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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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UDC founder warns against merger

19th October 2020
Ex UDC Convener: Mpotokwane

Lebang Mpotokwane, one of the conveners who presided over the opposition cooperation talks that resulted in the formation of the Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC), has advised against changing the current umbrella model in favour of a merger as proposed by others.

The Botswana Congress Party (BCP) leader, Dumelang Saleshando recently went public to propose that UDC should consider merging of all opposition parties, including Alliance for Progressives (AP) and Botswana Patriotic Front (BNF).

Saleshando has been vehemently opposed by Botswana National Front (BNF), which is in favour of maintaining the current model.  BNF’s position has been favoured by the founding father of UDC, who warned that it will be too early to ditch the current model.

“UDC should be well developed to promote the spirit of togetherness on members and the members should be taught so that the merger is developed gradually. They should approach it cautiously. If they feel they are ready, they can, but it would not be a good idea,” Mpotokwane told WeekendPost this week.

Mpotokwane and Emang Maphanyane are the two men who have since 2003 began a long journey of uniting opposition parties in a bid to dethrone the ruling Botswana Democratic Party (BCP) as they felt it needed a strong opposition to avoid complacency.

Tonota born Mpotokwane is however disappointed on how they have been ejected from participating in the last edition of talks ahead of the 2019 general elections in which BCP was brought on board.  However, despite the ejection, Mpotokwane is not resentful to the opposition collective.

He said the vision of opposition unity was to ultimately merge the opposition parties but he believes time has not arrived yet to pursue that path. “The bigger picture was a total merger and we agreed that with three independent parties, members might be against merger eventuality so the current model should be used until a point where they are now together for as long as possible,” he said.

“UDC should gradually perform better in elections and gain confidence. They should not rush the merger. We have been meeting since 2003, but if they rush it might cause endless problems. If they are ready they can anyway,” he advised. For now the constituent parties of the umbrella have been exchanging salvos with others (BCP and BNF).

“There are good reasons for and against merging the parties. Personally, I am in favour of merging the parties (including AP and BPF) into a single formation but I know it’s a complex mission that will have its own challenges,” Saleshando said when he made his position known a week ago.

“Good luck to those advocating for a merger, it will be interesting to observe the tactics they will use to lure the BPF into a merger,” former BNF councillor for Borakalalo Ward and former BNF Youth League Secretary General, Arafat Khan, opined in relation to BCP’s proposed position.

Mpotokwane, who is currently out in the cold from the UDC since he was ejected from the party’s NEC in 2017, said the current bickering and the expected negotiations with other parties need the presence of conveners.

“We did not belong to any party as conveners so we were objective in our submissions. If party propose any progressive idea we will support, if it is not we will not, so I would agree that even now conveners might be key for neutrality to avoid biasness,” he observed. Despite being abandoned, Mpotokwane said he will always be around to assist if at all he is needed.

“If they want help I will be there, I have always been clear about it, but surely I will ask few questions before accepting that role,” he said. UDC is expected to begin cooperation talks with both AP and BPF either this week or next weekend for both upcoming bye-elections (halted by Covid-19) and 2024 general elections and it is revealed that there will be no conveners this time around.

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BDP attaches Boko’s property

19th October 2020
DUMA BOKO

The Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) moved through its lawyers to attach the property of Umbrella for Democratic (UDC) President Duma Boko and other former parliamentary contestants who failed in their court bid to overturn the 2019 general elections in 14 constituencies.

WeekendPost has established that this week, Deputy Sheriffs were commissioned by Bogopa Manewe Tobedza and Company who represented the BDP, to attach the properties of UDC elections contents in a bid to recover costs.  High Court has issued a writ of execution against all petitioners, a process that has set in motion the cost recovery measures.

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COVID-19 exposes decay in the education system

19th October 2020
Education Systm

Botswana Sectors of Teachers Union (BOSETU) says COVID-19 as a pandemic has negatively affected the education sector by deeply disrupting the education system. The intermittent lockdowns have resulted in the halting of teaching and learning in schools.

The union indicated that the education system was caught napping and badly exposed when it came to the use of Information System (IT), technological platforms and issues of digitalisation.

“COVID-19 exposed glaring inefficiencies and deficiencies when it came to the use of ITC in schools. In view of the foregoing, we challenge government as BOSETU to invest in school ITC, technology and digitalization,” says BOSETU President Kinston Radikolo during a press conference on Tuesday.

As a consequence, the union is calling on government to prioritise education in her budgeting to provide technological infrastructure and equipment including provision of tablets to students and teachers.

“Government should invest vigorously in internet connectivity in schools and teacher’s residences if the concept of flexi-hours and virtual learning were to be achieved and have desired results,” Radikolo said.

Radikolo told journalists that COVID-19 is likely to negatively affect final year results saying that the students would sit for the final examinations having not covered enough ground in terms of curriculum coverage.

“This is so because there wasn’t any catch up plan that was put in place to recover the lost time by students. We warn that this year’s final examination results would dwindle,” he said.

The Union, which is an affiliate of Botswana Federation of Public, Private and Parastatal Union (BOFEPUSU), also indicated that COVID-19’s presence as a pandemic has complicated the role of a teacher in a school environment, saying a teacher’s role has not only transcended beyond just facilitating teaching and learning, but rather, a teacher in this COVID-19 era, is also called upon to enforce the COVID-19 preventative protocols in the school environment.

“This is an additional role in the duty of a teacher that needs to be recognized by the employers. Teachers by virtue of working in a congested school environment have become highly exposed and vulnerable to COVID-19, hence the reason why BOSETU would like teachers to be regarded as the frontline workers with respect to COVID-19,” says Radikolo.

BOSETU noted that the pandemic has in large scales found its way into most of the school environments, as in thus far more than 50 schools have been affected by COVID-19. The Union says this is quite a worrying phenomenon.

“As we indicated before when we queried that schools were not ready for re-opening, it has now come to pass that our fears were not far-fetched. This goes out to tell that there is deficiency in our schools when it comes to putting in place preventative protocols. In our schools, hygiene is compromised by mere absence of sanitizers, few hand-washing stations, absence of social distancing in classes,” the Union leader said.

Furthermore, Radikolo stressed that the shifting system drastically increased the workload for teachers especially in secondary schools. He says teachers in these schools experience very high loads to an extent that some of them end up teaching up to sixty four periods per week, adding that this has not only fatigued teachers, but has also negatively affected their performance and the quality of teaching.

In what the Union sees as failure to uphold and honour collective agreements by government, owing to the shift system introduced at primary schools, government is still in some instances refusing to honour an agreement with the Unions to hire more teachers to take up the extra classes.

“BOSETU notes with disgruntlement the use of pre-school teachers to teach in the mainstream schools with due regard for their specific areas of training and their job descriptions. This in our view is a variation of the terms of employment of the said teachers,” says Radikolo.

The Union has called on government to forthwith remedy this situation and hire more teachers to alleviate this otherwise unhealthy situation. BOSETU also expressed concerns of some school administrators who continuously run institutions with iron fists and in a totalitarian way.

“We have a few such hot spot schools which the Union has brought to attention the Ministry officials such as Maoka JSS, Artesia JSS, and Dukwi JSS. We are worried that the Ministry becomes sluggish in taking action against such errant school administration. In instances where action is taken, such school administrators are transferred and rotated around schools.”

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