The tenure of office for the Attorney General (AG), Advocate Abraham Keetshabe will expire around July this year and the subject has hinted that his contract is not renewable, a matter that has sparked public interest on his next move and the succession politics within the Attorney General’s office.
Keetshabe was appointed Attorney General from the 1st of August 2017, and there are concerns that he has not really made a mark for himself as the AG as he was always forced to bow to undue political influence and pressure. In an interview with this publication, Keetshabe confirmed the end of his contract, but when asked about whether he will be hoping for a renewal, he could only say: “there were limits to my contract.” Minister Kagiso Mmusi was not available to shed further light to reports that Keetshabe’s contract is not renewable.
Like many of his peers, sources say Keetshabe was reduced to taking instructions instead of rendering advice as required by law and did not really enjoy his tenure to the fullest. His office and that of the director of the Directorate of Public Prosecutions (DPP) have endured widespread criticism over pushing some questionable cases to the courts, denting their credibility as ministers and custodians of justice.
“It is not a secret that he connived with the DPP to prosecute some of these ridiculous cases before the courts, many of which are hanging by a thread,” said a highly placed source. The DPP who is under the administrative supervision of the Attorney General is permitted by law to consults the Attorney General on cases considered by the Attorney General to be of national importance.
Another weakness which insiders say could impede Keetshabe’s progress is his deep Christian faith which he throws at everybody. “You will remember how the issue of faith caused problems for the former Chief Justice of South Africa justice Mogoeng Mogoeng. In this profession Christian or religious fanaticism has far-reaching consequences and can be seen as incompetence,” said a close colleague who says Keetshabe is more of a prayer warrior and priest.
Cabinet Ministers for Presidential Affairs, Governance and Public Administration, Kabo Morwaeng and Trade and Investment, Mmusi Kgafela recently warned both DPP and AG to make judicious decisions on matters concerning people’s liberties saying such often impose a lot of avoidable costs on the government and people’s reputations. Yet other observers say it has been difficult to dispense professional advice to the current regime due to the long intrusive and authoritative arm of the Directorate of Intelligence Services (DIS) which many of its stakeholders say is a bully.
The Law Society of Botswana spoke to this issue recently at the opening of the legal year, saying the government should tame the DIS against interfering with other agencies functions. The DIS, through its spokesperson, Edward Robert has since responded and claimed that the position of the Law Society may misdirect or misinform the public.
But some say Keetshabe has not stood up to defend his territory when under external attack and interference, “for instance, what was going through his mind when he drafted this controversial Criminal Investigations and Evidence Procedure Bill. What would have been the case had stakeholders not mounted serious protests. This shows that he is someone who does not ready to defend and protect civil liberties and would go at great length to appease his powers,” said another insider.
It is not known what Keetshabe’s next move could be; but some suggest that he may end up in the judiciary whereas some say he may be appointed to head any state institution. Whoever will succeed Keetshabe as the government advisor remains matter of guesswork for many. His second in command is Charles Gulubane who may be hoping for elevation, but it is not always given that the second in command will succeed his predecessor.
Keetshabe, is a practicing lawyer whose professional career began back in 1986 following his completion of legal studies at the University of Botswana and the University of Edinburgh in Scotland. Upon graduation Advocate Keetshabe joined the Judiciary as a junior magistrate; rising through the ranks to become the first Motswana to be appointed to the position of Chief Magistrate.
In 1996 Advocate Keetshabe left the magistracy on promotion to the position of Deputy Registrar & Master of the High Court, based initially at the Francistown High Court and later transferring to the Lobatse High Court. His main responsibilities then included administrative supervision of the work of magistrates and providing administrative support to both the High Court and Court of Appeal.
In 2004, Advocate Keetshabe joined the Attorney General’s Chambers as the Deputy Attorney General responsible for civil litigation affairs. In this capacity, he successfully represented the Government in a number of landmark cases that now provide legal precedent in this country.
