NEW YORK – The Vice President of Botswana, Mokgweetsi Masisi has in what was interpreted by political experts as a defiant statement against the 2014 position of the African Union (AU) on the International Criminal Court (ICC), reaffirmed Botswana’s unwavering support and commitment to the ICC and what it stands for.
The 54 nation AU has urged its members to "speak with one voice" against criminal proceedings at the ICC instituted on sitting presidents. The organization expressed disappointed that a request to the United Nations Security Council to defer the trials of Kenya's leaders had not yielded the "positive result expected".
In the SADC region, only Botswana is opposed to the AU position, which was made in a statement last year February following an Ethiopian summit attended by 34 leaders. Kenyan president, Uhuru Kenyatta, and his deputy, William Ruto, who both deny the charges, face charges of crimes against humanity at the ICC in the Hague for allegedly orchestrating post-election violence in which more than 1,000 people died.
Sometimes back in November, the Security Council rejected an AU demand to suspend the ICC trial of the two leaders. Guatemala's UN ambassador, Gert Rosenthal said the attempt to suspend the trial was an act of "contempt" against countries that had sought to help Africa with peacekeeping troops and efforts to boost justice in the continent.
Eight Security Council nations, all ICC members or supporters, including Britain, France and the United States, abstained to ensure the failure of the resolution. The resolution got seven votes, two below the number needed to pass in the 15-member body. It was the first time in decades that a Security Council resolution failed in such a way without a veto by one of the permanent members.
However, this week at the United Nations assembly debate Botswana spoke hard against the controversial Security Council’s permanent seats and the veto.
“Botswana continues to firmly support the initiative by France calling for the permanent members of the Security Council to refrain from using their veto powers in situations
involving mass atrocities,” said Masisi.
Masisi said the UN, which promotes democracy around the globe, should itself lead by example. “The UN Security Council is not an example of a democracy where permanent membership is limited to five countries which further have a veto.
There should be no permanent members and no veto at all. The practice of might is right, is actually wrong. Whilst in the main, it is indeed the primary responsibility of states to ensure the protection of their people, the reality is that some, like Syria, are manifestly failing to do so,” he said.
Masisi further observed that Vetoes violate international humanitarian law with shameful impunity. He added that this should clearly necessitate the application of Pillars II and III of the principle of Responsibility to Protect (R2P): yet, nothing is happening.
“Is it perhaps time that R2P is made a formal agenda item for debate by the General Assembly? Perhaps such a debate could provide sufficient impetus for the Security Council to carry the full mantle of its mandate, including improving its relationship with the International Criminal Court (ICC) in order to facilitate investigation and prosecution of perpetrators of crimes against humanity,” he said in his debate which was read to an almost half-empty GA hall.
International Criminal Court
Defying the AU, Masisi said Botswana's commitment to a strong and effective international justice system remains resolute. “Our belief in the ICC, as the only standing international criminal tribunal for war crimes and crimes against humanity, is unwavering,” he told member states.
The Botswana Government, Masisi, in what many suspected was referring to South African president, Jacob Zuma said regrets that non-cooperation by some State Parties still plagues the Court, making allowance for continued impunity and escape from accountability for crimes committed against humanity.
The South African government recently made news world headlines when they helped the Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir to escape from arrest during a visit. The court ruled that SA government had a legal duty to arrest Bashir.
Zuma’s government allowed Bashir to leave the country on June 15 despite a court order blocking his departure, arguing that he had immunity from arrest during his visit to the country for an African Union summit.
Masisi said his government urges all Parties to the Rome Statute of the ICC to stand fully behind the Court. Cooperation is vital for the assurance of the Court's integrity and effective functioning.
“My delegation and I are hopeful that as we commemorate 70 years of the United Nations, we can have unanimous agreement that judicial accountability, inclusive governance and the protection and promotion of human rights are essential elements for peaceful societies.
This, he said, should not be seen as the preserve of the ICC or Security Council alone, but rather as a shared responsibility of the member states.
Over 2,000 civil servants in the public sector have been interdicted for a variety of reasons, the majority of which are criminal in nature.
According to reports, some officers have been under interdiction for more than two years because such matters are still being investigated. Information reachingÂ WeekendPostÂ shows that local government, particularly councils, has the highest number of suspended officers.
In its annual report, the Directorate on Corruption and Economic Crime (DCEC) revealed that councils lead in corrupt activities throughout the country, and dozens of council employees are being investigated for alleged corrupt activities. It is also reported that disciplined forces, including the Botswana Defence Force (BDF), police, and prisons, and the Directorate of Intelligence and Security (DIS) have suspended a significant number of officers.
