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Kerekang implicates PSP in NPF tale

In February 2018, cabinet chaired by former President Ian Khama discussed the National Petroleum Fund (NPF) case and resolved that the Directorate of Intelligence and Security (DIS) return the National Petroleum Fund (NPF) money it had received to buy weapons, according to Kenneth Kerekang, one of the accused persons in the NPF money laundering case.

He said Permanent Secretary to the President, Carter Morupisi was further instructed to meet with key government officials behind the transaction and put in place a process for the DIS to return funds to the Ministry of Mineral Resources Green Technology and Energy through the NPF.  “Indeed, a meeting was held in which Isaac Kgosi, as head of the DIS then; Dr Obulukile Obakeng Acting PS of the Ministry of Minerals with some key executives and officials from the ministry of Finance were in attendance,” he said.

“In opening the meeting, Morupisi acknowledged that, ‘cabinet knows there was no money laundering involved with the NPF/DIS P250m transaction, however, we will continue to pursue the matter before the courts in order to build public confidence. Things could have been done neater.’ “ But Morupisi is adamant that Kerekang’s version of events is untrue and misleading, “he knows very well that he is lying. I have never been in a meeting attended by him (Kerekang) and Kgosi, it is all lies,” he said.

Kerekang stated that, in Morupisi’s view, the P250m “loan” didn’t follow the proper procedure. He alleges that, it was at this point that they angered Kgosi that he wished to meet with the person who claims that the money the DIS got from the NPF was a loan.  According to Kerekang, Kgosi made it known to the panel that at no point in his discussions with the ministry of minerals was he ever given an impression that the money they received was a loan, explaining that to his knowledge the transaction was a straight government department to department funding assistance.  

“At that point then Acting PS in the ministry of minerals Dr Obakeng asked me to clarify the details behind the funding assistance because I was the one behind it as the director of the department of Energy.  Again, this angered Kgosi and he told the panel that he did not deal with me in getting funding assistance, and  a variation to pay for arms equipment from the original fuel storage construction, but instead Dr Obakeng.”


Kgosi is said to have went on and expressed disappointment at Dr Obakeng for denying the things which they agreed upon as government officials, and warned him to stop lying to everyone that cared to listen to his  ‘nonsense’. “At this stage Morupisi stepped in to calm the situation and asked for a productive meeting.  He further informed the meeting attendants that cabinet has taken a decision that the DIS will refund the P250m from its allocated budget of the new financial year of 1 April 2018. 

Another argument in the meeting erupted on whether the amount was P250m or P230m.  Kgosi insisted that he requested P250m, and he got only P230m.  He further was angry that he has only utilized P118m because the balance has been frozen by the ‘overzealous DCEC and FIA officials’.  The meeting was adjourned, with Kgosi and Obakeng asked to action the decision of cabinet with the assistance of the Ministry of Finance,” Kerekang narrated.

“All these act up in front me, a first accused in the criminal case before the Broadhurst Magistrate court.  To me this was the highest level of arrogance and complete lack of respect in my being… You invite me to a meeting where you say there was no wrongdoing, but you then say in front of my face that you are prosecuting me for PR purposes! How arrogant is that? I felt so insulted.  And that has been the story of my principals ever since.  One lie after the other, Dr Obakeng and the ministry have kept on denying many things, which he should have taken responsibility of.”

“And lately, after spending a year deciding on what to charge me with, Directorate of Public Prosecutions (DPP) comes to insult me for the second time.  They say I lied to Kgosi. Come on, I lie to a full head of Intelligence to go buy arms and spy equipment? Let’s get serious.  How do these arms benefit me, and my wife and children?  The government of Botswana keeps insulting me.  I may be quiet but I am certainly not stupid.  That is why I said that these people use people like condoms.  You are only good for their objectives, thereafter they dump you,” Kerekang said, adding that there were many words to describe the government’s blunt disregard of his rights:  Callous, Appalling and Cruel.

