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Brigadier Macheng was almost made DIS Chief

As the fallout between President Mokgweetsi Masisi and Director General of the intelligence unit Brigadier Peter Magosi becomes more evident, former Directorate of Intelligence and Security (DIS) Chief of Staff, Brigadier Terry Macheng appears to be the next in lined to take over as new intelligence boss.

However the move was put on hold, after President Masisi was allegedly forced to withdraw Magosi’s suspension letter following a heated exchange with the spy chief. Impeccable sources within the country’s intelligence unit have revealed that the DIS Chief has fallen out of favour with President Masisi because of the glaring errors that borders on ‘recklessness’, sources say. It is alleged that Masisi had initially suspended Magosi from duty sometime last year [2019] but the suspension was lifted after Magosi counterattacked using inside information.

Sources close to the developments told this publication that Magosi was not happy with attempts to eject him. Should Magosi be shown the door, Masisi’s choice for the Director General post is Brigadier Sentsekae Terry Macheng who is currently stationed at Ministry of Transport and Communications, on an F2 salary scale. Macheng was one of former President Lt General Ian Khama’s loyalists. The former President had in 2017 moved him from the position of National Anti-Poaching Coordinator, Botswana Defence Force (BDF) to the Office of the President, as Chief of Staff, DIS.

When three DIS officers were caught up in an elephant poaching scandal in Makalamabedi, Boteti Sub District in 2017, Macheng was at the time heading the Anti- Poaching Unit though he did not take action against the men. This publication can confirm that Magosi was leading the team that nabbed the three men during their operations.

WeekendPost was reliably informed that former President Khama’s plan at the time was to have Macheng replace Kgosi in future as he wanted Kgosi to be sent outside the country, but along the way, there was change of plans as Khama extended Kgosi’s contract with five years. Allegations suggest that Khama had hoped for continuity even after handing the baton to Masisi. Brigadier Macheng is currently employed in the Ministry of Transport and Communication as Project Manager in the Anti- Corruption Unit.

 “No one has ever consulted me regarding what you are asking. To be honest, if there is anything like that, it would require a lot of consultation but at the moment nothing has been done or suggested to me,” said Macheng when contacted by WeekendPost this week on the ongoing developments.  Macheng also told WeekendPost that from his own view the move is highly unlikely because of the events that happened in the past. The former DIS Chief of Staff said a lot has been written about him in the private media and thus prompted some ‘people’ to make unwarranted decisions that otherwise could have not happened.

Macheng said at the moment there is minimal friction and discord between him and the people who make decisions.  “What I can confirm to you is that, I am working right now at the Ministry of Transport and Communications”. In 2019, local newspapers reported that Masisi had suspended DIS Director General Peter Magosi with immediate effect, something that was not denied nor confirmed.

The bone of contention which adds to the already ailing relationship between the President and spy Chief, is the controversial and high profile P100 billion case involving one Welheminah Maswabi code named ‘Butterfly’, a DIS agent accused of money laundering and financing terrorism. The loopholes in the charge sheet and affidavits were disposed by Directorate of Corruption and Economic Crime (DCEC) Jako Hubona at court. It is alleged that the loopholes in the charges have angered some senior bosses in the Directorate who felt that it has exposed their fault lines. The escapes have also exposed part power struggling within the spy unit, a confirmation that Magosi failed to unite the old and new guards.

It is also reported that President Masisi was angered by a P60 million lawsuit from China Jiangsu after a swift move by the DCEC in conjunction with the DIS for alleged corruption dealings. Magosi was at the forefront of this purported China Jiangsu, saying they are involved in massive corruption and are a threat to national security. The company lost multi-billion tenders due to the letter by DIS including the P1. 5 billion Maun Water Supply and Sanitation Project and the P419 million Moshupa Hospital project.  

It is reported that this move did not sit well with some within the DIS as they felt that they were now stepping on the mandate of Directorate of Corruption and Economic Crime (DCEC). Unlike his predecessor who was employed on contractual basis, Peter Magosi is said to have been employed on a permanent and pensionable basis, a move which makes it difficult for Masisi to ‘fire’ him immediately. It is alleged that after a very intimate meeting, the two men agreed on common grounds of working together, however Masisi is still hatching a new plan to get rid of the spy Chief.

