Bakang Seretse has lost with costs the first leg in a multimillion pula money laundering case in which he is implicating the who’s who of this country.
His application was yesterday thrown out with costs by Justice Godfrey Radijeng. In delivering the verdict, the Judge said, “he has not in my view provided an answer or explanation as to the trail of payments that found the basis of the application other than to repeat what was already established by the applicant, the sourcing of the P250 million.”
The Directorate of Public Prosecutions (DPP) on 13 December 2017 applied for an ex parte application against Seretse’s properties and credit account balances, and was granted the application. Seretse had later on December 28, through his attorney Kgosietsile Ngakaagae approached the court on urgency and applied for the order to be reversed.
But, Justice Radijeng would not entertain his plea. The judge noted in his ruling that the respondent has failed to disturb the applicant’s case, “and I must confirm the interim order granted.” “The interim order granted to the applicant on the 13th December 2017 in this instant is confirmed,” ruled the judge.
Judge Radijeng said the respondent had wrongly assumed the proceedings in the instant to be civil forfeiture proceedings. He said it was in this context that the respondent in his argument pursued an approach that sought to attack the application from civil forfeiture application requirements.
“The question in my view in restraint proceedings is not as portrayed by the respondent, that there must be elements of a crime established or the source of the funding and or actors in the trail of the funding…rather, the question is one of the standard of proof or level of evaluation required in such proceedings,” stated the Judge.
Judge Radijeng also noted that in his assessment of the totality of the evidence adduced by the applicant, he takes the view that the trail of transactions that ensued from the disbursement of the P230 million to Khulaco (Pty) which led to a chain of events constituted evidence which viewed objectively may reasonably be believed to constitute offences as indicated by the applicants in their papers.
These, the Judge said, were the alleged apparent conflict of interest by Seretse sitting on the one hand as director at Kgori (Pty) Ltd and at the same time director and shareholder at Khulaco (Pty) Ltd a company in which the government did not have a contract to transact with for purposes of the National Petroleum Fund; the alleged unilateral authorisation of funds from the fund by Kenneth Kerekang; and the alleged appointment of Kgori as the fund managers in the face of the alleged existing contract with the Department of Energy with Basis Points Capital (Pty)Ltd.
“I take the view that the respondents’ conduct and or the entities he represents, may be the subject of one or more offences as set out by the applicant.” In his arguments, Ngakaagae had argued that the transaction founding the disbursement of the said sum to Khulaco was an approved government transaction. He argued that there was no money laundering or fraudulent misappropriate of government money in the sum of P230 million.
He averred that if there was misappropriation of such funds then the Director General of the Directorate of Intelligence Services (DIS), Isaac Kgosi, and Permanent Secretary to the parent Ministry Dr Obakeng and the portfolio Minister Sadique Kebonang would have been charged alongside his clients.
On the other hand, the applicant attorney, Ernest Mosate of the DPP, submitted that the respondents were speaking to the wrong arguments hence failing to recognise that the purpose of the application for identification of tainted property which may be proceeds of or an instrument of serious crime related activity. He said the essence of his application was that there were violations regarding the P230 million in that they were taken outside laid procedures in violation of the statutes and Fund Order and or Penal Code provisions.
The background of the matter is that in the landmark case that Seretse and two other co-accused, Botho Leburu and Kenneth Kerekang were alleged to have between September, 05, 2017 and November, 27, 2017 in Gaborone, received over P320 million stolen from the National Petroleum Fund (NPF). The trio was granted bail by the Gaborone Regional Magistrate and will appear in court on January 25, 2018 for mention.
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.”