From 2011-16, Advocate Keetshabe served from 2011 to 2016 as the General Counsel in Office of the President. Prior to his appointment as the new Attorney General he served as Director of Public Prosecution (DPP).
The Minister of Foreign Affairs, Dr. Lemogang Kwape says Botswana has not taken any position regarding the killing of a renowned human rights lawyer, Thulani Maseko, who was gunned down at his house in Mbabane, Eswatini.
In a brief interview with WeekendPost, Dr Kwape said Botswana has not yet taken any position regarding his death. He said the purported incident should be thoroughly probed before Botswana can form an opinion based on the findings of the inquiries.
â€śBotswana generally condemns any killing of human life by all means,â€ť says Dr. Kwape. He wouldnâ€™t want to be dragged on whether Botswana will support the suspension of Eswatini from SADC.
â€śWe will be guided by SADC organ Troika if they can be an emergency meeting. I am not sure when the meeting will be called by Namibian president,â€ś he said.
However, the Namibian president Hage Geingob notes with deep concern reports coming out of Eswatini about the killing of Mr. Maseko. In a statement, he called upon the â€śGovernment of the Kingdom of Eswatini to ensure that the killing of Maseko is swiftly, transparently and comprehensively investigated, and that any or all persons suspected of committing this heinous crime are brought to justice.â€ť
Maseko was chairperson of the Multi-Stakeholder Forum which was established as a coalition of non-State actors to advocate for a process of national political dialogue aimed at resolving the security and political challenges confronting the Kingdom.
â€śSADC expresses its deepest and heartfelt condolences to the family of Mr. Maseko, his friends, colleagues, and to the people of the Kingdom of Eswatini for the loss of Mr. Maseko. In this context, SADC further calls upon the people of the Kingdom of Eswatini to remain calm, exercise due care and consideration whilst the appropriate structures conduct the investigations and bring the matter to completion,â€ť the statement says.
Geingob reiterated the need for peaceful resolution of the political and security challenges affecting the country.
Meanwhile political activists are calling on SADC to suspend Eswatini from the block including the African Union as well.
State prosecutor, Seeletso Ookeditse revealed before the Broadhurst Magistrate Jobbie Moilatshimo that the third accused involved in the murder of Barulaganye Aston, has interfered with the State witnesses again.
The second and third accused (Lefty Kosie and Outlwile Aston) were previously accused of interference when they were caught in possession of cellphones in prison. They were further accused of planning to kill the deceasedâ€™s brother, who is currently the guardian to the children of the deceased.
Ookeditse indicated that Outlwile had earlier went to challenge the magistrateâ€™s decision of denying him bail at the High Court before Judge Michael Motlhabi.
â€śThe third accused approached the High Court and made a bail application, which was dismissed on the same day,â€ť Ookeditse said.
However, even after the High Court verdict on their bail application, the duo (Kosie and Aston) has once again applied for bail this week.
Ookeditse plead with the court to stop the accused from abusing the court process.
â€śYesterday, Directorate of Public Prosecutions (DPP) received papers of his bail application filed before the Broadhurst Magistrates Court. However, the papers do not speak to changed circumstances, therefore this back and forth about bail must be put to a stop,â€ť said the State prosecutor.
While giving evidence before court, the Investigations Officer, Detective Inspector Quite Zhalamonto, said his investigations have proved that there is interference continuing regarding the accused trio.
He told the court that on the 12thÂ of January 2023, he received a report from Thato Aston, who is the son of the accused and the deceased. The son had alleged to the Investigation Officer that he received a call from one Phillip Molwantwa.
According to Zhalamonto, Thato revealed that Molwatwa indicated that he was from prison on a visit to the Outlwile Aston and went on to ask where he was staying and where his siblings (Astonâ€™s children) are staying.
â€śThato revealed that Phillip went on to ask if he or his siblings saw their father murdering their mother, and he was referring to the crime scene. Thato told me that he, however, refused to answer the questions as he was afraid especially because he was asked about where him and his siblings stay,â€ť said Zhalamonto.
