In the wake of media reports that have all but confused the names the late Harry Tembo and myself Liver Tembo on the construction of Isaac Kgosi’s house in Phakalane, I seek to set the record straight.
I am Liver Tembo and first met Isaac Kgosi at my office in Broadhurst nine years ago. I did not even know who he was then. One Friday afternoon, I received a call from the man who introduced himself by name only. He explained to me that he was looking for a Project Manager to assist him develop his property in Phakalane.
He had been advised by some of my clients that I managed a number of houses under a direct project management scheme I was operating. I explained to him the services we were offering and the fees that would be charged.
At the time, I did not know I was talking to a powerful man who was working in the office of the Vice President as his Private Secretary. Not at any time during our telephone conversation did he mention the office he held.
I requested him to come to my office for further discussion.He expressed satisfaction with the charge and said he would come that evening to my office with his drawings for further discussion.
He arrived at my office in Broadhurst around 1730hours in a twin cab Isuzu bakkie with his wife. We discussed the project and I advised him that the preliminary cost estimate indicated the project would cost approximately over P1,000,000.00 and he indicated he had no problem as he had already sourced funds from Barclays Bank.
It was only after I asked him what he did for a living that he explained to me that he worked as Private Secretary to the Vice President, who was later to be the President of the country.
Being a foreigner, I realised immediately that I was interacting with the one of the most powerful men in the government. Feeling ashamed because of the charge that I had given him, I then offered him a discounted figure for my services. The man refused and asked me to treat him as I would any other client. The contract agreement was signed the same weekend to allow me to supervise the project and secure a contractor to carry out the works.
He then informed me that he would be leaving the following week for a one year training programme in the UK while his wife would similarly leave for a year’s course in the United States of America. When I asked how the funds disbursement would be made for the project from the bank, he explained to me that he would give me the power of attorney to sign and request payment from the bank in his absence.
Obviously this was a man who trusted me at first sight. The following week he wrote a letter authorizing me to access his funds from the bank and left me with cash of about K200,000.00 to kick start the project. I then engaged a Mr Jere, a fellow Zambian as a contractor under a company called Transcon Pty Limited to undertake the construction under a labour only contract arrangement whilst I collect funds and purchased all the materials for the project as work progressed. Under our terms of agreement, I was to reconcile all the purchases of materials and balance them up in accordance with the funds collected from the bank.
However, by the time he returned from the UK, it was realised that an over claim of P400,000.00 was made upon reconciliation. Upon his return, Isaac Kgosi was appointed head of the DISS, one of the most powerful positions in government. And so there I was having over-claimed funds (which could have been tantamount to fraud) amounting to over P400,000.00 for a house which was far from being completed.
I remember the sleepless nights I had before I could break the news to him regarding my reconciliation report on his funds. The man had spent his hard earned savings and a loan facility which he was already paying monthly at a high interest rate only to find that this Project Manager had not utilised all the money on the project. I did not know what to expect from him, his reaction and what he would do to me if I told him the news.
I am talking of a man who by using his power could probably have influenced the non-renewal of my work permit or have it revoked instantly. I approached him that evening to give him my report, apologising over my over claim. “I knew it before you could tell me, I had done my own assessment and I was able to tell that you had not used all the money on the house,” he told me.
I remember then being nearly in tears as I told him. Being a man of few words, Kgosi simply told me, “It’s ok. I will give you time to pay me back the money but you will have to include the interest the bank has charged me.”
I was in shock. Here is a man whom I owed so much money telling me he would give me time to pay it back. After that, all my fears disappeared for this is a man who despite what I had done still wanted me to be his friend. I remember the following week he asked me to accompany him to Matsiloje, his village, to see his mother. As we discussed, he told me that he knew things had not gone right on his house but he realized that he could not fight a person who had told him he was sorry for what he had done.
Kgosi told me that his father, when he was alive, once told him that he should never take advantage of his high position in government to fight personal battles with people. He told me he was a believer in justice for all and therefore treated every human being equally. Given his background, he explained that he was in a privileged position to serve government at such a high position but that would not go to his head.
I came to know Kgosi as a man you would never find him in a company of a lot of people. He told me that the reason he had few friends was because he did not like to mix with people who simply want to know him in order to take advance of him just because he was close to the President.
I was impressed that the man that most people feared so much was a down to earth person who values people so much. I realized that I had become close to a man whom people fear so much yet he is such a simple man. He would invite me for dinner at his house and sometimes even visit me. A family man who loves gardening, he would spend his weekends with his family at home. I remember sometimes he would stand at the Phakalane round about to assist traffic during peak hours.
