Following Pelonomi Venson Moitoi’s courageous presidential bid, Robert Masitara who is contesting as an independent candidate for Gaborone Bonnington North has also expressed his intention to contest for the leadership of the Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) in future.
Masitara hinted that he wants to be president in the next cycle of General Elections following 2019 or after President Mokgweetsi Masisi steps down. “Yes I am looking at 2024 sir or beyond that. And the issue is not about President Masisi but about what I believe in. It needs to be done,” he told Weekend Post in one-on-one interview this week. He emphasised that “to be honest, I foresee myself in the future standing for presidency. That’s is my ultimate vision.”
He justified that as a president he will fight corruption to the core with his expertise that he has on corruption. “I want to direct these things as sometimes you are headed by somebody who doesn’t understand issues of corruption the way you do, and they tend to suppress you,” he highlighted. Masitara also added that “and you can’t fight it effectively than you would if you were the one in charge while knowing corruption with its manifestations.”
Corruption in Botswana has been institutionalised
He said he has been for a long time the lonely voice speaking the institutionalised corruption at parliament. “I have long cried about the state of corruption in the country. From 2009, I was the lonely voice on corruption. But look at Masisi – he is talking about the corruption situation now, for example I did speak about the Botswana meat Commission (BMC) long time back. Look what is happening now. You should revert to my reports while I was Chairman of a parliamentary oversight committee of parliament,” he said.
Masitara reminisced that he has long spoken of BMC misuse of money through feedlots, board members paying themselves pensions without any paper trail, people paying themselves overtime without any documentation. “You can see that everything here, that corruption has been institutionalised. To extend that now, it has become a faculty on its own,” he highlighted. According to Masitara, President Masisi can’t fight this thing as what the government is doing in relation to corruption is simply firefighting.
“The causal effects we are not attending to them. We are concerned only about the resultant effect right now. When we are sitting on them and they don’t come out, we will never know about them. So I will only focus on the causal effects,” he said. The Gaborone Bonnington North aspirant said is disappointed that he has always talked about corruption and people didn’t take heed of him. “When you are the only voice in parliament denouncing corruption then you look like a sell-out.”
He asserts that the awaited declaration of assets law is useless
The ex-Gaborone West North, the incoming law on declaration of assets is simply useless. “I have long spoken about it, the law is a useless tool. When DCEC had a conference two years back I told them that this thing has been overtaken by time,” he said. The maverick ex BDP MP recommended that let the Masisi administration bring him in government and he will convince them to do away with this thing.
There is another tool that they can use, he observed while adding that they should introduce the lifestyle audit at a different angle which supersedes the declaration law. “People right now are not owning assets in their names. They have written their properties by the name of their maids, garden boys and so forth. Certain transactions are also not done through their names. So that declaration law is a waste of time,” he reasoned.
Commercial banks are being used in corruption practices
According to the corruption busting politician, perpetrators of corruption have taken a step ahead, and they are so educated and innovative.He said “Banks are being used now for capital flight. Banks are being owned by Directors somewhere outside the country but they operate in Botswana. They are experienced in issues of corruption more than us.”
The influx of Chinese in the country, he said, is contributing to corruption, as they know corruption more than locals and their institutions; and more than the Directorate on Corruption and Economic Crime (DCEC), the Botswana Police Service and the Directorate on Intelligence and Security Services (DISS).
The forensic specialist decried that billions of pula are continually taken out of this country thorough financial systems. On China’s soft loan to Botswana, Masitara explained that the country don’t even need to borrow money from outside the country. “Why should we be debting Botswana in these billions of pula of loans from China? There is money that is held by Batswana people who took money to buy houses in Dubai, Cape Town, Durban and other areas.
That capital flight must come back to Botswana, through repatriation, to service all these loans to develop our country,” he pointed out. The one of a kind politicians also observed that the Asset Forfeiture department under the Attorney General is not doing its job. “In other countries the department is recovering billions of money that is used to develop infrastructure,” he said.
PPADB Act and all parastatals laws are flawed
Masitara highlighted that he thanks God to have taken him out of the system for a while when he lost the elections the other time (in 2014). “So that I must and interact with other people, open business; Masitara Forensics and tender through physical tendering to be involved with the system just like an ordinary person and so I realised where corruption emanates from.”Instead of being told as an MP like he was Chairman of a parliamentary oversight committee “I seen it with my eyes.”
