The former Directorate on Intelligence and Security (DIS) Director General who is also its founder, Isaac Kgosi, has in an unexpected twist of events decided to abandon last week’s Judge Zein Kebonang’s order to award him P50 million in damages for the 2019 controversial Hollywood like arrest.
The damages claim of P 50 000 000.00 being an unliquidated amount was to be assessed on the 2nd August 2021.
Kgosi, in court papers seen by this publication, submitted to the registrar, Botswana Unified Revenue Service (BURS) lawyers and the Attorney General (representing the other 10 respondents) on the 21st of this month, did not reveal any reason to that effect.
From the papers, Kgosi’s lawyers, Thabiso Tafila Attorneys briefly submitted; “Be pleased to take notice that the 1st respondent (Kgosi) having barred and obtained judgment against the 1st applicant (BURS) and 2nd applicant (Kaone Molapo-BURS General Manager Compliance) and desirous of obtaining finality in the proceedings before court hereby abandons his judgment in his favour on the 12th July 2021.”
There are no reasons backing up this decision, but highly placed sources hint that the idea is to focus on what looks like an easy catch – a forgery case in which some government institutions connived to forge Palapye Magistrate Rebecca Motsamai’s signature to obtain a warrant of arrest to apprehend Kgosi.
In the judgment Kgosi is now abandoning, BURS is accused of failing to have provided further and better particulars to the plaintiff by 16 July 2021.
It was then ordered that defendants having failed to file and deliver their plea are now barred from doing so, judgment is entered in favour of the plaintiff with costs.
Those close to the twist and turns of the developments say, Kgosi is aware of the insurmountable task he is facing with BURS. Furthermore, it is said even in his calculations he is mindful that when the P50 million he was awarded was going for examination he was never going to come up with a third of that amount.
BURS who have since applied for Justice Kebonang to recuse himself on the matter is confident that Kgosi evaded tax in the affected years of 2008 to 2019. In their court papers, BURS have chronicled Kgosi’s tax transgression for 10 years. BURS maintain that Kgosi was willfully defaulting to pay tax while on other occasions submitted false tax returns.
TAX YEAR 2008-2010
According to BURS documents filed at the courts, Kgosi did not declare other income for tax purposes which were later discovered through a review of the bank deposits made by his different associates. A payment of P45, 000 was made to Collins Newman & Co for the purpose of Sentlhane farm. “In the result, a total income of P155, 000.00 is determined to have been derived and not disclosed and declared by Kgosi. He is obliged to have declared the other income in the tax year and pay resultant tax of P19, 625.00,” read court papers submitted by BURS.
The tax man cautioned the former spy boss that failure to disclose and declare this income, it attracted a penalty of P39, 250 charged at the rate of 200% on the tax that has been lost to the Commissioner General owing to Kgosi’s willful default.
In the tax year 2009, another payment of P400, 000.00 was made to the same law firm for the purchase of Sentlhane farm. It is said, a total income of P698, 197.75 is determined to have been derived and not disclosed. Kgosi is obliged to have declared the other income in the tax year and pay the resultant tax of P155, 424.44. Failure to declare this income attracted a penalty of P310, 848.88.
The trend continued even in 2010 where transactions of P687, 281. 29 and P22, 600.00 were made to Collins Newman & Co for the purchase of Sentlhane farm. This resulted in a total income of P1, 187,018.84 to have been derived and not disclosed and declared whereby Kgosi could have declared the other income and pay tax amounting to P277, 629. 71. This has now left Kgosi with a penalty of P555, 259. 42.
TAX YEAR 2011
In this year, BURS in its affidavit says cash payments were made to BH Botswana for generators and could also not trace employment income amounting to P70, 000. 00. It is further added that there were various deposits in the bank statements including K Binns and L.T. & Associates amounting to P184, 000. 00. In the result, a total income of P254, 000. 00 was not disclosed and derived and therefore is obliged to pay tax of P44, 375. 00. Failure to disclose and declare the above income has attracted a penalty of P88, 750.00.
TAX YEAR 2013
Here, it surfaced that Kgosi had other income streams that were discovered through review of payments made for school fees, boreholes and small stock purchase and Skip Hire cash payments for water. It later came out that he had a total income of P1, 682, 982. 53 which was not declared and could have paid a tax of P558, 635. 53. Defaulting to pay has now invited a penalty of P841, 491. 26.
TAX YEAR 2014
Kgosi’s other undeclared income for tax purposes were exposed by review of payments of school fees, transportation at PCJ Motors, payment at Skip Hire and sale of cattle at Botswana Meat Commission (BMC), BURS says in court papers.
