The proposed Financial Intelligence Amendment Bill that is expected to reach the parliament floor in the ongoing winter parliament session has been crafted to deliberately target political leadership in the country.
Minister of Presidential Affairs, Governance and Public Administration Nonofo Molefhi has recently confirmed this to WeekendPost following a Directorate on Economic Crime (DCEC) occurrence on Botswana’s second review cycle of the United Nations Convention against Corruption (UNCAC) in Gaborone. Molefhi revealed the ‘bolt from the blue’ that the entire cabinet has approved the new amendments to include political influencers (such as themselves) so as to tighten screws on the Act.
“So what has been approved by cabinet on that Wednesday is the amendment to include the politically influential persons which include senior public officers. Our Minister of Finance and Development Planning Kenneth Mathambo presented the amendments at cabinet for approval,” he told this publication briefly.
According to the Government Gazette Extraordinary dated 15 May 2018, “the object of the Bill is to amend the Financial Intelligence Act, Cap. 09:07 in order to harmonise Botswana’s financial intelligence legislation with international standards, in particular, the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) recommendations on anti-money laundering, combating the financing of an act of terrorism and the financing of proliferation of arms of war or NBC weapon.”
In particular, “clause 13 of the Bill amends the Act by inserting new sections to provide for strengthening of customer due diligence measures with respect to beneficial owners and people in prominent influential positions and to provide for the prohibition of opening of anonymous accounts.”
The proposed law defines “prominent influential person” as those who are entrusted with public functions within Botswana or by a foreign country or an international organization, his or her close associates or immediate members of the family and these includes; the President, Vice President, Cabinet Ministers, Speaker of parliament, parliamentarians, Councilors, Senior government officials, Judicial officers and diKgosi.
The proposed amendments to the Financial Intelligence Act follow Botswana’s mutual evaluation carried out by the Eastern and Southern Africa Anti-Money Laundering Group (ESAAMLG). The ESAAMLG assessors recommended that the amendment of the Act was necessary to address the issues of dual reporting of suspicious transactions.
It was further stressed that it was critical and urgent that Botswana aligns her financial intelligence legislation to international standards in order to attain technical compliance and to avoid being referred to the FATF’s International Cooperation Review Group (ICRG) as a non cooperative State.
Declaration of Assets also ready to take effect
Meanwhile Molefhi also confirmed that the Declaration of Assets law which President Mokgweetsi Masisi promised the nation at his inauguration has already been crafted and will take effect soon. “The Declaration of Assets law is ready. It is coming. I have proof read it. It will then go to the President so he also looks at it and appreciates it. Then it will go to cabinet for approval and subsequent publication,” Molefhi told this publication recently.
According to the Minister in the Office of the President, the law also targets all political leaders like the Financial Intelligence amendment Bill, 2018. “All political influencers are also in. It’s all there. The law is ready. The president wants it done and it is part of his target for 100 days in office. It will be tabled in the July parliament sitting.” Meanwhile in his inaugural speech on April 1st, Masisi declared that the law on declaration of assets will see the light of the day come rain or sunshine.
He stated then that “My new cabinet and I, which I will soon put together will work very hard for and with you for a better Botswana. I will do my utmost to continually grow confidence in and of governance through a combination of new legislation, ethical codes and demonstrable and efficacious behaviours. To this end, expect specific legislation on declaration of assets and liabilities soon.”
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.