Matsheka watches as judges reconcile over his case
The former Minister of Finance, Dr Thapelo Matsheka and his legal team are reportedly watching with keen eyes and interest the developments within the judiciary following “an unsettling revelation” by the Chief Justice (CJ) Terrence Rannowane and his colleague Gaolapelwe Ketlogetswe though his lawyer, confirming that they are making efforts to reconcile over a matter in which the CJ and the State President Minister Kabo Morwaeng attempted to interfere in Matsheka’s controversial detention relating to a murder case.
Matsheka was arrested and humiliated following allegations that he may have had a hand in the killing of young Tlotso Karema. Following his release, the judge who was presiding over his case, Ketlogetswe revealed a correspondence to President Mokgweetsi Masisi that the chief Justice and Minister Morwaeng tried to influence his decision in a case in which Matsheka had dragged both Botswana Police and Directorate of Intelligence and Security (DIS) to court for unlawful arrest and detention- a development that later sparked serious concerns of judicial and political interference.
On the 11th of August 2022 Ketlogetswe registered “a complaint of misbehavior on the part of the Honourable Chief Justice” asking Masisi “to consider subjecting the Honorable Chief Justice to an enquiry into his fitness to continue holding judicial office as Chief Justice.”
In the same letter Ketlogetswe also raised the same complaint against Minister Kabo Morwaeng, accusing him and the Chief Justice for having attempted to influence him in the former Minister, Dr Thapelo Matsheka’s child murder case.
Still in the same letter to Masisi and in relation to Morwaeng, Justice Ketlogetswe said he “left it to the President to consider the appropriate action to take with a view to protecting the independence of the Judiciary from undue interference by those holding public office.”
Ketlogetswe has been in the process of interdicting the Judicial Service Commission from dealing with his complaint against Rannowane that he filed with President Mokgweetsi Masisi. Ketlogetswe has sued over the matter seeking the court to interdict the JSC from entertaining his complaint against Rannowane.
KETLOGETSWE AND CHIEF JUSTICE NOW IN EFFORTS TO RECONCILE…
Speaking at the opening if the legal year recently, Rannowane revealed that a number of suits affecting the Judiciary are being amicably resolved and may be withdrawn for purposes of peace and harmony within the Administration of Justice.
Ketlogetswe, through his lawyer confirmed to this publication that his matter against Justice Rannowane is one of those cases up for reconciliation. This development according to sources have shocked Matsheka and his legal team who were watching the development with keen eyes and interest wainting to see the outcome of the case between the two judges.
“The reasons why Matsheka and his legal team had delayed to institute legal proceedings was partly because of this case. They had wanted to see how it will unfold but it seems like it will not proceed any further. The CJ says reconciliation is to preserve the peace and harmony of the judiciary but others suspect that the authorities moved to arrest the mess before it spiraled out of control,” revealed our source.
He continued: “You will recall that Dr Matsheka was in the proceeds of suing the state for P10.7 million for unlawful arrest and for having being humiliated by the Directorate of Intelligence and Security and the Botswana Police Service. In his letter to the President, Justice Ketlogetswe alleged that Morwaeng and the Chief Justice had pressured him to rule against Matsheka and keep him in custody. So if Ketlogetswe and the CJ reconcile, the biggest loser is Matsheka because the case was essentially about him, his rights and political abuse.”
In fact another legal observer says: “The matter was all about Matsheka and how he was treated and possibly how the justice system is compromised against those perceived to be disloyal or disliked by the President. So reconciliation by the judges could be a big blow to him and by extension, the judiciary.”
There have been questions around what the terms of settlement will be and on whether they will not be an assault on the already tainted judiciary.
MATSHEKA MAY FILE HIS SUIT SOON…
Last year Dr Thapelo Matsheka slapped the principal advisor to the government; the Attorney General with a statutory notice demanding more than P 10 Million on account of having had been humiliated publicly by the DIS and Botswana Police.
The court papers filed detailed the demand as follows: Unlawful detention for P 3 Million, Unlawful Arrest at P2 Million, Leg shackle Placement – P4 Million, Sitting in the accused dock P 1 Million and Special damages amounting to P720 000 including: loss of earning by not being able to engage in beneficial employment for the period of his detention.
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Batswana owe banks P79 billion
The Minister of Finance, Peggy Serame, has disclosed that the total bank credit extended by commercial banks amounted to P79 billion, out of which P53.4 billion was retail loans and advances to households.
Parliament was informed this week in response to a question by the Member of Parliament for Selibe-Phikwe West and Leader of Opposition (LOO), Dithapelo Keorapetse.
“As at 31st December 2022, loans and other advances extended to households by banks constituted the largest share of bank-lending at 67.6 percent, the majority of which was unsecured personal loans at P36.2 billion (67.8%),” said Serame.
She added that the total household Debt to GDP ratio was 21.9%, while the total private business credit to Gross Domestic Product (GDP) ratio was 10.8%.
On the other hand, it was noted that outstanding mortgage loans extended to households were P14.2 billion (26.6% of household debt) or 5.9% of GDP. Overall, total bank credit as a ratio of GDP stood at 32.7 percent.
