Directorate of Intelligence and Security Services (DIS) has had its system hacked by unknown trespassers.Botswana Guardian is in possession of a leaked confidential document detailing names of security agents, their identity cards, last and first names, bank names, bank accounts, pay period, their gross income and total deductions from their salaries.
It is not yet known if the perpetrator(s) is/are within the system or is an intruder who hacked the system to jeopardise the country’s national security. There are fears that this sensitive information could fall to the wrong hands locally or internationally and further compromise the security of the country.
The DIS Act protects the identity of agents and other operations of the agency. In the long list which is provided in a spreadsheet format, some names of media practitioners (former and current) and a known politician from within the opposition ranks are among those who are on the DIS payroll.
The list is arranged in hierarchy with payment of high ranking beginning first and followed by the lower ranks and support staff. The payments reflected on the document were for the month of July this year. The opposition activist and the radio presenter each garner a Gross Income of close to P24 thousand while a former journalist’s salary stands at P27 thousand, this is according to the released information.
The list was sent to Botswana Guardian Facebook page inbox by a Facebook user. Botswana Guardian could not authenticate whether the names contained on the list belong to DIS spooks or not. Recently there has been media reports of possible infiltration of the DIS causing more tension and mistrust among the agents.
Allegations have been rife that some of the agents who for years have been close to former DIS boss Isaac Kgosi have not been happy with the way he was fired by President Mokgweetsi Masisi early this year. The decision has been perceived as an attack on the previous administration of Ian Khama.
Kgosi is a known close ally of Khama and the latter was recently left with an egg on the face when government declined to hire Kgosi as his Private Secretary. Khama has since filed a notice for government to show cause why he cannot employ Kgosi as his private secretary.
Brigadier Peter Magosi, DIS Director General who was in Maun attending Botswana Tourism Organisation’s Researchers’ Consultative meeting with President Mokgweetsi Masisi told this publication late Wednesday night that he is not aware if their system has been hacked. He said he would have to look into the matter first to see what could have happened before discussing it in details.
“I have been busy with back to back meetings for the entire day. In the past people have been messing with our system but I can assure you and the nation that we will get to the bottom of things. Whoever is involved in this will face the music I can assure you,” said Brigadier Magosi in a telephone interview. He said such acts that compromise national security would not be tolerated under his watch.
When he assumed office Brigadier Magosi promised to turn the notorious spy agency into a better, trustworthy and friendly security organ. He said the agency wants to play its role in a manner that will change this organisation and make it what it is intended to be.
Since its inception DIS has been marred by controversy with opposition parties and other pressure groups calling for the overhaul of the DIS Act.
Oversight committees of the DIS have also failed to execute their mandate and blamed the DIS leadership for not being cooperative. Opposition Members of Parliament have resigned from Parliamentary Committee on Intelligence and Security leaving only Botswana Democratic Party MPs in the committee. The Parliamentary Committee on Intelligence and Security is tasked with examining the expenditure, administration and policies of the DIS.
Deputy Permanent Secretary to the President in Office of the President, Elias Magosi is the highest paid public servant, Botswana Guardian can reveal.Magosi, a former Permanent Secretary at the Ministry of Transport and Communications joined OP in April this year after he was recruited from Southern African Development Community (SADC) Secretariat where he served as Director, Human Resources and Administration.
He was appointed a few days after President Mokgweetsi Masisi ascended to the presidency on April 1st 2018.According to a letter of appointment penned by Permanent Secretary to the President Cater Morupisi and seen by Botswana Guardian, Masisi used his powers in terms of Section 112 of the Constitution to appoint Magosi.
“You will earn a salary at the rate of P1, 392, 564.00 per annum (P116, 047 per month). This salary, which is above the government salary structure, is meant to protect your benefits from your previous employer, Southern Africa Development Community (SADC),” says the letter. With that hefty salary Magosi earns more than his boss Carter Morupisi and also earns more than President Mokgweetsi Masisi.
Not only that; Magosi will also be “entitled to benefit from any government salary revisions. You will also earn housing allowance at 2 percent of basic salary and entertainment allowance in the sum of P14, 950.10 per annum and any other applicable allowances,” said Morupisi in the letter, which was copied to Director of Public Service Management, Permanent Secretary Ministry of Presidential Affairs, Governance and Public Administration, Accountant General and Auditor General.
According to Morupisi the appointment is offered on contract terms for a period of 5 years with effect from date of assumption of duty. “You will be required to enter into a Performance Contract in accordance with Section 19 (4) of the Public Service Act within three (3) months or 90 days of commencement of employment.
“The government may terminate this contract in accordance with Section 26 (2) of the Public Service Act by giving you three calendar months’ notice or paying you three (3) months’ salary in lieu of such notice. On the other hand, you may also terminate this contract by giving and serving three (3) calendar months or paying government one (1) months’ salary in lieu of notice,” said PSP.
According to the letter, upon satisfactory completion of this contract, Magosi will be paid gratuity at the rate of thirty (30) percent of the total amount of the salary earned for the duration of the contract. He is expected to be governed by the Public Service Act, General Orders, and Rules and Regulations in force from time to time during the period of his employment.
