BDP challengers worry Masisi
Main Threat; Minister of Infrastructure, Science and Technology Nonofo Molefhi
Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) Chairman and Vice president Mokgweetsi Masisi this week expressed reservations about a myriad of party chums who have thrown their hats in the ring to challenge him for the presidency towards 2019, Weekend Post has learnt.
Masisi was speaking to Southern region party faithfuls at a secret in-house meeting at Sampi Lodge in Kanye on Sunday.
By virtue of his position, Masisi is expected to automatically rise to the position of President in 2018 when incumbent President Dr. Seretse Khama Ian Khama’s two terms – as dictated by the country’s constitution – come to a close. It has been the party norm and tradition that when the VP ascends to the presidency, he is also endorsed substantive at the next congress leading to the elections.
At the said meeting it is understood that Masisi, who was accompanied by party Secretary General Botsalo Ntuane and Member of Central Committee (MCC) for Southern region and Mahalapye East law maker Botlogile Tshireletso; once again took shots at those with intent of making the presidency out of his reach.
An immaculate BDP source in the region told WeekendPost after the meeting that the party Chairman spoke out against the “countless” contestants who want to challenge him and expressed his disappointment at the gesture.
“He told us that some want to split the party by contesting in numbers for the presidency saying it appeared like it was mostly the old BDP crop. He therefore – indicated that this may suggest that we are an opposition in our own,” the source who preferred anonymity for fear of being victimized pointed out.
A sizable number of influential BDP figures like President Dr. Seretse Khama Ian Khama’s younger brother and Minister of Environment, Wildlife and Tourism Tshekedi Khama; Minister of Infrastructure, Science and Technology Nonofo Molefhi; ex-cabinet Minister and Botswana ambassador to United States Tebelelo Seretse as well as corruption busting ex law maker Robert Masitara have all confirmed to this publication before, of their “interest” in the BDP presidential race.
In addition former cabinet Minister Boyce Sebetela has also hinted of a possible run for the party’s top office while Botswana’s ambassador to Japan Jacob Nkate is also fingered in the race, and the list may balloon if a compromise which was previously the subject of discussion is not reached.
Mindful of the weight the presidential contesters carry, the BDP insider said the Vice President was concerned that there are some people who influence others to stand for impending party presidential elections with the aim of ‘de-stabilising’ the BDP. “He believed that the presidency should be left to him for purposes of stability of the party.”
It is understood that Masisi also conceded that they need not do anything that may cause instability in the party as they may be on the verge of losing elections to opposition parties – which are likely to form a united front in 2019 – and therefore given that they have to tread carefully.
In the meeting, it is also understood that they also drew a plan and formula to try to win the next elections again, which are likely to be tightly contested.
Masisi also split Kweneng, Southern region
In his bid to the state house post 2019 General Elections, the Vice president announced at the Kanye meeting that they have decided to split the Southern region into two separate regions.
Southern region will now be made up of only Lobatse, Goodhope/Mabule, and Mmathethe/Molapowabojang constituencies while the other new region will benamed South West which comprises Kanye North, Kanye South, Moshupa/Manyana and Jwaneng/Mabutsane.
The move to increase regions – particularly in the South is seen as Masisi’s strategy to lure votes from the south of the country and take regions by the scruff of the neck – to enable him to be president. Regional Chairpersons and Secretaries have the leverage to nominate and endorse their preferred candidates for presidency when the party gathers at a special congress.
According to the source inside the BDP, “the issue is about numbers, as you know the regions’ Chairpersons and Secretaries elect the president and Masisi wanted to make sure that there are more regions in the South and that the regional leaders are on his side. It’s his strategy to win elections by increasing the regions. He is strong in the South so he wants to increase his base first,” he stressed.
Prior to paying a visit to the Southern region, it is understood that Masisi was at Kweneng region a fortnight ago where he also hinted that the region needs to be divided to increase regions’ effectiveness as they were seen as wide and huge.
There has been 12 regions for the party namely North West, North East, Western, Francistown, Central, Letswapo, Bomase, Shoma, South East, Gaborone, Southern and Kweneng. The new region is South West and others are expected to be announced soon and therefore will increase from the initial 12.
It is understood that for his part the BDP Secretary General Botsalo Ntuane highlighted to ma-domkrag who were present that the party is considering increasing the number of constituencies especially in the North where BDP’s presence is very strong.
Another high profile member at the meeting, Tshireletso is also said to have raised concern about Specially Elected Councilors and Legislators who have to vigorously sell the party, which she says is currently not the case. She also said as the MCC, nobody never approached her with the evaluation of recent bye elections in the Southern region which she says concerns her.