It was acknowledged that there are 10 deposit-taking banks in the country, that is, nine commercial banks and one statutory bank (Botswana Savings Bank). This statistics excludes the National Development Bank (NDB), which is a development finance institution. The nine commercial banks include an indigenous bank, Botswana Building Society Bank Limited (BBSBL), which was issued with a commercial banking license by the Bank of Botswana in October 2022.
Still in December 2022, it was recorded that there were 376 non-bank lenders in Botswana consisting of 246 micro lenders, 66 finance companies, three leasing companies and 61 registered pawnshops.
According to Minister Serame, the loan book value representing the principal amount lent by these entities to individuals and to small, medium and micro Enterprises (SMMEs) is collated by the Non-Bank Financial Institutions Regulatory Authority (NBFIRA), which at 31st of December 2021, the loan book values were P5.6 billion for micro lenders, P1.6 billion for finance companies, P225 million for leasing companies and P14 million for pawnshops.
Government policy is that price control is not effective or desirable, and, as such, interest rates are not regulated. Non-regulation may, among other things, result in an increase in non-interest rate fees and commissions, reduced price transparency, lower credit supply and loan approval rates.
“It is important to note that, from a macroeconomic perspective, household debt in Botswana is neither a pandemic nor considered to be excessive. Indeed, the Bank of Botswana’s periodic and continuous assessments of household debt, including through the annual Household Indebtedness Surveys, suggest moderate household indebtedness and therefore, is of no apparent risk to the safety and soundness of the domestic financial system,” said Serame.
She also alluded this assessment is validated by the recently concluded Financial Sector Assessment Programme (FSAP) on Botswana undertaken by the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank Group.
Keorapetse however rebuked the issue of debt not being excessive and noted the Minister thinks it’s fine for Batswana to be debt burdened in a way that their debts diminishes their quality of life.
“A significant portion of Batswana’s salaries go to servicing debts and because she doesn’t see this as a challenge, there can never be any intervention from her side. There is no price regulation on interest, which can go up to 30%+ a month. Since President Masisi ascended to the high office in 2018, 2 384 Batswana were put in prison for failure to pay debts, that is 467 Batswana every year. So, for us, debt problems are big and concerning,” said Keorapetse.
He said they are worried because Batswana are drowning in debts because of relative poverty, slave wages and unemployment/underemployment, they buy basic needs and services with borrowed money and noted predatory and unethical lending has become a major problem in Botswana’s financial sector.
How to fleece P14 million from Chinese investor
The modus operandi of how five men allegedly swindled a Chinese national P14 million last week continue to unravel. Highly placed sources from the intelligence, the Directorate on Corruption and Economic Crime (DCEC) and Botswana Unified Revenue Services (BURS) revealed to this publication how the whole scam was concocted.
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ENVIRONMENT ISSUES: Masisi asks Virginia for help
President Mokgweetsi Masisi says the issue of sustainable natural resources management has always been an important part of Botswana’s national development agenda.
Masisi was speaking this week on the occasion of a public lecture at Virginia Polytechnic, under theme, “Merging Conservation, Democracy and Sustainable Development in Botswana.”
Botswana, according to Masisi, holds the view that the environment is fragile and as such, must be managed and given the utmost protection to enable the achievement of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
“It is necessary that we engage one another in the interchange of ideas, perspectives, visualizations of social futures, and considerations of possible strategies and courses of action for sustainable development,” said Masisi.
On the other hand, dialogue, in the form of rigorous democratic discourse among stakeholders presents another basis for reconfiguring how people act on their environments, with a view to conserving its resources that “we require to meet our socio-economic development needs on a sustainable basis,” Masisi told attendees at the public lecture.
He said government has a keen interest in understanding the epidemiology and ecology of diseases of both domestic and wild animals. “It is our national interest to forestall the dire consequences of animal diseases on our communities livelihoods.”
President Masisi hoped that both Botswana and Virginia could help each other in curbing contagious diseases of wildlife.
“We believe that Virginia Tech can reasonably share their experiences, research insights and advances in veterinary sciences and medicines, to help us build capacity for knowledge creation and improve efforts of managing and containing contagious diseases of wildlife. The ground is fertile for entering into such a mutually beneficial partnership.”
When explaining environmental issues further, Masisi said efforts of conservation and sustainable development might at times be hampered by the emergence and recurrence of diseases when pathogens mutate and take host of more than one species.
“Water pollution also kills aquatic life, such as fish, which is one of humanity’s much deserved sources of food. In this regard, One Health Approach imposes ecological responsibility upon all of us to care for the environment and the bio-diversity therein.”
He said the production and use of animal vaccines is an important space and tool for conservation, particularly to deal with trans-border animal diseases.
“In Botswana, our 43-year-old national premier pharmaceutical institution called Botswana Vaccine Institute has played its role well. Through its successful production of highly efficacious Foot and Mouth vaccines, the country is able to contain this disease as well as supply vaccines to other countries in the sub-region.:
He has however declared that there is need for more help, saying “We need more capacitation to deal with and contain other types of microbial that affect both animals and human health.”