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DCEC new chief lays down sweeping reforms

Directorate on Corruption and Economic Crime (DCEC) Director General Victor Bruno Paledi has laid down sweeping reforms for his agency.

Paledi ascended to DCEC as Director on 1st September 2017 following the departure of erstwhile boss Rose Seretse to the newly formed Botswana Energy Regulatory Authority (BERA) also as its head. When speaking to WeekendPost on the sidelines of the Botswana’s second review cycle of United Nations Convention against Corruption, organized by the DCEC, Paledi hinted on his reforms that will transform the corruption busting agency.

“As you know, when someone gets into office they have their own strategy; have strategic plan and know the critical things that you want to focus on. And therefore my main focus will be prevention. Investigations will not be the backbone of my agenda. Priority will be prevention. But of course investigations will also be done as its part and parcel of the system,” he told this publication.

According to Paledi, he will focus much on crime prevention for a very simple reason being that cases involving millions of pula drag too long at the courts spanning close to 10 years, and on the way witnesses may die out of natural causes, and some might resign from their jobs, so they (investigations) can really get difficult. He emphasised that “you can’t really base your strategy on investigation. Investigation is reactive. It comes after the corruption has already been done.”

In a carefully calculated manner and to avoid being misconstrued, the former Deputy Commissioner of Botswana Police Service (operations) stressed that but he is not saying they will not do investigations at all.But rather that “investigations are necessary although we know it takes time and need a lot of money but we will still do it nonetheless. And when we do them we must do it to the best of our abilities. We need people who are highly trained and skilled to do it. But it will not be number one priority for us.”

DCEC Director General says DCEC is independent

Paledi also pointed out that another critical thing that he really wants the DCEC to be is that it should be highly professional and that it should also be a very independent organisation which is reputable internationally. However he was quick to highlight that “it’s not to suggest that we are not independent because independence is a function of the mind.”

He continued: “Independence is in the mind. It’s a function of the mind. There is no institution that can hand it over to you on silver platter. What you think and how ethical you are defines independence. I may give you the powers to do something and you may not realize that you are independent if you don’t know what it really entails.”

The maverick DCEC Director General explained that when the agency accounts to the Minister of Presidential Affairs, Governance and public Administration, it doesn’t necessarily mean it is not independent but rather that it is using public funds and that they have to account for them to someone of higher-ranking.

“So, still in this predicament even if I investigate cases of people that are senior to me, I need not bow down to their seniority. And it would have been not them who told me to bow down. I need to go out to them and do my job. If anything I maybe get fired and that’s okay as you will all know why I was fired in that case. So this is the independence am referring to,” he emphasised.

Paledi, who started his career as a teacher, also said it’s very difficult to say whether he is comfortable or not for DCEC to continue reporting to the Minister instead of parliament because reporting to the minister to him does not necessary compromise his operations anyhow.  

“But I don’t know if someone comes into my position how he will react as they may look at it differently.” He added: “I can still report to parliament and still feel am not free depending on the constitution of parliament. As you know the ruling party may still be there to keep the status quo at DCEC.”

Paledi says DCEC remains powerful, does not even fear DIS

According to Paledi, DCEC is a big institution, very well resourced, consisting of lawyers, engineers, and he doesn’t know what other people mean that DCEC fears the DIS or anyone for that matter. This is in light of utterances by ex Minister of Mineral Resources, Green Technology and Energy Security, Sadique Kebonang who revealed to Public Accounts Committee (PAC) recently when appearing before it that DCEC, including cabinet ministers and the public, fear Directorate on Intelligence and Security Services (DISS).

But Paledi differs with Kebonang: “the one who said that is dim-witted. He should unpack what they mean by this because as DCEC we go out for everyone equally. So whoever says that maybe just did out of frustration.”
Another independent thinker who has criticized the DCEC describing it as “useless” is Kgosi Ngakaagae, a renowned attorney who is representing Bakang Seretse in a marathon case involving 250 million diverted from the National Petroleum Fund to DISS.

Ngakaagae had said about DCEC: “this is a hopeless department that does not fight corruption but that protects it.  This simple act of selective charging is in its self an act of corruption by DCEC. You have to understand that. That is stupid on the part of the DCEC. They are crying because we are asking why Kgosi is not prosecuted. That is the nonsense they are crying for and it is really regrettable just because when we ask if our clients are guilty why are particular people not prosecuted, and then all you get is harassment in turn of our clients by the DCEC.”  

