Letters

Spin can't diminish Botswana's woes

Letters

The right-of-reply article by Dr Jeff Ramsay, deputy permanent secretary for Botswana's government communications is full of spin, says Sam Ditshego.

Ian Khama. (Pako Lesejane)

 "<a href="http://mg.co.za/article/2012-11-16-kham-report-lacked-evidence-of-corruption" target="_blank">He denies</a>" (November 16) that unemployment in Botswana is among the worst in the world. Yet Botswana's Sunday Standard of April 30 this year reported that Botswana's unemployment rate trailed that of South Africa and Zimbabwe.

Instead of downplaying the sorry state of employment in Botswana, Ramsay should grapple with the causes of unemployment and poverty &ndash; the concentration of wealth in the hands of the power elite through corruption, nepotism and patronage.

Ramadeluka Seretse, President Ian Khama's cousin, is minister of defence, justice and security, under which fall the police, the directorate of intelligence services, the directorate of public prosecutions, the attorney general and the directorate on corruption and economic crimes.

Khama is constitutionally vested with the power to appoint the chief justice and the president of the appeal court. Judges are appointed by the president on the advice of the Judicial Service Commission and are removed by the president for incompetence or misbehaviour.

Constitutionally, the president of Botswana is above the law. Section 53(a) of the country's constitution gives its president powers to grant to any person convicted of any offence a pardon.

Khama apparently used this power recently when he pardoned three Botswana Defence Force members who had shot and killed a defenceless suspect, John Kalafatis, in cold blood. They were sentenced to 11 years by the Lobatse High Court, but only served 11 months. A front-page article in the Botswana Guardian (October 12) said these soldiers were re-employed by the army and had retained their ranks. Kalafatis was suspected of having robbed the houses of people in high places and there has been media speculation in Botswana that the hit was ordered by the country's powerful rulers.

Khama's rule is neither adroit nor sagacious. He has been accused by opposition parties of using an army helicopter for party-political ends, such as campaigning for his ruling Botswana Democratic Party. He is the commander in chief of the armed forces.

Kgafela II of the Bakgatla-ba-Kgafela, who is in self-imposed exile in South Africa, incurred disfavour because he ­challenged Botswana's colonial ­Constitution and Khama's bona fides in the high court and lost.

Ramsay claims there is a lack of evidence of corruption in the <em>Mail & Guardian</em> report of November 2. But it has been reported that Seretse's wife has been awarded tenders worth more than a million pula by her husband's ministry. Khama's brothers were reported to have been awarded tenders by the Botswana army for many years now.

The political process in Botswana seems to have been poisoned and corrupted by De Beers and businessperson Satar Dada; they have had the politicians in their pockets for a long time through their funding of the ruling party. &ndash; Sam Ditshego, Kagiso

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