The High Court this week thwarted government efforts to deport two Ugandan refugees and declare them prohibited immigrants (PI).
The two refugees, Musa Isabirye and Timothy Yamin are currently based at Dukwi Refugee Camp placed 123 km from Francistown.
This publication has established that the duo had rubbed government the wrong way ever since they complained about filthy welfare status at the Dukwi refugee camp. They had complained that the camp posed health risks to their being. It is understood that since then government has put them under surveillance and hatched a plan to extradite them but it failed on two occasions.
Just this week, according to a court order released on Friday and seen by Weekend Post, government was interdicted from deporting the duo pending finalization of the matter before the courts.
“The respondents or anyone acting under their authority are prohibited and/or interdicted from deporting the applicants until the application for an interim interdict is determined to its finality.”
In addition, the refugees have now been granted leeway to consult their attorney, a central right which they were denied before. It is said that government have denied them legal representation by barring them from consulting their lawyer. “The notice prohibiting applicants’ legal representatives from consulting their clients is declared unconstitutional, irrational and unlawful. The applicants’ legal representatives are now hereby permitted to consult applicants,” Francistown High Court Judge, Lot Moroka who presided over the matter also ordered.
In a letter addressed to the Attorney General on Wednesday, the two refugees’ attorney, Martin Dingake of Dingake Law Partners stated that “we hold instructions to proceed to court on urgency should you fail to give the requested undertaking to interdict the Government of Botswana from deporting the clients pending the review application.”
In their intention to sue, the refugees through their renowned lawyer cited the president of Botswana Lt. Gen Dr. Seretse Khama Ian Khama as the 1st respondent, the Minister of Defence, Justice and Security Shaw Kgathi the 2nd respondent and the 3rd respondent as Commissioner of Prisons and Rehabilitation Silas Setlalekgosi while the 4th is Directorate of Intelligence and Security (DIS) Isaac Kgosi and Attorney General Athaliah Molokomme is the 5th as principal legal advisor to government.
The Gaborone based lawyer, on behalf of refugees indicate that they want an order reviewing, correcting and/or setting aside the decision of the President of the Republic of Botswana to declare the Claimants undesirable inhabitants of, and visitors to Botswana in terms of Section 41 (1)(c ) of the Immigration Act [Cap 39;01] of the Laws of Botswana.
In addition they assert that they request for “an order reviewing, correcting and/or setting aside the decision of the Refugee Advisory Committee (“RAC”) to revoke the political refugee status of the claimants as contained in the letter of the 15th September 2015.”
According to Dingake, the court should further declare that the decision to revoke the status of the claimants is both procedurally and substantively unfair and violates the audi alteram partem and therefore invalid and of no force and force. The Ugandan exiles were given refugee status in 2011.
Their statuses have not been received ever since until after two (2) successful court applications launched against the Attorney General of the Republic of Botswana. The Refugee Advisory Committee had sought to do so, twice (2) by inviting the Claimants to appear before the Committee without the basis thereof.
In a similar matter, former president Festus Mogae has been complaining about deportation of foreign nations by the Khama regime.
He spoke at an African leadership forum in Tanzania that: “in my country for example, we are regressing. The problem is if you criticize your successor, people think you want to rule from the grave. We were a small country that ran an open economy and open society. But our present government has expelled over 2000 foreign professionals over the last six years.”
Dingake contends that “both the President and the Committee did not consider the personal circumstances given political refugee status of the Claimants (2 refugees) and the adverse consequences their decisions will have on the best interest of their children.”
He pointed out that the previous decisions of the Committee to revoke the status of the Claimants (refugees) without done process was indicative of a party who was hell-sent on taking such a decision irrespective of what is provided for in the national law. It is not the first time government threatens to deport the duo, they did in the past but also failed.
At present government is also plagued in a matter involving Eritrean players who are seeking for political asylum in the country. While Eritrea is rife with violations of human rights, government, in particular Minister of Justice, Defense and Security has also threatened to send the players back to their home despite clear disregard of human rights there.
However, after court intervention the players are also housed at Francistown detention camp for illegal immigrants subject to valuation.
