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DIS budget chopped after NPF funds fiasco

The Directorate on Intelligence and Security (DIS) has failed to illustrate to the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) how they spent the P230 million they dubiously received from the National Petroleum Fund (NPF) last year.

DIS acting Director General (DG), Tefo Kgotlhane revealed on Thursday that the institution was a one man’s show during the leadership of the fired Colonel Isaac Kgosi. Kgosi was removed from the position and replaced by retired Brigadier Peter Magosi by President Mokgweetsi Masisi in May this year. When answering questions posed to him by PAC members especially Samson Moyo Guma, Kgotlhane was unable to provide the information required by the panel.  

Another DIS official, acting Finance Director Sehunelo Khunou admitted that they have not fully accounted for the money. “We have not really accounted for the P230 million, we are still working on it.” “The former Director General used to do things on his own including buying goods, he and the ministry of energy agreed on the P230 million prices, we were only involved in receiving the goods,” Kgotlhane said.

Already the DIS acting Finance Director revealed that 30 people were taken for VIP protection training in Israel, but could not furnish the PAC as to how much was spent on the assignment.  “As of now personally I don’t have any information on that one,” Khunou responded. He said only the Director General at the time had knowledge of the funds and how they were used. “The former accounting officer used to do things alone,” he said.

“My belief is they used the NPF funds,   I do not have any clue of the breakdown of how the money was spent. Part of it yes I know, but I do not have the exact amount,” he said to the astonishment of Guma as to how the finance director is clueless on how much was spent on the training of their personnel. The P230 million was initially taken by the DIS from the NPF to build fuel storage facilities but later was diverted to buy spy equipment.

Office of the President signed a deal with the Israeli security company Dignia Systems (Pty) Ltd for the acquisition of security equipment and surveillance platform with association training. The DIS has also received the equipment in the form of firearms and Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) – an aircraft with no pilot on board.

UAVs can be remote controlled aircraft (e.g. flown by a pilot at a ground control station) or can fly autonomously based on pre-programmed flight plans or more complex dynamic automation system. The equipment saw the DIS paying P 9 million, where the DIS requested not to the Commissioner General not to pay Duty. “I can only believe they were paid from NPF fund,” Kgotlhane said when asked where the money was from.

He went on to divulge that DIS did not go through proper procurement process which saw them dodging duty. The controversial contract is already paining the DIS and wants the deal to be suspended pending cancellation of the agreement. The acting DG said that they found discrepancies on the deal. The intelligence organ has contacted the attorney general for legal advice.

 “A legal instruction has already been issued to the supplier to cease the delivery of pending equipment as it is now before the courts,” Khunou said before his boss added; “Sir I am totally in the dark as to how much was spent on the expected equipment maybe the courts would help. I cannot exactly remember the amount spent,” Kgotlhane said.

The lump sum of P114, 800 has been deducted from DIS 2018/19 developmental budget to settle part of the amount taken from the NPF. This, Khunou says, was a directive from the parliamentary Finance and Estimate committee to pay back not a cabinet directive like it was said.  “But there is nothing in our records that cabinet said we should pay back,” Kgotlhane said. “It is unfortunate that the only information we have is from files and the transaction were made directly by the then DG,” Kgotlhane said.

DIS CLUELESS ON KHULACO

The acting Director General further revealed that they have written to Khulaco to account for the P230 million disbursed to them but to this day, the company has not responded.  Khulaco Management Services was appointed with the responsibility for payments of a deal signed by the government and Dignia Systems equipment and surveillance platforms with associated training over three years.

“We have no access to the contract,” Khunou said before Kgotlhane added. “We had very little documents to explain transactions. We relied on Dignia and it made us uncomfortable.” Khulaco has already made part payment to Dignia which the DIS do not know how much has been paid.

MAGOSI, KGOSI EVASIVE MEETING

Still at the PAC Kgotlhane disclosed that there was no proper handover between Kgosi and Magosi. Kgotlhane told the four member committee on Thursday that they have asked the two to meet to clarify the NPF matter but in vain. “Up to now we can confirm that they have not met, we do not know the reasons sir,” he said.

The handover according to Kgotlhane could help as the DIS will now have the contract and access to Khulaco accounts which for now is a close secret despite the DIS being a partner. Meanwhile PAC member, Guma Moyo pointed out that people at the DIS are busy fighting each other and settling scores. He expressed concern that there was a possibility that the DIS was not paying tax and or fulfilling some requirements stipulated by the Botswana Unified Revenue Services (BURS).

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DPP halts JSC, Judge’s back to work plan

25th January 2021
Kebonang

The Directorate of Public Prosecutions (DPP)’s decision to reject and appeal the High Court’s verdict on a case involving High Court Judge, Dr Zein Kebonang has frustrated the Judicial Service Commission (JSC) and Judge Kebonang’s back to work discussions.

