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Friday, 19 April 2024

UDC MPs want BDF tenders investigated


Commission to summon Motsumi, Kgathi to testify

Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) Members of Parliament will table a motion in parliament calling for the establishment of a Commission of Inquiry to investigate the companies which were awarded tenders of supplying equipments to Botswana Defence Force (BDF).

This follows a statement made by Minister of Defence, Justice and Security Shaw Kgathi in which he stated that the previous answer given to parliament by the then acting Minister Lesego Motsumi regarding the tenders won by Seleka Spring (Pty) Ltd was incorrect.

“The fact that two ministers gave contrasting answers to parliament is clearly a serious matter hence the need to establish a Commission of Inquiry to find out the truth,” MP for Francistown South, Wynter Mmolotsi told WeekendPost.

UDC MPs suspect that Minister Kgathi wants to cover up for the owners of the company which has become centre of debate, Seleka Springs. The company is jointly owned by President Lt Gen Ian Khama’s brothers, Anthony and Tshekedi Khama.

In 2011, following her answer to parliament regarding the awarding of BDF tenders, Lesego Motsumi, who was a specially elected MP was relieved from her duties and replaced with Dr Gloria Somolokae. Motsumi was sent on ambassadorial duty to India.

Motsumi was answering a question in parliament asked by Mmolotsi who had wanted to know companies which were awarded BDF tenders to supply the army from 1990 up until 2000. In her response Motsumi mentioned Seleka Springs (Pty) as one of the companies which had won BDF tenders during the period.

In December 2014, Mokgware asked the incumbent minister to state the number of tenders that were awarded to Seleka Springs and the value of such tenders. The response from the Minister was that, Seleka Springs was never awarded the tender but only acted as an agent, leading to request by Kgathi to retract the previous answer presented by Motsumi as erroneous.   

This week, however, Motsumi maintained in an interview with a local radio station that the answer she provided to parliament in 2010 regarding BDF tenders was accurate and she never misled parliament. Meanwhile the incumbent Kgathi said Seleka Springs (Pty) Ltd has never been a supplier to BDF but was only engaged as agent.

Opposition MPs are of the view that Kgathi’s answer leaves a lot to be desired after he stated that he is not privy to the manner in which the data used by the previous minister (Motsumi) to arrive to her answer. MP for Gabane-Mankgodi Major General Pius Mokgware said Kgathi was dishonest on his assertion that he was not privy to the manner in which Motsumi arrived at her answer, “What made Minister Kgathi to come to a conclusion that he is right because he is not privy to that information?” asked Mokgware.

Mokgware said it was not the right thing for the incumbent minister to remove the previous answer provided by the then minister. He said the development will set precedence and should not be allowed to go ahead without stern questioning.” Ministers arrive at decisions based on certain information and it certainly not right for them to present differing answers. The first answer provided by minister Motsumi was accepted by parliament,” he said. “It is not good for our records because the next minister might do the same and it would not be a right procedure for our parliament.”

The former army man said the answer provided by Motsumi in 2010 should remain the accepted answer and should be removed from the parliament Hansard only after the truth has been established. “We cannot accept Minister Kgathi’s answer without any sort of investigation because we suspect he is not telling the truth,” he said.

A motion for a Commission of Inquiry, if passed will see both the incumbent Minister of Defence, Justice and Security Kgathi and former Acting Minister Motsumi being summoned before the established committee to testify and reconcile the truth on the matter.

Mmolotsi is expected to present the motion to parliament after consulting with party parliamentary caucus.

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Nigerians, Zimbabweans apply for Chema Chema Fund

16th April 2024

Fronting activities, where locals are used as a front for foreign-owned businesses, have been a long-standing issue in Botswana. These activities not only undermine the government’s efforts to promote local businesses but also deprive Batswana of opportunities for economic empowerment, officials say. The Ministry of Trade and Industry has warned of heavy penalties for those involved in fronting activities especially in relation to the latest popular government initiative dubbed Chema Chema.

According to the Ministry, the Industrial Development Act of 2019 clearly outlines the consequences of engaging in fronting activities. The fines of up to P50,000 for first-time offenders and P20,000 plus a two-year jail term for repeat offenders send a strong message that the government is serious about cracking down on this illegal practice. These penalties are meant to deter individuals from participating in fronting activities and to protect the integrity of local industries.

“It is disheartening to hear reports of collaboration between foreigners and locals to exploit government initiatives such as the Chema Chema Fund. This fund, administered by CEDA and LEA, is meant to support informal traders and low-income earners in Botswana. However, when fronting activities come into play, the intended beneficiaries are sidelined, and the funds are misused for personal gain.” It has been discovered that foreign nationals predominantly of Zimbabwean and Nigerian origin use unsuspecting Batswana to attempt to access the Chema Chema Fund. It is understood that they approach these Batswana under the guise of drafting business plans for them or simply coming up with ‘bankable business ideas that qualify for Chema Chema.’

Observers say the Chema Chema Fund has the potential to uplift the lives of many Batswana who are struggling to make ends meet. They argue that it is crucial that these funds are used for their intended purpose and not siphoned off through illegal activities such as fronting. The Ministry says the warning it issued serves as a reminder to all stakeholders involved in the administration of these funds to ensure transparency and accountability in their disbursement.

One local commentator said it is important to highlight the impact of fronting activities on the local economy and the livelihoods of Batswana. He said by using locals as a front for foreign-owned businesses, opportunities for local entrepreneurs are stifled, and the economic empowerment of Batswana is hindered. The Ministry’s warning of heavy penalties is a call to action for all stakeholders to work together to eliminate fronting activities and promote a level playing field for local businesses.

