As Botswana heads to the polls in about a fortnight, clashes between perceived beneficiaries under the former administration of Lt Gen Dr Ian Khama and pallbearers of the current administration under President Dr Mokgweetsi Masisi are largely at play – Tizza Seduke of Defence Concepts is one of the characters in this script and he is feeling the pinch of being collateral.
“When two elephants tussle it is the grass that suffers,” as the old adage goes, I could be likened to grass in this case. The current administration sees me as one of the blue eyed boys of the former administration whilst those from the former administration did not want anything to do with me,” cries Tizza Seduke, a self-made businessman who shot to fame when his flying school was linked with former President Khama and the then Directorate of Intelligence and Security Services (DIS) Director General Isaac Kgosi.
“Nothing has ever been far from the truth as this allegation. I own the International Aviation School (IAS) or flying school, neither Kgosi nor Khama has ever been a director or a shareholder of that school. The truth of the matter is that at some point they wanted to take the school away from me and I refused. I was not one of their favourites,” declared Seduke.
Seduke’s company, Defence Concepts, has done work for the Directorate of Intelligence and Security Services (DISS) during Kgosi’s time, but according to Seduke, he only got one job back in 2013, “we never got any other job with the DIS”. He said the job they got was the P49 million Mahalapye Prison fencing through an open tender process. We beat a company that had quoted P39 million for the job because we are the exclusive suppliers of the material that was required for the job. After quoting P39 million, that company was still going to come back to us for supply of the wire,” he explained.
Seduke’s company had caught the eye of Directorate of Corruption and Economic Crime (DCEC), after it was awarded a P49 million tender for the construction of the Mahalapye Prison fence. Although the project fell under the Ministry of Defence, Justice and Security, it was coordinated by DISS which falls under the Office of the President. Contrary to popular belief that the tender was allocated through a selective tendering process, where Defence Concepts was identified as the preferred supplier without going to open tender, Seduke stresses that they were competing with another company which had actually quoted lower.
“The other challenge for our competitor in this job is that they did not have a PPADB Grade E.” Seduke said like any company he had been ‘marketing’ his products and services, hence DIS recognized him as a professional company, “I had no say in their procurement process. I only responded to invitations and gave service to the best of my ability,” he stressed. He shared that he did fencing solutions for the DIS because he was the exclusive provider of the fence they required. According to Seduke, it was for DIS management to ensure that procurement procedures were followed.
Seduke also confirmed that the Botswana Unified Revenue Services (BURS) had approached his business operations for auditing. “As Batswana we stigmatize the mandate of BURS when they audit our companies. This does not mean that there is always something wrong. It’s to encourage compliance. They have audited me before and it was not the first time and it was nothing unusual,” he said. Seduke said he does not see this as a witch-hunt, the only thing that worries him is that people link his businesses with Khama and Kgosi “which is unfair”. “Those people had actually attempted to close me down,” he said.
THE KGOSI FALLOUT
In an interview recently, Seduke confirmed that he has been investigated by the DCEC as part of the agency’s investigation against Kgosi and the DIS among others. “Yes DCEC has investigated me. The allegations surrounded us being engaged by DIS, that was around 2012 and I submitted a statement to DCEC. Since then they have never approached me in relation to those issues.”
He explained that there was confusion as to how the tender shifted from Ministry of Defence Justice and Security to Office of the President, “Remember that in 2017 there was a breakout at Mahalapye prison after Prisons department failed to get the tender or the job done. Since this was seen as a security threat, DIS got involved to coordinate whole project and they ran an Expression of Interest to which we responded,” he said.
Seduke stated that during the interview the DCEC had wanted to know if he was paid in cash or transfers, “I told them the truth as I know it. There was nothing to hide hence my name was cleared.” He said a few of his payments were made in cash. “After this interaction with the DCEC I had a fallout with Kgosi, I could not tell why but I suspected it was borne from my revelations that I was paid in cash,” he said.
