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Butterfly sues DIS Magosi

Directorate of Intelligence and Security (DIS) Senior Intelligence Officer, Welheminah Mphoeng Maswabi popularly known as “butterfly” 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. 

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, Maswabi’s fixed overtime allowance be reviewed, set aside and be declared a nullity because it is “unlawful.”

Furthermore, she seeks that “the 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 Maswabi’s right to privacy and also imposes a new term in the contract of employment devoid of Maswabi consent.” Maswabi also wants the decision of the DIS Director General or any officer under him be corrected or set aside and “the full benefits be paid out” 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 Magosi’s predecessor, Isaac Kgosi, had instructed Bank of Botswana (BoB) – which BoB has denied – 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. “It 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,” 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.“I am further advised by my attorney that in terms of the Public Service Act, in particular, section 35 (3), an employees’ 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,” 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: “we 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.”

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. “It is consequently that the DG acted unlawfully and his decision is liable to be set aside.”

The DG in his letter of suspension further directs me that I shall not leave my duty station without prior authorisation,’’ Maswabi said adding that, ‘‘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,” 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.

“I therefore see this as a new term of employment being imposed on me and invasive of my privacy and convenience.” 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 Butterfly’s March 2020 salary pay slip indicate that Magosi continues to withhold her overtime allowance.  In the matter, Butterfly is represented by legal wizard Uyapo Ndadi of Ndadi law Firm while the Attorney General represents the DIS and Magosi.

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Botswana imports in numbers

1st March 2021
Botswana-imports

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.”

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Sheila Tlou: On why women don’t get votes

1st March 2021
Sheila Tlou

BARAPEDI KEDIKILWE

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.

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SEZA’s P126 million tender heads to court

1st March 2021

Special Economic Zone Authority’s (SEZA) P126 million Master Planning of Pandamatenga Special Economic Zones Business Case, Urban & Landscapes tender is in court after one of bidders, Moralo Design challenged its disqualification from the tender.

SEZA is transforming Pandamatenga into an Agropolis which will combine modern farming with top notch industrial, residential, commercial and recreational land use. The project is measured at 137, 007 ha which comprises of 84, 500 ha for commercial production, 12 400 ha for the subsistence production, 107 ha will be for Agro-processing while 40 000 ha will be for the Zambezi Integrated Agro-commercial Project (ZIACDP).

In their court papers, Moralo Designs, represented by Jones Moitshepi Firm, said they received a letter from SEZA on or around the 12th November 2020 notifying that their bid has been disqualified at the technical evaluation stage of the tender adjudication process.

In their response, Lonely Mogara who is Chief Executive Office of SEZA said Moralo Designs is not entitled to be heard by the court as the company never participated in the disputed tender hence SEZA knows the bidder as Moralo Design Consortium.

“Moralo Designs had failed to establish any right to be heard by the court. The fact that they had submitted a tender was not guarantee that they would be awarded the tender,” he said.
“The reasons for the disqualification of Moralo Design Consortium’s bid were valid and justified because their bid was insufficient as it lacked vital information as required by the terms of reference.”

SEZA Chief said the requirements for the work plan and project programme were clearly stated in the Invitation To Tender (ITT). Moralo Design Consortium was not penalised for non-existent requirements.  In disqualifying the bid by Moralo Designs Consortium, Mogara further indicated that SEZA considered that there was a requirement for a programme and work plan.

“The purported “project programme” that was submitted by Moralo Design Consortium failed to depict the activity durations, activity phasing and interrelations, milestones, delivery dates of reports and logical sequence of activities constituent with methodology and showing a clear understanding of the terms of reference,” said Mogara in responding affidavit.

He said the ITT required that there be provision of delivery dates within the programme hence Moralo Designs Consortium failed to consult with SEZA when they felt that such a requirement would be impossible to provide.  He continued to say there was an avenue available when the tender was being prepared, but they failed to use it.

“Moralo Designs’ application for interim relief lacks merit and only seeks to delay SEZA from completing the evaluation and award of a tender that will serve the greater good of the nation,” said Mogara.

He went on to say Moralo Designs has no prospects of succeeding in its review application as the possibility of court granting the review are so remote in that the court does not possess the requisite technical knowhow on what constitutes an adequate work plan and what ought to be contained in it.

A bidder disqualified for failure to provide adequate information has no right to be protected by the court. Irreparable harm can only be suffered by one who has shown that there exists a right in so far as having stood the chance of being awarded the tender.

The financial benefit likely to be derived by Moralo Designs- which is highly unlikely- is outweighed by the nature of the project. In the unlikely event that the application for review is successful, they can claim for damages.  The availability of such remedy weighs in favour of the interdict being refused. The refusal stands to benefit the nation more than the financial interest that Moralo Designs seeks to protect.

Moralo Designs failed to establish the urgency of their application. They waited for more than a month and half after the disqualification to approach the court on urgency. Meanwhile when delivering the State of the Nation Address (SONA) last year, President Mokgweetsi Masisi revealed that the detailed design and construction of 12 steel grain silos — with an overall storage capacity of 60 000 metric tonnes — is underway at the Pandamatenga SEZ and the P126 million project will be completed by August 2021.

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