PSP Morupisi confirmed the appointment and salary of Magosi in an interview with this publication. Morupisi has defended this decision indicating that this is the “general principle” because Magosi was being recruited from SADC Secretariat. “When you recruit you have certain benefits that you will have to consider. We had to go overboard because generally salaries at SADC Secretariat are high.
“We had to consider retaining of personal rights. So in the negotiations you lose some and gain some,” said Morupisi who revealed that Magosi was recruited for a purpose but would not get into details. He said the arrangement is not in any way in breach of the Public Service Act which governs public servants. “This is nothing new because I have done the same with other public officers that we have recruited back into the public service,” he added.
Before joining Communications Ministry as PS, Magosi served under the same portfolio at the Ministry of Environment, Natural Resources Conservation and Tourism headed by Tshekedi Khama. At the ministry Magosi had a fallout with Khama over the running of the ministry and its parastatal Botswana Tourism Organisation. In December 2016, Magosi made it to the list of appointments and transfers of senior public officers which was announced by Morupisi.
Magosi accepted the offer and then resigned within a month. The SADC Directorate of Human Resources and Administration which Magosi was heading was established following the restructuring of SADC in February 2008, with emphasis placed on the need to improve service delivery within the SADC Secretariat.
An uproar over the alleged poaching which resulted in the slaughter of close to 90 elephants has been linked to a political standoff between former President Ian Khama and his successor Mokgweetsi Masisi.The main idea, it’s being said, is to discredit Masisi’s administration. The once close buddies- Khama and President Mokgweetsi Masisi - are said to have had a fall out after Masisi assumed the high office in April this year and started reversing some of Khama’s policies and decisions.
Masisi has also denied Khama access to do as he pleases. Recently attempts by the Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) Council of Elders to reconcile the duo hit a snag. Reports by conservationists that almost 90 elephants were found dead near a wildlife sanctuary in Northern Botswana, have been dismissed by government as false, but have also raised eyebrows regarding the leaking of the information to international media.
Workers from Elephants Without Borders (EWB) have carried out an aerial survey, which found that 87 elephants have been killed for their tusks in the area, with most of the deaths happening just weeks ago. Dr. Mike Chase of EWB told the BBC: “I’m shocked, I’m completely astounded. The scale of elephant poaching is by far the largest I’ve seen or read about anywhere in Africa to date.
“When I compare this to figures and data from the Great Elephant Census, which I conducted in 2015, we are recording double the number of fresh poached elephants than anywhere else in Africa”. When the news broke out on Tuesday this week Masisi’s administration bore the worst attack from international groups and organisations who stated that Khama was doing a better job than Masisi with others referring to him as “your new man”.
Dr. Chase said there have been warnings of an impending poaching problem and the country was prepared for it. “The poachers are now turning their guns to Botswana. We have the world’s largest elephant population and it is open season for poachers. Clearly we need to be doing more to stop the scale of what we are recording on our survey.”
The debate around the issue heated up when Thea Khama, wife to Minister of Environment, Natural Resources Conservation and Tourism Tshekedi Khama, who is also former President Ian Khama’s younger brother, added her voice to the debate on social media.
“This is a tragedy of epic proportions. While we promote trade and cultural tourism with China and the world at large, all is lost without the flora and fauna of our eco-systems.
We have built a strong industry and reputation in photographic safaris that generate capital for the Botswana economy. “This can still be further exploited for the benefit of Batswana in the wake of the diamond industry scaling down and moving to sell out to synthetics. The last great haven for keystone species is now under our watch and in our lifetime under serious attack.
How to help? “Put pressure to the Botswana government to re-arm its Wildlife Department, cultivate cultural tourism projects that help communities live safely with the predators, and large keystone species in their areas and educate and make money for the communities so they can learn to protect and value the world’s wildlife populations, create awareness campaigns, educate yourself what happens when we lose our keystone species, lions, elephants, rhinos, whales, wolves, etc from the food chain”.
This was perceived by many as a direct attack on President Masisi by a Khama relative after Masisi ordered the withdrawal of weapons from the department of wildlife sometimes in May this year. Thea’s comment attracted a lot of attention from people most of whom condemned the government for disarming the wildlife department. The debate was later joined by UK Prime Minister Theresa May who said she was saddened to see elephants targeted by poachers. “The UK will continue to work with Botswana who have a long and successful conservation programme.
We are leading the fight on wildlife crime and I look forward to hosting the End Wildlife Crime Summit in London next month,” said the Prime Minister. Government has however refuted the claims indicating that the statistics were “false and misleading”. A statement from Ministry of Environment, Natural Resources Conservation and Tourism Permanent Secretary Thato Raphaka indicated that that EWB had counted 53 carcasses in their survey and that most of the animals had died of “natural causes”.
He stressed that the increase in poaching was not due to the decision to withdraw weapons from Department of Wildlife and National Parks (DWNP) and such a withdrawal has not created any vacuum in anti-poaching operations.