According to Seduke Kgosi has not spoken to him since the day he was interviewed by the DCEC and he has not been invited to tender for any job at the DIS. “It is unfortunate that I continue to be linked with DIS jobs when I was long blacklisted for telling the DCEC the truth that I knew.” When asked if he had any personal relationship with Kgosi, Seduke said he had a working relationship with Kgosi “due to the fact that he is someone who is hands on.”
SEDUKE AND THE KHAMA LINK
When asked about his relationship with former President Khama, Seduke was quick to point out that he had met him only on three occasions and at a distance. “I only met Khama last year for the first time in what I would say was a close proximity.” Seduke said people link him to Khama because his Flying School (IAS) is located within the same compound as the Flying Club. “The Flying Club owns the land and we are renting from them. We pay them P15 000 per month,” he said. Khama is the patron of the Flying Club.
Seduke however admitted that his school took advantage of the Flying club Patrons Dinner by staging their graduation ceremonies on the same dates as the dinner. He said he has not engaged Khama on any subject related to his businesses, “I was doing my businesses in a clean manner and I did not want to ingratiate myself to powers that be for my success, I had worked for it,” he said. He said he was aware of allegations that he was fronting for some influential individuals in the society. “There is nothing for me to hide. There has never been an influential individual who is a shareholder or has beneficial interest in my companies. Companies and Intellectual Property Authority (CIPA) is there to find out,” he said.
THE FLYING SCHOOL IS IN TROUBLE
As of now Seduke’s Flying School is in trouble and he may be forced to retrench workers soon. The Botswana Qualifications Authority (BQA) has declined to accredit the school and Government is not sending students for training at the school instead South African schools are preferred. “But is it interesting that the Aviation Body, Civil Aviation Authority of Botswana (CAAB) which accredited by ICAO, has assessed our school and equipment and found them worthy,” said Seduke.
He said he wants to ensure that he satisfies BQA standards hence he pushed for CAAB to assess his school. “Prior to 2016 the entire delta was flooded with white South African pilots and after we graduated a number of pilots the localization initiative gained traction at the delta,” said Seduke. Seduke is currently engaging BQA on accreditation of his school and “I hope this has nothing to do with the notion that Khama or Kgosi are part my school, they have never been and they will never be. I refused to sell my school to certain people linked to them,” he said.
A heartfelt message of good wishes from Minister Mmusi Kgafela to his self-exiled brother and Bakgatla paramount chief, Kgafela Kgafela II, this week urged the latter to consider calls for his return to Botswana to visit his tribe and family.
“On behalf of our father’s people, your people, I wish to inform you that Bakgatla are thinking of you, and they miss you dearly. They request that you should find time to visit them. Please come to Botswana to spend some time with them, to see and greet them,” said Mmusi as part of his 50 years birthday message to Kgafela Kgafela II, who has vowed never to set foot in Botswana.
However, Mmusi Kgafela did not shed light on how his brother will deal with the arrest warrant, which triggers once he sets foot in Botswana.
The Bakgatla Kgosikgolo, who went on a self-imposed exile in 2012 to South Africa, faces a decade-old-plus warrant of arrest issued by the Village magistrate court after his non-appearance in Court over criminal charges relating to flogging of his subjects. Kgafela described the charges as ‘political persecution’ before jetting out to his second home in South Africa, Moruleng, where he is also a Chief.
Asked over his views on the complications around the warrant of arrest, Mmusi, a lawyer by training, said, “what people need to understand is that a warrant of arrest is not a prison sentence.”
He continued: “There is a need for reconciliation and discussions to put all these issues behind us. We need to move on. What I have also realized is that the state is not keen on pursuing the matter as they have not sought his extradition,” he said.
In 2017, the then Minister of Defence, Justice, and Security, Shaw Kgathi, told Parliament that the arrest warrant issued against Bakgatla Kgosi-kgolo is still valid.
