NPF war shifts to BDF

Mmegi - - Front Page - OARABILE MOSIKARE

The long-run­ning bat­tle over the al­leged mis­ap­pro­pri­a­tion of P250 mil­lion from the Na­tional Petroleum Fund shifted bat­tle­fields this week, with for­mer de­fence min­is­ter, Rtd Bri­gadier Dik­gakga­matso Seretse and for­mer BDF com­man­der, Rtd Lt Gen­eral Gao­latlhe Gale­botswe, com­ing out guns blaz­ing against ground forces com­man­der, Ma­jor Gen­eral Molefi Seikano. In dis­pute is whether the DIS hi­jacked the BDF’s man­date in al­legedly di­vert­ing NPF funds to buy anti-poach­ing equip­ment in Is­rael

For­mer de­fence min­is­ter, Dik­gakga­matso Seretse, ex-BDF com­man­der, Gao­latlhe Gale­botswe and for­mer Direc­torate of In­tel­li­gence and Se­cu­rity (DIS) boss, Isaac Kgosi, have filed af­fi­davits sup­port­ing the spy agency’s role in procur­ing equip­ment at the heart of the P250 mil­lion Na­tional Petroleum Fund (NPF) saga.

The three have sub­mit­ted af­fi­davits in sup­port of as­set man­ager, Bakang Seretse whom pros­e­cu­tors al­lege played a key role in the 2017 di­ver­sion of funds from the NPF.

Seretse, who is fac­ing charges of money laun­der­ing in the mat­ter, was the NPF as­set man­ager at the time when the funds were al­legedly di­verted to pur­chase anti-poach­ing equip­ment for the DIS from Is­rael.

Pros­e­cu­tors say the di­ver­sion was il­le­gal and the funds in­stead lined the pock­ets of var­i­ous sus­pects. Amongst the Direc­torate of Pub­lic Pros­e­cu­tions ev­i­dence is an af­fi­davit from BDF ground force com­man­der, Ma­jor Gen­eral Molefi Seikano who in­sists that the army alone had the purview over wildlife poach­ing.

In his af­fi­davit, how­ever, Dik­gakga­matso Seretse said Seikano was “mis­guided, wrong and mis­in­formed”. “Anti-poach­ing is by law, the pri­mary man­date of the anti-poach­ing unit of the Min­istry of Wildlife, En­vi­ron­ment and Tourism,” the for­mer min­is­ter said in doc­u­ments be­fore court. “The BDF and other dis­ci­plined forces such as the Botswana Po­lice Ser­vice, Botswana Pris­ons Ser­vice and the DIS, may by law, be called upon to as­sist the holder of the pri­mary man­date, de­pend­ing on the clas­si­fi­ca­tion of an­tipoach­ing ac­tiv­ity in the na­tional se­cu­rity threat anal­y­sis.”

He con­tin­ued: “Dur­ing my ten­ure by virtue of my po­si­tion I was a mem­ber of the Cen­tral In­tel­li­gence Com­mit­tee which re­ceived and ap­proved in­tel­li­gence and se­cu­rity as­sess­ments and ad­vised the President on cour­ses of ac­tion to take. “I am there­fore privy to the man­date and gen­eral re­spon­si­bil­ity of the dis­ci­plined forces and their in­volve­ment in anti-poach­ing”.

Seikano’s for­mer boss, for­mer BDF com­man­der, Lieu­tenant Gen­eral Gale­botswe also dis­puted Seikano’s as­ser­tion. “Ma­jor Gen­eral Molefi Seikano’s as­ser­tion that the devel­op­ment of spe­cial forces ca­pac­ity is the ex­clu­sive pre­serve of the BDF only speaks to the mil­i­tary con­text and leaves other dis­ci­plined forces as de­fined by law and if ap­plied in this re­stricted pa­ram­e­ter will be in­ad­e­quate, partly true and can­not be re­lied upon for any le­gal in­ter­pre­ta­tion which cov­ers a broader re­quire­ment in the field of spe­cial force ca­pac­ity within the dis­ci­pline forces con­text.”

Kgosi, the for­mer spy chief who has been ac­cused of be­ing in­stru­men­tal in the NPF case, had strong words for Seikano, say­ing the ground forces com­man­der’s claims were “op­por­tunis­tic and false”. The for­mer spy chief, who was fa­mously the sub­ject of a widely pub­li­cised ar­rest at Sir Seretse Khama In­ter­na­tional Air­port last year Jan­uary, said the in­volve­ment of the BDF in anti-poach­ing ac­tiv­i­ties was the re­sult of an ex­ec­u­tive or­der by the President.

“It is not an ac­tiv­ity that can be sanc­tioned by the ground force com­man­der of the BDF as falsely al­leged by Seikano or finds sanc­tion from the BDF Act,” Kgosi said.

“The in­volve­ment of the BDF and other se­cu­rity or­gans in anti-poach­ing ac­tiv­i­ties came as an ex­ec­u­tive de­ci­sion af­ter it was re­alised that poach­ers, largely from neigh­bour­ing coun­tries, were us­ing arms of war, which the Depart­ment of Wildlife and Na­tional Parks did not have.

“The DIS is not a unit within the Botswana De­fence Force. “It does not re­port to the BDF nor does it re­quire any per­mis­sion from the BDF to carry out its in­tel­li­gence man­date.”

He added that the im­plied as­ser­tion that the re­quest for fund­ing from the min­er­als min­istry was il­le­git­i­mate, is not for the BDF to make. The min­istry is the cus­to­dian of the NPF, a statu­tory buf­fer used to sta­bilise lo­cal fuel prices.

“The pro­cure­ment of anti-poach­ing equip­ment fol­lowed an ap­proved vari­a­tion of funds by the min­istry and it is not for the BDF or any other party to com­plain about it. “I take great ex­cep­tion to be­ing por­trayed dis­parag­ingly and dis­dain­fully as some­one who con­nived to de­fraud govern­ment by usurp­ing a sup­posed BDF man­date.” He added: “Goods pro­cured from Dig­nia Se­cu­rity (Pty) Ltd and paid through Khu­laco (Pty) Ltd have been de­liv­ered and are be­ing used by the DIS.”

The case con­tin­ues in the High Court with oral ar­gu­ments set for Novem­ber 5.

PIC: MORERI SEJAKGOMO

PIC: MORERI SEJAKGOMO

Dik­gakga­matso Seretse and Bakang Seretse

Re­tired Lt Gen Gale­botswe

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