“The fact of the matter is that the withdrawal of such weapons from DWNP did not in any way affect the effectiveness and operations of the anti-poaching unit.
The government of Botswana wishes to condemn in the strongest terms possible attempts by individuals or groups who give a false impression that they love Botswana wildlife more than citizens of Botswana,” he said.Thea indicated on her social media page that no one is trying to discredit any person. “But I see a lot of attack on my husband and myself for no reason.
Nobody said anything about President Masisi. Yes, China is associated to poaching. Yes, the APU in Bots is disarmed by the OP, the news ran previously locally but most people pay more attention when it hits international papers……the reason you never saw it was because the international media did not pick it up back then. “How many times have the media outfits tried to discredit heads of states around the world and in Botswana? What is freedom of speech when only one point of view thinks it is allowed to speak,” she posted.
President Masisi has travelled to China on an official trip where China announced that it would assist African countries, Botswana included, with funds for infrastructure development. Efforts to speak to Dr Chase were futile as his mobile phone rang unanswered and did not respond to WhatsApp messages sent to him. But in an interview with National Geographic Dr Chase stood by his numbers: “I am an objective scientist, with no political agenda.
I am sad that our government has responded in this way”. Dr Chase stated that there is a GPS location for each of the 87 carcasses and that there are multiple witnesses who saw each one. He explained that every flight has four people, including one government employee, and novice recordings from the flights will bear out these findings.
Minister Khama also could not be reached for comment even at 2100hrs on Wednesday when he had promised to be available. The minister also did not respond to WhatsApp messages that were sent to him regarding this matter. Vice President whom at press time was Acting President Slumber Tsogwane, said he is not aware that the BBC story has sparked a heated debate on social media.
Tsogwane who is also BDP Chairman, told this publication that he is only aware of the rebuttal of the BBC story by the Tourism Ministry which also aired on government media.“I would not be in a position to say anything because I haven’t been to social media. I do not know what is being said there.
I have also not been briefed by officials of the matter trending on social media and our government under the leadership of President Masisi being discredited. I would have to first find out from our officials who handle our media and social media platforms so that I could make a determination,” said Tsogwane on Wednesday.
While President Mokgweetsi Masisi who is also leader of Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) has vowed to fight corruption, more rot is emerging in his backyard (BDP), Botswana Guardian has established.
In a leaked audio conversation between one of Masisi’s camp associates and long serving cabinet member Shaw Kgathi and a council candidate in his constituency it was revealed that many of the Bulela-Ditswe candidates have criminal records. This means there could be more criminals within the BDP and government (Councillors, Members of Parliament and Ministers).
BDP is holding its last batch of Bulela-Ditswe tomorrow (Saturday) where over 100 participants are expected to participate in the primaries. In the audio telephonic conversation that this publication has, Kgathi who is Minister of Defence, Justice and Security also BDP Deputy Secretary General revealed to Daniel Magwana - a council candidate for Molalatau Ward in Bobonong Constituency, that most of the candidates for tomorrow’s primaries have criminal records.
In that conversation in which the two conversing call each other by names and, uncle and nephew, Kgathi was requesting Magwana to pull out of the race to allow his (Kgathi) long time ally and current Molalatau Councillor Nathaniel Moribame to run unchallenged.Kgathi in the conversation also took a swipe at his challenger, mining consultant and former Debswana engineer, Francisco Kgoboko.
He accused Kgoboko of having no credentials and also having a criminal record. He wants Magwana who is allegedly supporting Kgoboko to ditch him and team up with Kgathi’s camp. Kgathi and Kgoboko have had skirmishes in the past after Kgathi had accused Kgoboko of campaigning illegally.
The audio conversation is said to have ruffled feathers following the utterances by Kgathi who is a senior cabinet member and member of the BDP Central Committee.News within the BDP corridors suggests that the thorough vetting process that the central committee ought to have conducted was not done.
BDP had during declaration of interest to contest in Bulela-Ditswe made a requirement for their parliamentary and council candidates to have an affidavit signed by the police clearing them of not having criminal records.
BDP Secretary General Mpho Balopi told the media that they want credible candidates for the 2019 election.
Balopi was reported to have indicated that they also want affidavits from their candidates to also check whether the information they provided while registering as candidates at regions is correct. He indicated that they want those who will occupy national leadership positions within the party to be very credible.
It has been argued that Kgathi as senior party member could have not just have made false utterances that have no basis. Reached for comment, Magwana indicated that time and again he has conversations with Kgathi as a relative and his area MP. He confirmed that he once had such a conversation with Kgathi about him compromising which is not anything new within the party and it has been encouraged that members should for the sake of the party always consider compromise.
He however expressed shock that their conversation was recorded. “I do not know anything about a recording. I wonder who could have recorded that. It comes as a surprise for me to hear someone from Gaborone telling me that they have a conversation of mine with my MP on audio. Maybe you could ask the minister if he so did record me,” said Magwana who stated that he could not discuss the matter further because he has flu and losing his voice.
