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DPP, DCEC tussle for prosecution powers

There is a simmering tension and somehow a cold war between two sister organisations; Directorate on Public Prosecution (DPP) and Directorate on Corruption and Economic Crime (DCEC) with regards to prosecuting powers.

The animosity comes from a truck load of cases that are currently pilling up at DPP offices across the country, with the prosecuting authority is struggling to deal with the backlog. This tension was also sparked by the Criminal Justice Forum which advised that there should be an introduction of mutual reinforcing processes between the police, DCEC and the DPP. This was to include cases under investigation and those ready for prosecution.

Currently there are 7200 dockets before the DPP awaiting prosecution while Botswana Police’s large stations also have thousands of dockets waiting for the same. The backlog of cases has coerced the investigating agency, DCEC to take interest in prosecuting the criminals to assist its sisters, of which DPP is strongly against.

“The DCEC has always been concerned about the slow disposal of corruption cases at court, although this is not a unilateral effect, it dents the public perception on the effectiveness of the DCEC even though the DCEC does not prosecute its cases,” DCEC Public Relation Officer, Lentswe Motshoganetsi told WeekendPost this week. “Therefore it is essential that the DCEC be given prosecutorial powers in order to address this problem.”

The DCEC spokesperson contends that though the crime busting agency has limited resources in terms of manpower and technical capacity, Government continues to assist whenever requirements arise in order to capacitate the DCEC. “You may realise that there are new units that are being institutionalised at the DCEC such as the Anti-Money Laundering Unit. It is our commitment therefore that once the prosecutorial function has been extended to the DCEC, posts will be sourced from Government to augment the current number of attorneys at the DCEC,” he said.

Currently the DCEC has close to 10 lawyers working with the investigations division on cases, according to Motshoganetsi. The DCEC and DPP clash over prosecution is exacerbated by the fact the two institutions often hold different view on cases that the former have investigated. DPP sometimes refuses to prosecute some cases on the basis that the cases were not properly investigated casting doubts on DCEC ability to thoroughly investigate cases, especially those involving high profile figures.

“The issue of files moving between the DCEC and the DPP is a usual practice. To reduce the delay caused by that, the DCEC has adopted a prosecution led investigation; whereby investigations are done with constant advice form an officer from the Legal Service Division. This has tremendously improved the quality of investigations and improved the turnaround time on investigations,” Motshoganetsi said.

“The DCEC has seasoned investigators who are specialists in different fields such as engineering, finance and accounting, criminal justice, law, forensics etc. We continue to recruit specialists in different disciplines as per the dictates of anti-corruption and sound investigations.”
DCEC spokesperson however believes that there is a mutual relationship between the DCEC and the DPP as there are instances were officers from the two agencies form task forces in order to expedite investigations.

“It is also worth noting that in December 2019 the two agencies signed a Memorandum of Understanding which focused on improving service delivery by the two agencies. It is our belief as the DCEC that going forward, this MOU will assist in enhancing the investigation and prosecution of corruption matters.”

DPP WANTS TO BE SOLE PROSECUTING AGENCY

Despite the DCEC expressing desire to have prosecuting powers, the DPP is having none of it as it believes it will be detrimental to people who are subjected to investigations. “We want to protect Batswana from intrusive organisations and possible malicious prosecution,” DPP Director Stephen Tiroyakgosi told WeekendPost this week. A keen interest from DCEC to institute legal proceedings against perpetrators can cause conflicts between the two institutions, argues Tiroyakgosi.

“Where we come from, you cannot be a judge on your own matter because you are most likely to be clouded by your organisational demands and therefore prosecution needs a sober mind,” he said in an interview. The Director who joined DPP in 2017 is playing down reports that there could be a toxic working relationship between his organisation and DCEC and maintained that everyone should remain in their lanes.  More often than not, Tiroyakgosi says, his office has rejected DCEC a number of cases when the DPP felt that the evidence brought by the investigating arm is not concrete enough.

