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Friday, 19 April 2024

Did Masisi mislead Bakgatla on Kgafela return?


Almost two years and still counting, the President, Dr Mokgweetsi Masisi’s 2019 electoral campaign pledge to Bakgatla that he will “not rest until their chief, Kgosi Kgafela Kgafela II is back home” remains just that, a pledge without action.

This publication has established that nothing has been done to fulfil the promise which remains part of the President’s yet to be fulfilled political promises. Asked to shed light on what the president meant when he said he will not rest until Kgafela is back home and what he has done to fulfil the pledge, the press secretary to the President, Batlhalefi Leagajang could not respond to this publication as he had promised.

[ihc-hide-content ihc_mb_type=”show” ihc_mb_who=”1,2,3″ ihc_mb_template=”1″ ]However Kgafela’s deputy, Kgosi Bana Sekai this week told this publication that they “have not heard anything from the President or government relating to the matter.” Sekai then stressed that “Kgafela will only come to Botswana at his own will and time,” further adding that he regularly visits and engages with him on his wellbeing and that of Bakgatla.

Sekai‘s view on Kgafela’s return is stressed by Kgafela’s former lawyer, Advocate Sydney Pilane who recently met with Kgafela during the Commission on Bakgatla tribal disputes in Moruleng: “Kgosi Kgafela has moved on and not keen on coming back. He left Botswana to live in South Africa because he took the view that he was being politically persecuted and that the criminal justice process is being used against him but motivated by political considerations.”

Many BaKgatla, Pilane says, share Kgafela’s view on this. Commenting on Masisi’s pledge, Pilane said: “my suspicion is that President Masisi is approaching the matter in the manner he is with a view to dispelling the impression, held by Kgosi Kgafela and some BaKgatla, that he has left the country on account of political persecution. Of course, I suspect that as the leader of the BDP, President Masisi is hoping that if he succeeds in bringing Kgosi Kgafela back, BaKgatla may be grateful to the BDP and benefits might accrue in consequence,” added Pilane.

The Bakgatla Kgosikgolo, who is on a self-imposed exile in South Africa is faced with a decade-old-plus warrant of arrest issued by the Village Magistrate Court subsequent to his non-appearance in court over criminal charges of flogging his subjects. Kgafela described the charges as ‘political persecution’ before jetting out to his second home in South Africa, Moruleng where he is also a Chief.
In 2017, the Minister of Defence, Justice and Security, Shaw Kgathi told Parliament that the warrant of arrest issued against Bakgatla Kgosi-kgolo is still valid.

“….because a Court order once issued remains valid and enforceable unless it is rescinded by the Court that issued it, in this case being Village Magistrate Court. It may also be rescinded by a higher court being the High Court or the Court of Appeal,” Kgathi said. This means that the government will arrest Bakgatla Kgosi Kgafela II if he crosses over to Botswana, Parliament heard.

Kgathi was responding to a question by Mochudi West parliamentarian, Gilbert Mangole who wanted to know whether the warrant of arrest imposed on Kgafela is still valid, and if so, what would it take Government to trigger the removal of the warrant to enable Kgosi to visit his tribe in Botswana if he so wishes.

The President’s pledge, it’s challenges and opportunities

Private Attorney, Kgosiitsile Ngakaagae who was prosecuting Kgafela at the time in an interview with this publication this week, spurned the promise made by the President that he will take it upon himself to facilitate the Chief’s homecoming, “

“There is no need for political intervention. Kgosi Kgafela is officially a fugitive from Justice. It’s for the Directorate of Public Prosecutions (DPP) to issue a nolle prosequi (we shall no longer prosecute), to enable his return. Constitutionally the DPP cannot be dictated to by politicians. The matter is beyond the president, unless he violates the DPP’s constitutional mandate,” charged Ngakaagae.

This point is buttressed by another veteran lawyer, Monthe Marumo who said the only option for the state is to “drop the charges and withdraw the warrant of arrest or decide on a deliberate non enforcement of the warrant.” Marumo however cautioned against negotiating a rule of law principle, saying “we will be going into unchartered waters because the law will be selective in its application depending on who is affected.”

Marumo further cautioned that there are also some political ramifications to the decision. “Chiefs will run their tribal territories like fiefdoms and the law is what they say it is.”
Another legal guru added that the state can negotiate with Kgafela but only to a limited degree, “you can chose not to effect a warrant of arrest, once issued, but if you do, you must bring the fugitive to court as soon as possible.”