For his part Kgoboko dismissed the allegations by this publication regarding the audio as a mere smear campaign. He expressed doubt that Kgathi as his elder, area MP, minister and his party’s Deputy Secretary General would make such utterances. “I guess you guys might be just making it up. There is no how I could have a criminal record while I filled an affidavit declaring that I do not have a criminal record but if the minster made such utterances it would be unfortunate.
“My credentials also speak for themselves. I do not think Kgathi would talk like that because membership registration, registration for candidature among other things falls under the office of the secretary general where he is a deputy. So these things could have been picked plus he has advantage of police to have investigated or better still approached me as my elder,” said Kgoboko.
When contacted, Kgathi who at the time was addressing his campaign team denied ever having a conversation with Magwana. He said because of obvious reasons that he is not in the same team with Magwana he could not have had such a conversation with him. He requested that the audio be shared with him to ascertain it is his voice on the conversation which was done via WhatsApp. During a follow-up call Kgathi said he was driving and should be contacted after an hour.
For his part, BDP secretary general Mpho Balopi indicated that it would be unfortunate if some people would have managed to be vetted in while having criminal records. The SG said they do not run the party through rumour-mongering and allegations. “We are a law abiding organisation and if someone has wronged the state and laws do not allow for that person to stand for elections such as IEC laws we would not allow that person to contest for our primaries.
This is why we made people to sign affidavit to declare that they do not have criminal records. I do not have the benefit of your alleged conversation but it would be unfortunate for that to have happened”.
Botswana Federation of Public Parastatal and Private Sector Unions (BOFEPUSU) has accused President Mokgweetsi Masisi of taking them for granted after he snubbed the Federation’s elective congress this past weekend in Gaborone.
Members of the executive committee are of the view that the congress was an opportunity for the president to mend relations with one of the most influential Federations in the country.The congress came immediately after the departure of former President Khama who left office on the 1st April 2018. Khama had intense and fierce running battles with BOFEPUSU to the extent that he refused to meet the Federation leadership.Their sour relationship culminated in the 2011 industrial strike and subsequent amendments of labour laws which unions viewed as anti-workers, and reported Government to International Labour Organisation(ILO), something that tarnished Botswana’s international reputation.
“The bitter relations between Government and BOFEPUSU saw the Federation de-campaigning BDP MPs in 2014 elections which led to most of them losing and the opposition gaining more,” said an insider after news came in indicating that Masisi and his second in command Slumber Tsogwane would not attend the congress. Newly appointed Minister of Investment, Trade and Industry Bogolo Kenewendo graced the event. From the atmosphere at the congress delegates were not happy with this development.
According to the Federation leadership, BOFEPUSU’s congress presented an opportunity for Masisi and his Government, it was expected that the new President would come up with a new approach of engaging with the labour centre.
“His luck came when the Federation invited him to come and address the Congress, and he confirmed attendance. Things took a twist when at the last minute Masisi snubbed BOFEPUSU and instead sent his Deputy Tsogwane. “To make matters worse, the Vice President did not show up at the Congress and instead Government sent the novice Minister Bogolo Kwenwendo,” said a BOFEPUSU executive member. It is believed this has angered the Federation as they felt insulted that the President and Vice President snubbed them and in turn sent a Minister who is wet behind the ears politically when there are seniors and relevant ministers such as Nonofo Molefhi (Presidential Affairs, Governance and Public Administration) and Tshenolo Mabeo (Employment, Productivity and Skills Development). The development is interpreted as contempt against BOFEPUSU and non-consideration of workers’ importance in Masisi’’s work schedule. It is believed Masisi blew his chance and opportunity to appeal to unions, and they now view him from the same prism as Khama, as inaccessible which borders on arrogance. The lack of access to the country’s top office for unions has been a growing concern to BDP parliamentary hopefuls, as they fear the wrath of unions.
It remains to be seen as to what impact will the latest turn of events have on the build-up to 2019 elections. During May Day celebration this year BOFEPUSU accused Masisi of taking workers for granted when he assigned Permanent Secretary to the President Carter Morupisi to read live on television, the May Day message on his behalf. The Federation fumed saying this undermines workers given that Morupisi is regarded as one of the enemies of the workers. The federation then gave Masisi 100 days to ‘come to his senses’.BOFEPUSU Publicity Secretary Mogomotsi Motshegwe confirmed that they felt belittled by the high office. He said the congress was a good platform for the president to address workers and for the federation to make him appreciate labour issues and matters of national importance.
He said when the new administration indicated that it is willing to work with unions; they thought Masisi would live to his promise. “We thought this was the opportunity for him to share with us his deliverables on labour issues. “We were disappointed when he changed at last minute and decided to send his Vice. We thought because they share the high office together we should be understanding but when he sent a new minister who do not understand some of our issues as workers we felt belittled. “There are other senior ministers who understand our issues better that the president could have sent. But because we are democratic we welcomed her. We are very disappointed because it now shows that the president’s level of priorities is questionable,” Motshegwe said.
Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) Gaborone South Constituency is marred by controversy as campaign teams jostling for the area clash on a collision course, Botswana Guardian has learnt.