It took me over 3 years to pay back his money and at no time did he put me under any pressure. By that time, due to interest charges, it was more than P600,000.00. I cannot quite remember if I had even finished paying back the money when I told him I would be spending more time in Zambia. Yet he did not on any occasion put me under any pressure.
It struck me how noble the character was of a man who knew very well that my house in Phakalane was fully paid and that I was driving a top of the range Mercedes Benz ML350 car I had bought during the time his house was under construction. He could so easily have accused me of using some of his money to acquire this or sued me, demanding that I sell the house for him to recover his money. He did neither.
In the event, the construction of his house was delayed and he had to seek additional funds from the bank to complete the house. The trail of funds being made to Kgosi from me over a period of 3 or 4 years was purely to refund the money that was over-claimed on the construction of his house.
This is the Isaac Kgosi that I know. Since I have been spending more time in Zambia, I have constantly been in touch with him and visit him at his house whenever I am in Botswana. I am not Harry Tembo and have never done any consultancy work or construction work for the DISS. There is no record of L.T and Associates having undertaken any project for the DISS.
Despite the President Dr Mokgweetsi Masisi and his Namibian counterpart, Hage Geingob giving an impression that the borderline security disputes are a thing of the past and that diplomatic ties remain tight, fresh developments from Namibia suggest otherwise, following Geingod’s close confidante’s attack on Botswana and its army.
Giving a Zambezi region state of the affairs last week, a Geingob-appointed governor of Zambezi region, Colonel Lawrence Ampofu, a retired Colonel in the Namibian Defence Force, former plan combatant during the liberation struggle of Namibia, in a written speech, charged at the BDF and condemned their killings of the Namibians as unacceptable.
“The security situation within our borders remains calm. The incidence of the Botswana Defence Force shootings and wanton killings on the Nchindo Brothers on 05 November 2020 and other 37 Namibian lives lost since independence remain a serious challenge with our neighbor, Botswana.
Our residents living along the Chobe, Linyanti and Kwandu rivers are living under constant threats, harassment, fear, intimidation and killings and such activities are condemned and not acceptable,” he said under the safety and security title.
The attack suggests that Namibia has not bought Botswana’s story. Ampofu was part of the entourage that accompanied Geingob to the three Nchindo brothers and their cousin who were gunned down by the BDF, and is reported to be privy to the details of the unpublished Botswana-Namibia joint investigations report about the killings as a governor or political head of the region which has eight electoral constituencies.
The report contains the sensitive details of how the three Namibians referred as poachers by the BDF – and Fisherman by the Namibian government were gunned down on 5 November last year along the Chobe River. They were Tommy (48), Martin (40) and Wamunyima Nchindo (36), and their cousin Sinvula Muyeme (44).
His views are not really in contrast to his President’s views who also described the BDF as trigger happy in a scripted report to his cabinet.
The Zambezi region is located in the extreme north east part of Namibia and covers a total of 14,667.6 square kilometres. “We share borders with Angola, Zambia to the north, Zimbabwe to the east and Botswana to the South,” he said.
Sampofu was first appointed governor of the former Caprive Region in 2010 by the former Namibian president, Hifikepunye Pohamba and was reappointed as Zambezi governor by President Dr.Hage Geingob in 2015, a term running to 2025.
37 Namibia residents killed by Botswana army so far
Sampofu is a man who continues to insist that Botswana has killed 37 residents of his region. A video posted by the Namibian Broadcasting Corporation (NBC) shows him alleging that at least 37 Namibians were killed by the BDF, after he met with the community at Impalila.
“It is true, the BDF started long ago. As we speak 37 lives have been lost here in Impalila along the Chobe river going to Linyanti and Kwado rivers up to Lizauli. All those families lost their loved ones,” Ampofu said in the video posted by NBC.
It is not known how the BDF, which has maintained their position that the Namibians were engaging in illegal activities of poaching, treats the constant attacks by the Namibian authorities, but they have repeatedly vowed to continue protecting the country’s sovereignty and natural resources.
Botswana’s premier brewer and leading distributor of beer, Kgalagadi Breweries Limited (KBL), this month dragged the government of Botswana to court after President Mokgweetsi Masisi imposed an alcohol ban with immediate effect. KBL labelled the decision as unjustifiable, irrational and that it overrides the rights that are enshrined in the constitution.
This week, Masisi through attorneys representing the government disparaged the case in his written affidavit of KBL’s application, referring to it as frivolous and that it ought to be dismissed with costs on a punitive scale.