“If we disagree we close the matter or go for re-investigation because we don’t want to recklessly prosecute people. We can be sued for malicious prosecution and we want to be sufficient in our job.” However, according to informants, this could be what is frustrating the crime busting agency, hence their desire to prosecute their own cases. As per Tiroyakgosi’s admission, a case sometimes has to be closed if the DPP disagrees with the evidence that is brought before them and the DCEC also insist that the evidence is enough for prosecution.

Asked why there are so many backlog cases, Tiroyakgosi laments about lack of resources in his office. “Currently, we need an extra 150 prosecutors to push the cases and remember if we hire a prosecutor we also have to employ other support staff and it is costly,” he said.
DPP has around 200 prosecutors across the country, a number which is not enough to deal with the demands of the job.  DPP Director is however convinced that having one organisation as the prosecuting office is the best model to protect the nation from subjective trials.

 “I know at times the DCEC might be frustrated by us being the sole prosecutors because they may feel they have done the best in investigations, but like I said you cannot be a judge in your own matter,” he said. DPP’s success according to its Director is mostly on winning cases and for them to achieve that, they liaise with investigating agencies on what kind of evidence is key for government to win a case. “Even the Directorate of Intelligence Services (DIS) we do advise. Of course they give intelligence leads, but we have advised them not to only give leads but there should be something from that so that when others investigate there is indeed something.”  

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Bangwato regent speaks ‘respect for Dikgosi’

23rd May 2022
Bangwato

Presidential Commission of Inquiry into the Review of the Constitution held a meeting in Serowe this week. The meeting was to accord Bangwato, just like other tribes, a platform to give their opinions, contributions and what they think is the horse power and limitations of the current Constitution of Botswana.

Bangwato Regent, Kgosi Serogola Seretse said, he is of the understanding that the Commission has not come for anything apart from getting their opinions on how things could be made better. His contribution was that he solely knows of only two social positions in the world; Dikgosi and Pastors. He said other positions are just benedictions. He further urged that, Batswana should respect God’s ordained protocols such as Dikgosi and Pastors.

Seretse pointed out the importance of acknowledging and appreciating Dikgosi as nation builders. He cautioned and warned that, the Commission should ensure that their dealing with Dikgosi is harmonious. He called for an amendment to be made on the ‘National Order of Precedence’ noting that Dikgosi are put at number 11, but should at least be taken a little higher to number 7.

One resident, Tshepo Moloi while giving his contribution said there must be provisions of Social Justice that ensure equal distribution of resources to all citizens. He said this provision should entail an obligation that all citizen have equal opportunities to different Government Initiatives. Moloi substantiated that, all ‘Presidential Commissions’ be engraved on the Constitution

Alfred Thogolwane who is as well a resident of the biggest village in the Central District, pointed out the need for preservation of the country and resources thereof, saying “it must dawn onto all that, the calabash that fetches water for the family cannot fixed once its broken.”  Another resident, Keikantsemang Sebedi advocated for Polygamous marriage, saying that men should marry as many wives as they please. She said there is no need for any socioeconomic assessment done on men who wish to marry more than one wife.

She advised that, the country should benchmark from the Zezuru culture that does it, with no complexities. On the other hand, Sebedi said that, there must be considerations done on the Old Age Pension. She said people who earned P4000 should not receive the old Age Pension upon their fullness of age.  Forshia Koloi called for amendments on Section 77 and all the provisions that speaks to the subject of Bogosi and the powers infested in them. He said they should be made more detailed and avoid ambiguity in clauses.

Mr Tlhaodi said there must be Land Audits done in the country. Citing an example of the Tati Land as one that should be thoroughly audited. He further advised that, Election Day be put on the Calendar. He said, if it happens that the day be a Saturday, there should be some special dispensation for the 7th Day Adventist Church members to take part in voting without compromising on their day of worship. Tlhaodi added that there must be People’s Complaint Commission in the country.

