A few weeks after the courts threw out the highly anticipated National Petroleum Fund (NPF) money laundering cases, damaging audio clips have now surfaced from a heated meeting between the Directorate on Corruption and Economic Crime (DCEC) and Directorate of Public Prosecutions (DPP) putting the credibility of key crime fighting institutions at stake.
With doubts and trust in DPP and DCEC as well as the notorious Directorate on Intelligence and Security (DIS) having been at their lowest ebb, the latest development could have dealt with what remained of the trio’s reputation. When the audio clips from the DCEC and DPP meeting surfaced this week, it appears the DCEC through their Senior Investigator Lebogang Moshasho long told DPP that they do not have enough evidence to prosecute.
“We received documents from the investigating officer, but looking at them we couldn’t get sufficient evidence, we then requested to all the parties involved including DPP to say if the matter is already at court, it means maybe we are missing evidence from this file. We wanted assistance and guidance from the DPP. We also agreed to have a case conference so that we can have a common understanding until today,” the investigator stated.
Moshasho said they requested on several occasions to be given all the documents, including evidence that prompt the charges but until today, they do not have it. Assistant Director of the Directorate of Public Prosecutions (DPP) -Priscilla Israel who is the guiding prosecutor- is heard bulldozing and using her ‘senior’ tag position quashing Bareetsi’s submissions.
“I don’t understand when you say there is no evidence because from the file that I have seen from Hubona, there is enough evidence as the prosecutor. There are only few issues that you needed for particular charges that are before court. That is what was supposed to be taken except for the terrorism matter,” she said.
Israel continued to say that they had a prosecution guided plan with the Procedures, Guidance and Information guidelines: “This is what we did with CMB, NPF and Morupisi’s matter. All these other technicalities we don’t know where they are coming from.” Moshasho maintained that there is a write-up from Bank of Botswana indicating that they are not missing any money, so there is no evidence.
“Again we were told that there is a certain house, and we found that it was allocated to Butterfly by Kweneng Land board and she sold the plot under value of standard, then we can’t say she is living beyond her means. Another plot was given to her by her father so there is no living beyond means there,” she said. She continued to say there is an alleged P48 million purported to be in South Africa but the account holder has denied these allegations.
In December 2020, charges of financing terrorism levelled against Welheminah Maswabi codenamed Butterfly were dropped. While many had shifted their eyes from the NPF case considering how it was going, the State dropped another bombshell when it dropped the main charge in Butterfly’s case. The State indicated complexity of investigations as the main reason for the request to drop the charge.
The 47-year-old Welheminah Maswabi now remains charged with two counts of possession of unexplained property and false declaration for a passport. Also in December last year, Magistrate Kamogelo Mmesi freed all the accused persons in the NPF case.
Delivering the ruling, Mmesi referred to the charges as bogus. “I am inclined to side with the defence that the charges are defective. Some of the charges are speculative, as they don’t mention which accused person fitted where.’’
The controversial NPF case had a total of 14 accused persons including amongst others; businessman Bakang Seretse, former Director of Directorate of Intelligence and Security (DIS) Isaac Kgosi, former Minister Sadique Kebonang, High Court Judge Zein Kebonang, Kenneth Kerekang, Kago Stimela, Mogomotsi Seretse, Thato Bojelo and their companies with sixty- six (66) charges including amongst others financing terrorism, money laundering and corruption.
In the leaked audios, DCEC legal advisor Tsholofelo Bareetsi said when it comes to the accounts that they created at BoB, the team has requested him to raise a communication to BoB to try and set a meeting so that they can establish how the bonds were set-up.
“They believe that the bonds could have been where the leakages were and if not careful it is worth those investments that when they matured then they got diverted. They have not really been able to establish what really transpired. So the issue of the accounts honestly when it comes to accounts that were established, we do not have any progress on it from the DCEC side,” he said.
Bareetsi also told the DPP that Magosi is still holding critical information from Germany and UK and awaiting authorisation. According to the contents of the meeting, the highly classified blue file registered docket 508 is empty, void of any evidence.
A prominent lawyer, Busang Manewe who is representing some of the accused persons in the case wrote on social media after the audio leaks: “I have listened to the leaked tapes of an alleged explosive meeting between DIS, DPP and DCEC in relation to major corruption cases before our courts. Obviously my heart is sore. My client (s) names cropped up.
I was neither shocked nor surprised about the contents of the tapes. I pray hard that the Lord Almighty should help me zip my mouth and not say what is exactly in my mind about these cases. It isn’t pleasant for the truth isn’t always pleasant. So help me God.”
Reeling from the damage, DCEC released a statement of Thursday, confirming the authenticity of the meeting as well as assuring that the crime busting agency is still focused on its mandate. “The DCEC further wishes to state that within all lawfully permissible limits, and necessary, reasonable and operational means, it will cooperate with any government agency to get the truth and have those responsible held to account, noting that neither official government business generally, nor matters related to investigations in particular, can be conducted in this carefree fashion where the end justifies the means,” said the agency spokesman, Lentswe Motshoganetsi.
While the charges against prominent businessman Bakang Seretse were dropped in December 2020, his attorney who is one of the leading defence lawyers in the matter, Kgosietsile Ngakaagae, had told journalists that the charges were politically motivated.
Former President Ian Khama, former spy chief, Isaac Kgosi and former spy agent Welheminah ‘Butterfly’ Maswabi last year issued individual statutory notices demanding P85 million from government in damages for defamation of character. The trio issued statutory notices for defamatory allegations levelled against them in the Butterfly case by the State.
Besides the money, the trio is also demanding a public apology and retraction and an undertaking by the State that it will desist from making, and publishing or cause to be published any further defamatory statements. Khama demands P25 million while Kgosi and Maswabi demand P30 million each.
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.
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).
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.