PAC guns for Khama

SHARE   |   Friday, 27 April 2018   |   By Phillimon Mmeso
PAC guns for Khama

… As Kgosi defends his master to the end

       Kgosi refuses to implicate former President Ian Khama

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       accuses PAC of trying to use him to get Khama

       'I do not account to anyone, not even the President' -Kgosi

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       'Kgosi the most feared man in Botswana' 

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       Former energy minister says Khama knew about NPF deal

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Parliamentary Public Accounts Committee (PAC) is seriously considering subpoenaing former President Ian Khama to interrogate him over the P250 million National Petroleum Fund scandal, it has emerged.

The suggestion was made by the DIS head honcho before the PAC on Tuesday, when he refused to respond to questions put to him, arguing that it was a strategy hatched by some members to influence him to implicate Khama. In particular, Kgosi singled out PAC Chairman MP Dithapelo Keorapetse as the mastermind behind the plot targeting the former president.

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Facing a barrage of questions about Khama's involvement, Kgosi somersaulted and cornered Keorapetse, accusing him of using his appearance before the PAC for ulterior motives to drag Khama into the NPF saga.

"I know about your other plans to use PAC to subpoena the former President,” said Kgosi, a pointed accusation Keorapetse never responded to.

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Kgosi made the startling allegation when asked if he briefed Khama about the P250 million from NPF and the DIS variation to procure surveillance equipment. In turn, Kgosi flatly refused to answer questions relating to Khama's involvement or whether he was ever briefed about the goings-on and transactions at the National Petroleum Fund.

Khama on PAC radar

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When quizzed by The Patriot on Sunday after the Tuesday altercation with Kgosi, Keorapetse could not rule out the possibility of having to subpoena Khama to appear before the PAC to give evidence. He said such decision will be informed by the outcome of a review of evidence and testimony of witness as the hearing progresses. “On the May 2, 2018 we expect Ministry of Finance and Economic Development Permanent Secretary (PS) Solomon Sekwakwa, former PS at Ministry of Mineral Resources, Green technology and Energy Security Kgomotso Abi and former Private Secretary to minister Sadique Kebonang,” he said.

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Keorapetse rubbished Kgosi's accusations that he is trying to abuse the PAC to push his own agenda. He said he even wrote to the Speaker of the National Assembly to invoke Section 13 of the National Assembly and Privileges Act to compel the Kgosi to answer questions.

“His statement is ridiculous and unfounded. The section in question makes specific reference to Chairman approaching the Speaker. I discussed it with the committee as I told him. His comments are mischievous and unfortunate,” hit out Keorapetse. 

Kgosi undermines PAC

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In a sheer display of arrogance, contempt and disregard for the PAC, Kgosi threatened the committee members that whoever shared what he termed classified information with them had broken the law and will be punished. In an earlier hearing Kgosi had repeatedly told the PAC that he is the custodian of all classified information in the country.

Kgosi, like in the previous appearance, refused to answer questions regarding their correspondences with Ministry of Mineral Resources, Green Technology and Energy Security regarding the sourcing of the P250 million which was initially for storage facilities but was redirected to procure spy equipment from Israel for the DIS.

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Put to him that since the information is with the Auditor General, which now makes the documents declassified, the spy chief stood his ground aggressively. “Your view doesn’t make those documents de-classified and as far as I am concerned the Auditor General doesn’t de-classify classified information. Anyone who released the classified information was wrong and will face the wrath of the law,” he said, in the first of a series of threats.

Keorapetse sought the intervention of the legal advisor from Attorney General's Chambers Nchunga Nchunga. Nchunga advised the PAC that the Auditor General has not violated any laws by complying with the resolution of Parliament to probe NPF books. This did not soften Kgosi’s stance but hardened it further as he boldly stated that he will never discuss classified information and issues before the courts of law. “Tomorrow you won’t be there when I am summoned before the court for divulging information which is already the subject of a court case,” he said, despite Nchunga having assured him that he enjoys immunity.

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PAC member Ignatius Moswaane asked for Kgosi's views on the NPF order and if he doesn’t think DIS violated it by variation to the funds given to them. “Don’t ask me about the NPF order. I don’t work there rather ask me about DISS,” he retorted.

On the assessment document that DISS prepared with Department of Energy on the establishment of five fuel storage facilities in strategic places which he confirmed he knew about last week, the spy chief changed tone and became defensive. “The one who gave you the document was wrong to do that as it came into his possession due to his ministerial position. It is a classified document. It has a non-disclosure clause,” he said, adding that he will not discuss anything regarding the document.