Contacted for comment Magosi did not respond even when WeekendPost repeatedly called. In November 2019, in an interview with this publication Magosi said of the matter: “It is all nonsense. My relationship with Masisi is intact. The rumours relating to my suspension have been doing rounds even before elections. The rumours are even continuing after elections. People who peddle those rumours are the ones who wish for tension between me and H.E.” Brigadier Magosi assumed the reins in May 2018, following the unceremonious departure of founding chief spy, Colonel Kgosi.

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Botswana still weighing in on Maseko’s assassination

27th January 2023

The Minister of Foreign Affairs, Dr. Lemogang Kwape says Botswana has not taken any position regarding the killing of a renowned human rights lawyer, Thulani Maseko, who was gunned down at his house in Mbabane, Eswatini.

In a brief interview with WeekendPost, Dr Kwape said Botswana has not yet taken any position regarding his death. He said the purported incident should be thoroughly probed before Botswana can form an opinion based on the findings of the inquiries.

“Botswana generally condemns any killing of human life by all means,” says Dr. Kwape. He wouldn’t want to be dragged on whether Botswana will support the suspension of Eswatini from SADC.

“We will be guided by SADC organ Troika if they can be an emergency meeting. I am not sure when the meeting will be called by Namibian president,“ he said.

However, the Namibian president Hage Geingob notes with deep concern reports coming out of Eswatini about the killing of Mr. Maseko. In a statement, he called upon the “Government of the Kingdom of Eswatini to ensure that the killing of Maseko is swiftly, transparently and comprehensively investigated, and that any or all persons suspected of committing this heinous crime are brought to justice.”

Maseko was chairperson of the Multi-Stakeholder Forum which was established as a coalition of non-State actors to advocate for a process of national political dialogue aimed at resolving the security and political challenges confronting the Kingdom.

“SADC expresses its deepest and heartfelt condolences to the family of Mr. Maseko, his friends, colleagues, and to the people of the Kingdom of Eswatini for the loss of Mr. Maseko. In this context, SADC further calls upon the people of the Kingdom of Eswatini to remain calm, exercise due care and consideration whilst the appropriate structures conduct the investigations and bring the matter to completion,” the statement says.

Geingob reiterated the need for peaceful resolution of the political and security challenges affecting the country.

Meanwhile political activists are calling on SADC to suspend Eswatini from the block including the African Union as well.

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Kopong Murder: Accused interferes with witnesses again!

27th January 2023

State prosecutor, Seeletso Ookeditse revealed before the Broadhurst Magistrate Jobbie Moilatshimo that the third accused involved in the murder of Barulaganye Aston, has interfered with the State witnesses again.

The second and third accused (Lefty Kosie and Outlwile Aston) were previously accused of interference when they were caught in possession of cellphones in prison. They were further accused of planning to kill the deceased’s brother, who is currently the guardian to the children of the deceased.

Ookeditse indicated that Outlwile had earlier went to challenge the magistrate’s decision of denying him bail at the High Court before Judge Michael Motlhabi.

“The third accused approached the High Court and made a bail application, which was dismissed on the same day,” Ookeditse said.

However, even after the High Court verdict on their bail application, the duo (Kosie and Aston) has once again applied for bail this week.

Ookeditse plead with the court to stop the accused from abusing the court process.

“Yesterday, Directorate of Public Prosecutions (DPP) received papers of his bail application filed before the Broadhurst Magistrates Court. However, the papers do not speak to changed circumstances, therefore this back and forth about bail must be put to a stop,” said the State prosecutor.

While giving evidence before court, the Investigations Officer, Detective Inspector Quite Zhalamonto, said his investigations have proved that there is interference continuing regarding the accused trio.

He told the court that on the 12th of January 2023, he received a report from Thato Aston, who is the son of the accused and the deceased. The son had alleged to the Investigation Officer that he received a call from one Phillip Molwantwa.

According to Zhalamonto, Thato revealed that Molwatwa indicated that he was from prison on a visit to the Outlwile Aston and went on to ask where he was staying and where his siblings (Aston’s children) are staying.

“Thato revealed that Phillip went on to ask if he or his siblings saw their father murdering their mother, and he was referring to the crime scene. Thato told me that he, however, refused to answer the questions as he was afraid especially because he was asked about where him and his siblings stay,” said Zhalamonto.

Zhalamonto alluded to the court that he then went to Orange to confirm the communication between Thato and Molwantwa where he found the case.

“I have arrested Philip yesterday and when I interviewed him, he did not deny that he knows Aston and that he has indeed called Thato and asked questions as to where him and his siblings resides even though he failed to give reasons for asking such questions,” Zhalamonto told the court.

