BDP moves to protect Masisi

SHARE   |   Monday, 12 March 2018   |   By Phillimon Mmeso
BDP moves to protect Masisi

The ruling Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) is working behind the scenes to protect the image of incoming President Mokgweetsi Masisi ahead of his inauguration on April 01 following damaging allegations that he benefitted millions from proceeds of a crime. The information, revealed by a Directorate of Corruption and Economic Crime (DCEC) Investigating Officer Andrain German under cross examination in the Bakang Seretse money laundering trial on Thursday, is that Vice President Mokgweetsi Masisi is one of the beneficiaries of the P250 million stolen from the National Petroleum Fund (NPF). German revealed that DCEC agents have interviewed Masisi over the money he is alleged to have received and BDP Treasurer Satar Dada about the P2 million given to the ruling party. The Office of the President issued a brief statement on Friday saying the President and the Vice President have not received any money from the National Petroleum Fund (NPF). "While we are reluctant to comment on allegations emanating from a matter that is currently before the courts, we wish to reassure the Public that His Excellency the President and His Honour the Vice President have not received money and/or solicited funds from the NPF". According to highly placed sources at Government Enclave and within BDP, the revelation that Masisi benefitted from the NPF through a donation of P3 million caught him and his handlers off guard, and threatens to throw the presidential succession due in two weeks into disarray. Sources claim that an impromptu meeting was convened on Wednesday evening to come up with damage control strategies on the allegation, which has the potential to derail Masisi's inauguration and tarnish his image. There is strong suspicion within the BDP that the DCEC was tipped off on Masisi's possible involvement in the scandal by detractors within BDP who are against his ascendency to the presidency.

In a clear demonstration of indiscipline, the mistrust and infighting within Domkrag played itself out on the floor of Parliament on Thursday during the debate for the budget proposal for Auditor General's office when outspoken Member of Parliament for Tati East Samson Guma blasted Minister of Mineral Resources, Green Technology and Energy Security Advocate Sadique Kebonang calling on him to resign. Kebonang hit back, accusing Guma of having a tendency to malign people’s characters. He posted on his Facebook page that Guma once had a case of money laundering but no one asked him to resign. “Was he an embarrassment to the party and the country? Once he also tried to resign from Parliament. He didn’t.  He carries himself like this angel of high moral standard when he is far from it. He is no saint and certainly not a role model," Kebonang retaliated. Kebonang further questioned Guma's mental stability and academic qualifications. "One doesn’t even know his educational qualifications even though he likes to claim to be this sophisticated accountant and auditor. This is a man who never lasted as Assistant Minister or even Chairman of the Party. I have come to the conclusion that he is not mentally stable and is very silly," wrote Kebonang. Those close to Masisi’s inner circle said that they were not surprised by the outburst of the two legislators as it has to do with the betrayal of the Vice President. The BDP and Member of Parliament for Tonota Thapelo Olopeng have denied in separate statements that they have benefitted from the NPF funds. The party denies never receiving the P2 million.

Commission of inquiry
Late Friday evening Alliance for Progressives (AP) President Ndaba Gaolathe revealed via Facebook that the Speaker of the National Assembly has agreed to accommodate a motion he plans to propose calling for the appointment of a judicial commission of inquiry on the alleged abuse at the National Petroleum Fund. After an intense debate between Deputy Speaker and Gaolathe on the floor of Parliament on Friday morning over the proposed motion, the latter rejected the proposal. However, after Gaolathe pursued the matter at the Speaker's office after the Parliament session he "has graciously agreed that he will do his best to find a slot during the coming week failing which he will ensure the debate takes place on Friday". Earlier during the debate on Thursday, AP Vice President Wynter Mmolotsi, decried that there was a need for auditing of levies and government special funds as there is serious looting done by cabinet ministers and their associates. “Levies have been turned into cash cows for ministers and there is no accountability. Therefore there is need for auditing by the Auditor General,” said Mmolotsi. Responding to the allegations that both President Ian Khama and Masisi are implicated in the NPF money laundering scandal Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) MP Dithapelo Keorapetse said they are not surprised by the allegation. “Not only is Khama a commander in chief of the defence force but also the thief in command and if Guma is calling on Kebonang to resign from Cabinet he should not stop there but also ask Khama and Masisi to resign because they are also thieves,” said Keorapetse turning to look Masisi in the eyes. Masisi just ignored him, disinterested. Keorapetse accused Guma of trying to fight factional wars in Parliament, and stated that he is always attacking the Minister of Environment, Natural Resources Conservation and Tourism Tshekedi Khama due to their power struggle in the ruling party. UDC last month furnished the Attorney General (AG) with a statutory notice of intention to sue Directorate of Intelligence and Security (DIS) Director Isaac Kgosi, Director of Ministry of Minerals Energy and Water Resources Kenneth Kerekang and Permanent Secretary of Mineral Resources, Green Technology and Energy Security Dr Obolokile Obakeng to return the P250 million fraudulently stolen from the NPF.