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.
Sgotti restaurant, formerly located at CBD, has relocated to Rail Park Mall and re-branded Sgotti Express. Situated at the Food Court, between Wimpy and Chicken Licken, the restaurant has attracted dozens of customers who refer to it as a home away from home where they can sample and feast on scrumptious Setswana cuisine.
The restaurant is one of the few eateries in the city that prides itself for serving its customers Setswana cuisines. The brains behind Sgotti restaurant, Tebogo Matenge and her husband, have breathed life into a dream spurred on by their love for hospitality. Matenge still maintains that when they conceptualised the restaurant they wanted to create a home away from home for their local patrons a place where people from far off places could experience ‘Tatso ya Setswana’.
“We strive to specialise in Tatso ya Setswana. All our dishes tend to create a buzz,” she says. Favourite dishes for their customers includes bogobe jwa lerotse, koko ya Setswana, morogo wa dinawa, mokoto, mokwetjepe and oxtail with dumplings.
Matenge explains that what sets their restaurants from other restaurants in town is ‘Botho’. She highlights that from the minute that a customer walks in, they treat them like one would treat a guest at a village.
Secondly, she points out that their entire menu is based on local dishes, sourced from local suppliers from as far as Serule and Sebina. “We are experts in the field, having trained in one of the best institutions in the world. In other words, we know and understand what we are doing,” she says.
Explaining the idea behind one of their latest concepts titled Sgotti mo strateng, where they visit different parts of the city, reaching out to new and old customers, she explains that one of the challenges that they had in the past was accessibility for some of their customers and potential customers.
“We wanted to bring the same, fantastic ‘Tatso’ and ‘Botho’ to the people. We want them to experience great taste and great service on their own turf.” She also notes that the dishes on their menu are affordable. Prices range from a scrumptious meal that goes for as little as P20, and that they offer ‘letswainyana’, or a snack if one has P5 in their pockets.
Matenge says that they are also working on the second annual Tatso Ya Setswana event. The event seeks to celebrate Setswana cuisine and was launched last year. Details about the event will be revealed soon.
Gorata Majagoba of Simply Rustic appreciates that gastronomic indulgence is an art that requires passion, creativity and dollops of flair. With her knack for whipping up mouthwatering treats, she’s fast becoming a hit among the food bon vivant in the city. The 24- year-old Maths and Finance graduate is a dynamic food enthusiast who is at home rustling up a tasty meal.
Majagoba was one of the exhibitors at the recent Food Farm pop-up market held at the Three Chiefs Monument, CBD. Majagoba started off preparing meals for her family who praised her dishes. This was round about the time that pop-up markets were becoming popular and she decided to start selling her savoury treats. “Although I only started selling this year, the response is good and prospects promising. I receive a lot of support from my family. They chip in what they can, offer me feedback and assist me when I have an event,” she says.
The response to her pizzaz nibbles motivated her to take her cooking to another level. “While I want to create a career from what I studied, I will always cook because it is my passion,” she says. During her student days she worked part-time at Mugg and Bean resturant and that is when she developed a finer appreciation for good food.
Simply Rustic specialises in gourmet easy-to-prepare dishes. Her offerings include cheese fries, cheese grilled sandwich, spinach and tuna bushetta, and low carb pizza bite (mini pizzas). Majagoba’s culinary delights embody the rich fusion of the cosmopolitan world. She is a ‘cheese girl’; almost everything she prepares has cheese in it and she admits to this weakness, adding that she often looks for ways to incorporate it into her food. Majagoba says that the name Simply Rustic embodies her laidback essence and homely approach to food. Majagoba admits that although she loves food, health is a primary concern to her because she is susceptible to weight gain.
She was never keen to starve herself so she had to find ways to eat well and remain physically trim. Her concerns were compounded by the fact that the food scene is infiltrated with unhealthy junk food despite the fact that they contribute to the increase in non-communicable diseases. “I strive to prepare delicious food that is tasty but also wholesome and nutritious. There is a myth that healthy food is not delicious but if you spend time preparing food from scratch, you realise that you can come up with wonderful meals that are healthy and tasty,” she says.
Majagoba is self-taught and spends a lot of her time watching cooking shows and tutorials on the Internet. She looks up to seasoned television chefs Rachel Cooke, Ina Garden and Siba Mtongana, who are revered for their culinary flair. Locally, she is an ardent fan of undisputedly talented cook Ncinci Moitsadi of Kwa Ga Ncinci.
La Sante Restaurant is revolutionising the way that local foodies and those who enjoy eating out see food. The restaurant, that opened its doors in April, is coming with a new approach to food. Instead of the normal oily food seen on the local food scene, La Sante (a French word which means your health) is committed to creating a niche for healthy food in the market. Healthy in the sense that they don’t fry their food, and instead they grill.
Even the oil that is used here is minimised. Located at CBD, the new baby in the restaurant business prides itself for being the only restaurant locally where foodies are guaranteed that they are consuming healthy food. Prior to opening the restaurant, the directors of the restaurant who are dedicated to healthy living, and they breathe and live a healthy lifestyle, researched how they can bring this exciting concept to life. One of the factors that drove them was the fact that they understood that in today’s busy life, employees are sometimes so overwhelmed by work commitments that they sometimes neglect their health and what they eat. Something that sets them apart from peers is that they don’t sell fizzy drinks or alcohol beverages, for those who wish to quench their thirst, they have options such as smoothies and in house made iced beverages.
