The newly appointed Permanent Secretary to the President Elias Magosi, might be faced with a daunting task of having to dismiss the Director General of the Directorate of Intelligence and Security (DIS) Brigadier Peter Magosi from office.
The Magosi duo are the two topmost presidential advisors. President Dr Mokgweetsi Masisi relies on them for advice on critical matters. Information reaching this publication indicate that Masisi has expressed numerous concerns to Peter Magosi, asking him to tone down the manner in which he executes his duties. However, it appears that Peter Magosi has not embraced Masisi’s advice, forcing the President, who also has the appointing authority to relieve him of his duties in an attempt to save his Government from further embarrassment.
Elias was appointed earlier last week to replace the outgoing suspended PSP Carter Morupisi. The PSP is the head of civil service and advises the President on matters relating to public administration. Elias will assume his office on substantive basis on Monday, and part of his major task will be handling the dismissal of Peter Magosi, a man who does not only hold a powerful position, but also happens to be his first cousin. Elias is deemed as a man of integrity and professionalism, a reliable source within the DIS has indicated that a decision to fire his cousin can never be a hard one to make.
“He is a professional, the President put him there for a good reason,” the source said. This publication first reported in November 2019 that Peter Magosi’s job was on shaky grounds after speculation that Masisi had slapped him with a suspension letter. Peter Magosi was alleged to have rejected the suspension letter and posed threats that have put Masisi in a constricted position. The spy chief is alleged to have dared Masisi that if he was to temper with his post he was ready to “spill the beans” on the dark secrets of the current administration.
Despite the alleged threats, sources close to Masisi have revealed that letting Brigadier Magosi go is a risk he is willing to take. “The President cannot afford to have Magosi remain as the spy chief. He is pursuing his exit. Keeping him there is a threat to national security of which Masisi is aware of,” the source said. It is purported that for the past couple of months the Office of the President (OP) has been marred by disgruntlements because of the DIS saga.
Sources within the intelligence have indicated that the DIS institution is turning into a laughing stock owing to its diminishing credibility. The DIS credibility was heavily bruised following the famous “Butterfly” saga in which there were serious allegations that evidence had been fabricated to advance a particular agenda. It is purported that some of the cases pursued by Brigadier Magosi are motivated by personal interests amounting to abuse of office.
Brigadier Magosi reportedly played a major role in manufacturing evidence against the undercover agent -Wilhelmina Maswabi famously known as “Butterfly”- in which she was accused of transferring P29 million Pula into the former spy chief Colonel Isaac Kgosi’s account to finance terrorism. This allegation was linked to threats made by Kgosi to “topple the government” during his “Hollywood” arrest in 2019. Magosi has on several occasions been accused of presenting before courts several flawed high profile corruption, terrorism and money laundering cases that have immensely bruised the government’s image.
Sources within the DIS expressed concern that the government could end up losing a lot of money due to these failed cases. Just two weeks back, the Sebina brothers successfully sued the Director General for the return of their properties which had been seized from them in a series of much publicised raids by the DIS in February 2019. The court set aside the seizure warrant obtained by Brigadier Magosi against the Sebina brothers and ordered that their properties be returned to them with immediate effect. The DG is to also to pay the legal costs of the Sebina brothers.
Late last year this publication inquired with Brigadier Magosi on the allegations that he was pursuing investigations for his personal agendas and using the DIS to harass people. Brigadier Magosi denied and rubbished the allegations. He also rubbished claims that his principal had slapped him with a suspension letter claiming that he and the President have “a very tight relationship and a long way to go.”After numerous reports indicating that Magosi was on suspension, he toned down, and was no longer seen actively being involved in guarding the President.
It is however alleged that Magosi’s suspension has been kept as top secret by the intelligence unit and Office of the President (OP). Sources further revealed that this decision came long and hard. Edward Robert, the DIS spokesperson, when asked what this many allegations on their DG means as an institution, he expressed that, “as a Directorate we are of course disturbed by what appears to be a sustained attack on his person. There has been a lot of unsubstantiated allegations and this has the potential to destabilise not only the institution but to bring confusion to the nation as well and it would appear that is the intention of those who peddle such.”
