The Botswana Movement for Democracy (BMD) has met the October 18th deadline set by the Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) to show course why they should not be suspended from the organisation. But in their response signed by the part secretary general, Gilbert Mangole, the BMD is defiant, hostile and promising “a fight to the bitter end.”
“We again place on record that the BMD does not accept the suspension conveyed by your letter as, not only is its purport unlawful, it is also entirely baseless,” reads the response from BMD. In the response the Sidney Pilane led party says “it raises technical grounds vitiating the decision to suspend and possibly expel the BMD from the UDC.”
Gilbert Mangole put forward a foundation to the response: “It is public knowledge that the decisions to suspend and expel were long made in informal bilateral meetings between the BCP and the BNF, and that the meetings past and the forthcoming meetings as well as correspondence entered into are mere formalities to give the appearance of some process, however illegal.”
Raising what he calls technical grounds, Mangole hinges into the UDC constitution which he says governs its affairs , he states that the founding members of the UDC are the BMD, the Botswana National Front (BNF) and the Botswana People’s Party (BPP). As for the Botswana Congress Party (BCP), Mangole is expressly clear that they are not a member of the UDC. “The BCP sought membership of the UDC…by process of negotiation.
Terms of their entry into membership of the UDC, including a new constitution and the division of constituencies, were agreed subject to all four parties executing written Memorandum of Agreement. A Transitional Team on which all four parties were to have equal representation was charged to incorporate a few changes that had been made to the Constitution drafted by the Stream and to draft the Memorandum of agreement aforesaid,” writes Mangole.
According to Mangole, the BCP expressly refused to participate in the work of the Transitional Team, which proceeded without the BCP and prepared an agreement aforesaid. “Documentary proof of the BCP’s refusal and of the existence of the written Agreement we have in our possession and will employ in the event of what seems to be certain litigation that will follow any attempt by you to implement decisions hostile to the BMD which you have already taken,” he writes to Duma Boko, the President of the UDC.
Mangole further claims that BCP’s refusal to participate in the work of the Transitional Team, and to sign the Agreement aforesaid, made it impossible to follow the constitutional process and the process required by the Societies Act which would have resulted in the BCP becoming a member in law of the UDC. The BMD secretary general says his president, Pilane described the process in detail in a presentation he made to the first meeting of the informal “NEC” of the UDC which he attended following the Movement’s Bobonong Congress. “Accordingly, the BCP is not and has not, at any time, become a member of the UDC.”
Mangole and his colleagues at the BMD are of the view that “the BCP may in consequence, not attend any lawful meetings of the UDC in the future nor participate in any decisions that the UDC might take. It need hardly be mentioned that no decision made by the UDC in the past, including the decision to suspend the BMD from the UDC made on 25 September 2018, in the presence of representatives of the BCP and in which they participated is lawful.”
He writes, “The BCP’s presence and its participation by representation at the meeting of 25 September 2018 during which the decision to suspend the BMD was taken vitiates any and all decisions made at that meeting.” Mangole’s letter further indicates that the presence of the BCP by representation in any future meetings of the UDC and its participation in those meetings and decisions made thereat will vitiate those meetings and all the decisions they may take.
BMD CLAIMS SUPPORT FROM BPP
Further in their response the BMD states that the BPP was represented at the meeting of 25 September 2018 at which the decision to suspend the BMD, “and to require us to show cause, was made.” “The BPP inform us that they had not been invited to that meeting, nor had they noticed that it was intended to make decisions conveyed by your letter of suspension dated 26 September 2018 at the meeting.
The BPP further inform us that Otlaadisa Otlaadisa, who may have been present at the meeting of 25 September 2018, and who may participated in the decisions in that meeting made, including the decision to suspend the BMD and to require us to show cause, was not authorized to attend that meeting and had not been given authority to support those decisions on behalf of the BPP.” According to Mangole, the BPP maintains that they are opposed to all the decisions which were made at the meeting of 25th September 2018.