“An arrest is intended to bring someone to court. Secondly, a party who has become aware that a warrant has been issued against them can apply to court before it is implemented for it to be discharged,” he said. But Pilane proposes reconciliation first with the complainants: “Back when these cases were brought, I acted for most of those who were charged in a series of these cases.

Because the complainants in all the cases lived in Kgatleng, and in order to end hostilities and foster harmony within Morafe, we reconciled the complainants and the accused and the DPP’s office. I cooperated and agreed to the withdrawal of these cases, persisting only in the one case I know in which the complainants were unprepared to reconcile. I am confident that the complainants in the case that concerns Kgosi Kgafela would be prepared to reconcile and withdraw the cases,” he says.

The procedure according to Pilane would be that if the complainants in his case agreed to be reconciled with Kgafela, which they would, and the DPP agreed to withdraw the charges, the warrant of arrest would discharge automatically and die with the case.

It is not known when Kgafela intends to come to Botswana and some royals have also expressed concerns that his predicament is not good for the tribe and family as it also means that he cannot attend to funerals of very close family members. But observers warn that it will take a while for Kgafela to come to Botswana due to the tensions and tribal wrestling in Moruleng where some royals are claiming the throne. Secondly, Moruleng which is rich in minerals extracts makes more economic sense for the chief than Botswana.[/ihc-hide-content]

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Nigerians, Zimbabweans apply for Chema Chema Fund

16th April 2024

Fronting activities, where locals are used as a front for foreign-owned businesses, have been a long-standing issue in Botswana. These activities not only undermine the government’s efforts to promote local businesses but also deprive Batswana of opportunities for economic empowerment, officials say. The Ministry of Trade and Industry has warned of heavy penalties for those involved in fronting activities especially in relation to the latest popular government initiative dubbed Chema Chema.

According to the Ministry, the Industrial Development Act of 2019 clearly outlines the consequences of engaging in fronting activities. The fines of up to P50,000 for first-time offenders and P20,000 plus a two-year jail term for repeat offenders send a strong message that the government is serious about cracking down on this illegal practice. These penalties are meant to deter individuals from participating in fronting activities and to protect the integrity of local industries.

“It is disheartening to hear reports of collaboration between foreigners and locals to exploit government initiatives such as the Chema Chema Fund. This fund, administered by CEDA and LEA, is meant to support informal traders and low-income earners in Botswana. However, when fronting activities come into play, the intended beneficiaries are sidelined, and the funds are misused for personal gain.” It has been discovered that foreign nationals predominantly of Zimbabwean and Nigerian origin use unsuspecting Batswana to attempt to access the Chema Chema Fund. It is understood that they approach these Batswana under the guise of drafting business plans for them or simply coming up with ‘bankable business ideas that qualify for Chema Chema.’

Observers say the Chema Chema Fund has the potential to uplift the lives of many Batswana who are struggling to make ends meet. They argue that it is crucial that these funds are used for their intended purpose and not siphoned off through illegal activities such as fronting. The Ministry says the warning it issued serves as a reminder to all stakeholders involved in the administration of these funds to ensure transparency and accountability in their disbursement.

One local commentator said it is important to highlight the impact of fronting activities on the local economy and the livelihoods of Batswana. He said by using locals as a front for foreign-owned businesses, opportunities for local entrepreneurs are stifled, and the economic empowerment of Batswana is hindered. The Ministry’s warning of heavy penalties is a call to action for all stakeholders to work together to eliminate fronting activities and promote a level playing field for local businesses.

Meanwhile, the Ministry of Trade and Industry’s warning of heavy penalties for fronting activities is a necessary step to protect the integrity of local industries and promote economic empowerment for Batswana. “It is imperative that all stakeholders comply with regulations and work towards a transparent and accountable business environment. By upholding the law and cracking down on illegal activities, we can ensure a fair and prosperous future for all Batswana.”










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Merck Foundation and African First Ladies mark World Health Day 2024

15th April 2024

Merck Foundation, the philanthropic arm of Merck KGaA Germany marks “World Health Day” 2024 together with Africa’s First Ladies who are also Ambassadors of MerckFoundation “More Than a Mother” Campaign through their Scholarship and Capacity Building Program. Senator, Dr. Rasha Kelej, CEO of Merck Foundation emphasized, “At Merck Foundation, we mark World Health Day every single day of the year over the past 12 years, by building healthcare capacity and transforming patient care across Africa, Asia and beyond.