For this special first visit, Style team is served an array of options that include Buffalo wings with roasted vegetables, feeling inspiration salad, chicken stir fry, English dova salad, Chicken Quasadilla, and on the side a thirst quenching smoothie. And it is not difficult to see why, once customers take the first bite, they keep coming back for more. Everything is just right, and the seasoning in all the dishes is perfect. The fact that the team goes out of its way to make customers feel welcome also means that they have cemented their way into the hearts of those who wish to call this place home. Silent Justice Kgotlaesele is in his best element serving customers and his winning smile is the reason why someone would come back.
Explaining the concept behind the restaurant, Head Chef, Chipo Habangana explains that they sell fat free smoothies that come in various flavours including Strawberry-Yoghurt (strawberries, yoghurt and orange juice), Green Health shot (spinach, celery sticks, cucumber juice and apple/pear and yoghurt), Green Tea smoothie (which is a blend of yoghurt, green tea, blue berries and banana) and many others. According to Habangana, in the modern world there are too many health complications that come as a result of what we eat. He says that restaurants sometimes also neglect those who might be on special diets, which is also where they come in.
“We use as little oil as possible, and we opt for Olive oil. Even the cheese that is used is very minimal,” he explains. But this does not mean that one would not enjoy the food, just because they are very observant of the oil and the ingredients used. Since opening, they attract the majority of their customers during lunch hour, which is popular due to the lunch pack that costs less than P50. On the menu for the lunch pack, customers can lick their fingers with options such as traditional chicken, grilled chicken, goat stew and more. La Sante is open Monday to Saturday from 700HRS-2030HRS. Lunch hour is between 1200HRS-1400HRS.
There is optimism that development on Plot 54349 at Gaborone’s new CBD will resume by end of this year, a senior government official has said. The 9.4 hectare plot belongs to a group of companies owned by well-heeled citizens who have come together into a consortium named Smart Partnership that plans to build a hotel, an office block, residential units and a shopping complex in a conglomerate whose tallest building will have eight floors.
A list of the investors in Smart Partnership who total more than 100, reads like a directory of the crème de la crème of Botswana’s VIPs many of whom rose to prominence in the country’s public sector. They include Festus Mogae, Lawrence Lekalake, Samuel Mpuchane, Bertha Mochekwane, Martin Mannathoko, Sheila Tlou, Maclean Letshwiti, Judy Tsonope, Satar Dada, Tebelelo Seretse, Tshipa Mothibatsela, the Legwaila brothers Elijah and Joseph, Emang Maphanyane and Dzene Makhwade-Seboni. Currently a total of 15 plots at the CBD belonging to private companies, parastatals, ministries and Gaborone City Council remain undeveloped, prompting the Ministry of Lands and Housing (MLH) to issue notices of intention to forfeit from owners of five of the plots, among them 54349. All development covenants for the five plots had expired as they had been given two years from the date of issue to develop the plots.
In a welcome respite, MLH has since withdrawn the decision after Cabinet directed Minister Prince Maele to engage with the companies affected and to extend their development covenants with the hope that some development will start by December this year. Two years ago, the owners of Plot 54349 cordoned the area off, moved in heavy-duty construction machinery and began to de-bush the plot. However, they were stopped by the Department of Environmental Affairs (DEA) allegedly for failure to carry out an environmental impact assessment (EIA) or to furnish the department with an EIA report.
Speaking to the Botswana Guardian this week, MLH’s Permanent Secretary Thato Raphaka confirmed that his ministry had issued a notice of intention to forfeit five plots at the CBD and that affected stakeholders had since entered into new negotiations with relevant authorities. He also confirmed that Plot 54349 was one of the five plots affected. “However, subsequent to issuing the notices, we realised that the notices were not properly served,” Raphaka explained. “Having realised that we had wrongly administered the notices, we decided to withdraw them. That is the decision that we now see in the Government Gazette of July 17, 2015 which was first signed on the June 5, 2015.”
Explaining the regime, development cannot start before acquisition of a title deed which itself cannot be obtained before full payment for a plot is made. “As a rule of natural justice, our intention as government is to engage these companies,” he said. “We ask the concerned companies to do all they can to demonstrate their willingness and capacity to develop the plots. Government will take a decision on the way forward after listening to their respective presentations. Our intention is to finish the negotiation process within the next couple of weeks.”
The EIA hurdle
Like the others, the consortium that owns Plot 54349 will be required to defend its position in order to have the land returned to it to start construction. The Botswana Guardian has reliably learnt the consortium had originally started to develop without first furnishing DEA with an EIA report as required by law. When it finally did two years after it was stopped in its tracks, another hurdle stood in its way: the original development plan of the proposed building - which has a life of two years after acquisition of the title deed - had expired.This move meant the consortium had to submit a new development plan to the CBD Committee at MLH. However, according Raphaka, their submission of a new plan does not automatically mean that the owners of Plot 54349 will get approval to go ahead with development.
But on a positive note for them, the consortium has reportedly secured funds to undertake development and on Wednesday submitted its new plan and met with the CBD Committee that approved the proposed buildings. What the consortium now awaits is Minister Maele’s approval.Raphaka said his ministry was currently harmonising the provisions of the Town and Country Planning Act and the Environmental Act. Efforts to contact the consortium’s lawyer were not successful at the time of going to press. The consortium is made up of 10 companies, namely, Ibis Holdings, 21st Century Holdings, Vision Investors, Rubio Engineering, Baba 20 Investments, Northern Investments, Hemamo Investments, Inter Public, Leno Holdings and Home-based Holdings.