An Information technology company is threatening to launch two law suits, one aimed at businessman and farmer, Monty Chiepe and another directed at the Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) in a matter involving ‘unlawful’ confiscation of property and failure to honour agreements.
According to a demand letter shared with this publication, Noroc wants businessman, Monty Chiepe to explain why he seized several computers and related materials of the said Information Technology (IT) company, Noroc Technologies (Pty) Ltd, under unclear circumstances.
WeekendPost is informed that the businessman collected computers and other property “as evidence” from Noroc business premises at Phakalane on 16 April 2015.
As a result the company has engaged a Gaborone based lawyer, Joram Matomela of JJ Matomela Attorneys who intends to file an urgent application with the High Court to compel Chiepe to restore possession of the said properties to his client.
It is understood that Noroc Technologies (Pty) Ltd had been previously engaged by the ruling BDP to compile and analyse their membership databases. The BDP did not pay for the services rendered by the company and its proprietors sued, but later decided for an out of court settlement which never took off.
Indications are that the company accessed and associated itself with sensitive information pertaining to the BDP as their client – in particular relating to the party database and a certain report concerning the projected performance of the party in the 2014 general elections which was said to be standing at 43%.
It is understood that the BDP agreed to pay the said IT Company P1.2 million (including software worth P8.4 million) for providing the services before the General Elections – but they have not fulfilled the contract months after the elections. WeekendPost learnt that Noroc then instituted a court case against the party for failing to honour the arrangement while the party wanted to settle the matter outside court.
This publication has gathered that Matomela has already written a letter notifying one Monametsi Chiepe, who the court papers indicate that he claimed to be acting on behalf of the DIS, of the intention to sue over the confiscation of company computers and other materials.
“Take notice that your seizure of our client’s property has paralysed its operations and currently the company cannot function. In the premises we are instructed to demand, as we hereby do, that before close of business today (22 April 2015), i.e. by 1700hrs you restore possession of the property you have seized to the client,” Matomela warned.
The attorney also asserted that, “in the event that you had not complied with the above demand, we hold instructions to apply on urgent basis to the High Court to compel you to restore possession of the said property to the client.”
At the time of the seizure of the said property it is understood that Chiepe had no legal authority in the form of a court order that entitled them to client’s property. “We do hereby advice that your actions as afore-stated are unlawful. The unlawfulness thereof arises from the fact that, firstly, you do not have a legal claim to the said property and secondly you had no legal instrument in the form of a court order entitling you to seize the property.”
WeekendPost team then visited Monty Chiepe at his farm on the outskirts of Gaborone. He rubbished the allegations leveled against him by the IT Company saying they are not true and devoid of accuracy.
He indicated that instead the company has violated some cybercrime laws and he will be taking the matter to the courts very soon – as he feels he has “a strong case against the company.”
While he admitted to seizing the computers from the company, Chiepe said the computers belonged to him and some other stuff was owned by the company of course.
The calm and collected Chiepe said he has collected evidence enough to convince the court to arbitrate in the matter.
He said whether the IT Company takes him to court or not, he will still pursue his own case against the company. He asked this publication to follow the matter at court with keen interest as the truth will be revealed and consequently the case may assist other Batswana in the war against cybercrimes.
Matomela’s letter indicates that Noroc directors are accused of ‘cloning’ Chiepe’s company, and the Local Enterprise Authority (LEA) among others. The directors are alleged to have been threatened with jail.
It also states that Chiepe allegedly told the company directors to withdraw the case they had instituted against the BDP as well as withdraw from the police tender number DJS/MTC/POL:083/2014-2015. The tender which is worth P1 million and according to the letters passed to Chiepe, some BDP big shots had interest in the tender.
“The reason why the client is taking these threats serious is because prior to the seizure of the property complained of herein, there had been numerous threats and underhand tactics by various BDP officials to compel clients to retain what they seemed sensitive information on the BDP relating to its database and a report relating to the performance of the party in 2014 General Elections,” said the letter.
