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Rabana case: Khama’s word vital

Ngakaagae says Sechele is conflicted in the case

It is an uphill battle for the Directorate of Public Prosecution (DPP) and Attorney General in the renewed pursuit of former Botswana Housing Corporation (BHC) deputy director, and fugitive, Gaolekwe Rabana. Rabana was charged for tender bribes.


Rabana fled Botswana almost 13 years ago whilst facing corruption charges in connection with the awarding of tenders for construction of BHC houses in Block 5. Charges against him are that he had accepted bribes in order for the tender to construct houses in Block 5 to be awarded to a construction company that did not qualify for the bid.

The State alleged that, in return for that, Rabana was given air tickets for him and his family to fly to Europe and America as well as money for accommodation in luxury hotels. He fled the country when the state was left with only two witnesses to call.


The Directorate on Corruption and Economic Crime then set out to find him and finally traced him to Johannesburg where he is reported to be residing with his family. After he was located, he refused to return to Botswana to face trial and this led to his extradition trial.


Gaborone attorney, Kgosiitsile Ngakaagae, who is representing Rabana challenges the extradition and wants to nullify the case. He has advised that the prosecution does not have, or has ceased to have legal basis.

According to court papers submitted at the Francistown High Court recently, Ngakaagae, through his client argues that, Director of Public Prosecutions, Leornard Sechele who was the presiding magistrate cannot be the judge in his own case.


According to the documents, Rabana is seeking relief from the case on the grounds that the Sechele is now pursuing him and on the other hand in charge of his prosecution and therefore is conflicted. “Sechele was and remains, for all intents and purposes, the presiding magistrate.

All the seventeen witnesses called in that trial testified before him as the presiding officer. Before he assumed other career interests he was a judicial officer in particular a Chief magistrate. The trial, including all seventeen witnesses was concluded before and is pending before him,” he said.


Furthermore, “That means that his Excellency the President will have to appoint him as such. Essentially he will have to take leave from DPP office or quit his job as such so as to be able to try Rabana and take the matter to its logical Conclusion,” argues the lawyer.


They further argue that alternatively, Sechele would have to wait for his contract to expire and then shift roles from being the prosecutor to a magistrate, if he is appointed as such.


“The unfairness of the aforementioned inevitable scenario is self-evident. One cannot fairly be a judge in their own case or in a case they are prosecuting or have prosecuted or have been involved in some way in a prosecutorial capacity,” argues Ngakaagae and his client. This they say is for the reasons that a prosecution must take some particular views about a suspect or an accused person even if on a prima facie basis.


“While a Magistrate, Sechele only had access to what was placed before him within the context of the judicial proceedings but now he has access to everything, admissible or inadmissible that forms part of the prosecution docket. His position has compromised him gravely and irremediably,” the applicants change.


According to the documents, Sechele is no longer legally competent to return to his former function to adjudicate over the matter saying the two offices are irreconcilable. “Given that the proceedings are no longer competent it is imperative that the record of proceedings be set aside,” they argued.


Rabana and his lawyer further challenge the legality of the case, citing section 26 of the Criminal Procedure and Evidence Act that states that the right of prosecution for any other offence except murder is barred by 20 years.

“The situation is exacerbated by the fact that it is now many years since trial started and since the last witness ceased to testify. The court’s recollection of the verbatim narrative of the witness has surely since faded,” Rabana stated.


The then Gaborone Chief Magistrate and now Director of the DPP, Sechele, presided over the matter whilst current Lobatse High Court Judge, Leatile Dambe, prosecuted. The trial suffered setbacks around 2001 when both the prosecutor and presiding officer went for studies overseas.

The case had to wait for their return before it could continue, hence the mix up. The case began in 1991 but was registered in 1995 and commenced in 2002 and faced challenges when it was nearing its end.

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Veteran journalist Karima Brown succumbs to COVID-19

4th March 2021
Karima-Brown

South Africa’s veteran journalist and broadcaster, Karima Brown has died on Thursday morning from COVID-19 related complications.