Meanwhile, the Ministry of Trade and Industry’s warning of heavy penalties for fronting activities is a necessary step to protect the integrity of local industries and promote economic empowerment for Batswana. “It is imperative that all stakeholders comply with regulations and work towards a transparent and accountable business environment. By upholding the law and cracking down on illegal activities, we can ensure a fair and prosperous future for all Batswana.”










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Merck Foundation and African First Ladies mark World Health Day 2024

15th April 2024

Merck Foundation, the philanthropic arm of Merck KGaA Germany marks “World Health Day” 2024 together with Africa’s First Ladies who are also Ambassadors of MerckFoundation “More Than a Mother” Campaign through their Scholarship and Capacity Building Program. Senator, Dr. Rasha Kelej, CEO of Merck Foundation emphasized, “At Merck Foundation, we mark World Health Day every single day of the year over the past 12 years, by building healthcare capacity and transforming patient care across Africa, Asia and beyond.

I am proud to share that Merck Foundation has provided over 1740 scholarships to aspiring young doctors from 52 countries, in 44 critical and underserved medical specialties such as Oncology, Diabetes, Preventative Cardiovascular Medicine, Endocrinology, Sexual and Reproductive Medicine, Acute Medicine, Respiratory Medicine, Embryology & Fertility specialty, Gastroenterology, Dermatology, Psychiatry, Emergency and Resuscitation Medicine, Critical Care, Pediatric Emergency Medicine, Neonatal Medicine, Advanced Surgical Practice, Pain Management, General Surgery, Clinical Microbiology and infectious diseases, Internal Medicine, Trauma & Orthopedics, Neurosurgery, Neurology, Cardiology, Stroke Medicine, Care of the Older Person, Family Medicine, Pediatrics and Child Health, Obesity & Weight Management, Women’s Health, Biotechnology in ART and many more”.

As per the available data, Africa has only 34.6% of the required doctors, nurses, and midwives. It is projected that by 2030, Africa would need additional 6.1 million doctors, nurses, and midwives*. “For Example, before the start of the Merck Foundation programs in 2012; there was not a single Oncologist, Fertility or Reproductive care specialists, Diabetologist, Respiratory or ICU specialist in many countries such as The Gambia, Liberia, Sierra Leone, Central African Republic, Guinea, Burundi, Niger, Chad, Ethiopia, Namibia among others. We are certainly creating historic legacy in Africa, and also beyond. Together with our partners like Africa’s First Ladies, Ministries of Health, Gender, Education and Communication, we are impacting the lives of people in the most disadvantaged communities in Africa and beyond.”, added Senator Dr. Kelej. Merck Foundation works closely with their Ambassadors, the African First Ladies and local partners such as; Ministries of Health, Education, Information & Communication, Gender, Academia, Research Institutions, Media and Art in building healthcare capacity and addressing health, social & economic challenges in developing countries and under-served communities. “I strongly believe that training healthcare providers and building professional healthcare capacity is the right strategy to improve access to equitable and quality at health care in Africa.

Therefore, I am happy to announce the Call for Applications for 2024 Scholarships for young doctors with special focus on female doctors for our online one-year diploma and two year master degree in 44 critical and underserved medical specialties, which includes both Online Diploma programs and On-Site Fellowship and clinical training programs. The applications are invited through the Office of our Ambassadors and long-term partners, The First Ladies of Africa and Ministry of Health of each country.” shared Dr . Kelej. “Our aim is to improve the overall health and wellbeing of people by building healthcare capacity across Africa, Asia and other developing countries. We are strongly committed to transforming patientcare landscape through our scholarships program”, concluded Senator Kelej.

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Interpol fugitive escapes from Botswana

15th April 2024

John Isaak Ndovi, a Tanzanian national embroiled in controversy and pursued under a red notice by the International Criminal Police Organization (Interpol), has mysteriously vanished, bypassing a scheduled bail hearing at the Extension 2 Magistrate Court in Gaborone. Previously apprehended by Botswana law enforcement at the Tlokweng border post several months earlier, his escape has ignited serious concerns.

Accused of pilfering assets worth in excess of P1 million, an amount translating to roughly 30,000 Omani Riyals, Ndovi has become a figure of paramount interest, especially to the authorities in the Sultanate of Oman, nestled in the far reaches of Asia.

The unsettling news of his disappearance surfaced following his failure to present himself at the Extension 2 Magistrate Court the preceding week. Speculation abounds that Ndovi may have sought refuge in South Africa in a bid to elude capture, prompting a widespread mobilization of law enforcement agencies to ascertain his current location.

In an official communiqué, Detective Senior Assistant Police Commissioner Selebatso Mokgosi of Interpol Gaborone disclosed Ndovi’s apprehension last September at the Tlokweng border, a capture made possible through the vigilant issuance of the Interpol red notice.

At 36, Ndovi is implicated in a case of alleged home invasion in Oman. Despite the non-existence of an extradition treaty between Botswana and Oman, Nomsa Moatswi, the Director of the Directorate of Public Prosecution (DPP), emphasized that the lack of formal extradition agreements does not hinder her office’s ability to entertain extradition requests. She highlighted the adoption of international cooperation norms, advocating for collaboration through the lenses of international comity and reciprocity.

Moatswi disclosed the intensified effort by law enforcement to locate Ndovi following his no-show in court, and pointed to Botswana’s track record of extraditing two international fugitives from France and Zimbabwe in the previous year as evidence of the country’s relentless pursuit of legal integrity.

When probed about the potential implications of Ndovi’s case on Botswana’s forthcoming evaluation by the Financial Action Task Force (FATF), Moatswi reserved her speculations. She acknowledged the criticality of steering clear of blacklisting, suggesting that this singular case is unlikely to feature prominently in the FATF’s assessment criteria.


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