In a classic and shocking case of disgrace and dishonour to this country, the law enforcement agencies are currently struggling to cover up a damaging and humiliating scandal of having conspired to forge the signature of a Palapye Chief Magistrate, Rebecca Motsamai in an unlawful acquisition of the much-publicised 2019 warrant of arrest against Isaac Kgosi, the former director of the Directorate of Intelligence Services (DIS).
The cloak-and-dagger arrest was led by the DIS director, Brigadier Peter Magosi supported by the Botswana Police, Botswana Defence Force (BDF), with the Botswana Unified Revenue Services (BURS) which accused Kgosi of tax evasion, in the backseat.
Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) constituent members are struggling to reach an agreement over the allocation of wards for the imminent ward by-elections across the country.
Despite a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC), Botswana Patriotic Front (BPF) and Alliance for Progressives (AP) are said to be active, but the nitty-gritties are far from being settled.
The eight bye-elections will be a precursor of a somewhat delayed finalisation of the brittle MoU. The three parties want to draw a plan on how and who will contest in each of the available wards.
This publication has gathered that the negotiations will not be a run off the mill because there is already an impasse between the Botswana Congress Party (BCP) which is a UDC constituent and AP (currently negotiating to join umbrella).
The by-elections joint committee met last week at Cresta President Hotel in a bid to finalise allocation but nothing tangible came out of the gathering, sources say.
The cause of the stalemate according to those close to events, is the Metsimotlhabe Ward which the two parties have set their eyes on.
In 2019, he ward was won by Botswana Democratic Party’s (BDP) Andrew Sebobi who unfortunately died in a tragic accident in February last year.
Sebobi had convincingly won by 1 109 votes in the last elections; and was trailed by Sephuthi Thelo of the UDC trailed him with 631 votes; while Alliance for Progressives’ Innocent Moamogwe got 371 votes.
Thelo is a BCP candidate and as per UDC norm, incumbency prevails meaning that the BCP will contest since they were runners up. On the other hand, AP has also raised its hand for the same.
“AP asked for it on the basis that they have a good candidate but BCP did not agree to that request also arguing they have a better contestant,” one UDC member confided to this publication.
Notwithstanding Metsimotlhabe Ward squabble, it is said the by-election talks are almost a done deal, with Botswana National Front (BNF) tipped to take Boseja South ward in Mochudi East constituency. Botswana Patriotic Front (BPF) will be awarded Tamasane Ward in Lerala/Maunatlala constituency, sources say.
“But the agreement has to be closed by National Executive Committee (NEC),” emphasized the informant.
The NEC is said to have been cautioned not to back the wrong horse but rather rate with reason and facts.
UDC President, Duma Boko has told this publication that, “allocation is complete with two wards already awarded but with only one yet to be finalized,” he could not dwell into much details as to which party got what and the reasons for the delay in finalisation.
Chairperson of the by-elections committee, Dr. Phenyo Butale responded to this publication regarding the matter: “As AP we contested and as you may be aware we signed the MoU with UDC and BPF to collaborate on bye-elections. The opposition candidate for all bye-elections will be agreed by these parties and that process is still ongoing,” he said when asked if AP is interested on the ward and how far with the talks on bye-elections.
Butale, a former Gaborone Central Member of Parliament, who is also AP Secretary General continued to say, “As the chairperson of the bye-elections committee we are still seized with that matter. We should also do some consultations with the local structures. Once the process is complete we will issue a notice for now we cannot talk about the other two while the other is still pending the other one”.
Butale further clarified: “There is no such thing as AP and BCP not in agreement. It is an issue of signatories discussing and determining the opposition candidates across the three wards.”
Apart from the three wards, there are five more council wards that UDC is yet to allocate to cooperating partners.
FROM PALAPYE MEET: BPP CAUTION NEC MEMBERS
With the UDC cheerful from last weekend’s meeting in Palapye, the meeting however was very tense on the side of both BCP and BNF, with only BPP flexing its muscle and even lashing out.
BCP going into the meeting, had promised to ask difficult questions to the UDC NEC.
