The findings of the Office of Auditor General (OAG) have described the National Petroleum Fund (NPF) financial statements as ‘serious carelessness’.
In her report to the clerk of the National Assembly and Chairman of the Public Accounts Committee after compiling an audit recently, Auditor General, Pulane Letebele said, “In summation, the foregoing findings point to serious laxity in the management of the financial affairs of the Fund which permitted lack of clarity in relationships between the Fund and the various third party entities to be a regular feature of the business.”
“In my view, this situation persisted because the Management Committee of the Fund was largely dysfunctional and failed to provide guidance to the appointed Fund Managers as required by the Fund order,” she added. OAG was a few months ago tasked to review the administration, payments and the disbursement from NPF by a motion which was tabled in parliament. This followed a pending corruption case before the court involving Bakang Seretse, Botho Leburu and Kenneth Kerekang. The trio was alleged to have between September, 05, 2017 and November, 27, 2017 in Gaborone, illegally received the sum P250m from the NPF.
CARELESSNESS IN ILLEGAL APPOINTMENT OF KGORI
Documents by OAG leaked to this publication state that the appointment of Kgori Capital as the investment manager of the fund in 2015 was unlawful. “It was not in a manner that is prescribed by PPADB regulations,” states the document. The requirements for procurements of services and the choice of procurement method are covered by the PPADB regulations which states that: Floating of ITT, bid submitted, evaluated and awarded should be followed irrespective of the method of procurement used. The appointment according to the papers was confirmed in writing by the then director of the Department of Energy.
It is said that on signing, the former director indicated that he was duly authorized to execute the interim mandate, though the OAG did not obtain of him being authorized to do so. It is further the finding of the OAG that, in their financial proposal signed on October 8, 2015, Kgori Capital stated that the contract price had excluded capital raising fees (which had in any case not been part of the contract) and that they would be separately discussed with Ministry of Minerals Water and Energy Resources.
“Coincidentally on June 7, 2016, an officer of the Department of Energy wrote to Kgori Capital making an urgent request to provide a quotation to carryout financial transactional advisory services for raising fees. It is surprising that Kgori Capital mentioned capital raising fees even though they were never a part of the contract scope which suggests that at the time of submission of their financial proposal they had prior and privileged knowledge of the funding challenges of the three water supply projects and the need to source additional funding to complete the project, hence their statement on capital raising.” The fees for the provision of financial transactional advisory services amounted to over P2m.
CARELESSNESS IN MANAGEMENT COMMITTEE MEMBERS
The Fund order states that the Fund management committee shall include a representative of the Ministry of Finance and Development Planning who shall be a member. The OAG findings however, indicate no evidence that a representative from the same ministry was ever appointed to the committee. “Notwithstanding, the committee had not been functional. Minutes provided to audit showed that the committee met twice in two years,” states Letebele’s affidavit.
CARELESSNESS IN BANK ACCOUNTS
According to the documents, the Department of Energy signed a Small Scale Fund Agreement with the United Nations Environmental Programme (UNEP) for promotion of sulphur fuels. The Department of Energy had on March 2016 requested Kgori Capital to open an account into which an amount of over 83 000 USD would be transferred from UNEP. An amount of 51 000USD was already available for use at the time. However, OAG findings revealed observed that the account was not included in the financial statements of the Fund for the years ended March 31, 2016 and 2017.
On May 13, 2016, an amount of P60m was transferred from the Fund current account at Stanbic Bank to another Fund account at Bank Gaborone for the procurement of government strategic oil stock through Botswana Oil. “The account at Bank Gaborone is also not listed among the Fund banking accounts,” states Letebele in her report, adding that, “The omission of important matters such as bank accounts from financial statements is an indication that the affairs of the Fund were not properly managed in this respect.”
CARELESSNESS IN LEVY COLLECTIONS
Letebele has revealed that scrutiny of the records relating to levy receipts had indicated weakness in that there were no records supporting the amounts remitted by oil companies. She noted that, it was therefore not possible to ascertain that the monies credited to the Fund were the actual amounts due.
ENERGY MINISTRY DISOWNS KHULACO
Although it is not in dispute that the sum of P230m was transferred from the Fund account to Khulaco in 2017, Letebele’s report is that the ministry has denied knowledge of the said company. “On enquiry the accounting officer explained that the ministry did not have any relationship with Khulaco and was unknown to them.”
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 DIS. These were funded from the 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.
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.