Matsheka rough tackles Tshekedi in Parliament
The son to the late former President Sir Seretse Khama and one of the younger twin brothers to former President Ian Khama, Tshekedi Khama has this week attracted the wrath of a scathing response from the Minister of Finance and Development Planning Dr Thapelo Matsheka.
This comes after Tshekedi drew first blood when responding to Matsheka’s Budget Speech, saying the new Finance Minister has embarrassed the President in his presentation. However, Matsheka responded this week saying Tshekedi’s concern is more of a fight for control of the country and its natural resources than anything else. “In some instances, the fight for the control of the country and party is at the core of wild accusations. These people are fighting for the control of the nation’s resources,” Matsheka said of Tshekedi in Parliament.
Tshekedi blames Masisi’s administration on poaching
Matsheka said the nation should, however, dispel the myth that only a few people care or know about rhinos more than others. Tshekedi Khama was of the view that there has been an increase in poaching ever since the current government came into power but the views raised by Khama relating to poaching are misleading, he said. “It is not true that poaching specifically increased under the new government, as poaching has always been a challenge even under your leadership as the Minister of Environment, Wildlife and Natural Resources,” Matsheka observed.
However the Finance Minister admitted that recently, there has been an increase in rhino poaching and this has been the case even in neighbouring countries, such as Namibia, South Africa and Zimbabwe. This cannot be placed at the door of the current government, he lashed out. Matsheka said this after Tshekedi teared down his remarks on poaching, blaming President Mokgweetsi Masisi’s administration for poor policies towards rhino safeguarding.
“The poaching of rhinos, an endangered species is but only one example where the removal of the weapons from department of Wildlife and National Parks (DWNP) was a huge mistake, the responsibility of protecting our wildlife was given to the Botswana Defence Force (BDF), which has demonstrated that they cannot protect our wildlife, in the same way as the DWNP anti-poaching unit did, also in this house last week Hon Kapinga read the Act that gives the Wildlife Department the right to carry arms – therefore the story that the DWNP were doing so illegally has to be considered as incorrect and misleading,” Tshekedi stated.
He had also added that it is apparent that there is little or no coordination in dealing with wildlife poaching. He continued: “stop telling the world your failings, as of today the country has lost more than 40 rhinos, let alone elephants as well as illegal bush meat trade which are no longer reported, as it is now common place, how tragic, do government have a plan to address these poaching, (dehorning and its announcement is the reason for the spike in Rhino poaching).” Tshekedi took the opportunity to offer his assistance to Masisi and the Ministry in combating poaching. In 2015, he added, whilst doing the northern Botswana elephant count not one elephant carcass was observed over an area of 110,000sq km, but today that is not the case at all.
Matsheka: missing P100 billion at Bank of Botswana under investigation
The Serowe West Member of Parliament, Tshekedi raised worry that Matsheka as the Minister of Finance remained silent on the P100 billion supposedly hived of from Bank of Botswana. “But we are all aware that Bank of Botswana has said no such amount is missing interesting that in the state of the nation address by President Masisi, he said that foreign exchange reserves stood at P71.4 billion,” Tshekedi highlighted.
He also said that this debacle will create suspicion as well as uncertainty amongst the world banking sector as well as investors. “What will they think of Botswana, this will damage our country’s reputation, and by extension effect the livelihood of Batswana, if it hasn’t already,” Tshekedi said. When responding to the Botswana Patriotic Front (BPF) MP, Matsheka posited: “the issue of the alleged P100 billion is still before the courts of law and the due process should be allowed to take its course, without fear or favour. We will all have our day in court; we know what we did in government”, which was later to be incorrect when Leader of Opposition Dumelang Saleshando interjected. Matsheka then rephrased to say the matter is still “under investigation”.
On Air assets; “we cannot afford these toys” – Tshekedi Khama
According to Tshekedi, BDF was spending recklessly on air assets and misplacing its priorities. “On BDF budget, air assets, it is astounding that this budget, would put so much of the budget towards air assets which would include helicopter gunships, Mirage 2000, fighter jets, amongst others, we simply cannot afford these expensive toys,” Tshekedi lashed out. He asked rhetorically: ‘‘does the Minister of Defence, Justice and Security or the Commander of BDF not live in Botswana? Have they not seen the diabolical state of schools, hospitals, roads, government buildings police stations, etc?’’
In response Matsheka said he does not concur with the members that the BDF sector has been allocated a substantial amount of the budget. However, he added that “we need to understand that the security of this country and its assets/infrastructure built over time has to be protected. Needless to say that the allocation Members are alluding to are not only for air assets but for the entire defence and security of this country.”
Further, he reiterated the clarification provided by the Minister of Defence, Justice and Security Kagiso Mmusi that indeed, during the financial year 2020/21, the BDF will not procure any military or other aircraft from development budget allocated for air assets. “As the Minister has explained, the term air assets is broad. Out of P1.94 billion development budget allocated to the entire Ministry, an amount of P80 336, 890.00 (eighty million three hundred and thirty six thousand, eight hundred and ninety Pula), will be used for air assets, which in this case include radar operation system upgrades, integrated landing systems, etc.”
He went on to highlight that he does not need to go on to the issue of military expenditure in the current budget. “I will admit that Tshekedi Khama knows more about procurement at the BDF than I do but I assure him that we are dealing with the legacy of the past and that we shall resolve it,” he said.
You may like
Mascom, Letshego partner to deliver the MyZaka instant loan
Letshego Botswana has recently partnered with Mascom to launch the Mascom MyZaka Instant Loan, a customer focused mobile money microloan service designed to provide customers with swift and convenient access to funds, driven by the underlying theme of “Ithuse” meaning “help yourself”
The loan is said to have been developed through a partnership driven by a deep customer focus with the key objectives of access, convenience and flexible financial support to customers of Letshego Botswana and Mascom through instantly disbursed short-term loans from P50 to P1 500 over the period of one month.
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.
“The speed with which Letshego has grown over the years gives us confidence that we have partnered with the right service provider. Their expertise and most of all, innovation, a value we both share, will be beneficial to MyZaka Mobile Money for growth and for the convenience of our subscribers,” she concluded.
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.