President Dr Mokgweetsi Masisi — like his predecessor, Lt Gen Ian Khama — has commissioned the construction of a publicly funded private homestead at his acknowledged farm in Sekoma. The President may be forced to walk the tight rope of the law in implementing the project, but there is likelihood of fiscal policy pitfalls.
Despite controversies that surrounded Khama’s Mosu homestead, construction works have commenced in Sekoma to build the incumbent President a similar homestead, but there are reports that there is an effort to make sure everything is within the rule book. It is reported that a number of Directorate of Intelligence (DIS) agents and Botswana Defence Force (BDF) members have been stationed there to provide security. In addition, a high profile DIS agent who is said to be a close friend to the President has been appointed to supervise the project.
Like the Mosu project, much of the costs will account for the airstrip that will be built to facilitate the President’s regular air travel to and from Sekoma. When confirming this, a source close to the developments said: “It is an upcoming project. The fact of the matter is there are constructions underway. All the controversies that had been linked with Mosu, I see a repetition, a possible likelihood of abuse of public funds if they are not careful. You know all what has been said in the past about Mosu.”
President Masisi, who was the Minister of Presidential Affairs, Governance and Public Administration when the Mosu debacle unfolded, has decided to take another bullet from the resentful public, this time around to reward himself. Khama’s Mosu homestead was considered an unnecessary and a wasteful expenditure by his administration. When taking over the baton of Presidency, Masisi had promised to promote good governance during his presidency, but the Sekoma debacle could turn out to be a serious blot on his copybook if he does not monitor the work by civil servants at his private crib.
While the public frowns against such possible abuse of public funds, Government contends that it is within the law to carry out such projects in favour of a sitting president. A sitting Presidents deserves highest possible security and a residence that matches his office, those close to Government dealings theorise. The construction of an airstrip in Mosu has previously been justified by government, a contention which was even defended by the current Minister of Defence, Justice and Security Kagiso Mmusi.
Mmusi told Parliament recently that the construction of the Mosu airstrip in 2013 was estimated at open market to cost approximately P10 million. “However as a cost saving measure the BDF opted to utilise available earth moving equipment instead of outsourcing,” clarified Mmusi. He further revealed that upon completion of the Mosu project in 2018, it was established that the cost of the project was P6 427 494.68, which was less than the initial estimate of P10 million.
Members of Parliament then raised a crucial matter when they asked Mmusi to account for all the other airstrips on the former Presidents of which he was not in a position to give the exact costs inquired on the airstrips. MPs were worried that even though the Minister says there is a specific budget allocated to Presidents as a benefit to build airstrips, it has emerged that some have erected airstrips on more than one land. Mmusi could not confirm the allegations as he said he needed time to seek appropriate information relating to the two former Presidents; Festus Mogae and Ketumile Masire.
Senior government officials had once confirmed when appearing before the Public Accounts Committee that the controversial Mosu airstrip had been built using public funds. What further raised eyebrows on the Mosu project was that its budget had been placed under the intelligence security budget. Placing the budget under the intelligence and security allegedly meant that the airstrip is a security threat which was not the case. It is believed that including the budget on the intelligence budget was allegedly to avoid further questions on the project as they would cite security considerations.
Masisi, while Presidential Affairs Minister gave an explanation as to why and how Mosu was budged for. Masisi had explained that the airstrip at Mosu was constructed by personnel and machinery of BDF as an exercise and measure of utmost economy. If the airfield was to be constructed in the open market, using prices in the open market, he said it was roughly estimated that it might have costed more than what had been budgeted for.
Therefore, frugality by the BDF and the government, led by the Botswana Democratic Party, Masisi said it was thought to have been the best alternative to engage BDF personnel whose costs would be the cost of operating the machinery, maintaining it as the personnel are in there.
Botswana Police Service (BPS) has indicated concern about the ongoing trend where the general public falls victim to criminals purporting to be police officers.
According to BPS Assistant Commissioner, Dipheko Motube, the criminals target individuals at shopping malls and Automated Teller Machines (ATMs) where upon approaching the unsuspecting individual the criminals would pretend to have picked a substantial amount of money and they would make a proposal to the victims that the money is counted and shared in an isolated place.
“On the way, as they stop at the isolated place, they would start to count and sharing of the money, a criminal syndicate claiming to be Criminal Investigation Department (CID) officer investigating a case of stolen money will approach them,” said Motube in a statement.
The Commissioner indicated that the fake police officers would instruct the victims to hand over all the cash they have in their possession, including bank cards and Personal Identification Number (PIN), the perpetrators would then proceed to withdraw money from the victim’s bank account.
Motube also revealed that they are also investigating a case in which a 69 year old Motswana woman from Molepolole- who is a victim of the scam- lost over P62 000 last week Friday to the said perpetrators.
“The Criminal syndicate introduced themselves as CID officers investigating a case of robbery where a man accompanying the woman was the suspect.’’
They subsequently went to the woman’s place and took cash amounting to over P12 000 and further swindled amount of P50 000 from the woman’s bank account under the pretext of the further investigations.
In addition, Motube said they are currently investigating the matter and therefore warned the public to be vigilant of such characters and further reminds the public that no police officer would ask for bank cards and PINs during the investigations.
Botswana Congress Party (BCP) leadership walked out of Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) National Executive Committee (NEC) meeting this week on account of being targeted by other cooperating partners.
UDC meet for the first time since 2020 after previous futile attempts, but the meeting turned into a circus after other members of the executive pushed for BCP to explain its role in media statements that disparate either UDC and/or contracting parties.
The Director General of the Directorate on Corruption and Economic Crimes (DCEC), Tymon Katlholo’s spirited fight against the contentious transfers of his management team has forced the Office of the President to rescind the controversial decision. However, some insiders suggest that the reversal of the transfers may have left some interested parties with bruised egos and nursing red wounds.
The transfers were seen by observers as a badly calculated move to emasculate the DCEC which is seen as defiant against certain objectionable objectives by certain law enforcement agencies – who are proven decisionists with very little regard for the law and principle.