BOTSWANA PRISONS COMMISSIONER: Silas Motlalekgosi has added a star to his badge
The Botswana Prisons Service Commissioner, Silas Motlalekgosi has stirred controversy in the disciplined forces after introducing a star on his barge of rank, a decision that seems to have rubbed the Botswana Police Service the wrong way.
The Police view the decision as an ambitious exercise by the Prisons Chief to appear to be at par with the Police Chief in terms of seniority and power.
Weekendpost can reveal that the gigantic Commissioner recently introduced a star on his badge of rank,allegedly to hike his standing and honorability.
Motlalekgosi, a man described as so obsessed with power has reportedly been haunted by the disparities between the disciplined forces. His view and concern is that the three should be treated equally,a thing he believes is not not only happening but far from happening.
We sought a clarification from the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Defence, Justice and Security Segakweng Tsiane who said she would not know about issues of badges as they are departmental. She refered this publication to the Commissioner of Prisons for answers.
According to the Prisons Act, the Commissioner has sweeping powers over badges of rank. “Unless the Commissioner otherwise directs, a prison officer on duty shall wear the approapriate badges of rank prescribed in the Fouth Schedule,” it reads.
The Act stipulates that the Commissioner’s Badge is made up of ‘a crest over crest sorrounded by laurel wreth,a collar gorgettes with silver oak leaf spray and a double silver oak leaf spray on peak of cap.’ The Prisons Commissioner’s controversial move to up his standing by an indian star has angered the police service and has been a matter of discussion within the police service high powererd plartfoms and meetings, this publication has learnt.
The Police posit that the decision by the Prisons Commander is not only ill–adviced but over ambitious and notorious. They are of the view that the decision was undoutedly calculated not only to match the Police Commissioner but to also potray the two as equal in honour and standing.
Asked about the star in their Commissioner ‘s badge of rank, the Spokesperson of the Police Service, Christopher Mbulawa said, “a star was introduced during former Commissioner Norman Moleboge’s times.” He declined to discuss the specifics and significance of the items on the badge questioning this reporter’s motives.He later refered this reporter to his juniors.
The Police Commissioner’s badge of rank is made of Crossed tith staves rounded by a wreath,a star and a national amblem above while that of a BDF Commander is made of a Knife,national emblem and a stick of honour.
We Spoke to the former Commissioner of Police, Moleboge on this development and history.
“When a star was introduced it was a symbol of honour and respect.Back then we had what we called bars on the badge and we thought they didn’t communicate anything at that time hence our decision to develop the badge,” he said.
Asked over the differences between the Prisons Service and Police badges for rank of Commissioners, Moleboge replied that “they never looked the same and did not come close to each other as far as I am concerned,” he said.
He however remarked that issues of power and seniority between the Police and the Prisons services together with the Botswana Defence Force have always been there and that they will not end now until the rulers declare who is above the other.
“We mostly relied on the structures of payments to determine who is senior,” he said.The BDF Commander earns more than the Police Commissioner who earns more than the Prisons Commissioner.
Moleboge however says this has got its own complexities and can often mislead as there are other senior officials like Permanent Secretaries and those at the Directorate on Corruption and Economic Crimes who earn more than the said Commissioners.
Moleboge ‘s counterpart who is the former Prisons Commissioner,Herman Kau declined to comment demanding to know where this reporter obtained his mobile number.He declared the conversation an exercise in futility when the reporter expressed discomfort with divulging where he obtained the number.
“ When we parted we agreed that my number will not be a public matter and will only be released by certain individuals under some circumstances,” he said.
But who is really senior?
The Police in the Neighbouring South Africa earn more that the army but Botswana has got her own discrepancies and overlaps between the police and the army.The Prisons officers are trailing at the far end.
Locally, the Police argue that Prisons officers are just the guards who look after the criminals once convicted through the police’s work. Army oficers are often ridiculed because there really is never conflict or wars that would require their service.
A senior Police officer outlined their responsibility to us saying they are senior and deserve respect. “Our responsibilities define us and set us apart.We deal with a lot of paperwork,we hunt,we arrest,we investigate,we enforce the law,we got to the courts and so fourth.None of these two come close to this,” he charged.
