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DPP blasted for failing DCEC on corruption crack down

The office of Directorate of the Public Prosecution (DPP) has been heavily criticized by Members of Parliament (MPs) for failing the anti-corruption organ― Directorate on Corruption and Economic Crime (DCEC) in its efforts of fighting corruption.

The legislators were debating the Corruption and Economic Crime (Amendment) Bill, No 24 of 2018 tabled by Minister of Presidential Affairs, Governance and Public Administration Nonofo Molefhi, which is seeks to amend the Corruption and Economic Crime Act. 
Member of Parliament for Selebi Phikwe West, Dithapelo Keorapetse said if at all there is a serious effort and commitment to crackdown on rampant corruption, the DCEC should be given prosecution powers similar to that the DPP, which has a backlog of pending cases presented to them by the DCEC for prosecution.

Keorapetse however noted that of recent the DCEC has done well in investigating alleged corruption cases against senior government officials such as Directors, Ministers as well as high profile officials of parastatals without fear and therefore the organization deserve a pat on the back. “Notwithstanding this and despite shortage of resources and warm support from the government, DCEC did not lose confidence to carry its mandate and it is doing a great job over the much cared for DPP which is a failing the mighty DCEC which is probing corruption very well. Please take care of the DCEC and avail resources to it,” charged Keorapetse.

Keorapetse underscored that there is a need to revamp anti –corruption policies by excluding government officials from doing business with the government, through awarding of tenders and procurement as they are the most source of corruption. He further observed that the DCEC has not been fishing on the wrong waters as it investigated eight ministers and 45 directors and CEOs respectively, adding that because the prosecution powers lie with the DPP, it takes time to do so.

“DPP to some degree agrees with DCEC on cases for prosecution upon completion of investigation by the DCEC, however DPP did not prosecute some dockets for over years now and this is not good. Against this background, the DCEC should also be given prosecution powers,” asserted Keorapetse. He also said the DCEC’s qualified personnel is poached by high paying organizations because their salary and welfare is not satisfactory despite the amount of work they are doing.

Gabane- Mmakgodi legislator, Major General Pius Mokgware concurred with Keoarapetse saying that indeed the DPP is letting down DCEC. He pointed out that the government is also playing a part in failing DCEC based on the low budget given to it, adding that there is a need to review the budget allocated to DCEC. Mokgware is of the view that DCEC should be well resourced as it can attract highly trained staff and it can further be spread across the country as it is necessary that it should have offices in all regions.

He added, “ For corruption to be eliminated we need laws such as lifestyle audit to control the situation as some people live beyond their means, and there is also living beyond means charge within DCEC which is ineffective because of lack of prosecution powers within the DCEC.”

Responding to the deliberations, Minister Molefhi stipulated that there will be review of the DCEC in terms of the budget. He highlighted that the organ has facilitated the presence of anti-corruption offices across government departments and ministries. Molefhi conceded that there is need for consideration to fully avail resources for the DCEC to continue with its mandate which bears positive fruits when dealing with alleged cases of corruption.

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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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