High Court in Botswana has dismissed with costs an application by AG Nutrition Botswana to allow it to sell its Malaysian products in the country.
“In the result, the application stands to be and is hereby dismissed with costs,” Justice Abednego Tafa ruled this week.
The networking company had sought court to interdict the Botswana Medicines Regulatory Authority (BOMRA) from refusing AG Cera products entry into the country.
The product is described as ‘Natures gifts for optimal health’ with high antioxidants, skin protection, anti-cancer, cardiovascular, supports bone and joint health, anti-inflammatory, lowers sugar levels and said to be improving general health.’
BOMRA had cautioned that since the product was food and not medicine, the distributors should avoid making medicinal claims in advertising the product.
This was after BOMRA officials had taken the product from the deponent saying they had tested it and established that it is food.
AG Nutrition also sought court to order and direct that BOMRA, or any person acting through it and/or in concert with it, be interdicted from refusing the AG Cera products entry into Botswana.
They also sought relief for court to order that the AG Cera product that is currently seized at the behest of BOMRA be forthwith released to AG Nutrition in Botswana.
They had also wanted court to rule that BOMRA pay costs of the application.
The applicant on the matter, AG Nutrition is anchored on the founding affidavit of one Mokganedi Ketlhoilwe, the Managing Director of AG Nutrition.
According to the deponent to the founding affidavit, AG Nutrition has, since October 2019, been importing the product subject matter hereof.
He alleges further that at some point upon arrival of the product at Sir Seretse Khama International Airport, he was invited by Ministry of Health and Wellness officials for product assessment.
The assessment said conclusion was the product “AG Cera” was food and BOMRA has no jurisdiction over it but no evidence has been proffered to prove the allegation.
According to AG Nutrition, BOMRA officials came across flyers of people who bought the product from AG Nutrition for reselling as the business is a networking business. The flyers purported that the product cures certain medical conditions.
BOMRA makes it clear that; “importation of the product by AG Nutrition was illegal and it should not have been allowed entry into the country. The officials at the point of entry are not employees of BOMRA but of BURS and Ministry of Health and Wellness. They have no power to assess and determine a product as food or medicine. Such powers are statutorily conferred on BOMRA only.”
BOMRA’s mandate is to ensure that all medicines and related substances used in Botswana are in conformity with established criteria of quality, safety and efficacy and uphold standards for the regulatory functions value chain and ensure adherence to best practice.
They also conduct tests and analysis of medicines and inspection of privately-owned laboratories to ensure good laboratory practice as the cornerstone of compliance as well as; ensuring the safety of cosmetics and medical devices that is, ascertaining that cosmetics and medical devices companies follow regulations to keep cosmetics and personal care products as safe as possible.
Justice Tafa highlighted in the judgement that it is common cause that AG Nutrition sells or distributes the product to the public and that the product is yet to be registered.
As a matter of fact he said that it is common cause that AG Nutrition has applied for registration of the product and BOMRA has made it abundantly clear to AG Nutrition that the product is not to be imported into the country pending the determination of the application for registration.
“It would be improper, in my view, for the court once it has found that the product falls within the definition of medicines, to order the release and further importation sale and/distribution of the product pending its registration,” he pointed out.
He also stated that he is fully cognisant of the financial harm that AG Nutrition is likely to suffer while the registration process is ongoing. “However, in all circumstances, any harm AG Nutrition might suffer as a result of the enforcement of the Act is outweighed by the public interest and interests of BOMRA.”
‘‘I say this knowing very well that AG Nutrition made an undertaking to not advertise the product as containing medicinal benefits and even toned down on its claims in subsequent flyers,’’ Justice Tafa observed.
The Judge said however the bottom line is that its earlier claims have not been retracted and the public out there still believes that the product can cure ailments such as cancer and fibroids.
In the matter, Uyapo Ndadi of Ndadi Law Firm represented AG Nutrition Botswana (Pty) Ltd while Daniel Swabi of Osei-Ofei Swabi and company stood in for Botswana Medicine Regulatory Authority (BOMRA).
Former Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) Member of Parliament for Gaborone North, Haskins Nkaigwa has confirmed his departure from opposition fold to re-join the ruling Botswana Democratic Party (BDP).
Nkaigwa said opposition is extremely divided and the leadership not in talking terms. “They are planning evil against each other. Nothing much will be achieved,” Nkaigwa told WeekendPost.
“I believe my time in the opposition has come to an end. It’s time to be of value to rebuilding our nation and economy of the country. Remember the BDP is where I started my political journey. It is home,” he said.
“Despite all challenges currently facing the world, President Masisi will be far with his promises to Batswana. A leader always have the interest of the people at heart despite how some decisions may look to be unpopular with the people.
“I have faith and full confidence in President Dr Masisi leadership. We shall overcome as party and nation the current challenges bedevilling nations. BDP will emerge stronger. President Masisi will always have my backing.”
Nkaigwa served as opposition legislator between 2014-2019 representing Botswana Movement for Democracy (BMD) under UDC banner. He joined BMD in 2011 at the height public servant strike whilst Gaborone City Deputy Mayor. He eventually rose to become the mayor same year, after BDP lost majority in the GCC.
Nkaigwa had been a member of Botswana National Front (BNF), having joined from Alliance for Progressives (AP) in 2019.
