UDC sues Petroleum Fund violators
The Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) has last week furnished the Attorney General (AG) with a statutory notice of intention to sue Directorate of Intelligence and Security (DIS) Director Isaac Kgosi, Director of Ministry of Minerals Energy and Water Resources Kenneth Kerekang and Permanent Secretary of Mineral Resources, Green Technology and Energy Security Dr Obolokile Obakeng.
The UDC has cited a total of seven defendants in the matter; AG, Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Finance and Economic Development; DIS, Kgosi in his personal capacity, Kerekang in his personal capacity; Obakeng in his personal capacity and Ministry of Mineral Resources, Green Technology and Energy Security. The coalition alleges that on or about August 7, Kgosi issued savingram under reference POLF6/10XXIX (40) where he stated as follows:
“The Ministry of Mineral Resources, Green Technology and Energy Security funded the construction of four months 40 petroleum storage facilities in Gaborone, Lonetree, Francistown and Selibe Phikwe during 2010. The objective of constructing and maintaining the facilities is to ensure that there is continuous supply of petroleum products for the essential services of the government. Currently the facilities are owned and operated primarily by the DIS.
However, there is a need to expand the facilities to include other essential organs of the government especially during petroleum supply disruptions. We have so far identified potential sites (Lobatse, Mahalapye, Maun, Nata, Gaborone and Lonetree) for such facilities and completed preliminary investigations including concept design for the proposed facilities: We therefore kindly request for the release of two hundred and fifty million Botswana Pula (P250Million) BWP for the detailed design and construction of some sites of the proposed project.”
It is UDC’s contention that the request as aforesaid was approved by the Ministry of Resources Green Technology and Energy Security without a tender for the said petroleum tanks and or contrary to the National Petroleum Fund Order.
It is also argued that later, a Savingram dated October 23, 2017 the original purpose being the provision of storage facilities in Gaborone, Lonetree, Francistown and Selibe Phikwe was changed. And the funds were now to be used to acquire security and surveillance equipment for purposes of monitoring alleged threats relating to Wildlife Poaching, human and drug trafficking.
The UDC contends that, “the proposed change of use is and/or was done contrary to the NPF Order and the disbursement made in respect thereof were illegal, unlawful and in breach of a statute. The request aforesaid was purportedly approved by the Ministry of Resources Green Technology and Energy Security without a tender and/or approval of the Public Procurement Asset Disposal Board and/or contrary to the NP order.”
It is under this background that the party is pleading for: an order directing any person or persons as would have received payment contrary to the terms of the NPF order to return such payments within 30 days of the days of the court order; an order declaring that all the transactions as identified in this dispute were done contrary to the Public Procurement and Asset Disposal Board and consequently null and void, and cost of suit against any party opposing the claim.
“On February 1, 1986, the NPF order was established. The purpose of the fund is set out in Section 3 thereof and it is mainly to meet the engineering, construction and operational costs of the strategic storage facilities for government fuel; purchase petrol products for the government’s strategic oil stocks; stabilize prices charged by the oil industry and meet insurance premiums in respect of the insurance of government’s strategic oil installation and oil stocks,” states UDC in their papers.
The fund is in terms of the Act administered by a management committee which comprises of the following people: the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Minerals, Energy and Water Affairs who shall be the chairman; a representative of the Department of Energy Affairs, who shall be a member; a representative of the Ministry of Finance and Development Planning, who shall be a member; the Fund Manager who shall be a member and a representative of the Ministry of Minerals, Energy and Water Affairs who shall be the Secretary.
The funds aforesaid as deposited into the National Petroleum Fund are disbursed solely for the purposes of the following: Costs of the engineering , construction and operation of the strategic storage, and distribution facilities for government fuel; sums of money to the oil industry for the stabilization of prices in respect of petroleum products; such sums of money to the oil industry or consolidated fund as the Minister may from time to time determine; costs of the purchase of petroleum products for government’s strategic oil stocks; insurance premiums in respect of government’s strategic oil installations and oil stocks; management and audit expenses of the fund; such other sums as the ministry may in writing approve; any supplies payments made for the fund aforesaid are paid into the consolidated fund-argues UDC.
