In a continuation of the much publicised case where Bakang Seretse and two others are accused of mismanaging National Petroleum Funds (NPF), Bakang’s latest affidavit filed before court suggests that law enforcement departments are snooping on deals they do not understand.
Bakang was responding to an application where the Directorate of Public Prosecutions (DPP) wants the court to rule that Government be given the P10m they allege Kgori Capital acquired illegally from the NPF. Last month, DPP was granted the application of forfeiture of P10 million by Lobatse High Court Judge Godfrey Nthomiwa. A week later, DPP approached the court again, now on an application that the sum be given to government citing that it belonged to it.
Bakang stated in his affidavit this week that the money was payment for services by Kgori Capital. “Government fully understands this and it seems the only people who have a problem understanding are DPP and DCEC investigators. There is no one in the ministry of Energy who can say otherwise for they know the truth and they have firsthand information of the issues raised.”
He went on to state that it was normal practice to deduct the fees from the fund being managed because it was an allowable expense. It has always been the understanding with the government that the issue of management fees shall be dealt with separately between Kgori Capital and Government, he noted.
“Government is the one which benefitted from the skill of Kgori Capital in managing NPF assets and not Basic Point Securities and it is only right that government should pay for the service that Kgori Capital has provided. Another affidavit by the Director and Chief Operations Officer of Kgori Capital, Sharifa Noor, stated that allegations by DPP that Kgori Capital cheated the public revenue were false. He said they earned the monies as management fees in terms of the interim mandate in place which has been signed by the former Director of Energy ministry, Kenneth Kerekang in his position as NPF authorizing officer.
“I specifically deny that the earning of management fees by Kgori Capital is contrary to the consultancy agreement. The parties negotiated and agreed upon the issues of payment of management fees for work done by Kgori Capital.” “Kgori did not take from the public revenue that which it was not entitled to. Kgori has done work for government in respect to which it was entitled to payment.”
An affidavit deposed by Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP), Stephen Tiroyakgosi states that the amount in question represents a reasonable estimate of the value of benefits and incidental expenses derived by Kgori Capital as a result of a multiple serious related criminal activities. The offences include cheating the public revenue; abuse of public office; obtaining by false pretences and money laundering.â€¨
Tiroyakgosi stated that that Kgori Capital had over a period of 10 months, debited to the Kgori National Petroleum Fund Account held with Stanbic Bank the total amount of P10m ostensibly as management fees contrary to the consultancy agreement. The consultancy agreement is such that Kgori Capital could only benefit as a sub-contractor with whatever fees it might be entitled to, claimable from Basis Points Capital Botswana Limited from the consultancy price.
“By paying itself the so called management fees from the Kgori National Petroleum Fund account, Kgori Capital breached the National Petroleum Fund and diverted to itself the said P10m. As investigations are continuing, this figure is likely to change, especially at the time of making of the substantive order,” states Tiroyakgosi in his affidavit.â€¨â€¨
It is said that from March 7, 2016 to December 14, 2017, various debits were entered against the National Petroleum Fund account No: 906 000 208 5742 held with Stanbic Bank, with the amounts credited to the Kgori Capital bank account No: 906 000143 6320 held by Kgori Capital with Stanbic Bank Botswana allegedly as management fees in payment to Kgori Capital.
It is further Tiroyakgosi’s argument that NPF consultancy agreement had only Basis Points Capital as the only contracting party with Botswana government concerning the services that Kgori Capital purported to render and to be entitled to be paid for. “Kgori Capital could only render the services to government as a sub-contractor under the consultancy agreement, with all its fees only claimable from and payable by Basis Points Capital.
”â€¨â€¨The Department of Energy late last year withdrew all National Petroleum Fund monies and investment portfolios from respective banks and investment institutions. A communication from the Department of Energy stated that all proceeds into the National Petroleum Fund would now be deposited into the Government Remittance account held at Bank of Botswana.
Furthermore, all commitments out of the Fund shall be routed through the Ministry of Finance and Economic Development for payment through the Government Remittance account.â€¨â€¨The latest decision by government follows a series of events originated by a money laundering charge against Bakang Seretse who was Managing Director of Kgori Capital is in his personal capacity implicated in a case involving P326 million which is perceived as thus far the biggest financial scandal in Botswana. Bakang is accused alongside two others, Botho Leburu and Kenneth Kerekang.
Lebang Mpotokwane, one of the conveners who presided over the opposition cooperation talks that resulted in the formation of the Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC), has advised against changing the current umbrella model in favour of a merger as proposed by others.
The Botswana Congress Party (BCP) leader, Dumelang Saleshando recently went public to propose that UDC should consider merging of all opposition parties, including Alliance for Progressives (AP) and Botswana Patriotic Front (BNF).
Saleshando has been vehemently opposed by Botswana National Front (BNF), which is in favour of maintaining the current model. BNF’s position has been favoured by the founding father of UDC, who warned that it will be too early to ditch the current model.
“UDC should be well developed to promote the spirit of togetherness on members and the members should be taught so that the merger is developed gradually. They should approach it cautiously. If they feel they are ready, they can, but it would not be a good idea,” Mpotokwane told WeekendPost this week.
Mpotokwane and Emang Maphanyane are the two men who have since 2003 began a long journey of uniting opposition parties in a bid to dethrone the ruling Botswana Democratic Party (BCP) as they felt it needed a strong opposition to avoid complacency.
Tonota born Mpotokwane is however disappointed on how they have been ejected from participating in the last edition of talks ahead of the 2019 general elections in which BCP was brought on board. However, despite the ejection, Mpotokwane is not resentful to the opposition collective.