“….because a Court order once issued remains valid and enforceable unless it is rescinded by the Court that issued it, in this case being Village Magistrate Court. It may also be revoked by a higher court being the High Court or the Court of Appeal,” Kgathi said.
As things stand, the Government will arrest Bakgatla Kgosi Kgafela II if he crosses over to Botswana, Parliament heard.
Kgathi responded to a question by the then Mochudi West Member of Parliament, Gilbert Mangole, who wanted to know if the arrest warrant imposed on Kgafela was still valid. Further, he wanted clarity on what it would take for the Government to trigger the removal of the warrant to enable Kgosi to visit his tribe in Botswana if he so wishes.
Could Mmusi be under pressure to facilitate Kgafela’s return?
Although Mmusi denies the claim, some royal sources opine that he (Mmusi) is under pressure to help President Dr. Mokgweetsi Masisi fulfill his 2019 electoral campaign pledge to the tribe. The President had pledged that he would “not rest until their chief, Kgosi Kgafela Kgafela II, is back home.”
Mmusi, however, says Masisi has not personally engaged him on Kgafela.
Kgafela’s former lawyer, Advocate Sydney Pilane, has in the past told this publication that he suspects that as the leader of the BDP, President Masisi hopes that if he brings Kgosi Kgafela back, BaKgatla may be grateful to the BDP, and benefits might accrue in consequence.
While Mmusi says the matter will need to be discussed and dealt with, private attorney Kgosiitsile Ngakaagae who was prosecuting Kgafela, warned that there is nothing to address or facilitate.
“There is no need for political intervention. Kgosi Kgafela is officially a fugitive from Justice. It’s for the Directorate of Public Prosecutions (DPP) to issue a nolle prosequi (we shall no longer prosecute) to enable his return. Constitutionally the DPP cannot be dictated to by politicians. The matter is beyond the President unless he violates the DPP’s constitutional mandate,” charged Ngakaagae.
“An arrest is intended to bring someone to Court. Secondly, a party who has become aware that a warrant has been issued against them can apply to Court before it is implemented for it to be discharged.”
The only option for the state currently, which the state is reluctant to pursue, is to drop the charges and withdraw the warrant of arrest or decide on a deliberate non-enforcement of the warrant, according to lawyers who spoke to this publication.
In South Africa, President Cyril Ramaphosa recently told his parliament that the deployment of his army to Mozambique had cost close to a billion rand, with the exact figure placed at R984,368, 057. On the other hand, the Botswana government is yet to say a word on their budget concerning the deployment.
In his National Assembly report tabled last week Tuesday, Ramaphosa said:
“This serves to inform the National Assembly that I have authorized the employment of 1,495 members of the South African National Defence Force (SANDF) for service in fulfillment of an international obligation towards SADC, to assist Mozambique combat acts of terrorism and violent extremists in the Caba Delgado province. This deployment had cost close to a billion rand, with the exact figure placed at R984,368,057.”
The soldiers, he said, are expected to remain there for the next three months.
Botswana, however, is yet to publicize its expenditure. Asked by this publication over why they have not and whether they will, the Minister of Defence, Justice, and Security, Kagiso Mmusi, said they would when the time is right.
“As you may be aware, nobody planned for this. It was not budgeted for. We had to take our BDF resources to Mozambique, and we are still doing our calculations. We also need to replace what we took from the BDF to Mozambique,” he said.
This week, President Dr. Mokgweetsi Masisi revealed that the Southern African Development Community (SADC) and the Botswana government would share the sustainment of the Mozambique military combat deployment. SADC has given Botswana its share to use according to its needs.
The costs in such deployments are typically categorized into three parts-boots on the ground or handling the system, equipment, and operational sustenance logistics.
It is unknown how much combat pay, danger pay, or sustenance allowance the soldiers will get upon return. However, President Masisi has assured the soldiers that they will get their money.
Masisi has said deployment comes when the country is faced with economic challenges that have been exacerbated to a great extent by the COVID-19 Pandemic, which is inflicting enormous health, financial, and social damage to all nations.
