In Zimbabwe seven suspects accused of trafficking women from Zimbabwe to Kuwait for slavery purposes, under the guise of securing employment for them as maids in the Arab country, were recently granted $300 bail each pending trial by a Harare magistrate.
Botswana has not escaped the human trafficking exploits of greedy masterminds. The Police in Botswana continue to make arrests of individuals involved in human trafficking.
This publication has learnt the Zimbabwe Kuwait trafficking ring has ties in Botswana and South Africa.
Investigations have revealed that upon arrival in Kuwait, the victims were placed under “house arrest” and were not paid salaries but the money was wired to the traffickers in Zimbabwe as payment. The main agent based in Zimbabwe will eventually pay his contacts in Botswana and South Africa.
Their Arabian accomplices would at times demand ransom from the victim’s families in order for them to release the women, mainly young ladies. The agents reportedly lied to the victims that they would be afforded an opportunity to further their education by their new “employers” in the oil-rich country.
In Zimbabwe the gang is charged with contravening sections of the Trafficking Persons Act (Recruits, transfers, harbours or receives another person that he or she knows or suspects is being or is likely to be trafficked or attempts, assists or conspires with others for the commission of the crime of trafficking). In Botswana investigations are yet to reveal or expose the real agents who worked with the Zimbabwean gang. But isolated cases of human trafficking continue to be recorded by the police.
Botswana police have in the past intercepted human trafficking deals. Recently a mini bus transporting young girls to suspected trafficking hotspots was nabbed in Francistown.
Police fear that young ladies are at risk because they are promised high paying jobs in these Arabic countries only to be forced into sex slavery and domestic work under harsh conditions.
TWO SOUTH AFRICANS ACCUSED OF HUMAN TRAFFICKING
Meanwhile two South Africans slapped with charges of human trafficking appeared before Village magistrate Mompati Taolo this week Wednesday seeking bail. An attorney representing one of the accused demanded that the charges against his client be dropped because the state has no case against her.
Attorney Friday Dutch Leburu representing second accused, Sowetan Antoinette Nthoba, told the court that the female accused never had the intention to come into Botswana territory and had been lured and entrapped by the Botswana police.
Leburu said that Nthoba was initially sent to the South African Kopfontein/Tlokweng border post to collect two mature Ethiopian individuals, who on their own initiative had boarded an Ethiopian Airways flight to Botswana en route to South Africa as their final destination.
He continued that when Nthoba arrived at the border at nightfall she received a call from an individual in Botswana who turned out to be an undercover Investigating Officer (IO) in the sting operation. Leburu then said the Investigating Officer agreed with Nthoba to find accommodation for the Ethiopian pair and Nthoba agreed to repay the P800 accommodation fee the next morning.
He says that the next morning the IO again contacted Nthoba who did not know that she was being duped by Botswana Police into setting foot on Botswana territory. Leburu continued to say that when Nthoba finally met with the IO she paid him 1500 in South African Rands instead of the initially agreed P800 for accommodating the Ethiopians because she did not have cash in the Pula currency.
Leburu says that to endorse his argument that the charges against Nthoba must fall, Nthoba had not even met or spoken to the Ethiopian individuals she had come to collect.
The Attorney observed that charges against Nthoba do not stick as they do not meet the three elements constituting human trafficking.
He said that the Police charge sheet does not state whether Nthoba recruited, transported nor harboured the allegedly trafficked Ethiopians.
He also further said the sub-elements of the use of threats; abuse of power and abuse of vulnerability combined with the element of purpose which encompasses elements of general exploitation, sexual exploitation, forced labour and slavery are not in any way tied to Nthoba.
Leburu also said that since Nthoba never had the intention to come into Botswana she should be given free bail as she has children and a family in South Africa and that she has already suffered pre-trial prejudice as she has spent close to two weeks in prison.
Leburu also bordered on accusing the Directorate on Public Prosecutions (DPP) of trying to salvage public confidence and using the accused South Africans as ‘fall guys’ in trialing a rare case of human trafficking insinuating that, “it has been lousy at DPP in the past few months.”
The first accused 49 year old Hanamantsi Lekena who was representing himself requested bail and he promised not to avoid court as Botswana and South Africa have an existing extradition treaty.
Lekena denounced any connection to human trafficking saying he was arrested at a bar talking on his mobile phone. Lekena also narrated his extenuating circumstances before the court saying he supports his family including seven nephews and nieces who will suffer if his incarceration continues and that his father and mother passed on in 1979 and 2014 respectively.