BDP SG Ntuane confirms the meeting
When reached for comment, Ntuane, in a carefully worded response confirmed to this publication that indeed they met over the weekend in Kanye although he was cagey with the details of such a meeting while emphasizing that- it was ‘in house’.
Ntuane declined to comment on the words allegedly uttered by BDP chairman when he aired his uneasiness on the high number of BDP members eyeing the presidency instead of smoothly endorsing him as has been the party tradition.
He however stated that: “there are certain processes which we follow internally, which in the case of Southern region culminated in the meeting held over the weekend. With Kweneng region the internal process is still ongoing and we will make an announcement only when it’s completed.”
He emphasized that the gathering in Southern region was an in-house meeting and in such instances they don’t disseminate anything publicly unless it’s on a need to know basis. “Note that we have been holding many such meetings across the country as the party leadership,” he told this publication.
According to the ever diplomatic Ntuane, the only thing they can share from this particular in-house meeting which is of critical importance to democrats in “Southern region is that their region will be realigned into 2 new regions comprising of a Southern region which will be made up of Lobatse, Goodhope/Mabule, and Mmathethe/Molapowabojang constituencies.”
The other new region he said is South West which comprises Kanye North, Kanye South, Moshupa and Jwaneng/Mabutsane. “So the 7 constituencies which previously made up the Southern region have now been split into 3 and 4 constituencies respectively. We hope the realignment will improve administrative efficiencies and assist in mobilization efforts as we prepare for 2019.”
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Letshego’s head of transformation, Molebogeng Malomo highlighted that working through agile methodologies, the partnership was able to develop and be released as what they call a Minimum Viable Product (MVP) or solution. “In keeping up with the spirit of design thinking and agile methodologies, the experiences and viewpoints of both Letshego Botswana and Mascom’s customers will be valuable to inform further enhancements to the Mascom MyZaka solution,” he said.
He further noted that the partnership and the development of the MyZaka instant loan will provide both the organizations to diversify their offering and customer base, while also offering the customer more choices and flexibility to initiate and be in control of their loan requests through the self-service mobile based application.
Mascom’s Chief Executive Officer, Dzene Makhwade-Seboni also alluded that their origins, priorities and initiatives are firmly rooted in Botswana and in the success of all Batswana, and that their strategy and intent is supported by embracing innovative problem-solving.
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DCEC granted warrant to arrest Khama twins
The Directorate on Corruption and Economic Crime (DCEC) has been granted permission to apprehend the former Minister of Environment, Wildlife and Tourism, Tshekedi Khama, and his twin brother Anthony Khama.
Information gathered by this publication suggests that the DCEC is actively searching for the Khama brothers, this is in connection with events that transpired whilst Tshekedi was Minister of Environment. The duo is currently in exile in South Africa together with their elder brother, and former President Lt Gen Ian Khama.
Approximately two weeks ago, the corruption-busting agency discreetly filed for an arrest warrant that was approved by the Broadhurst Magistrate Court for the two to be taken into custody, according to a highly placed source within the government enclave.
DCEC is also said to have filed an affidavit signed by a high-ranking officer known to this publication. Reports indicate that after being presented with details of the case, the Broadhurst magistrate issued the agency an arrest warrant.
It is also believed that the agency has been conducting extensive investigations into the supposed suspects for quite some time. Furthermore, Weekend Post has it on good word that the DCEC has been looking for methods to summon the two for questioning but has been unsuccessful.
According to unconfirmed reports, DCEC met with attorney Victor Ramalepa, who refused to accept the summons, saying that he is not their attorney. Furthermore, it is believed that DCEC has enlisted the assistance of the Botswana Police Service (BPS) in flagging the suspects’ names in the International Criminal Police Organisation INTERPOL.
Responding to WeekendPost enquiries, DCEC spokesperson Lentswe Motshoganetsi said, “I am not in good position to confirm or deny the allegation,” adding that such allegations may fall within the operational purview of the DCEC.
When contacted for comment, Ramalepa briefly stated that he is unaware of the purported arrest warrant. “I know nothing about the warrant and I haven’t been served with anything,” he said.
Meanwhile, former president Lt Gen Ian Khama recently issued a statement stating that DIS is intensifying the harassment and intimidation of him, family, friends and office employees.
“It is reprehensible for state officials and agencies to abuse government resources to terrorise their own citizens for personal gain,” said the former president in a statement.
He also stated that his brother TK’s staff and security were ordered to falsely implicate him. “Their desperate tactics will never work, it only serves to motivate me more to pursue regime change and free Botswana from tyranny,” he said
This comes after the corruption busting agency wants to interview the alleged suspects as they are still hiding in South Africa since last year.
Despite the hostility between government and Khama family going unabated, last month, Masisi extended an olive branch to Khama in political rally, indicating that he hopes the two of them settle their differences, of which the former responded by welcoming the gesture.
