Permanent Secretary sets CID agents on graft tipster
By Aubrey Lute
MINISTER OF LOCAL GOVERNMENT: Slumber Tsogwane
In a case that could demonstrate why Botswana needs whistle-blower protection law, the outgoing permanent secretary in the Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development, Khumo Matlhare effectively leaked a letter alleging maladministration and corruption by one of his senior officers. He availed the said letter, authored by the junior to the attention of the Minister, to the concerned senior officer.
As if this was not enough, our sources at the Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development have informed is publication that the officer based in the Central District, has been charged with misconduct and accessing confidential information.
She is expected to go through disciplinary proceedings this month and faces three counts. The permanent secretary is said to be incensed by the fact that the junior officer did not route her letter through the same officer she is complaining about.
In addition, the permanent secretary is said to have instructed the Botswana Police and some members of the Central Investigation Department (CID) to search the office of the officer, confiscate her memory sticks, CPU, laptops and other gadgets. It is understood that this was done to ensure that she does not have access to any information that could be deemed confidential. She was accused of accessing information from her supervisor’s office.
The policer officers who were instructed to seize property from the officer were under the impression that the instruction had come from the Office of the President only to learn that it was the permanent secretary who arranged the heist.
The officers who were not armed with a search warrant were meant to wait for a letter authorising the confiscation of the computers from the permanent secretary, but the letter was never faxed and they ended up leaving the office without confiscating any property. They were under the instruction to collect the computers and keep them in the office of the District Commissioner (DC).
On follow up, this publication gathered from a CID officer in Palapye that he heard that the three officers who were sent to the Local Government officer were actually very senior. There was an Assistant Superintendent, an Inspector and a Sergeant, all three from the Serowe CID department.
The Minister, Mr Slumber Tsogwane was given the letter of complaint and he passed it on to his permanent secretary, Matlhare for action. According to information reaching this publication, the officer has since been instructed to leave her work station with immediate effect. “But we learn that she is fighting back through her attorneys because she sees this as harassment,” said an officer at Local Government.
In the original letter in which she was alleging acts of corruption and maladministration, the officer who works in the office of the District Commissioner in the Central District had filed a chilling letter detailing what she described as ‘maladministration’ in the Central District at the District Commissioner’s office. The letter is currently making life very uncomfortable in the office of the Minister of Local Government and Rural Development, Tsogwane.
“Firstly there are several issues which I am alive to which border on maladministration that I have stood against, which without doubt contributed to this transfer; therefore transferring me is a desperate attempt to silence me. This maladministration practices will be elaborated at a later stage,” she wrote.
After stating her case against a forced transfer, the officer went on to elaborate on a number of instances where she was instructed to make unprocedural payments and refused.
“I was requested by my supervisor (names withheld) to write a letter to Supplies Office to request for direct appointment of a company (name withheld) to clear the District Commissioner’s official residence contrary to financial instruction. I did not accede to the instruction as I was not comfortable with being involved in malpractices and this did not sit well with my boss,” she wrote.
A number of local government officers are complaining about acts of maladministration and alleged corruption in the Ministry. They allege that when they refuse to be party to the actions they are victimised with unjust transfers and disciplinary actions.
Another piece of information leaked to this publication by a disgruntled Ministry of Local Government officer this week suggests that at one point last year she was made to pay P12 000 for 12 ordinary diaries and when she complained to the supplier about the price her supervisor told her that she has negotiated the price from P12000 to P7000. She further indicated that Morupule Colliery Mine once donated P5000 to the Public Service Choral Choir and the money never went to the choir because it was used to buy alcohol for a party organised by her supervisor.
Other officers who spoke anonymously to this publication shared their frustrations on transfers indicating that there are officers who are never transferred. “They buy their way to stay at one station by being used to approve shady deals. Some of them benefit immensely because they are transferred to their preferred stations on promotion and a year letter they are transferred back to their favourite stations,” one of the employees alleged.
Khumo Matlhare is expected to pass the baton to the next person because he has been shifted from the position of permanent secretary to that of coordinator effective May 1st.
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ENVIRONMENT ISSUES: Masisi asks Virginia for help
President Mokgweetsi Masisi says the issue of sustainable natural resources management has always been an important part of Botswana’s national development agenda.
Masisi was speaking this week on the occasion of a public lecture at Virginia Polytechnic, under theme, “Merging Conservation, Democracy and Sustainable Development in Botswana.”
Botswana, according to Masisi, holds the view that the environment is fragile and as such, must be managed and given the utmost protection to enable the achievement of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
“It is necessary that we engage one another in the interchange of ideas, perspectives, visualizations of social futures, and considerations of possible strategies and courses of action for sustainable development,” said Masisi.
On the other hand, dialogue, in the form of rigorous democratic discourse among stakeholders presents another basis for reconfiguring how people act on their environments, with a view to conserving its resources that “we require to meet our socio-economic development needs on a sustainable basis,” Masisi told attendees at the public lecture.
He said government has a keen interest in understanding the epidemiology and ecology of diseases of both domestic and wild animals. “It is our national interest to forestall the dire consequences of animal diseases on our communities livelihoods.”
President Masisi hoped that both Botswana and Virginia could help each other in curbing contagious diseases of wildlife.
“We believe that Virginia Tech can reasonably share their experiences, research insights and advances in veterinary sciences and medicines, to help us build capacity for knowledge creation and improve efforts of managing and containing contagious diseases of wildlife. The ground is fertile for entering into such a mutually beneficial partnership.”
When explaining environmental issues further, Masisi said efforts of conservation and sustainable development might at times be hampered by the emergence and recurrence of diseases when pathogens mutate and take host of more than one species.