In his court papers, Masisi reminded KBL that Botswana is a Republic whose laws find validity from the constitution, and in terms of Section 17 of the constitution the President is empowered to declare a State of Emergency and that it is a common cause that Botswana is under such state.
“It is common course that there is in existence emergency powers (Covid-19) Regulations 2020 as amended from time to time which is solely designed to regulate the Covid-19 pandemic,” he said.
Masisi pointed out that he denies that the application before Court is proper such as to challenge the lawfulness and validity of a regulation made and a notice published in the exercise of a legislative function in accordance with the Emergency Powers Act which empowers the President to make regulations as appear to him to be necessary and expedient for securing public safety.
Furthermore, the President revealed that the decision to ban alcohol sales was not arrived at willy-nilly, but rather that there had been careful considerations that the risks posed by Covid-19 had increased and therefore it was expedient and necessary to suspend all liquor licenses.
Moreover, Masisi denied that the decision to reinstate the ban should be made by the Director of Health Services as indicated by KBL in their nature of the application, “the Director is to cause the notice to be published in the Gazette after consultation with the President.”
Masisi indicated that the role of the Director of Health Services is to publish a regulation made by the President.
He further, reminded KBL that the power to make regulations in a State of Public Emergency in accordance with the EPA lies with the President, “such power includes the amendment of any enactment, suspending the operation of any enactment or modification of an enactment.”
According to Masisi, his decision to ban alcohol sales was based on evidence provided by the Director of Health Services who indicated to him that there was a sudden spike in the transmission of the Covid-19 virus following the reinstatement of liquor licenses.
Another piece of advice tendered by the Director of Health to Masisi was that bars and other liquor outlets were some of the major hotspots in the sense of such being high-risk areas at which the virus spread rapidly.
“Alcohol was one of the major causes of non-compliance with the health protocols that were put in place to control the spread of the Covid-19 virus. Further, there was an indication that more arrests were made on people failing to adhere to Covid-19 protocols more particularly at places where there were gatherings,” he contended.
He pointed out that therefore, it was expedient and or necessary to preserve lives and to reduce the risks of transmissions of the virus to reinstate the suspension of liquor licenses.
Moreover, the President says that it must be noted that he avers that the Director of Health Services is a credible source on matters of public health of which he also accordingly gave due weight to the Director’s advice on deciding to reinstate the ban through the impugned notice.
“I am aware and was always aware at the time of promulgating the regulation complained of that it shall negatively affect some sectors of the economy. However, after due consideration and receipt of advice, I decided to give priority to the safety and health of the nation,” Masisi said.
He presaged KBL that it would not be prudent and in the best interest of the nation to ignore a health emergency such as Covid-19 and gave preference to trading and making of profits by the applicant. “The results would only be catastrophic to the extent that when we emerge from the scourge we would be left with a depleted and ailing nation from Covid-19 and its side effects.”
Furthermore, his written affidavit further pointed out that the decision to reinstate the ban on alcohol was taken notwithstanding understanding and appreciation of the economic hardships that would befall the country.
However, he said he deliberately made the decision based on the evidence provided to him by the Director of Health, whose evidence he believes to be credible to give public/safety and health priority over economic considerations in some sectors.
In making the decision, Masisi states that he was and considered different options including allowing for sale of alcohol consumption off premises, however the evidence he had been provided with suggested that such other alternatives would not achieve the overall objective of securing public safety and health by reducing the risk of the spread of the virus.
“By the time I imposed the ban, alcohol was already being sold for consumption off-premises. This did not work. The information provided to me by the Director and the Presidential Task-Force team demonstrated that consumers purchased alcohol and then loitered and consumed it within the peripheries of bars and other liquor outlets,” he said.
Attached to the affidavit as emphasis, were photographs and videos of Gaborone West, Phase 4 in mid-June 2021, which he explains circulated on social media and was brought to his attention.
“I need not say much about the photos as they depict a crowd exceeding 50 gathered at the parking area of a bar. There is little or no regard to Covid-19 protocols. It was clear to me and my advisors, including the Director of Health Services and members of the Presidential Task-Force team that the total ban of alcohol was necessary to manage the risk of increase in infections, to understand what seems to have led to an increase in the risk of infection when alcohol is present I was advised by the Presidential Task-Force team that scientifically there has been evidence that alcohol narrows physical distance,” he argued.
Masisi says that allegations made by KBL are serious allegations of infringement of fundamental rights yet they fail to state how imposition and reinstatement of the suspension of liquor licenses out of necessity and expediency of the health of the nation infringes on the rights as alleged.