Prisons officers however argue that all should be judged according to the execution of their mandate and nothing else. “We are the guardians and stay with prisoners for the most part of their lives,we look after them,we rehabilitate and perfom other duties like going to the courts amongst others,” said a source.
Conditions of Service and Welfare
Life has not been easy for Prisons officers. It is understood that the recruits have recently been training using their own clothes after they were told that there is no uniform.
This doesn’t only end with recruits, officers argue that during winter they are seen with only one jersey while their counterparts from BDF and Police wear various sweaters and different jackets of different makes, for various weather conditions.
The Prisons Act stipulates that Officers should wear a Khakhi suit with long sleeves in winter.The officers argue that they have given up on salary structure amendments as the government seems to be biased in favour of the BDF and the Police.
Asked over why the Prisons officers are subjected to the harsh treatment, particularly in winter, the Permanent Secretary, Tsiang fell shot of blaming the Prisons department.
“No, if there is a problem then it has to be departmental. They determine their uniform so for them to blame us is unfortunate,” she said.
This was reinterated by Moleboge who said that “uniform is a departmental issue but often heavily relies on one ‘s budget”.
The Police also argue that they are the victims of the yawning gaps between their salary structures with those who are above them either by a step or two.The Prisons Commissioner could not comment as he said he was in a long meeting at the time of going to press.
Former Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) Member of Parliament for Gaborone North, Haskins Nkaigwa has confirmed his departure from opposition fold to re-join the ruling Botswana Democratic Party (BDP).
Nkaigwa said opposition is extremely divided and the leadership not in talking terms. “They are planning evil against each other. Nothing much will be achieved,” Nkaigwa told WeekendPost.
“I believe my time in the opposition has come to an end. It’s time to be of value to rebuilding our nation and economy of the country. Remember the BDP is where I started my political journey. It is home,” he said.
“Despite all challenges currently facing the world, President Masisi will be far with his promises to Batswana. A leader always have the interest of the people at heart despite how some decisions may look to be unpopular with the people.
“I have faith and full confidence in President Dr Masisi leadership. We shall overcome as party and nation the current challenges bedevilling nations. BDP will emerge stronger. President Masisi will always have my backing.”
Nkaigwa served as opposition legislator between 2014-2019 representing Botswana Movement for Democracy (BMD) under UDC banner. He joined BMD in 2011 at the height public servant strike whilst Gaborone City Deputy Mayor. He eventually rose to become the mayor same year, after BDP lost majority in the GCC.
Nkaigwa had been a member of Botswana National Front (BNF), having joined from Alliance for Progressives (AP) in 2019.
Botswana has received assistance worth over P100 million from Japanese government since 2019, making the latter of the largest donors to Botswana in recent years.
The assistance include relatively large-scale grant aid programmes such as the COVID-19 programme (to provide medical equipment; P34 million), the digital terrestrial television programme (to distribute receivers to the underprivileged, P17 million), the agriculture promotion programme (to provide agricultural machinery and equipment, P53million).
“As 2020 was a particularly difficult year, where COVID-19 hit Botswana’s economy and society hard, Japan felt the need to assist Botswana as our friend,” said Japan’s new Ambassador to Botswana, Hoshiyama Takashi.
“It is for this reason that grants of over P100 million were awarded to Botswana for the above mentioned projects.”
Japan is now the world’s fourth highest ranking donor country in terms of Official Development Assistance (ODA).
From 1991 to 2000, Japan continued as the top donor country in the world and contributed to Asia’s miracle economic development.
From 1993 onwards, the TICAD process commenced through Japan’s initiative as stated earlier. Japan’s main contribution has been in the form of Yen Loans, which are at a concessional rate, to suit large scale infrastructure construction.
“In Botswana, only a few projects have been implemented using the Yen Loan such as the Morupule “A” Power Station Rehabilitation and Pollution Abatement in 1986, the Railway Rolling Stock Increase Project in 1987, the Trans-Kalahari Road Construction Project in 1991, the North-South Carrier Water Project in 1995 and the Kazungula Bridge Construction Project in 2012,” said Ambassador Hoshiyama.