“Water pollution also kills aquatic life, such as fish, which is one of humanity’s much deserved sources of food. In this regard, One Health Approach imposes ecological responsibility upon all of us to care for the environment and the bio-diversity therein.”
He said the production and use of animal vaccines is an important space and tool for conservation, particularly to deal with trans-border animal diseases.
“In Botswana, our 43-year-old national premier pharmaceutical institution called Botswana Vaccine Institute has played its role well. Through its successful production of highly efficacious Foot and Mouth vaccines, the country is able to contain this disease as well as supply vaccines to other countries in the sub-region.:
He has however declared that there is need for more help, saying “We need more capacitation to deal with and contain other types of microbial that affect both animals and human health.”
Masisi saddened by deaths of elephant attacks
President Mokgweetsi Masisi has expressed a strong worry over elephants killing people in Botswana. When speaking in Virginia this week, Masisi said it is unfortunate that Batswana have paid a price with their own blood through being attacked by elephants.
“Communities also suffer unimaginable economic losses yearly when their crops are eaten by the elephants. In spite of such incidents of human-elephant conflict, our people embrace living together with the animals. They fully understand wildlife conservation and its economic benefits in tourism.”
In 2018, Nthobogang Samokwase’s father was attacked by an elephant when travelling from the fields, where he stayed during the cropping season.
It was reported that the man couldn’t run because of his age. He was found trampled by the elephant and was pronounced dead upon arrival at the hospital.
In the same year, in Maun, a 57-year-old British woman was attacked by an elephant at Boro and died upon arrival at the hospital. The woman was with her Motswana partner, and were walking dogs in the evening.
Last month, a Durban woman named Carly Marshall survived an elephant attack while on holiday in the bush in Botswana. She was stabbed by one of the elephant’s tucks through the chest and was left with bruises. Marshall also suffered several fractured ribs from the ordeal.
President Masisi Botswana has the largest population of African elephants in the world, totaling more than 130 000. “This has been possible due to progressive conservation policies, partnerships with the communities, and investment in wildlife management programmes.”
In order to benefit further from wildlife, Masisi indicated that government has re-introduced controlled hunting in 2019 after a four-year pause. “The re-introduction of hunting was done in an open, transparent and democratic way, giving the communities an opportunity to air their views. The funds from the sale of hunting quota goes towards community development and elephant conservation.”
He stressed that for conservation to succeed, the local people must be involved and derive benefits from the natural resources within their localities.
“There must be open and transparent consultations which involve all sectors of the society. It is against this backdrop that as a country, we lead the continent on merging conservation, democracy and sustainable development.”
Masisi stated that Botswana is open to collaborative opportunities, “particularly with identifiable partners such as Virginia Tech, in other essential areas such as conservation, and the study of the interplay among the ecology of diseases of wild animals and plants, and their effects on human health and socio-economic development.”
Gov’t commit to injecting more funds in fighting HIV
Minister for State President Kabo Morwaeng says government will continue to make resources available in terms of financial allocations and human capital to ensure that Botswana achieves the ideal of eradicating HIV and AIDS as a public health threat by 2030.
Morwaeng was speaking this morning in Gaborone at the High-Level Advocacy event to accelerate HIV Prevention in Botswana. He said the National AIDS and Health Promotion Agency (NAPHA), in partnership with UNAIDS, UN agencies, the Global Fund and PEPFAR, have started a process of developing transition readiness plan for sustainability of HIV prevention and treatment programmes.
“It is important for us, as a country that has had a fair share of donor support in the response to an epidemic such as HIV and AIDS, to look beyond the period when the level of assistance would have reduced, or ceased, thus calling for domestic financing for all areas which were on donor support.”
Morwaeng said this is important as the such a plan will guarantee that all the gains accrued from the response with donor support will be sustained until the end when “we reach the elimination of HIV and AIDS as a public health threat by 20230,” he said.
“I commit to continue support efforts towards strengthened HIV prevention, accentuating HIV primary prevention and treatment as prevention towards Zero New Infections, Zero Stigma, Discrimination and Zero AIDS related death, to end AIDS in Botswana.”
He reiterated that government commits to tackle legislative, policy and programming challenges that act as barriers to the achievement of the goal of ending AIDS as a public health threat.
In the financial year 2022/2023, a total of 119 Civil Society Organizations, including Faith Based Organizations, were contracted with an amount of P100 million to implement HIV and NCDs prevention activities throughout the country, and the money was drawn from the Consolidated Fund.
Through an upcoming HIV Prevention Symposium, technical stakeholders will use outcomes to develop the Botswana HIV Prevention Acceleration Road Map for 2023-2025.
Morwaeng stated that government will support and ensure that Botswana plays its part achieving the road map. He said there is need to put hands on the deck to ensure that Botswana sustains progress made so far in the fight against HIV and AIDS.
“There are tremendous achievements thus far to, reach and surpass the UNAIDS fast track targets of 95%- 95%- 95% by the year 2025. As reflected by the BAIS preliminary results of 2021, we now stand at 95- 98- 98 against the set targets.”
“These achievements challenge us to now shift our gears and strive to know who are the remaining 5% for those aware of their HIV status, 2% of enrolment on treatment by those aware of their status and 2% of viral suppression by those on treatment.”
Explaining this further, Morwaeng said shift in gears should extend to coming up with robust strategies of determining where these remaining people are as well as how they will be reached with the necessary services.
“These are just some of the many variables that are required to ensure that as a country, we are well positioned to reaching the last mile of our country’s response to the HIV and AIDS pandemic.”