He also stated on record that “I have to mention that this (DCEC) is a department of cowards. They are impotent they are hopeless. They tremble at power and they feed on the meek that is the DCEC for you. You can’t tremble at power when you are an investigative authority and then feed on the meek, chasing people accused of stealing P200 and those owing traffic fines and then bang P250 million is gone and what do you do; you can’t look at power in the eyes and say account.”

In light of Ngakaagae statements on DCEC, when defending the organ, Paledi stated that the DCEC is competent. “DCEC is not incompetent. Those who say it is are just frustrated. Investigations take long and it is by their nature.” Ngakaagae said this because he wants DCEC to also charge DISS former Director Isaac Kgosi as he is implicated in the matter before the courts as documents indicate he authorized the imbursement of funds from NPF to DISS.

However when quizzed about if indeed they fear(ed) Kgosi and DISS, Paledi would not venture into that discussion including whether they would later investigate Kgosi or not. Instead he said, that he (Kgosi) was fired this week was news to his ear and that he was constrained to talk about it as there is a matter before the courts that would deal with such matters.

Meanwhile, reports indicate that Paledi was at one point accused of conniving with DIS Director General, Kgosi to release DIS agents who were arrested with suspected poached elephant tusks while he (Paledi) was acting Commissioner of Police.
The Sunday Standard newspaper reported then that one Mosetse was deployed by the Office of the President to head Operation Save Isaac Kgosi who it was believed then that he would be brought in to lead the DCEC as part of a strategy to kill DISS boss’ corruption case.

Paledi explained that corruption cases are complicated because the perpetrators are mainly people in power and highly intelligent people. These are scientists, mathematicians, lawyers, politicians and they know all the tricks, he justified.
According to the former Police Officer, the perpetrators even review, amongst them what might happen if they are caught and go to court and their defense, and that is why, when you go to court you spend a lot of time on technical issues and that’s why it takes a lot of time.

Paledi also added that he wants DCEC to move away from being shrouded in secrecy stressing that it should rather be easily accessible. He also said “that Botswana is regarded as the least corrupt in Africa is a challenge to me because it means that if it is so am in big trouble should it slide under my watch.”Paledi is the fourth Director General to lead the corruption busting agency after Tymon Katlholo and most recently Rose Seretse.

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Bangwato regent speaks ‘respect for Dikgosi’

23rd May 2022
Bangwato

Presidential Commission of Inquiry into the Review of the Constitution held a meeting in Serowe this week. The meeting was to accord Bangwato, just like other tribes, a platform to give their opinions, contributions and what they think is the horse power and limitations of the current Constitution of Botswana.

Bangwato Regent, Kgosi Serogola Seretse said, he is of the understanding that the Commission has not come for anything apart from getting their opinions on how things could be made better. His contribution was that he solely knows of only two social positions in the world; Dikgosi and Pastors. He said other positions are just benedictions. He further urged that, Batswana should respect God’s ordained protocols such as Dikgosi and Pastors.

Seretse pointed out the importance of acknowledging and appreciating Dikgosi as nation builders. He cautioned and warned that, the Commission should ensure that their dealing with Dikgosi is harmonious. He called for an amendment to be made on the ‘National Order of Precedence’ noting that Dikgosi are put at number 11, but should at least be taken a little higher to number 7.

One resident, Tshepo Moloi while giving his contribution said there must be provisions of Social Justice that ensure equal distribution of resources to all citizens. He said this provision should entail an obligation that all citizen have equal opportunities to different Government Initiatives. Moloi substantiated that, all ‘Presidential Commissions’ be engraved on the Constitution

Alfred Thogolwane who is as well a resident of the biggest village in the Central District, pointed out the need for preservation of the country and resources thereof, saying “it must dawn onto all that, the calabash that fetches water for the family cannot fixed once its broken.”  Another resident, Keikantsemang Sebedi advocated for Polygamous marriage, saying that men should marry as many wives as they please. She said there is no need for any socioeconomic assessment done on men who wish to marry more than one wife.

