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.
In a classic and shocking case of disgrace and dishonour to this country, the law enforcement agencies are currently struggling to cover up a damaging and humiliating scandal of having conspired to forge the signature of a Palapye Chief Magistrate, Rebecca Motsamai in an unlawful acquisition of the much-publicised 2019 warrant of arrest against Isaac Kgosi, the former director of the Directorate of Intelligence Services (DIS).
The cloak-and-dagger arrest was led by the DIS director, Brigadier Peter Magosi supported by the Botswana Police, Botswana Defence Force (BDF), with the Botswana Unified Revenue Services (BURS) which accused Kgosi of tax evasion, in the backseat.
Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) constituent members are struggling to reach an agreement over the allocation of wards for the imminent ward by-elections across the country.
Despite a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC), Botswana Patriotic Front (BPF) and Alliance for Progressives (AP) are said to be active, but the nitty-gritties are far from being settled.
The eight bye-elections will be a precursor of a somewhat delayed finalisation of the brittle MoU. The three parties want to draw a plan on how and who will contest in each of the available wards.
This publication has gathered that the negotiations will not be a run off the mill because there is already an impasse between the Botswana Congress Party (BCP) which is a UDC constituent and AP (currently negotiating to join umbrella).
The by-elections joint committee met last week at Cresta President Hotel in a bid to finalise allocation but nothing tangible came out of the gathering, sources say.
The cause of the stalemate according to those close to events, is the Metsimotlhabe Ward which the two parties have set their eyes on.
In 2019, he ward was won by Botswana Democratic Party’s (BDP) Andrew Sebobi who unfortunately died in a tragic accident in February last year.
Sebobi had convincingly won by 1 109 votes in the last elections; and was trailed by Sephuthi Thelo of the UDC trailed him with 631 votes; while Alliance for Progressives’ Innocent Moamogwe got 371 votes.
Thelo is a BCP candidate and as per UDC norm, incumbency prevails meaning that the BCP will contest since they were runners up. On the other hand, AP has also raised its hand for the same.
“AP asked for it on the basis that they have a good candidate but BCP did not agree to that request also arguing they have a better contestant,” one UDC member confided to this publication.
Notwithstanding Metsimotlhabe Ward squabble, it is said the by-election talks are almost a done deal, with Botswana National Front (BNF) tipped to take Boseja South ward in Mochudi East constituency. Botswana Patriotic Front (BPF) will be awarded Tamasane Ward in Lerala/Maunatlala constituency, sources say.
“But the agreement has to be closed by National Executive Committee (NEC),” emphasized the informant.
The NEC is said to have been cautioned not to back the wrong horse but rather rate with reason and facts.
UDC President, Duma Boko has told this publication that, “allocation is complete with two wards already awarded but with only one yet to be finalized,” he could not dwell into much details as to which party got what and the reasons for the delay in finalisation.
Chairperson of the by-elections committee, Dr. Phenyo Butale responded to this publication regarding the matter: “As AP we contested and as you may be aware we signed the MoU with UDC and BPF to collaborate on bye-elections. The opposition candidate for all bye-elections will be agreed by these parties and that process is still ongoing,” he said when asked if AP is interested on the ward and how far with the talks on bye-elections.
Butale, a former Gaborone Central Member of Parliament, who is also AP Secretary General continued to say, “As the chairperson of the bye-elections committee we are still seized with that matter. We should also do some consultations with the local structures. Once the process is complete we will issue a notice for now we cannot talk about the other two while the other is still pending the other one”.
Butale further clarified: “There is no such thing as AP and BCP not in agreement. It is an issue of signatories discussing and determining the opposition candidates across the three wards.”
Apart from the three wards, there are five more council wards that UDC is yet to allocate to cooperating partners.
FROM PALAPYE MEET: BPP CAUTION NEC MEMBERS
With the UDC cheerful from last weekend’s meeting in Palapye, the meeting however was very tense on the side of both BCP and BNF, with only BPP flexing its muscle and even lashing out.
BCP going into the meeting, had promised to ask difficult questions to the UDC NEC.