He justified: “now for me to be involved in the actual tendering processes; registering of companies, then PPADB and all the other requirements, I have seen the bottlenecks on the real cause of corruption. None of the members of parliament understands corruption to the extent that I do. They have been absorbed through the system. They have never been outside to interact with the system itself from the grassroots.” According to entrepreneur, he saw how and why people lose tenders.
“Even the laws of PPADB framework I still have questions. Even the formula used by PPADB to evaluate the tenders I still have problems with it. I have long said it. PPADB Act is flawed. In fact all parastatals Acts are flawed.” In this instance he said PPADB Act is so loose that corruption is embedded with that Act and that there are clauses within the laws that actually facilitate corruption to be executed with impunity – while they are following the law. So all the parastatal Acts they must be recalled to parliament, he emphasised.
Still supports MP’s serving two terms; and political party funding
The well-known politician still believes in the motion that MP’s should serve two terms like the presidents. “Two terms is enough. It’s mainly because of good governance. Let’s give others chance. Why are we still circulating same people, board of Directors same people as well? I have spoken about this issue strongly in my reports,” he said.
Masitara further asked “do you want to tell me now that there are no youths who are even educated enough on such issues to be trained or groomed into Board Directorship? We circulate the same old faces because we want to protect us wherever in these Ministries and Parastatals, which is not fair. So parliamentarians serving two terms is enough.”
On political party funding he pointed out that he still supports it.“I still support political party funding and scrutiny of the use of such funds. The current arrangement that every aspiring candidates should source their funding is a breeding ground for current and future corruption and state capture. Sponsors even shady ones want something in return.”
Masitara says opposition parties’ top members also corrupt
When asked why he didn’t join any of the opposition parties he said he thinks none of them is ready to govern. “I still feel that our opposition parties are not strong. I am not convinced about their direction. And I know some of them will join the BDP eventually. If I join them, I am even not yet clear if they will really allow me to fight corruption as a political expediency item. If they can will elections can they allow me to fight corruption?
Some of them are involved in corruption, they are implicated, Masitara implied while adding that the people will see as the controversial National Petroleum Fund (NPF), Botswana Public Officers Pension Fund (BPOPF), Asset management cases unfold that opposition parties are also implicated.
“Some names will crop up. Others even their fathers were implicated in corruption then. Even questioned at some of the assets they have acquired/inherited right now. And if you can trace that to issues of money laundering those assets should be confiscated,” he pointed out. According to the philanthropist, “So that’s why the best option for me is to be independent.”
On Boko, the UDC leader that he wants to dispose
Masitara said he does not entertain politics that attack other contenders. “Let me not de-campaign him. My style of leadership is not to de-campaign anyone. I can’t cast aspersions on their abilities. Let the people choose. Boko is a nice guy and very educated. I am also educated and exposed as well on the issue of corruption than all the candidates am standing against. I am well above them, he highlighted.
The former legislator said his campaign is at a different level and that Boko’s is also at a different level. “We are poles apart. It’s a divergent. They are not a tangent. Totally different parameters and angles.” Masitara further said MP”s who have experience on oversight, where government fails to prosecute, and government must source external funding to prosecute some of these cases. “And we must bring back some cases in which shabby work was done because of our inability to investigate. Other countries are doing.”
Botswana’s lack of infrastructure is heart breaking
Despite being a diamond country which is most valued in the world, Botswana’s lack of infrastructure concerns Masitara. He said “I have always asked other MP’s what do we learn from other countries? Don’t we envy those countries like Japan? Look at their infrastructures. If you land in their airports you feel that sorrow.”
No attainment of vision 2036, knowledge based economy with corruption
Masitara said the country cannot attain Vision 2036 which aspires for a knowledge based economy and upper middle class – with corruption. He stressed to this publication “we cannot attain knowledge based economy if there is still corruption. People who are going to be servicing or issuing these tenders already have corruption underneath them.”
Also fancies appointment to head corruption bodies
Even though he aspires to be an independent MP, Masitara fancies chances of appointment in government if he loses the elections. “You know if the president can appoint me now and ask me to oversee or head Governance and Investigations, with my qualifications I can stand in court of law as my evidence is admissible in a court of law. There is no one in parliament who can do this task. They don’t even know how to interrogate these issues. But I don’t blame them, this takes exposure and experience. If I were to go in government I know where to start, “he said.
