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Explosive leaks put DPP, DIS, DCEC credibility on trial

A few weeks after the courts threw out the highly anticipated National Petroleum Fund (NPF) money laundering cases, damaging audio clips have now surfaced from a heated meeting between the Directorate on Corruption and Economic Crime (DCEC) and Directorate of Public Prosecutions (DPP) putting the credibility of key crime fighting institutions at stake.

With doubts and trust in DPP and DCEC as well as the notorious Directorate on Intelligence and Security (DIS) having been at their lowest ebb, the latest development could have dealt with what remained of the trios reputation. When the audio clips from the DCEC and DPP meeting surfaced this week, it appears the DCEC through their Senior Investigator Lebogang Moshasho long told DPP that they do not have enough evidence to prosecute.

We received documents from the investigating officer, but looking at them we couldnt get sufficient evidence, we then requested to all the parties involved including DPP to say if the matter is already at court, it means maybe we are missing evidence from this file. We wanted assistance and guidance from the DPP. We also agreed to have a case conference so that we can have a common understanding until today, the investigator stated.

Moshasho said they requested on several occasions to be given all the documents, including evidence that prompt the charges but until today, they do not have it. Assistant Director of the Directorate of Public Prosecutions (DPP) -Priscilla Israel who is the guiding prosecutor- is heard bulldozing and using her senior tag position quashing Bareetsis submissions.

I dont understand when you say there is no evidence because from the file that I have seen from Hubona, there is enough evidence as the prosecutor. There are only few issues that you needed for particular charges that are before court. That is what was supposed to be taken except for the terrorism matter, she said.

Israel continued to say that they had a prosecution guided plan with the Procedures, Guidance and Information guidelines: This is what we did with CMB, NPF and Morupisis matter. All these other technicalities we dont know where they are coming from. Moshasho maintained that there is a write-up from Bank of Botswana indicating that they are not missing any money, so there is no evidence.

Again we were told that there is a certain house, and we found that it was allocated to Butterfly by Kweneng Land board and she sold the plot under value of standard, then we cant say she is living beyond her means. Another plot was given to her by her father so there is no living beyond means there, she said. She continued to say there is an alleged P48 million purported to be in South Africa but the account holder has denied these allegations.

In December 2020, charges of financing terrorism levelled against Welheminah Maswabi codenamed Butterfly were dropped. While many had shifted their eyes from the NPF case considering how it was going, the State dropped another bombshell when it dropped the main charge in Butterflys case. The State indicated complexity of investigations as the main reason for the request to drop the charge.

The 47-year-old Welheminah Maswabi now remains charged with two counts of possession of unexplained property and false declaration for a passport. Also in December last year, Magistrate Kamogelo Mmesi freed all the accused persons in the NPF case.

Delivering the ruling, Mmesi referred to the charges as bogus. I am inclined to side with the defence that the charges are defective. Some of the charges are speculative, as they dont mention which accused person fitted where.

The controversial NPF case had a total of 14 accused persons including amongst others; businessman Bakang Seretse, former Director of Directorate of Intelligence and Security (DIS) Isaac Kgosi, former Minister Sadique Kebonang, High Court Judge Zein Kebonang, Kenneth Kerekang, Kago Stimela, Mogomotsi Seretse, Thato Bojelo and their companies with sixty- six (66) charges including amongst others financing terrorism, money laundering and corruption.

In the leaked audios, DCEC legal advisor Tsholofelo Bareetsi said when it comes to the accounts that they created at BoB, the team has requested him to raise a communication to BoB to try and set a meeting so that they can establish how the bonds were set-up.

They believe that the bonds could have been where the leakages were and if not careful it is worth those investments that when they matured then they got diverted. They have not really been able to establish what really transpired. So the issue of the accounts honestly when it comes to accounts that were established, we do not have any progress on it from the DCEC side, he said.