BCP VP and also acting Secretary General, Dr. Kesitegile Gobotswang, presented their qualms which were addressed by UDC Chairperson Motlatsi Molapisi, informants say.
It is said Molapisi is fed up and concerned by some UDC members especially those in the NEC who ‘wash party’s dirty linen in public’.
Insiders say the veteran politician cautioned the NEC members that they “will not expel any party but individuals who tarnish the image of the UDC.”
It is not the first time BPP play a paternalistic role as it once expressed its discontent with BCP in 2020, saying it should never wash UDC linen in public.
At first it is said, BPP, the oldest political formation in Botswana, claims disappointment on BCP stance that UDC should be democratised especially by sharing their stand with the media. Again, BPP was not happy with BCP leader Dumelang Saleshando’s decision to air his personal views on social media regarding the merger of UDC party.
Botswana Police Service (BPS) Commissioner, Keabetswe Makgophe, has of late been dousing raging fires from various quarters of society following the infiltration of the police fingerprint system by the Directorate on Intelligence and Security (DIS), WeekendPost has learnt.
Fresh information gleaned from a number of impeccable sources, points to a pitiable working relationship between the two state organs. Cause of concern is the DIS continuous big brother role to an extent that it is now interfering with other institutions’ established mandates.
BPS which works closely with the DIS has been left exasperated by the works of the institution formed in 2008. It is said, the DIS through its Information Technology (IT) experts in collusion with some at BPS forensics department managed to infiltrate the Fingerprint system.
The infiltration, according to those in the know, was for the DIS to “teach a lesson” to some who are on their radar. It is said the DIS is playing and fighting dirty to win the fights they have lost before.
By managing to hack the police finger print system, a number of renowned businessmen and other politically exposed persons found their fingers in the system. What surprised the victims is the fact that they have never been charged of any wrongdoing by the police and they were left reeling in shock to learn that their fingers are on the data-base of criminals.
In fact, some of those who their fingerprints were falsely included in the records of those on the wrong side of law learnt later when other errands demanded their fingerprints.
“We learnt later when we had to submit and buy some documents and we were very shocked,” one politician who is also a businessman confided to this publication this week.
“We then learn that there are some fabricated criminality recorded for us, as to when did we commit those remained secret to the police, but then we had to engage our lawyers on the matter and that is when we were cleared,” said the politician-cum- tenderpreneur.
The lawyers have confirmed engaging the police and that the matters were settled in a gentlemen’s agreement and concluded.
All these happened behind the scenes with the police top brass oblivious only to be confronted by the irked lot, police sources also add. The victimized group who most of them have been fighting lengthy battles with the DIS read malice and did not blink when it was revealed that these were done by the DIS.
“And it was clear that they (DIS) are the ones in this dirty war which we don’t understand. Remember when we sue, it will be the Police at the courts not the DIS and that is why we agreed to a ceasefire more so they also requested that be kept under carpet,” said the victim.
Nonetheless, the Police through its spokesperson Assistant Commissioner, Dipheko Motube, briefly said: “we do not have any system that has been hacked.” On the other hand DIS mouthpiece Edward Robert was not in office this week to comment on the matter.
Reports however say DIS boss, Peter Magosi, who most of the victims accuse of the job, is said to have met his police counterpart Makgophe to put the matter to bed.
COVID-19 RAVAGES POLICE
As frontline workers, Police have not escaped the wrath of Covid-19. Already the numbers of those infected has reached the highest of high and they suggest that they be priorities on vaccine rollout.
“Our job is complicated, firstly we arrest including those who are non-compliant to Covid protocols and we go to accidents and many more. These put us at risk and it seems our superiors are not bothered,” said one police officer this week.
The cops further complain about that working spaces are small, as such expose them to contact the virus.
“Some tests positive and go for quarantine while the rest of the unit will be left without even test carried out. If at all the bosses are serious all the police officers should every now and then be subjected to testing or else we will be no more because of the virus,” added another officer based in Gaborone.
The government has since placed teachers on the priority list for the vaccines, it remains to be seen whether the police, who also man road blocks, will be considered.
“But our bosses should convince the country leadership about this, if not then we are doomed,” concluded a more senior officer.