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Friday, 19 April 2024

Katlholo accuses Attorney General of sanctioning ‘rogue’ DIS

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Attorney General Abraham Keetshabe

The Director General of the Directorate on Corruption and Economic Crime (DCEC) Tymon Katlholo has accused Attorney General Abraham Keetshabe of abandoning his mandate and in the process adding the Directorate of Intelligence and Security (DIS).

In a fresh replying affidavit to DIS officer Jet Mafute’s affidavit, Katholo states that, “The AG (Attorney General) has abandoned the functions of his office and where that is the clear case, I am well within my rights in terms of the DCEC Act to ensure that the organization continues to operate without outside influence.”

Katlholo makes the accusations in the case in which he had approached the High Court to bar the Directorate of Intelligence Services (DIS) from accessing some of his agency’s highly classified files.
Judgement in the matter is yet to be delivered.

Confirming that he spoke with Keetshabe requesting him to intervene in the war of words between DCEC and DIS, Katlholo stated that, “I must express my shock at the fact that the AG claimed ignorance over a national development such as this and did not believe me or appeared not to believe me as the person directly affected and sought to verify the allegations.”

He said he also could not understand the basis for the expectation by the Attorney General that the Directorate of Public Prosecution (DPP) would have to inform him of the investigations undertaken in relation to my office. “The DPP does not deal with any investigations and this should be known to and by the AG,” said Katholo.

He said a day and later after the sealing and barricading of the DCEC office, the AG claims not to be privy to the developments, and had not taken the initiative to contact either the DG DISS or on his own interest, the DPP whom he had an expectation from to be briefed. “The AG only called the DPP following my follow up call. Even then, the AG did not get back to me upon his failure to speak with the DPP,” said Katlholo.

He said he did raise with the AG his concerns and fears of his arrest on arrival. From Rwanda. He said subsequent event relating to the questioning of the DCEC officers as “to my whereabouts on 9 May 2022 and confiscation of their cellphones is clear testimony of the DISS intention to arrest me upon my arrival.” Katlholo said it seems the arrest was not carried out because of the matter that was already pending before court and their lack of information as to his itinerary.

“Even as at the 5th May 2022, two days after the office was sealed, the AG still had no information, and had no desire and made absolute no effort to obtain information on the circumstances of the sealing and barricading of the DCEC office,” he said. Katlholo said there was nothing urgent nor of importance which compelled the AG to act.

“To him, and in his mind, things were normal and going according to plan or expectation.  By not acting, the AG has elected to sanction the conduct of the DISS and or has failed to prevail over them to comply with the law. It is reasonable to aver that the AG has elected to side with DISS over its intrusion on the DCEC mandate,” said Katholo. He said the AG is enjoined to act in the interest of the organization and the larger public interest.

“The conduct of the AG, in undermining the mandate of the DCEC as he has, with the aid of the DISS is not only unprecedented but has the potential to throw the country into a constitutional crisis and feed into the public narrative that DISS is a rogue institution which is above the law,” said Katholo. The AG as a protector of the constitution has in fact failed to protect it  and has abandoned his oath of office.

According to Katlholo, Keetshabe “has placed monetary value over constitutional principles.” He said, where the protection of the constitution and the safeguarding of its imperatives necessitates a cost to the fiscus, however small and temporary, the “AG is essentially saying that the inconveniences of a financial costs must be avoided over a constitutional crisis and the nation abandon its values.”

“The defenders of the constitution have now become the greatest violators of it. The AG doesn’t disclose what advise he rendered, either to me nor the DISS as to how best to avoid the situation where two institutions or organisations of the state are seemingly at loggerheads. The best way to discern from this conduct is that one organisation must prevail over the other and coerce it into submission,” said Katlholo.

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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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