I am proud to share that Merck Foundation has provided over 1740 scholarships to aspiring young doctors from 52 countries, in 44 critical and underserved medical specialties such as Oncology, Diabetes, Preventative Cardiovascular Medicine, Endocrinology, Sexual and Reproductive Medicine, Acute Medicine, Respiratory Medicine, Embryology & Fertility specialty, Gastroenterology, Dermatology, Psychiatry, Emergency and Resuscitation Medicine, Critical Care, Pediatric Emergency Medicine, Neonatal Medicine, Advanced Surgical Practice, Pain Management, General Surgery, Clinical Microbiology and infectious diseases, Internal Medicine, Trauma & Orthopedics, Neurosurgery, Neurology, Cardiology, Stroke Medicine, Care of the Older Person, Family Medicine, Pediatrics and Child Health, Obesity & Weight Management, Women’s Health, Biotechnology in ART and many more”.

As per the available data, Africa has only 34.6% of the required doctors, nurses, and midwives. It is projected that by 2030, Africa would need additional 6.1 million doctors, nurses, and midwives*. “For Example, before the start of the Merck Foundation programs in 2012; there was not a single Oncologist, Fertility or Reproductive care specialists, Diabetologist, Respiratory or ICU specialist in many countries such as The Gambia, Liberia, Sierra Leone, Central African Republic, Guinea, Burundi, Niger, Chad, Ethiopia, Namibia among others. We are certainly creating historic legacy in Africa, and also beyond. Together with our partners like Africa’s First Ladies, Ministries of Health, Gender, Education and Communication, we are impacting the lives of people in the most disadvantaged communities in Africa and beyond.”, added Senator Dr. Kelej. Merck Foundation works closely with their Ambassadors, the African First Ladies and local partners such as; Ministries of Health, Education, Information & Communication, Gender, Academia, Research Institutions, Media and Art in building healthcare capacity and addressing health, social & economic challenges in developing countries and under-served communities. “I strongly believe that training healthcare providers and building professional healthcare capacity is the right strategy to improve access to equitable and quality at health care in Africa.

Therefore, I am happy to announce the Call for Applications for 2024 Scholarships for young doctors with special focus on female doctors for our online one-year diploma and two year master degree in 44 critical and underserved medical specialties, which includes both Online Diploma programs and On-Site Fellowship and clinical training programs. The applications are invited through the Office of our Ambassadors and long-term partners, The First Ladies of Africa and Ministry of Health of each country.” shared Dr . Kelej. “Our aim is to improve the overall health and wellbeing of people by building healthcare capacity across Africa, Asia and other developing countries. We are strongly committed to transforming patientcare landscape through our scholarships program”, concluded Senator Kelej.

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Interpol fugitive escapes from Botswana

15th April 2024

John Isaak Ndovi, a Tanzanian national embroiled in controversy and pursued under a red notice by the International Criminal Police Organization (Interpol), has mysteriously vanished, bypassing a scheduled bail hearing at the Extension 2 Magistrate Court in Gaborone. Previously apprehended by Botswana law enforcement at the Tlokweng border post several months earlier, his escape has ignited serious concerns.

Accused of pilfering assets worth in excess of P1 million, an amount translating to roughly 30,000 Omani Riyals, Ndovi has become a figure of paramount interest, especially to the authorities in the Sultanate of Oman, nestled in the far reaches of Asia.

The unsettling news of his disappearance surfaced following his failure to present himself at the Extension 2 Magistrate Court the preceding week. Speculation abounds that Ndovi may have sought refuge in South Africa in a bid to elude capture, prompting a widespread mobilization of law enforcement agencies to ascertain his current location.

In an official communiqué, Detective Senior Assistant Police Commissioner Selebatso Mokgosi of Interpol Gaborone disclosed Ndovi’s apprehension last September at the Tlokweng border, a capture made possible through the vigilant issuance of the Interpol red notice.

At 36, Ndovi is implicated in a case of alleged home invasion in Oman. Despite the non-existence of an extradition treaty between Botswana and Oman, Nomsa Moatswi, the Director of the Directorate of Public Prosecution (DPP), emphasized that the lack of formal extradition agreements does not hinder her office’s ability to entertain extradition requests. She highlighted the adoption of international cooperation norms, advocating for collaboration through the lenses of international comity and reciprocity.

Moatswi disclosed the intensified effort by law enforcement to locate Ndovi following his no-show in court, and pointed to Botswana’s track record of extraditing two international fugitives from France and Zimbabwe in the previous year as evidence of the country’s relentless pursuit of legal integrity.

When probed about the potential implications of Ndovi’s case on Botswana’s forthcoming evaluation by the Financial Action Task Force (FATF), Moatswi reserved her speculations. She acknowledged the criticality of steering clear of blacklisting, suggesting that this singular case is unlikely to feature prominently in the FATF’s assessment criteria.


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