It later came out that an income of P844, 532. 00 was concealed which could have seen tax amounting to P353, 280. 35 being paid. This has seen a cumulative penalty of P422, 266. 18 awaiting the former spy boss.
TAX YEAR 2015
BURS while sniffing for malpractice on Kgosi managed to uncover that he had a total income of P2, 225, 413. 55 from review of payments for school fees, transportation ay PCJ Motors, amounts to buy a car at Lesedi Motors and other various deposits into bank accounts. The undeclared income could have Kgosi paying a resultant tax of P710, 411. 88 and now it has escalated to P 1, 112, 706. 74.
TAX YEAR 2016
School fees at Northside Primary School and PCJ motors transportation allowed the tax man to unearth income of P128, 270.00 which were not declared. The income would have attracted a tax of P58, 047. 37, however refusal to disclose the income and payment of the subsequent tax now has Kgosi owing BURS P64, 135.00.
TAX YEAR 2017
Review of payments made again for the above school fees, generator at BH Botswana, transportation at PCJ cash payments for livestock and various bank deposits, also exposed Kgosi’s total income of P2, 052, 402. 40. A resultant tax of P724, 281. 15 could have been paid but failure to do so has attracted a penalty of P1, 558, 105.35 which the tax body has lost due to the willful lodgment of incorrect tax return.
TAX YEAR 2018
The school fees payment appear again in this tax year, with the generator acquisition, payments of livestock, various bank deposits, payments for two DAF trucks ordered from UK, a Nissan Truck purchased by Bash Carriers from Nuco Auctioneers SA, and directors remuneration from Silver Shadows.
In the results a total income Of P1, 415, 176. 85 which was not disclosed. If the amount could have wilfully declared a tax of P501, 887.95 would have been settled. Failure to declare this income has attracted a penalty of P711, 157.74.
TAX YEAR 2019
In this year, there was no employment income assessed as he was relieved of his duties as DIS boss in preceding year. However, BURS says other income from other sources evidenced by school fees payment, cash payment to Furniture Paradise, transportation by PCJ Motors, sale of livestock to BMC and sale of Forex was assessed.
In the result, a total income of P1, 829, 320. 77 is determined to have been derived by Kgosi in the tax year and a resultant tax of P434, 380.19 and penalty of P868, 760. 38 were raised.
Botswana has made improvements on preventing and ending arbitrary deprivation of liberty, but significant challenges remain in further developing and implementing a legal framework, the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention said at the end of a visit recently.
Head of the delegation, Elina Steinerte, appreciated the transparency of Botswana for opening her doors to them. Having had full and unimpeded access and visited 19 places of deprivation of liberty and confidentiality interviewing over 100 persons deprived of their liberty.
She mentioned “We commend Botswana for its openness in inviting the Working Group to conduct this visit which is the first visit of the Working Group to the Southern African region in over a decade. This is a further extension of the commitment to uphold international human rights obligations undertaken by Botswana through its ratification of international human rights treaties.”
Another good act Botswana has been praised for is the remission of sentences. Steinerte echoed that the Prisons Act grants remission of one third of the sentence to anyone who has been imprisoned for more than one month unless the person has been sentenced to life imprisonment or detained at the President’s Pleasure or if the remission would result in the discharge of any prisoner before serving a term of imprisonment of one month.
On the other side; The Group received testimonies about the police using excessive force, including beatings, electrocution, and suffocation of suspects to extract confessions. Of which when the suspects raised the matter with the magistrates, medical examinations would be ordered but often not carried out and the consideration of cases would proceed.
“The Group recall that any such treatment may amount to torture and ill-treatment absolutely prohibited in international law and also lead to arbitrary detention. Judicial authorities must ensure that the Government has met its obligation of demonstrating that confessions were given without coercion, including through any direct or indirect physical or undue psychological pressure. Judges should consider inadmissible any statement obtained through torture or ill-treatment and should order prompt and effective investigations into such allegations,” said Steinerte.
One of the group’s main concern was the DIS held suspects for over 48 hours for interviews. Established under the Intelligence and Security Service Act, the Directorate of Intelligence and Security (DIS) has powers to arrest with or without a warrant.
The group said the “DIS usually requests individuals to come in for an interview and has no powers to detain anyone beyond 48 hours; any overnight detention would take place in regular police stations.”
The Group was able to visit the DIS facilities in Sebele and received numerous testimonies from persons who have been taken there for interviewing, making it evident that individuals can be detained in the facility even if the detention does not last more than few hours.
Moreover, while arrest without a warrant is permissible only when there is a reasonable suspicion of a crime being committed, the evidence received indicates that arrests without a warrant are a rule rather than an exception, in contravention to article 9 of the Covenant.
