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DCEC, media clash over Corruption Law

DCEC Director propose to edit investigative stories

Media practitioners and the Directorate on Corruption and Economic Crime (DCEC) are at loggerheads over section 44 of the DCEC Act. The friction gained traction following the search of News Company Botswana premises and seizure of a computer by DCEC operatives.

The media is against the said section citing that it infringes on media freedom while on the other hand DCEC is resolute on implementing the law because it is critical to ensuring sound investigation. The DCEC is accusing the media of leaking critical information to parties that may interfere with investigations. In essence the DCEC is saying the media is therefore jeopardizing their investigations.

While DCEC gets immense powers from the Corruption and Economic Crime Act (CECA) in the line of investigating corruption, media practitioners on the other hand insist that section 12 of the constitution provides them with sufficient authority to carry parallel investigations.

DCEC Director General, Rose Seretse acceded in her address to the media on Friday that in the recent past DCEC has had a standoff with the media regarding some reports that they (DCEC) felt compromised some of their investigations. “Section 44 of the Corruption on Economic Crime Act (CECA) prohibits any indulgence of information which is still under DCEC investigation,” she maintained.

She stated that an investigation that is disclosed prematurely is compromised because even the suspect at that stage may not even be aware that they are being investigated and once alerted it is very obvious that they will destroy the very vital evidence that we need.”

According to Seretse there is need for a sober assessment of the whole issue surrounding this matter and other similar matters that may arise in the future, to create a conducive environment whereby the DCEC can be given enough space to carry out its investigations on reports of alleged corruption without those investigations being compromised by unauthorized and/or premature disclosure of information.

DCEC Director General suggested that she could assist in editing news investigative pieces so that she may withhold the story if she sees that it may jeorpadise their investigations. Infact she admitted that section 44 of CECA give them powers as they prohibit divulging information to matters that are under their investigations.

The section 44 (of CECA) states that, “any person who, without lawful authority or reasonable excuse, discloses to any person who is subject of any investigation in respect of any offence alleged or suspected to have been committed by him under this Act the fact that he is subject to such investigations or any details of such investigation, or publishes or discloses to any person either the identity of any person who is subject of such investigation or any details of such investigation, shall be guilty of an offence and shall be liable, on conviction, to imprisonment for a term not exceeding one year or to a fine not exceeding P2000.00 or both.”

In reference to the Act, Media Institute of Southern Africa (MISA) has already instituted a court case, as a friend of the court, in the substantive application brought by the Attorney General against Tsodilo Services (pty) Ltd (Sunday Standard and its editor Outsa Mokone). MISA observes that section 44 of DCEC Act has limitations placed on the freedom of expression and therefore it is unconstitutional as it is not in the public interest.

MISA stated in the papers that the CECA is against the spirit of section 12 of the constitution which clearly states that, “except with his or her consent, no person shall be hindered in the enjoyment of his or her freedom of expression, that is to say, freedom to hold opinion without interference, freedom to receive ideas and information without interference, freedom to communicate ideas and information without interference, (whether the communication be to the public generally or to any person or class of persons) and freedom from interference with his or her correspondence.”

Recently the media, Botswana Gazette in particular, clashed with DCEC authorities over a story concerning corruption allegations of one Jerry Chitube in relation to P150 million worth of alleged oil deals and smuggling of diamonds. According to Seretse, the matter was still under investigation by officers at the corruption busting agency. She said she was shocked to see the story published in the media. Seretse stated on the sidelines of the press conference to the WeekendPost that “the story has jeorpadised their investigation and therefore negatively affected the case.”

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Khan: Boko, Masisi are fake politicians

18th January 2021
Masisi & Boko

While there is no hard-and-fast rule in politics, former Molepolole North Member of Parliament, Mohamed Khan says populism acts in the body politic have forced him to quit active partisan politics. He brands this ancient ascription of politics as fake and says it lowers the moral compass of the society.

Khan who finally tasted political victory in the 2014 elections after numerous failed attempts, has decided to leave the ‘dirty game’, and on his way out he characteristically lashed at the current political leaders; including his own party president, Advocate Duma Boko. “I arrived at this decision because I have noticed that there are no genuine politics and politicians. The current leaders, Boko and President Dr Mokgweetsi Masisi are fake politicians who are just practicing populist politics to feed their egos,” he said.

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Ookeditse rejects lobby for BPF top post

18th January 2021

Former Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) parliamentary hopeful, Lawrence Ookeditse has rejected the idea of taking up a crucial role in the Botswana Patriotic Front (BPF) Central Committee following his arrival in the party this week. According to sources close to development, BPF power brokers are coaxing Ookeditse to take up the secretary general position, left vacant by death of Roseline Panzirah-Matshome in November 2020.

Ookeditse’s arrival at BPF is projected to cause conflicts, as some believe they are being overlooked, in favour of a new arrival. The former ruling party strategist has however ruled out the possibility of serving in the party central committee as secretary general, and committed that he will turn down the overture if availed to him by party leadership.

Ookeditse, nevertheless, has indicated that if offered another opportunity to serve in a different capacity, he will gladly accept. “I still need to learn the party, how it functions and all its structures; I must be guided, but given any responsibility I will serve the party as long as it is not the SG position.”

“I joined the BPF with a clear conscious, to further advance my voice and the interests of the constituents of Nata/Gweta which I believe the BDP is no longer capable to execute.” Ookeditse speaks of abject poverty in his constituency and prevalent unemployment among the youth, issues he hopes his new home will prioritise.

He dismissed further allegations that he resigned from the BDP because he was not rewarded for his efforts towards the 2019 general elections. After losing in the BDP primaries in 2018, Ookeditse said, he was offered a job in government but declined to take the post due to his political ambitions. Ookeditse stated that he rejected the offer because, working for government clashed with his political journey.

He insists there are many activists who are more deserving than him; he could have chosen to take up the opportunity that was before him but his conscious for the entire populace’s wellbeing held him back. Ookeditse said there many people in the party who also contributed towards party success, asserting that he only left the BDP because he was concerned about the greater good of the majority not individualism purposes.

According to observers, Ookeditse has been enticed by the prospects of contesting Nata/Gweta constituency in the 2024 general election, following the party’s impressive performance in the last general elections. Nata/Gweta which is a traditional BDP stronghold saw its numbers shrinking to a margin of 1568. BDP represented by Polson Majaga garnered 4754, while BPF which had fielded Joe Linga received 3186 with UDC coming a distant with 1442 votes.

There are reports that Linga will pave way for Ookeditse to contest the constituency in 2024 and the latter is upbeat about the prospects of being elected to parliament. Despite Ookeditse dismissing reports that he is eying the secretary general position, insiders argue that the position will be availed to him nevertheless.

Alternative favourite for the position is Vuyo Notha who is the party Deputy Secretary General. Notha has since assumed duties of the secretariat office on the interim basis. BPF politburo is expected to meet on 25th of January 2020, where the vacancy will be filled.

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BDP cancels MPs retreat

18th January 2021
President Masisi

Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) big wigs have decided to cancel a retreat with the party legislators this weekend owing to increasing numbers of Covid-19 cases. The meeting was billed for this weekend at a place that was to be confirmed, however a communique from the party this past Tuesday reversed the highly anticipated meeting.

“We received a communication this week that the meeting will not go as planned because of rapid spread of Covid-19,” one member of the party Central Committee confirmed to this publication.
The gathering was to follow the first of its kind held late last year at party Treasurer Satar Dada’s place.

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