JSC and Kebonang have been in constant discussions over the latter’s return to work following a ruling by a High Court panel of judges clearing him of any wrong doing in the National Petroleum Fund criminal case filed by the DPP. However the finalization of the matter has been hanged on whether the DPP will appeal the matter or not – the prosecution body has since appealed.

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BDP rejects Saleshando payment proposal

25th January 2021
MP saleshando

Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) top brass has declined a request by Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) to negotiate the legal fees occasioned by 2019 general elections petition in which the latter disputed in court the outcome of the elections.

This publication is made aware that UDC Vice President Dumelang Saleshando was left with an egg on his face after the BDP big wigs, comprising of party Chairman Slumber Tsogwane and Secretary General Mpho Balopi rejected his plea.

“He was told that this is a legal matter and therefore their (UDC) lawyer should engage ours (BDP) for negotiations because it is way far from our jurisdiction,” BDP Head of Communications, Kagelelo Kentse, told this publication.

This spelt doom for the main opposition party and Saleshando who seems not to have confidence and that the UDC lawyers have the dexterity to negotiate these kind of matters. It is not clear whether Saleshando requested UDC lawyer Boingotlo Toteng to sit at the table with Bogopa Manewe, Tobedza and Co, who are representing the BDP to strike a deal as per the BDP top echelons suggested.

“From my understanding, the matter is dealt with politically as the two parties are negotiating how to resolve it, but by far nothing has come to me on the matter. So I believe they are still substantively engaging each other,” Toteng said briefly in an interview on Thursday.

UDC petitioners saddled with costs after mounting an unprecedented legal suit before the court to try and overturn BDP’s October 2019 victory. The participants in the legal matter involves 15 parliamentary candidates’ and nine councillors. The UDC petitioned the court and contested the outcome of the elections citing “irregularities in some of the constituencies”.

In a brief ruling in January 2020, Judge President Ian Kirby on behalf of a five-member panel said: “We have no jurisdiction to entertain these appeals. These appeals must be struck out each with costs including costs of counsel”. This was a second blow to the UDC in about a month after their 2019 appeals were dismissed by the High Court a day before Christmas Day.

This week BDP attorneys decided to attach UDC petitioners’ property in a bid to settle the debts. UDC President Duma Boko is among those that will see their property being attached with 14 of his party members. “We have attached some and we are on course. So far, Dr. Mpho Pheko (who contested Gaborone Central) and that of Dr, Micus Chimbombi (who contested Kgalagadi South) will have their assets being sold on the 5th of February 2021,” BDP attorney Basimane Bogopa said.

Asked whether they met with UDC lawyers to try solve the matter, Bogopa said no and added. “Remember we are trying to raise the client’s funds, so after these two others will follow. Right now we are just prioritising those from Court of Appeal, as soon as the high court is done with taxation we will attach.”

Saleshando, when contacted about the outcomes of the meeting with the BDP, told WeekendPost that: “It would not be proper and procedural for me to tell you about the meeting outcomes before I share with UDC National Executive Committee (NEC), so I will have to brief them first.”

UDC NEC will meet on the 20th of next month to deal with a number of thorny issues including settling the legal fees. Negotiations with other opposition parties- Alliance for Progressives and Botswana Patriotic Front (BPF) are also on the agenda.

Currently, UDC has raised P44 238 of the P565 000 needed to cover bills from the Court of Appeal (CoA). This is the amount in a UDC trust account which is paltry funds equating 7.8 per cent of the overall required money. In the past despite the petitioners maintaining that there was promise to assist them to settle legal fees, UDC Spokesperson, Moeti Mohwasa then said the party has never agreed in no way to help them.

“We have just been put in debt by someone,” one of the petitioners told this publication in the past. “President’s (Duma Boko) message was clear at the beginning that money has been sourced somewhere to help with the whole process but now we are here there is nothing and we are just running around trying to make ends meet and pay,” added the petitioner in an interview
UDC NEC has in December last year directed all the 57 constituencies to each raise a minimum of P10, 000. The funds will be used to settle debts that are currently engulfing the petitioners with Sheriffs, who are already hovering around ready to attach their assets.

The petitioners, despite the party intervention, have every right to worry. “This is so because ‘the deadline for this initiative (P10, 000 per constituency) is the end of the first quarter of this year (2021),” a period in which the sheriffs would have long auctioned the properties.

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Boko-Khama axis viewed with suspicion

25th January 2021
boko-and-khama

President of the Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) Duma Boko’s alliance with former President Lt Gen Ian Khama continues to unsettle some quarters within the opposition collective, who believe the duo, if not managed, will once again result in an unsuccessful bid for government in 2024.

While Khama has denied that he has undeclared preference to have Boko remaining as leader of UDC, many believe that the two have a common programme, while other opposition leaders remain on the side-lines.

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