- Court protects President from giving evidence in NPF looting case
- When president, Khama gave evidence in Motumise case
- Accused says Masisi was a principal recipient of NPF proceeds
In a sudden turn of events, Justice Godfrey Radijeng of Gaborone High Court has covered President Mokgweetsi with a shield of judicial protection from being subpoenaed to give evidence in the case of the looting of the National Petroleum Fund.
This will set back the case for the defence considerably because in its view, the President would advance their cause for the reason that he received a part of the total P250 million that was allegedly siphoned off the NPF.
Justice Radijeng said he would provide reasons for his ruling in the course of the week.
While the constitution protects the President from prosecution through an immunity clause, it does not protect him from giving evidence in court. Former president Ian Khama gave evidence in 2015 in a case which prominent lawyer and judge aspirant (now judge), Omphemetse Motumise and the Law Society of Botswana (LSB) had taken Khama to court for his decision to refuse to endorse a recommendation by the Judicial Service Commission to appoint Motumise a judge.
In his founding affidavit on that case, Khama who was the first respondent, sought to justify his decision. “First, in appointing judges, I take into account a broad range of material considerations, including matters of national security, the socio-political situation in Botswana, public perceptions of the relevant candidate and the judiciary,” Khama stated.
Presidents testify in other cases too, such as when their PI declarations are challenged. The NPF case accused hold that there is no way the case can fairly proceed without hearing from President Masisi and certain high ranking government officials.
In their founding affidavits, Sadique Kebonang and Bakang Seretse say Masisi knew about transactions of NPF, was a principal beneficiary and had beneficial interest.
Seretse said Masisi and former president Khama’s administration knew about contracting of his company, Khulaco, as the transactional services company with regard to transactions at the heart of these proceedings.
“For this fact, both former president Khama and President Masisi must withstand?????? examination and or cross-examination,” states Seretse. According to Seretse, former president Khama, President Masisi and the former Cabinet were briefed on the procurement by Sadique Kebonang, the then Minister of Minerals, Green Technology and Energy Security. “Former president Khama, Eric Molale, the then Minister responsible for the presidency and the now President Masisi must undergo examination or cross-examination,” he says.
In his affidavit, Seretse further stated that Khama and Masisi were aware of the fact that Khulaco, as represented by himself, had been engaged in that regard. “For this former president Khama and the now President Masisi must undergo examination or cross-examination,” he said.
Kebonang, who is charged alongside his judge brother Zein, argue that the state must charge other principal recipients of NPF funds, Masisi being one of them.
According to court papers filed by the state in June 2019, President Masisi received donations of over P2 million from Briscoe Attorneys. The state added that Seretse subsequently made a donation of P300,010 to Masisi through the same law firm. The money was to aid his bid for the chairmanship of the Botswana Democratic Party at an elective congress in Tonota.
The DPP has argued that it is unnecessary for the President to give evidence.