Here’s another possibility which my lawyers will attend to later: criminal — liable to prosecution and, if found guilty, I hope prison time for them.Documents in possession of the WeekendPost show desperate acts of the ministry and the DIS to sanitize the transaction after the alleged meeting chaired by Morupisi.  In the correspondence, the ministry of minerals represented by Dr Obakeng requests for information from the DIS on the P250m facility and Khulaco; DIS responds also seeking further clarity on amounts, whether it was P230m or P250m; Dr Obakeng further writes to the Attorney General asking for legal representation, as he felt he was on duty when he approved and varied use of the P250m by the DIS to buy drones, and spy equipment.  

Kerekang questions why it is so stupid for the DCEC and DPP to think he was pursuing a private and personal matter when the DIS dealt with him regarding funding, but for Dr Obakeng it should be seen as if he was on duty and therefore he needs legal representation by the Attorney General?  “That is foolishness we see in this NPF case,” charges Kerekang. At one of the press conferences by the Minister of Minerals Eric Molale, he confirmed that the DIS has returned the P118m or so it used to purchase equipment from Israel to the ministry, as per the instruction of cabinet.  

“The balance of monies remain frozen with the banks.  It then begs the question, why is a government department returning money to another government department that claimed it was laundered, and has disappeared?  Related to this, Dignia Systems of Israel is suing government the balance of the money paid to it by Khulaco, represented by Bakang Seretse and Botho Leburu, who has since been discharged from the criminal case before the Broadhurst magistrate court.”  

“Dignia case is accompanied with documents of a contract and evidence of delivery.  Furthermore, Dignia say they only got to know of Khulaco through the Office of the President, thereby quashing any conspiracy with the accused.  Furthermore, they say they have had dealings with government for over 6 years, separate from the accused.  They also say proper international banking clearance was done in receiving their contract money, dispelling the myth of money laundering.”

Kerekang further claimed that he is withholding further information which he said is the privilege for his lawyers, and has instead asked the public to be patient as a lot will be revealed in court.  In partying he said, “I appear quiet but I am not stupid.  Neither am I going to be used cheaply.  I was a director at the Ministry of Mineral Resources Green Technology and Energy Security for many years.  I will not go down easily for cheap agendas.  Lets say I know a lot.  And let’s leave it there for now.” Asked about the allegations of the said meeting, Morupisi said, “That’s a blue lie. They are lying.”

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Major public services shake-up looms

24th January 2022
Emmah

Public Servants should brace themselves for some changes as the government is in an overdrive mode to overhaul the public sector. The government has also set the tone for the looming changes as it has added the public sector to its looming list of major and sweeping reforms.

This is contained in a savingram from the Permanent Secretary to the President (PSP) Emmah Peloetletse’s office showing how the government intends to “take stock” of all reforms in the public sector through the establishment of an inventory.  Peloetletse’s savingram addressed to various ministries and the Directorate of Public Service Management (DPSM) reveals that the government is working around the clock to implement some changes in the Public Service.

The savingram reminded Permanent Secretaries of various ministries and DPSM that the public sector reforms unit (PSRU) at the Office of the President is mandated with Coordinating Reforms across the Public Service.  “This essentially entails providing the strategic guidance and facilitation in the implementation of reforms across the Public Service. In this endeavour the Unit has in the past with Technical Assistance from European Union developed a template for documenting Reforms in the Public Service and documented ten (10) major reforms across the Public Service,” reads the savingram in part. It added that “The Unit has lately rolled out the Change Management Framework in an effort to facilitate effective and efficient management of change in the Public Service.”

According to the savingram, it has been noted that for a variety of reasons the use of the template for documenting reforms has not been universally used across the Botswana Public Service.  It further states that to facilitate the documentation of the reforms it is essential that an inventory of the various reforms across the Public Service (Central Government, Local Government and State Owned Entities) is established.

“By this correspondent we are seeking your assistance in populating the attached template to provide basic information on the various reforms. The PSRU will, through the various Coordination of focal Persons facilitate the full documentation of the reforms once the inventory is established,” the savingram further stated. The copy of the template among others calls on the focal persons to fill out them form under several headings; they include title of reform, start date, reform objectives, reform components, reform components, progress status.

The savingram echoes President Mokgweetsi Masisi’s announcement last year during his state of the nation address that as a nation Botswana has set itself a lofty goal of becoming a high income country by 2036 and has come up with a list of reforms among them digitisation of government infrastructure. He said the path to achieving this goal dictates that, Botswana takes deliberate steps that will transform its institutions; the way Batswana think and the way they act.

