In a space of about a year and half of its existence, the Botswana Energy Regulatory Authority (BERA) finds itself under investigation for allegations of corruption by some members of management. The probe will also zoom into poor working relations between the board and management.
Minister of Mineral Resources, Green Technology and Energy Security, Eric Molale has last week instituted a commission headed by former Deputy Attorney General, Tendekani Malebeswa to investigate BERA. The fights at BERA started late last year with management up in arms against board members. The pandemonium has led to some seniors executives being suspended from work or facing disciplinary action.
At the top of the investigations agenda, according to reliable sources at the ministry, the probe team is said to have instructive terms of reference to recommend the dismissal Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of BERA, Rose Seretse; check the procurement processes of BERA which allowed the Chairman of BERA, Bernard Ndove to sell computers to the organisation; and finally audit the allowances given to Board members and some executives.
The investigations have since started and already drivers, some members of management and board members have been called for interviews at the ministry. This publication is reliably informed that the commission has so far managed to interrogate all the eight board members, some junior staff members and former Minister Sadique Kebonang.
“And the commission has already heard that Seretse is using a company car and at the same time pocketing a car allowance of P20 000; Furthermore, Seretse was never interviewed for the position; and the issue of conflict of interest as Ndlove’s company sold computers to the organisation,” revealed a source close to the developments. Contacted for comment, Minister Molale said that he is a responsible citizen and government official who is a rational decision maker who is not influenced by hearsay.
“There are problems at BERA which have been reported to me officially. The investigation is to help me get the facts right and thereafter take the right decisions,” he said, adding that, “In fact Seretse is the one who reported most issues.” Former Minister at the same ministry, Kebonang confirmed that he appeared before the commission in good authority to explain the setting up of BERA, appointment of Seretse as the CEO and board members.
“Seretse’s appointment was properly in order as it was sanctioned by the cabinet. And it must be noted that I did not appoint Seretse, she was appointed by the cabinet as they did not object to her name.” Asked about head hunting her, Kebonang said, “Head hunting is not unusual in government. And BERA board is made up of highly qualified people.” For her part, Seretse told this publication that they (BERA) were the ones who requested for the audit. “I requested for the audit to get to the bottom of things to all the allegations that were published in newspapers last year,” she said.
Responding to the allegation that she was using a company car and pocketing a car allowance at the same time, she denied the allegation, stating that, “It is not true. It is a lie perpetrated by those who wanted the position of the CEO.” Seretse was redeployed from the position of director general of Directorate on Corruption and Economic Crime (DCEC) to BERA in 2017. There were ‘spurious’ allegations that the move was to silence her as the leadership at the time felt she was disturbing the ‘elders’, by investigating anyone regardless of their position and political background. “They as such agreed to find a place for her. And that is why she never applied for the post or pass through an interview,” said a source close to the events.
WeekendPost also learnt from documents in their possession that when Seretse initially signed the BERA contract, the package had a company car plus car allowance. Seretse later wrote to the minister notifying about this whereupon it was allegedly agreed after thorough consultation that the package can never be reduced. “It was as such agreed that the car allowance be renamed professional allowance as it was one of her benefits at her former employer.” Seretse has since 2017 won at least three awards owing to her good work. She was awarded Africa’s Most Influential Woman in 2017; Presidential Award and Commonwealth Recognition for fighting Corruption in 2018.
The outgoing President of the Court of Appeal, Justice Ian Kirby, shares his thoughts with us as he leaves the Bench at the end of this year.
WeekendPost: Why did you move between the Attorney General and the Bench?
Ian Kirby: I was a member of the Attorney General’s Chambers three times- first in 1969 as Assistant State Counsel, then in 1990 as Deputy Attorney General (Civil), and finally in 2004 as Attorney General. I was invited in 2000 by the late Chief Justice Julian Nganunu to join the Bench. I was persuaded by former President Festus Mogae to be his Attorney General in 2004 as, he said, it was my duty to do so to serve the nation. I returned to the Judiciary as soon as I could – in May 2006, when there was a vacancy on the High Court Bench.
Botswana’s civil society is one of the non-state actors that could save the country’s democracy from sliding into regression, a Germany based think tank has revealed. This is according to a discussion paper by researchers at the German Development Institute who analysed the effects of e-government usage on political attitudes In Botswana.
In the paper titled “E-government and democracy in Botswana: Observational and experimental evidence on the effects of e-government usage on political attitudes,” the researchers offer a strongly worded commentary on Botswana’s ‘flawed democracy.’ The authors noted that with Botswana’s Parliament structurally – and in practice – feeble, the potential for checks and balances on executive power rests with the judiciary.
Bangwato in Serowe — where Bamagwato Paramount Chief and former President Lt. Gen Ian Khama originates – disagree on whether they must send a delegation to dialogue with President Mokgweetsi Masisi’s family in Moshupa. Just last week, a meeting was called by the Regent of Bamagwato, Kgosi Sediegeng Kgamane, at Serowe Kgotla to, among others, update the tribe on the whereabouts of their Kgosi (Khama).
Further, his state of health was also discussed, with Kgamane telling the attendees that all is well with Khama. The main reason for the meeting was to deliberate on the escalating tension between Khama and Masisi — a three-year bloodletting going unabated.