Media reports from the neighbouring country say Brown had been hospitalized and on a ventilator.

Brown anchored eNCA’s The Fix and was a regular political analyst on the eNCA channel.

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Botswana imports in numbers

1st March 2021
Botswana-imports

For so many years, Botswana has been trying to be a self-sufficient country that is able to provide its citizens with locally produced food products. Through appropriate collaborations with parastatals such as CEDA, ISPAAD and LEA, government introduced initiatives such as the Horticulture Impact Accelerator Subsidy-IAS and other funding facilities to facilitate horticultural farmers to increase production levels.

Now that COVID-19 took over and disrupted the food value chain across all economies, Botswana government introduced these initiatives to reduce the import bill by enhancing local market and relieve horticultural farmers from loses or impacts associated with the pandemic.

In more concerted efforts to curb these food crises in the country, government extended the ploughing period for the Southern part of Botswana. The extension was due to the late start of rains in the Southern part of the country.

Last week the Ministry of Agriculture extended the ploughing period for the Northern part of the country, mainly because of rains recently experienced in the country. With these decisions taken urgently, government optimizes food security and reliance on local food production.

When pigs fly, Botswana will be able to produce food to feed its people. This is evident by the numbers released by Statistics Botswana on imports recorded in November 2020, on their International Merchandise Trade Statistics for the month under review.

The numbers say Botswana continues to import most of its food from neighbouring South Africa. Not only that, Batswana relies on South Africa to have something to smoke, to drink and even use as machinery.

According to data from Statistics Botswana, the country’s total imports amounted to P6.881 Million. Diamonds contributed to the total imports at 33%, which is equivalent to P2.3 Million. This was followed by food, beverages and tobacco, machinery and electrical equipment which stood at P912 Million and P790 Million respectively.

Most of these commodities were imported from The Southern African Customs Union (SACU). The Union supplied Botswana with imports valued at over P4.8 Million of Botswana’s imports for the month under review (November 2020). The top most imported commodity group from SACU region was food, beverages and tobacco, with a contribution of P864 Million, which is likely to be around 18.1% of the total imports from the region.

Diamonds and fuel, according to these statistics, contributed 16.0%, or P766 Million and 13.5% or P645 Million respectively. Botswana also showed a strong and desperate reliance on neighbouring South Africa for important commodities. Even though the borders between the two countries in order to curb the spread of the COVID-19 virus, government took a decision to open border gates for essential services which included the transportation of commodities such as food.

Imports from South Africa recorded in November 2020 stood at P4.615 Million, which accounted for 67.1% of total imports during the month under review. Still from that country, Botswana bought food, beverages and tobacco worth P844 Million (18.3%), diamonds, machinery and fuel worth P758 Million, P601 Million and P562 Million respectively.

Botswana also imported chemicals and rubber products that made a contribution of 11.7% (P542.2 Million) to total imports from South Africa during the month under review, (November 2020).

The European Union also came to Botswana’s rescue in the previous year. Botswana received imports worth P698.3 Million from the EU, accounting for 10.1% of the total imports during the same month. The major group commodity imported from the EU was diamonds, accounting for 86.9% (P606.6 Million), of imports from the Union. Belgium was the major source of imports from the EU, at 8.9% (P609.1 Million) of total imports during the period under review.

Meanwhile, Minister of Finance and Economic Development Thapelo Matsheka says an improvement in exports and commodity prices will drive growth in Sub-Saharan Africa. Growth in the region is anticipated to recover modestly to 3.2% in 2021. Matsheka said this when delivering the Annual Budget Speech virtually in Gaborone on the 1st of February 2021.

He said implementation of the African Continental Free Trade Area Agreement (AfCFTA), which became operational in January 2021, could reduce the region’s vulnerability to global disruptions, as well as deepen trade and economic integration.

“This could also help boost competition and productivity. Successful implementation of AfCFTA will, of necessity, require Member States to eliminate both tariffs and non-tariff barriers, and generally make it easier to do business and invest across borders.”