He added that if he is appointed, No one will be spared or protected in the corruption drive. He continued “If Masisi is serious and sincere about fighting corruption he cannot leave me out of the equation. Masisi administration must use my services wherever they want me to. Even if they can say to me stop contesting as an independent candidate I can. My most effective way of contributing is when am within the system. That’s where my passion lies.”
In a classic and shocking case of disgrace and dishonour to this country, the law enforcement agencies are currently struggling to cover up a damaging and humiliating scandal of having conspired to forge the signature of a Palapye Chief Magistrate, Rebecca Motsamai in an unlawful acquisition of the much-publicised 2019 warrant of arrest against Isaac Kgosi, the former director of the Directorate of Intelligence Services (DIS).
The cloak-and-dagger arrest was led by the DIS director, Brigadier Peter Magosi supported by the Botswana Police, Botswana Defence Force (BDF), with the Botswana Unified Revenue Services (BURS) which accused Kgosi of tax evasion, in the backseat.
Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) constituent members are struggling to reach an agreement over the allocation of wards for the imminent ward by-elections across the country.
Despite a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC), Botswana Patriotic Front (BPF) and Alliance for Progressives (AP) are said to be active, but the nitty-gritties are far from being settled.
The eight bye-elections will be a precursor of a somewhat delayed finalisation of the brittle MoU. The three parties want to draw a plan on how and who will contest in each of the available wards.
This publication has gathered that the negotiations will not be a run off the mill because there is already an impasse between the Botswana Congress Party (BCP) which is a UDC constituent and AP (currently negotiating to join umbrella).
The by-elections joint committee met last week at Cresta President Hotel in a bid to finalise allocation but nothing tangible came out of the gathering, sources say.
The cause of the stalemate according to those close to events, is the Metsimotlhabe Ward which the two parties have set their eyes on.
In 2019, he ward was won by Botswana Democratic Party’s (BDP) Andrew Sebobi who unfortunately died in a tragic accident in February last year.
Sebobi had convincingly won by 1 109 votes in the last elections; and was trailed by Sephuthi Thelo of the UDC trailed him with 631 votes; while Alliance for Progressives’ Innocent Moamogwe got 371 votes.
Thelo is a BCP candidate and as per UDC norm, incumbency prevails meaning that the BCP will contest since they were runners up. On the other hand, AP has also raised its hand for the same.
“AP asked for it on the basis that they have a good candidate but BCP did not agree to that request also arguing they have a better contestant,” one UDC member confided to this publication.
Notwithstanding Metsimotlhabe Ward squabble, it is said the by-election talks are almost a done deal, with Botswana National Front (BNF) tipped to take Boseja South ward in Mochudi East constituency. Botswana Patriotic Front (BPF) will be awarded Tamasane Ward in Lerala/Maunatlala constituency, sources say.
“But the agreement has to be closed by National Executive Committee (NEC),” emphasized the informant.
The NEC is said to have been cautioned not to back the wrong horse but rather rate with reason and facts.
UDC President, Duma Boko has told this publication that, “allocation is complete with two wards already awarded but with only one yet to be finalized,” he could not dwell into much details as to which party got what and the reasons for the delay in finalisation.
Chairperson of the by-elections committee, Dr. Phenyo Butale responded to this publication regarding the matter: “As AP we contested and as you may be aware we signed the MoU with UDC and BPF to collaborate on bye-elections. The opposition candidate for all bye-elections will be agreed by these parties and that process is still ongoing,” he said when asked if AP is interested on the ward and how far with the talks on bye-elections.
Butale, a former Gaborone Central Member of Parliament, who is also AP Secretary General continued to say, “As the chairperson of the bye-elections committee we are still seized with that matter. We should also do some consultations with the local structures. Once the process is complete we will issue a notice for now we cannot talk about the other two while the other is still pending the other one”.
Butale further clarified: “There is no such thing as AP and BCP not in agreement. It is an issue of signatories discussing and determining the opposition candidates across the three wards.”
Apart from the three wards, there are five more council wards that UDC is yet to allocate to cooperating partners.
FROM PALAPYE MEET: BPP CAUTION NEC MEMBERS
With the UDC cheerful from last weekend’s meeting in Palapye, the meeting however was very tense on the side of both BCP and BNF, with only BPP flexing its muscle and even lashing out.