Zhalamonto alluded to the court that he then went to Orange to confirm the communication between Thato and Molwantwa where he found the case.
â€śI have arrested Philip yesterday and when I interviewed him, he did not deny that he knows Aston and that he has indeed called Thato and asked questions as to where him and his siblings resides even though he failed to give reasons for asking such questions,â€ť Zhalamonto told the court.
He further revealed that Molwantwa indicated that he had received a call from an unknown man who refused to reveal himself.
â€śPhillip told me that the unknown man said he was sent by the accused (Aston), and that Aston had instructed him to tell me to check if there was still some money in his bank accounts, and he also wanted to know where the kids were residing, the unknown man even asked him to meet at Main Mallâ€ť the Investigation Officer told the court.
He further informed the court that he is working tirelessly to identify the â€śunknown callerâ€ť and the route of the cell number.
Furthermore, the fourth accused,Â Kebaleboge Ntsebe, has revealed to the court through a letter that she was abused and tortured by the Botswana Police Services. She wrote in her letter that she suffered miscarriage as a result of being beaten by the police.
Ntsebe is on bail, while a bail ruling for Aston and Kosie will be delivered on the 6thÂ of next month
Cattle farmers from Eretsha and Habu in the Ngamiland district, supported by the Community Based Trade (CBT) project, recently generated over P300 000.00 for sales of 42 cattle to the Botswana Meat Commission (BMC) in Maun. This milestone was achieved through support from various stakeholders in conservation, commodity-based trade and the government, in collaboration with farmers. Ordinarily, these farmers would not have made this direct sale since the area is a designated Foot and Mouth Disease (FMD) Red Zone.
Traditional livestock farming contributes toward livelihoods and formal employment in the North-West District (Ngamiland) of Botswana. However, primarily due to the increase in FMD outbreaks over the past two decades and predation by wildlife, the viability of livestock agriculture as a source of income has declined in the region. This has led to a greater risk of poverty and food insecurity. Access across the Okavango River (prior to the construction of a bridge) restricted access for farmers in Eretsha. This lack of access hampered sales of cattle beyond Shakawe, further discouraging farmers from investing in proper livestock management practices. This resulted in negative environmental impacts, poor livestock health and productivity.
To address this challenge, farmers are working with a consortium led by Conservation International (CI), with funding secured from the European Union (EU) to pilot a CBT beef project. The project focuses on supporting and enabling communal farmers to comply with standards and regulations that will improve their chances to access markets. An opportunity to earn higher income from cattle sales could incentivize the adoption of restorative rangelands management practices by farmers.
â€śWe spend a lot of money getting our cattle to Makalamabedi quarantine site, the herder spends on average two months taking care of the cattle before they are taken into quarantine â€“ that needs money. All these costs lead to us getting less money from BMC,â€ť said one of the farmers in the programme, Mr Monnaleso Mosanga.
Farmers that participate in the project agree for their cattle to be herded and kraaled communally by fulltime professional herders (eco-rangers). At the core of this pilot is the use of predator-proof bomas (cattle kraals), planned grazing systems and mobile quarantine bomas (electrified enclosures) for the cattle, facilitated in support with the Department of Veterinary Services. The first successful exit from the mobile quarantine bomas in the Habu and Eretsha villages, in December 2022, saw cattle quarantined on-site and directly transported to BMC in Maun. Farmers received almost double the average sales within this region, as costs including transportation to quarantine sites, herderâ€™s fees and other associated costs incurred before qualifying for BMC sales were no longer included.
“This pilot mobile quarantine is leveraging the techniques and protocols we are using at our current permanent quarantine sites, and we are still observing the results of the project. The outcome of this pilot will be presented to the World Organisation of Animal Health to assess its effectiveness and potentially be approved to be used elsewhere,â€ť said Dr Odireleng Thololwane, the Principal Veterinary Officer (Maun).