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Court ruling threatens DIS case against Israeli firm

Bakang Seretse

The recent High Court ruling by Justice Godfrey Radijeng, which dismissed with costs the application for forfeiture to the government several properties that belong to Bakang Seretse and others, is likely to have a bearing on another related case in which an Israeli company, Dignia System, is suing the Directorate of Intelligence and Security Services (DISS).

Dignia is seeking an order compelling the DIS and the Attorney General (defendants) to accept delivery of the remainder of the orders under the contract and pay them USD 11 320 000.00 (about P123 million).

The Dignia contract case, pending before the courts, is at the centre of the NPF case because NPF funds were used to finance the contract. The DPP director, Stephen Tiroyakgosi, in the just-ended case, claimed that the globular amount of P230 Million having been disbursed in an irregular manner or as an illegal transaction painted every subsequent transaction flowing from it with the same brush of illegality and subsequently as proceeds of crime.

The state has suspended the Dignia contract because it was invalid as the tender, in this case, was not floated in terms of the enabling statute. Consequently, the state says there is no need for the DIS to pay the amount claimed or any part thereof.

According to the state, the NPF money was requested by the former director-general of Intelligence Services, Isaac Kgosi, to construct petroleum facilities and was to be received from the Fund manager, Kgori Capital. But surprisingly, P230 million was disbursed from the Fund account held with Stanbic Bank Botswana to an account held by Khulaco PTY LTD, a private person’s account at a capital bank at the instruction of Kgosi-hence the state alleging that irregularities and illegalities marred the processes.

A substantial amount of the money was transferred on 21 November 2017 to Dignia System Limited to a bank in Israel. The state in the just-ended Bakang Seretse matter said that the investigations regarding this amount are ongoing due to international cooperation, further saying that the process is slow and takes more time than ordinarily expected.

“It would be proper to have the amount remain in restraint pending the conclusion of the investigation,” said the state referring to the Dignia matter.

Tiroyakgosi says there was a departure or deviation in the administration and expenditure of the National Petroleum Fund that was not authorised by the Minister of Finance and Development Planning. Subsequent transactions, they argued, connected to several possible offences under the penal Code, more particularly, Sections 129 and 132 thereof on breach of trust and fraud and disobedience of statutory duties respectfully, and the further possible violation of the Corruption and Economic Crime Act-conflict of interest contrary to section 31 and cheating public revenue as well as criminal activities relating to money laundering under Section 47 of PICA.

The DISS has suspended the Dignia System contract arguing that it was invalid as the methodology used in the transaction does not conform with provisions of the Public Procurement and Asset Disposal Board, which a procuring and disposing entity should follow.-this rendering the alleged contract unlawful and therefore of no force and effect.

But Dignia is having none of it and wants to deliver the outstanding deliverables to the contract, which were three Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) and their accessories, part of the Special Forces equipment and training.

“The unmanned aerial vehicles or drones their accessories and the remainder of the Special Forces equipment are ready for delivery and plaintiff is ready to conduct the associated training,” read part of the papers. Dignia states that on or around 21 November 2017, DIS made payment of half the contract price, leaving a balance of USD 11320 0000.00, which remains due, owing, and payable.

“Such payment was made through a company called Khulaco Management Services which is a company approved by the second defendant and or the Botswana Government to make payment in respect of the project,” Dignia stated.

How the current ruling is likely to jeopardize the DIS case…

The DPP has requested that for the amount transferred on 12 November 2017 to Dignia, the court place the said property in continuing restraint under Section 43 (5) (b) of PICA.

However, Justice Radijeng has thrown out the application made by the state that the globular amount of P230 Million having been disbursed in an irregular manner or as an illegal transaction painted every subsequent transaction flowing from it with the same brush of illegality and subsequently as proceeds of crime. His views are that the state failed to prove its case and substantiate it with evidence or proof.

“The offence of money laundering requires proof or establishment that the person who engages in a transaction or receives such property knows, suspects, or has reasonable grounds for knowing or suspecting that the property is derived or realised in whole or in part, directly or indirectly from a confiscation offence. I have found in my assessment of the facts of this case that the respondents commit no offence as interested parties and that therefore the properties are not proceeds or instruments of crime-related activities,” he said in his ruling.

Legal pundits say the ruling has persuasive value towards the pending P123 DISS-Dignia case, which the state describes as an act of criminality. The verdict effectively denies that Dignia was improperly or corruptly engaged. The current judgement does not bind the other court, but it has persuasive value as courts generally avoid issuing contradictory rulings.


Masisi to dump Tsogwane?

28th November 2022

Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) and some senior government officials are abuzz with reports that President Mokgweetsi Masisi has requested his Vice President, Slumber Tsogwane not to contest the next general elections in 2024.

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African DFIs gear to combat climate change

25th November 2022

The impacts of climate change are increasing in frequency and intensity every year and this is forecast to continue for the foreseeable future. African CEOs in the Global South are finally coming to the party on how to tackle the crisis.

Following the completion of COP27 in Egypt recently, CEOs of Africa DFIs converged in Botswana for the CEO Forum of the Association of African Development Finance Institutions. One of the key themes was on green financing and building partnerships for resource mobilization in financing SDGs in Africa

A report; “Weathering the storm; African Development Banks response to Covid-19” presented shocking findings during the seminar. Among them; African DFI’s have proven to be financially resilient, and they are fast shifting to a green transition and it’s financing.

