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Masisi caught up in Debswana P110 million legal dispute

President Mokgweetsi Masisi was among top government officials who were lobbied to support the appointment of former Debswana Managing Director, Albert Milton by security consultancy and business intelligence company, Infotrac (Pty) Ltd, the court heard on Thursday.

Debswana is currently in court with its erstwhile preferred covert services partner, Infotrac (Pty) Ltd, after refusing to settle P110 million debt as demanded by the latter. The High Court was informed that as part of its scope, Infotrac was expected to reach out to key figures in echelons of power to lobby for the appointment of the late Albert Milton as the Managing Director of Debswana.

Though Milton was already earmarked for the post, it has been revealed that his ascendency faced sabotage from various quarters, including the then outgoing Debswana MD, Balisi Bonyongo, who did not see eye-to-eye with his would-be successor.
In the grand scheme of things, an outgoing Debswana MD is an influential figure who could have say on their successor. As part of lobbying for Milton, court heard on Thursday that Infotrac engaged Bonyongo on reports of bad blood between him and Milton. Bonyongo, according to evidence given in court, denied the allegations and ascertained that he supports Milton as the next MD of Debswana.

Initially, there were reports that Miltons personal life could be used against him in his bid to become MD. Infotrac, the court heard, was involved not only to ascertain his suitability for the MD post, but to also advise him on how to conduct his personal life, as well as lobbying key players to be favourably disposed towards him.

When giving chief evidence, Infotrac Managing Director, Mompoloki Motshidi indicated that among the people he lobbied by guiding Milton in his scope of work was then Vice President (and later President) Mokgweetsi Masisi. Masisi and Milton reportedly had existing good rapport, which made the lobbying easy. Infotrac capitalized on this relationship by guiding Milton on how to lobby Masisi. Then Chief of Intelligence; Isaac Kgosi, and former Governor of Bank of Botswana, the late Linah Mohohlo were also lobbied.

Later, after Masisi became President, Milton succeeded Bonyongo as Debswana MD in December 2018. Infotrac contends that, this transition, adds to the success of the work that was carried out by the company. Meanwhile, at the time Milton was appointed MD, Kgosi was no longer the intelligence chief. Nonetheless, he was DIS Director General when the lobbying started.

The former governor, Mohohlo, was neither Debswana board member nor BoB governor at the time, but the Infotrac MD, argue that her valued came from the influence she had through her network locally and internationally. Mohohlo, the countries longest governor was a regular feature in Debswana board by the virtue of her position.

FORMER PSP TESTFIES IN COURT

Beleaguered former Permanent Secretary to the President, Carter Morupisi appeared before Justice Abednico Tafa on Thursday to give evidence in the battle between Desbwana and Infotrac. As PSP, Morupisi served either as Chairman or Deputy Chairman of the Board of Desbwana, interchangeably with De Beers Group Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Bruce Cleaver.

Giving evidence in court, Morupisi said in August 2019, he was approached by Infotrac MD, who relayed to him news of Debswanas refusal to pay for services his company rendered. Morupisi, he told court, then picked a phone and reached out to the Debswana MD, Milton over the matter. According to Morupisi, at that time, Milton indicated that he was travelling, but promised to settle the matter once in office.

John Carr-Hartley, of Armstrongs, questioned Morupisi why as a Debswana board member he was not alarmed by payment of over P100 million. Carr-Hartley further said Morupisi was aware that any procurement of over P100 million can only be authorized by the board. In response, Morupisi said though acknowledging his fiduciary duty as Debswana board member, he never knew if the debt in question was lump sum services or debt that accrued over time.

Carr-Hartley also asked if Morupisi was aware of the transaction, and why he did not report it to Debswana board. Morupisi said he did not report it because it was a management issue, and he was not involved in what management was doing. Morupisi also indicated that if there was anything wrong, he would have expected Milton to raise it during their call.

Morupisi said, because of the nature of services Infotrac offered, its work would naturally be restricted to people who are responsible for it. Morupisi also testified that he has only met Motshidi once in relation to the matter in dispute. Meanwhile, Motshidi told the court that, as part of payment, Debswana had at some point offered P10 million, but only P2 million was readily available, but he rejected the payment terms.

Other payment options, as heard in court, proposed by Debswana was through giving future jobs to Infotrac. The Debswana lawyer has argued that there is an inconsistence with regard to the declaration and chief evidence given by Infotrac MD, with regard to among others, the people who were involved in commissioning the work.

According to evidence given in court, the project was mastermind by the three figures; Head of Security- Debswana, Head of Security Jwaneng Mine and Head of Human Resources. The case will return to court on the 3rd of June. Debswana is represented by John Carr-Hartley of Armstrongs, while Infotrac is represented by Kgosi Ngakaagae of Ngakaagae and Co.

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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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Botswana still weighing in on Maseko’s assassination

27th January 2023

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.

“Botswana generally condemns any killing of human life by all means,” says Dr. Kwape. He wouldn’t want to be dragged on whether Botswana will support the suspension of Eswatini from SADC.

“We 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,“ 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 “Government 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.”

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.

“SADC 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,” 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.

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Kopong Murder: Accused interferes with witnesses again!

27th January 2023

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 deceased’s brother, who is currently the guardian to the children of the deceased.

Ookeditse indicated that Outlwile had earlier went to challenge the magistrate’s decision of denying him bail at the High Court before Judge Michael Motlhabi.

“The third accused approached the High Court and made a bail application, which was dismissed on the same day,” 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.

“Yesterday, 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,” 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 12th 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 (Aston’s children) are staying.

“Thato 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,” 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.

“I 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,” 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.

“Phillip 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 Mall” the Investigation Officer told the court.

He further informed the court that he is working tirelessly to identify the “unknown caller” and the route of the cell number.

Furthermore, the fourth accused, 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 6th of next month

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