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The truth behind Paledi’s ousting

After many months of speculation, Bruno Paledi was finally removed as head of the Directorate on Corruption and Economic Crime (DCEC) last week replaced by Brigadier Joseph Mathambo who had been seconded from the Botswana Defence Force (BDF) initially as the Director of Operations DCEC.

Paledi’s tenure as the DCEC boss was the shortest in the history of the directorate, having stayed in office for only 20 months. Paledi has been transferred to the Ministry of Justice and Security, a position many deem as an outright demotion. “The writing was on the wall once former long serving DCEC director of Operations Eugene Wasetso was transferred to the Ministry of Health mysteriously and was replaced by Mathambo. Many immediately saw the appointment of Mathambo as an understudy to eventually takeover Paledi,” said a source at the DCEC.

“Paledi’s days became numbered from there on. Mathambo’s conduct and attitude was very clear on the onset-he was the man in charge or rather soon to be in charge. We saw Paledi being reduced to a small isolated figure within the organization.” At the time when he resumed the office of the directorate, Paledi came in with much ‘energy’ promising to bring down ‘big fish’. With his frequent public relations gimmicks in the media, he had promised to bring to court many dockets which had been put on hold for political reasons. On the other hand, some saw a cheap PR stunt meant to protect the interests of senior government officials mainly that of former President Lt Gen Ian Khama and former DIS boss Isaac Kgosi as he was thought to be close to them.

It was immediately after his appointment at DCEC that dockets started missing: “Two dockets of ‘missing reptiles and wildlife’ and the one on an ‘irregular procurement of ammunition from Zimbabwe’ grew legs while Kgosi’s previous corruption docket also disappeared,” narrated one DCEC investigator. When he left office in April last year, Khama’s farewell last stop was the DCEC offices. Khama was seen at the offices under the pretext that he was bidding the organization farewell.

“Such a small organization!  It is very funny that he did not even bid the parent Ministry of Defence and Security a personal farewell. We all knew his visit was meant to ensure that his dockets and those of his right hand man Kgosi were destroyed,” said the insider. Paledi has also been repeatedly accused of carrying out a political witch-hunt using the National Petroleum Fund (NPF) case. He has been accused of emotionally imposing himself on the ongoing corruption case together with his team of investigators, his target not necessarily being the accused before the court, but the government.

“Having been duly informed as a stockholder on the impending transaction involving the Directorate of Intelligence and Security (DIS) and the Ministry Of Minerals Resources Green Technology and Energy Security, Paledi decided nonetheless to investigate the transaction and embarrass government in the process.” “Some documents were hidden from the Directorate of Public Prosecutions (DPP), hence compromising undertakings of making promises to senior government officials were made. They had lied to the current administration that wrongdoing had been done and that they will protect them,” said one prosecutor.

“Such was a visit to some Gaborone based Attorneys where Paledi requested a file containing information on His Excellency President   Mokgweetsi Masisi’s trust account under the pretext that he wanted to protect the President. But the attorney refused with the file and further refused to delete information contained in the file,” said a source close to the events adding that ploy was not up to protect Masisi, but instead to use the information for political reasons.

Meanwhile it is alleged that the NPF docket was found at Kgosi’s residence under the recent search and seizure warrants conducted by BURS and DIS. “The DPP has been made to chase the dark. Numerous savingrams and emails vindicate us that we had requested for information regarding the NPF case from the DCEC which we never got. And to our surprise, we see government contracts and correspondences that throw our case strategy out of the window from the media. And this is the sole reason why DPP has kept on changing the charge sheets now and then. And this has not only compromised the case but has embarrassed government institutions as well,” the source indicated.

Further accusations against Paledi are that he has exceeded his authority and damaged Botswana’s image abroad through the NPF case. The mishandling of the P230m money laundering case has resulted in Botswana being listed as a money laundering haven. Recently, the European Union, and in particular France, put the country on a watch list of money laundering centres, of which is said to have the potential of affecting trade, the ease of doing business in future.

This publication also learnt that removing Paledi from the DCEC is like cutting the fish head leaving the body parts.  “There still remains a lot of rot within the DCEC because some of the investigators are still doing bidding for external forces. Staff morale is very low, and the organization is being used to wage wars against political adversaries. Some of the investigators are under the payroll of outsiders.

The investigators themselves have dockets either within the DCEC itself or at related sister agencies.” Contacted for comment, Paledi said, “I kindly ask you to write whatever you want without involving me. I have gone through a lot for the past six months. I just want to fade into the background and move on with my life.”

