Directorate of Intelligence and Security (DIS) Senior Intelligence Officer, Welheminah Mphoeng Maswabi popularly known as â€œbutterflyâ€ has this week filed a notice to High Court intending to sue her controversial Director General, Peter Fana Magosi over unlawful breach of her employment contract.Â
Maswabi who is currently serving suspension, is seeking the court to review and set aside the decision of Magosi for stopping her overtime allowances and curtailing her freedom of movement by directing that she seeks prior authorisation when leaving duty station. She therefore wants the court to order that the decision of the DIS Director General contained in a letter dated 25th November 2019 and 9th December 2019 stopping the employee, Maswabiâ€™s fixed overtime allowance be reviewed, set aside and be declared a nullity because it is â€œunlawful.â€
Furthermore, she seeks that â€œthe decision of the Director General stating that Maswabi should not leave her duty station, without prior authorisation is unlawful, and ultra vires the constitution of Botswana as it interferes with Maswabiâ€™s right to privacy and also imposes a new term in the contract of employment devoid of Maswabi consent.â€ Maswabi also wants the decision of the DIS Director General or any officer under him be corrected or set aside and â€œthe full benefits be paid outâ€ forthwith and henceforth.
The development comes after Maswabi was on the 17th October 2019, arrested and charged on allegations of possession of unexplained property, contrary to section 34(1) (b) of the Corruption and Economic Crimes Act (Cap 08:05) of the laws of Botswana as read with section 36 of the same Act, Financing Terrorism, contrary to section 5 (1) (f) (ii) of the Counter-Terrorism Act (Cap08:08) of the Laws of Botswana and false declaration for passport, contrary to section 315 of the Penal Code (cap 08:01) of the laws of Botswana read with section 33 of the same Act.
At the centre of the case are strong allegations that Butterfly was cited as signatory to some shady accounts in which suspicion is that the then President Ian Khama and former spy chief and Magosiâ€™s predecessor, Isaac Kgosi, had instructed Bank of Botswana (BoB) â€“ which BoB has denied â€“ to open three bank accounts in South African banks that were used to loot more than of P100 billions of public funds.
However Butterfly was later on the 22nd November 2019 granted bail by the High Court pending the finalisation of the investigations of the said charges and has since been on suspension on full pay. â€œIt is my submission that the decision of the DG Magosi to stop my overtime allowance is unlawful because the deductions that have not been agreed upon by the employer and the employee are prohibited,â€ she said in papers seen by Weekend Post this week.
She also added that the decision and the act of the DG in deducting her overtime allowance is unlawful and stressed that it is prohibited by law since she did not consent or authorise him to do it.â€œI am further advised by my attorney that in terms of the Public Service Act, in particular, section 35 (3), an employeesâ€™ salary shall not be withheld during the period while on suspension I submit that since the overtime allowance is fixed, it constitutes my salary and it is not dependent on whether I have worked overtime or not,â€ she observed.
She further submitted that clause 8.2 of the DIS Conditions of Service does envisage that the overtime allowance may be taken away if the employee is continuously not working overtime. She continued: â€œwe submit that this does not apply to cases of suspensions as an employee on suspension is still for all intends and purposes still employed to do the functions that attract overtime but for the suspension, like in my case, is unable to, because the employer has made it impossible.â€
I submit that the suspension should not be prejudicial to me in anyway, Butterfly pointed out. According to Butterfly, even assuming that she is wrong in her interpretation, which is denied, the DG, in law, has no right to unilaterally take away a benefit she hitherto enjoyed without her consent or at the very least without affording her a hearing. â€œIt is consequently that the DG acted unlawfully and his decision is liable to be set aside.â€
The DG in his letter of suspension further directs me that I shall not leave my duty station without prior authorisation,â€™â€™ Maswabi said adding that, â€˜â€˜I submit that neither my employment contract nor the conditions of service have such a requirement. It is therefore a new term imposed on me. It lacks justification particularly that I am out on bail and the conditions of bail deal with matter of my movement,â€ she said. Butterfly submitted that Magosi, when she is not in suspension, do not have to account for her personal travels to him nor does she have to seek authority.
â€œI therefore see this as a new term of employment being imposed on me and invasive of my privacy and convenience.â€ The background of the case is that on the 25th November 2019, Magosi wrote a letter interdicting Maswabi from performing her duties pending the finalisation of the criminal charges proffered against her by the Directorate of Public Prosecutions (DPP) and was served with papers on the 26 November 2019.
In the said letter it was stated that during the period of interdiction, she was placed on full salary pay and all benefits except overtime allowance. Furthermore the letter stated that she shall not leave her duty station, Gaborone, without prior authorisation. On 29 November, Maswabi wrote a letter to Magosi querying his decision to stop her overtime allowance particularly pointing out that the overtime allowance is protected in the same way as the scarce skills allowance is and calling for the decision to be reversed.