He said the vision of opposition unity was to ultimately merge the opposition parties but he believes time has not arrived yet to pursue that path. “The bigger picture was a total merger and we agreed that with three independent parties, members might be against merger eventuality so the current model should be used until a point where they are now together for as long as possible,” he said.
“UDC should gradually perform better in elections and gain confidence. They should not rush the merger. We have been meeting since 2003, but if they rush it might cause endless problems. If they are ready they can anyway,” he advised. For now the constituent parties of the umbrella have been exchanging salvos with others (BCP and BNF).
“There are good reasons for and against merging the parties. Personally, I am in favour of merging the parties (including AP and BPF) into a single formation but I know it’s a complex mission that will have its own challenges,” Saleshando said when he made his position known a week ago.
“Good luck to those advocating for a merger, it will be interesting to observe the tactics they will use to lure the BPF into a merger,” former BNF councillor for Borakalalo Ward and former BNF Youth League Secretary General, Arafat Khan, opined in relation to BCP’s proposed position.
Mpotokwane, who is currently out in the cold from the UDC since he was ejected from the party’s NEC in 2017, said the current bickering and the expected negotiations with other parties need the presence of conveners.
“We did not belong to any party as conveners so we were objective in our submissions. If party propose any progressive idea we will support, if it is not we will not, so I would agree that even now conveners might be key for neutrality to avoid biasness,” he observed. Despite being abandoned, Mpotokwane said he will always be around to assist if at all he is needed.
“If they want help I will be there, I have always been clear about it, but surely I will ask few questions before accepting that role,” he said. UDC is expected to begin cooperation talks with both AP and BPF either this week or next weekend for both upcoming bye-elections (halted by Covid-19) and 2024 general elections and it is revealed that there will be no conveners this time around.
The Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) moved through its lawyers to attach the property of Umbrella for Democratic (UDC) President Duma Boko and other former parliamentary contestants who failed in their court bid to overturn the 2019 general elections in 14 constituencies.
WeekendPost has established that this week, Deputy Sheriffs were commissioned by Bogopa Manewe Tobedza and Company who represented the BDP, to attach the properties of UDC elections contents in a bid to recover costs. High Court has issued a writ of execution against all petitioners, a process that has set in motion the cost recovery measures.
Botswana Sectors of Teachers Union (BOSETU) says COVID-19 as a pandemic has negatively affected the education sector by deeply disrupting the education system. The intermittent lockdowns have resulted in the halting of teaching and learning in schools.
The union indicated that the education system was caught napping and badly exposed when it came to the use of Information System (IT), technological platforms and issues of digitalisation.
“COVID-19 exposed glaring inefficiencies and deficiencies when it came to the use of ITC in schools. In view of the foregoing, we challenge government as BOSETU to invest in school ITC, technology and digitalization,” says BOSETU President Kinston Radikolo during a press conference on Tuesday.
As a consequence, the union is calling on government to prioritise education in her budgeting to provide technological infrastructure and equipment including provision of tablets to students and teachers.
“Government should invest vigorously in internet connectivity in schools and teacher’s residences if the concept of flexi-hours and virtual learning were to be achieved and have desired results,” Radikolo said.
Radikolo told journalists that COVID-19 is likely to negatively affect final year results saying that the students would sit for the final examinations having not covered enough ground in terms of curriculum coverage.
“This is so because there wasn’t any catch up plan that was put in place to recover the lost time by students. We warn that this year’s final examination results would dwindle,” he said.
The Union, which is an affiliate of Botswana Federation of Public, Private and Parastatal Union (BOFEPUSU), also indicated that COVID-19’s presence as a pandemic has complicated the role of a teacher in a school environment, saying a teacher’s role has not only transcended beyond just facilitating teaching and learning, but rather, a teacher in this COVID-19 era, is also called upon to enforce the COVID-19 preventative protocols in the school environment.
“This is an additional role in the duty of a teacher that needs to be recognized by the employers. Teachers by virtue of working in a congested school environment have become highly exposed and vulnerable to COVID-19, hence the reason why BOSETU would like teachers to be regarded as the frontline workers with respect to COVID-19,” says Radikolo.
BOSETU noted that the pandemic has in large scales found its way into most of the school environments, as in thus far more than 50 schools have been affected by COVID-19. The Union says this is quite a worrying phenomenon.
“As we indicated before when we queried that schools were not ready for re-opening, it has now come to pass that our fears were not far-fetched. This goes out to tell that there is deficiency in our schools when it comes to putting in place preventative protocols. In our schools, hygiene is compromised by mere absence of sanitizers, few hand-washing stations, absence of social distancing in classes,” the Union leader said.
Furthermore, Radikolo stressed that the shifting system drastically increased the workload for teachers especially in secondary schools. He says teachers in these schools experience very high loads to an extent that some of them end up teaching up to sixty four periods per week, adding that this has not only fatigued teachers, but has also negatively affected their performance and the quality of teaching.
In what the Union sees as failure to uphold and honour collective agreements by government, owing to the shift system introduced at primary schools, government is still in some instances refusing to honour an agreement with the Unions to hire more teachers to take up the extra classes.
“BOSETU notes with disgruntlement the use of pre-school teachers to teach in the mainstream schools with due regard for their specific areas of training and their job descriptions. This in our view is a variation of the terms of employment of the said teachers,” says Radikolo.
The Union has called on government to forthwith remedy this situation and hire more teachers to alleviate this otherwise unhealthy situation. BOSETU also expressed concerns of some school administrators who continuously run institutions with iron fists and in a totalitarian way.
“We have a few such hot spot schools which the Union has brought to attention the Ministry officials such as Maoka JSS, Artesia JSS, and Dukwi JSS. We are worried that the Ministry becomes sluggish in taking action against such errant school administration. In instances where action is taken, such school administrators are transferred and rotated around schools.”