The constituency will pit Gaborone- based lawyer Meshack Mthimkhulu with businessman Monametsi Kalayamotho in the contest for party representation. The party top brass have also been implicated in the matter as they are accused of having dumped Mthimkhulu for Kalayamotho.
Botswana Guardian understands that Mthimkhulu, who joined BDP from Botswana National Front (BNF) after the 2014 general election was promised that like most of the new recruits he would not be subjected to the process of Bulela Ditswe. Mthimkhulu contested the 2014 general election as an independent candidate after he lost BNF primary elections.
It is alleged that Mthimkhulu was at the time recruited to the BDP by Mokgweetsi Masisi who chaired the Communications and International Relations Committee and promised a clear ride as area Member of Parliament Kagiso Molatlhegi would not be seeking re-election. Mthimkhulu and Kalayamotho are said to be close to President Masisi but the wind now seems to be blowing in the direction of Kalayamotho.
While having enjoyed the blessing from the party leadership both from branch level to Central Committee, tables turned against Mthimkhulu this year when Kalayamotho made his way into the constituency. It is alleged that Kalayamotho was tipped to challenge Annah Mokgethi who was recruited from the Botswana Congress Party (BCP) but he was convinced to relocate to Gaborone South a constituency he grew up in. This was because Mokgethi was also allegedly promised not to be subjected to primary elections.
Now the opposing teams of Mthimkhulu and Kalayamotho are firing from all cylinders in a bid to have one of the candidates fall during vetting.
The duo has successfully managed to forward names for expression of interest to contest in the constituency before closing date a fortnight ago. Vetting is ongoing in the constituencies that would go for primaries in August this year including Gaborone South.
At the centre of controversy are accusations from both camps of campaigning before time.
Letters are flying from one office to the other as a smear campaign by both teams. Mthimkhulu’s team has written letters to BDP Secretary General Mpho Balopi complaining that Kalayamotho, who transferred his membership from Gaborone Bonnington North to Gaborone South, engaged in early campaign by hosting activities at Old Naledi and branding and distributing t-shirts to constituents with the aim of luring them to vote for him in August.
Letters seen by this publication also question Kalayamotho’s membership transfer. The complainants argue that they sense the transfer was done under dubious circumstances. A recent Entrepreneurship Summit which Kalayamotho hosted at Old Naledi and Bontleng Halls on 17 May 2018 to reach out to the unemployed has also been cited as one of his campaigns for votes. He is said to have resorted to using such a stunt because he has arrived in the constituency late and is only using financial muscle to gain popularity.
On the other hand, Kalayamotho’s team has hit back and written to Branch Committee accusing Mthimkhuku’s team of applying underhand tactics to canvass for votes. Mthimkulu’s team is said to be campaigning by organising activities such as soccer tournaments and buying alcohol for constituents in exchange for them to register so as to vote for him.
It is also alleged that a WhatsApp Group page - a platform the BDP has indicated should not be used for campaigns - has been opened and is being used for campaigning. Candidates for the August 2018 Bulela-Ditswe will only be allowed to campaign after 13th July 2018 and will be allowed to use only house to house campaigns.
Kalayamotho told this publication that it would be against BDP rules and regulations to address the media on such matters. He stated that only the branch committee and secretary general would be in a position to comment. Regarding his transfer, he said he worked within the party rules and Branch leadership can attest to his claims. He told this publication that people are quick to run to the media to discuss internal affairs, which is wrong.
Mthimkhulu refuted claims that he has been campaigning in the constituency. He labelled this as a smear campaign to have him vetted out. “I have not carried myself in any manner that violates the BDP Constitution and or Rules and Regulations. I am also not aware of any complaint against me because even the Branch Committee. has not notified me,” said Mthimkhulu who referred further inquiries to the branch committee
Gaborone South Branch Chairman Alfred Moatlhaping said Kalayamotho followed proper channels to have his membership transfer. He said the complaints about Kalayamotho’s campaign were conveyed to the central committee and not the branch committee. “We would not address a matter that was not brought before my committee.
Those people flouted our rules and there is no how we could help them as the branch. So we will wait for the Central Committee to undertake its investigations and report to us the findings,” said Moatlhaping.
He pointed out that he has been made aware of a letter of complaint from Kalayamotho by the Branch Secretary. Moatlhaping said he has not seen the letter, adding that he would know the contents of the letter this week during a Branch Committee meeting. Balopi has indicated that all complaints are directed to lower structures to address so that the central committee could deal with such matters at a higher level as appeals.
Balopi has revealed recently that the party’s Political Education and Election Committee is engaged in mass registration across the country and attending to constituencies that are marred by controversies regarding registration and campaigns. He said this is to deal with claims that some of the structures are captured by some of Bulela-Ditswe candidates.
Molatlhegi won the constituency in 2014 with 3,872 votes, followed by Murray Dipate of the Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) with 3,629, Akanyang Magama of Botswana Congress Party (BCP) with 2,318 and Mthimkhulu, then an independent candidate coming last with 1,475 votes.