BCP VP and also acting Secretary General, Dr. Kesitegile Gobotswang, presented their qualms which were addressed by UDC Chairperson Motlatsi Molapisi, informants say.
It is said Molapisi is fed up and concerned by some UDC members especially those in the NEC who ‘wash party’s dirty linen in public’.
Insiders say the veteran politician cautioned the NEC members that they “will not expel any party but individuals who tarnish the image of the UDC.”
It is not the first time BPP play a paternalistic role as it once expressed its discontent with BCP in 2020, saying it should never wash UDC linen in public.
At first it is said, BPP, the oldest political formation in Botswana, claims disappointment on BCP stance that UDC should be democratised especially by sharing their stand with the media. Again, BPP was not happy with BCP leader Dumelang Saleshando’s decision to air his personal views on social media regarding the merger of UDC party.
Botswana Police Service (BPS) Commissioner, Keabetswe Makgophe, has of late been dousing raging fires from various quarters of society following the infiltration of the police fingerprint system by the Directorate on Intelligence and Security (DIS), WeekendPost has learnt.
Fresh information gleaned from a number of impeccable sources, points to a pitiable working relationship between the two state organs. Cause of concern is the DIS continuous big brother role to an extent that it is now interfering with other institutions’ established mandates.
BPS which works closely with the DIS has been left exasperated by the works of the institution formed in 2008. It is said, the DIS through its Information Technology (IT) experts in collusion with some at BPS forensics department managed to infiltrate the Fingerprint system.
The infiltration, according to those in the know, was for the DIS to “teach a lesson” to some who are on their radar. It is said the DIS is playing and fighting dirty to win the fights they have lost before.
By managing to hack the police finger print system, a number of renowned businessmen and other politically exposed persons found their fingers in the system. What surprised the victims is the fact that they have never been charged of any wrongdoing by the police and they were left reeling in shock to learn that their fingers are on the data-base of criminals.
In fact, some of those who their fingerprints were falsely included in the records of those on the wrong side of law learnt later when other errands demanded their fingerprints.
“We learnt later when we had to submit and buy some documents and we were very shocked,” one politician who is also a businessman confided to this publication this week.
“We then learn that there are some fabricated criminality recorded for us, as to when did we commit those remained secret to the police, but then we had to engage our lawyers on the matter and that is when we were cleared,” said the politician-cum- tenderpreneur.
The lawyers have confirmed engaging the police and that the matters were settled in a gentlemen’s agreement and concluded.
All these happened behind the scenes with the police top brass oblivious only to be confronted by the irked lot, police sources also add. The victimized group who most of them have been fighting lengthy battles with the DIS read malice and did not blink when it was revealed that these were done by the DIS.
“And it was clear that they (DIS) are the ones in this dirty war which we don’t understand. Remember when we sue, it will be the Police at the courts not the DIS and that is why we agreed to a ceasefire more so they also requested that be kept under carpet,” said the victim.
Nonetheless, the Police through its spokesperson Assistant Commissioner, Dipheko Motube, briefly said: “we do not have any system that has been hacked.” On the other hand DIS mouthpiece Edward Robert was not in office this week to comment on the matter.
Reports however say DIS boss, Peter Magosi, who most of the victims accuse of the job, is said to have met his police counterpart Makgophe to put the matter to bed.
COVID-19 RAVAGES POLICE
As frontline workers, Police have not escaped the wrath of Covid-19. Already the numbers of those infected has reached the highest of high and they suggest that they be priorities on vaccine rollout.
“Our job is complicated, firstly we arrest including those who are non-compliant to Covid protocols and we go to accidents and many more. These put us at risk and it seems our superiors are not bothered,” said one police officer this week.
The cops further complain about that working spaces are small, as such expose them to contact the virus.
“Some tests positive and go for quarantine while the rest of the unit will be left without even test carried out. If at all the bosses are serious all the police officers should every now and then be subjected to testing or else we will be no more because of the virus,” added another officer based in Gaborone.
The government has since placed teachers on the priority list for the vaccines, it remains to be seen whether the police, who also man road blocks, will be considered.
“But our bosses should convince the country leadership about this, if not then we are doomed,” concluded a more senior officer.