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DPP drops Kably threat to kill case
The Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) Chief Whip and Member of Parliament for Letlhakeng/Lephephe Liakat Kably has welcomed the Directorate of Public Prosecution (DPP)’s decision not to prosecute BDP councillor, Meshack Tshenyego who allegedly threatened to kill him. However, the legislator has warned that should anything happen to his life, the state and the courts will have to account.
In an interview with this publication, Kablay said he has heard that the DPP has declined to prosecute Tshenyego in a case in which he threatened to kill him adding that the reasons he received are that there was not enough evidence to prosecute. “I am fine and at peace with the decision not to prosecute over evidential deficits but I must warn that should anything happen to my life both the DPP and the Magistrate will have to account,” Kablay said.
Connectedly, Kably said he has made peace with Tshenyego, “we have made peace and he even called me where upon we agreed to work for the party and bury the hatchet”.
The DPP reportedly entered into a Nolle Prosequi in the matter, meaning that no action would be taken against the former Letlhakeng Sub-district council chairperson and currently councillor for Matshwabisi.
According to the charge sheet before the Court, councilor Tshenyego on July 8th, 2022 allegedly threatened MP Kably by indirectly uttering the following words to nominatedcouncilor Anderson Molebogi Mathibe, “Mosadi wa ga Liakat le ban aba gagwe ba tsile go lela, Mosadi wame le banake le bone ba tsile go lela. E tla re re mo meeting, ka re tsena meeting mmogo, ke tla mo tlolela a bo ke mmolaya.”
Loosely translated this means, Liakat’s wife and children are going to shed tears and my wife and kids will shed tears too. I will jump on him and kill him during a meeting.
Mathibe is said to have recorded the meeting and forwarded it to Kably who reported the matter to the police.
In a notice to the Magistrate Court to have the case against Tshenyego, acting director of Public Prosecutions, Wesson Manchwe cited the nolle prosequi by the director of public prosecution in terms of section 51 A (30) of the Constitution and section 10 of the criminal procedure and evidence act (CAP 08:02) laws of Botswana as reasons for dropping the charges.
A nolle prosequi is a formal notice of abandonment by a plaintiff or prosecutor of all or part of a suit or action.
“In pursuance of my powers under section 51 A (300 of the Constitution and section 10 of the criminal procedure and evidence act (CAP 08:02) laws of Botswana, I do hereby stop and discontinue criminal proceedings against the accused Meshack Tshenyego in the Kweneng Administrative District, CR.No.1077/07/2022 being the case of the State vs Tshenyego,” said Manchwe. The acting director had drafted the notice dropping the charges on 13th day of March 2023.
The case then resumed before the Molepolole Magistrate Solomon Setshedi on the 14th of March 2023. The Magistrate issued an order directing “that matters be withdrawn with prejudice to the State, accused is acquitted and discharged.”
DPP seizes prosecution duties from Police
Directorate of Public Prosecution (DPP) has finally taken over prosecution from the Botswana Police Service (BPS). The police have been prosecuting for years, but the takeover means that they will now only focus on investigations and then hand over to the DPP for prosecution.
Talks of complete takeover began as far back as 2008, but for years it seemed implementation was sluggish. However, the Minister of Justice, Machana Shamukuni, revealed that the complete takeover is expected to be completed soon.
During a presentation to the Committee of Supply by Shamukuni this week, it was revealed that the project has been implemented in 22 police stations nationwide, including Maun, Selebi-Phikwe, Palapye, Francistown, and Kasane. He further stated that the project has been allocated P3,000,000 for the 2023/2024 financial year to facilitate the opening of more satellite offices for the DPP.
Shamukuni said the Lobatse station is scheduled for a complete takeover by the end of May 2023, while the Kasane DPP satellite office has been established and became operational as of February 1, 2023.
