ôI have, in the last several weeks, watched with utter horror how the media has, day after day, and week after week, accused me of great crimes, tried me of those crimes, convicted me of those crimes, and lynched my character in the public square.
It is unclear to me why anybody who had cause to suspect me of having committed acts of corruption should prefer to report them to the media and not to law enforcement agencies, of which our country has at least a few. At no time have I, prior to the onslaught by the media, declined to cooperate with any investigation by any law enforcement agencies, nor do I intend to do so in the future.
I have considered, and have been hesitant, to engage with the Media and answer the allegations as I feared that that might compromise investigations which I was aware the Directorate of Corruption and Economic Crimes was conducting into some of the allegations which have appeared in the media. I now have been advised, in view of the fact that the publication of the accusations in the media continues and has reached new levels of hysteria, to offer my version to the degree that I am lawfully permitted to do. I have also been advised that my continued silence might be construed as an affirmation of my purported guilt.
Accordingly, I have decided that I should answer such of the allegations as I am competent to do so. As I understand it, the accusations have been made concerning me personally, and have not been directed at the Directorate of Intelligence and Security Services (“the DISS”). Consequently, I am writing in a personal capacity and not in any capacity on behalf of the DISS.
It is not possible for me to answer every allegation that has been made in the media. Some are so gross and outrageous they do not merit the dignity of a response. Others concern the operations of the DISS which are covert in nature and could not be disclosed without compromising matters of national security. Botswana, like practically every country in the world, has intelligence organisations whose operations, by their very nature (because of the necessity to protect national security), are secret and others covert.
Some of the allegations made in the media concern my personal assets, my wife’s assets, the assets of my family, and our personal and private affairs. I have been advised that, like the writers in the media who have engaged in the unmitigated onslaught against me, my family and I have a right to privacy from undue public scrutiny which is constitutionally protected. I will, to show my bona fides and to expose the malicious persecution for what it is, curtail that right for current purposes only. Accordingly, I will answer some of the allegations which concern our assets.
I have not entirely been without money to afford some amenities of life that many Batswana, including writers in the Press, have come to take for granted. I have been a public officer since 1977 when I first joined the Botswana Defence Force (“the BDF”). Within the BDF I rose through the ranks with corresponding financial rewards. From there I joined the Office of the President as Senior Private Secretary on the E1 salary scale in 1998. In April 2008 I became Director General of the DISS on the F1 salary scale. I have also made investments. I have, in all that time, used money I earned from my job and investments, and from my savings and loans to acquire various assets.
I personally own only two vehicles, a Land Rover Discovery and a BMW M5. The Land Rover I acquired using a Barclays Bank loan I obtained in December 2013. The vehicle cost P651,974.72. I am still servicing that loan. In 2011 I acquired the 2009 BMW as a used vehicle using my personal savings. It cost $34,928.26. On importation of the vehicle, BURS was paid P127,745.10 by Zebra Shipping, the shipping and clearing agents in the normal course of business, and I refunded this to that company.
The silver Toyota Prado does NOT belong to me; it belongs to my wife who purchased it using a loan she obtained from Barclays Bank in 2011 in her own right. My job comes with a vehicle, and it does not belong to me. The allegation that I own vehicles worth P2.7 million is patently false.
United Kingdom (“the UK”) Banking Account
As is normal for foreigners living and studying in the UK, including Batswana, I opened a bank account at Barclays Bank for my personal use when I was studying in the UK before I joined the DISS. The account is dormant.
Our Phakalane Residence
My wife and I contracted L T & Associates (Pty) Limited to build our house. That company is owned, NOT by the late Harry Tembo who I did not know and have never met, but by Liver Tembo who currently lives in Zambia having recently relocated from Botswana. As is usual, L T & Associates sub-contracted Power Force, a company belonging to Mpesene Jere, another national of Zambia to do some of the work on the house in 2005. Power Force and other service providers occasionally do maintenance work on behalf of the DISS.
