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Masisi ordered to deal with P100 billion conspirators 

President Masisi

The Gaborone High Court Justice Zein Kebonang has saddled President Mokgweetsi Masisi to act against conspirators in the infamous P100 billion money laundering case, following a landmark ruling against the State.

This week, Justice Kebonang acquitted and discharged the main accused, Welherminah Maswabi, famously known by her code name, “Butterfly”. Maswabi was arrested on the 17th of October 2019 and charged with three criminal counts; financing terrorism, possession of unexplained property, and false declaration of passports.

In his judgement this week, Judge Kebonang shamed all those involved in the investigation of the P100 billion saga. In investigating the matter, he pointed out that the Directorate of Public Prosecution (DPP) ignored fundamental legal principles, withheld falsified material evidence, and subjected an innocent person to an unfair and prejudicial prosecution process.

“I find that there was intentional misconduct by those involved in the investigation and prosecution of the applicant,” he said. This judgment further revealed that the State, through the DPP, the Directorate of Corruption and Economic Crime (DCEC), and the Directorate on Intelligence and Security (DIS), fabricated and manipulated evidence, framed and falsely implicated Maswabi.

“There was intentional non-disclosure of evidence by these institutions. The conduct of the State agencies has a chilling effect on the rights and civil liberties of the applicant. The concerned State organs and the named officials have gone rogue,” Judge Kebonang said. Furthermore, Kebonang’s judgement fingered DPP Senior Prosecutor Priscillah Israel and DCEC investigator Jako Hubona accusing them of criminal misconduct and abuse of office.

“They did not accidentally or negligently withhold information and material exculpatory of the applicant, but did so intentionally to maliciously and wrongfully prosecute her,” Kebonang contended.
Kebonang pointed out that Israel and Hubona were best positioned to evaluate and assess the merits of the State’s case but purposely embarked on a road to subvert the rule of law.

Kebonang ridiculed this, emphasising that the decision to prosecute must never depend on the whims of those called upon to make them, nor must it depend on who occupies the office or new administrations. “There can never be probable cause when those entrusted to make such decisions are the once at the forefront of fabricating and concealing evidence,” he said.

Moreover, the court found that the actions by the DPP have brought disrepute to the administration of justice.  “Various courts have expended resources towards adjudicating a case that was falsified from inception. The type of misconduct by all those involved in the applicant’s prosecution is so severe that it calls into question the integrity of the entire legal system. It shocks one’s conscience and demands that those involved must be held accountable,” contended Kebonang.

In the end, Judge Kebonang warned that citizens must never be terrified by their government, and those who exercise public power must do so honestly. “The prosecution of the applicant was clearly for an ulterior and dishonourable purpose. The DPP knew that he decided to charge the applicant that there was no evidence against her. He chose, in breach of his constitutional obligations, to deliberately cause harm to the applicant by falsifying and fabricating evidence,” he stated.

Therefore, the court ordered and referred the Director of the DPP, Stephen Tiroyakgosi, to the President of Botswana, Mokgweetsi Masisi, the appointing authority, to consider his removal from office the DPP. The director of DPP is also referred to the Law Society of Botswana for investigation and appropriate sanction.

Furthermore, investigator Jako Hubona is referred to the Commissioner of Police for prosecution for perjury and the DCEC Director-General as his line supervisor for disciplinary action. Israel, DPP Senior Prosecutor, is referred to the Law Society of Botswana for investigation and appropriate sanction. Lastly, Kebonang ordered that the Registrar of the High Court is directed to submit a copy of his judgement to the President of the Republic of Botswana for appropriate remedial action.

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Mental health concern amid COVID-19 pandemic 

24th September 2021
Mental Health

With the advent of COVID-19, mental health and psychosocial has become a major concern around the world. There is   significant increase in the rates of stress, anxiety and depression globally.

In creating awareness and support on mental health and psychosocial support, the Ministry of Local Government & Rural Development, through the Department of Social Protection (DSP) hosted a virtual regional mental health and Psychosocial Support Forum (MHPSS).

The MHPSS Forum brings together stakeholders from different sectors providing Mental Health and Psychosocial Support services particularly to children, youth, families and the workforce, as well as Academia, International Cooperating Partners, Community Implementing Partners and the media.

It aims to facilitate learning, information exchange and advocacy to promote mainstreaming of Mental Health and Psycho-Social Support (PSS) into policies, programmes, services and funding priorities for children and youth in Botswana.

The event is a partnership between The Ministry of Local Government & Rural Development, through the Department of Social Protection (DSP), and the Regional Psychosocial Support Initiative (REPSSI), with Project Concern International Botswana (PCI) and Marang Child Care Network Trust (MCCNT).

The event is held every two years, and Botswana started hosting the Forum in 2014. The theme for this year is ‘Innovate, Integrate, Thrive,’ which prompts us to find new ways to survive the COVID-19 pandemic which we can mainstream into our daily activities.

The Northern Regional Forum in Mahalapye was held on 17-19 August 2021 while the Southern Regional Forum  in  Ghanzi, was  from 21-23 September 2021. Findings from both regions will be presented at the National Forum to be held in Kasane on 12-14 October 2021. The event is held in collaboration with local authorities in each region.

