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Mokgware cautions Gov’t on soldiers, Youth

Member of Parliament (MP) for Gabane-Mankgodi, Major General Pius Mokgware has told government that the escalating number of unemployed youth and angry soldiers at the barracks pose a great threat to the security and economy of the country.

Debating the budget for Ministry of Youth, Sports and Culture presented by Thapelo Olopeng in Parliament this week, Mokgware said that the youth are slowly becoming frustrated and disgruntled as the government is failing to create decent jobs for them.

“Madam Speaker, I am really concerned about our young people who continue to loiter around the streets with nothing to do. This is a testimony that the interventions by the government to tackle unemployment have proved futile,” he said.

General Mokgware told Parliament that educated and jobless youth can be an easy target for terrorists. “We have IT graduates who lead the pack of unemployed graduates.

These people can be recruited by terrorists to develop software and viruses in order to hack our computers, destabilise water and electricity systems and destroy this country in the blink of an eye,” he cautioned. Mokgware reiterated that if the mounting problem of youth unemployment is not taken care of, young people may divert their energies to cyber warfare and use their expertise to the advantage of terrorist organisations like Boko Haram, al Queda and al Shabaab.

“We invest a lot in our education sector but I am disappointed that we cannot create decent jobs for these graduates. Majority of them are underemployed and exploited through programmes like internship and graduate volunteer scheme. Our country is in danger because these people can use their vast knowledge and skills to shut down the traffic lights and railway system as it once happened in London about eleven years ago,” he added.

Mokgware, the retired commander of the BDF ground forces observed that many young people across the country are becoming militant and radicalised, a development he said may spell doom for the country. He said violent youth who continue to terrorise people in Palapye, Thamaga, Molepolole and Kanye were just a tip of the iceberg.

He further told Parliament that Botswana should be warry of cyber spying and espionage saying that in many countries it was the idle youth who were at the helm of such activities. In addition, he said, drug lords and mafias can end up using the youth to distribute their harmful products in schools and in the end this could impact on the country’s health system as the country will have to build many rehabilitation centres.

“Rural-urban migration is on the rise and the skyrocketing unemployment could trigger riots and increase crime statistics,” he further remarked.

Mokgware suggested that the government should engage the private sector in creating employment for the youth instead of “starving the private sector as it even decided not to engage it in the Economic Stimulus Program.”

He called on the government to provide full time employment for special constables and temporary teachers.

He also blasted Botswana Qualification Authority (BQA) doubting the accreditation capacity of the institution as it was not affiliated to any international body. He said the country has the capability to export its graduates to other developing countries like South Sudan but that was impossible as the local universities were producing half-baked graduates.

Contributing to the budget of Ministry of Security, Defence and Security, Mokgware alleged that members of disciplined forces were not happy with their welfare.

“An angry soldier is a threat to the country as he is capable of doing anything,” he debated in Parliament.

Mokgware implored the government to improve the welfare of soldiers, police officers and prison warders including providing them with decent housing and regular reviews of their salaries.

Meanwhile, the second meeting of the second session of the 11th Parliament ended this week with members debating and approving the national budget which was presented by Minister of Finance and Development planning, Kenneth Mathambo last month.

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Boko’s rivals plan new party

15th August 2022

Following their loss to the Duma Boko-led lobby in the Botswana National Front (BNF)’s national congress last month, some members of the party are reportedly considering forming a new political party.

According to members, the new party will be formed after they receive a tip-off that the BNF will do all it can to ensure that the aggrieved members do not participate in the 2024 national elections. This will reportedly done through a carefully orchestrated primary elections elimination campaign. 

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13 AUGUST 2022 Publication

12th August 2022

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DIS blasted for cruelty – UN report

26th July 2022
DIS BOSS: Magosi

Botswana has made improvements on preventing and ending arbitrary deprivation of liberty, but significant challenges remain in further developing and implementing a legal framework, the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention said at the end of a visit recently.

Head of the delegation, Elina Steinerte, appreciated the transparency of Botswana for opening her doors to them. Having had full and unimpeded access and visited 19 places of deprivation of liberty and confidentiality interviewing over 100 persons deprived of their liberty.

She mentioned “We commend Botswana for its openness in inviting the Working Group to conduct this visit which is the first visit of the Working Group to the Southern African region in over a decade. This is a further extension of the commitment to uphold international human rights obligations undertaken by Botswana through its ratification of international human rights treaties.”

Another good act Botswana has been praised for is the remission of sentences. Steinerte echoed that the Prisons Act grants remission of one third of the sentence to anyone who has been imprisoned for more than one month unless the person has been sentenced to life imprisonment or detained at the President’s Pleasure or if the remission would result in the discharge of any prisoner before serving a term of imprisonment of one month.

On the other side; The Group received testimonies about the police using excessive force, including beatings, electrocution, and suffocation of suspects to extract confessions. Of which when the suspects raised the matter with the magistrates, medical examinations would be ordered but often not carried out and the consideration of cases would proceed.

“The Group recall that any such treatment may amount to torture and ill-treatment absolutely prohibited in international law and also lead to arbitrary detention. Judicial authorities must ensure that the Government has met its obligation of demonstrating that confessions were given without coercion, including through any direct or indirect physical or undue psychological pressure. Judges should consider inadmissible any statement obtained through torture or ill-treatment and should order prompt and effective investigations into such allegations,” said Steinerte.

One of the group’s main concern was the DIS held suspects for over 48 hours for interviews. Established under the Intelligence and Security Service Act, the Directorate of Intelligence and Security (DIS) has powers to arrest with or without a warrant.

The group said the “DIS usually requests individuals to come in for an interview and has no powers to detain anyone beyond 48 hours; any overnight detention would take place in regular police stations.”

The Group was able to visit the DIS facilities in Sebele and received numerous testimonies from persons who have been taken there for interviewing, making it evident that individuals can be detained in the facility even if the detention does not last more than few hours.

Moreover, while arrest without a warrant is permissible only when there is a reasonable suspicion of a crime being committed, the evidence received indicates that arrests without a warrant are a rule rather than an exception, in contravention to article 9 of the Covenant.

Even short periods of detention constitute deprivation of liberty when a person is not free to leave at will and in all those instances when safeguards against arbitrary detention are violated, also such short periods may amount to arbitrary deprivation of liberty.

The group also learned of instances when persons were taken to DIS for interviewing without being given the possibility to notify their next of kin and that while individuals are allowed to consult their lawyers prior to being interviewed, lawyers are not allowed to be present during the interviews.

The UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention mentioned they will continue engaging in the constructive dialogue with the Government of Botswana over the following months while they determine their final conclusions in relation to the country visit.

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