BCP going into the meeting, had promised to ask difficult questions to the UDC NEC.
BCP VP and also acting Secretary General, Dr. Kesitegile Gobotswang, presented their qualms which were addressed by UDC Chairperson Motlatsi Molapisi, informants say.
It is said Molapisi is fed up and concerned by some UDC members especially those in the NEC who ‘wash party’s dirty linen in public’.
Insiders say the veteran politician cautioned the NEC members that they “will not expel any party but individuals who tarnish the image of the UDC.”
It is not the first time BPP play a paternalistic role as it once expressed its discontent with BCP in 2020, saying it should never wash UDC linen in public.
At first it is said, BPP, the oldest political formation in Botswana, claims disappointment on BCP stance that UDC should be democratised especially by sharing their stand with the media. Again, BPP was not happy with BCP leader Dumelang Saleshando’s decision to air his personal views on social media regarding the merger of UDC party.
Botswana Police Service (BPS) Commissioner, Keabetswe Makgophe, has of late been dousing raging fires from various quarters of society following the infiltration of the police fingerprint system by the Directorate on Intelligence and Security (DIS), WeekendPost has learnt.
Fresh information gleaned from a number of impeccable sources, points to a pitiable working relationship between the two state organs. Cause of concern is the DIS continuous big brother role to an extent that it is now interfering with other institutions’ established mandates.
BPS which works closely with the DIS has been left exasperated by the works of the institution formed in 2008. It is said, the DIS through its Information Technology (IT) experts in collusion with some at BPS forensics department managed to infiltrate the Fingerprint system.
The infiltration, according to those in the know, was for the DIS to “teach a lesson” to some who are on their radar. It is said the DIS is playing and fighting dirty to win the fights they have lost before.
By managing to hack the police finger print system, a number of renowned businessmen and other politically exposed persons found their fingers in the system. What surprised the victims is the fact that they have never been charged of any wrongdoing by the police and they were left reeling in shock to learn that their fingers are on the data-base of criminals.
In fact, some of those who their fingerprints were falsely included in the records of those on the wrong side of law learnt later when other errands demanded their fingerprints.
“We learnt later when we had to submit and buy some documents and we were very shocked,” one politician who is also a businessman confided to this publication this week.
“We then learn that there are some fabricated criminality recorded for us, as to when did we commit those remained secret to the police, but then we had to engage our lawyers on the matter and that is when we were cleared,” said the politician-cum- tenderpreneur.
The lawyers have confirmed engaging the police and that the matters were settled in a gentlemen’s agreement and concluded.
All these happened behind the scenes with the police top brass oblivious only to be confronted by the irked lot, police sources also add. The victimized group who most of them have been fighting lengthy battles with the DIS read malice and did not blink when it was revealed that these were done by the DIS.
“And it was clear that they (DIS) are the ones in this dirty war which we don’t understand. Remember when we sue, it will be the Police at the courts not the DIS and that is why we agreed to a ceasefire more so they also requested that be kept under carpet,” said the victim.
Nonetheless, the Police through its spokesperson Assistant Commissioner, Dipheko Motube, briefly said: “we do not have any system that has been hacked.” On the other hand DIS mouthpiece Edward Robert was not in office this week to comment on the matter.
Reports however say DIS boss, Peter Magosi, who most of the victims accuse of the job, is said to have met his police counterpart Makgophe to put the matter to bed.
COVID-19 RAVAGES POLICE
As frontline workers, Police have not escaped the wrath of Covid-19. Already the numbers of those infected has reached the highest of high and they suggest that they be priorities on vaccine rollout.
“Our job is complicated, firstly we arrest including those who are non-compliant to Covid protocols and we go to accidents and many more. These put us at risk and it seems our superiors are not bothered,” said one police officer this week.
The cops further complain about that working spaces are small, as such expose them to contact the virus.
“Some tests positive and go for quarantine while the rest of the unit will be left without even test carried out. If at all the bosses are serious all the police officers should every now and then be subjected to testing or else we will be no more because of the virus,” added another officer based in Gaborone.
The government has since placed teachers on the priority list for the vaccines, it remains to be seen whether the police, who also man road blocks, will be considered.
“But our bosses should convince the country leadership about this, if not then we are doomed,” concluded a more senior officer.