Even short periods of detention constitute deprivation of liberty when a person is not free to leave at will and in all those instances when safeguards against arbitrary detention are violated, also such short periods may amount to arbitrary deprivation of liberty.
The group also learned of instances when persons were taken to DIS for interviewing without being given the possibility to notify their next of kin and that while individuals are allowed to consult their lawyers prior to being interviewed, lawyers are not allowed to be present during the interviews.
The UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention mentioned they will continue engaging in the constructive dialogue with the Government of Botswana over the following months while they determine their final conclusions in relation to the country visit.
Standard Chartered Bank Botswana (SCBB) has informed the government that it will not be accepting new loan applications for the Government Employees Motor Vehicle and Residential Property Advance Scheme (GEMVAS and LAMVAS) facility.
This emerges in a correspondence between Acting Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Finance Boniface Mphetlhe and some government departments. In a letter he wrote recently to government departments informing them of the decision, Mphetlhe indicated that the Ministry received a request from the Bank to consider reviewing GEMVAS and LAMVAS agreement.
He said: “In summary SCBB requested the following; Government should consider reviewing GEMVAS and LAMVAS interest rate from prime plus 0.5% to prime plus 2%.” The Bank indicated that the review should be both for existing GEMVAS and LAMVAS clients and potential customers going forward.
Mphetlhe said the Bank informed the Ministry that the current GEMVAS and LAMVAS interest rate structure results into them making losses, “as the cost of loa disbursements is higher that their end collections.”
He said it also requested that the loan tenure for the residential property loans to be increased from 20 to 25 years and the loan tenure for new motor vehicles loans to be increased from 60 months to 72 months.
Mphetlhe indicated that the Bank’s request has been duly forwarded to the Directorate of Public Service Management for consideration, since GEMVAS and LAMVAS is a Condition of Service Scheme. He saidthe Bank did also inform the Ministry that if the matter is not resolved by the 6th June, 2022, they would cease receipt of new GEMVAS and LAMVAS loan applications.
“A follow up virtual meeting was held to discuss their resolution and SCB did confirm that they will not be accepting any new loans from GEMVAS and LAMVAS. The decision includes top-up advances,” said Mphetlhe. He advised civil servants to consider applying for loans from other banks.
In a letter addressed to the Ministry, SCBB Chief Executive Officer Mpho Masupe informed theministry that, “Reference is made to your letter dated 18th March 2022 wherein the Ministry had indicated that feedback to our proposal on the above subject is being sought.”
In thesame letter dated 10 May 2022, Masupe stated that the Bank was requesting for an update on the Ministry’s engagements with the relevant stakeholder (Directorate of Public Service Management) and provide an indicative timeline for conclusion.
He said the “SCBB informs the Ministry of its intention to cease issuance of new loans to applicants from 6th June 2022 in absence of any feedback on the matter and closure of the discussions between the two parties.” Previously, Masupe had also had requested the Ministry to consider a review of clause 3 of the agreement which speaks to the interest rate charged on the facilities.
Masupe indicated in the letter dated 21 December 2021 that although all the Banks in the market had signed a similar agreement, subject to amendments that each may have requested. “We would like to suggest that our review be considered individually as opposed to being an industry position as we are cognisant of the requirements of section 25 of the Competition Act of 2018 which discourages fixing of pricing set for consumers,” he said.
He added that,“In this way,clients would still have the opportunity to shop around for more favourable pricing and the other Banks, may if they wish to, similarly, individually approach your office for a review of their pricing to the extent that they deem suitable for their respective organisations.”
Masupe also stated that: “On the issue of our request for the revision of the Interest Rate, we kindly request for an increase from the current rate of prime plus 0.5% to prime plus 2%, with no other increases during the loan period.” The Bank CEO said the rationale for the request to review pricing is due to the current construct of the GEMVAS scheme which is currently structured in a way that is resulting in the Bank making a loss.
“The greater part of the GEMVAS portfolio is the mortgage boo which constitutes 40% of the Bank’s total mortgage portfolio,” said Masupe. He saidthe losses that the Bank is incurring are as a result of the legacy pricing of prime plus 0% as the 1995 agreement which a slight increase in the August 2018 agreement to prime plus 0.5%.
“With this pricing, the GEMVAS portfolio has not been profitable to the Bank, causing distress and impeding its ability to continue to support government employees to buy houses and cars. The portfolio is currently priced at 5.25%,” he said. Masupe said the performance of both the GEMVAS home loan and auto loan portfolios in terms of profitability have become unsustainable for the Bank.
