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Botswana’s two-faced democracy: the case of the rule of law

Ndulamo Anthony Morima

Botswana has been hailed as one of the best democracies in the world. Its respect for the rule of law, judicial independence, separation of powers and regular free and fair elections are among the tenets of democracy which have earned Botswana this international acclaim. This acclaim is, to a large extent, well deserved.

Yet, in some instances too many, Botswana has exhibited characteristics of a two-faced democracy: one for the ‘friends of the state’ and the other for the ‘enemies of the state’. In this article we, using the case of the doctrine of the rule of law, show how Botswana’s democracy is two-faced.

One of the areas where Botswana has excelled is respect for the rule of law which inter alia provides that everyone should be presumed innocent until proven guilty. During Lieutenant General Seretse Khama Ian Khama’s tenure as president three cabinet ministers and a traditional leader have faced charges and appeared before the courts. As will be shown below, a two-faced approach, which derogated from respect for the rule of law, was used in their cases.

When, in 2010, mere allegations surfaced that the then Assistant Minister of Finance and Development Planning, Honorable Samson Moyo Guma, was under investigation by the Directorate on Corruption and Economic Crime (DCEC), Khama allegedly forced him to resign from cabinet despite not facing a criminal charge. In fact, he was never charged for any crime.

When, in 2010, Kgosi Kwena Sebele was charged and later convicted of stock theft for stealing a billy goat worth P800.00 he was interdicted from his position as president of the Customary Court of Appeal. Also, despite his conviction being quashed by the Court of Appeal (CoA) in 2012, Kgosi Kwena Sebele was not reinstated to his position.

When, in 2012, the then Minister of Defence, Justice and Security, Dikgakgamatso Ramadeluka Seretse, faced corruption charges for failing to declare his interest in RFT Botswana, a company that had dealings with the Botswana Police Service, a department under his portfolio, and  knowingly failing to disclose such interest to President Khama, Khama accepted his resignation from cabinet.

Khama accepted Ramadeluka Seretse’s resignation despite the fact that, as was later found by the court, with respect to the latter charge, he had, in 2004, written a letter to Khama informing him that he resigned his directorship or shareholding in RFT Botswana when it started doing business with the Botswana Police Service, and only served as chairman. It is, however, worth mentioning that after his discharge and acquittal Khama re-appointed Ramadeluka Seretse to his position.

However, when, in 2012, the then Assistant Minister of Finance and Development Planning, Honorable Vincent Seretse, was facing two counts of corruption for abuse of office when he was Botswana Telecommunications Corporation (BTC)’s Chief Executive Officer in 2008 and of taking part in awarding a tender to a company called Serala (Pty) Ltd which he had interest in, Khama did not dismiss him from cabinet or force him to resign, saying he is innocent until proven guilty. It is worth mentioning that the Directorate of Public Prosecutions (DPP) withdrew the charges against Honorable Vincent Seretse.

Also, when, in 2013, the Minister of Finance and Development Planning, Honorable Kenneth Matambo, faced charges that while he was Managing Director of the Botswana Development Corporation (BDC) he failed to declare his private dealings with a company that did business with BDC, Khama neither dismissed him from cabinet nor forced him to resign, saying he is innocent until proven guilty. It is worth noting that Honorable Matambo’s charges were dropped after the court upheld his exception application for his charges to be dropped.

During the time that Honorable Matambo and Honorable Vincent Seretse were facing the charges they continued with their parliamentary and ministerial duties as though nothing was happening. Assuming they were never granted leave to attend to the cases, one can conclude that they would, during a normal working day, literally leave their official duties to attend the court as accused persons. According to Khama there was nothing wrong with this because they remained innocent until proven guilty.

Effective 1st September 2015, four judges of the High Court, namely Judge Dr. Oagile Key Dingake, Judge Mercy Garekwe, Judge Ranier Busang and Judge Modiri Letsididi have been suspended pending an investigation into their conduct in terms of section 97 of the Constitution.

