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.”
While there is no hard-and-fast rule in politics, former Molepolole North Member of Parliament, Mohamed Khan says populism acts in the body politic have forced him to quit active partisan politics. He brands this ancient ascription of politics as fake and says it lowers the moral compass of the society.
Khan who finally tasted political victory in the 2014 elections after numerous failed attempts, has decided to leave the ‘dirty game’, and on his way out he characteristically lashed at the current political leaders; including his own party president, Advocate Duma Boko. “I arrived at this decision because I have noticed that there are no genuine politics and politicians. The current leaders, Boko and President Dr Mokgweetsi Masisi are fake politicians who are just practicing populist politics to feed their egos,” he said.
Former Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) parliamentary hopeful, Lawrence Ookeditse has rejected the idea of taking up a crucial role in the Botswana Patriotic Front (BPF) Central Committee following his arrival in the party this week. According to sources close to development, BPF power brokers are coaxing Ookeditse to take up the secretary general position, left vacant by death of Roseline Panzirah-Matshome in November 2020.
Ookeditse’s arrival at BPF is projected to cause conflicts, as some believe they are being overlooked, in favour of a new arrival. The former ruling party strategist has however ruled out the possibility of serving in the party central committee as secretary general, and committed that he will turn down the overture if availed to him by party leadership.
Ookeditse, nevertheless, has indicated that if offered another opportunity to serve in a different capacity, he will gladly accept. “I still need to learn the party, how it functions and all its structures; I must be guided, but given any responsibility I will serve the party as long as it is not the SG position.”
“I joined the BPF with a clear conscious, to further advance my voice and the interests of the constituents of Nata/Gweta which I believe the BDP is no longer capable to execute.” Ookeditse speaks of abject poverty in his constituency and prevalent unemployment among the youth, issues he hopes his new home will prioritise.
He dismissed further allegations that he resigned from the BDP because he was not rewarded for his efforts towards the 2019 general elections. After losing in the BDP primaries in 2018, Ookeditse said, he was offered a job in government but declined to take the post due to his political ambitions. Ookeditse stated that he rejected the offer because, working for government clashed with his political journey.
He insists there are many activists who are more deserving than him; he could have chosen to take up the opportunity that was before him but his conscious for the entire populace’s wellbeing held him back. Ookeditse said there many people in the party who also contributed towards party success, asserting that he only left the BDP because he was concerned about the greater good of the majority not individualism purposes.
According to observers, Ookeditse has been enticed by the prospects of contesting Nata/Gweta constituency in the 2024 general election, following the party’s impressive performance in the last general elections. Nata/Gweta which is a traditional BDP stronghold saw its numbers shrinking to a margin of 1568. BDP represented by Polson Majaga garnered 4754, while BPF which had fielded Joe Linga received 3186 with UDC coming a distant with 1442 votes.
There are reports that Linga will pave way for Ookeditse to contest the constituency in 2024 and the latter is upbeat about the prospects of being elected to parliament. Despite Ookeditse dismissing reports that he is eying the secretary general position, insiders argue that the position will be availed to him nevertheless.
Alternative favourite for the position is Vuyo Notha who is the party Deputy Secretary General. Notha has since assumed duties of the secretariat office on the interim basis. BPF politburo is expected to meet on 25th of January 2020, where the vacancy will be filled.
Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) big wigs have decided to cancel a retreat with the party legislators this weekend owing to increasing numbers of Covid-19 cases. The meeting was billed for this weekend at a place that was to be confirmed, however a communique from the party this past Tuesday reversed the highly anticipated meeting.
“We received a communication this week that the meeting will not go as planned because of rapid spread of Covid-19,” one member of the party Central Committee confirmed to this publication. The gathering was to follow the first of its kind held late last year at party Treasurer Satar Dada’s place.