Healso said, when the agreement was signed in August 2018, the prime lending rate was 6.75% which made the pricing in effect at the time sufficient from a profitable perspective. “It has since dropped by a total 1.5%. The funds that are loaned to customers are sourced at a high rate, which now leaves the Bank with marginal profits on the portfolio before factoring in other operational expenses associated with administration of the scheme and after sales care of the portfolio,” said the CEO.
The Global Gender Gap Index, a report published by the World Economic Forum annually, has indicated that Botswana is among countries that fare badly when it comes to representation of women in legislative bodies.
The latest Global Gender Gap Index, published last week, benchmarks the current state and evolution of gender parity across four key dimensions (Economic Participation and Opportunity, Educational Attainment, Health and Survival, and Political Empowerment). It is the longest-standing index which tracks progress towards closing these gaps over time since its inception in 2006.
This year, the Global Gender Gap Index benchmarked 146 countries. Of these, a subset of 102 countries have been represented in every edition of the index since 2006, further providing a large constant sample for time series analysis.
Botswana ranks number 66 overall (out of 146 countries), with good rankings in most of the pillars. Botswana ranks 1st in Health and Survival, 7th in the Economic Participation and Opportunity, 22nd in Educational Attainment, and 129th in Political Empowerment.
The Global Gender Gap Index measures scores on a 0 to 100 scale and scores can be interpreted as the distance covered towards parity (i.e. the percentage of the gender gap that has been closed). The cross-country comparisons aim to support the identification of the most effective policies to close gender gaps.
The Economic Participation and Opportunity sub-index contains three concepts: the participation gap, the remuneration gap and the advancement gap. The participation gap is captured using the difference between women and men in labour-force participation rates. The remuneration gap is captured through a hard data indicator (ratio of estimated female-to-male earned income) and a qualitative indicator gathered through the World Economic Forum’s annual Executive Opinion Survey (wage equality for similar work).
Finally, the gap between the advancement of women and men is captured through two hard data statistics (the ratio of women to men among legislators, senior officials and managers, and the ratio of women to men among technical and professional workers).
The Educational Attainment sub-index captures the gap between women’s and men’s current access to education through the enrolment ratios of women to men in primary-, secondary- and tertiary-level education. A longer-term view of the country’s ability to educate women and men in equal numbers is captured through the ratio of women’s literacy rate to men’s literacy rate.
Health and Survival sub-index provides an overview of the differences between women’s and men’s health using two indicators. The first is the sex ratio at birth, which aims specifically to capture the phenomenon of “missing women”, prevalent in countries with a strong son preference. Second, the index uses the gap between women’s and men’s healthy life expectancy.
This measure provides an estimate of the number of years that women and men can expect to live in good health by accounting for the years lost to violence, disease, malnutrition and other factors. Political Empowerment sub-index measures the gap between men and women at the highest level of political decision-making through the ratio of women to men in ministerial positions and the ratio of women to men in parliamentary positions. In addition, the reported included the ratio of women to men in terms of years in executive office (prime minister or president) for the last 50 years.
In the last general elections, only three women won elections, compared to 54 males. The three women are; Nnaniki Makwinja (Lentsweletau-Mmopane), Talita Monnakgotla (Kgalagadi North), and Anna Mokgethi (Gaborone Bonnington North). Four women were elected through Specially Elected dispensation; Peggy Serame, Dr Unity Dow, Phildah Kereng and Beauty Manake. All female MPs — save Dow, who resigned — are members of the executive.
Overall, Botswana has 63 seats, all 57 elected by the electorates, and six elected by parliament. Early this year, Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) secretary general and Gaborone North MP, Mpho Balopi, successfully moved a motion in parliament calling for increment of elective seats from 57 to 61. Balopi contented that population growth demands the country respond by increasing the number of MPs.
In Africa, Botswana play second fiddle to countries like Rwanda, Namibia, South Africa, Burundi, and Zimbabwe who have better representation of women, with Rwanda being the only country with more than 50 percent of women in parliament.
The low number of women in parliament is attributed to Botswana’s current, electoral system, First-Past-the-Post. During the 9th parliament, then MP for Mahalapye East tabled a motion in parliament in which she sort to increase the number of Specially Elected MPs in parliament to augment female representation in the National Assembly.
The motion was opposed famously, by then Specially Elected MP, Botsalo Ntuane, who said the citizens were not in favour of such a move since it dilute democracy, instead suggesting the Botswana should switch to Proportional-Representation-System. Botswana is currently undergoing Constitutional Review process, with the commission, appointed in December, expected to deliver the report to President Mokgweetsi Masisi by September this year.