- Mogae allegedly instructed Katlholo to drop Khama family investigations
- Founding DCEC head Katlholo says he does not want to get involved in the matter
Former president Festus Mogae may soon find himself answering questions from the Directorate on Corruption and Economic Crimes (DCEC) relating to his alleged involvement in the closure of a docket on his successor former president Ian Khama and his younger brothers over Botswana Defence Force tenders which they monopolised.
The probes have been reactivated under President Mokgweetsi Masisi’s spirited anti-corruption climate that may prove too hot for some people.
Owned by Khama twins Tshekedi and Anthony, Seleka Springs is reported to have had undue influence on the country’s defence budget and allegedly held sway over 50 percent of its procurement spending as the main supplier of the BDF’s ammunition, armoury and military hardware.
While president in 2001, Mogae is said to have received a report from the Defence Council that the Khama brothers’ company had won more than 50 percent of BDF tenders since 1998. “Information before us is that before he could appoint Ian Khama his successor, he called the then DCEC director Timon Katlholo on the phone and ordered him to drop investigations into the Khama family as he anticipated appointing Khama as vice president. Katlholo then informed his deputy, Rose Seretse, about the meeting and the decision,” says a former DCEC investigator who cannot be named.
In an interview with this publication, Mogae neither denied nor confirmed these reports, saying he did not have much recollection of what transpired as he had been out of office for years. He was also non-committal regarding whether he had ever been questioned by DCEC on the matter.
The Botswana Gazette was met with a similar reaction when the newspaper approached Katlholo about his reported meeting with Mogae. He too neither denied nor confirmed the meeting but advised contacting DCEC.
A DCEC investigator says the docket on Seleka Springs has become the agency’s elephant in the room that every director hands to the next since the days of Katlholo at the helm. “When Katlholo left the DCEC in 2009, he handed the file to Seretse who last year handed it to Paledi who has since left. Paledi handed it to Brigadier Joseph Mathambo,” says a former senior DCEC officer.
Paledi has confirmed receiving the docket from Seretse and he himself handing it to the current director. “I never acted on it,” Paledi admitted. “Besides, even if I had tried to I would not have had the time to do much because of my short stint there.”
The DCEC director before Paledi, Rose Seretse, said she had moved on and so did not want to talk about her tenure at DCEC or anything about the organisation. “Please deal with the DCEC,” she retorted. She declared herself “uncomfortable to discuss that matter” and advised this newspaper to contact Mogae and Katlholo.
A former senior officer of DCEC says he was with the agency during Katlholo’s tenure when Mogae called Katlholo on the phone and when Katlholo subsequently called Seretse to his office to share the details of the meeting with her.
Responding to this publication on the current status of the Khama family cases, a spokesperson of DCEC, Lentswe Motshoganetsi, said investigations were ongoing. “We will share with you any information pertaining to this matter once the matter has been completed,” Motshoganetsi said in a written response.
The DCEC has reactivated investigations into all Khama family cases that were shelved during Khama’s tenure as president and DCEC investigators say Mogae will need to provide clarity on some of his “alleged orders” that led to the files being shelved. But it is not only Mogae who is at the center of the Seleka Springs case; so is Khama himself who during his presidency appointed his relative to head the DCEC only to have the probe stopped.
Observers say this probe is one of several others that will test President Masisi’s credibility as an anti-corruption campaigner and mettle as one committed to the rule of law. Much credit would also go to Brigadier Mathambo if he successfully brought to an end DCEC directors’ treatment of the Khama docket as a relay baton.