Speakers emphasized the need for the country to review the exercise of ‘Political Party Funding’. They articulated that lack of funding political parties’ results in political parties resorting to finding funds for themselves. They reiterated that sometimes going to the extent of getting funds through illegal means. Bangwato agreed in one accord that they want the President be tried whilst in office if suspected of any criminal offences. This was revealed in their contributions. They pointed out that, the law should not to wait until the end of their tenure.

For his part, the Deputy Chairperson of the Commission Johnson Motshwarakgole expressed gratitude to the residents of Serowe. He applauded women for their kindness saying it is only them, who always take responsibility for doing things amicably in the society.

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Parliament unveils major shake-up plans & reforms

23rd May 2022
Parliament

Parliament has revealed that it plans to rollout a Community Score Card (CSC) exercise as part of sweeping reforms to its role and mandate among others.

The planed shakeup, along with the rollout of CSC will see creation of new Parliamentary Portfolio Committees on Health, HIV&AIDS, Education and Skills Development, Trade and Economic Development, Agriculture, Lands and Housing and Local Governance and Social Welfare.
Parliament informed government ministries and departments that the CSC is a participatory, community based monitoring and evaluation tool that enables citizens to assess the quality of public services and interact with services providers to express their concerns.

According to Parliament, the CSC will assist to inform community members about available services and their entitlements and to solicit their opinions about the accessibility and quality of certain services related to the portfolio committees mentioned.  It said the main objective is for Parliament through identified oversight committees is to conduct a participatory monitoring and evaluating process that puts ownership and responsibility for delivery of services in the hands of both the Government and the service recipients.

“Through scorecards developed around identified sectors and services, communities and implementing departments remain in touch with progress made through the programme delivery cycle and are able to respond timely to bottlenecks,” the National Assembly said.  Some of the measurements and expected outcomes for the rolling out of the CSC include among others, improved monitoring and economic evaluation, to determine the impact of spending, so as to be able to direct resources from where they having the least benefit to those projects and programmes where they will have a larger positive impact.

The National Assembly explained further that this could result in a willingness to close down ineffective programmes and institutions and not to implement projects that do not deliver adequate returns, improved productivity in the public services, especially given the substantial pay increases.

The National Assembly believes that the rolling out of CSC is also expected to result in efficiency savings: many public services and programmes could be delivered more effectively at lower costs, by improving management and accountability, and making use of e-services. “This would yield financial savings that could be used for development programmes or reducing the deficit,” the National Assembly said.

The exercise is also expected to result in “Careful scrutiny of subsidy schemes and termination of those that do not address market failure or assist truly needy Batswana.”  The National Assembly revealed that proposed Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Health and Wellness has been established in accordance with the Standing of National Assembly of Botswana.  It explained that the mandate of the Committee is mainly to exercise Parliamentary oversight and scrutiny over Government Ministries, Departments and Agencies with portfolio responsibilities in respect of Health and HIV/AIDS.

“There is need to identify reasons for inefficiency and poor outcomes and ensure that health system reform improve productivity and value for money. Key areas of focus for scorecard, availability of drugs, staffing ratios, accessibility of health services, speciality care and services and sexual reproductively health,” the National Assembly said.

Another proposed Committee is on Local Governance and Social Welfare. The mandate of the Committee is mainly to exercise Parliamentary Oversight and Scrutiny over Government Ministries. Departments and Agencies with Portfolio responsibilities in respect of Local Governance and Social Welfare.

“Strategies under NDP 11 to improve outcomes of social uplifment include; diversification of rural economies, development and support of small businesses, provision of social safety nets, eradication of absolute poverty, provision of quality and equitable education and harmonisation of social protection programmes,” said the National Assembly.  It said social nets need to be improved so as to target these most in need (at present some social safety nets benefit many people who are not the most needy, but also miss out some of those who are needy).