He further revealed that Molwantwa indicated that he had received a call from an unknown man who refused to reveal himself.

“Phillip told me that the unknown man said he was sent by the accused (Aston), and that Aston had instructed him to tell me to check if there was still some money in his bank accounts, and he also wanted to know where the kids were residing, the unknown man even asked him to meet at Main Mall” the Investigation Officer told the court.

He further informed the court that he is working tirelessly to identify the “unknown caller” and the route of the cell number.

Furthermore, the fourth accused, Kebaleboge Ntsebe, has revealed to the court through a letter that she was abused and tortured by the Botswana Police Services. She wrote in her letter that she suffered miscarriage as a result of being beaten by the police.

Ntsebe is on bail, while a bail ruling for Aston and Kosie will be delivered on the 6th of next month

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Ngamiland Cattle Farmers Gain Green Zone Revenue

27th January 2023

Cattle farmers from Eretsha and Habu in the Ngamiland district, supported by the Community Based Trade (CBT) project, recently generated over P300 000.00 for sales of 42 cattle to the Botswana Meat Commission (BMC) in Maun. This milestone was achieved through support from various stakeholders in conservation, commodity-based trade and the government, in collaboration with farmers. Ordinarily, these farmers would not have made this direct sale since the area is a designated Foot and Mouth Disease (FMD) Red Zone.

Traditional livestock farming contributes toward livelihoods and formal employment in the North-West District (Ngamiland) of Botswana. However, primarily due to the increase in FMD outbreaks over the past two decades and predation by wildlife, the viability of livestock agriculture as a source of income has declined in the region. This has led to a greater risk of poverty and food insecurity. Access across the Okavango River (prior to the construction of a bridge) restricted access for farmers in Eretsha. This lack of access hampered sales of cattle beyond Shakawe, further discouraging farmers from investing in proper livestock management practices. This resulted in negative environmental impacts, poor livestock health and productivity.

To address this challenge, farmers are working with a consortium led by Conservation International (CI), with funding secured from the European Union (EU) to pilot a CBT beef project. The project focuses on supporting and enabling communal farmers to comply with standards and regulations that will improve their chances to access markets. An opportunity to earn higher income from cattle sales could incentivize the adoption of restorative rangelands management practices by farmers.

These collaborative efforts being piloted in Habu and Eretsha villages also include the Pro-Nature Enterprises Project for the People of Southern Africa, funded by Agence Française de Développement (AFD) and Le Fonds français pour l’environnement mondial (FFEM). This complementary funding from AFD and FFEM supports the implementation of the Herding4Health (H4H) model and Rangeland Stewardship Agreements across four rangeland sites in Southern Africa, including Habu and Eretsha, to incentivize best practices that could offer sustainability in the long term for livelihoods, conservation and human-wildlife coexistence.

“We spend a lot of money getting our cattle to Makalamabedi quarantine site, the herder spends on average two months taking care of the cattle before they are taken into quarantine – that needs money. All these costs lead to us getting less money from BMC,” said one of the farmers in the programme, Mr Monnaleso Mosanga.

Farmers that participate in the project agree for their cattle to be herded and kraaled communally by fulltime professional herders (eco-rangers). At the core of this pilot is the use of predator-proof bomas (cattle kraals), planned grazing systems and mobile quarantine bomas (electrified enclosures) for the cattle, facilitated in support with the Department of Veterinary Services. The first successful exit from the mobile quarantine bomas in the Habu and Eretsha villages, in December 2022, saw cattle quarantined on-site and directly transported to BMC in Maun. Farmers received almost double the average sales within this region, as costs including transportation to quarantine sites, herder’s fees and other associated costs incurred before qualifying for BMC sales were no longer included.

“This pilot mobile quarantine is leveraging the techniques and protocols we are using at our current permanent quarantine sites, and we are still observing the results of the project. The outcome of this pilot will be presented to the World Organisation of Animal Health to assess its effectiveness and potentially be approved to be used elsewhere,” said Dr Odireleng Thololwane, the Principal Veterinary Officer (Maun).

Through co-financing of almost P1 billion from the Botswana government and Green Climate Fund, these interventions will be replicated, through The Ecosystem Based Adaptation and Mitigation in Botswana’s Communal Rangelands project, across the country. Both projects aim to improve the economic benefits of cattle owners and multitudes of Batswana households, while contributing to land restoration and climate change efforts by the Botswana government

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