Matsheka, who is also a Member of Parliament for Lobatse, an ailing town which houses the struggling biggest meat processing company in the country- Botswana Meat Commission, (BMC), said the Southern African Customs Union (SACU) recognizes the need to prioritize the key processes required for the implementation of the AfCFTA.

“The revised SACU Tariff Offer, which comprises 5,988 product lines with agreed Rules of Origin, representing 77% of the SACU Tariff Book, was submitted to the African Union Commission (AUC) in November 2020. The government is in the process of evaluating the tariff offers of other AfCFTA members prior to ratification, following which Botswana’s participation in AfCFTA will come to effect.”

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Sheila Tlou: On why women don’t get votes

1st March 2021
Sheila Tlou

BARAPEDI KEDIKILWE

Women continue to shadow men in politics – stereotypes such as ‘behind every successful man there is a woman’ cast the notion that women cannot lead. The 2019 general election recorded one of Botswana’s worst performances when it comes to women participation in parliamentary democracy with only three women elected to parliament.

Botswana’s former Minister of Health, Professor Sheila Tlou who is currently the Co-Chair, Global HIV Prevention Coalition & Nursing Now and an HIV, Gender & Human Rights Activist is not amused by the status quo. Tlou attributes this dilemma facing women to a number of factors, which she is convinced influence the voting patterns of Batswana when it comes to women politicians.

Professor Tlou plugs the party level voting systems as the first hindrance that blocks women from ascending to power. According to the former Minister of Health, there is inadequate amount of professionalism due to corrupt internal party structures affecting the voters roll and ultimately leading to voter apathy for those who end up struck off the voters rolls under dubious circumstances.

Tlou also stated that women’s campaigns are often clean; whilst men put to play the ‘politics is dirty metaphor using financial muscle to buy voters into voting for them without taking into consideration their abilities and credibility. The biggest hurdle according to Tlou is the fallacy that ‘Women cannot lead’, which is also perpetuated by other women who discourage people from voting for women.

There are numerous factors put on the table when scrutinizing a woman, she can be either too old, or too young, or her marital status can be used against her. An unmarried woman is labelled as a failure and questioned on how she intends on being a leader when she failed to have a home. The list is endless including slut shaming women who have either been through a divorce or on to their second marriages, Tlou observed.

The only way that voters can be emancipated from this mentality according to Tlou is through a robust voter education campaign tailor made to run continuously and not be left to the eve of elections as it is usually done. She further stated that the current crop of women in parliament must show case their abilities and magnify them – this will help make it clear that they too are worthy of votes.

And to women intending to run for office, Tlou encouraged them not to wait for the eleventh hour to show their interest and rather start in community mobilisation projects as early as possible so that the constituents can get to know them and their abilities prior to the election date.

Youthful Botswana National Front (BNF) leader and feminist, Resego Kgosidintsi blames women’s mentality towards one another which emanates from the fact that women have been socialised from a tender age that they cannot be leaders hence they find it difficult to vote for each other.

Kgosidintsi further states that, “Women do not have enough economic resources to stage effective campaigns. They are deemed as the natural care givers and would rather divert their funds towards raising children and building homes over buying campaign materials.”

Meanwhile, Vice President of the Alliance for Progressives (AP), Wynter Mmolotsi agrees that women’s participation in politics in Botswana remains a challenge. To address this Mmolotsi suggested that there should be constituencies reserved for women candidates only so that the outcome regardless of the party should deliver a woman Member of Parliament.

Mmolotsi further suggested that Botswana should ditch the First Past the Post system of election and opt for the proportional representation where contesting parties will dutifully list able women as their representatives in parliament.

On why women do not get elected, Mmolotsi explained that he had heard first hand from voters that they are reluctant to vote for women since they have limited access to them once they have won; unlike their male counterparts who have proven to be available night or day.

The pre-historic awarding of gender roles relegating women to be pregnant and barefoot at home and the man to be out there fending for the family has disadvantaged women in political and other professional careers.

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