

The PIDA programme, which encompasses liberalisation of air travel, rail links, road, water and all other modes of transport has only one objective: to unite the States of Africa in order to foster trade on the continent

“Connectivity of our nations will in no small measure, promote people to people interactions and uplifts their standard of living. I am pleased to state that the completion of this project is a clear demonstration of our commitment to PIDA.”

The 260 million US Dollar Kazungula Bridge was commissioned by Zambian President, Edgar Lungu and President Masisi. President Lungu said the bridge was a monumental effort linking Zambia internally and externally to ease the movement of goods and services.

“I have held talks with my counterpart in Botswana that this project must run daily up to 22 hours as soon as possible and you the technocrats must not play ping-pong with us after making these public procurements,” Lungu said at the official opening in Kazungula.

For his part, DRC President Felix Tshisekedi said the project was tandem with the Africa Union (AU) goals and priority areas for Agenda 2063 which called for a prosperous Africa, based on inclusive growth and sustainable development.

KAZUNGULA FERRY

The new Kazungula Bridge replaces the Kazungula Ferry, a pontoon ferry across the 400-metre-wide Zambezi River between Botswana and Zambia. It was one of the largest ferries in South-Central Africa, having a capacity of 70 tonnes.

In 2003 the ferry was the site of a disaster when a severely overloaded Zambian truck capsized one of the pontoons and 18 people drowned. The accident was blamed on the lack of weighbridges in Zambia to check the weight of trucks.

In August 2007, the governments of Zambia and Botswana announced a deal to construct a bridge at the site to replace the ferry. The existence of a short boundary of about 150 meters between Zambia and Botswana was apparently agreed to during various meetings involving Heads of State and officials from all four States in the 2006-2010 period.

The route for this new bridge crosses the boundary without entering Zimbabwe and Namibia. Zimbabwe already has a bridge into Zambia at Victoria Falls, 70KM from Kazungula. Namibia on the other hand has a bridge into Zambia at Katima Mulilo about 150KM upriver.

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