BMD QUESTIONS THE NEC COMPOSITION
The BMD is also questioning the structure that met on 25 September 2018 and took decisions adverse to the BMD. Mangole posits that the structure that met on that date is not a structure of the UDC by reason, inter alia, of its composition and the manner by which it came into existence. “That it is loosely described as the NEC of the UDC does not make it so as that is a matter of law.”
“Accordingly, the “NEC” that met and took the decisions it did on 25 September 2018, and may do so in future, is not a structure of the UDC and was not and is not authorized to make decisions for and of the UDC.” Mangole and his team further question the quorum of the “NEC”, “Even if the structure that met and made the decisions it did on 25 September 2018 was a lawful structure of the UDC, which it was not then and is not now and will, without more, not be in the future, the absence of the BMD and the BPP rendered the meeting of 25 September 2018 no-quorate.”
Therefore, Mangole writes, “the BMD was, on 25 September 2018 and remains, a member of the UDC and was and is entitled to be invited to and to participate in meetings of and to participate in decisions that the UDC makes.” He states that there is no lawful basis for not inviting the BMD to UDC meetings. “The deliberate decision to not invite the BMD to the meeting of 25 September 2018 would, were that meeting lawful, vitiate that meeting and the decisions it took.” The BMD is of the view that it was suspended without due process albeit there are no grounds for suspension because no evidence substantiating the accusations has been furnished “a written request notwithstanding and that makes it impossible to answer meaningfully.”
BMD DEFENDS PILANE
Mangole also takes time defending Sidney Pilane against the allegations levelled against him. He says the president of the BMD has not, at anytime and anywhere, made any divisive and or toxic/ pronouncements as alleged. “Our president has not made any pronouncements out of turn, nor has he done anything that required the sanction and authority of the UDC without such authority.”
“Our president has not painted the alleged or any other picture of the UDC, nor has he ever said or done anything adverse to the UDC,” writes Mangole. The BMD also deny charges that Pilane disparaged the UDC, and that he has been uncooperative. They further indicate that Pilane has not tarnished or put the name of the UDC into disrepute.
Mangole writes that the BMD has honoured all bilaterals requested of them. “We did with the BCP in respect of Maun West and Francistown West, and we did with the BPP as concerns Francistown West. The BNF has never asked us for a bilateral. What they have done was request us to meet with them to negotiate who, between the BMD and the BNF, should present parliamentary candidates in Moshupa-Manyana and Lentsweletau Mmopane constituencies.
This was not an invitation to hold a bilateral; it was one to re-open negotiations to divide constituencies when the process had long been concluded with those constituencies being allocated to the BMD. Only BCP had sought Lentsweletau Mmopane but yielded to the BMD.” Mangole says all accusations levelled against them as a party and those against their president are without substance.
In conclusion the BMD secretary general says, “The reasons for suspending the BMD, and contemplating its expulsion, are false and contrived, and are an unlawful stratagem to steal BMD constituencies.” He sayd the the BCP and the BNF July 2018 conferences both separately but conspiratorially resolved on unlawful strategies to steal BMD’s constituencies from it.
Botswana Football Association (BFA) leadership appears to be bowing down to Nicolas Zakhem’s football pressure. The development comes to the open roughly 24 hours after the Gaborone United director publicly labelled Maclean Letshwiti and his committee failures for deciding to chop five premier league clubs under the pretext of club licensing disqualification.
As early as Wednesday noon, the BFA emergency committee met with one agenda item to discuss the possibility of reinstating the clubs. This publication gathers that the committee saw it fit to pardon the five clubs without entertaining a second thought. The committee even invited the clubs to the meeting, sources say.
Late last month, the five teams were disqualified from playing in the premier league, pending the appeal outcome. The teams are Notwane, Extension Gunners, BR Highlanders, Mogoditshane Fighters, together with Gilport Lions. The immediate decision by BFA follows what Zakhem had said and advised that it was wrong to chop clubs given the COVID-19 situation in the country.
