Former Legislator, Robert Masitara has launched an unrelenting war on corruption. Lately he has been very active on social media organising likeminded Batswana, especially the youth, to help him tackle the corruption scourge.
This week he launched a scathing attack against cabinet ministers, permanent secretaries, procurement officers and some government officer whom he accused of corruption or knowingly concealing corrupt acts. Lashing out on facebook, Masitara said he “knows what I am talking about, I am coming.”
Masitara also hopes to push his agenda through his bid for the presidency of the ruling Botswana Democratic Party (BDP). Posting on facebook this week, Masitara jumped to the defence of President Dr Lt Gen Ian Khama:
“People accuse the President of condoning corruption. If he did he could have long expelled me from the BDP whilst I was still heading the two Committees of Parliament. I met HE on several occasions and he understands my position on Corruption. The best thing that had happened to this country is to have HE Khama as President,” Masitara wrote.
Masitara pointed out that Khama came at a time of economic downturn and managed to stir Botswana through the difficult times. “I respect all Presidents who led their countries during this testing times including Barack Obama. He introduced Initiatives that none of us ever thought. As a human being he has his owns faults and mistakes. Only God doesn't make mistakes. It is our Children in the future who will appreciate his work of uplifting the living standards of his people.”
The former Gaborone West legislator says Khama knows that oversight need to be strengthened in government including parastarals and agencies and that it is one area Botswana government must put greater attention to.
He says there is need to fight against social ills including corruption, fraud and money Laundering. “I am not surprised that he attends the Anti-corruption seminar conference in the UK. It is the people who claim to be his friends who are destroying his legacy by engaging on acts that flout systems and corrupt the whole system.”
Masitara said Khama spent the past 10 years as President reacting to problems that were not engineered by his administration but past administration.
He is of the view that a corruption court must be introduced immediately; if it is there it must be seen to be doing its job. “We must bring perpetrators of the insidious crime of corruption to book. All those who siphoned monies illegally from Botswana and built homes in South Africa and Europe must bring back those monies. I know what I'm talking about,” he wrote.
According to the former MP, “all those who were awarded tenders erroneously or fraudulently by flouting procedures and regulations and processes must be prosecuted and such funds returned or else we must go after their assets”.
He says all tender committees’ members who ought to have known that such tenders were awarded fraudulently by flouting procedures must be prosecuted and sent to jail. He further says all educational institutions that defrauded government by claiming against dummy students in the past 15 years must return the monies and owners must be prosecuted including employees of the Ministry of Education who ought to have checked the validity of such lists from the private institutions. He says former Ministers implicated must be prosecuted including their permanent secretaries.
“Let them enjoy the tenders whilst they still can, time is coming when they will be prosecuted and sent to prison. Parastarals tenders in past 15 years must be reviewed and those implicated prosecuted and sent to prison including management tender committees for flouting procedures. I am coming,” wrote Masitara.
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.
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.