Bareetsi also told the DPP that Magosi is still holding critical information from Germany and UK and awaiting authorisation. According to the contents of the meeting, the highly classified blue file registered docket 508 is empty, void of any evidence.

A prominent lawyer, Busang Manewe who is representing some of the accused persons in the case wrote on social media after the audio leaks: I have listened to the leaked tapes of an alleged explosive meeting between DIS, DPP and DCEC in relation to major corruption cases before our courts. Obviously my heart is sore. My client (s) names cropped up.

I was neither shocked nor surprised about the contents of the tapes. I pray hard that the Lord Almighty should help me zip my mouth and not say what is exactly in my mind about these cases. It isnt pleasant for the truth isnt always pleasant. So help me God.

Reeling from the damage, DCEC released a statement of Thursday, confirming the authenticity of the meeting as well as assuring that the crime busting agency is still focused on its mandate. The DCEC further wishes to state that within all lawfully permissible limits, and necessary, reasonable and operational means, it will cooperate with any government agency to get the truth and have those responsible held to account, noting that neither official government business generally, nor matters related to investigations in particular, can be conducted in this carefree fashion where the end justifies the means, said the agency spokesman, Lentswe Motshoganetsi.

While the charges against prominent businessman Bakang Seretse were dropped in December 2020, his attorney who is one of the leading defence lawyers in the matter, Kgosietsile Ngakaagae, had told journalists that the charges were politically motivated.

Former President Ian Khama, former spy chief, Isaac Kgosi and former spy agent Welheminah Butterfly Maswabi last year issued individual statutory notices demanding P85 million from government in damages for defamation of character. The trio issued statutory notices for defamatory allegations levelled against them in the Butterfly case by the State.

Besides the money, the trio is also demanding a public apology and retraction and an undertaking by the State that it will desist from making, and publishing or cause to be published any further defamatory statements. Khama demands P25 million while Kgosi and Maswabi demand P30 million each.

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Fighting vulture poisoning in KAZA region.

3rd February 2023
As a response to avert vulture poisoning currently going on in Botswana and KAZA region, Birdlife Botswana has collaborated with three other partners (BirdWatch Zambia, BirdLife International & Birdlife Zimbabwe) to tackle wildlife poisoning which by extension negatively affect vulture populations.

The Director of Birdlife Botswana, Motshereganyi Virat Kootshositse has revealed in an interview that the project which is funded by European Union’s main goal is to reduce poisoning related vultures’ death and consequently other wildlife species death within the KAZA region.

He highlighted that Chobe district in Botswana has been selected as a pilot site as it has experienced rampant incidents of vulture poisoning for the past few months. In August this year at least 50 endangered white backed vultures were reported dead at Chobe National Park, Botswana after feeding on a buffalo carcass laced with poison.  In November this year again 43 white backed vultures were found dead and two alive after feeding on a zebra suspected to have poisoned.  Other selected pilots’ sites are Kafue in Zambia and Hwange in Zimbabwe.

Kootshositse further explained they have established a national and regional Wildlife Poisoning Committee. He added that as for the national committee they have engaged various departments such as Crop Productions, Agro Chemicals, Department of Veterinary Services, Department of Wildlife and National Parks and other NGOs such as Raptors Botswana to come together and find a long-lasting solution to address wildlife poisoning in Botswana. ‘Let’s have a strategy or a plan together to tackle wildlife poisoning,’ he stated

He also decried that there is gap in the availability of data about vulture poisoning or wildlife in general. ‘If we have a central point for data, it will help in terms of reporting and advocacy’, he stated

He added that the regional committee comprises of law enforcement officers such as BDF and Botswana police, village leadership such as Village Development Committee and Kgosi. ‘We need to join hand together and protect the wildlife we have as this will increase our profile for conservation and this alone enhances our visitation and boost our local economy,’ he noted

Kootshositse noted that Birdlife together with DWNP also addressed series of meeting in some villages in the Chobe region recently. The purpose of kgotla meetings was to raise awareness on the conservation and protection of vultures in Chobe West communities.

