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Research now big business and influencer

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Research has become big business for private companies and a big influencer in election outcomes in developed countries; this was revealed by a participant from University of Botswana at a two day stakeholders’ workshop that ended last Wednesday.

The Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) had organized a stakeholders Evaluation Workshop for the 2019 general elections, with an objective to get feedback and take recommendations to cabinet for consideration.

Participants from UB Centre for Democracy said that research companies have used data and their findings to influence outcomes in Brexit Referendum of 2016 as well as the election of US President Donald Trump the same year.

They also sell their findings to rival political parties who use it to strategize against each other.

The academics said research is crucial in elections and therefore there is need for public education for them to make informed decisions.

“The Independent Electoral Commission should develop a curriculum for Civic Education addressing all stakeholder groups and general electorate,” says one recommendation from the participants.

Furthermore, the funding of political parties once again emerged as one of the recommendation from workshop participants as well as Election Observer Missions for the 2019 general elections and that the government should establish an oversight body for registration and regulation of political parties together with a law and regulations that provide for that.

Gender imbalance that has characterized the country’s political participation has also caught the attention of the observers and once again, the government has been asked to address the problem through constitutional amendments in conformity with SADC Protocol on Gender and Development (2016) and SADC Principles and Guidelines Governing Democratic Elections (2015).

It became apparent at the two day stakeholders workshop that in some instances voters seem to be tired of politicians or expert advice and would rather vote for a comedian as their preferred leader like it happened in some developed countries.

A heated debate ensued when a suggestion was made that there should be a requirement for minimum qualifications for persons standing for public office.

It was resolved that a Diploma in any field should be a minimum qualification for those standing for the National Assembly, whilst BGCSE should be standard for those standing for council seat.

One surprising issue was that to this date, some polling staff have not received their payments because of government’s financial processes whilst others were paid just a week after the 2019 general elections.

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DPP moves closer to recovering P60 million

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The Directorate of Public Prosecutions moved another step closer to recovering the government’s P60 million from Basis Points Capital LTD when it closed its final submissions on Tuesday.

The DPP has made an application for Civil Forfeiture Order against property belonging to persons implicated in criminal proceedings in the P250 million National Petroleum Fund scam that is before the courts.

Making his final submissions, Ernest Mosate responded to arguments raised by the lawyers for the defendants saying that they were wrong to think that the DPP has no right to raise the issue of a fraudulent contract between DIS and Basis Points Capital LTD in their Replying Affidavit.

He said they had no intention to make the issue part of their application for the order, but the respondents raised it in their answering affidavits.

“Our Replying Affidavit brought evidence to demonstrate that the contract does not exist, it is a fraudulent document and that is why it cannot be the basis for the eating of 60 million Pula and for the manner in which it was eaten,” Mosate argued.

Basis Points Capital is linked to Bakang Seretse who is implicated in the 250 million NPF case that is still pending before the courts of law.

Mosate said that the fraudulent contract came into being between March and July 2016 and a total of P60 million was transferred to Basis Points Capital bank accounts at Stanbic Bank and Bank Gaborone between July and December of the same year.

He added that fraudulent signatures, fraudulent correspondence, and ghost employees of DIS were used in the scam hence the urgent need to recover the funds.

This, he said, was confirmed by DIS and ministry officials who have disowned the signatures that appear in agreement documents.

Earlier, the defendants called for government officials to take to the witness stand and be subjected to cross examination in respect to the contents of their affidavits.

Mosate said that the rules of the High Court Act and Proceeds and Instruments of Crime Act (PICA) prescribe how forfeiture proceedings should be conducted – “they should be conducted speedily and expeditiously”.

He said there was no need for a full trial but the judge had the discretion to call some witnesses to clarify their averments.

The DPP further said that the company did not procure oil as purported in the fraudulent contract but instead, the funds were used in acquisition of luxurious vehicles and acquisition of plots which are to be forfeited.

Some of the vehicles under the DPP’s radar are a couple of Ford Maceratti, Mercedes Benz luxury vehicles and developed plots.

Meanwhile, Justice OmphemetseMotumise has postponed the matter to end of July when he will pass judgment.

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Court dismisses application for case withdrawal

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Industrial Court Judge President, Tebogo Maruping, has turned down an application for a withdrawal in a marathon case between former Wildlife Ranger, Thatayaone Lexicon Mpatane and his former employer Department of Wildlife & National Parks.

In a brief letter dated 10th March, the Registrar of the Industrial Court, Anna Mphethe writes that: “I’m directed by by the Honourable Judge President who’s seized with this matter to inform you that this has been concluded and is currently awaiting judgement and therefore your application for withdrawal will not be entertained.”

A bemused Mpatane told The Voice that he was shocked that the Judge President has rejected his intention to withdraw the matter. “In our correspondences last year, whenever I inquired about the case, I was always given the impression that the Judge President had a backlog of cases from as far back as 2017 and mine was number 50 out of about 51 cases,” he said.

Mpatane referred The Voice to a correspondence from the Court written on 20th December 2019 in response to his inquiry written on 11th November 2019.

In the letter written by Bakang Tshipinare on behalf of the Registrar, the Judge President states that the principle of first in, last out is applied when cases are adjudicated before court. “Your matter will hence be dealt with, once the preceding cases are concluded. We’ll hence keep yourself updated on the estimated time frames during the year 2020,” reads part of the letter.

In court documents seen by this publication, Mpatane wrote his case withdrawal letter on 3rd February and requested a prompt meeting with the bench clerk to inspect the file.

However according to Mpatane while the court provided him with the documents the one he needed the most was conspicuously missing. “The court order confirming that I withdrew the matter was not among the documents and when I inquired further I was told the Judge President had refused to write the order asserting that he had already heard the case and would write judgement,” he said.

The former ranger told The Voice last week that he needed the material to register the matter with the High Court to seek for additional reliefs which the Industrial Court cannot grant.

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