'Govt levies are mismanaged' -Kebonang

SHARE   |   Tuesday, 15 May 2018   |   By Omang Kilano
'Govt levies are mismanaged' -Kebonang

Shortly before he was bundled out of office last week, Director General of Directorate of Intelligence and Security (DIS)  Isaac Kgosi made shocking threats to punish for Minister of Mineral Resources, Green Technology and Energy Security for 'leaking' what he termed classified information. This week, Kgosi threatened to spill the beans on any and everyone who may attempt to investigate his shady past or prosecute him. Below STAFF WRITER PHILLIMON MMESO recounts the PAC hearing where Advocate Kebonang made startling observations about the spy chief.

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Outgoing Minister of Mineral Resources, Green Technology and Energy Security Advocate Sadique Kebonang recently shocked the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) when he revealed that he was never briefed about National Petroleum Fund (NPF) since he was appointed minister in 2016. PAC member, Ndaba Gaolathe, had asked Kebonang to explain why such an ommission happened under his authority as the political head of the ministry. The question came after it emerged from the recently released 2017 Auditor General's report that for the past three years the National Petroleum Fund (NPF) has never been audited.

“I was never oriented about the ministry and have never met even the committee members of NPF up to now. So I have never been involved in NPF,” he revealed.

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Armed with the latest Auditor General's report, Advocate Kebonang said even the previous fund managers of NPF, Stanlib, who have financial institution background only submitted their financial reports in January 2018 yet their contract was terminated three years ago. On his view about management of levies, Kebonang said it is a mistake to have funds managed by different ministries. “The reality is that not all the ministries have competent staff to manage the levies,” he said, adding that the NPF money laundering case is very unfortunate.

“This is a very unfortunate case where people acted in good faith and are now accused of money laundering. Money was moved to DIS. We know where the money is, yet we charge innocent people with money laundering,” said Kebonang.

On why he never enquired about NPF upon appointment Kebonang responded that his major appointment had been to deal with a very cardinal issue of the liquidation of BCL mine which consumed most of his time. “The other issue is that the mandate of ministries was changed and there was issue of green energy that I had to attend to,” he defended himself.

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The other challenge that he said he faced was that there was no exchange note between him and his predecessor. “Ministers don’t run ministries but rather Permanent Secretaries do. They only brief us on ‘need to know’ basis. They keep some of the documents away from us,” said Kebonang.

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NPF scandal

Kebonang who before his appearance at the PAC was accused of playing a role in ensuring that P250 million is given to DIS was expected to face a torrid of questions but stood his ground. First to take on Kebonang was MP for Tati East Samson Guma who didn’t waste time but asked the former cabinet minister if he was aware of the P250 million taken from NPF to DIS and the communication that happened during the transactions.

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Kebonang said that he was briefed about the transaction by the accounting officer being the Acting Permanent Secretary Dr Obolokile Obakeng but was never directly involved. The money was requested for the construction of four fuel storage facilities in strategic places around the country by the DISS for their operation. On the contentious issue of variation of funds which the former Acting PS accused Kebonang of unilaterally acceding to the request by DIS, the well prepared former cabinet minister accused Dr Obakeng of being economical with the truth.

“I was away on assignment when my executive secretary called and informed me that there is an urgent letter from DISS Director General Isaac Kgosi seeking my immediate attention. I then asked her to read it for and asked her to draft a letter and pass to Dr Obakeng for his input,” he revealed adding that the PS agreed with the content.

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The urgent and confidential letter stamped SECRET according to Kebonang requested his ministry to allow them for variation of funds as there was an emergency security concern and DIS had to deviate some of the funds to buy equipment needed to arrest the situation.

Asked if he was comfortable with the variation, Kebonang said that he was told that it was an issue of national security so he could not refuse. “After all the money was already in their account (DIS). So what they were doing was just merely a formality,” he said.

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A month later, Kebonang said the PS briefed him that they made a mistake by allowing the variation as it was against the mandate of NPF as no one has the authority to do that. According to the evidence before the PAC, the money was in the account of Khulaco, a company led by Bakang Seretse as its Chief Executive Officer, which is currently at the centre of an ongoing money laundering case. Bakang insists Khulaco is a proxy company used by DIS.

The relentless Guma asked Kebonang if he is aware that the account belongs to DIS but the latter refused to answer the question, saying he cannot comment on matters before the court but conceded that it looks like it belongs to them.

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Disowning DIS

Kebonang said he was shocked by the statement by the former Acting PS Dr Obakeng that he (Kebonang) with Director of Energy Affairs Kenneth Kerekang authorised the disbursement of the funds to DIS. “I have never approved disbursement of funds to anyone not even DIS so it is not true,” he said as he pulled a letter from Dr Obakeng to Attorney General whereby the PS revealed that Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) want him to account for the P250 million.

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“He wrote the letter seeking AG to provide him with legal representation as he was acting not on his personal capacity but as accounting officer. Why would he say that if he didn’t approve the funds? Why didn’t they write to me if am the one who approved the funds,” he said as PAC chairman Dithapelo Keorapetse stared.

To exonerate himself from the scandal, Kebonang said he was also not part of the benchmarking trip as it was only undertaken by Kerekang and Bakang Seretse. He was never briefed about the overseas trip, he said.

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DIS monster 

Kebonang shocked many when he suggested authoritatively that everybody including cabinet ministers, PAC members and Directorate of Corruption and Economic Crime (DCEC) fear the DIS. His statement came hardly weeks after the attorney for Bakang Seretse, Kgosi Ngakaagae accused DCEC of being cowards and afraid of DIS. “Why would you charge people with money laundering yet cabinet has instructed DIS to return the money,” he charged.

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Asked by PAC member Moyo Guma if he briefed the President Khama before he acceded to the variation requested by DIS, Advocate Kebonang responded that it is the requirement of the law that when issues of national security are raised especially dealing with emergencies, the President has to be briefed. “Khama was aware of the P250 million transaction. On the variation for national security I believe that DIS Director General Kgosi briefed him about it,” he answered.

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Two weeks ago Kgosi refused to cooperate with PAC members, arrogantly rejecting their questions before boldly declaring that he does not account to anyone, let alone the President.



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