“It is with this in mind, that I presented a Reset Agenda in May 2021, with the following priorities: Save Botswana‘s population from COVID-19, by implementing a series of life saving measures that include a successful and timely vaccination programme, Adherence to COVID-19 health protocols remains key and align Botswana Government’s machinery to the Presidential Agenda, to ensure that the national transformation agenda will be embodied in the public service of the day,” said Masisi. He added that, “this will come with significant Government reforms in all public institutions. We need greater agility and responsiveness like never before in the delivery of public services.”

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Covid-19 Task Force meddled in tenders-report

24th January 2022
Dr. Kereng Masupu

The Presidential COVID-19 Task Force reportedly meddled in the awarding of tenders for COVID-19, a new Public Accounts Committee (PAC) report has revealed.

The Committee expressed concern that it has noted that there are two centres for covid procurement being the Ministry of Health and the Covid Task team in the Office of the President. The report says the Committee questioned the Accounting Officer on why the COVID 19 task team is usurping the powers of the Ministry of Health by engaging in covid procurement when the Ministry of Health is the one which has the experience and mandate of dealing with the pandemic. The report says clarification was also sought on why direct appointment is the preferred method for covid procurement.

“In her response the Accounting Officer stated that the task team was mainly engaged in the procuring of quarantine facilities and was assisting the Ministry of Health due to the heavy workload brought about by the COVID 19 pandemic,” the report says. The report says the Accounting Officer further stated that direct procurement was used because COVID 19 was treated as an emergency and that procurement was mainly from companies that have been traditionally used by the Ministry of Health.

“This however, is not the case as there has been report of new companies being awarded COVID -19 contracts. The use of direct procurement method should only be used in exceptional cases as it’s a non-competitive method which increases the risk of inflated pricing and close relations with particular suppliers to the detriment of others,” the report says.

It says since most covid procurement fell under emergency, there is need for openness and transparency regarding the procurement.  The PAC recommended that in order to ensure transparency and accountability all COVID 19 related procurement should be periodically published in the PPADB website giving full details of the companies receiving procurement contracts and the beneficial owners of the companies.

It says with the passage of time the impact of covid is no longer unexpected so direct awards should gradually be abandoned as the medium and long-term needs of the pandemic can now be predicted. “Judgement should be used even during direct awards to ensure that prices are not higher than the market prices,” the report says.

In a related matter, the report says the Central Medical Stores (CMS) was unable to cater for the required quantities of medical supplies with order fulfilments of about 35% resulting in shortages and insufficient drugs to Athlone Hospital and the surrounding clinics.
“In his submission the Accounting Officer had indicated that CMS was unable to supply the exact quantities required by the hospital and surrounding clinics due to the fact that supplies from CMS have to be rationed in order to cover other facilities around the country,” says the report.

The committee expressed concern about the inadequate supply of drugs to government facilities which puts the lives of patients at risk due to non- availability of essential supplies. It recommended that the Ministry identifies and prioritise measures that need to be taken to ensure that there is adequate supply of essential medicines which are needed in the public health system.

Meanwhile the report says the Ministry of Health and Wellness coordinates the operations and functions of some institutions which receive government subventions and secondment of staff from the government. These institutions include 10 NGO’s, two mission Hospitals, three mission clinics and two schools of Nursing.

It says in its endeavour to enhance efficiency and effectiveness of government support to NGOs the Ministry of Finance and Economic Development developed some Policy Guidelines for Financial Support to Non- Governmental Organisations.  According to the PAC report, the guidelines were meant to ensure that there is consistency, accountability and transparency in administering public funding to NGOs. However, the Ministry of Health did not comply with the very important guidelines.

“The main areas of non-compliance were the following: (i) There was no Evaluation Committee to vet proposals from NGOs, in some instances NGOs had formed part of the evaluation forum when their requests were being considered,” the report says.  It says there was continued funding of NGOs even when they failed to submit narrative and financial progress reports; and (iv) Continued funding of NGOs that failed to submit audited financial statements and management letters as required. The Committee expressed concern at the lapses in the administration of grants by the Ministry despite the large sums of public money awarded to these NGOs.

