Friday, November 27, 2020

OP takes over investigations into Foreign Service sexual harassment

The Office of the President has taken over investigations surrounding allegations of sexual abuse by senior diplomats at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Charles Ntwaagae, confirmed this week that the investigations have been passed to a higher authority as they involve very senior personalities that under the rules, regulations and protocol can only be disciplined by the President.
Ntwaagae said the preliminary investigations have showed that some of the personalities involved are high ranking government officials against whom only the President, as an appointing authority, is vested with disciplinary powers.

Late last year, the Sunday Standard exposed a scam of sexual harassment by senior diplomats outlining how they were using their positions in various missions abroad to access sex favours among their juniors.

In some of the most explicit and explosive correspondence between top level diplomats of which Sunday Standard is in possession of, senior civil servants stationed abroad use dirty tricks to extract sexual favours from their female colleagues. Among others, the most favoured tactic is the use of threats by way of spreading fear among the junior staff.

It also turned out that at the same time South Africa and Japan had filed formal complaints with Botswana, alleging sexual harassment on their staff by Botswana diplomats abroad.

Further investigations by the Sunday Standard have revealed that Permanent Secretary to the President, Eric Molale, has already instructed Administrative Secretary, Ms Segakweng Tsiane, to do the ground work in the form of collecting information upon which the President would act.

With President Festus Mogae left with a few days before leaving office, all chances are that the matter will be acted upon by the incoming Ian Khama.
In some of the emails leaked to Sunday Standard, names of some cabinet ministers and permanent secretaries with links to the scam are mentioned.
“Government is not hiding anything. There is a commitment to investigate this issue. But it has to be done in accordance with the laws,” said Ntwaagae.

He was more than emphatic that personalities that have since emerged to be linked to scam are beyond his powers as a permanent secretary.

“It has emerged that some personalities allegedly involved in these investigations are beyond my powers,” he said.

Ntwaagae said in terms of the General Orders as well as the Constitution of Botswana, only the President can take disciplinary action against such high level people.

The Minister of Foreign Affairs Mompati Merafhe has also assured the Members of Parliament that government will institute the investigations and take action against those found to have misbehaved.

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