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Civil Service volatility: Democracy vs Bureaucracy

19th April 2021
President Masisi

Here is how one Permanent Secretary encapsulates the clear tension between democracy and bureaucracy in Botswana: “President Mokgweetsi Masisi’s Government is behaving like a state surrounded with armed forces in order to capture it or force its surrender. The situation has turned so volatile, for tomorrow is not guaranteed for us top civil servants.

These are the painful results of a personalized civil service in our view as permanent secretaries”. Although his deduction of the situation may be summed as sour grapes because he is one of the ‘victims’ of the reshuffle, he is convinced this is a perfect description of the rationale behind frequent changes and transfers characterising the current civil service.

The result of it all, he said, is that “there is too much instability at managerial and strategic levels of the civil service leading to a noticeable directionless civil service.” He continued: “Changes and transfers are inevitable in the civil service, but to a permissible scale and frequency. Think of soccer team coach who changes and transfers his entire squad every month; you know the consequences?”

The Tsunami has hit hard at critical departments and Ministries leaving a strong wave of uncertainty, many demoralised and some jobless. In traditional approaches to public administration, democracy gives the goals; and bureaucracy delivers the technical efficiency required for implementation. But the recent moves in the civil service are indicative of conflicting imperatives – the notion of separation between politicians and administrators is becoming blurred by the day.

“Look at what happened to Prisons and BDF where second in command were overlooked for outsiders, and these are the people who had sacrificially served for donkey’s years hoping for a seat at the ladder’s end. The frequency of the changes, at times affecting the same Ministry or individual also demonstrates some level of ineptitude, clumsiness and lack of foresight from those in charge,” remarked the PS who added that their view is that the transfers are not related to anything but “settling scores, creating corruption opportunities and pushing out perceived dissident and former president, Ian Khama’s alleged loyalists and most of these transfers are said to be products of intelligence detection.”

Partly blaming Khama for the mess and his unwillingness to let go, the PS dismissed Masisi for falling to the trap and failing to outgrow the destructive tiff. “Khama is here to stay and the sooner Masisi comes to terms with the fact that he (Masisi) is the state President, the better. For a President to still be making these changes and transfers signals signs of a confused man who has not yet started rolling his roadmap, if at all it was ever there. I am saying this because any roadmap comes with key players and policies,” he concluded.

The Ministry of Health and Wellness seems to be the most hard-hit by the transfers, having experienced three Permanent Secretaries changes within a year and a half. Insiders say the changes have everything to do with the Ministry being the centre of COVID-19 tenders and economic opportunities. “The buck stops with the PS and no right-thinking PS can just allow glaring corruption under his watch as an accounting officer. Technocrats are generally law abiding, the pressure comes with politically appointed leaders racing against political terms to loot,” revealed a director in the Ministry preferring anonymity.

The latest transfer of Kabelo Ebineng she says was also motivated by his firm attitude against the President’s blue-eyed Task Team boys. “The Task Team wants to own the COVID-19 pandemic and government interventions and always cry foul when the Ministry reasserts itself as mandated by law,” said the director who added that Masisi who was always caught between the crossfire decided on sacrificing Ebineng to the joy of his team as they (Task Team) were in the habit of threatening to resign citing Ebineng as the problem.

Ebineng joins the Office of the President as a deputy Coordinator (government implementation and coordination office).The incoming PS is the soft-spoken Grace Muzila, known and described by her close associates as a conformist albeit knowledgeable.

One of the losers in the grand scheme is Thato Raphaka who many had seen as the next PSP because of his experience and calm demeanour following a declaration of interest in the Southern African Development Community (SADC) Secretary post by the current PSP, Elias Magosi.

But hardly ten months into his post, Raphaka has been transferred out to the National Strategy Office in what many see as a demotion of some sort. Other notable changes coming into OP are Pearl Ramokoka formerly with the Employment, Labour and Productivity Ministry coming in as a Permanent Secretary and Kgomotso Abi as director of Public Service Reforms.

One of the ousted senior officers in the Office of the President warned that there are no signs that the changes and transfers will stop anytime soon: “If you are observant you would have long noticed that the changes don’t only affect senior officers but government decisions as well. A decision is made today and the government backtracks on it within a week. Not only that, the President says this today, and his deputy denies it the following day in Parliament,” he warned.

Some observers have blamed the turmoil in the civil service partly to lack of accountable presidential advisers or kitchen cabinet properly schooled on matters of statecraft. They point out that politicians or those peripheral to them should refrain from hampering the technical and organizational activities of public managers – or else the party (reshuffling) won’t stop.