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BDF killings of Namibians: Court unable to rule on missing gun

24th January 2022
BDF

The Kasane Regional Magistrate Court refused this week to rule on whether three Namibians and their Zambian cousin shot dead by members of the Botswana Defence Force (BDF) were in possession of a rifle or not prior to their deaths.

Ruling in favour of the BDF members, Regional Magistrate Taboka Mopipi who presided over the inquest said, “It is acknowledged that no rifle has been produced before court to confirm that indeed the deceased were armed and or that there was indeed a gun shot.”  She said the evidence before the court is that search for the rifle(s) that allegedly triggered the gunfire exchange was done by both Namibia and Botswana SCUBA divers and nothing was found. She said when the said search was done, an area of search was demarcated around the scene area which was partly searched due to water animals such as hippos that launched an attack at the area during the search.

“The search was therefore never concluded. This therefore leaves a gap. To that end, the area not extensively searched, the court cannot make a finding whether the rifle in issue was there or not. This is a very crucial piece of evidence,” added Mopipi. She said the joint search did not conclude the exercise and I cannot properly make a finding of fact adding that that the rifle was there as the BDF allege can therefore not be ruled out.

The deceased are Martin Munilweye Nchindo, Ernest Nchindo, Tommy Sinvula Nchindo and Sivula Munyeme. The four deceased persons died on the night of the 5th November 2020, in the waters of the Chobe River (Southern Channel) near Sedudu/Kasikili Island in Botswana. Mopipi said the incident took place at night, in a gloomy atmosphere and that as at the time, movement in that particular area was restricted and or not permitted.

She said it was the evidence of some of the witnesses that the injuries as observed on the four deceased reflected that they were brutally assaulted and or beaten either before or after being shot. “Their evidence gained support from Witness 34, Dr. Bithoma Thotho Amis who observed post mortem on behalf of the families of the deceased and Government of Namibia. This witness however conceded during cross-examination that the injuries as observed have been caused by other contacts and or impacts such as falling and hitting the hard surface of a wooden canoe,” said Mopipi.

She emphasized that inquest proceedings have very serious consequences and therefore, whatever evidence brought before court must be produced by persons of right qualifications particularly the post mortem report which the court has to rely upon.
“The qualification of the expert is crucial in determining the credibility of the report. Upon assessment of both experts, I am inclined to adopt the reports from Witness 18, who is a qualified pathologist. A closer look at the other report indicates that the author, Witness 34 is not a qualified pathologist and it is meddled by issues outside an expert opinion,” she said.

Mopipi said reports compiled by a consultant Forensic Pathologist Dr. Kaone Panzirah-Mabaka show the causes of death as follows; Sivula Munyeme, gunshot injury to the chest and extremities, Martin Nchindo, gunshot wound to the abdomen and pelvis, Ernest Nchindo, multiple gunshot injuries to the chest and extremities and Tommy Nchindo, gunshot wound to the chest and abdomen.

“Medical evidence therefore prove conclusively that the four deceased persons died due to gunshots injuries. It is undisputed that the injuries were inflicted by seven (7) members of the Botswana Defence Force; Lieutenant Moreri Kenneth Mphela, Sergeant Ndingisano Nfazo, Sergeant Puisano Pistor Kgokong, Private Mbikiso Tafila, Private Emmanuel Moganetsi Majuta, Private Barulaganyi Rannosang and Private Oromilwe Motlhabi,” said Mopipi.

Mopipi found that there was a gunshot from the direction of the men to the direction of the BDF section.  “The BDF members retaliated and returned fire. This was done in accordance with Standard Operation Procedures (SOPs) within the BDF. According to the SOPs, in case a soldier is being fired at, they fire back and do not have to wait for a command,” she said. She added that “The gunfire exchange was brief and after it ceased, they used a torch to light where the men were and established that all the four men were motionless, two in one canoe, one in the other and the other man lying on the edge of the river on the Island.”

She said, “The evidence of the witnesses is that, when they followed the intel, the intent was to conduct an investigation. There was clearly no intent on their part to shoot the deceased, they did that as an act of retaliation.”

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