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On the controversial Khulaco Company which NPF funds to DISS were ring fenced in its account, Kgosi who last week said it was a subsidiary of Kgori Capital changed the story and said he does not know anything about it. Asked if he can provide the PAC with documentation regarding their dealings with NPF, he answered in negative. “You have been getting documents from Auditor General why can’t you ask them,” he shocked PAC members, who exploded into laughter.

On the procurement of the spy equipment from Israel, Ndaba Gaolathe asked Kgosi if they followed the procurement process as stipulated by the Public Procurement and Asset Disposal Board (PPADB) under the Special Procurement and Asset Disposal Committee (SPADC). Kgosi answered in the negative. “I will answer it partially. Funds were with a private company as such there was no need to follow the procurement process. If it was consolidated funds we could have gone through procurement,” he said briefly.

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Gaolathe put it him that as long as they are public funds they should have followed the lawful procurement process but Kgosi had none of it, telling the Gaborone Bonnington South MP that he is wrong.

Although he refused to mention it by name, Kgosi conceded that they blundered by dealing with Kgori Capital. “With lessons learnt next time we will do things differently. I can admit that we need to do continuous vetting,” he said.

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The spy chief rejected the proposition that DIS dealings with Khulaco were bordering on money laundering. “This is my first time to hear that money used to buy Government equipment is money laundering,” he squirmed, fidgeting in his seat.

A law unto himself

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As a way of avoiding implicating former President Khama, the spy chief said he is the accounting officer and does not report to anyone on issues of operations. When Keorapetse insisted that he gives an answer on whether he briefed the President on the transaction and the threat to national security, he became aggressive. “You’re not going to shove answers down my throat and I know what you are up to!” said Kgosi, clearly poking Keorapetse by suggesting he had an ulterior motive.

The pronouncements by Kgosi, that he does not account to anyone, shocked many prompting the President of Botswana Congress Party (BCP), Dumelang Saleshando to take to social media to tell the ruling party that "we warned you". He said pronouncements by DISS boss that he accounts to no one, not even the state President, for funds used by DIS even if the funds were allegedly inappropriately secured, will possibly shock many, including the BDP stalwarts.

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"Last week, he refused to respond to questions on the basis that the documents referred to were classified, possibly by him. I think that the stance adopted by Kgosi is a good one for our democracy. At the time when the DISS law was adopted, we cautioned against the creation of an organisation that was going to be a law unto itself. The BDP MPs called us alarmists and said we know nothing about national security. Let Kgosi use the full powers he is accorded by the DISS Act so that we will learn from the mistakes we committed under the excitement of preparing for the Khama presidency. PAC has promised to resort to the full powers it has under the law, Kgosi says he is also protected by the DISS Act, game on, let’s sit back and watch. Those of us called alarmists 10 years ago can only say the chickens have come home to roost," wrote Saleshando.

Khama, NPF deal

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Two weeks ago former Minister of Mineral Resources, Green Technology and Energy Security Sadique Kebonang informed the PAC that Khama was aware of the developments concerning NPF funds. According to the law, the President has to be briefed when issues of national security are raised especially dealing with emergencies. PAC member Samson Guma had pronounced and asked Kebonang if he briefed Khama before he acceded to the DIS variation. “Former President Khama was aware of the P250 million transactions and on the security I believe that DISS DG Kgosi briefed him about it,” he answered.

Kebonang informed the committee that DISS shared with his ministry a document on studies done for the fuel storage facilities in Botswana. Although Kgosi recently confirmed being aware of the study and its findings, which he said was carried out in collaboration with the Department of Energy, on Tuesday he changed the statement. “That document is classified. Kebonang got possession due to his position as minister for that ministry.  He was not supposed to share that document with you since it has non-disclosure clause,” he said as he refused to discuss the document.

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DCEC investigations

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Keorapetse asked Kgosi if he is being investigated by DCEC in relation to the NPF saga but the hostile witness shot back. “I didn’t know that DCEC investigating me was part of the PAC deliberations!” he said.  Last week Kgosi informed the committee that although he has not seen the cabinet directive instructing DIS to return the money, he is aware of it and had discussions with the officials from Ministry of Finance. On Tuesday he changed the story, saying that he does not know anything about the Cabinet directive even if the issue was discussed at a cabinet meeting because he does not sit in the meetings. Later the same day, former Minister of Mineral Resources and Energy Security Kitso Mokaila confirmed that he has seen the Cabinet minutes instructing DISS to return the P250 million.

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