Unbeknownst to BFA leadership, observers stress that Zakhem exerted public pressure and influenced them to change tone without asking. At the meeting, BFA president Maclean Letshwiti, his vices, Marshlow Motlogelwa and Masego Ntshingane, Aryl Ralebala, the Botswana Football League (BFL) chairman, together with Alec Fela, an ordinary member in the now stubborn NEC.
However, the reactive move by the association to reinstate the clubs is highly welcomed in certain quarters, but it also appears to have left a permanent scar, especially at BFL. As things stand, the general feeling on the ground is to oust chairman Ralebala for failing to defend these clubs before the eyes of President Letshwiti.
This publication has intercepted an ongoing petition to unseat Ralebala and his deputies from the BFL board. Strange enough, the signed petition has thus far attracted clubs with household influence in the league itself. GU, Township Rollers, Notwane, Extension Gunners, Police XI are some clubs that have already appended their signatures to have Ralebala removed.
The big clubs are believed to fighting for principle and demand fair governance at BFL. The reality is that these clubs command a large following, and sponsors can always have a say based on their presence.
When approached for clarity, Ralebala said he could not comment on allegations or issues that lack substance. He concedes that he has heard about the rolling petition but is yet to lay his eyes on it. “I have heard about the petition, but I don’t know where it is coming from. I think it is best you ask those who have signed it. My focus is to commence the league and make sure everything is on point,” said Ralebala.
Football observers state that Ralebala, together with Letshwiti, are now faced with a dilemma. Reports coming from Lekidi Football Centre, although yet to be fabricated, are that the big guns lead others to form a parallel structure where they will play on their league. The clubs are angry at their chairman for taking many of the instructions from the BFA boss, and already a general melee is gathering traction that the two must resign as football has lost direction.
Zakhem says, although he supported Letshwiti, he has a sense of duty to stand for the truth. “I knew I supported Letshwiti and his troops, but you see, these guys have lost direction. I have long advised them that chopping clubs like this will cause confusion and delay progress, but they cannot listen. Letshwiti gave BFL autonomy, but I do not know why he is still interfering,” Zakhem said.
You may, by now, have heard about the dark side of the high profile P100 billion case, but wait, there is also the brighter side. Staff Writer AUBREY LUTE explores the positives accruing from the fall of the country’s biggest financial ‘scam-dal’.
A chance to fix the country’s financial record
They have not publicly been saying it, but the state agencies and the President, Dr Mokgweetsi Masisi, have been at pains to explain and rationalise how an amount almost equal to the country’s GPD left the central bank.
Many insiders attributed the country‘s troubled financial status to the case, including the grey-listing, non-compliance and identified deficiencies, some of which were hitting citizens around the globe. Botswana was in 2018 taken aback by FATF news that the country has been listed alongside countries that do not comply with (AML/CFT). The European Union Commission later flagged Botswana in March 2019 for lacking strategic deficiencies in AML/CFT regulations.
A chance to restore the dignity of the law enforcement arms
The case, without a doubt, was a distraction object on the law enforcement agencies, which spent a chunk of their time bickering and finger-pointing. A leaked audio recording exposing the explosive meeting of the law enforcement arms of government, being the Intelligence Services, Corruption and Economic Crimes agency, and the Prosecutions division summed it all.
The case presented a monumental crisis threatening the core of their being. Following these developments, the Presidency, clearly under the influence of a tripartite member, took a spine-chilling decision to disband the DCEC, a move that was saved by the organisation’s founding director- Tymon Katlholo’s bold protest.
The DPP, the Police, and the DCEC staff were used in the process to carry out bizarre instructions, some of which left the state with an egg on its face. Mistrust and backstabbing were the order of the day within the law enforcement agencies, and the P100 billion case was to blame. “Some badly wanted the plot executed while the other side badly wanted it to end to restore sanity,” an insider says.
The source further adds that “if the case did not end soon, it was going to end a lot of people’s relationships and careers because those who refused to carry the insane instructions were seen as sympathisers to former President Ian Khama.” With the case having fallen, these agencies can reflect, reconcile and go back to work.
