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Wednesday, 06 December 2023

Retired BDF soldiers set record straight on Masisi remarks


Retired army, have this week responded to President Mokgweetsi Masisi’s remarks made at the Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) National Council and Extra-Ordinary Congress held in Palapye a fortnight ago, regarding pension of Botswana Defence Force (BDF) veterans.

The retired soldiers that are part of ‘A Re Itshekeng Social Club’ (ARI) said that it is their duty to protect the public and their members from any further injury derived from miscommunication propagated by Masisi’s speech.

The club expressed that they have distanced itself and Botswana Defence Force Retired Members Association (BDFRMA) from any political overtures, as the president would want his audience to believe that they are against the BDF.

“Thus, as both military retirees and beneficiaries of our departed brothers in arms, we maintain our principle that we are pursuing a common objective of seeking justice regarding our pension grievances. We may belong to different political organisations, but we belonged to one defence force and were all deprived of our pension dues.”


ARI revealed that Masisi informed his audience at the congress that he wants to solve the long pending issue of military retirees pension, and was therefore seeking the endorsement of the party through the congress.

He further informed his audience that the military retirees and the families of the deceased members are facing economic hardships, thus prompting him to find closure to this problem. The president also informed the BDP gathering that had it not been for the few individuals at the helm of the litigation who painted his initiative as a BDP political gaming, he would have solved the problem as he had promised on the 8th of June 2019 during their AGM in Mahalapye.

They further indicated that Masisi told his audience that he had expressed to the military retirees that he was well aware of their problems and requested them to allow him to finish with the then election campaigns, after which he would be able to address their issue.

“The president mentioned that A re Itshekeng collects money from the widows of the military retirees to pay lawyers, the situation which he is not happy about. It is even more striking when he informed congress that he will be one to solve the problem through he was never a soldier and will further call those that were not for dialogue with the government to engage in order to solve this long pending issue.”


According to the club, Masisi has always been aware of pension grievances of the military retirees and how they also affected those that are still serving in the BDF.

“This is the reason why in the build-up to the 2019 elections, the president while addressing the troops in BDF garrisons promised them that he wants to make their Net Replacement Ration (NRR) 75% or better. It is unfortunate that this promise remains unfulfilled to date,” he said.

The club further remarked that, contrary to Masisi’s claim that he will be the one who has never been a solider to solve their pension grievances, they did not start with some ex-soldiers as read between the lines.

“But rather started in 2000 during President Gontebanye Mogae’s administration into former President Seretse Khama and now the incumbent,” he said.

The club further threw out Masisi’s claim that he engaged them before 2019 elections campaign.

“It is not true that the president told us that he would be engaged in 2019 elections campaigning, and therefore we should wait for him so that he would give us his undivided attention after the elections. It would have been naïve of us to accept this view without any guarantee for its action accordingly.”

They indicated that Masisi only instructed the then Minister of Defence and Security, Shaw Kgathi to make sure that he presented the draft bill on military veterans for consideration in the June cabinet sitting.

“In fact, the entire president’s address was on the establishment of the veterans unit in the Ministry of Defense Justice and Security. He took most of his time explaining what the bill sought to achieve once in place. Among others, it would define who is a veteran. The bill would also reduce the workload for the Commander since he was being overburdened with the affairs of both in-service and retirees, which was not in line with best practices.”

According to the club, after Masisi was elected into office, BDFRMA National Executive Committee under the leadership of retired Brigadier Shadrack Moloi was able to meet the Defence minister more than once while any efforts to meet with Masisi never materialized.

“And even when the office of the president was written an official request, there was no acknowledgement from the office of the president. This happened even at the intervention of the Minister of Defence and security, Kagiso Mmusi.”.


A re Itshekeng expressed that the authorities have dismally failed them and in the past have refused to entertain any form of mediation.

“Hence, our decision to seek redress from the courts.”

The club expressed their hope that Masisi was not playing a political game to promote the campaign efforts.

“We are closely monitoring the criteria to be used in determining parties to the envisaged negotiations.”


Minister of Defense and Security, Kagiso Mmusi said when Masisi came to power, one of his first priorities was to assess the readiness state of the BDF and come up with intervention measures to stop and reverse the corrupt practices that have been perpetuated for far too long.

He said paramount to ensuring that the readiness state of the BDF is addressed, Masisi engaged the BDF leadership, toured BDF facilities and operational areas across the country as well as meeting active and former members of the BDF to get feedback on the status of BDF.

“These engagements revealed myriad challenges. Based on the state of affairs, the president committed to address matters concerning the active and former members of the BDF such as improving their conditions of services, among which was to review their salaries, attend to their pensions, improve accommodation and the general state of readiness of the defence force” wrote Mmusi.

Dragging Former President Ian Khama, Mmusi indicated that during Khama’s tenure as the commander, there was an amendment to some provisions of the pensions regulations which resulted in the current complaints of lower pension rates for BDF members, a matter that is currently before the courts.

