Mystery behind Bakang, Sadique and Kgosi’s saga
Eight years ago, the then Ministry of Minerals, Energy and Water Resources funded the construction of petroleum storage facilities around the country; and these were, and still are owned by the Directorate of Intelligence and Security Services (DIS). These were funded from the National Petroleum Fund (NPF).
In August 2017, the DIS proposed that the ministry which has since been renamed Ministry of Mineral Resources; Green Technology and Energy Security releases an amount of P250m for the design and construction of additional sites in a bid to further expand these sites to cater for other essential government organs. The ministry promptly responded by acceding to the request and stipulated the funds within the NPF.
It would appear that prior to 2017 similar funds for similar purposes would have been set aside in the NPF and used strictly for petroleum related projects. “The Fund manager being Kgori Capital appears to have had issues with such an arrangement as it was only mandated to invest for the fund and were becoming uncomfortable with transacting on behalf of the DIS. The CEO of the Fund manager Bakang Seretse then met with the ministry officials and the DIS boss Isaac Kgosi to discuss an alternative,” an impeccable source revealed to this publication.
“It was agreed at this meeting that a private company be created to disburse these funds, in which case the funds would be drawn out of the NPF to such a company. Apparently the DIS argued the angle of national security that such facilities if carried out under the PPADB would become common knowledge and lose their tactical importance. At this meeting, the private company, Khulaco Management Services was agreed to.” This is the company in which the accused Seretse and Botho Leburu are directors.
Following the said meeting, a letter from Khulaco to the ministry accepts the appointment and immediately states that they will charge a fee of 20 percent of the deposited amount. This led to another meeting after which the Ministry attempted to streamline the process of drawdown to include submission of project plans and defined how mobilisation fees would be paid, according to documents seen by this publication. Sources further reveal that the DIS appeared agreeable to the stipulated processes from the ministry and immediately instructed the ministry to pay P250m into Khulaco’s account.
Sadique Kebonang’s ministry subsequently instructed the NPF manager to release P230m to Khulaco. The transaction according to documents seen by this publication took a swift 3 days but the first disbursement out of the Khulaco account was not until three (3) months later.
Somewhere in October, the DIS boss requested a variation to the utilisation of the P230m from approved DIS petroleum projects to security equipment and intelligence gathering platforms. He justified the request based on a change in the national threat analysis which now showed anti-poaching, human and drug trafficking as new threats requiring prioritisation. The day after this request, the Acting Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Mineral Resources, Green Technology & Energy Security, Dr Obolokile Obakeng granted the DIS the requested variation. “The question now is whether the variation was lawful? Can the Fund money be used for anything that is unrelated to petroleum?” questioned a source close to the developments.
In a letter dated November 7, the DIS instructed Khulaco to pay Dignia Systems in Israel an amount of US$22,640,000.00. This was duly done, and it converted to two transaction of P118 million. The invoice which was seen by this publication included UAVs which reliable sources claim were overpriced, VIP protection Course, VIP protection Commanders course etc. The invoice was addressed not to DIS but to Khulaco Management Services.
EXCHANGE OF LETTERS
According to the documents seen by this publication, on November 23, Dr Obakeng attempted to reverse his variation of the use of P230m now quoting the NPF Order to the extent that it does not provide for variation of the utilisation of the NPF. Shortly thereafter, a very highly classified letter from Kebonang to the minister of Presidential Affairs, Eric Molale provided a blow by blow explanation of the transactions concerning the investigation. The letter further indicated that the highest office of the land was aware of the transaction of the notorious P230m.
On February 26, 2018 Dr Obakeng wrote to the DIS, demanding that it pays back the P250m that was deposited into Khulaco as per DIS instruction and for DIS purposes. “We will be grateful as to when the repayment by DIS would be credited to NPF. This will help us communicate definitive position with our creditors,” reads the Savingram.
Two days later, Kgosi wrote back to explain that it was not P250m but P230m that he was made to understand was deposited to Khulaco accounts on behalf of the DIS and requested documentary proof of all transaction. “We were made to understand that the sum of P230 million NOT P250 million from NPF was deposited into the account of some company called Khulaco on behalf of the DIS. As for repayment of the money, consultation between the Ministry of Finance and Directorate is on-going,” he stated.
On March 1, Dr Obakeng then wrote to the Attorney General, requesting him to take over his defence in a matter in which the Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) has issued an intention to sue him personally for the P230m, claiming that he acted in his official capacity. UDC recently furnished the AG with a statutory notice of intention to sue Kgosi, Director of Ministry of Minerals Energy and Water Resources Kenneth Kerekang and Dr Obakeng.