In the view expressed by some Permanent Secretaries, Elias Magosi, has not really been himself since joining the civil service; and has cut a picture of indifference in most critical engagements; the most notable been a permanent secretaries platform which he chairs. As things stand there is need to reconcile the imperatives of democracy and democracy in Botswana. Peace will rein only when public value should stand astride the fault that runs between politicians and public managers.

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Morupisi fights for freedom in court

19th April 2021
morupisi

Former Permanent Secretary to the President, Carter Morupisi, is fighting for survival in a matter in which the State has charged him and his wife, Pinnie Morupisi, with corruption and money laundering.

Morupisi has joined a list of prominent figures that served in the previous administration and who have been accused of corruption during their tenure in office. While others have been emerging victorious, Morupisi is yet to find that luck. The High Court recently dismissed his no case to answer application.

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Pressure mounts on Biden to suspend Covid-19 vaccine patents

19th April 2021
Joe Biden

United States President, Joe Biden, is faced with a decision to make relating to the Covid-19 vaccine intellectual property after 175 former world leaders and Nobel laurates joined the campaign urging the US to take “urgent action” to suspend intellectual property rights for Covid-19 vaccines to help boost global inoculation rates.

According to the world leaders, doing so would allow developing countries to make their own copies of the vaccines that have been developed by pharmaceutical companies without fear of being sued for intellectual property infringements.

“A WTO waiver is a vital and necessary step to bringing an end to this pandemic. It must be combined with ensuring vaccine know-how and technology is shared openly,” the signatories, comprising more than 100 Nobel prize-winners and over 70 former world leaders, wrote in a letter to US President Joe Biden, according to Financial Times.

A measure to allow countries to temporarily override patent rights for Covid related medical products was proposed at the World Trade Organization by India and South Africa in October, and has since been backed by nearly 60 countries.

Former leaders who signed the letter included Gordon Brown, former UK Prime Minister; François Hollande, former French President; Mikhail Gorbachev, former President of the USSR; and Yves Leterme, former Belgian Prime Minister.

In their official communication, South Africa and India said: “As new diagnostics, therapeutics and vaccines for Covid-19 are developed, there are significant concerns [about] how these will be made available promptly, in sufficient quantities and at affordable prices to meet global demand.”

While developed countries have been able to secure enough vaccine to inoculate their citizens, developing countries such as Botswana are struggling to source enough to swiftly vaccine their citizens, something which world leaders believe it would work against global recovery therefore proving counter-productive.

Since the availability of vaccines, Botswana has been able to secure only 60 000 doses of vaccines, 30 000 as donation as from the Indian government, while the other 30 000 was sourced through COVAX facility.  Canada, has pre-ordered vaccines in surplus and it will be able to vaccinate each of its citizens six times over. In the UK and US, it is four vaccines per person; and two each in the EU and Australia.

For vaccines produced in Europe, developing countries are forced to pay double what European countries are paying, making it more expensive for already financially struggling economies.  European countries however justify the price of vaccines and that they deserve to buy them cheap since they contributed in their development.

It is evident that vaccines cannot be made available immediately to all countries worldwide with wealthy economies being the only success story in that regard, something that has been referred to as a “catastrophic moral failure”, head of the World Health Organisation (WHO), Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus.

The challenge facing developing countries is not only the price, but also the capacity of vaccine manufactures to be able to do so to meet global demand within a short time. The proposal for a patent waiver by India and South Africa has been rejected by developed countries, known for hosting the world leading pharmaceutical companies such US, European Union, the United Kingdom, and Switzerland.

According to the Financial Times, US business groups including pharmaceutical industry representatives, have urged Biden to resist supporting a waiver to IP rules at the WTO, arguing that the proposal led by India and South Africa was too “vague” and “broad”.

The individuals who signed the letter, including Nobel laureates in economics as well as from across the arts and sciences, warned that inequitable vaccine access would impact the global economy and prevent it from recovering.

“The world saw unprecedented development of safe and effective vaccines, in major part thanks to US public investment,” the group wrote. “We all welcome that vaccination rollout in the US and many wealthier countries is bringing hope to their citizens.”

“Yet for the majority of the world that same hope is yet to be seen. New waves of suffering are now rising across the globe. Our global economy cannot rebuild if it remains vulnerable to this virus.”
The group warned that fully enforcing IP was “self-defeating for the US” as it hindered global vaccination efforts. “Given artificial global supply shortages, the US economy already risks losing $1.3tn in gross domestic product this year.”

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