The DG wrote back on the 9th November refusing to turn back on his decision and insisted that she has been relieved from the exercise of the powers and from carrying out duties as an officer and therefore will not be required to work overtime and thus not eligible to earn it. Despite the decisions of the DIS Director General to withhold her overtime allowance, it was paid with the December 2019 salary as reflected on the salary advice slip.
On the 14th January 2020, Magosi not only withheld her overtime allowance, but also half of her salary and emoluments leaving her with a net pay of P0.00. He salary slip showed that only half of her salary was paid and no other benefits were paid such as scarce skill allowance, plain clothes allowance, special duty allowance, and overtime allowance. She said she was not consulted about the variation and it was done without her consent.
Maswabi then caused a statutory notice to be issued on the 22 January 2020 calling upon the Director General to correct or set aside the decision and pay out her benefits forthwith. Furthermore Magosi on the 25th January accordingly paid out half of her basic salary that was withheld, and further went to the extent of deducting the overtime allowance that had been paid out in December 2019 together with withholding the overtime allowance of the salary of January 2020.
A copy of Butterflyâ€™s March 2020 salary pay slip indicate that Magosi continues to withhold her overtime allowance.Â In the matter, Butterfly is represented by legal wizard Uyapo Ndadi of Ndadi law Firm while the Attorney General represents the DIS and Magosi.
Botswana health officials have confirmed the new COVOD-19 variant, which was first found in India. The Ministry of Health and Wellness has through a press statement informed members of the public that a new COVID-19 variant (B.1.617), first discovered in India. The Indian variant was confirmed in Botswana on 13 May 2021.
According to Christopher Nyanga, spokesperson at the Ministry, this followed a case investigation within Greater Gaborone, involving people of Indian origin who arrived in the country on the 24th April 2021.
“As at 16 May 2021, the B. 1. 617 variant was confirmed in two (2) people. The clients are currently receiving medical care and remain stable with no life-threatening symptoms. The two (2) cases were part of 383 people (both Batswana and some Indian nationals) who were tested for COVID-19. From this number, 43 tested positive, with two (2) showing the B. 1. 617 variant as already alluded to. Contact tracing has been expanded in line with COVID-19 protocols. All contacts and confirmed cases have been evacuated to facility based quarantine and isolation respectively, for close monitoring,” Nyanga narrated.
The World Health Organization recently announced that the Indian Covid-19 variant was a global concern, with some data suggesting the variant has “increased transmissibility” compared with other strains.
Meanwhile in the wake of Botswana’s confirmation of the Indian variant, Nyanga reminded the public of the government intervention to control the introduction of new variants of public health concern into the country. He stated that all those who have travelled or transited through areas of high risk as previously communicated on 3rd May 2021 upon return shall immediately quarantine in a central area to be identified by the Ministry of Health and Wellness for a period not exceeding ten (10) days; Repeat Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) test after seven (7) days of quarantine and be discharged as per the outcome of the results.
He said the requirements are complementary to the mandatory requirements of producing on arrival a negative PCR test not older than 72hrs from the time the sample was collected
“The public is advised to remain vigilant and minimize the spread of COVID-19 by following the already outlined preventative measures such as washing of hands with soap or use of a hand sanitizer, wearing of face masks, avoiding crowded places/social distancing and avoiding non-essential movement,” Nyanga said.
The India variant – officially called B.1.617.2 – is one of four mutated versions of coronavirus which have been designated as being “of concern” by transitional public health bodies, with others first being identified in Kent, South Africa and Brazil.
The lawyers representing former President Lt Gen Ian Khama, Ramalepa Attorneys have come forth dismissing a response letter penned down by Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) activist MacDonald Peloetletse after he was slapped with a P1.5 million lawsuit for defamation of their client.
Tebogo Tladi, an attorney at Ramalepa, said last week Thursday Peloetletse took to social media to publish a substantively false, wrongful and unlawful statement about Khama. MacDonald Peloetletse’s commentary which was posted on Gabz FM News page reads, “I am a former soldier. Everything former President SKI Khama said here is a LIE. In fact, soldiers suffered more under Khama than under his predecessors.
He actually stole money that the UN had paid to the soldiers who went for the operations and paid them less than a quarter of what was actually due to them. “Unhappy soldiers took the BDF to court and won, the BDF is still struggling to pay the debts! Khama can fool some people, but not all the people and not all the time.
“In fact many soldiers, serving, retired and those that resigned and were in the operations during Khama’s time get even more annoyed to such disrespectful statements by Ian Khama.” Khama’s lawyer says the impugned statement was published with the intention to injure his client (Khama) in his personality rights, good name and dignity, further indicating that the statement has damaged his good reputation.
“We have therefore been instructed by Client to demand, as we hereby do, that you publish on the same forum a retraction and a full and unconditional apology to Client within three days of receipt of this letter- and that you deliver such apology in a formal letter to the Office of the Former President, Dr Khama. In the event that you have not compiled with this demand by close of business on Monday 10th May 2021, our Client will assume that you have refused to comply with this demand.”
