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UB don support Masisi’s political purge

President Mokgweetsi Masisi has proved to be a no-nonsense man who does not nurse friendships and loyalties. If one was to make a bet, by the time he leaves office he would have made more enemies than friends. This however, does not seem to bother him.

Just a month after ascending to the presidency, he sent the nation’s most feared man — the head of intelligence — Colonel Isaac Kgosi packing. In the midst of that, and with no single sign of remorse, he purposely showed the middle figure to his predecessor, Lt Gen Ian Khama, then man who nominated him to a position—amid strong resistance from his inner circle — which would later catapult him to the presidency.  For two years now, the two are not depicting any sign of burying the hatchet. If anything, the stand-off would most likely intensify.

In a blink of an eye, under Masisi’s presidency, former Permanent Secretary to the President (PSP), Carter Morupisi moved from being the most important civil servant to the most disgruntled. Morupisi, whom Masisi inherited as PSP, a position he was appointed to by Khama in 2014, was the one who was used as a wedge in the battle between his new boss and his former boss. By all accounts, Morupisi is indebted to Khama, a man who catapulted him from a peripheral but senior government post, to two of the highest posts in the civil service; first as Head of Directorate of Public Service Management (DPSM) and later as head of public service.

When the battle between Masisi and Khama broke out, Carter had no option, he could not serve both masters, he either had to serve Masisi or serve Khama. He chose the incumbent, probably because he knew where his bread was buttered. It turned out he was only presumptuous. Like everyone else, it ended in tears. Many fear Masisi’s onslaught of people associated with Khama’s administration would leave him jaded.

By the beginning of April, at least five senior civil servants would have left office. Many believe Masisi is disloyal and makes decisions based on emotions which might be a major concern for the country as a whole. But to others, he is a decisive man who would leave no stone unturned. The list of the disgruntled is not made of ordinary men. It has at its top, a former President, who also spent a larger part of his life as a military general; the list has the country’s first head of intelligence; it has former head of civil service, and joining them in the list is a cohort of other disgruntled former government head of departments.

According to Leonard Sesa, a political science academic at the University of Botswana (UB), Masisi has all the rights to marshal his government and deploy troops in the manner that suits him.  “He cannot keep people from the past regime if they do not serve his interests, we cannot expect him to. That would be unfair,” said Sesa. “Most of those being dropped are those who are loyal to the past regime, we can’t behave like business as usual, that’s political sabotage. The President is permitted by the law to call on a new regime.”

He however pointed out that the many disgruntlements that have been reported on are a major challenge since this might compromise the country’s security. “This is on its own is a threat to national security and a threat to the President’s security. A threat to the President’s security would mean more money is spent in solidification of his protection.” Daniel Molaodi, who also lectures Public Administration at UB, highlighted that having a disgruntled past regime would solely depend on what caused it.

He interpreted that one would assume that the previous regime knows more than what the public does. “They might end up revealing some of the most sensitive things, but will solely depend on what is being revealed and what the public’s response would be.” Moreover, Molaodi says that being surrounded by such disgruntlements depends on how the President handles the situation. “One needs to be careful on how they preserve the skills and experiences of those who have held public offices for long, especially those in the security sector.”

Molaodi said that such sensitive sectors may pose as a threat jeopardizing the information they have in their hands. He also pointed out that one should keep in mind that holding such sensitive information holds the country at ransom depending on how those who have it choose to do with the information. “The danger of all this is, if the skills and experiences of these people fall in the wrong terrain, but like I said this wholly depends on how these people together with their skills and experiences are preserved,” emphasised Molaodi.

Amid these developments, the government has locked horns with Kgosi, who has been under DIS scrutiny since his dismissal from office in 2018. Kgosi has been charged with disclosing the identity of DIS agents to a local newspaper and obstructing them in their course of duty.
He also faces a serious case of corruption and abuse of office in relation to a P250 million scandal. Meanwhile Morupisi, who saw off his last 6 months while serving suspension, is also facing corruption charges.

Morupisi was suspended from office in September 2019, after he was accused and charged with three charges of corruption – abuse of office, receiving bribery and money laundering, in relation to the alleged misappropriation of about P500 million from the Botswana Public Officers Pensioner Fund and Capital Management Botswana (CMB).

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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 DĂ©veloppement (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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