In an embarrassing turn of events that depicts disintegration in government communication on the fight against COVID-19, President Mokgweetsi Masisi and Assistant Minister of Health & Wellness, Sethomo Lelatisitswe gave two conflicting statements on the same matter, same day, just minutes apart.
The Commander-in-Chef told health practitioners and residents in Ramotswa that the COVAX facility has scammed African countries after billions were paid in a crowd funding effort to procure COVID-19 vaccines in bulk.
“We have pumped money as developing countries of the African continent into the COVAX Facility but the returns were not satisfactory, they cheated us,” the President said in Ramotswa.
According to President Masisi, the COVAX facility Vaccine only came in bits and pieces, frustrating the continent ‘s head immunity targets amid rapidly spreading Delta Variant which is currently reversing all progress made by Africa in containing the contagious virus.
“What we are getting is very small portions of the vaccine, they keep telling us that there is shortage of supply, this is not fair, but we have paid in advance, however what can we do, we have no choice but to spend more money and look for other avenues of securing other available vaccines,” he said.
Meanwhile in Gaborone, Assistant Minister of Health and Wellness told Parliament that vaccine from COVAX facility is anchoring Botswana’s vaccination program.
“I am not aware of such information that COVAX facility is not delivering as expected, we are actually bolstered by COVAX facility in this country,” he said responding to a question from Mahalapye West Member of Parliament David Tshere who is also Chairman of Parliament Committee On Health and HIV/AIDS.
“We have received doses as ordered from the COVAX facility, and we are still receiving more, I have not seen that information which is purported to have been revealed by the President, unless its new information, we as the Ministry we are not aware of any frustrations by the COVAX facility,” he said.
COVAX is co-led by the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI), Gavi and the World Health Organization (WHO), alongside key delivery partner UNICEF.
Its aim is to accelerate the development and manufacture of COVID-19 vaccines, and to guarantee fair and equitable access for every country in the world.
The facility is a global coalition that works to ensure fair and equitable access of COVID-19 vaccines around the world. So far, 190 countries have joined the COVAX initiative, including all 22 countries in the Eastern Mediterranean Region.
The COVAX Facility aims to have 2 billion doses of COVID-19 vaccines available for distribution across the globe by the end of 2021, targeting those most at risk (e.g. frontline health workers) and most vulnerable severe diseases and death (e.g. elderly and people with co-morbidities).
On other vaccination issues President Masisi revealed, still in Greater Gaborone vaccination centre visits, that Botswana has placed orders with Pfizer, a United States vaccine producer noting that they have promised to deliver next year.
Meanwhile, government kick-started phase two of the Covid-19 vaccination program this week, opening up for ages between 30 and 54.
President Masisi revealed that this was done because some elderly were reluctant to be inculcated.
“We can’t take forever trying to convince people to take vaccine, we moved to the next age segments because we cannot afford to have vaccines-which are already in shortage supply to just lie there,” he said.
On Friday, Ministry of Health revealed that it was receiving large numbers of people below the age of 55 lining up to be vaccinated.
In a statement the Ministry of Health said it, “acknowledges the huge turnout that marked the commencement of the Phase two COVID-19 vaccination program”.
Given this high turnout, especially in the Greater Gaborone region, the ministry announced an extension of operation hours in order to serve the huge crowds that had come for vaccination.
Of the nearly 85 000 doses that were being doled across the country as first doses, the majority of the Greater Gaborone vaccination sites were already getting depleted by 1800hrs on 22 July 2021.
As a result of this development, the ministry took a decision to discontinue the extended hours of operation announced yesterday for vaccination sites in Gaborone.
This means that vaccination sites in Gaborone and elsewhere in the country which still have some vaccines, will offer them in the normal working hours and days of the week.
The Ministry says it appreciates the great desire to be vaccinated shown by thousands of citizens and residents of this country and wishes to assure them that it will continue to expedite their vaccination every time vaccines become available. As has been communicated in various fora, more vaccines are expected in August 2021.
As at July 2021, Botswana has so far received 62, 400 doses of AstraZeneca/COVISHIELD bought through the Covax facility, 30,000 doses of AstraZeneca vaccine donated by the Republic of India, 19, 890 doses of the Pfizer vaccine bought through the COVAX facility, 200, 000 doses of the Sinovac vaccine, donated by the Peoples Republic of China and another 200, 000 doses of the Sinovac vaccine bought through bilateral negotiations with Sinovac company in China.
“We encourage Batswana to remain hopeful that although it’s taking longer than anticipated, enough COVID-19 vaccines will eventually arrive in our country. We urge them to always strictly abide by all COVID-19 protocols so that they protect themselves and others from this deadly virus,” the ministry said.