This matter, which may result in the judges’ removal from office in terms of section 97(2) of the Constitution, started with the Chief Justice (CJ), acting on behalf of the Judicial Service Commission (JSC), reporting the said judges to the Botswana Police Service for receiving a housing allowance of P6, 545.45 per month despite being accommodated in official residences.

One wonders why such a matter, which is for all intents and purposes, internal, was reported to the Botswana Police Service without, as the judges allege, an internal investigation and/or exhaustion of all internal remedies to recover the money.

Also, one wonders how the judges’ consideration to report the CJ for a possible investigation in terms of section 97 of the Constitution or to sue him for defamation or report him for criminal defamation can be regarded as insubordination or misbehavior. Since when has a person’s exercise of his or he rights in relation to his or her superior been insubordination or misbehavior worthy of ending one’s career?  

One of the golden threads of the doctrine of the rule of law is that the same law or legal consequences should apply to all citizens equally and without fear or favour. If a junior public officer can be interdicted when facing criminal charges, what about a cabinet Minister who has more responsibility and whose continuation in office can affect the country’s economy and diplomatic relations?

When government interdicts a public officer facing a criminal charge does that mean it has already decided on the officer’s guilt? Why then does the issue of ‘innocent until proven guilty’ only apply with respect to some Ministers? Why did it not apply with respect to Honorable Dikgakgamatso Ramadeluka Seretse, Honorable Samson Moyo Guma and Kgosi Kwena Sebele?

Of the many threads making up the doctrine of the rule of law is procedural and substantive propriety in all administrative and executive action. Why did the JSC report the four judges to the Botswana Police Service before conducting an internal enquiry and according the judges an internal hearing?

Since the option of commencing removal proceedings in terms of section 97 of the Constitution has always been available to the president, why did the JSC not resort to it instead of reporting the matter to the Botswana Police Service? Why did the JSC not report the matter to the president?

It appears to me that while Botswana, to a large extent, respects the rule of law, such respect withers when the state deals with ‘enemies of the state’ and flourishes when it deals with ‘friends of the state’. It is an open secret that because of his allegiance to Opposition politics, Kgosi Kwena Sebele is not in the state’s good books. No wonder his career was ended without mercy despite having been declared innocent by the highest court in our land.

Judge Dr. Dingake too is not the state’s favorite judge because of his progressive judgments, many of which have stuck down unlawful administrative and executive action. President Khama has on several occasions not had Ramadeluka Seretse’s back, perhaps for political reasons considering that Ramadeluka bears the multimillion Pula name, ‘Seretse’ as a surname. On the contrary, such ‘friends of the state’ as Honorable Matambo and Honorable Vincent Seretse seem to have been treated with kids’ gloves.

I have to state that this conclusion with respect to Honorable Matambo and Honorable Vincent Seretse does not in any way suggest that I believe they were guilty of the charges or that the courts wrongly decided their cases. On the contrary, being a strong proponent for the rule of law and judicial independence myself, I respect the decisions of our courts which, as I have stated before, are largely independent.

What I take issue with is the Ministers’ failure to exercise corporate governance and resign pending the determination of their cases. I also take issue with president Khama’s abdication of the parity principle by failing to, like he did with Ramadeluka Seretse, Honorable Samson Moyo Guma and Kgosi Kwena Sebele, force them to resign or dismiss them from office.

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The Daring Dozen at Bari

8th December 2020

Seventy-seven years ago, on the evening of December 2, 1943, the Germans launched a surprise air raid on allied shipping in the Italian port of Bari, which was then the key supply centre for the British 8th army’s advance in Italy.

The attack was spearheaded by 105 Junkers JU88 bombers under the overall command of the infamous Air Marshal Wolfram von Richthofen (who had initially achieved international notoriety during the Spanish Civil War for his aerial bombardment of Guernica). In a little over an hour the German aircraft succeeded in sinking 28 transport and cargo ships, while further inflicting massive damage to the harbour’s facilities, resulting in the port being effectively put out of action for two months.