The event is structured in this manner: The first day is a Special Session for Children, where children in the region will talk about the challenges they face that affect their mental health, how they cope and what they think can be done to support them.

The second day is the official opening where the lead ministry gives a keynote address, and presentations from service providers in the region. The third and last day is abstract presentations from different speakers on thematic areas under the theme.

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GMES & Africa Southern Africa to hold a Regional Stakeholder Workshop on Earth Observation Technologies

24th September 2021
GMESAfrica

The Southern African Science Service Centre for Climate Change and Adaptive Land Management (SASSCAL) in collaboration with the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) will hold a Hybrid GMES and Africa Regional workshop from 27 – 29 September 2021, at Safari Hotel in Windhoek, Namibia.

The Global Monitoring for Environment and Security and Africa (GMES & Africa) Initiative is a programme formed out of mutual cooperation between Africa and Europe with a focus on Earth Observation (EO) systems.

It was formed to respond to the global need to manage the environment, understand and mitigate the effects of climate change and ensure civil security by providing information to policymakers, scientists, private sector and the public. GMES and Africa aims to promote development of local capacities, institutional, human and technical resources for access to and exploitation of Earth Observation (EO) based services on an operational basis for sustainable development in Africa.

In its first phase, GMES has funded 13 consortiums in Africa. In Southern African, SASSCAL-led consortia is implementing the Wetland Monitoring and Assessment Service for Transboundary Basins in Southern Africa (WeMAST) Project while CSIR is leading the Marine and Coastal Operations for Southern Africa (MARCO[1]South). SASSCAL Members of the consortium include the University of Botswana, University of Zambia, Cape Peninsula University of Technology, University of the Western Cape and Midlands State University, South African National Space Agency (SANSA) and the National Remote Sensing Centre (NRSC) of Zambia.

CSIR led consortium includes ABALOBI, Benguela Current Convention, Coastal Oceans Research and Development in the Indian Ocean, Council for Scientific and Industrial Research, National Sea Rescue Institute, University of Dar Es Salaam, University of Eduardo Mondlane and the Western Indian Ocean Marine Science Association).

The workshop will also provide an opportunity to promote and encourage mutual exchanges in terms of sharing best practices, knowledge and experiences as well as allow for the exchange of information and knowledge on new and innovative Earth Observation technologies developed under the programmes and their alignment with the region’s sustainable development strategies.

The workshop will also reveal trends in the use of earth observation data to monitor and assess wetland conditions, threats to sustainable utilisation of wetland resources as well as updating stakeholders on how climate change variability and drought is continually affecting Sub-Saharan Africa’s surface water resources.

The workshop’s envisaged outcomes will be to ensure shared knowledge and understanding of the new and innovative Earth Observation technologies, and their application to society. Expected to visit is a broader pool of international delegates from the two continents (Europe and Africa) both physically and virtual.

This includes the member countries policy makers, line ministers from the SADC countries, public and private sector stakeholders, implementers, Basin Commissions, researchers, and any other stakeholders whose activities are related to coastal areas, rivers, and their ecosystems.

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Vendors ready for the Tobacco Control Bill

21st September 2021
Vendors

Some vendors have been misled
Vendors thrive on households goods and fresh produce

Despite the previous false allegations that the Tobacco Control Bill will lead to several 20 000 vendors across the country losing their jobs, several local vendors have expressed that they are ready for the bill and because vendors sell mostly household goods

“This is something that we openly accept and receive as street vendors, the problem is some of our counterparts were misled and made to believe that we will not be allowed to sell cigarettes on our stalls.

Some of us got to understand that the bill states that we have to be licensed to sell cigarettes, we are not supposed to sell them to children under the age of 18 years of age and eliminating the selling of single sticks. We understand that this agenda is meant to develop a healthy nation but not take us down,” said Mbimbi Tau a vendor who operates from Mogoditshane.

The Tobacco Control Bill has been passed in several countries and street vendors are operating properly without any challenges faced. Tau further mentioned that there is no way that the Tobacco Control Bill will affect their business operations, all they have to do as vendors are to get the required documentation and do what the bill requires.

Another vendor Busani Selalame who operates from Gaborone Bonnington North was not shy to express his support towards the Tobacco Control Bill, “the problem is that some people within our sector have been misled and now they think that the bill is meant to take our operations down and completely stop selling cigarettes.

I support the fact that we are not supposed to sell cigarettes to children who are under the age of 18 years of age this has always been wrong, as parents we should be cautious of such and ensure that our children are disassociated with cigarettes,” said Selalame.

The Tobacco Control Bill prohibits advertising, promotion and sponsorship by the tobacco industry to prevent messages, cues, and other inducements to begin using tobacco, especially among the youth, to reassure users to continue their use, or that otherwise undermine quitting.

Renowned economist Bakang Ntshingane is of the view that since vendors sell household goods and fresh produce they are likely to keep on making profits despite what the Tobacco Control Bill comes with. He further stated that the Tobacco Control Bill will not be of harm on the local economy since the country does not manufacture or produce any tobacco related products.

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