NPF war shifts to BDF
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.
Dikgakgamatso Seretse and Bakang Seretse
Retired Lt Gen Galebotswe