A chance to fix diplomatic relations…
It was not only South Africa that was accused of Sabotaging Botswana’s prosecutorial goal. The state also accused several countries of refusing or delaying to assist in the process. Of all the nations, only South Africa has decided to take Botswana to task, perhaps on its proximity to Botswana. Others long ignored Botswana’s requests for assistance to the frustration of former DPP deputy director who repeatedly told the courts that they were struggling to get responses from the international community. With the case having fallen, Botswana may get a chance to face her actions, apologise and rectify the promise that lessons have been learnt.
Pressure off the shoulders of those who have to account…
The case did not only affect the law enforcement agencies. All the stakeholders were put in the spotlight to provide answers. The first to bolt out of the circle was the central bank, Moses Pelaelo, who, like DCEC director-general, long declared the case a scam. He told the world that his books were in order and that no money was missing risking his high-paying job.
According to insiders, his superiors, the then Minister of Finance and Development Planning – Dr Matsheka and his subordinate, Dr Wildfred Mandlebe, were only whispering, without success, to the Gods that there is no money missing.
So concerned and under pressure was Dr Sethibe- then the head of the Financial Intelligence Agency- who, like his Ministry supervisors, was engaging in silent screams to warn the powers that be, all in vain. He later jumped the ship to his former employer, the University of Botswana, allegedly to protect his name and career.
At the time of the fall of the case, the DIS and the DPP were at advanced plans to higher American to come and probe the Bank of Botswana’s servers in a move that bankers feared could compromise them further.
The case was bleeding the country’s coffers…
Had it not ended, the case was likely to end up ‘genuinely’ costing the country P100 billion Pula duo to its complexity and challenges. Insiders say sources who had sold the law enforcement agencies some falsified documents were paid handsomely.
Moreover, investigations were costly as they involved the international community and frequent travelling. “We are told there was also motivation for some officers to act abysmally and out of their way,” an insider said.
Lessons leant for public officers…
Public officers are often duty-bound to obey superiors instructions, no matter how irrational. The case was an eye-opener to many public officers that principle pays in the discharge of one’s duty at all times. The professional careers of the P100 billion case conspirators are currently in shambles. And as expected, the influencers, if at all there any, are nowhere to be seen.
Botswana remains on the grey list of the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) and the “black list” of the European Union, a status quo that highlights the country as one of the high-risk jurisdictions to deal with money.
The far-reaching implications of these listings is a compromised Foreign Direct Investment drive for Botswana. In particular, these listings mean investors now have to exercise some caution and restrain when thinking about putting their money in Botswana. On Tuesday, Minister of Finance and Economic Development Peggy Serame said that Botswana could see itself out of the “undesirable listing” by October this year.
Serame called for united and concerted efforts towards liberating Botswana out of this financial noncompliance tag. She said the delisting could be archived by concerted efforts from all stakeholders: players in the financial services sector, non-financial services businesses, regulators, and every individual who deals with transactions.
Botswana is a founding member of the Eastern and Southern Africa Anti-Money Laundering Group (ESAAMLG). This regional body subscribes to the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) to combat money laundering and financing of terrorism and proliferation.
One of the membership obligations to ESAAMLG is for Botswana to be peer-reviewed by the other Member States and other international bodies like the World Bank, IMF or FATF. The most recent assessment for Botswana to gauge compliance with the FATF standards was conducted by ESAAMLG in 2016 and culminated with publishing the Mutual Evaluation Report (MER) in 2017.
Following the discussion and adoption by the Task Force and approval of the MER by the Council of Ministers, the country was placed under enhanced follow-up. This led to a one (1) year observation period in which the country was expected to improve its technical compliance (legislative framework) by correcting the deficiencies identified in the MER.
After one year, in October 2018, the Task Force decided that the country was not taking sufficient steps to implement the recommendations made by the assessors in the MER. The Task Force recommended that Botswana be referred to the International Cooperation Review Group (ICRG) for monitoring and potential listing often referred to as the ‘FATF greylisting”.