“The Directorate will continue pursuing those they believe have offended the DIS Act. The good thing is our stakeholders can see through this. Staff at the Directorate are happy to have Brigadier Magosi as their leader given his academic qualification and experience in intelligence work and management. He possesses a wealth of knowledge in the trade that staff continues to draw from. There has been a tremendous buy-in to his roadmap.”
For so many years, Botswana has been trying to be a self-sufficient country that is able to provide its citizens with locally produced food products. Through appropriate collaborations with parastatals such as CEDA, ISPAAD and LEA, government introduced initiatives such as the Horticulture Impact Accelerator Subsidy-IAS and other funding facilities to facilitate horticultural farmers to increase production levels.
Now that COVID-19 took over and disrupted the food value chain across all economies, Botswana government introduced these initiatives to reduce the import bill by enhancing local market and relieve horticultural farmers from loses or impacts associated with the pandemic.
In more concerted efforts to curb these food crises in the country, government extended the ploughing period for the Southern part of Botswana. The extension was due to the late start of rains in the Southern part of the country.
Last week the Ministry of Agriculture extended the ploughing period for the Northern part of the country, mainly because of rains recently experienced in the country. With these decisions taken urgently, government optimizes food security and reliance on local food production.
When pigs fly, Botswana will be able to produce food to feed its people. This is evident by the numbers released by Statistics Botswana on imports recorded in November 2020, on their International Merchandise Trade Statistics for the month under review.
The numbers say Botswana continues to import most of its food from neighbouring South Africa. Not only that, Batswana relies on South Africa to have something to smoke, to drink and even use as machinery.
According to data from Statistics Botswana, the country’s total imports amounted to P6.881 Million. Diamonds contributed to the total imports at 33%, which is equivalent to P2.3 Million. This was followed by food, beverages and tobacco, machinery and electrical equipment which stood at P912 Million and P790 Million respectively.
Most of these commodities were imported from The Southern African Customs Union (SACU). The Union supplied Botswana with imports valued at over P4.8 Million of Botswana’s imports for the month under review (November 2020). The top most imported commodity group from SACU region was food, beverages and tobacco, with a contribution of P864 Million, which is likely to be around 18.1% of the total imports from the region.
Diamonds and fuel, according to these statistics, contributed 16.0%, or P766 Million and 13.5% or P645 Million respectively. Botswana also showed a strong and desperate reliance on neighbouring South Africa for important commodities. Even though the borders between the two countries in order to curb the spread of the COVID-19 virus, government took a decision to open border gates for essential services which included the transportation of commodities such as food.
Imports from South Africa recorded in November 2020 stood at P4.615 Million, which accounted for 67.1% of total imports during the month under review. Still from that country, Botswana bought food, beverages and tobacco worth P844 Million (18.3%), diamonds, machinery and fuel worth P758 Million, P601 Million and P562 Million respectively.
Botswana also imported chemicals and rubber products that made a contribution of 11.7% (P542.2 Million) to total imports from South Africa during the month under review, (November 2020).
The European Union also came to Botswana’s rescue in the previous year. Botswana received imports worth P698.3 Million from the EU, accounting for 10.1% of the total imports during the same month. The major group commodity imported from the EU was diamonds, accounting for 86.9% (P606.6 Million), of imports from the Union. Belgium was the major source of imports from the EU, at 8.9% (P609.1 Million) of total imports during the period under review.
Meanwhile, Minister of Finance and Economic Development Thapelo Matsheka says an improvement in exports and commodity prices will drive growth in Sub-Saharan Africa. Growth in the region is anticipated to recover modestly to 3.2% in 2021. Matsheka said this when delivering the Annual Budget Speech virtually in Gaborone on the 1st of February 2021.
He said implementation of the African Continental Free Trade Area Agreement (AfCFTA), which became operational in January 2021, could reduce the region’s vulnerability to global disruptions, as well as deepen trade and economic integration.