WHO IS FOOLING WHO?
According to secretive communiqués from high offices seen by this publication, it is clear from the government Enclave that the P230m has a legal source and all related transactions had proper and legitimate authority. But, ironically the matter is in the courts and not all the participants of the transactions are in the dock. Asked which P230m is being challenged before the court and which one Kgosi is being secretively asked to return and why he is asked to return it if he bought things for the government, the government spokesperson Jeff Ramsay refused to comment saying, “I don’t know, the issue does not involve me and it’s also still before the courts.” Kgosi’s phone rang unanswered while Kebonang’s was not going through.
For a very long time, the courts in Botswana have been faced with corruption cases at an alarming rate, with most of cases specifically the ones involving the who’s who and billions of pulas, dying along the way. WeekendPost has been following the cases from courts and independent investigations. And majority of the people who go through all the investigation and prosecution process are the ‘nobodys’ who usually don’t steal millions. But cases that involve public figures and multi-millions never get arraigned, and in if arraigned the cases never reach final stages. In many instances, freedom of information is so restricted such that reliance will be on what is improperly procured.
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Letshegoâ€™s head of transformation, Molebogeng Malomo highlighted that working through agile methodologies, the partnership was able to develop and be released as what they call a Minimum Viable Product (MVP) or solution. â€śIn keeping up with the spirit of design thinking and agile methodologies, the experiences and viewpoints of both Letshego Botswana and Mascomâ€™s customers will be valuable to inform further enhancements to the Mascom MyZaka solution,â€ť he said.
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Mascomâ€™s Chief Executive Officer, Dzene Makhwade-Seboni also alluded that their origins, priorities and initiatives are firmly rooted in Botswana and in the success of all Batswana, and that their strategy and intent is supported by embracing innovative problem-solving.
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DCEC granted warrant to arrest Khama twins
The Directorate on Corruption and Economic Crime (DCEC) has been granted permission to apprehend the former Minister of Environment, Wildlife and Tourism, Tshekedi Khama, and his twin brother Anthony Khama.
Information gathered by this publication suggests that the DCEC is actively searching for the Khama brothers, this is in connection with events that transpired whilst Tshekedi was Minister of Environment. The duo is currently in exile in South Africa together with their elder brother, and former President Lt Gen Ian Khama.
Approximately two weeks ago, the corruption-busting agency discreetly filed for an arrest warrant that was approved by the Broadhurst Magistrate Court for the two to be taken into custody, according to a highly placed source within the government enclave.
DCEC is also said to have filed an affidavit signed by a high-ranking officer known to this publication. Reports indicate that after being presented with details of the case, the Broadhurst magistrate issued the agency an arrest warrant.
It is also believed that the agency has been conducting extensive investigations into the supposed suspects for quite some time. Furthermore, Weekend Post has it on good word that the DCEC has been looking for methods to summon the two for questioning but has been unsuccessful.
According to unconfirmed reports, DCEC met with attorney Victor Ramalepa, who refused to accept the summons, saying that he is not their attorney. Furthermore, it is believed that DCEC has enlisted the assistance of the Botswana Police Service (BPS) in flagging the suspects’ names in the International Criminal Police Organisation INTERPOL.
Responding toÂ WeekendPostÂ enquiries, DCEC spokesperson Lentswe Motshoganetsi said, â€śI am not in good position to confirm or deny the allegation,â€ť adding that such allegations may fall within the operational purview of the DCEC.
When contacted for comment, Ramalepa briefly stated that he is unaware of the purported arrest warrant. â€śI know nothing about the warrant and I havenâ€™t been served with anything,â€ť he said.
Meanwhile, former president Lt Gen Ian Khama recently issued a statement stating that DIS is intensifying the harassment and intimidation of him, family, friends and office employees.
â€śIt is reprehensible for state officials and agencies to abuse government resources to terrorise their own citizens for personal gain,â€ť said the former president in a statement.
He also stated that his brother TKâ€™s staff and security were ordered to falsely implicate him. â€śTheir desperate tactics will never work, it only serves to motivate me more to pursue regime change and free Botswana from tyranny,â€ť he said
This comes after the corruption busting agency wants to interview the alleged suspects as they are still hiding in South Africa since last year.
Despite the hostility between government and Khama family going unabated, last month, Masisi extended an olive branch to Khama in political rally, indicating that he hopes the two of them settle their differences, of which the former responded by welcoming the gesture.
Khama further said his brother, Tshekedi, will facilitate the reconciliation of his behalf. Many have indicated that Masisi did not say what he said in good faith, and was only scoring political brownies since he was in Khamaâ€™s territory in Shoshong.
