The omission of the Directorate of Intelligence and Security Services (DISS) Director General Isaac Kgosi from prosecution in the ongoing case of money laundering involving Bakang Seretse and company has opened a can worms.
It is understood that Seretse has divulged in his affidavit before court that the P250 million transfers to an Israeli company named Dignia Systems’s bank account were at the written instruction of the DIS chief. Dr. Obolokile Obakeng, acting Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Minerals, Green Technology and Energy Security, is said to have authorised the variation at the request of the DIS.
High Court Judge Godfrey Radijeng has also stated in his judgement in December that “the applicant averred that the P250 million disbursement to a Khulaco (Pty) Ltd account at Capital Bank was not approved by the NPF Management Committee, did not follow established procedure for disbursements, there was no tender for the project, and one Kenneth Kerekang alone purported to approve the request by the Directorate of Intelligence and Security (DIS) on same date (7th August 2017) the request was made by DIS.”
Seretse’s lawyer, a Gaborone based audacious attorney, Kgosietsile Ngakaagae also has stated this week when his clients appeared for mention before the Broadhurst Magistrate Court having moved from Gaborone Regional Magistrate south, Christopher Gabanagae that Kgosi should also be prosecuted in the matter.
Ngakaagae told court in his oral submissions that the Directorate on Corruption and Economic Crime (DCEC) says that they have a case with them to answer for, “we say bring it on, and I must say they must bring other people. We will be talking about them as we go forward.”
When the Magistrate interjected to ask who he was referring to, he mentioned DIS boss Isaac Kgosi, Dr. (Obolokile) Obakeng from the Ministry of Minerals, Green Technology and Energy Security;saying they must bring all the other people from government who are involved in this matter.
Seretse threatened that if they failed to do so, “and I had thought I would leave this note for the future but we will file for the review of the DPP’s decision not to charge these individuals if at all my clients are guilty. We will not bow down to selective justice at the hands of DPP and government. We will then ask for a review of their decision.” So next time, he said Isaac Kgosi will have to sit there (pointing) in the docket including Dr. Obakeng and the others left out in the matter.
When he stated this, the Director of Prosecution Ambrose Mobika (DPP) rose to say that was not the issue that was brought by Ngakaagae. In turn Ngakaagae defended himself saying it was an instant answer that was asked by the Magistrate as to whom he was referring to by those people. Outside the Regional Magistrate court, after the hearing, Ngakaagae told WeekendPost that they have always been asking the DCEC that if at all his clients are guilty, why then are particular people not being prosecuted.
“And then all we get is harassment from the DCEC. The main issue is we are questioning power and because we are questioning power we are being harassed. Our clients are being harassed simply because they are demanding answers as to why some people like Kgosi are not being charged when they were charged when the initiators of the corruption have been left out,” he said.
According to Ngakaagae, one cannot say someone transferred 250 million pula at the instruction of someone, and then only the one who transferred the funds gets charged while the instructor gets left out. He said DCEC is a hopeless department that does not fight corruption but protects it adding that this simple act of “selective charging” is in of itself simple an act of corruption done by the DCEC.
“And we will not back off in demanding that things be done properly. We are not going to back off, neither are we going to be intimated, we are not scared, indeed they can shoot us and do whatever they want to do to us. But we are going to deal with this matter in our best judgement in terms of our best discretion and we are going to leave no stone unturned to ensure that there is no selective justice,” the oddball attorney pointed out.
He continued: “if our clients have committed any offence so be it, let them be charged but if anyone else has committed the offence that they are alleged to have committed then let that same people suffer the same treatment.” Ngakaagae went on to state that they are not going to allow Seretse and the co-accused to become scape goats for what the executive did. “It is absolute rubbish,” he added in a poignant voice.
When further quizzed by this publication on his assessment on why Kgosi was not charged he stated that “the trouble is I cannot discuss the merits of the trial as it will be unlawful. I will be in trouble with Magistrate if I try to do that. Right now am not going into the merits of the trial.” He added that “I am simply asking why if at all it is said my clients stole the money, then why are those people who came up with the instruction for the money to be transferred (DIS) not in the court, that’s all we asking.”
He however said he is not sure whether the exclusion of Kgosi in the case would or would not jeopardize the case and that therefore it’s upon the DPP to make judgement in that regard. According to Ngakaagae, his clients have not committed any offence. “I want everyone to understand that. If at all having to transfer money was an offence then it was an offence by those who told him to do so. So that’s essentially the long and short of what I am saying,” he said.
