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How hawkers were legally dislodge from GH periphery

UTLWANANG GASENNELWE| LEMPOETSE KEETSALETSE| LESEDI KATSE

Ministry of Land Management, Water and Sanitation approved a request by Gaborone Hotel owner Bipin Aswathi to acquire more land within the hotel’s periphery, despite the decision resulting in displacement of informal sector traders, who have been in trading in the area for nearly 30 years.

Aswathi was awarded the extension of the land legally by the government through the Department of Lands in the Ministry of Land Management, Water and Sanitation Services in 2015 effectively evacuating the traders.
The 700m2 space extension has become the centre of dispute between hawkers and the hotel owner, with the war heightening during lockdown when the owner of the hotel capitalised on their absence by erecting a new fence.

The fence has since been removed following intense negotiations, but hawkers only have three months to move elsewhere. The grace period however is not inclusive of lockdown if at any point government imposes it during State of Emergence period.  WeekendPost has established that the first hawker occupied the area in the early 90’s although he, together with tenths of others who came thereafter will now be disposed of the rewarding space in a blink of an eye.

This is notwithstanding that the hawkers have known no place other than the bus rank. They have therefore attached business and emotions to the place due to its traffic which leads to more customers whom they built over the years. In a separate interview Thusanang Bagwebi President, Kagiso Masupane said they slept in the freezing police cells over the weekend for their rights adding that their removal from their trading space at the bus rank is heart-breaking.

“We are sad by the development to push us out of this area. We are not happy at all. We came and settled here for a reason. This place brought us more traffic, more people and therefore more customers,” he emphasized.
He further asserted that nobody cares to listen to them and their cry, even government – possibly because of their social status. “We do not even have a direct Ministry responsible for us and our plight in our trading sphere,” he pointed out.

‘‘We are probably not listened to because we are from the lower hierarchy of socio-economic class, we are poor with no financial backbone and stand in our society that’s why they are easily pushing us out,’’ he lashed out.
The contentious matter have seen old wounds being licked following COVID-19 lockdown as a confrontation ensued between the hotel owner, the hawkers and the Police.

The move led to the erection of the fence by Aswathi during lockdown and subsequently the illegal removal of the same fence by hawkers who were later arrested. It is understood that the business magnate have since 2017 been engaging Thusanang Bagwebi Association, Botswana Informal Sector Association (BOISA) and the Botswana Federation of Trade Unions (BFTU).

“The misinformation and/or reluctance by the Gaborone City Council and Department of Land to ‘clarify’ Gaborone Hotel’s ownership of the (extended) land and the information was confirmed by the Department of Land, Anti-corruption unit on the 26th May 2020 as valid,” the 3 unions stated. Ministry of Lands Management, Water and Sanitation Services also confirmed the land ownership to the naturalized Motswana of Pakistan origin.

“An application for extension of lot 75830 was approved in 2014 to SNB Investment Botswana and an offer was made to the applicant in 2015. The extension, measuring 700m2 was made from a portion of the remainder of plot 13963. SNB Investment Botswana holds title to the land as of 22 June 2015. The extension belongs to Gaborone Hotel under SNB Investment Botswana,” Chief Public Relations Officer Alice Mmolawa told WeekendPost this week, speaking on behalf of Permanent Secretary Bonolo Khumotaka.

It is understood that Gaborone Hotel established that they had engaged Department of Lands and GCC for the past three years in an effort to avoid using force and legal proceedings against the hawkers even when prompted by Botswana Police on the 22 May 2020, after complete removal of the fence.

The move was confirmed by the business tycoon who told WeekendPost that: “I have been having consultations and negotiations with the hawkers through their unions since 2017 and I have been patient with them. I have consequently, this time around, given them three months ultimatum to have moved out of the place.” He stated that they have reached a common ground between the two parties and agreed that they would also withdraw the court case and police case.

This came after the hotel owner dragged them to court through an urgent application to force their removal from his place. Speaking to WeekendPost, Botswana Police Service Station Commander at Borakanelo Police, Superintendent Amos Solomon confirmed that the incident had been reported while stressing that both Aswathi and hawkers have been charged for separate offences.

“Both hotel owner and the hawkers were charged. The hotel owner was charged with erecting the fence during the COVID-19 lockdown and hawkers charged with causing malicious damage to private property,” he pointed out.
He further said that their cases will go to court as scheduled.