Over two thousand ground personnel were killed during the raid, with the release of a secret supply of mustard gas aboard one of the destroyed ships contributing to the death toll, as well as subsequent military and civilian casualties. The extent of the later is a controversy due to the fact that the American and British governments subsequently covered up the presence of the gas for decades.

At least five Batswana were killed and seven critically wounded during the raid, with one of the wounded being miraculously rescued floating unconscious out to sea with a head wound. He had been given up for dead when he returned to his unit fourteen days later. The fatalities and casualties all occurred when the enemy hit an ammunition ship adjacent to where 24 Batswana members of the African Pioneer Corps (APC) 1979 Smoke Company where posted.

Thereafter, the dozen surviving members of the unit distinguished themselves for their efficiency in putting up and maintaining smokescreens in their sector, which was credited with saving additional shipping. For his personal heroism in rallying his men following the initial explosions Company Corporal Chitu Bakombi was awarded the British Empire Medal, while his superior officer, Lieutenant N.F. Moor was later given an M.B.E.

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A Strong Marriage Bond Needs Two

8th December 2020

Remember: bricks and cement are used to build a house, but mutual love, respect and companionship are used to build a HOME. And amongst His signs is this: He creates for you mates out of your own kind, so that you may find contentment (Sukoon) with them, and He engenders love and tenderness between you; in this behold, there are signs (messages) indeed for people who reflect and think (Quran 30:21).

This verse talks about contentment; this implies companionship, of their being together, sharing together, supporting one another and creating a home of peace. This verse also talks about love between them; this love is both physical and emotional. For love to exist it must be built on the foundation of a mutually supportive relationship guided by respect and tenderness. As the Quran says; ‘they are like garments for you, and you are garments for them (Quran 2:187)’. That means spouses should provide each other with comfort, intimacy and protection just as clothing protects, warms and dignifies the body.

In Islam marriage is considered an ‘ibaadah’, (an act of pleasing Allah) because it is about a commitment made to each other, that is built on mutual love, interdependence, integrity, trust, respect, companionship and harmony towards each other. It is about building of a home on an Islamic foundation in which peace and tranquillity reigns wherein your offspring are raised in an atmosphere conducive to a moral and upright upbringing so that when we all stand before Him (Allah) on that Promised Day, He will be pleased with them all.

Most marriages start out with great hopes and rosy dreams; spouses are truly committed to making their marriages work. However, as the pressures of life mount, many marriages change over time and it is quite common for some of them to run into problems and start to flounder as the reality of living with a spouse that does not meet with one’s pre-conceived ‘expectations’. However, with hard work and dedication, couples can keep their marriages strong and enjoyable. How is it done? What does it take to create a long-lasting, satisfying marriage?

Below are some of the points that have been taken from a marriage guidance article I read recently and adapted for this purposes.

Spouses should have far more positive than negative interactions. If there is too much negativity — criticizing, demanding, name-calling, holding grudges, etc. — the relationship will suffer. However, if there is never any negativity, it probably means that frustrations and grievances are not getting ‘air time’ and unresolved tension is accumulating inside one or both partners waiting to ‘explode’ one day.

“Let not some men among you laugh at others: it may be that the (latter) are better than the (former): nor let some women laugh at others: it may be that the (latter) are better than the (former): nor defame nor be sarcastic to each other, nor call each other by (offensive) nicknames.” (49:11)

We all have our individual faults though we may not see them nor want to admit to them but we will easily identify them in others. The key is balance between the two extremes and being supportive of one another. To foster positivity in a marriage that help make them stable and happy, being affectionate, truly listening to each other, taking joy in each other’s achievements and being playful are just a few examples of positive interactions.
Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) said: “The believers who show the most perfect faith are those who have the best character and the best of you are those who are best to their wives”


Another characteristic of happy marriages is empathy; understanding your spouses’ perspective by putting oneself in his or her shoes. By showing that understanding and identifying with your spouse is important for relationship satisfaction. Spouses are more likely to feel good about their marriage and if their partner expresses empathy towards them. Husbands and wives are more content in their relationships when they feel that their partners understand their thoughts and feelings.