When WeekendPost approached the DPP to respond to Ngakaagae’s comments on Kgosi after the court session he said that “nnyaa o bua hela, nnyaa o bua hela (he is just lying to the court),” that is why I was objecting that no it cannot be the case.” When pressed further to state if they could have charged Kgosi and others he insisted “I have no idea,” and then refused to comment further. Kgosi’s mobile phone also rang unanswered at the time of going to print.
This publication also sought clarity from Ngakaagae about the letter written to the Attorney General implicating the President, Vice president, Ministers together with Isaac Kgosi that they may have benefitted somehow from the controversial 250 million pula from the National Petroleum Fund (NDF) which the DPP has charged his clients on as proceeds of crime.
On the authenticity of the controversial letter, Ngakaagae could only reluctantly say: “no comment, I can’t comment on that. I can’t comment on any letter especially those said to have been leaked or edited. I can’t comment on that.” The letter had also implied that there are some within the Intelligence community that plan to kill Bakang Seretse and those associated with him.
“We have been put under instructions to advice the public of the intentions thereof. The Commissioner of Police and the Directorate on Corruption and Economic Crime (DCEC) have already been alerted of the threat. As indicated in the correspondence, we will be proceeding in our own deliberate judgement and will not be intimidated by the threats, however grave,” he asserted in the said letter. In light of the afore-going threats, Ngakaagae stated that the state shall be held responsible for the deaths of his clients, their attorneys thereof or their family members.
Lebang Mpotokwane, one of the conveners who presided over the opposition cooperation talks that resulted in the formation of the Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC), has advised against changing the current umbrella model in favour of a merger as proposed by others.
The Botswana Congress Party (BCP) leader, Dumelang Saleshando recently went public to propose that UDC should consider merging of all opposition parties, including Alliance for Progressives (AP) and Botswana Patriotic Front (BNF).
Saleshando has been vehemently opposed by Botswana National Front (BNF), which is in favour of maintaining the current model. BNF’s position has been favoured by the founding father of UDC, who warned that it will be too early to ditch the current model.
“UDC should be well developed to promote the spirit of togetherness on members and the members should be taught so that the merger is developed gradually. They should approach it cautiously. If they feel they are ready, they can, but it would not be a good idea,” Mpotokwane told WeekendPost this week.
Mpotokwane and Emang Maphanyane are the two men who have since 2003 began a long journey of uniting opposition parties in a bid to dethrone the ruling Botswana Democratic Party (BCP) as they felt it needed a strong opposition to avoid complacency.
Tonota born Mpotokwane is however disappointed on how they have been ejected from participating in the last edition of talks ahead of the 2019 general elections in which BCP was brought on board. However, despite the ejection, Mpotokwane is not resentful to the opposition collective.
He said the vision of opposition unity was to ultimately merge the opposition parties but he believes time has not arrived yet to pursue that path. “The bigger picture was a total merger and we agreed that with three independent parties, members might be against merger eventuality so the current model should be used until a point where they are now together for as long as possible,” he said.
“UDC should gradually perform better in elections and gain confidence. They should not rush the merger. We have been meeting since 2003, but if they rush it might cause endless problems. If they are ready they can anyway,” he advised. For now the constituent parties of the umbrella have been exchanging salvos with others (BCP and BNF).
“There are good reasons for and against merging the parties. Personally, I am in favour of merging the parties (including AP and BPF) into a single formation but I know it’s a complex mission that will have its own challenges,” Saleshando said when he made his position known a week ago.
“Good luck to those advocating for a merger, it will be interesting to observe the tactics they will use to lure the BPF into a merger,” former BNF councillor for Borakalalo Ward and former BNF Youth League Secretary General, Arafat Khan, opined in relation to BCP’s proposed position.
Mpotokwane, who is currently out in the cold from the UDC since he was ejected from the party’s NEC in 2017, said the current bickering and the expected negotiations with other parties need the presence of conveners.
“We did not belong to any party as conveners so we were objective in our submissions. If party propose any progressive idea we will support, if it is not we will not, so I would agree that even now conveners might be key for neutrality to avoid biasness,” he observed. Despite being abandoned, Mpotokwane said he will always be around to assist if at all he is needed.
