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OP secretly relocate MPs from Avani to private houses

Office of the President has covertly relocated the Members of Parliament (MP’s) from the luxurious Avani Hotel resort and casino to private houses following the public uproar.

Government parliamentary Chief Whip Liakat Kablay confirmed to Weekend Post this week that “the government is renovating the flats and so MP’s have been housed in private houses” and that “it happened 2 months back.” The hush-hush move came after public outcry on the questionable rationale behind housing the legislators at a lavish hotel at the tax payers’ money without convincing justification. The government will have to pay BWP 6, 217, 751.25 for accommodation and meals for MP’s and their spouses from 31st October 2019 to 20th December 2019 which some thought was unreasonable.

To add salt to injury, there were reports that established procurement processes were not followed on awarding the tender to Avani Hotel. Public Procurement and Asset Disposal Board (PPADB) recently clarified that while they do not consider requests for payment but rather considers requests for appointment of service providers: “in this particular case Avani Resort and Casino was appointed ‘prior’ to approval by the adjudicating authority (PPADB/Ministerial Tender Committee (MTC)).”

Therefore, the tender adjudicator explained that the request was for retroactive appointment of Avani Resort and Casino for accommodation services and the Board rejected the retroactive appointment. “The decision not to approve was premised on the submission not satisfying Section 44 (2) of the PPAD Act as read with Section 3 of the PPAD (Retroactive Approvals) Order of 2012,” PPADB official mouthpiece Charles Keikotlhae told this publication last week.

However parliament, which operates under the auspices of the office of the President distanced itself from the PPADB for taking such bold decision. “PPADB is within its powers to approve or disapprove such submission,” Parliamentary Spokesperson Caroline Bogale – Jaiyeoba told Weekend Post upon inquiries. Meanwhile PPADB has called for the investigations on the controversial issue of awarding the MP’s in question the accommodation tender to Avani at a substantial cost of 6 million and on the way flouting the PPAD Act.

“The Accounting Officer in the Ministry of Presidential Affairs, Governance and Public Administration is expected to investigate the matter and determine the reasons that led to this non-compliance with the PPAD Act and take appropriate action against relevant officer(s) if reasons for their non-compliance are not justified,” PPADB official further stated. However it remains a mystery on what motivation was applied for a decision to lodge the MP’s at Avani as compared to other Hotels (which may be low-priced).

When Weekend Post inquired on whether the procurement processes were followed on the particular matter to source more than 3 quotations as is standard practice and if so what were the other potential accommodation service providers, parliament was tight lipped on the substantive subject. Parliamentary spokesperson Bogale – Jaiyeoba only stated that “procurement processes to lodge Members of Parliament at Avani were dully followed and the decision was informed by an approval granted by the Ministerial Tender Committee.” This is notwithstanding the reservations raised by PPADB that was not in compliance with the PPAD Act which regulates award of tenders.

She did not even state if three quotations were sought on the multimillion accommodation tender and from what service providers if any but instead remaining mum on the material subject in what is by all intents and purposes a matter of public interest as it affects the public purse/funds. Furthermore, Bogale – Jaiyeoba also snubbed a question from this publication when requested to break down the more than 6 million pula cost for each MP (and their spouses or family) per day at the posh Hotel to get a clear sense of the extend of splashing of funds at the accommodation facility.

She only said this that “MP’s were accommodated at Avani with their spouses; charged for accommodation, meals, laundry and other hotel related charges” while not revealing the expenditure break down for the MP’s. In addition this publication also sought clarity on the progress made in the renovations of the parliamentary flats and when it is likely to complete but parliament could not shed some light on the development. This means that MP’s will continue to lodge at the private accommodation houses estimated at P11 000 per month for an undisclosed period until official flats renovations are complete.

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African countries call on WHO to increase funding

2nd February 2023

Minister of Health Dr Edwin Dikoloti says Africa member states call on World Health Organization (WHO) to ensure equitable resource allocation for 2024-2025. Dr Dikoloti was speaking this week at the WHO Executive Board Meeting in Geneva, Switzerland.

He said countries agreed that there is need to address the budget and funding imbalances by increasing the programme budget share of countries and regions to 75% for the next year.

“The proposed budget for 2024-2025 marks an important milestone as it is the first in Programme Budget in which country offices will be allocated more than half of the total budget for the biennium. We highly welcome this approach which will enable the organization to deliver on its mandate while fulfilling the expectations for transparency, efficiency and accountability.”

The Botswana Health Minister commended member states on the extension of the General Programme of Work (GPD 13) and the Secretariat work to monitor the progress towards the triple billion targets, and the health-related SDGs.

“We welcome the Director’s general proposed five priorities which have crystalized into the “five Ps” that are aligned with the GPW 13 extension. Impact can only be achieved through close coordination with, and support to national health authorities. As such, the strengthening of country offices is instrumental, with particular focus on strengthening national health systems and on promoting more equitable access to health services.”

According to Dr Dikoloti, the majority of countries with UHC index that is below the global median are in the WHO Africa region. “For that, we call on the WHO to enhance capacity at the regional and national levels in order to accelerate progress. Currently, the regional office needs both technical and financial support in order to effectively address and support country needs.”

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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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