Successful married couples grow with each other; it simply isn’t wise to put any person in charge of your happiness. You must be happy with yourself before anyone else can be.  You are responsible for your actions, your attitudes and your happiness. Your spouse just enhances those things in your life. Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) said: “Treat your women well and be kind to them for they are your partners and committed helpers.”


Successful marriages involve both spouses’ commitment to the relationship. The married couple should learn the art of compromise and this usually takes years. The largest parts of compromise are openness to the other’s point of view and good communication when differences arise.

When two people are truly dedicated to making their marriage work, despite the unavoidable challenges and obstacles that come, they are much more likely to have a relationship that lasts. Husbands and wives who only focus on themselves and their own desires are not as likely to find joy and satisfaction in their relationships.


Another basic need in a relationship is each partner wants to feel valued and respected. When people feel that their spouses truly accept them for who they are, they are usually more secure and confident in their relationships. Often, there is conflict in marriage because partners cannot accept the individual preferences of their spouses and try to demand change from one another. When one person tries to force change from another, he or she is usually met with resistance.

However, change is much more likely to occur when spouses respect differences and accept each other unconditionally. Basic acceptance is vital to a happy marriage. Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) said: “It is the generous (in character) who is good to women, and it is the wicked who insults them.”
“Overlook (any human faults) with gracious forgiveness.” (Quran 15:85)


Other important components of successful marriages are love, compassion and respect for each other. The fact is, as time passes and life becomes increasingly complicated, the marriage is often stressed and suffers as a result. A happy and successful marriage is based on equality. When one or the other dominates strongly, intimacy is replaced by fear of displeasing.

It is all too easy for spouses to lose touch with each other and neglect the love and romance that once came so easily. It is vital that husbands and wives continue to cultivate love and respect for each other throughout their lives. If they do, it is highly likely that their relationships will remain happy and satisfying. Move beyond the fantasy and unrealistic expectations and realize that marriage is about making a conscious choice to love and care for your spouse-even when you do not feel like it.

Seldom can one love someone for whom we have no respect. This also means that we have to learn to overlook and forgive the mistakes of one’s partner. In other words write the good about your partner in stone and the bad in dust, so that when the wind comes it blows away the bad and only the good remains.

Paramount of all, marriage must be based on the teachings of the Noble Qur’an and the teachings and guidance of our Prophet Muhammad (PBUH). To grow spiritually in your marriage requires that you learn to be less selfish and more loving, even during times of conflict. A marriage needs love, support, tolerance, honesty, respect, humility, realistic expectations and a sense of humour to be successful.

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Chronic Joblessness: How to Help Curtail it

30th November 2020
Motswana woman

The past week or two has been a mixed grill of briefs in so far as the national employment picture is concerned. BDC just injected a further P64 million in Kromberg & Schubert, the automotive cable manufacturer and exporter, to help keep it afloat in the face of the COVID-19-engendered global economic apocalypse. The financial lifeline, which follows an earlier P36 million way back in 2017, hopefully guarantees the jobs of 2500, maybe for another year or two.

It was also reported that a bulb manufacturing company, which is two years old and is youth-led, is making waves in Selibe Phikwe. Called Bulb Word, it is the only bulb manufacturing operation in Botswana and employs 60 people. The figure is not insignificant in a town that had 5000 jobs offloaded in one fell swoop when BCL closed shop in 2016 under seemingly contrived circumstances, so that as I write, two or three buyers have submitted bids to acquire and exhume it from its stage-managed grave.

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