“If they want help I will be there, I have always been clear about it, but surely I will ask few questions before accepting that role,” he said. UDC is expected to begin cooperation talks with both AP and BPF either this week or next weekend for both upcoming bye-elections (halted by Covid-19) and 2024 general elections and it is revealed that there will be no conveners this time around.
The Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) moved through its lawyers to attach the property of Umbrella for Democratic (UDC) President Duma Boko and other former parliamentary contestants who failed in their court bid to overturn the 2019 general elections in 14 constituencies.
WeekendPost has established that this week, Deputy Sheriffs were commissioned by Bogopa Manewe Tobedza and Company who represented the BDP, to attach the properties of UDC elections contents in a bid to recover costs. High Court has issued a writ of execution against all petitioners, a process that has set in motion the cost recovery measures.
Botswana Sectors of Teachers Union (BOSETU) says COVID-19 as a pandemic has negatively affected the education sector by deeply disrupting the education system. The intermittent lockdowns have resulted in the halting of teaching and learning in schools.
The union indicated that the education system was caught napping and badly exposed when it came to the use of Information System (IT), technological platforms and issues of digitalisation.
“COVID-19 exposed glaring inefficiencies and deficiencies when it came to the use of ITC in schools. In view of the foregoing, we challenge government as BOSETU to invest in school ITC, technology and digitalization,” says BOSETU President Kinston Radikolo during a press conference on Tuesday.
As a consequence, the union is calling on government to prioritise education in her budgeting to provide technological infrastructure and equipment including provision of tablets to students and teachers.
“Government should invest vigorously in internet connectivity in schools and teacher’s residences if the concept of flexi-hours and virtual learning were to be achieved and have desired results,” Radikolo said.
Radikolo told journalists that COVID-19 is likely to negatively affect final year results saying that the students would sit for the final examinations having not covered enough ground in terms of curriculum coverage.
“This is so because there wasn’t any catch up plan that was put in place to recover the lost time by students. We warn that this year’s final examination results would dwindle,” he said.
The Union, which is an affiliate of Botswana Federation of Public, Private and Parastatal Union (BOFEPUSU), also indicated that COVID-19’s presence as a pandemic has complicated the role of a teacher in a school environment, saying a teacher’s role has not only transcended beyond just facilitating teaching and learning, but rather, a teacher in this COVID-19 era, is also called upon to enforce the COVID-19 preventative protocols in the school environment.
“This is an additional role in the duty of a teacher that needs to be recognized by the employers. Teachers by virtue of working in a congested school environment have become highly exposed and vulnerable to COVID-19, hence the reason why BOSETU would like teachers to be regarded as the frontline workers with respect to COVID-19,” says Radikolo.
BOSETU noted that the pandemic has in large scales found its way into most of the school environments, as in thus far more than 50 schools have been affected by COVID-19. The Union says this is quite a worrying phenomenon.
“As we indicated before when we queried that schools were not ready for re-opening, it has now come to pass that our fears were not far-fetched. This goes out to tell that there is deficiency in our schools when it comes to putting in place preventative protocols. In our schools, hygiene is compromised by mere absence of sanitizers, few hand-washing stations, absence of social distancing in classes,” the Union leader said.
Furthermore, Radikolo stressed that the shifting system drastically increased the workload for teachers especially in secondary schools. He says teachers in these schools experience very high loads to an extent that some of them end up teaching up to sixty four periods per week, adding that this has not only fatigued teachers, but has also negatively affected their performance and the quality of teaching.
In what the Union sees as failure to uphold and honour collective agreements by government, owing to the shift system introduced at primary schools, government is still in some instances refusing to honour an agreement with the Unions to hire more teachers to take up the extra classes.
“BOSETU notes with disgruntlement the use of pre-school teachers to teach in the mainstream schools with due regard for their specific areas of training and their job descriptions. This in our view is a variation of the terms of employment of the said teachers,” says Radikolo.
The Union has called on government to forthwith remedy this situation and hire more teachers to alleviate this otherwise unhealthy situation. BOSETU also expressed concerns of some school administrators who continuously run institutions with iron fists and in a totalitarian way.
“We have a few such hot spot schools which the Union has brought to attention the Ministry officials such as Maoka JSS, Artesia JSS, and Dukwi JSS. We are worried that the Ministry becomes sluggish in taking action against such errant school administration. In instances where action is taken, such school administrators are transferred and rotated around schools.”