She advised that, the country should benchmark from the Zezuru culture that does it, with no complexities. On the other hand, Sebedi said that, there must be considerations done on the Old Age Pension. She said people who earned P4000 should not receive the old Age Pension upon their fullness of age.  Forshia Koloi called for amendments on Section 77 and all the provisions that speaks to the subject of Bogosi and the powers infested in them. He said they should be made more detailed and avoid ambiguity in clauses.

Mr Tlhaodi said there must be Land Audits done in the country. Citing an example of the Tati Land as one that should be thoroughly audited. He further advised that, Election Day be put on the Calendar. He said, if it happens that the day be a Saturday, there should be some special dispensation for the 7th Day Adventist Church members to take part in voting without compromising on their day of worship. Tlhaodi added that there must be People’s Complaint Commission in the country.

Speakers emphasized the need for the country to review the exercise of ‘Political Party Funding’. They articulated that lack of funding political parties’ results in political parties resorting to finding funds for themselves. They reiterated that sometimes going to the extent of getting funds through illegal means. Bangwato agreed in one accord that they want the President be tried whilst in office if suspected of any criminal offences. This was revealed in their contributions. They pointed out that, the law should not to wait until the end of their tenure.

For his part, the Deputy Chairperson of the Commission Johnson Motshwarakgole expressed gratitude to the residents of Serowe. He applauded women for their kindness saying it is only them, who always take responsibility for doing things amicably in the society.

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Parliament unveils major shake-up plans & reforms

23rd May 2022
Parliament

Parliament has revealed that it plans to rollout a Community Score Card (CSC) exercise as part of sweeping reforms to its role and mandate among others.

The planed shakeup, along with the rollout of CSC will see creation of new Parliamentary Portfolio Committees on Health, HIV&AIDS, Education and Skills Development, Trade and Economic Development, Agriculture, Lands and Housing and Local Governance and Social Welfare.
Parliament informed government ministries and departments that the CSC is a participatory, community based monitoring and evaluation tool that enables citizens to assess the quality of public services and interact with services providers to express their concerns.

According to Parliament, the CSC will assist to inform community members about available services and their entitlements and to solicit their opinions about the accessibility and quality of certain services related to the portfolio committees mentioned.  It said the main objective is for Parliament through identified oversight committees is to conduct a participatory monitoring and evaluating process that puts ownership and responsibility for delivery of services in the hands of both the Government and the service recipients.

“Through scorecards developed around identified sectors and services, communities and implementing departments remain in touch with progress made through the programme delivery cycle and are able to respond timely to bottlenecks,” the National Assembly said.  Some of the measurements and expected outcomes for the rolling out of the CSC include among others, improved monitoring and economic evaluation, to determine the impact of spending, so as to be able to direct resources from where they having the least benefit to those projects and programmes where they will have a larger positive impact.

The National Assembly explained further that this could result in a willingness to close down ineffective programmes and institutions and not to implement projects that do not deliver adequate returns, improved productivity in the public services, especially given the substantial pay increases.

The National Assembly believes that the rolling out of CSC is also expected to result in efficiency savings: many public services and programmes could be delivered more effectively at lower costs, by improving management and accountability, and making use of e-services. “This would yield financial savings that could be used for development programmes or reducing the deficit,” the National Assembly said.

The exercise is also expected to result in “Careful scrutiny of subsidy schemes and termination of those that do not address market failure or assist truly needy Batswana.”  The National Assembly revealed that proposed Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Health and Wellness has been established in accordance with the Standing of National Assembly of Botswana.  It explained that the mandate of the Committee is mainly to exercise Parliamentary oversight and scrutiny over Government Ministries, Departments and Agencies with portfolio responsibilities in respect of Health and HIV/AIDS.

“There is need to identify reasons for inefficiency and poor outcomes and ensure that health system reform improve productivity and value for money. Key areas of focus for scorecard, availability of drugs, staffing ratios, accessibility of health services, speciality care and services and sexual reproductively health,” the National Assembly said.

Another proposed Committee is on Local Governance and Social Welfare. The mandate of the Committee is mainly to exercise Parliamentary Oversight and Scrutiny over Government Ministries. Departments and Agencies with Portfolio responsibilities in respect of Local Governance and Social Welfare.