“This could also help boost competition and productivity. Successful implementation of AfCFTA will, of necessity, require Member States to eliminate both tariffs and non-tariff barriers, and generally make it easier to do business and invest across borders.”
Matsheka, who is also a Member of Parliament for Lobatse, an ailing town which houses the struggling biggest meat processing company in the country- Botswana Meat Commission, (BMC), said the Southern African Customs Union (SACU) recognizes the need to prioritize the key processes required for the implementation of the AfCFTA.
“The revised SACU Tariff Offer, which comprises 5,988 product lines with agreed Rules of Origin, representing 77% of the SACU Tariff Book, was submitted to the African Union Commission (AUC) in November 2020. The government is in the process of evaluating the tariff offers of other AfCFTA members prior to ratification, following which Botswana’s participation in AfCFTA will come to effect.”
Women continue to shadow men in politics – stereotypes such as ‘behind every successful man there is a woman’ cast the notion that women cannot lead. The 2019 general election recorded one of Botswana’s worst performances when it comes to women participation in parliamentary democracy with only three women elected to parliament.
Botswana’s former Minister of Health, Professor Sheila Tlou who is currently the Co-Chair, Global HIV Prevention Coalition & Nursing Now and an HIV, Gender & Human Rights Activist is not amused by the status quo. Tlou attributes this dilemma facing women to a number of factors, which she is convinced influence the voting patterns of Batswana when it comes to women politicians.
Professor Tlou plugs the party level voting systems as the first hindrance that blocks women from ascending to power. According to the former Minister of Health, there is inadequate amount of professionalism due to corrupt internal party structures affecting the voters roll and ultimately leading to voter apathy for those who end up struck off the voters rolls under dubious circumstances.
Tlou also stated that women’s campaigns are often clean; whilst men put to play the ‘politics is dirty metaphor using financial muscle to buy voters into voting for them without taking into consideration their abilities and credibility. The biggest hurdle according to Tlou is the fallacy that ‘Women cannot lead’, which is also perpetuated by other women who discourage people from voting for women.
There are numerous factors put on the table when scrutinizing a woman, she can be either too old, or too young, or her marital status can be used against her. An unmarried woman is labelled as a failure and questioned on how she intends on being a leader when she failed to have a home. The list is endless including slut shaming women who have either been through a divorce or on to their second marriages, Tlou observed.
The only way that voters can be emancipated from this mentality according to Tlou is through a robust voter education campaign tailor made to run continuously and not be left to the eve of elections as it is usually done. She further stated that the current crop of women in parliament must show case their abilities and magnify them – this will help make it clear that they too are worthy of votes.
And to women intending to run for office, Tlou encouraged them not to wait for the eleventh hour to show their interest and rather start in community mobilisation projects as early as possible so that the constituents can get to know them and their abilities prior to the election date.
Youthful Botswana National Front (BNF) leader and feminist, Resego Kgosidintsi blames women’s mentality towards one another which emanates from the fact that women have been socialised from a tender age that they cannot be leaders hence they find it difficult to vote for each other.
Kgosidintsi further states that, “Women do not have enough economic resources to stage effective campaigns. They are deemed as the natural care givers and would rather divert their funds towards raising children and building homes over buying campaign materials.”
Meanwhile, Vice President of the Alliance for Progressives (AP), Wynter Mmolotsi agrees that women’s participation in politics in Botswana remains a challenge. To address this Mmolotsi suggested that there should be constituencies reserved for women candidates only so that the outcome regardless of the party should deliver a woman Member of Parliament.
Mmolotsi further suggested that Botswana should ditch the First Past the Post system of election and opt for the proportional representation where contesting parties will dutifully list able women as their representatives in parliament.
On why women do not get elected, Mmolotsi explained that he had heard first hand from voters that they are reluctant to vote for women since they have limited access to them once they have won; unlike their male counterparts who have proven to be available night or day.
The pre-historic awarding of gender roles relegating women to be pregnant and barefoot at home and the man to be out there fending for the family has disadvantaged women in political and other professional careers.