Here is how one Permanent Secretary encapsulates the clear tension between democracy and bureaucracy in Botswana: “President Mokgweetsi Masisi’s Government is behaving like a state surrounded with armed forces in order to capture it or force its surrender. The situation has turned so volatile, for tomorrow is not guaranteed for us top civil servants.
These are the painful results of a personalized civil service in our view as permanent secretaries”. Although his deduction of the situation may be summed as sour grapes because he is one of the ‘victims’ of the reshuffle, he is convinced this is a perfect description of the rationale behind frequent changes and transfers characterising the current civil service.
The result of it all, he said, is that “there is too much instability at managerial and strategic levels of the civil service leading to a noticeable directionless civil service.” He continued: “Changes and transfers are inevitable in the civil service, but to a permissible scale and frequency. Think of soccer team coach who changes and transfers his entire squad every month; you know the consequences?”
The Tsunami has hit hard at critical departments and Ministries leaving a strong wave of uncertainty, many demoralised and some jobless. In traditional approaches to public administration, democracy gives the goals; and bureaucracy delivers the technical efficiency required for implementation. But the recent moves in the civil service are indicative of conflicting imperatives – the notion of separation between politicians and administrators is becoming blurred by the day.
“Look at what happened to Prisons and BDF where second in command were overlooked for outsiders, and these are the people who had sacrificially served for donkey’s years hoping for a seat at the ladder’s end. The frequency of the changes, at times affecting the same Ministry or individual also demonstrates some level of ineptitude, clumsiness and lack of foresight from those in charge,” remarked the PS who added that their view is that the transfers are not related to anything but “settling scores, creating corruption opportunities and pushing out perceived dissident and former president, Ian Khama’s alleged loyalists and most of these transfers are said to be products of intelligence detection.”
Partly blaming Khama for the mess and his unwillingness to let go, the PS dismissed Masisi for falling to the trap and failing to outgrow the destructive tiff. “Khama is here to stay and the sooner Masisi comes to terms with the fact that he (Masisi) is the state President, the better. For a President to still be making these changes and transfers signals signs of a confused man who has not yet started rolling his roadmap, if at all it was ever there. I am saying this because any roadmap comes with key players and policies,” he concluded.
The Ministry of Health and Wellness seems to be the most hard-hit by the transfers, having experienced three Permanent Secretaries changes within a year and a half. Insiders say the changes have everything to do with the Ministry being the centre of COVID-19 tenders and economic opportunities. “The buck stops with the PS and no right-thinking PS can just allow glaring corruption under his watch as an accounting officer. Technocrats are generally law abiding, the pressure comes with politically appointed leaders racing against political terms to loot,” revealed a director in the Ministry preferring anonymity.
The latest transfer of Kabelo Ebineng she says was also motivated by his firm attitude against the President’s blue-eyed Task Team boys. “The Task Team wants to own the COVID-19 pandemic and government interventions and always cry foul when the Ministry reasserts itself as mandated by law,” said the director who added that Masisi who was always caught between the crossfire decided on sacrificing Ebineng to the joy of his team as they (Task Team) were in the habit of threatening to resign citing Ebineng as the problem.
Ebineng joins the Office of the President as a deputy Coordinator (government implementation and coordination office).The incoming PS is the soft-spoken Grace Muzila, known and described by her close associates as a conformist albeit knowledgeable.
One of the losers in the grand scheme is Thato Raphaka who many had seen as the next PSP because of his experience and calm demeanour following a declaration of interest in the Southern African Development Community (SADC) Secretary post by the current PSP, Elias Magosi.
But hardly ten months into his post, Raphaka has been transferred out to the National Strategy Office in what many see as a demotion of some sort. Other notable changes coming into OP are Pearl Ramokoka formerly with the Employment, Labour and Productivity Ministry coming in as a Permanent Secretary and Kgomotso Abi as director of Public Service Reforms.
One of the ousted senior officers in the Office of the President warned that there are no signs that the changes and transfers will stop anytime soon: “If you are observant you would have long noticed that the changes don’t only affect senior officers but government decisions as well. A decision is made today and the government backtracks on it within a week. Not only that, the President says this today, and his deputy denies it the following day in Parliament,” he warned.
Some observers have blamed the turmoil in the civil service partly to lack of accountable presidential advisers or kitchen cabinet properly schooled on matters of statecraft. They point out that politicians or those peripheral to them should refrain from hampering the technical and organizational activities of public managers – or else the party (reshuffling) won’t stop.