“Strategies under NDP 11 to improve outcomes of social uplifment include; diversification of rural economies, development and support of small businesses, provision of social safety nets, eradication of absolute poverty, provision of quality and equitable education and harmonisation of social protection programmes,” said the National Assembly.  It said social nets need to be improved so as to target these most in need (at present some social safety nets benefit many people who are not the most needy, but also miss out some of those who are needy).

“Some social development policies more broadly should also aim to reduce household vulnerability to shocks such as those arising from fluctuations in agriculture, climate change, incomes and employment and improve their ability to handle shocks, thereby building household resilience,” the National Assembly said.

Another Committee established is on Agriculture, Lands and Housing. The mandate of the Committee is mainly to exercise Parliamentary oversight and scrutiny over Government Institutions, Departments and Agencies with portfolio responsibilities in respect of Agriculture, Lands and Housing.

The National Assembly said the average growth rate of the agricultural sector since the beginning of National Development Plan 11 (NDP11) (i.e. during the 2017/2018 and 2018/19 financial years) was 2.5 percent, making it the slowest growing sector of the economy, in line with its historical performance.

“Over the same period, its share of GDP has been stagnant at around 2 percent. The sector also contributes job opportunities for about 80 000 adults. Food security has become paramount since the onset of the corona virus pandemic,” the National Assembly said.  The National Assembly said the Government realises the need to increase food production for products in which Botswana has a cooperative advantage such as beef, grains and other horticulture products.

The Committee on Finance, Trade and Economic Development has also been established. One of the mandates of Committee would be to exercise Parliamentary oversight and scrutiny over government ministries, departments and agencies with portfolio responsibilities in respect of Finance, Development, Trade and Industry.

“The sector is at the core of industrialisation aspirations and strategies for economic development in Botswana. Manufacturing in particular can be the driver of economic growth through technological improvements and innovation,” the National Assembly said. Hence, it said, the development of the sector could also foster export diversification and export led-growth in Botswana while benefitting from the African Continental Free Trade Area (AFCFTA).

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Salbany, Bareetsi threaten to sue DIS

23rd May 2022
Salbany Bareetsi

Two senior members of Directorate on Corruption and Economic Crime (DCEC) have threatened legal action against Directorate of Intelligence and Security (DIS), it has transpired. The threat is contained in an answering affidavit of Director General of DCEC, Tymon Katlholo in which he is seeking an interdiction from High Court to stop the DIS from accessing investigation files at his office.

After the DIS detained DCEC officials Joao Salbany and Tsholofelo Bareetsi on December 16, 2021, they filed an official complaint against DIS and some officials. They complained about abuse of office by DIS and five officers. Salbany and Bareetsi also complained about unlawful detention by DIS and unlawful dissemination of classified information contrary to Section 44 of Corruption and Economic Crime Act. “The DIS interviews were premised on information divulged during the course of official DCEC work product, that is the Monday media brief meeting,” they wrote.

They further requested leave to institute a civil suit against the DIS and its officers, and invariably the State for inhuman and degrading treatment they suffered and unlawful detention. They also pondered a declaratory seeking a sanction against the DIS and Botswana Police Service (BPS) and clarification of the role of BPS officers seconded to DIS.

“The envisaged suit against BPS and DIS officers and the DIS will inevitably centre on investigations done by the DCEC and the scope of the protection availed to DCEC officers for conduct done in the course and scope of DCEC official duties.” The duo said it was self-evident from the conduct of the DIS officers that there was nothing urgent about the information required by the DIS, justifying their detention at its Sebele facility from 08:30 hours on December 16, 2021 until 02:00 hours on December 17, 2021.

They reasoned that the information required by the DIS could have been obtained by a simple request to DCEC Director General. “What the DIS did was to seek to intimidate officers of the DCEC whom they knew were carrying out investigations against some of the DIS officers who were part of their investigation team. This turn of events has a chilling effect not only on the functioning of the DCEC but also on the official conduct of officers of the DCEC as to how they conduct their official duties.”

They concluded by stating that in the event the request is granted, they would further request to be advised as to the provision of legal representation as the unalwful detention and the degrading and inhuman treatment by the DIS was in relation to matters conducted by and on behalf of the DCEC.

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