The Ministry of Education and Skills Development has also recorded a good number of teachers who have implicated in love relationships with students, while some are accused of impregnating students both in primary and secondary school. Regional education officers have been tasked to investigate such matters and are believed to be far from completion as some students are dragging their feet in assisting the investigations to be completed.
This year, Mmadinare Senior Secondary reportedly had the highest number of pregnancies, especially among form five students who were later forcibly expelled from school. Responding to this publicationâ€™s queries, Permanent Secretary to the Office of the President Emma Peloetletse said, â€śas you might be aware, I am currently addressing public servants across the length and breadth of our beautiful republic. Due to your detailed enquiry, I am not able to respond within your schedule,â€ť she said.
She said some of the issues raised need verification of facts, some are still under investigation while some are still before the courts of law.
Meanwhile, it is close to six months since the Police Commissioner Keabetwe Makgophe, Director General of the Directorate on Corruption and Economic Crime (DCEC) Tymon Katlholo and the Deputy Director of the DIS Tefo Kgothane were suspended from their official duties on various charges.
Efforts to solicit comment from trade unions were futile at the time of going to press.
Some suspended officers who opted for anonymity claimed that they have close to two years while on suspension. One stated that the investigations that led him to be suspended have not been completed.
â€śIt is heartbreaking that at this time the investigations have not been completed,â€ť he toldÂ WeekendPost, adding that â€śwhen a person is suspended, they get their salary fully without fail until the matter is resolvedâ€ť.
Makgophe, Katlholo and Kgothane are the three most high-ranking government officials that are under interdiction.
Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) and some senior government officials are abuzz with reports that President Mokgweetsi Masisi has requested his Vice President, Slumber Tsogwane not to contest the next general elections in 2024.
The impacts of climate change are increasing in frequency and intensity every year and this is forecast to continue for the foreseeable future. African CEOs in the Global South are finally coming to the party on how to tackle the crisis.
Following the completion of COP27 in Egypt recently, CEOs of Africa DFIs converged in Botswana for the CEO Forum of the Association of African Development Finance Institutions. One of the key themes was on green financing and building partnerships for resource mobilization in financing SDGs in Africa
A report; “Weathering the storm; African Development Banks response to Covid-19” presented shocking findings during the seminar. Among them; African DFI’s have proven to be financially resilient, and they are fast shifting to a green transition and it’s financing.
COO, CEDA, James Moribame highlighted that; “Everyone needs food, shelter and all basic needs in general, but climate change is putting the achievement of this at bay. “It is expensive for businesses to do business, for instance; it is much challenging for the agricultural sector due to climate change, and the risks have gone up. If a famer plants crops, they should be ready for any potential natural disaster which will cost them their hard work.”
According to Moribame, Start-up businesses will forever require help if there is no change.
“There is no doubt that the Russia- Ukraine war disrupted supply chains. SMMEs have felt the most impact as some start-up businesses acquire their materials internationally, therefore as inflation peaks, this means the exchange rate rises which makes commodities expensive and challenging for SMMEs to progress. Basically, the cost of doing business has gone up. Governments are no longer able to support DFI’s.”
Moribame shared remedies to the situation, noting that; “What we need is leadership that will be able to address this. CEOs should ensure companies operate within a framework of responsible lending. They also ought to scout for opportunities that would be attractive to investors, this include investors who are willing to put money into green financing. Botswana is a prime spot for green financing due to the great opportunity that lies in solar projects. ”
Technology has been hailed as the economy of the future and thus needs to be embraced to drive operational efficiency both internally and externally.
Executive Director, bank of Industry Nigeria, Simon Aranou mentioned that for investors to pump money to climate financing in Africa, African states need to be in alignment with global standards.
“Do what meets world standards if you want money from international investors. Have a strong risk management system. Also be a good borrower, if you have a loan, honour the obligation of paying it back because this will ensure countries have a clean financial record which will then pave way for easier lending of money in the future. African states cannot just be demanding for mitigation from rich countries. Financing needs infrastructure to complement it, you cannot be seating on billions of dollars without the necessary support systems to make it work for you. Domestic resource mobilisation is key. Use public money to mobilise private money.” He said.
For his part, the Minster of Minister of Entrepreneurship, Karabo Gare enunciated that, over the past three years, governments across the world have had to readjust their priorities as the world dealt with the effects and impact of the COVID 19 pandemic both to human life and economic prosperity.
“The role of DFIs, during this tough period, which is to support governments through countercyclical measures, including funding of COVID-19 related development projects, has become more important than ever before. However, with the increasingly limited resources from governments, DFIs are now expected to mobilise resources to meet the fiscal gaps and continue to meet their developmental mandates across the various affected sectors of their economies.” Said Gare.