‘After realizing that vulture poisoning in the Chobe areas become frequent, we realise that we need to do something about it.  ‘We did a public awareness by addressing several kgotla meetings in some villages in the Chobe west,’ he stated

He noted that next year they are going to have another round of consultations around the Chobe areas and the approach is to engage the community into planning process. ‘Residents should be part of the plan of actions and we are working with farmers committee in the areas to address vulture poisoning in the area, ‘he added

He added that they have found out that some common reasons for poisoning wildlife are farmers targeting predators such as lions in retaliation to killing of their livestock. Another common incident cross border poaching in the Chobe area as poachers will kills an elephant and poison its carcass targeting vultures because of their aerial circling alerting authorities about poaching activities.

Kootshositse noted that in the last cases it was disheartening the incidents occurred three months apart. He added that for the first time they found that some of the body parts of some vultures were missing. He added harvesting of body parts of vultures is not a common practice in Botswana, although it is used in some parts of Africa. ‘We suspect that someone took advantage of the availability of carcasses and started harvesting their body parts,’

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Giant in the making: Everton Mlalazi

3rd February 2023

The music industry is at a point where artists are jostling for space because there are so many aspirants trying to get their big break, thus creating stiff competition.

In the music business it’s about talent and positioning. You need to be at the right place at the right time with the right people around you to propel you forward.
Against all odds, Everton Mlalazi has managed to takeover the gospel scene effortlessly.
To him, it’s more than just a breakthrough to stardom, but a passion as well as mission directly appointed by the Lord.

Within a short space of 2 years after having decided to persue a solo career, Mlalazi has already made it into international music scene, with his music receiving considerable play on several gospel television and radio stations in Botswana including other regional stations like Trace Africa, One Gospel, Metro FM in South Africa, Hope FM in Kenya and literally all broadcast stations in Zimbabwe.

It doesn’t only stop there, as the musician has already been nominated 2 times and 2 awards which are Bulawayo Arts Awards (BAA) best Male artists 2022, StarFM listerners Choice Award, Best Newcomer 2021 and ZIMA Best Contemporary Gospel 2022, MLA awards Best Male artist & Best Gospel Artist 2022.

Everton’s inspiration stems from his ultimate passion and desire to lead people into Godly ways and it seems it’s only getting started.
The man is a gospel artist to put on your radar.

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African countries call on WHO to increase funding

2nd February 2023

Minister of Health Dr Edwin Dikoloti says Africa member states call on World Health Organization (WHO) to ensure equitable resource allocation for 2024-2025. Dr Dikoloti was speaking this week at the WHO Executive Board Meeting in Geneva, Switzerland.

He said countries agreed that there is need to address the budget and funding imbalances by increasing the programme budget share of countries and regions to 75% for the next year.

“The proposed budget for 2024-2025 marks an important milestone as it is the first in Programme Budget in which country offices will be allocated more than half of the total budget for the biennium. We highly welcome this approach which will enable the organization to deliver on its mandate while fulfilling the expectations for transparency, efficiency and accountability.”

The Botswana Health Minister commended member states on the extension of the General Programme of Work (GPD 13) and the Secretariat work to monitor the progress towards the triple billion targets, and the health-related SDGs.

“We welcome the Director’s general proposed five priorities which have crystalized into the “five Ps” that are aligned with the GPW 13 extension. Impact can only be achieved through close coordination with, and support to national health authorities. As such, the strengthening of country offices is instrumental, with particular focus on strengthening national health systems and on promoting more equitable access to health services.”

According to Dr Dikoloti, the majority of countries with UHC index that is below the global median are in the WHO Africa region. “For that, we call on the WHO to enhance capacity at the regional and national levels in order to accelerate progress. Currently, the regional office needs both technical and financial support in order to effectively address and support country needs.”

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