Meanwhile BDP Executive Secretary Sechele Sechele confirmed that the IT Company had wanted to do business with the BDP but the deal could not proceed due to their “high expectation of the deal.”
Noroc however claims to have worked with the BDP before – assisting with databases compilation as well as compiling and analyzing a prediction for the party towards 2014 General Elections.
“It’s true we have associated with the company but we could not engage them further as their expectations were too high and instead we opted for some other reasonable company,” said Sechele.
Sechele also confirmed that the Noroc had approached the court to sue the BDP on the matter. It is understood that the said Noroc dumped its lawyer along the way suspecting that he was working in cohorts with the BDP and instead engaged an alternative lawyer.
The Directors of the company are Temo Tau and Fredrick Mathiba. Noroc Technologies is a 100% citizen owned company specializing in software development.
Lebang Mpotokwane, one of the conveners who presided over the opposition cooperation talks that resulted in the formation of the Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC), has advised against changing the current umbrella model in favour of a merger as proposed by others.
The Botswana Congress Party (BCP) leader, Dumelang Saleshando recently went public to propose that UDC should consider merging of all opposition parties, including Alliance for Progressives (AP) and Botswana Patriotic Front (BNF).
Saleshando has been vehemently opposed by Botswana National Front (BNF), which is in favour of maintaining the current model. BNF’s position has been favoured by the founding father of UDC, who warned that it will be too early to ditch the current model.
“UDC should be well developed to promote the spirit of togetherness on members and the members should be taught so that the merger is developed gradually. They should approach it cautiously. If they feel they are ready, they can, but it would not be a good idea,” Mpotokwane told WeekendPost this week.
Mpotokwane and Emang Maphanyane are the two men who have since 2003 began a long journey of uniting opposition parties in a bid to dethrone the ruling Botswana Democratic Party (BCP) as they felt it needed a strong opposition to avoid complacency.
Tonota born Mpotokwane is however disappointed on how they have been ejected from participating in the last edition of talks ahead of the 2019 general elections in which BCP was brought on board. However, despite the ejection, Mpotokwane is not resentful to the opposition collective.
He said the vision of opposition unity was to ultimately merge the opposition parties but he believes time has not arrived yet to pursue that path. “The bigger picture was a total merger and we agreed that with three independent parties, members might be against merger eventuality so the current model should be used until a point where they are now together for as long as possible,” he said.
“UDC should gradually perform better in elections and gain confidence. They should not rush the merger. We have been meeting since 2003, but if they rush it might cause endless problems. If they are ready they can anyway,” he advised. For now the constituent parties of the umbrella have been exchanging salvos with others (BCP and BNF).
“There are good reasons for and against merging the parties. Personally, I am in favour of merging the parties (including AP and BPF) into a single formation but I know it’s a complex mission that will have its own challenges,” Saleshando said when he made his position known a week ago.
“Good luck to those advocating for a merger, it will be interesting to observe the tactics they will use to lure the BPF into a merger,” former BNF councillor for Borakalalo Ward and former BNF Youth League Secretary General, Arafat Khan, opined in relation to BCP’s proposed position.
Mpotokwane, who is currently out in the cold from the UDC since he was ejected from the party’s NEC in 2017, said the current bickering and the expected negotiations with other parties need the presence of conveners.
“We did not belong to any party as conveners so we were objective in our submissions. If party propose any progressive idea we will support, if it is not we will not, so I would agree that even now conveners might be key for neutrality to avoid biasness,” he observed. Despite being abandoned, Mpotokwane said he will always be around to assist if at all he is needed.
“If they want help I will be there, I have always been clear about it, but surely I will ask few questions before accepting that role,” he said. UDC is expected to begin cooperation talks with both AP and BPF either this week or next weekend for both upcoming bye-elections (halted by Covid-19) and 2024 general elections and it is revealed that there will be no conveners this time around.
The Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) moved through its lawyers to attach the property of Umbrella for Democratic (UDC) President Duma Boko and other former parliamentary contestants who failed in their court bid to overturn the 2019 general elections in 14 constituencies.