Uniformed police officers accompanied by an Immigration officer stormed and arrested 12 Caprivian refugees in Gaborone’s Central Business District (CBD) this week Tuesday after they presented a petition to SADC Secretariat.
Twelve (12) Namibian refugees were arrested on Tuesday at Gaborone’s Central Business District (CBD) and detained for a night at Molepolole Centre for Illegal Immigrants before being whisked to Francistown Centre for Illegal Immigrants (FCII) the next day.
The refugees had gathered at the offices of the 15-member regional body, SADC Secretariat to hand a petition demanding that the regional body find a lasting solution to what they term the “Caprivi political situation”. The group, led by Felix Kakula, petitioned SADC over the Botswana deadline of July 11 2018 to have voluntarily repatriated risk being deported forcibly.
Botswana has taken a decision to finally enforce a cessation clause with respect to the status of Namibian refugees living at Dukwi, which was invoked in 2015. The decision came after President Mokgweetsi Masisi visited Windhoek in April this year where he was reported by the Namibian media to have said that Namibian refugees at Dukwi, Botswana are no longer regarded as refugees by his government but as illegal immigrants.
Speaking to Botswana Guardian on Wednesday while in Molepolole, Kakula said: “We are currently on the queue to board the trucks that will ferry us to Francistown. They arrested us on Tuesday around 3PM at Central Business District (CBD) in Gaborone after we were chased from SADC Headquarters premises. We spent the night here at least we are all adults who were arrested,” said Kakula. Information reaching this publication is that the 12 were arrested on grounds that they left Dukwi Refugee Camp without permission. Kakula does not dispute this. “Yes we left without permission.
If authorities at the camp cannot give you permission to gather around and pray or hold meeting what of telling them that you are petitioning a regional body?” asked Kakula. He revealed that they were arrested on Tuesday afternoon by uniformed police officers in the company of one official from Department of Immigration by the names of Sedumedi Phillip Solomon who told them that they would be taken to FCII. Following the handing of the petition, the refugees had indicated that they would not leave the SADC premises until their matter is attended.
After the petition Kakula said they are not against the decision of Botswana Government to have them return home. The worry is about the political situation in their country. In a public notice posted on the Botswana government website a week ago, the Ministry of Defence, Justice and Security announced that a decision has been taken to enforce the cessation clause with respect to the group’s refugee status, invoked in 2015.
“All refugees are required to register in person for voluntary repatriation to Namibia from 11th May 2018 to 11th July 2018,” the notice read. The defence ministry said those who register will be facilitated for their return to Namibia as per the provisions of the Tripartite Agreement between the governments of Botswana and Namibia, and the UNHCR.
This directive did not go down well with the remaining 880 Namibian refugees who took their issue to SADC to intervene, saying they will only return home if the Namibian government accepts them as members of the outlawed United Democratic Party (UDP) led by exiled politician Mishake Muyongo.Kakula explained that it cannot be said to be safe to return to Namibia while the Namibian Government has not reconciled with them. The refugees want to return only if they and their leader Mishake Muyongo who is in Denmark are welcomed as UDP members.
Kalula indicated that they would not be silenced to speak about the Caprivi political problem adding that the same problem is the one that made them flee Namibia. UDP is a political party in Namibia representing mainly people from eastern Caprivi and advocating for the secession of what was known as the ‘Caprivi Strip’.
UNHCR Chief of Mission, Arvind Gupta told Botswana Guardian that if the 12 Namibians were refugees Botswana would have contravened the Convention and Protocol relating to Refugee Status. Gupta explained that those who were arrested and detained should not have left the Dukwi Camp in the first place.“If you call them refugees then government of Botswana would be wrong. But the fact of the matter is that they are no longer refugees. Their stay in the Dukwi Camp was for us to assist with facilitation for their repatriation back to their country following the declaration of the cessation clause.
“Botswana has enforced a cessation clause with respect to the status of Namibian refugees living in Dukwi, which was invoked in 2015. So if they leave the camp Botswana Government has the right to enforce any law that is applicable before their refugee status does not exist anymore,” Gupta explained in a telephone interview while in Dukwi.Minister of Defence Justice and Security Shaw Kgathi referred all enquiries to his Permanent Secretary Segakweng Tsiane. Tsiane could not be drawn into discussing the matter as she said she had back to back meetings and requested that she be sent a questionnaire in order to source information for this publication.
Efforts to get comment from SADC were futile at press time. Botswana Council of Churches (BCC) called on President Mokgweetsi Masisi to reconsider the 11 July 2018 deadline to ensure that the refugees’ repatriation is within the spirit of safety and peaceful settlement of all returnees, with particular reference to the issue of security clearance of the 16 political leaders.
Reverend Metlhayotlhe Beleme said BCC has received concerns from the representatives of refugees regarding security challenges at the Caprivi and related to that, lack of security clearance of the 16 leaders who are also expected to repatriate. Beleme stated that the council has been working with the refugees for years and continues to do so even after the closure of Botswana Council for Refugees (BCR) in 2004.He said they have been working with refugees from Namibia, the Caprivi Region. Beleme stated that this relationship is the one that compels the Council to plead with government on behalf of the refugees.
