Tuesday, November 24, 2020

Botswana forces out another UN diplomat

The United Nations office in Geneva has been forced to recall the United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) Chief of Mission in Gaborone Lyn Ngugi following pressure from the Botswana government.

The decision to recall Ngugi follows a letter from the Ministry of Defence Justice and Security to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation complaining that the UNHCR Chief of Mission was inciting Dukwi refugees to revolt against the government of Botswana.

Sources close to the UNHCR reveal that the UN diplomat was being spied on by the Directorate of Intelligence and Security Services (DIS) and had complained to close associates.

Sunday Standard has turned up secret documents revealing how Ngugi who claimed that the Botswana government was using citizen staff at UNHCR to spy on the UN agency hatched a cloak and dagger operation to purge UNHCR of citizen staff. Sunday Standard intercepted e-mail correspondence dated 9th September 2013 between Ngugi and her colleagues conspiring to surreptitiously get rid of citizen staff by covering up the clandestine mission as a restructuring exercise.

The surreptitious cleansing exercise was apparently not lost on the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of defence Justice and Security, Segakweng Tsiane who lodged a complaint of unfair labour practices against UNHCR, roping in UNDP Resident Representative Anders Pederson, Botswana’s Ambassador to the United Nations and Permanent Secretary to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation into the row.

Ngugi who was the second UNHCR Chief of Mission in Botswana to be recalled following pressure from government is being replaced by a certain Gupta who is currently acting Chief of Mission. Ngugi’s predecessor Roy Hermann was recalled after government complained that he was meddling in the Basarwa CKGR issue.

Hermann who was UNHCR head of mission insisted that his mandate was to help internationally and nationally displaced people, and the issue of Basarwa of CKGR fell within his remit. Contacted to confirm reports that the UN has recalled Ngugi following pressure from the Botswana Government, Senior Regional External Relations Officer, Tina Ghelli who is based at the UNHCR Regional Office for Southern Africa in Pretoria declined to be drawn into discussing the issue.

“Issues related to staffing are confidential to UNHCR and are not discussed publicly,” she said. For her part, the Ministry of Defence Justice and Security spokesperson Gagotshwane Tabudi also declined to comment on the matter. “This matter could best be responded to by the UNHCR country or Regional Office,” she said.

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The Telegraph November 25

Digital edition of The Telegraph, November 25, 2020.