Following the FATF greylisting, the EU placed Botswana on its list of high-risk third countries, often referred to as the ‘black list.’ In 2018, Botswana and FATF agreed to an Action Plan that had six items with several timelines. In terms of Risk and coordination, Botswana was told to develop and implement a risk-based comprehensive national AML/CFT strategy, assess the risks associated with legal persons, legal arrangements, and NPOs, and operationalize the modernized company registry to obtain and maintain essential information and Ultimate Beneficial Ownership information.
Botswana was further advised to enhance the capacity of the supervisory staff, including by developing risk-based supervision manuals and providing adequate training, implement risk-based AML/CFT supervision and impose sanctions against violations.
Furthermore, Botswana was instructed to improve analysis and dissemination of financial intelligence by the Financial Intelligence Unit, including operationalizing an online Suspicious Transactions Report filing platform and prioritizing high-risk predicate crimes, and enhancing the use of financial intelligence among the relevant law enforcement agencies.
Regarding terrorism financing investigation, Botswana was instructed to develop and implement a Counter Financing of Terrorism Strategy, operationalize the Counter-Terrorism Analysis and Fusion Centre, and ensure the Terrorism Financing investigation capacity of the law enforcement agencies.
In 2018, the 11th Parliament passed 25 pieces and, later, six others related to AML/CFT/CFP. At the just ended Parliamentary session of the 12th Parliament, lawmakers passed the Financial Intelligence (Amendment) Act to address the definition of beneficial ownership.
Cabinet approved the National AML/CFT/CFP Strategy of 2019-2024 in October 2019. At the June 2021 FATF Plenary meetings, the FATF made the initial determination that Botswana had substantially addressed the Action Plan and that this warranted an on-site assessment to verify that the implementation of Botswana’s AML/CFT/CFP reforms is in place and is being sustained. Furthermore, an assessment was to be instituted to check if the necessary political commitment remains to sustain implementation in the future.
Serame said in a televised press briefing that Botswana’s exit from the FATF grey list and the EU black list would be determined by the outcome of the on-site assessment, which will be discussed at the FATF Plenary in October 2021.
She revealed that the Botswana delegation attended the Eastern and Southern Africa Anti-Money Laundering Group 42nd Task Force of Senior Officials meeting from the 26th August to the 6th September 2021, followed by the Council of Ministers on the 7th September 2021.
She told the media that at these meetings, Botswana was commended for making progress in complying with the FATF standards by addressing deficiencies in her AML/CFT/CFP framework. “We are making all these efforts of complying with the FATF standards so that we guard against our financial system being used for money laundering, terrorism financing and proliferation financing,” she said.
“We are hopeful that at the October 2021 FATF Plenary meetings, the outcome of the on-site visit undertaken by the FATF in August 2021 will bear positive results, leading to Botswana being delisted from the FATF greylisting,” she said. However, Minister Serame called on all stakeholders to support the government to remove Botswana from the greylisting.
“As Government continues its efforts of putting in place the necessary legislative and institutional framework, due diligence must be exercised by all institutions, including the ordinary Motswana, so that no one is found dealing with financiers whose credibility is wanting,” she said.
The minister reiterated that all players in the financial services sector had a role to play: “It is important that where unsolicited funds are offered, the individual or entity so receiving the offer must ensure that the funds being offered are not associated with unlawful acts. If we are not diligent, criminals may use unsuspecting people and entities to launder proceeds of crime.”
She reiterated that the government is committed to doing all within its power to remove the country from the FATF “grey list” and the EU “black list”. However, she noted that to achieve that requires the cooperation and assistance of financial institutions, designated non-financial businesses and professions and individuals to ensure full compliance with AML/CFT/CFP rules and regulations.
“These efforts will not only assist us to be removed from these mentioned lists but are for the benefit of our country to maintain a high standard of financial prudence and an economy which genuine investors can have the confidence to invest in,” Serame explained.