Botswana has received assistance worth over P100 million from Japanese government since 2019, making the latter of the largest donors to Botswana in recent years.
The assistance include relatively large-scale grant aid programmes such as the COVID-19 programme (to provide medical equipment; P34 million), the digital terrestrial television programme (to distribute receivers to the underprivileged, P17 million), the agriculture promotion programme (to provide agricultural machinery and equipment, P53million).
“As 2020 was a particularly difficult year, where COVID-19 hit Botswana’s economy and society hard, Japan felt the need to assist Botswana as our friend,” said Japan’s new Ambassador to Botswana, Hoshiyama Takashi.
“It is for this reason that grants of over P100 million were awarded to Botswana for the above mentioned projects.”
Japan is now the world’s fourth highest ranking donor country in terms of Official Development Assistance (ODA).
From 1991 to 2000, Japan continued as the top donor country in the world and contributed to Asia’s miracle economic development.
From 1993 onwards, the TICAD process commenced through Japan’s initiative as stated earlier. Japan’s main contribution has been in the form of Yen Loans, which are at a concessional rate, to suit large scale infrastructure construction.
“In Botswana, only a few projects have been implemented using the Yen Loan such as the Morupule “A” Power Station Rehabilitation and Pollution Abatement in 1986, the Railway Rolling Stock Increase Project in 1987, the Trans-Kalahari Road Construction Project in 1991, the North-South Carrier Water Project in 1995 and the Kazungula Bridge Construction Project in 2012,” said Ambassador Hoshiyama.
“In terms of grant aid and technical assistance, Japan has various aid schemes including development survey and master planning, expert dispatch to recipient countries, expert training in Japan, scholarships, small scale grass-roots program, culture-related assistance, aid through international organizations and so on.”
In 1993, Japan launched Tokyo International Conference on African Development (TICAD) to promote Africa’s development, peace and security, through the strengthening of relations in multilateral cooperation and partnership.
TICAD discuss development issues across Africa and, at the same time, present “aid menus” to African countries provided by Japan and the main aid-related international organizations, United Nations (UN), United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the World Bank.
“As TICAD provides vision and guidance, it is up to each African country to take ownership and to implement her own development following TICAD polices and make use of the programmes shown in the aid menus,” Ambassordor Hoshiyama noted.
“This would include using ODA loans for quality infrastructure, suited to the country’s own nation-building needs. It is my fervent hope that Botswana will take full advantage of the TICAD process.”
Since then, seven conferences where held, the latest, TICAD 7 being in 2019 at Yokohama. TICAD 7’s agenda on African development focused on three pillars, among them the first pillar being “Accelerating economic transformation and improving business environment through innovation and private sector engagement”.
“Yes, private investment is very important, while public investment through ODA (Official Development Assistance) still plays an indispensable role in development,” the Japanese Ambassador said.
“For further economic development in Africa, Japan recognizes that strengthening regional connectivity and integration through investment in quality infrastructure is key.”
Japan has emphasized the following; effective implementation of economic corridors such as the East Africa Northern Corridor, Nacala Corridor and West Africa Growth Ring; Quality infrastructure investment in line with the G20 Principles for Quality Infrastructure Investment should be promoted by co-financing or cooperation through the African Development Bank (AfDB) and Japan.
Japan also emphasized the establishment of mechanisms to encourage private investment and to improve the business environment.
According to the statistics issued by Japan’s Finance Ministry, Japan invested approximately 10 billion US dollars in Africa after TICAD 7 (2019) to year end 2020, but Japanese investment through third countries are not included in this figure.
“With the other points factored in, the figure isn’t established yet,” Ambassador Hoshiyama said.
The next conference, TICAD 8 will be held in Tunisia in 2022. This will be the second TICAD summit to be held on the African continent after TICAD 6 which was held in Nairobi, Kenya, in 2016.
According to Ambassador Hoshiyama, in preparation for TICAD 8, the TICAD ministerial meeting will be held in Tokyo this year. The agenda to be discussed during TICAD 8 has not yet been fully deliberated on amongst TICAD Co-organizers (Japan, UN, UNDP, the World Bank and AU).
“Though not officially concluded, given the world situation caused by COVID-19, I believe that TICAD 8 will highlight health and medical issues including the promotion of a Universal Health Coverage (UHC),” said Hoshiyama.
“As the African economy has seriously taken a knock by COVID-19, economic issues, including debt, could be an item for serious discussion.”
The promotion of business is expected to be one of the most important topics. Japan and its partners, together with the business sector, will work closely to help revitalize private investment in Africa.
“All in all, the follow-up of the various programs that were committed by the Co-Organizers during the Yokohama Plan of Actions 2019 will also be reviewed as an important item of the agenda,” Ambassador Hoshiyama said.
“I believe that this TICAD follow-up mechanism has secured transparency and accountability as well as effective implementation of agreed actions by all parties. The guiding principle of TICAD is African ownership and international partnership.”
Directorate on Intelligence Services (DIS) Director General, Brigadier Peter Magosi is said to be hell-bent and pushing President Mokgweetsi Masisi to reshuffle his cabinet as a matter of urgency since a number of his ministers are conflicted.
The request by Magosi comes at a time when time is ticking on his contract which is awaiting renewal from Masisi.
This publication learns that Magosi is unshaken by the development and continues to wield power despite uncertainty hovering around his contractual renewal.