On 13 August 2020, then Permanent Secretary to the President Elias Magosi instructed the Directorate on Corruption on Economic Crimes (DCEC) to turn over all documents relating to the P100 billion ‘case’ against Welheminah Maswabi to the Department of Public Prosecutions. Staff Writer KEABETSWE NEWEL believes this may have compromised the President’s moral authority to be the final arbiter in the P100 billion yarn spun by law enforcement agencies.
The order to the corruption-busting agency was made at a time when they were refusing to hand over the file to the DPP, arguing that it could not hand over an unfinished matter for prosecution. Following that, the DCEC complied and the DPP immediately proceeded to prosecution and later instituted unsuccessful investigations to validate the prosecution. When the judgement came, the state fell hard on its belly and immediately went into hiding.
In its ruling, the High Court directed the Registrar of the High Court to submit a copy of the judgement to President Mokgweetsi Masisi – who ascended to the presidency through the promise of restoration of law and order – for appropriate remedial action, but indications so far are that the President is unlikely to act.
The court found that the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) Stephen Tiroyakgosi, the Director the Directorate of Intelligence and Security Service (DISS) Brigadier Peter Magosi, and the Directorate on Corruption and Economic Crime officers Jako Hubona and Priscilla Israel colluded to commit a criminal offence by fabricating and falsifying evidence to secure prosecution against an innocent citizen, Whelheminah Maswabi, codenamed “Butterfly.”
“The 1st respondent (DPP) director is referred to the President of the Republic of Botswana as his appointing authority to consider his removal from office of the DPP in terms of Section 133 (3) of the Constitution of Botswana,” reads the judgement.
Under Masisi‘s immediate authority to discipline is the DPP director Tiroyakgosi and Masisi’s blue-eyed boy the Director of DISS Magosi who led the P100 billion crusade from behind. Magosi is now nowhere to be found while other conspirators are still at work as if nothing happened.
WHAT DID THE PRESIDENT KNOW AND WHEN
While Masisi’s defenders could say the President does not have a role in the prosecutorial process to have intervened, the painful reality is that there is no way an English-medium school educated President may have not known or been briefed from the onset that money almost amounting to the country’s GDP was allegedly looted from public coffers and that the news was just monkey business.
So who is Masisi expected to whip and for what that he did not know or have a hand in?
It cannot be accepted that the President did not hear warning signals and whistlesblowing. Over and above that, it is not acceptable that a man of Masisi’s intellect and public service experience could not have sensed the disaster when the news broke that P100 billion was stolen. Moreover, there is no way the President could not have been briefed that his successor had allegedly stolen such a king’s ransom. Perhaps most importantly, there is no way that the Minister of Finance and Economic Development and the Governor of Bank of Botswana did not hasten to alert the state agencies that there was no money missing.
This then beg the questions: when did the President, a man with a decade-long political experience, know about the alleged looting and why did he ignore the warning signs and advice? Did he seriously believe that P100 billion was stolen from the central bank? If he did not, which is likely, why did he let the lie to drag on even after a public refutation by the Governor?
Given all this, would it be far-fetched to conclude that the President, by commission or omission, had a hand in the country’s biggest financial scandal that never was?
If the answer is no, how then is he expected to act against the conspirators as ordered by the High Court when his inaction in the whole scheme is suspect?
The High Court says the matter was plainly in pursuit of a political agenda against political opponents, especially former president Ian Khama who does not see eye to eye with President Masisi. Action against the conspirators or those who executed the plot will therefore be seen as a betrayal of the highest order by the masterminds.
Meanwhile, Khama and his co-accused are getting ready to line up their pockets with taxpayers’ money for reputational damage. They are demanding millions of pula from the state and published apologies.