“In terms of grant aid and technical assistance, Japan has various aid schemes including development survey and master planning, expert dispatch to recipient countries, expert training in Japan, scholarships, small scale grass-roots program, culture-related assistance, aid through international organizations and so on.”
In 1993, Japan launched Tokyo International Conference on African Development (TICAD) to promote Africa’s development, peace and security, through the strengthening of relations in multilateral cooperation and partnership.
TICAD discuss development issues across Africa and, at the same time, present “aid menus” to African countries provided by Japan and the main aid-related international organizations, United Nations (UN), United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the World Bank.
“As TICAD provides vision and guidance, it is up to each African country to take ownership and to implement her own development following TICAD polices and make use of the programmes shown in the aid menus,” Ambassordor Hoshiyama noted.
“This would include using ODA loans for quality infrastructure, suited to the country’s own nation-building needs. It is my fervent hope that Botswana will take full advantage of the TICAD process.”
Since then, seven conferences where held, the latest, TICAD 7 being in 2019 at Yokohama. TICAD 7’s agenda on African development focused on three pillars, among them the first pillar being “Accelerating economic transformation and improving business environment through innovation and private sector engagement”.
“Yes, private investment is very important, while public investment through ODA (Official Development Assistance) still plays an indispensable role in development,” the Japanese Ambassador said.
“For further economic development in Africa, Japan recognizes that strengthening regional connectivity and integration through investment in quality infrastructure is key.”
Japan has emphasized the following; effective implementation of economic corridors such as the East Africa Northern Corridor, Nacala Corridor and West Africa Growth Ring; Quality infrastructure investment in line with the G20 Principles for Quality Infrastructure Investment should be promoted by co-financing or cooperation through the African Development Bank (AfDB) and Japan.
Japan also emphasized the establishment of mechanisms to encourage private investment and to improve the business environment.
According to the statistics issued by Japan’s Finance Ministry, Japan invested approximately 10 billion US dollars in Africa after TICAD 7 (2019) to year end 2020, but Japanese investment through third countries are not included in this figure.
“With the other points factored in, the figure isn’t established yet,” Ambassador Hoshiyama said.
The next conference, TICAD 8 will be held in Tunisia in 2022. This will be the second TICAD summit to be held on the African continent after TICAD 6 which was held in Nairobi, Kenya, in 2016.
According to Ambassador Hoshiyama, in preparation for TICAD 8, the TICAD ministerial meeting will be held in Tokyo this year. The agenda to be discussed during TICAD 8 has not yet been fully deliberated on amongst TICAD Co-organizers (Japan, UN, UNDP, the World Bank and AU).
“Though not officially concluded, given the world situation caused by COVID-19, I believe that TICAD 8 will highlight health and medical issues including the promotion of a Universal Health Coverage (UHC),” said Hoshiyama.
“As the African economy has seriously taken a knock by COVID-19, economic issues, including debt, could be an item for serious discussion.”
The promotion of business is expected to be one of the most important topics. Japan and its partners, together with the business sector, will work closely to help revitalize private investment in Africa.
“All in all, the follow-up of the various programs that were committed by the Co-Organizers during the Yokohama Plan of Actions 2019 will also be reviewed as an important item of the agenda,” Ambassador Hoshiyama said.
“I believe that this TICAD follow-up mechanism has secured transparency and accountability as well as effective implementation of agreed actions by all parties. The guiding principle of TICAD is African ownership and international partnership.”
Directorate on Intelligence Services (DIS) Director General, Brigadier Peter Magosi is said to be hell-bent and pushing President Mokgweetsi Masisi to reshuffle his cabinet as a matter of urgency since a number of his ministers are conflicted.
The request by Magosi comes at a time when time is ticking on his contract which is awaiting renewal from Masisi.
This publication learns that Magosi is unshaken by the development and continues to wield power despite uncertainty hovering around his contractual renewal.