COO, CEDA, James Moribame highlighted that; “Everyone needs food, shelter and all basic needs in general, but climate change is putting the achievement of this at bay. “It is expensive for businesses to do business, for instance; it is much challenging for the agricultural sector due to climate change, and the risks have gone up. If a famer plants crops, they should be ready for any potential natural disaster which will cost them their hard work.”

According to Moribame, Start-up businesses will forever require help if there is no change.

“There is no doubt that the Russia- Ukraine war disrupted supply chains. SMMEs have felt the most impact as some start-up businesses acquire their materials internationally, therefore as inflation peaks, this means the exchange rate rises which makes commodities expensive and challenging for SMMEs to progress. Basically, the cost of doing business has gone up. Governments are no longer able to support DFI’s.”

Moribame shared remedies to the situation, noting that; “What we need is leadership that will be able to address this. CEOs should ensure companies operate within a framework of responsible lending. They also ought to scout for opportunities that would be attractive to investors, this include investors who are willing to put money into green financing. Botswana is a prime spot for green financing due to the great opportunity that lies in solar projects. ”

Technology has been hailed as the economy of the future and thus needs to be embraced to drive operational efficiency both internally and externally.

Executive Director, bank of Industry Nigeria, Simon Aranou mentioned that for investors to pump money to climate financing in Africa, African states need to be in alignment with global standards.

“Do what meets world standards if you want money from international investors. Have a strong risk management system. Also be a good borrower, if you have a loan, honour the obligation of paying it back because this will ensure countries have a clean financial record which will then pave way for easier lending of money in the future. African states cannot just be demanding for mitigation from rich countries. Financing needs infrastructure to complement it, you cannot be seating on billions of dollars without the necessary support systems to make it work for you. Domestic resource mobilisation is key. Use public money to mobilise private money.” He said.

For his part, the Minster of Minister of Entrepreneurship, Karabo Gare enunciated that, over the past three years, governments across the world have had to readjust their priorities as the world dealt with the effects and impact of the COVID 19 pandemic both to human life and economic prosperity.

“The role of DFIs, during this tough period, which is to support governments through countercyclical measures, including funding of COVID-19 related development projects, has become more important than ever before. However, with the increasingly limited resources from governments, DFIs are now expected to mobilise resources to meet the fiscal gaps and continue to meet their developmental mandates across the various affected sectors of their economies.” Said Gare.

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TotalEnergies Botswana launches Road safety campaign in Letlhakeng

22nd November 2022

Letlhakeng:TotalEnergies Botswana today launched a Road Safety Campaign as part of their annual Stakeholder Relationship Management (SRM), in partnership with Unitrans, MVA Fund, TotalEnergies Letlhakeng Filling Station and the Letlhakeng Sub District Road Safety Committee during an event held in Letlhakeng under the theme, #IamTrafficToo.

The Supplier Relationship Management initiative is an undertaking by TotalEnergies through which TotalEnergie annually explores and implements social responsibility activities in communities within which we operate, by engaging key stakeholders who are aligned with the organization’s objectives. Speaking during the launch event, TotalEnergies’ Operations and HSSEQ,   Patrick Thedi said,  “We at TotalEnergies pride ourselves in being an industrial operator with a strategy centered on respect, listening, dialogue and stakeholder involvement, and a partner in the sustainable social and economic development of its host communities and countries. We are also very fortunate to have stakeholders who are in alignment with our organizational objectives. We assess relationships with our key stakeholders to understand their concerns and expectations as well as identify priority areas for improvement to strengthen the integration of Total Energies in the community. As our organization transitions from Total to Total Energies, we are committed to exploring sustainable initiatives that will be equally indicative of our growth and this Campaign is a step in the right direction. ”

As part of this campaign roll out, stakeholders  will be refurbishing and upgrading and installing road signs around schools in the area, and generally where required. One of the objectives of the Campaign is to bring awareness and training on how to manage and share the road/parking with bulk vehicles, as the number of bulk vehicles using the Letlhakeng road to bypass Trans Kalahari increases. When welcoming guests to Letlhakeng, Kgosi Balepi said he welcomed the initiative as it will reduce the number of road incidents in the area.

Also present was District Traffic Officer ASP, Reuben Moleele,  who gave a statistical overview of accidents in the region, as well as the rest of the country. Moleele applauded TotalEnergies and partners on the Campaign, especially ahead of the festive season, a time he pointed out is always one with high road statistics. The campaign name #IamTrafficToo, is a reminder to all road users, including pedestrians that they too need to be vigilant and play their part in ensuring a reduction in road incidents.

The official proceedings of the day included a handover of reflectors and stop/Go signs to the Letlhakeng Cluster from TotalEnerigies, injury prevention from tips from MVA’s Onkabetse Petlwana, as  well as  bulk vehicle safety tips delivered from Adolf Namate of Unitrans.

TotalEnergies, which is committed to having zero carbon emissions by 2050,  has committed to rolling out the Road safety Campaign to the rest of the country in the future.

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