Bakang Seretse, one of the accused in the ongoing P250 million National Petroleum Fund (NPF) money laundering trial, has stated that the case is both commercially and politically motivated.
Bakang, a relative of former President Lt Gen Ian Khama, and a nephew to former Minister of Defence, Justice and Security, Ramadeluka Seretse, has alleged that his family ties are the motivating factors in his ‘persecution.’ “Some say I am being prosecuted because of deemed association with the past administration, or that I have a relation with the Khamas. I don’t want to take that road, and state the obvious. I wish to focus on my case, and disengage because people tend to conflate me with the former President, and think by crushing me they can get to him,” he said.
“But I can confirm there were a number of commercial interests in my persecution, very soon I will be vindicated. Things will reveal themselves very soon. The reality is I was a threat to many competitors. With our passionate development agenda, we became a threat to many that were in the same business as ourselves. Add localisation and giving Batswana a chance that set the cat amongst the pigeons.”
Bakang said people have always wanted them out of the finance industry of Botswana, vowing that it will not happen. “We as citizens have always operated in the periphery of our economy. I refuse to be treated as such. I still have a lot to contribute for my country, and indeed for myself and my family’s benefit. But that’s a conversation for another day,” he said. Bakang denied to have ever used his relationship with the former President to get access to government tenders. He said it was just a blatant lie if someone dares attempt to say that.
“Actually, there has never been any relationship with Khama in the first place, just to say his father was my father’s cousin. That’s all. It is very mischievous and dangerous of people to say that.” He lamented that, “the very people who used to block us access to Khama saying the Seretses are bewitching the former President, are the very people who are now going around saying we somehow benefited from his administration. They lied to Khama about the Seretses not being good to him. I have worked independently and hard to get to where I am in life.”
In his own words, Bakang described the whole case as personal saying people were settling personal and political scores against him. “If people want to settle scores against me, come to me directly. Don’t choose vulnerable targets. Play the ball but not the man. Leave my brother out of this circus. That giving P20, 000 or him being given business by one of my associated companies is money laundering is a blatant lie. It is meant to intimidate me, and embarrass my family.”
“A lot has been said about the NPF and my involvement. It all comes against a background of ignorance and lies. And a lot was also said at the Public Accounts Committee that was nothing but lies. Some people all of a sudden developed amnesia, some said contradicting statements and some came with some new lies.” He said one such lie is that Basis Points Capital was never properly appointed by the Ministry of Mineral Resources, Green Technology and Energy Security.
He said surprisingly the Auditor General has never approached him. “The same applies to this myth that somehow Kerekang favoured the companies that were associated with me. We are on the assertive to say that we have never been appointed by Kenneth Kerekang to any transaction. The Ministry Tender Committee is the one that appoints service providers,” he said.
“In the midst of all this noise, the good that we did for NPF is conveniently kept away from the public. For one, we presented financials for the NPF after more than three years were the Fund had no financials due to audit queries.”Bakang contend that since taking over the fund they increased the investment income of the Fund many folds indicating that for the first time, they ensured that there was efficiency in the collection of the levies.
According to Bakang, prior to his arrival, there was no system or process in collecting government levies. He said through the system they identified many delinquent levy payers, and ensured fairness in the petroleum industries by making sure that everybody who imports fuel pays. He also opines that they went far back as seven years to audit the levies and found out that there was more than P450 million that was owed to government.
“A simple answer to that is that it depends where the smoke is coming from. I was home, minding my own business when I was called by a government official to facilitate what I was told was a government transaction. All of a sudden, I then find myself in a midst of a storm.” Bakang said he was surprised that what he was told to be a state secret and made to swear into secrecy has turned out to be complete joke with people failing to take responsibility.
“I am being made to explain government processes and procedures. How, when I have never worked for government? I have been made to take blame for state actors where it is bluntly evident that they are the owners of the transactions. What I know is that we did work, and we ought to be paid. Goods have arrived from Israel, pay me my remaining contract money. It’s simple as that. All other stuff is some side noise,” Bakang concluded.
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.