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Thursday, 18 April 2024

NPF case: Kgosi speaks

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The infamous National Petroleum Fund (NPF) case has come to a close, with the biggest loser being the state against the so called former president Ian Khama’s associates, but one of the central figures in the case, former spy boss, Isaac Kgosi says the fall of the case is no cause for celebration because the case unnecessarily and unfairly ruined many lives and reputations, including that of the president, Mokgweetsi Masisi.

At the height of the accusations and counter accusation, Masisi’s name featured prominently in the case in a manner that was clearly unforeseen by the state which appeared unready to contain the defence’s frustrations and counters.

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On the 16th of August 2021, one of the accused, Bakang Seretse wrote to Briscoe attorneys revoking a P2 million donation he had made to Masisi’s 2017 chairmanship campaign saying the state says the money were proceeds of crime.

This was after the Directorate of Public Prosecutions (DPP) through their answer for further particulars requested by the defence in the National Petroleum Fund (NPF) saga has confirmed that asset manager, Bakang Seretse through Briscoe Attorneys donated some money to the then Vice President Mokgweetsi Masisi.

That was not the only issue, on the other end, former Minister was calling the prosecutions to charge Masisi as one of the beneficiaries of the NPF loot if they are serious about their case.

In an interview with this publication following the state’s Court of Appeal loss, Kgosi who was portrayed by the state as one of the masterminds of the P250 loot said like all the falsely accused, “Kebonang and Seretse were angry and frustrated hence their mention of the President and his involvement being ignored by the aggressors.”

He continued: “As much as one may have differences with the executive, the truth needs to be told. The President requested for campaign funds legally like any other person could do and those funds were disbursed to him through his legal entity, which as far as I know is the norm amongst politicians, he didn’t steal those funds, they were given to him. Why would one lie about it, lies have short legs. I am honest and will always remain so.”

Unexpected of him to absolve Masisi, Kgosi replied that he has nothing against President Masisi, “maybe he has something against me but I don’t and I respect his decision if they are fair and reasonable.

But truth is truth, no matter which side you are on,” he said further adding that when the state mobilized against him, many thought he will go on the rampage and spill many secrets. “But that’s not me, I respect myself, the office I held and the people of Botswana’s security,” he added.

Kgosi continued: “When the case began, we tried to explain to the DCEC that there was never a criminality as claimed and took them toe to toe with everything but someone whom we all know instructed that the matter be taken to court without evidence.”

The former spy chief says “those who were pursuing the NPF case claimed that they had been instructed by the President, who himself had been a beneficiary of some generous legal donation.”

According to Kgosi, Masisi like many others were unjustifiably accused because there was no criminality in his donation. “It was Legal because contrary to what people peddled and the newspapers published line hock and sinker, there was never a crime,” he added.

His only concern, he said, is that many reputations have been lost on a case which should never have gone to court in the first place.

“A secret and sensitive government project was made public for no reason other than to target and tarnish people’s reputations for ulterior motives. In the 5 years of this malicious case, people lost houses, careers and reputations.

Foreign companies with international track records had their reputations destroyed. For what, one might ask? The DCEC and the DPP rushed to court and even with the facts not supporting their narrative, they pursued this case at all costs,” he said.

Commenting on the judgement, Kgosi said “the apex court has pronounced what we have always known” but expressed worry that those who continue to lie to Batswana continue to hold public office.

“In the meantime people who perpetuated this lie remain safely protected by their offices. Whilst they may get away with it, I know God watched and is watching. One day, one step at a time, those who did what they did, will account to Him. In Him we take cover,” he said.

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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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