In the view expressed by some Permanent Secretaries, Elias Magosi, has not really been himself since joining the civil service; and has cut a picture of indifference in most critical engagements; the most notable been a permanent secretaries platform which he chairs. As things stand there is need to reconcile the imperatives of democracy and democracy in Botswana. Peace will rein only when public value should stand astride the fault that runs between politicians and public managers.
Former Permanent Secretary to the President, Carter Morupisi, is fighting for survival in a matter in which the State has charged him and his wife, Pinnie Morupisi, with corruption and money laundering.
Morupisi has joined a list of prominent figures that served in the previous administration and who have been accused of corruption during their tenure in office. While others have been emerging victorious, Morupisi is yet to find that luck. The High Court recently dismissed his no case to answer application.
United States President, Joe Biden, is faced with a decision to make relating to the Covid-19 vaccine intellectual property after 175 former world leaders and Nobel laurates joined the campaign urging the US to take “urgent action” to suspend intellectual property rights for Covid-19 vaccines to help boost global inoculation rates.
According to the world leaders, doing so would allow developing countries to make their own copies of the vaccines that have been developed by pharmaceutical companies without fear of being sued for intellectual property infringements.
“A WTO waiver is a vital and necessary step to bringing an end to this pandemic. It must be combined with ensuring vaccine know-how and technology is shared openly,” the signatories, comprising more than 100 Nobel prize-winners and over 70 former world leaders, wrote in a letter to US President Joe Biden, according to Financial Times.
A measure to allow countries to temporarily override patent rights for Covid related medical products was proposed at the World Trade Organization by India and South Africa in October, and has since been backed by nearly 60 countries.
Former leaders who signed the letter included Gordon Brown, former UK Prime Minister; François Hollande, former French President; Mikhail Gorbachev, former President of the USSR; and Yves Leterme, former Belgian Prime Minister.
In their official communication, South Africa and India said: “As new diagnostics, therapeutics and vaccines for Covid-19 are developed, there are significant concerns [about] how these will be made available promptly, in sufficient quantities and at affordable prices to meet global demand.”
While developed countries have been able to secure enough vaccine to inoculate their citizens, developing countries such as Botswana are struggling to source enough to swiftly vaccine their citizens, something which world leaders believe it would work against global recovery therefore proving counter-productive.
Since the availability of vaccines, Botswana has been able to secure only 60 000 doses of vaccines, 30 000 as donation as from the Indian government, while the other 30 000 was sourced through COVAX facility. Canada, has pre-ordered vaccines in surplus and it will be able to vaccinate each of its citizens six times over. In the UK and US, it is four vaccines per person; and two each in the EU and Australia.
For vaccines produced in Europe, developing countries are forced to pay double what European countries are paying, making it more expensive for already financially struggling economies. European countries however justify the price of vaccines and that they deserve to buy them cheap since they contributed in their development.
It is evident that vaccines cannot be made available immediately to all countries worldwide with wealthy economies being the only success story in that regard, something that has been referred to as a “catastrophic moral failure”, head of the World Health Organisation (WHO), Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus.
The challenge facing developing countries is not only the price, but also the capacity of vaccine manufactures to be able to do so to meet global demand within a short time. The proposal for a patent waiver by India and South Africa has been rejected by developed countries, known for hosting the world leading pharmaceutical companies such US, European Union, the United Kingdom, and Switzerland.
According to the Financial Times, US business groups including pharmaceutical industry representatives, have urged Biden to resist supporting a waiver to IP rules at the WTO, arguing that the proposal led by India and South Africa was too “vague” and “broad”.
The individuals who signed the letter, including Nobel laureates in economics as well as from across the arts and sciences, warned that inequitable vaccine access would impact the global economy and prevent it from recovering.
“The world saw unprecedented development of safe and effective vaccines, in major part thanks to US public investment,” the group wrote. “We all welcome that vaccination rollout in the US and many wealthier countries is bringing hope to their citizens.”
“Yet for the majority of the world that same hope is yet to be seen. New waves of suffering are now rising across the globe. Our global economy cannot rebuild if it remains vulnerable to this virus.” The group warned that fully enforcing IP was “self-defeating for the US” as it hindered global vaccination efforts. “Given artificial global supply shortages, the US economy already risks losing $1.3tn in gross domestic product this year.”