According to Solomon, if found guilty for contravening lockdown regulations, he emphasized that the hotel owner faces or is liable to P1000. In terms of malicious damage by the hawkers the sentence is 3 years of imprisonment or an amount of between P1000 and P2000. Contacted for a comment, Gaborone City Council Senior Public Relations Officer Segametsi Kebonang hinted to this publication that Council has no plans for the specific bus rank traders but has a master plan for all of them.

“We have a master plan, which is to register all the informal sectors traders and allocate them spaces which they are currently occupying in due time – so that they are formalized,” she highlighted. When asked on national broadcaster regarding the future of the bus rank hawkers being evacuated, Minister of Investment, Trade and Industry Peggy Serame also stated that they will be allocated spaces but she did not say where nor provide the timeline for that endeavour.

This state of affairs comes after BFTU and BOISA continue their efforts to implore the government of Botswana to review and implement regulations adapted to the needs of micro and small enterprises. These, they highlight, should be alongside the legislation of informal businesses, based on international best practices. “We call on GCC and the Department of Lands to prioritise the land challenges faced by hawkers and engage them to find a solution,” they concluded.

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GPH takes Gov’t head-on over faulty Covid-19 results

3rd July 2020
Gaborone Private Hospital

Gaborone Private Hospital (GPH) has come out with guns blazing after they were accused of releasing false positive Covid-19 results which were later declared negative by the government task team force.

GPH insists that it is beyond doubt that their 8 positive Covid-19 results were indeed accurate.

This publication is in possession of a report that indicates how the government might have faulted with their results.  They narrate what might have caused the various results between laboratories.

The report indicates that one or more negative results do not rule out the possibility of Covid-19 virus infection. Furthermore a number of factors could lead to a negative result in an infected individual.

GPH is immovable in their results and believe that poor quality of the specimen containing little patient material (as a control, consider determining whether there is adequate human DNA in the sample by including a human target in the PCR testing) could be a factor in diagnosing whether the case reads positive or negative.

The hospital, in the report shared internally, also point out that another factor may be as a result of the mishandling and incorrect shipping of the specimen. The report also establishes that technical reasons inherent may be one of the reasons why results may vary.

This publication has also established that same test kits were used but with different time collection of the samples. GPH affirms that this might have also impacted why the results varied.

“We are happy with our quality and believe that reporting positives with one gene detected the right decision. With the other labs only calling positives when two genes are detected, they are possibly under reporting and releasing negative results that should be called positive based on the less stringent algorithm.”

Unconfirmed reports have indicated that the government has launched a thorough investigation into the matter as GPH faces possible retribution over the matter.

“The government knows they blundered and now want to silence GPH by indicating that they are the ones who faulted. There is a lot of mix up with how the government tests and confirms results as negative.” Botswana currently stands at 46 new cases with only 17 active cases with 28 recoveries and 1 death.

President Mokgweetsi Masisi has also gone into his fourth quarantine since Corona was discovered in Botswana. According to a press release released on Thursday, there is a new positive Covid-19 result on one of the President’s officials.

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An enquiry into BPC tenders uncovers rotting corruption

29th June 2020
BPC

A confidential report from enquiry on the award of tenders at Botswana Power Corporation (BPC) has recommended that key employees within the organisation be subjected to a Declaration of Assets exercise in a bid to find if they have been part of improper award of tenders cabal.

The confidential report seen by this publication was commissioned to give an overview on how procurement of equipment (imports) is conducted and awarded at BPC. The report titled “Enquiry into BPC tenders” which was released last month (5 May 2020), recommends that the organisation should be clear from the start whether they use selective tender or open tender process and which one will work for them.

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Court reinstates fired DIS agent

29th June 2020
Court reinstates fired DIS-agent-High-Court-Judge Godfrey Radijeng

High Court Judge Godfrey Radijeng has this week reinstated a Directorate of Intelligence and Security (DIS) agent who was fired by the spy agency in August 2017. Justice Radijeng further ordered in the judgement that he be paid arrears from the time he was fired and for the cost of the litigation.

The reinstated DIS agent, Walter Matsoga, was in 2014 involved in a car accident and sustained injuries in the course of his clandestine job. More than a year later, on the 15th June 2015, the spy operative was subjected to a medical assessment at the instance of the DIS to determine his fitness to continue being in employment.  The assessment was carried out and he continued to be under the employ of the Directorate of Intelligence and Security.

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