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Botswana wants to swap prisoners

Botswana doesn’t have many prisoners outside

The Botswana government is drafting a law that will pave way for a smooth exchange of prisoners with other states in the region. While prisoner swap are notorious in war situations Botswana wants to use the approach as bate for its citizens serving sentences outside her borders.

Prisoner swap allow foreign nationals serving prison terms in other countries to return to their home countries to complete their prison terms there. Foreign prisoners can face several challenges in foreign prisons such as cultural challenges, language barriers and lack of family visits and support among many others such as misdirected or slow reintegration processes.

The issue of prisoner swap has been discussed under several regional platforms but member states have been slow to act on the issue as many resorted to gentlemen’s agreements on a case by case basis. However, many countries have been criticised for not having Prisoner Exchange Treaties or Prisoner Transfer Agreements.

In 2013 Nigeria and South African reached a prisoner exchange agreement after the two countries realised that there is a huge number of Nigerians in South African prisons, which was put at some 400 inmates. Nigeria already has existing agreements on prisoners swap with countries such as U.K., Italy, Spain and Portugal.

South Africa doesn’t have a prisoners’ swap legislation. In 2004, Former South African minister of correctional services Ben Skosana had wanted the South Africans detained in foreign prisons and vice versa to be returned home. The white paper was drafted but was rejected by cabinet and the government.

This publication learns that the Botswana government supports the prisoners swap arrangement but maintains that there is need for a guiding document in the form of legislation on the matter.

In a brief interview, the Secretary of Defence Justice and Security, Augustine Makgonatsotlhe confirmed that the government has been discussing the issue and recognises the need to have such legislation.

“It is an issue that is still under discussion but I can confirm that we are drafting something that will be presented to parliament in the not-so-distant future,” he said. Botswana is reported to be having few or no prisoners beyond her borders as opposed to her counterparts.

A lot of challenges, especially those that are economic, arise for the host country.  A typical example is a court order instructing the government to provide HIV/AIDS treatment to foreign inmates, which has sparked debate over the sustainability of the good gesture.

Makgonatsotlhe observed that legislation being developed is very much regionally-focused and may be presented to parliament by next year. He said there are many factors that are considered when swapping prisoners, such as the severity of the offence.

The Chairman of Botswana Institution of Rehabilitation and Reintegration of Offenders (BIRRO) said that he welcomes the decision by the government.

 “The decision will address matters of rehabilitation and integration amongst many others like economic hardships on the part of family members. The decision can also help alleviate economic challenges on the part of the host country,” he said.

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Khan: Boko, Masisi are fake politicians

18th January 2021
Masisi & Boko

While there is no hard-and-fast rule in politics, former Molepolole North Member of Parliament, Mohamed Khan says populism acts in the body politic have forced him to quit active partisan politics. He brands this ancient ascription of politics as fake and says it lowers the moral compass of the society.

Khan who finally tasted political victory in the 2014 elections after numerous failed attempts, has decided to leave the ‘dirty game’, and on his way out he characteristically lashed at the current political leaders; including his own party president, Advocate Duma Boko. “I arrived at this decision because I have noticed that there are no genuine politics and politicians. The current leaders, Boko and President Dr Mokgweetsi Masisi are fake politicians who are just practicing populist politics to feed their egos,” he said.

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Ookeditse rejects lobby for BPF top post

18th January 2021

Former Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) parliamentary hopeful, Lawrence Ookeditse has rejected the idea of taking up a crucial role in the Botswana Patriotic Front (BPF) Central Committee following his arrival in the party this week. According to sources close to development, BPF power brokers are coaxing Ookeditse to take up the secretary general position, left vacant by death of Roseline Panzirah-Matshome in November 2020.

Ookeditse’s arrival at BPF is projected to cause conflicts, as some believe they are being overlooked, in favour of a new arrival. The former ruling party strategist has however ruled out the possibility of serving in the party central committee as secretary general, and committed that he will turn down the overture if availed to him by party leadership.

Ookeditse, nevertheless, has indicated that if offered another opportunity to serve in a different capacity, he will gladly accept. “I still need to learn the party, how it functions and all its structures; I must be guided, but given any responsibility I will serve the party as long as it is not the SG position.”

“I joined the BPF with a clear conscious, to further advance my voice and the interests of the constituents of Nata/Gweta which I believe the BDP is no longer capable to execute.” Ookeditse speaks of abject poverty in his constituency and prevalent unemployment among the youth, issues he hopes his new home will prioritise.

He dismissed further allegations that he resigned from the BDP because he was not rewarded for his efforts towards the 2019 general elections. After losing in the BDP primaries in 2018, Ookeditse said, he was offered a job in government but declined to take the post due to his political ambitions. Ookeditse stated that he rejected the offer because, working for government clashed with his political journey.

He insists there are many activists who are more deserving than him; he could have chosen to take up the opportunity that was before him but his conscious for the entire populace’s wellbeing held him back. Ookeditse said there many people in the party who also contributed towards party success, asserting that he only left the BDP because he was concerned about the greater good of the majority not individualism purposes.

According to observers, Ookeditse has been enticed by the prospects of contesting Nata/Gweta constituency in the 2024 general election, following the party’s impressive performance in the last general elections. Nata/Gweta which is a traditional BDP stronghold saw its numbers shrinking to a margin of 1568. BDP represented by Polson Majaga garnered 4754, while BPF which had fielded Joe Linga received 3186 with UDC coming a distant with 1442 votes.

There are reports that Linga will pave way for Ookeditse to contest the constituency in 2024 and the latter is upbeat about the prospects of being elected to parliament. Despite Ookeditse dismissing reports that he is eying the secretary general position, insiders argue that the position will be availed to him nevertheless.

Alternative favourite for the position is Vuyo Notha who is the party Deputy Secretary General. Notha has since assumed duties of the secretariat office on the interim basis. BPF politburo is expected to meet on 25th of January 2020, where the vacancy will be filled.

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BDP cancels MPs retreat

18th January 2021
President Masisi

Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) big wigs have decided to cancel a retreat with the party legislators this weekend owing to increasing numbers of Covid-19 cases. The meeting was billed for this weekend at a place that was to be confirmed, however a communique from the party this past Tuesday reversed the highly anticipated meeting.

“We received a communication this week that the meeting will not go as planned because of rapid spread of Covid-19,” one member of the party Central Committee confirmed to this publication.
The gathering was to follow the first of its kind held late last year at party Treasurer Satar Dada’s place.

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