WeekendPost has established that this week, Deputy Sheriffs were commissioned by Bogopa Manewe Tobedza and Company who represented the BDP, to attach the properties of UDC elections contents in a bid to recover costs. High Court has issued a writ of execution against all petitioners, a process that has set in motion the cost recovery measures.
Botswana Sectors of Teachers Union (BOSETU) says COVID-19 as a pandemic has negatively affected the education sector by deeply disrupting the education system. The intermittent lockdowns have resulted in the halting of teaching and learning in schools.
The union indicated that the education system was caught napping and badly exposed when it came to the use of Information System (IT), technological platforms and issues of digitalisation.
“COVID-19 exposed glaring inefficiencies and deficiencies when it came to the use of ITC in schools. In view of the foregoing, we challenge government as BOSETU to invest in school ITC, technology and digitalization,” says BOSETU President Kinston Radikolo during a press conference on Tuesday.
As a consequence, the union is calling on government to prioritise education in her budgeting to provide technological infrastructure and equipment including provision of tablets to students and teachers.
“Government should invest vigorously in internet connectivity in schools and teacher’s residences if the concept of flexi-hours and virtual learning were to be achieved and have desired results,” Radikolo said.
Radikolo told journalists that COVID-19 is likely to negatively affect final year results saying that the students would sit for the final examinations having not covered enough ground in terms of curriculum coverage.
“This is so because there wasn’t any catch up plan that was put in place to recover the lost time by students. We warn that this year’s final examination results would dwindle,” he said.
The Union, which is an affiliate of Botswana Federation of Public, Private and Parastatal Union (BOFEPUSU), also indicated that COVID-19’s presence as a pandemic has complicated the role of a teacher in a school environment, saying a teacher’s role has not only transcended beyond just facilitating teaching and learning, but rather, a teacher in this COVID-19 era, is also called upon to enforce the COVID-19 preventative protocols in the school environment.
“This is an additional role in the duty of a teacher that needs to be recognized by the employers. Teachers by virtue of working in a congested school environment have become highly exposed and vulnerable to COVID-19, hence the reason why BOSETU would like teachers to be regarded as the frontline workers with respect to COVID-19,” says Radikolo.
BOSETU noted that the pandemic has in large scales found its way into most of the school environments, as in thus far more than 50 schools have been affected by COVID-19. The Union says this is quite a worrying phenomenon.
“As we indicated before when we queried that schools were not ready for re-opening, it has now come to pass that our fears were not far-fetched. This goes out to tell that there is deficiency in our schools when it comes to putting in place preventative protocols. In our schools, hygiene is compromised by mere absence of sanitizers, few hand-washing stations, absence of social distancing in classes,” the Union leader said.
Furthermore, Radikolo stressed that the shifting system drastically increased the workload for teachers especially in secondary schools. He says teachers in these schools experience very high loads to an extent that some of them end up teaching up to sixty four periods per week, adding that this has not only fatigued teachers, but has also negatively affected their performance and the quality of teaching.
In what the Union sees as failure to uphold and honour collective agreements by government, owing to the shift system introduced at primary schools, government is still in some instances refusing to honour an agreement with the Unions to hire more teachers to take up the extra classes.
“BOSETU notes with disgruntlement the use of pre-school teachers to teach in the mainstream schools with due regard for their specific areas of training and their job descriptions. This in our view is a variation of the terms of employment of the said teachers,” says Radikolo.
The Union has called on government to forthwith remedy this situation and hire more teachers to alleviate this otherwise unhealthy situation. BOSETU also expressed concerns of some school administrators who continuously run institutions with iron fists and in a totalitarian way.
“We have a few such hot spot schools which the Union has brought to attention the Ministry officials such as Maoka JSS, Artesia JSS, and Dukwi JSS. We are worried that the Ministry becomes sluggish in taking action against such errant school administration. In instances where action is taken, such school administrators are transferred and rotated around schools.”