Mathambo through army ranks to DCEC boss

DCEC headquarters
DCEC headquarters

Following his appointment as the Directorate on Corruption and Economic Crime (DCEC) helmsman this week, Mmegi Staff Writers RYDER GABATHUSE and CHAKALISA DUBE put pieces together in Brigadier Joseph Mathambo’s illustrious career

FRANCISTOWN: Before joining the DCEC, the well-built Mathambo who hails from Tonota village had spent about 32 continuous years at the Botswana Defence Force (BDF) where he had a meteoric rise through the army ranks.

He has a very interesting career journey in a narration articulated by his former schoolmate and former army colleague and now politician, Macdonald Peloetletse.

Peloetletse had schooled with Mathambo at the Shashe River Secondary School where they completed Cambridge in 1985.

Peloetletse joined the army a year earlier than Mathambo and he is amongst those who witnessed the miracle change in Mathambo’s fortunes.

After completing his training as a private at the BDF in 1986, Mathambo related his story to the army bosses that he wanted to further train as a cadet officer, which was granted. At the time, such a move was almost unheard of.

He would later rise to the rank of Brigadier that he holds today. During his tenure at the BDF, he was amongst those who schooled in electronics engineering and is reputed to be a Masters’ Degree holder in the field.

He would later serve as a military attaché in Botswana’s foreign missions before returning home to continue his illustrious career spanning about 32 years.

Peloetletse describes Mathambo as a disciplined man who is also honest and loyal.

He finds Mathambo a very passionate man in everything that he does and above all he says the new DCEC boss is well schooled as an engineer including in matters of air arm investigations.

“Even during our secondary school days, Mathambo was very intelligent as he did pure sciences,” reminisced Peloetletse, who also hails from Tonota.

Mathambo, according to Peloetletse is one character that cannot easily be dissuaded from a position, especially when he strongly believes he is right.

“After his initial training, there was no provision for cadets training, but he chose to declare to the army bosses at training that he had what it takes to become a cadet officer and his wish was granted, to the shock of many.”

Peloetletse is steadfast that in Mathambo, the DCEC has a capable leader who will not have difficulties delivering his mandate and he added:

“He is a fearless character and generally he is very capable and intelligent and suitable for his new appointment.”

The former military man, Peloetletse says for someone to rise to the rank of Brigadier in the army, it shows that one can be trusted.

Another former schoolmate and home boy, University of Botswana (UB) lecturer, Comma Serema describes Mathambo as a very strong and domineering character, which are good skills to lead people.

The UB academic further portrays Mathambo as someone who has a strong will and, “deep down a very jolly and nice person”.

He feels Mathambo can motivate people and was hopeful that he will succeed in his new assignment.

Yesterday, University of Botswana (UB) senior lecturer, Kaelo Molefhe said that he is of the view that Mathambo has the credentials that can enable him to thrive at DCEC. 

“He comes from an engineering perspective. Engineers work with processes and structures. On the other hand investigators also work with systematic processes and structures hence I do not think that he will struggle that much to acquaint himself in his role as the DCEC director,” Molefhe said.  He also said that to some extent he does not have a problem with the removal of Victor Bruno Paledi as the DCEC director.

“One may argue that Bruno (Paledi), despite his wealth of experience in investigation and administration deserved to go because he has not pursued any corruption case to its logical end,” Molefhe said. 

He added that an organisation like the DCEC needs an independent director whose work would not suffer from lingering public scepticism as a result of perceived lack of objectivity.

He, however, warned that Mathambo might not achieve much at the DCEC owing to the perceived poor working environment associated with the organisation.

He highlighted that the DCEC lacks independence, which to some extent makes it hard for its employees to deliver. “The DCEC should be given the powers to prosecute. There is need for special courts to prosecute corruption. Without prosecution powers we will continue to witness instances where the DCEC investigates and refers cases to the DPP for prosecution and take years to prosecute. Some end up not going to court at all,” he said, adding that such developments erode public confidence towards the DCEC. 

“You can have the best investigators at DCEC, but if the environment is not suitable for them they will not effectively deliver on their mandate and by extension that of the organisation,” he said.

Another UB academic who preferred anonymity as he is closer to Mathambo, listed qualities that any director general of an anti-corruption agency should possess:

Management experience in leading anti-corruption and fraud investigations; knowledge on anti-corruption theory and practice; subject matter knowledge and experience of occupational fraud and corruption, and investigating of it; knowledge of relevant legislation and its impact on anti - fraud and corruption work; knowledge and experience on anti-corruption international standards; demonstration of substantive and technical knowledge on anti-corruption; strong analytical skills; knowledge on monitoring and evaluation methodologies; initiative and sound judgement.

“The former DCEC DG was a deputy commissioner of police having accumulated substantial knowledge and experience in investigation of fraud and corruption cases. He is a graduate of the UB majoring in Statistics and subsequently went for various courses dealing with law enforcement,” the source said. He observed that the newly crowned DG is the former military officer of the rank of Brigadier who was promoted last year to the current rank. “He is a post-graduate student of Engineering (possibly electronic engineering). He has no experience in leading and overseeing an efficient and organised investigative team on fraud and corruption cases. Neither does he have experience in managing a team with high caseloads and demanding workloads, especially in areas of law enforcement.”

He added that most of the knowledge and experiences required for a corruption-busting agency are not in his job experience profile.

“There may be other considerations that motivated the appointing authority to make this decision. Educationally, he is well-endowed with substantive knowledge and experience in the BDF operations.”

He also indicated that Mathambo has graduated from a War College in People’s Liberation Army (PLA) of China in which he acquired knowledge, skills, or abilities to be a strategic leader.

Strategic leadership in the military is an essential attribute of the highest order. But he was worried that Mathambo’s strategic leadership knowledge and skills may offset his deficiencies in the investigations of fraud and anti-corruption area.

“Additionally, he has a strong personality and is a no-nonsense army man. He may build and maintain strong relationships with the military intelligence and the DIS as he is in good relationship with the DIS boss.

 He is an independent thinker of repute, has a strong personality and is not easily corruptible.”

Editor's Comment
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