Welcome Brigadier Mathambo - We are watching you

Bruno Paledi’s headship of the Directorate on Corruption and Economic Crime (DCEC) was doomed from April 1, 2018.

He was viewed, by naysayers, with suspicion as a supposed Khama deployee, having been appointed on the eve of the prince’s exit from the number one office. He did little to fight the perception. The DCEC’s handling of the National Petroleum Fund (NPF) matter, under his guard, did not help matters.

Key transactional people allied to the old order were spared responsibility for their actions while the DCEC unashamedly opened fire on lowly unconnected. Bakang Seretse and the NPF accused became the scapegoats and the face of all the DCEC were against.

Meanwhile, earlier investigated cases remained below radar. The removal of Eugene Wasetso as the DCEC op-head was an early warning sign that the former number one traffic cop’s days at the DCEC were numbered.

Wasetso was somewhat a gentleman, which was perhaps his major undoing. He was diplomatic and soft spoken. He simply could not be trusted to double-check his exalted boss. The new administration needed to make strategic deployments.

Perceivably, loyal people were needed, and Brigadier Mathambo was called up to bat. The countdown to Paledi’s exit began on the day he arrived at the DCEC.

Not much was known about Mathambo, except perhaps by those who have worked with him at the Botswana Defence Force (BDF). It was of course my team’s job to research his background and we did. My clients needed to know the man who would be directing investigations in the case of which they were concerned. We learnt a lot.

Since taking over, unlike Wasetso, Mathambo has been content with the safety of the command post. Once or twice he has been seen in court but only for brief periods. Unlike his excitable charges, he comes out as a man who doesn’t really care about being the star of the show.

He seems content with being the game behind the game. We know he is a hard nut and wasn’t been picked out of a hat. This singular quality must have commended him to Wasetso’s office.

He is now the de facto Chief of Staff of the country’s investigative units. Not only does he have the ear of the country’s most powerful man after President Mokgweetsi Masisi, being Peter Magosi himself; he is in control of the DCEC, a potentially useful but presently useless organisation controlled by the very corrupt officials it was created to check. The institution he now leads now marches alongside a Directorate of Public Prosecutions (DPP) office with specialty in use of insulting language cases.

The two State entities, and the Judiciary, are lady justice’s three musketeers. They are bound together by a kindred spirit of inability. They are useless against power.

Brigadier Mathambo ascends at a time when the new administration’s confidence in the DCEC is perhaps just as low as it is in the DPP. Were it not for constitutional protection, I would bet you Stephen Tiroyakgosi would be coordinating Friday prayers at the Department of Water Affairs.

Appointed on the eve of Ian Khama’s departure, not unlike his DCEC counterpart, he has done little to redeem himself with his institution’s confused handling of the NPF case.

The DPP office has steered clear of charging key people in that case, a situation that looked permanent until the airport drama that shocked a nation. The newfound fervour of the DPP office, demonstrated in the NPF case through the engagement of one Shaun Abrahams, is not an effort to augment inadequate prosecutorial capacity.

It is a vote of no confidence on an entity that has until now behaved in the most confusing and cowardly fashion in the face of power. Only with the coming of Abrahams, are we hearing about new accused being added to the indictment. Even then, we wait and we wonder.

But is Brigadier Mathambo’s arrival a new beginning or a new end? The DCEC, as it is, is an openly infiltrated entity. Rose Seretse’s stubbornness in her feud with the former administration over the old DIS guard, resulted in her being fired to Botswana Energy Regulatory Authority (BERA). Government spies were then openly deployed to the DCEC to keep it under check.

Her crack team of investigators was disassembled. Some were lied about and slapped with trumped up charges while others were subjected to kangaroo disciplinary proceedings and fired.

In so far as its capacity to fight high level corruption was concerned, the DCEC was comatose. Dockets were reported missing and others concerning Cabinet ministers investigated during the Rose Seretse era gathered dust as had some from the Tymon Katholo era. The situation prevails to date.

The DCEC has been the place where high profile dockets went to die. Its sister prosecutorial entity has been nothing but a docket graveyard with the Office of the President (OP) ever so enthusiastically directing all funeral proceedings.

Brigadier Mathambo assumes the hot seat under this environment, where P4.9 billion is allegedly unaccounted for at Bank of Botswana (BoB); where the Rose Seretse era docket regarding the Ministry of Education is still being suppressed, where P600 million in e-governance money is unaccounted for; where a prison fence that could have cost P12million cost the taxpayer P50million; when funds belong to Botswana Public Officers Pension Fund (BPOPF) are still AWOL, and where there are more thieves at the OP than at an open street Kwasa Kwasa concert.

Welcome, soldier. Let us see what you are made of. 

Editor's Comment
Escalating fuel prices cause panic

Nowadays it is not uncommon to purchase an item for a certain commodity and return to the shops in a week, to find the same item has gone up by a significant amount of money.Botswana Energy Regulatory Authority (BERA) last week announced yet another fuel price increase, which follows yet another increase that came into effect on March 29. Hardly two months later on May 12 boom, BERA announced yet another increase, which came into effect at a...

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