“As the commander then, General Khama failed to recognize and address such issues.’

Mmusi revealed that Covid-19 interrupted progress made in continuing to improve the welfare of both active and former members of the BDF, but the process of reviving the project is on track.


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BPC Signs PPA with Sekaname Energy

4th December 2023

The Botswana Power Corporation (BPC) has taken a significant step towards diversifying its energy mix by signing a power purchase agreement with Sekaname Energy for the production of power from coal bed methane in Mmashoro village. This agreement marks a major milestone for the energy sector in Botswana as the country transitions from a coal-fired power generation system to a new energy mix comprising coal, gas, solar, and wind.

The CEO of BPC, David Kgoboko, explained that the Power Purchase Agreement is for a 6MW coal bed methane proof of concept project to be developed around Mmashoro village. This project aligns with BPC’s strategic initiatives to increase the proportion of low-carbon power generation sources and renewable energy in the energy mix. The use of coal bed methane for power generation is an exciting development as it provides a hybrid solution with non-dispatchable sources of generation like solar PV. Without flexible base-load generation, the deployment of non-dispatchable solar PV generation would be limited.

Kgoboko emphasized that BPC is committed to enabling the development of a gas supply industry in Botswana. Sekaname Energy, along with other players in the coal bed methane exploration business, is a key and strategic partner for BPC. The successful development of a gas supply industry will enable the realization of a secure and sustainable energy mix for the country.

The Minister of Minerals & Energy, Lefoko Moagi, expressed his support for the initiative by the private sector to develop a gas industry in Botswana. The country has abundant coal reserves, and the government fully supports the commercial extraction of coal bed methane gas for power generation. The government guarantees that BPC will purchase the generated electricity at reasonable tariffs, providing cash flow to the developers and enabling them to raise equity and debt funding for gas extraction development.

Moagi highlighted the benefits of developing a gas supply industry, including diversified primary energy sources, economic diversification, import substitution, and employment creation. He commended Sekaname Energy for undertaking a pilot project to prove the commercial viability of extracting coal bed methane for power generation. If successful, this initiative would unlock the potential of a gas production industry in Botswana.

Sekaname Energy CEO, Peter Mmusi, emphasized the multiple uses of natural gas and its potential to uplift Botswana’s economy. In addition to power generation, natural gas can be used for gas-to-liquids, compressed natural gas, and fertilizer production. Mmusi revealed that Sekaname has already invested $57 million in exploration and infrastructure throughout its resource area. The company plans to spend another $10-15 million for the initial 6MW project and aims to invest over $500 million in the future for a 90MW power plant. Sekaname’s goal is to assist BPC in becoming a net exporter of power within the region and to contribute to Botswana’s transition to cleaner energy production.

In conclusion, the power purchase agreement between BPC and Sekaname Energy for the production of power from coal bed methane in Mmashoro village is a significant step towards diversifying Botswana’s energy mix. This project aligns with BPC’s strategic initiatives to increase the proportion of low-carbon power generation sources and renewable energy. The government’s support for the development of a gas supply industry and the commercial extraction of coal bed methane will bring numerous benefits to the country, including economic diversification, import substitution, and employment creation. With the potential to become a net exporter of power and a cleaner energy producer, Botswana is poised to make significant strides in its energy sector.

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UDC deadlock: Boko, Ndaba, Reatile meet  

4th December 2023

It is not clear as to when, but before taking a festive break in few weeks’ time UDC leaders would have convened to address the ongoing deadlock surrounding constituency allocation in the negotiations for the 2024 elections. The leaders, Duma Boko of the UDC, Mephato Reggie Reatile of the BPF, and Ndaba Gaolathe of the AP, are expected to meet and discuss critical matters and engage in dialogue regarding the contested constituencies.

The negotiations hit a stalemate when it came to allocating constituencies, prompting the need for the leaders to intervene. Representatives from the UDC, AP, and BPF were tasked with negotiating the allocation, with Dr. Patrick Molotsi and Dr. Philip Bulawa representing the UDC, and Dr. Phenyo Butale and Wynter Mmolotsi representing the AP.

The leaders’ meeting is crucial in resolving the contentious issue of constituency allocation, which has caused tension among UDC members and potential candidates for the 2024 elections. After reaching an agreement, the leaders will engage with the members of each constituency to gauge their opinions and ensure that the decisions made are favored by the rank and file. This approach aims to avoid unnecessary costs and conflicts during the general elections.

One of the main points of contention is the allocation of Molepolole South, which the BNF is adamant about obtaining. In the 2019 elections, the UDC was the runner-up in Molepolole South, securing the second position in seven out of eight wards. Other contested constituencies include Metsimotlhabe, Kgatleng East and West, Mmadinare, Francistown East, Shashe West, Boteti East, and Lerala Maunatlala.