To top it all off, Khama demands that Peloetletse pay him P1.5 million in damages for defamation. “Furthermore, we hold instructions to demand as we hereby do, that you pay our Client damages for defamation in the sum of P1, 500,000.00 within seven days of receipt of this letter.” In the event that Peloetletse fails to pay the amount of damages demanded by Khama, Tladi says they will institute legal proceedings for the recovery of the aforesaid damages.
In his response letter addressed to Ramalepa Attorneys, Peloetletse said that he requests enlightenment and clarification that he be provided with proof that the allegations and comments which they attribute to him were indeed authored by him and that the platform which the comments were placed was not hacked.
“Please also advise if whether your clients has been endowed with a “special particular privilege status” that restricts the citizens of this country from commenting or responding to public statements made by your client in the course of political discourse especially when made on public forum and relate to matters of general public concern. (I trust that your brilliant legal mind is well informed with respect to the jurisprudence in such matters)”.
Peloetletse also said he would like to share with the attorneys a video which was posted on a public forum. “Please listen carefully to the conversations and discussion herein and advice if possibly such discussions form a reasonable basis for a justifiably rebuttal by any Motswana Citizen to the public pronouncements and defamatory statements made by your client about our government (bearing in mind of course a citizens constitutional right to freedom of speech and freedom of expression).’’
Consulted for further comment on the matter on Thursday after receiving Peloetletse’s response, Khama’s attorney Tebogo Tladi said the letter doesn’t hold any water. “The only way out for him is to prove the truth of the allegations on his comment or deny publication. He does not answer substantively to the defamation and does not respond to the demand of an apology or payment of damages.
So his letter really contains largely matters irrelevant to the substance of the letter of demand. His response in fact presents no legally cognizable defence at all- it would appear he responded without the benefit of legal advice, which would not be prudent for such an important case. So we will proceed to issue summons and wait to see what defences he will plead in court.’’
Botswana and Zambia this week celebrated the opening of a multi-million Dollar infrastructural project, the Kazungula Bridge, projected to contribute around P100 million annually for Botswana. This project comes after the signing of the 2012 Agreement between the two countries to construct a bridge that would ease movement of goods.
President Mokgweetsi Masisi said the Kazungula Bridge will open avenues for improved trade, job creation and economic diversification in both countries. Further, the Bridge will significantly accelerate Southern African Development Committee (SADC) regional integration agenda which Botswana and Zambia are vigorously pursuing.
“By growing our strategic partnerships through this project, we have improved the development and competitiveness of our economies to attract more private sector investment, thereby, supporting our efforts to create employment, especially for the burgeoning youth,” Masisi said at the opening ceremony in Kazungula on Monday.
The Kazungula Bridge comprises a road and rail bridge over the Zambezi River, directly linking Botswana and Zambia. It has One-Stop-Border Post facilities on both sides, which will enhance the operational efficiency at entry points, replicated on both sides of the boarder.
The Bridge was originally conceived as a critical link in the African North-South Corridor under the African Union’s New Partnership (NEPAD) for Africa’s Development programme. It has since evolved to encompass a multimodal transport plan under the Programme for Infrastructure Development in Africa (PIDA).
The PIDA programme, which encompasses liberalisation of air travel, rail links, road, water and all other modes of transport has only one objective: to unite the States of Africa in order to foster trade on the continent
“Connectivity of our nations will in no small measure, promote people to people interactions and uplifts their standard of living. I am pleased to state that the completion of this project is a clear demonstration of our commitment to PIDA.”
The 260 million US Dollar Kazungula Bridge was commissioned by Zambian President, Edgar Lungu and President Masisi. President Lungu said the bridge was a monumental effort linking Zambia internally and externally to ease the movement of goods and services.
“I have held talks with my counterpart in Botswana that this project must run daily up to 22 hours as soon as possible and you the technocrats must not play ping-pong with us after making these public procurements,” Lungu said at the official opening in Kazungula.
For his part, DRC President Felix Tshisekedi said the project was tandem with the Africa Union (AU) goals and priority areas for Agenda 2063 which called for a prosperous Africa, based on inclusive growth and sustainable development.
The new Kazungula Bridge replaces the Kazungula Ferry, a pontoon ferry across the 400-metre-wide Zambezi River between Botswana and Zambia. It was one of the largest ferries in South-Central Africa, having a capacity of 70 tonnes.
In 2003 the ferry was the site of a disaster when a severely overloaded Zambian truck capsized one of the pontoons and 18 people drowned. The accident was blamed on the lack of weighbridges in Zambia to check the weight of trucks.
In August 2007, the governments of Zambia and Botswana announced a deal to construct a bridge at the site to replace the ferry. The existence of a short boundary of about 150 meters between Zambia and Botswana was apparently agreed to during various meetings involving Heads of State and officials from all four States in the 2006-2010 period.
The route for this new bridge crosses the boundary without entering Zimbabwe and Namibia. Zimbabwe already has a bridge into Zambia at Victoria Falls, 70KM from Kazungula. Namibia on the other hand has a bridge into Zambia at Katima Mulilo about 150KM upriver.