“As reported previously, preparations are at an advanced stage to open a satellite office in Tsabong to curtail expenses, as well as frequent long-distance trips to these areas, as it is currently serviced by the Lobatse DPP office,” Shamukuni said.
Shamukuni said that the takeover strategy is to enable a seamless and gradual takeover of prosecution from the BPS without overwhelming and overstretching the thin resources at its disposal.
According to Shamukuni, the implementation of the prosecution takeover project has increased the workload of the 211 prosecutors in the DPP establishment.
Furthermore, the Justice Minister said DPP statistics show that the DPP has a total of 11,903 cases and dockets as of January 2023. He indicated that this is a significant increase in the number of cases being handled by the DPP, considering that in November 2021, the DPP had just over 8,471 files.
“Out of the total case load, 8 382 are cases pending before various courts while 3521 are dockets received from law enforcement agencies of which 1 325 are awaiting service of summons while the rest are being assessed for suitability of prosecution or otherwise” said Shamukuni.
He further stated that The DPP has consistently maintained an 80% success rate in matters completed at court.
“As at the end of January 2023, the success rate stood at 82.3% against a target of 90% whilst the average performance in respect of turnaround time for conclusion of cases at court stood at 17.5 months against a target of 18 months,” he said.
BACKLOG OF CASES – LAND TRIBUNAL
Meanwhile, Minister Shamukuni has revealed that Gaborone land Tribunal is experiencing a backlog of cases. Before parliament this week, Shamukuni revealed that a total 230 appeals were completed for the period of April 2022- December 2022 and only 76.5% of them were completed within set time frame.
The minister said that the Gaborone division has experiencing a backlog of cases due to manpower constraints and he further indicated that presiding officers from other divisions have been brought in to expedite case disposal.
He further indicated that the land tribunal is a specialized court that has been empowered to resolve appeals arising from land boards. “It has been mandated to determine appeals from the decisions of Physical planning committees of Districts Councils” said Shamukuni.
Land Tribunal relocated to the Ministry of Justice from Ministry of Land and Water Affairs in November 2022.
“An amount of P37, 842,670 is requested to cover salaries, allowance and other operational expenses for the Department of the land Tribunal,” alluded Shamukuni
BCP, AP stalemate in 7 constituencies
When the Botswana Congress Party (BCP), Alliance for Progressives, Botswana Labour Party (BLP), and conveners reconvene next week, the controversial issue of allocation of the seven constituencies will be the main topic of discussion, WeekendPost can reveal.
Not only that, but the additional four constituencies will also dominate the talks. The idea is to finally close the “constituency allocation phase,” which has proven to be the most difficult part of the ongoing negotiations.
Earlier this year, the two parties announced that the marathon talks would be concluded by February. Even at a media briefing last month, BCP Secretary General Goretetse Kekgonegile and Publicity Secretary Dr. Mpho Pheko were optimistic that the negotiations would be concluded before the end of February.
However, it is now mid-March and the talks have yet to be concluded. What could be the reasons for the delay? This is a question that both Kekgonegile and Pheko have not responded to, as they have ignored the reporters’ inquiries. However, a senior figure within the party has confided to this publication as to what is delaying the highly anticipated negotiations.
“We are reconvening next week to finalize constituency allocations, taking into account the additional four new ones plus the outstanding seven,” he explained. It later surfaced that Gaborone Central, Gaborone North, Mogoditshane, Tswapong North, Francistown West, Tati West, and Nata Gweta are all contested by both BCP and AP. This is because the other 50 constituencies were allocated by December of last year.
The three parties have failed to find common ground for the Bosele Ward by-elections. Are these constituencies not a deal breaker for the talks? “None of the constituencies is a deal breaker,” responded a very calm BCP official.
In Bosele Ward, AP has yielded to BCP, despite most of its members disapproving the decision. On the other hand, BLP has refused, and it will face off with BCP together with Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) and Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC).
The decision by BLP to face off with BCP has been labelled as a false start for the talks by political observers.