Francistown West legislator Ignatius Moswaane has hit back at his detractors following a recent meeting at which the Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) Chairperson and Vice president Mokgweetsi Masisi attacked him.
Botswana Guardian has been reliably informed by a BDP insider that Masisi plans to use cash power to dislodge Moswaane from Francistown West where he has thrashed many opposition candidates including BDP as a Mokoko in the 2014 general election before retracing his steps to the ruling party.
The source said the grand plan to oust Moswaane includes launching a propaganda campaign in Monarch where he commands massive support unlike other wards in his constituency.
“As for other wards including Gerald Estates and Kgaphamadi, the MP does not have a large following since he has been at loggerheads with some area councillors who want him out of the constituency,” the source disclosed.
Asked to comment, Moswaane said that whoever wants to take the constituency from him is free to do so as long as they understand that the constituency is controlled by the masses who voted him into office.
He said he was not elected by voters because he has offered them money but because they have trust in him. “As we speak, ‘ketheogetse’ as an employee of the people of Francistown and I will only address them before the general election and give them a feedback concerning different issues they have sent me to represent them on in Parliament”.
Moswaane first won the constituency following the death of then area MP Tshelang Masisi when he beat White Marobela in BDP primaries, which victory would be contested, resulting in BDP not fielding any candidate for the by-election.
In 2014 general election, Moswaane registered as an independent candidate and went on to thrash both opposition and BDP candidates before he re-joined the party. But his outspokenness has earned him foes within the party.
Billionaire and Founder of the Virgin Group Sir Richard Charles Nicholas Branson, is in Botswana this week.
The business magnate, investor and philanthropist paid a courtesy call on both President Ian Khama and Vice President Mokgweetsi Masisi on Thursday before he made time to speak to local entrepreneurs at the ongoing Global Expo. The talk titled, ‘In conversation with Sir Richard Branson,’ is the brainchild of the Botswana Investment and Trade Centre (BITC) which invited the business mogul to this year’s Global Expo.
BITC Director Corporate Communications, Kutlo Moagi confirmed that Sir Branson would meet the President and Vice President for a courtesy call. She could not say much about the agenda, insisting it was just a simple courtesy call. “His visit to the Office of the President will just be a courtesy call,” she said, adding that often, BITC invites prominent business personalities to not only grace the Global Expo but also to inspire the local business community and share personal business experiences.
All exhibitors at the 2017 Global Expo will have an opportunity to grace the Knight of the British Empire in an event that has strict access after Branson’s meeting at the Office of the President.
Government Spokesperson, Dr Jeff Ramsay could also not be drawn into the details of the meeting Sir Branson will have with the President and the Vice President. “I would not want to speculate on what they will discuss,” said Dr Ramsay dismissing ideas that Sir Branson might have investment interests in Botswana. “He will speak for himself once here,” Ramsay said. It is speculated that Botswana will persuade the tycoon, who founded the Virgin Group that controls more than 400 companies, to invest either in environmental conservation, which he has a soft spot for, or in our ailing national airline. Unconfirmed reports say he will fly out of the capital shortly after his session with local entrepreneurs at the Global Expo for several other business meetings within the country. According to Forbes, Sir Branson’s net worth is $5.1 billion. He owes his fortune to a conglomerate of businesses bearing the "Virgin" brand name, including Virgin Galactic and Virgin Atlantic. The son of a barrister and flight attendant, Richard got his start with a mail-order record business almost 50 years ago. The 67-year-old primarily lives on a luxe British Virgin Islands retreat, Necker Island, which he bought for $180,000 in 1978.
How Sir Richard Branson made his $5 billion fortune
Seemingly born to be an entrepreneur, Richard Branson started his first two businesses in 1968 when he was just 17 years old. Two years later, in 1970, he opened his first business under the Virgin Group umbrella, and the rest is history.Though perhaps best known for its airlines, the Virgin Group consists of more than 60 businesses today. Combined, they bring in more than $24 billion in annual revenue and employ 71 000 people in 35 countries, according to The Telegraph of UK.
He sold Virgin Records for $1 billion in 1992, but instead of celebrating, he famously ran down London’s Ladbroke Grove in tears, distraught over cutting ties with the business. These days, the father of two dedicates most of his time to Virgin Unite, the Virgin Group’s non-profit entrepreneurial foundation. Established in 2004, the charity supports ventures close to Branson’s heart, including speaking out against poaching. Virgin Unite’s projects are changing the world for the better. Some of the foundation’s work includes providing life-saving healthcare to people in Kenya, South Africa and Nigeria; creating Branson Centres, which have helped 4 000 entrepreneurs get their businesses off the ground; and fighting for LGBT rights in Uganda.
The possibility of another debilitating split at Botswana Democratic Party (BDP)exists, says political science professor, Zibani Maundeni following last weekend’s central committee elections in Tonota.
