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Ex DCEC Director discusses ‘charge Kgosi’ enigma

The former Director of the Directorate on Corruption and Economic Crime (DCEC) Tymon Katlholo has hinted that it may be just a matter of time before the Directorate of Intelligence and Security Services (DISS) Chief, Isaac Kgosi is brought to book.

As the founder of DCEC having served at the corruption busting agency from 1997 to 2009, Katlholo led the marathon and high profile investigation on the late former Debswana Managing Director and political kingpin Louis Nchindo. “The Setlhowa land scandal involving Louis Nchindo, his son Garvas, and Matome and Sesinyi was a mountain to climb but it eventually saw the light of day,” he said, adding that the embattled DIS Chief may also face the music at some point.

Nchindo was involved in corruption scandal relating to acquiring a large chunk of land throughout Botswana, which included in Gaborone – for purposes of tourism development. He was said to have corrupted public officials to acquiring the land and ended up facing 32 charges together with his son Garvas, and other former Debswana employees. The charges emanated from his (Nchindo) time while he was at DeBeers and Debswana and the matter was thoroughly investigated by Katlholo under the DCEC and he was tried and charged for the crimes.

When speaking in an exclusive interview with WeekendPost this week, Katlholo highlighted that he would not comment much on the matter as he may prejudice the case but emphasised that Bakang Seretse, who is facing money laundering charges involving more than 250 million pula maybe has a point in calling for all implicated parties to be tried in the same breadth.

“I understand the frustration coming from Bakang Seretse and his lawyer Kgosi Ngakaagae, generally there are far too many stories implicating the incumbent DIS General from way back but are not thoroughly investigated and maybe tried at the court of law to either convict him or clear him,” he highlighted. He continued: “so, he (Seretse) has a point. You must establish the principal. You see there can never be any money laundering without the principal offence because the money laundering offence is instigated on the principal offence.”

The former DCEC Director went on to state that he however believed that the organisation is working around the clock to bring everyone including the DIS Director to book if there is sufficient evidence that warrants so. “Just give them a chance, it is their own strategy. As of now they are looking at the facts before them.  So maybe it is too early to start condemning them.” Katlholo stressed that cases of corruption by their nature take a lot of time, maybe up to 5 to 7 years and gave an example of the Nchindo case that he says took five years to crack.

Of corruption, curse and political interference

Katlholo further told this publication that corruption by its nature has something known as public opprobrium which is like a curse; that is when you approach people to ask them questions as DCEC but they are unwilling to open up and so sometimes when you are involved in an investigation, you go through those difficult challenges affecting your investigation negatively.

He added “again, I do not know whether there is political interference or not. But it is in the nature that sometimes political interference is inevitable but I wouldn’t say there is political interference in the Bakang Seretse case but it is inevitable.” According to the corruption expert, this is precisely due to the fact that you are dealing with high profile people having a certain reputation to protect. So he advises that in such cases, there is need for political will because a country and its leadership has respectful division of labour and therefore what the DCEC, DIS and DPP are separately doing in their own right ought to be respected.

Kgosietsile Ngakaagae, attorney representing Seretse in his money laundering case recently turned the gun on the corruption busting agency, dismissing it as biased and hopeless. The attorney asserted that “the real question is we are questioning power and because of that we are being harassed. That’s the trouble here. Our clients are being harassed simply because they demand answers as to why some people are not being charged when they are charged when those people are the owners of what they are alleged to be charged with or to have committed.”

The attorney said the DCEC only went after the small fish, people accused of stealing two hundred pula or having small traffic fines “and then bang two hundred and fifty million pula gone and what do you do? You can’t look at power in the eye and say you should account.”

DIS intimidating DCEC?

According to the anti-corruption Specialist, he does not know the relationship between DIS and DCEC but he does not see any reason why the DCEC should be afraid of DIS and vice versa as they both have their own mandates. “In a law enforcement environment, you don’t investigate someone not at the behest of anyone but at the behest of the law. It is the law that says you go and investigate. On that account there is no reason why you should therefore be fearful of anyone or favour anyone. Because you are guided by the law, it’s a basic concept of the rule of law.”  

If there is corruption, he said, it should be investigated and if there is proof that implicates some people they should be dragged to court like anyone else. “There is no reason why the DIS Director or anyone should be feared. The DCEC is constitutionally established and it has the backing of the statutes, unless if they were operating on a vacuum then one would understand.”

Honours only on DPP to prosecute

He also stressed that the DCEC doesn’t prosecute so if they investigate a matter and put the case before the DPP then the prosecution honour is therefore on DPP and not DCEC. Meanwhile, last year in June, the then DCEC Director Rose Seretse testified before a Parliamentary Accounts Committee (PAC) that the docket in which they were investigating Kgosi for money laundering and possible corruption were completed. She said it had been passed to DPP for the next course of action. However, to date, nothing has been heard of the case as the DPP has yet to act on it.

The DPP however contradicted the statement saying the investigations were still ongoing and that they had referred the docket back to DCEC. In a separate savingram, Kgosi was also at some point said to be implicated in spying on and intimidating the DCEC unit investigating him over corruption allegations, an allegation which he however denied.

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UDC founder warns against merger

19th October 2020
Ex UDC Convener: Mpotokwane

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.

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BDP attaches Boko’s property

19th October 2020
DUMA BOKO

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.

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COVID-19 exposes decay in the education system

19th October 2020
Education Systm

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.”

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