DCECâ€™s Tshepo Pilane still has his mojo
Tshepo Pilane silenced his critics after being named the head of the Directorate on Corruption and Economic Crime (DCEC) in May of last year and served his opponents humble pie. Many believed he would only last for a month, but almost a year later, he is still standing.
Pilane, a trained soldier whose appointment surprised both the general public and some officers within the DCEC walls, has never glanced back in his duty to steer the DCEC ship forward.
It is alleged that immediately after his appointment the man embarked on a nation-wide trip touring the DCEC offices across the country in order to confirm and reaffirm the DCECâ€™s mandate. Sources from inside the DCEC claim that Pilane won the hearts of many DCEC employees due to his humility and plain message; â€śpeople at the top of the DCEC will come and go but the mandate of the DCEC remains relevant and unchanged.â€ť
Pilane was appointed the Acting DCEC Director General at a time when the organisation was undergoing turbulence through court proceedings in which the suspended Director General Tymon Katlholo had interdicted the Directorate of Intelligence and Security (DIS) from accessing the DCEC premises. At the time, the DIS had raided the DCEC offices in the absence of Katlholo claiming to be looking for high profile corruption cases allegedly held by Katlholo.
At the time Pilane was Head of the DCEC Intelligence Division holding the position of Senior Assistant Director General reporting directly to the Deputy Director General Operations Ms Priscilla Israel. Contrary to his detractors, Pilane who is a reserved and humble person by nature won the support and backing of many DCEC officers due to his unassuming nature.
In a recent questionnaire sent to the DCEC regarding Pilaneâ€™s term in office, the DCEC was resolute on its commitment towards the fight against corruption. When quizzed on allegations of rife corruption since he took over, Pilane through his Public Relations (PR) office stated that the corruption landscape in Botswana remains unchanged as the DCEC continues to receive reports on allegations of corruption with sectors such as procurement (tenders and supplies), Transport (licensing and certificates), and land (dubious allocation and collusion) still leading issues reported. This trend has been consistence in the DCEC database for more than 10 years.
When further quizzed on accusations that suggest that due to the infighting at the agency, particularly at the top management, Investigations of cases has dropped significantly the DCEC claimed ignorance to the matter, stating that they are not aware of any â€śinfightsâ€ť at the DCEC â€śat the top managementâ€ť, further stating that, investigations of cases has increased significantly, contrary to the allegations raised. â€śThe DCEC is currently seeking new ways of expediting the investigations in order to fast track its enforcement role,â€ť said the DCEC Head of Public Relations Lentswe Motshoganetsi. He further stated that the DCEC is in pursuit of high profile cases involving money and assets valued over P900 million. Three companies are involved in the scandal and two cases have already been committed to court while on one, investigations are about to be completed.
When WeekendPost inquired about Pilaneâ€™s roadmap, the DCEC stated that in the past, anti-corruption interventions were reactive, particularly in dealing with national projects that involve large sums of money. It was further started that in most instances investigating such matters takes a long time and in most instances, the money looted form Government in never recovered. As a result, the DCEC has taken a deliberate stance to attach its officers from the Corruption Prevention Division to be part of the implementation of these projects before, during, and after implementation.
The DCEC cited the Economic Stimulus Programme which, although meant to grow the economy and uplift Batswana from poverty, yielded incidents of corruption and poor workmanship. To date, the DCEC is still grappling with cases as some projects were not done, or were completed with defects beyond repair. Currently the DCEC is involved at the Ministry of Education conducting project risk management in the Multiple Path Ways Program at Moeng College and Maun Senior School. This intervention will spread to other sectors of the economy as part of the DCECâ€™s corruption prevention strategy.
Of recent, the DCEC has been in the media for all the wrong reasons following leakage of high profile cases and allegations claiming that the executive management is at war with each other more particularly with some within the agency harbouring ambitions to dethrone Pilane from the Directorship.
Although the infighting was denied by Pilaneâ€™s Office, he acknowledged that leakage of information is a problem across Government and stated that it is a pain at the DCEC. He however stated that Staff has been cautioned against leakage of investigation information and that they have roped in the Botswana Police to assist in investigating incidents of leakage. He further stated that they have increased continuous vetting and lifestyle audits for DCEC employees in order to enforce discipline.
Pilaneâ€™s term comes to an end in May 2023 after serving the DCEC for a year on acting basis. It will be in the public interest to see who will be given the baton to continue the anti-corruption journey if Pilaneâ€™s contract is not renewed. The DCEC has seen arrival and departure of Director Generals having alternated the top seat five times in less than seven years.