There is division in opinion between members of the Nonofo Molefhi lobby and their followers regarding the results of the BDP central committee elections that were held last Saturday at the congress.
The Molefhi faction lost all the six positions to the Mokgweetsi Masisi faction. However, despite fears that the losers would protest the results amid allegations of vote-buying by the winning group, the losers publicly pledged unconditional support for the winners in the press conferences they held after the announcement of the results.
Meanwhile, their followers, just a few metres away from them, were fretting about the same results. “This is not about me but about an institution with a culture and tradition. This is about the BDP. We have to mature and go beyond individuals. Today’s results must not cause divisions between us,” said Molefhi who pleaded with the BDP members to desist from the tendency to impute improper motives when somebody contests for a position.
Molefhi promised that no one from his supporters is going to move away from the party. “It is well with my soul,” he said after embracing the winner. Molefhi has been accused of intending to use the chairmanship position, if he won it, as a stepping stone to the Presidency of the party later, that of the country.
For his part, Botsalo Ntuane said after he lost to Mpho Balopi, “I appreciated there was going to be one winner. I respect the decision of the BDP members. Two years ago, I was in the position of our winner today. I beat my competitor for the position of secretary general at the Mmadinare congress,” said Ntuane after he lost to Mpho Balopi on Saturday.
Meanwhile, the winners, in both instances, congratulated the losers and pledged to work closely with them. Beneath this veneer of solidarity however, there was turbulence. Hordes of BDP members outside the hall sat in their cars or stood on the corridors in small groups dismissing the elections as neither free nor fair. The conversations outside the hall were dripping with mistrust, disgruntlement and bitterness from the losers as they averred that Masisi is power hungry.
Many spoke to this publication without identifying themselves as they left the Tonota College of Education (TEC) alleging vote-buying. “We are going to cross the bridge very soon,” some of them said as they vowed to decamp to the opposition. Many were overheard claiming that the playing field was not level. A lady who sat in her car with a group of friends when this reporter passed by accused Masisi of being selfish. “He is a Member of Parliament (MP), Chancellor of the University of Botswana (UB), party chairman and will be President soon. Why can’t he allow the other people to lead?” she said as her companions joined the chorus of condemnation.
“We are going to form a new party or defect en-masse to the opposition to block Masisi from achieving what he wants. He will never be the President of Botswana,” she said pleading for anonymity. It remains to be seen whether ordinary members of the losing faction will change their minds and rally behind the Masisi lobby.
However, condescending and triumphant statements such as “Re kgalemeste lenyatso,”(We have humbled them) uttered by one of the winners immediately after disengaging from the embrace of the loser can only bode ill for the party which has not known internal stability for years now. What may make it difficult for the two camps to work together is the strong belief among the Molefhi camp that the playing field was not level.
There have been complaints by this faction that, while it struggled financially, their competitors had truckloads of cash from the business community which had been instructed to donate only to the Masisi faction. Matters are not helped by the fact that, not only did Khama publicly endorse Masisi, government resources were used to support the Masisi campaign effort by virtue of him being Vice President.
Observers believe that President Khama, who has publicly called upon the two factions to reach a compromise arrangement instead of competing against each other, should have used the special nomination dispensation to appoint members of the Molefhi faction into the central committee.
“We are happy that Ntuane is there as an additional member of the central committee but that is not enough,” said an observer who thinks that Khama would have made a bigger impact to the unity effort had he nominated Nonofo Molefhi himself to the central committee. Those who doubt that the BDP emerged united from the congress are informed by comments such as, “Once an enemy, always an enemy,” by a Masisi aide who boasted to this publication that an extermination campaign to wipe out the Molefhi camp is in place.
Firstly, according to him, a cabinet reshuffle, which he said is looming, will purge members of the Molefhi. According to him, there is also a grand plan by the winning group to ensure that the members of the Molefhi group lose primary elections. Indications are that, one of the reasons the BDP ran a conflict-ridden primary elections process ahead of the 2014 general election is that, the losers alleged underhand tactics by the party leadership to eliminate them.
Observers say that, history might be repeating itself. For instance, after the 2009 BDP congress, disgruntled members were targeted for sidelining and elimination. This led to a split which is blamed for the poor electoral performance by the ruling party in the 2014 general election.Should this happen this time around, the BDP will have failed to learn a lesson and the consequences of the party’s failure to read history will be too ghastly to contemplate come 2019. When asked for comment, University of Botswana don, Professor Zibani Maundeni noted that President Khama has never been a unifier.
“When President Khama’s faction lost most of the seats at the Kanye congress a few years ago, he nominated people from his faction to neutralise the winning faction. This time around, his faction won all the seats but we do not see him nominating members of the losing side to the central committee despite the fact that he was concerned about party unity before the congress,” said Maundeni.
According to Prof Maundeni, President Khama is only concerned with strengthening the faction he belongs to. In his view, had the Masisi faction lost, he would have flooded the central committee with Masisi loyalists because that is the faction he supports. “Under the circumstances, the possibility of another debilitating split exists,” observed the political science professor