“Some social development policies more broadly should also aim to reduce household vulnerability to shocks such as those arising from fluctuations in agriculture, climate change, incomes and employment and improve their ability to handle shocks, thereby building household resilience,” the National Assembly said.

Another Committee established is on Agriculture, Lands and Housing. The mandate of the Committee is mainly to exercise Parliamentary oversight and scrutiny over Government Institutions, Departments and Agencies with portfolio responsibilities in respect of Agriculture, Lands and Housing.

The National Assembly said the average growth rate of the agricultural sector since the beginning of National Development Plan 11 (NDP11) (i.e. during the 2017/2018 and 2018/19 financial years) was 2.5 percent, making it the slowest growing sector of the economy, in line with its historical performance.

“Over the same period, its share of GDP has been stagnant at around 2 percent. The sector also contributes job opportunities for about 80 000 adults. Food security has become paramount since the onset of the corona virus pandemic,” the National Assembly said.  The National Assembly said the Government realises the need to increase food production for products in which Botswana has a cooperative advantage such as beef, grains and other horticulture products.

The Committee on Finance, Trade and Economic Development has also been established. One of the mandates of Committee would be to exercise Parliamentary oversight and scrutiny over government ministries, departments and agencies with portfolio responsibilities in respect of Finance, Development, Trade and Industry.

“The sector is at the core of industrialisation aspirations and strategies for economic development in Botswana. Manufacturing in particular can be the driver of economic growth through technological improvements and innovation,” the National Assembly said. Hence, it said, the development of the sector could also foster export diversification and export led-growth in Botswana while benefitting from the African Continental Free Trade Area (AFCFTA).

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Salbany, Bareetsi threaten to sue DIS

23rd May 2022
Salbany Bareetsi

Two senior members of Directorate on Corruption and Economic Crime (DCEC) have threatened legal action against Directorate of Intelligence and Security (DIS), it has transpired. The threat is contained in an answering affidavit of Director General of DCEC, Tymon Katlholo in which he is seeking an interdiction from High Court to stop the DIS from accessing investigation files at his office.

After the DIS detained DCEC officials Joao Salbany and Tsholofelo Bareetsi on December 16, 2021, they filed an official complaint against DIS and some officials. They complained about abuse of office by DIS and five officers. Salbany and Bareetsi also complained about unlawful detention by DIS and unlawful dissemination of classified information contrary to Section 44 of Corruption and Economic Crime Act. “The DIS interviews were premised on information divulged during the course of official DCEC work product, that is the Monday media brief meeting,” they wrote.

They further requested leave to institute a civil suit against the DIS and its officers, and invariably the State for inhuman and degrading treatment they suffered and unlawful detention. They also pondered a declaratory seeking a sanction against the DIS and Botswana Police Service (BPS) and clarification of the role of BPS officers seconded to DIS.

“The envisaged suit against BPS and DIS officers and the DIS will inevitably centre on investigations done by the DCEC and the scope of the protection availed to DCEC officers for conduct done in the course and scope of DCEC official duties.” The duo said it was self-evident from the conduct of the DIS officers that there was nothing urgent about the information required by the DIS, justifying their detention at its Sebele facility from 08:30 hours on December 16, 2021 until 02:00 hours on December 17, 2021.

They reasoned that the information required by the DIS could have been obtained by a simple request to DCEC Director General. “What the DIS did was to seek to intimidate officers of the DCEC whom they knew were carrying out investigations against some of the DIS officers who were part of their investigation team. This turn of events has a chilling effect not only on the functioning of the DCEC but also on the official conduct of officers of the DCEC as to how they conduct their official duties.”

They concluded by stating that in the event the request is granted, they would further request to be advised as to the provision of legal representation as the unalwful detention and the degrading and inhuman treatment by the DIS was in relation to matters conducted by and on behalf of the DCEC.

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