The criteria used for constituency allocation have also become a point of dispute among the UDC member parties. The issue of incumbency is particularly contentious, as the criterion for constituency allocation suggests that current holders of UDC’s council and parliamentary seats should be given priority for re-election without undergoing primary elections. Disadvantaged parties argue that this approach limits democratic competition and hinders the emergence of potentially more capable candidates.

Another disputed criterion is the allocation based on the strength and popularity of a party in specific areas. Parties argue that this is a subjective criterion that leads to disputes and favoritism, as clear metrics for strength and visibility cannot be defined. The BNF, in particular, questions the demands of the new entrants, the BPF and AP, as they lack a traceable track record to support their high expectations.

The unity and cohesion of the UDC are at stake, with the BPF and AP expressing dissatisfaction and considering withdrawing from the negotiations. Therefore, it is crucial for the leaders to expedite their meeting and find a resolution to these disputes.

In the midst of these negotiations, the BNF has already secured 15 constituencies within the UDC coalition. While the negotiations are still ongoing, BNF Chairman Dr. Molotsi revealed that they have traditionally held these constituencies and are expecting to add more to their tally. The constituencies include Gantsi North, Gantsi South, Kgalagadi North, Kgalagadi South, Good Hope – Mmathethe, Kanye North, Kanye South, Lobatse, Molepolole North, Gaborone South, Gaborone North, Gaborone Bonnignton North, Takatokwane, Letlhakeng, and Tlokweng.

The resolution of the contested constituencies will test the ability of the UDC to present a united front in the 2024 National Elections will depend on the decisions made by the three leaders. It is essential for them to demonstrate maturity and astuteness in resolving the constituency allocation deadlock and ensuring the cohesion of the UDC.





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Repeat flight-risk suspect pays the piper

4th December 2023

In Botswana, the Constitution Section 5 (3) (b) provides that conditions of bail are necessary to ensure that an accused appears at a later date for trial or for proceedings preliminary to trial. These conditions may include restrictions on interfering with state witnesses, the payment of a certain amount, the provision of sureties, the submission of travel documents, reporting to the police regularly, and appearing for all court mentions or proceedings. Failure to abide by these conditions can result in the revocation of bail. Robert Seditseng, a murder accused who has been detained since 2016, is currently facing the consequences of not adhering to his bail conditions – therefore paying the piper.

Despite numerous unsuccessful bail applications over the past five years, Gaborone High Court judge Michael Leburu denied Seditseng bail this week. Seditseng had requested to be set free before his trial starts on April 12th, but his freedom will now depend on the verdict. He is charged with the murder of his girlfriend, Siscah Mutukee, on June 22nd, 2016, in Charleshill.

Judge Leburu ruled that Seditseng is not a candidate for bail due to being a flight risk, as he has previously absconded from court. Defense lawyer David Ndlovu pleaded with the court to consider the time Seditseng has already spent in prison, but Leburu questioned whether there was any guarantee that Seditseng would not abscond again, given that he had done so twice before.

An affidavit from Investigations officer (IO), Constable Kedibonye Botsalo, supports the view that Seditseng is not a suitable candidate for bail due to his tendency to abscond when granted bail. The affidavit explains that Seditseng was initially denied bail by the magistrate court due to ongoing investigations and the possibility of tampering with evidence. However, a concession was later made by the prosecution, and Seditseng was granted conditional bail by the lower court.

The court documents reveal that Seditseng failed to appear before court on March 7th, 2016, without providing any explanation. As a result, a warrant for his arrest was issued. The case proceeded without him on several occasions until he finally appeared before court on July 13th, 2017. On that day, Seditseng’s bail was revoked due to his inability to provide valid reasons for his absences.

On October 4th, 2017, Seditseng was granted bail for the second time. However, he was once again absent from court on October 31st, 2017, without providing any reasons. He continued to be absent from court on five subsequent occasions until his arrest and appearance before court on August 30th, 2018.

During a period of nine months, Seditseng absconded from court without providing any reasons for his actions. This repeated pattern of absconding demonstrates a clear disregard for the bail conditions and raises concerns about his willingness to appear for trial.

Given Seditseng’s history of absconding and the potential risk of him doing so again, Judge Leburu’s decision to deny him bail is justified. The purpose of bail is to ensure the accused’s presence at trial, and Seditseng has repeatedly shown a lack of commitment to fulfilling this obligation. It is crucial to prioritize the safety of the community and the integrity of the justice system by keeping flight-risk suspects like Seditseng in custody until their trial is concluded.

In conclusion, the denial of bail to repeat flight-risk suspect Robert Seditseng is a necessary measure to ensure his appearance at trial. His history of absconding from court and failure to provide valid reasons for his actions demonstrate a disregard for the bail conditions and raise concerns about his willingness to face justice. By denying him bail, the court is prioritizing the safety of the community and upholding the integrity of the justice system.



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