Khama further said his brother, Tshekedi, will facilitate the reconciliation of his behalf. Many have indicated that Masisi did not say what he said in good faith, and was only scoring political brownies since he was in Khama’s territory in Shoshong.
DCEC’s Tshepo Pilane still has his mojo
Tshepo Pilane silenced his critics after being named the head of the Directorate on Corruption and Economic Crime (DCEC) in May of last year and served his opponents humble pie. Many believed he would only last for a month, but almost a year later, he is still standing.
Pilane, a trained soldier whose appointment surprised both the general public and some officers within the DCEC walls, has never glanced back in his duty to steer the DCEC ship forward.
It is alleged that immediately after his appointment the man embarked on a nation-wide trip touring the DCEC offices across the country in order to confirm and reaffirm the DCEC’s mandate. Sources from inside the DCEC claim that Pilane won the hearts of many DCEC employees due to his humility and plain message; “people at the top of the DCEC will come and go but the mandate of the DCEC remains relevant and unchanged.”
Pilane was appointed the Acting DCEC Director General at a time when the organisation was undergoing turbulence through court proceedings in which the suspended Director General Tymon Katlholo had interdicted the Directorate of Intelligence and Security (DIS) from accessing the DCEC premises. At the time, the DIS had raided the DCEC offices in the absence of Katlholo claiming to be looking for high profile corruption cases allegedly held by Katlholo.
At the time Pilane was Head of the DCEC Intelligence Division holding the position of Senior Assistant Director General reporting directly to the Deputy Director General Operations Ms Priscilla Israel. Contrary to his detractors, Pilane who is a reserved and humble person by nature won the support and backing of many DCEC officers due to his unassuming nature.
In a recent questionnaire sent to the DCEC regarding Pilane’s term in office, the DCEC was resolute on its commitment towards the fight against corruption. When quizzed on allegations of rife corruption since he took over, Pilane through his Public Relations (PR) office stated that the corruption landscape in Botswana remains unchanged as the DCEC continues to receive reports on allegations of corruption with sectors such as procurement (tenders and supplies), Transport (licensing and certificates), and land (dubious allocation and collusion) still leading issues reported. This trend has been consistence in the DCEC database for more than 10 years.
When further quizzed on accusations that suggest that due to the infighting at the agency, particularly at the top management, Investigations of cases has dropped significantly the DCEC claimed ignorance to the matter, stating that they are not aware of any “infights” at the DCEC “at the top management”, further stating that, investigations of cases has increased significantly, contrary to the allegations raised. “The DCEC is currently seeking new ways of expediting the investigations in order to fast track its enforcement role,” said the DCEC Head of Public Relations Lentswe Motshoganetsi. He further stated that the DCEC is in pursuit of high profile cases involving money and assets valued over P900 million. Three companies are involved in the scandal and two cases have already been committed to court while on one, investigations are about to be completed.
When WeekendPost inquired about Pilane’s roadmap, the DCEC stated that in the past, anti-corruption interventions were reactive, particularly in dealing with national projects that involve large sums of money. It was further started that in most instances investigating such matters takes a long time and in most instances, the money looted form Government in never recovered. As a result, the DCEC has taken a deliberate stance to attach its officers from the Corruption Prevention Division to be part of the implementation of these projects before, during, and after implementation.
The DCEC cited the Economic Stimulus Programme which, although meant to grow the economy and uplift Batswana from poverty, yielded incidents of corruption and poor workmanship. To date, the DCEC is still grappling with cases as some projects were not done, or were completed with defects beyond repair. Currently the DCEC is involved at the Ministry of Education conducting project risk management in the Multiple Path Ways Program at Moeng College and Maun Senior School. This intervention will spread to other sectors of the economy as part of the DCEC’s corruption prevention strategy.
Of recent, the DCEC has been in the media for all the wrong reasons following leakage of high profile cases and allegations claiming that the executive management is at war with each other more particularly with some within the agency harbouring ambitions to dethrone Pilane from the Directorship.
Although the infighting was denied by Pilane’s Office, he acknowledged that leakage of information is a problem across Government and stated that it is a pain at the DCEC. He however stated that Staff has been cautioned against leakage of investigation information and that they have roped in the Botswana Police to assist in investigating incidents of leakage. He further stated that they have increased continuous vetting and lifestyle audits for DCEC employees in order to enforce discipline.
Pilane’s term comes to an end in May 2023 after serving the DCEC for a year on acting basis. It will be in the public interest to see who will be given the baton to continue the anti-corruption journey if Pilane’s contract is not renewed. The DCEC has seen arrival and departure of Director Generals having alternated the top seat five times in less than seven years.