Botswana has sent 296 soldiers who left on Monday to Mozambique to join the SADC standby force.
Parliament fumes over being snubbed
In the 1994 Lesotho mission, the Botswana Parliament was engaged after the soldiers were long deployed. A repeat of history this week saw members of parliament grilling the executive over snubbing parliament and keeping it in the dark about the Mozambique military deployment.
Zimbabwe pledges 304 soldiers
Meanwhile, Zimbabwe has pledged 304 soldiers to the SADC Standby Force Mission in Mozambique to train an infantry battalion-size unit at a time, Defence and War Veterans Affairs Minister Oppah Muchinguri-Kashiri has said.
In a statement to journalists, Minister Muchinguri-Kashiri said the contingent would consist of 303 instructors and one specialist officer to coordinate the SADC Force Headquarters in Maputo.
Minister Muchinguri-Kashiri said that in terms of Section 214 of the Constitution of Zimbabwe, Parliament would be informed accordingly.
During the Extraordinary Summit of the 16-member regional bloc held in Maputo, Mozambique, last month, member states resolved to deploy a force to help Mozambique contain insurgency in its northern provinces where terrorists have left a trail of destruction that also threatens regional peace.
Former director general of the Directorate of Intelligence Service, Isaac Kgosi has been awarded doctorate in International and Diplomatic Studies by a Slovenian institution-New University after successfully defending his doctoral dissertation last year.
The institution‘s website shows that in February 2020 Kgosi defended his dissertation titled ‘Southern African Development Community [SADC] Diplomatic Conflict Management Response for Enhancing Human Security: The Case of Mozambique.’
“Faculty of government and European Studies hereby certifies that Seabelo Isaac Kgosi born in Francistown, on 15th December 1958 completed all obligations of the international and Diplomatic Studies doctoral programme on March 22,2021. On these grounds the Faculty of Government and European Studies is conferring upon him the scientific title of Doctor of Science in International and Diplomatic Studies, abbr:PhD,” reads the institution’s conferment certificate dated O6 July 2021.
Kgosi’s thesis was a study of SADC’s mediation and diplomacy in the Mozambican conflict that is mainly between the ruling Front for the Liberation of Mozambique (Frelimo) government and forces of the National Resistance (Renamo) that was once mediated by the late former president Sir Ketumile Masire in 2016 when it re-emerged after a revival by Renamo in 2012, driven by several grievances including allegations of economic marginalisation, regional economic imbalances and breach of the 1992 Rome General Peace Accords which had ended the post-independence civil war fought from 1977 to 1992. The escalation of conflict in Mozambique in early 2016 resulted in displacement of citizens in affected areas whilst thousands of people crossed the borders into Malawi and eastern Zimbabwe as refugees.
Efforts to search for and locate the document were unsuccessful at the time of going for press.
Kgosi’s curriculum vitae suggests that he has a Diploma in Mechanical Engineering and a Masters in Intelligence and Security obtained from Brunel University, a public research university located in Uxbridge, West London, United Kingdom. The latter qualification was obtained in 2007.
It is not yet known on whether Kgosi will use his qualifications to seek employment locally or internationally, or will decide to open a consultancy firm in line with his experience and academic achievements once the dust surrounding him goes way.
The former spy chief is currently fighting to clear his name in a series of cases against the state, which accuses him of owing the tax man, capturing images of the intelligence agents, as well as their identity between the 18th and 25th February 2019 as well as the identity cards of the officers engaged in a covert operation of the DIS. He is also accused of instructing Bank of Botswana (BoB) to open three bank accounts that were used to loot public funds amounting to over P100 billion together with former president Lt Gen Ian Khama.
Kgosi has countered on all the cases demanding the evidence which links him to the crimes levelled against him, all of which the state is currently struggling to submit before the courts. The state has lost and appealed the photographs case while the P100 billion case has been described as a big lie by various institutions.