Things have now turned ugly in the most publicized multimillion pula corruption scandal implicating names of high profile people including politicians and technocrats.
Former minister of Energy Sadique Kebonang was at the helm when Bakang Seretse, Botho Leburu and Kenneth Kerekang were slapped with money laundering charges in relation to the illegal drawing of money from the National Petroleum Fund (NPF).
Fresh information reaching this publication is to the effect that members of the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) who have been tasked to review the said National Petroleum fund (NPF) and report back to parliament are living in fear after being warned that there was a plan within the DIS to either harm or kill them.
The PAC is currently seized with what is possibly considered as the worst financial scandal ever to hit the country. The financial scandal which is a matter of court determination and has been a subject of public scrutiny in various media and social platforms has also currently come under the scrutiny of the PAC.
The PAC is chaired by Kanye South legislator Abraham Kesupile; and comprises of other members of parliament in Samson Guma Moyo, Ndaba Gaolathe, Ignatoius Moswaane, Konstantinos Markos, Mephato Reatile and Shaun Nthaile. Keorapetse had yesterday (Friday) reported the matter to the Deputy Speaker of the National Assembly and the Commissioner of Police. In his affidavit to the police, the lawmaker for Selibe-Phikwe West stated that, “In our last siting in the Parliament Public Accounts Committee Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Minerals Resources was extensively questioned on the transactions related to the National Petroleum Fund. Following that enquiry and in subsequent days particularly on the 5th April 2018 in the late afternoon I received a phone call from Guma Samson Moyo relating to our work in the PAC concerning and relating to the NPF.”
“In the cause of our conversation aforesaid Moyo informed me that he had received a tip off from an anonymous member of the DIS that there was a plan within the DIS to either harm me or kill myself and him following what was perceived as our hostile and intense attitude in the questioning and interrogation of the National Petroleum Funds in particular the permanent Secretary who appeared before us.”
Keorapetse went on to narrate that Moyo pointed out to him that his anonymous source whom he said was a member of the DIS had informed him that they had been particularly so targeted because of their unrelenting interest and extensive questioning which seemed to expose maladministration and short comings within the government bureaucracy in respect of how the NPF was dealt with.
“I subsequently called Moyo later in the evening to discuss further this matter. We later met physically at the National Assembly on the following day. Our conversation in large part was to echo the concerns and strategies as to how best we can deal with this matter.”
He said following their conversation, he went to meet the Chairman of the PAC, Kesupile. Kesupile Informed him that Moyo had met with him to inform him about the threats that had been made to him and suggested that the entire members of the Parliament Public Accounts Committee must be given public protection following these threats.
“Kesupile informed me that following his discussion with Moyo he had met with the Vice President with respect to the need to provide Parliamentary protection for all those dealing with matter and that those discussions are ongoing and remain inconclusive.” It was then agreed between me and Mr Kesupile that I must perhaps take the matter up with the office of the Speaker of the National Assembly, of which I did-he narrated.
Keorapetse stated that he was advised by the Deputy Speaker to take the matter forward with the police who may be well best suited to investigate the matter further. “I therefore submit this statement as a report to the police for further investigation and request that I be accorded the necessary protection whilst the matter is being investigated.
In this regard it seems to me that the matter of my protection is an eminent urgent matter which must be attended to so as to afford me the opportunity to interrogate the issue of the National Petroleum Fund as an elected representative of the people of Selebi Phikwe and Batswana at large,” he told the commissioner in his affidavit.
This publication has further learnt of the fact that Kesupile has since recused himself from chairing the committee. Keorapetse is expected to chair the meeting as the committee resumes on Monday. When contacted for comment, Kesupile only said “people like talking too much.”
In an interview with the speaker of the National Assembly, Gladys Kokorwe on Friday, she confirmed receiving reports from Moyo, but stated that, “I told him to come on Monday so we discuss the issue further.” Kgosi’s phone rang unanswered. He has been subpoenaed by the PAC to give evidence in the matter
The Directorate of Public Prosecutions (DPP)’s decision to reject and appeal the High Court’s verdict on a case involving High Court Judge, Dr Zein Kebonang has frustrated the Judicial Service Commission (JSC) and Judge Kebonang’s back to work discussions.
JSC and Kebonang have been in constant discussions over the latter’s return to work following a ruling by a High Court panel of judges clearing him of any wrong doing in the National Petroleum Fund criminal case filed by the DPP. However the finalization of the matter has been hanged on whether the DPP will appeal the matter or not – the prosecution body has since appealed.
Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) top brass has declined a request by Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) to negotiate the legal fees occasioned by 2019 general elections petition in which the latter disputed in court the outcome of the elections.
This publication is made aware that UDC Vice President Dumelang Saleshando was left with an egg on his face after the BDP big wigs, comprising of party Chairman Slumber Tsogwane and Secretary General Mpho Balopi rejected his plea.
“He was told that this is a legal matter and therefore their (UDC) lawyer should engage ours (BDP) for negotiations because it is way far from our jurisdiction,” BDP Head of Communications, Kagelelo Kentse, told this publication.
This spelt doom for the main opposition party and Saleshando who seems not to have confidence and that the UDC lawyers have the dexterity to negotiate these kind of matters. It is not clear whether Saleshando requested UDC lawyer Boingotlo Toteng to sit at the table with Bogopa Manewe, Tobedza and Co, who are representing the BDP to strike a deal as per the BDP top echelons suggested.
“From my understanding, the matter is dealt with politically as the two parties are negotiating how to resolve it, but by far nothing has come to me on the matter. So I believe they are still substantively engaging each other,” Toteng said briefly in an interview on Thursday.
UDC petitioners saddled with costs after mounting an unprecedented legal suit before the court to try and overturn BDP’s October 2019 victory. The participants in the legal matter involves 15 parliamentary candidates’ and nine councillors. The UDC petitioned the court and contested the outcome of the elections citing “irregularities in some of the constituencies”.
In a brief ruling in January 2020, Judge President Ian Kirby on behalf of a five-member panel said: “We have no jurisdiction to entertain these appeals. These appeals must be struck out each with costs including costs of counsel”. This was a second blow to the UDC in about a month after their 2019 appeals were dismissed by the High Court a day before Christmas Day.
This week BDP attorneys decided to attach UDC petitioners’ property in a bid to settle the debts. UDC President Duma Boko is among those that will see their property being attached with 14 of his party members. “We have attached some and we are on course. So far, Dr. Mpho Pheko (who contested Gaborone Central) and that of Dr, Micus Chimbombi (who contested Kgalagadi South) will have their assets being sold on the 5th of February 2021,” BDP attorney Basimane Bogopa said.
Asked whether they met with UDC lawyers to try solve the matter, Bogopa said no and added. “Remember we are trying to raise the client’s funds, so after these two others will follow. Right now we are just prioritising those from Court of Appeal, as soon as the high court is done with taxation we will attach.”
Saleshando, when contacted about the outcomes of the meeting with the BDP, told WeekendPost that: “It would not be proper and procedural for me to tell you about the meeting outcomes before I share with UDC National Executive Committee (NEC), so I will have to brief them first.”
UDC NEC will meet on the 20th of next month to deal with a number of thorny issues including settling the legal fees. Negotiations with other opposition parties- Alliance for Progressives and Botswana Patriotic Front (BPF) are also on the agenda.
Currently, UDC has raised P44 238 of the P565 000 needed to cover bills from the Court of Appeal (CoA). This is the amount in a UDC trust account which is paltry funds equating 7.8 per cent of the overall required money. In the past despite the petitioners maintaining that there was promise to assist them to settle legal fees, UDC Spokesperson, Moeti Mohwasa then said the party has never agreed in no way to help them.
“We have just been put in debt by someone,” one of the petitioners told this publication in the past. “President’s (Duma Boko) message was clear at the beginning that money has been sourced somewhere to help with the whole process but now we are here there is nothing and we are just running around trying to make ends meet and pay,” added the petitioner in an interview UDC NEC has in December last year directed all the 57 constituencies to each raise a minimum of P10, 000. The funds will be used to settle debts that are currently engulfing the petitioners with Sheriffs, who are already hovering around ready to attach their assets.
The petitioners, despite the party intervention, have every right to worry. “This is so because ‘the deadline for this initiative (P10, 000 per constituency) is the end of the first quarter of this year (2021),” a period in which the sheriffs would have long auctioned the properties.
President of the Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) Duma Boko’s alliance with former President Lt Gen Ian Khama continues to unsettle some quarters within the opposition collective, who believe the duo, if not managed, will once again result in an unsuccessful bid for government in 2024.
While Khama has denied that he has undeclared preference to have Boko remaining as leader of UDC, many believe that the two have a common programme, while other opposition leaders remain on the side-lines.