L T & Associates were, as they were doing the work, being paid on my behalf out of funds belonging to us held in the trust account of Collins Newman & Co. The contractor claimed more money than was due by some P690,000.
It became necessary for the contractor to pay the money back, and that is the behalf
When the DISS was established in 2008, it took over some of the Functions and on-going operations of the Botswana Police Security Intelligence Service, formerly the Special Branch, personnel and current suppliers. One of them was a company owned by Teeza Seduke.
This company had, in any event, provided services to many Government Departments even before the DISS was founded. It was awarded contracts through normal processes which are subject to audit by the appropriate authorities in the normal way.
The Death of Harry Tembo
As I have said, I have never met Harry Tembo, his death, had nothing to do with the DISS. He has never been engaged either by me or the DISS, has never done any work for either the DISS or me, and we had nothing to do with his death.
A post mortem examination was conducted on March 20, 2012 and the report was given to the Station Commander of the Broadhurst Police Station. At no time have the Police approached us in respect of the death, and no doubt they would have done so was there evidence to connect the DISS to it. Deliberately confusing the two Tembos to suit people’s selfish needs is mischievous, cruel and insensitive and must be causing the late Harry Tembo’s family considerable and prolonged pain.
The Choppies Shares
About 2009, and before Choppies became a public company, I was approached by Farouk Ismail and Ramachandran Ottapathu with an offer to purchase shares in the company.
The issued share capital of the company then was 300,000. They and several others held shares. Messrs Ismail and Ottapathu offered me 750 shares each out of their own holdings.
This was to be serviced from dividends accruing on the shares from time to time and would go towards the reduction of the purchase price until it was fully discharged, and I would then receive dividends thereafter. The shares were going to be placed in trust with Corporate Services (Pty) Limited pending payment of the purchase price in full. Several other citizens were approached as I had been, and were sold Choppies shares on the same terms and in accordance with the same business model.
The motivation was the empowerment of citizens as hitherto, Ismail and Ottapathu were the shareholders of the company. I was happy to accept. Shorn of all prejudice, who would not?
The sale of shares was reduced into writing by the company secretaries of Choppies and was duly executed by Ismail and Ottapathu as the sellers to my company of 750 shares each, and by me as on behalf of Silver Shadows (Pty) Limited, my company, as the purchaser of the shares. The shares have now been paid for in full. I am told that this is a common business model.
Large Cash Deposit
at Stanbic Bank
A section of the press has alleged that once I attempted to make a large cash deposit running into millions at a branch of Stanbic Bank, and that I was turned back.
This is wholly untrue. At no time have I gone to any branch of Stanbic Bank to deposit any such money. I hereby publicly give Stanbic Bank permission to release to the public the name of the teller who saw me attempt the deposit, and who turned me back. CC TV footage which should be available, had such an attempt taken place, should also be released.
Other matters have been raised by the scandal sheets of the press. Some of those allegations are the creation of a fertile imagination and have never happened, others are a twisted version of an innocent truth, yet others are a gross distortion and exaggeration of the truth, and all concern the confidential affairs of the DISS which I am not at liberty to discuss with the public as that would tend to undermine national security.
I have taken legal advice and my lawyers have confirmed that while I may discuss my personal and private affairs with the public if I wish to do so, only the DISS, with appropriate authority from the appropriate authorities in the government, may share with the public matters of national security, and that I am not at liberty to do so.
It has been suggested that I have declined a meeting with the
Chairman of the Parliamentary Committee on Intelligence and Security Services and certain Church leaders to discuss the allegations made in the press. No such approaches have been made to me.
It has become common practice for some members of the public, who sometimes find themselves confronted by situations in their lives that they may not have immediate answers to, to suspect me. Some of these circumstances are an interrupted or dropped call, house breaking, missing laptops to mention but a few.
As these people vilify me because they don’t have answers they seek to the situations they find themselves in, please remember that I like you, I am a father, husband, son, uncle, nephew, brother to someone.
I am not just a movie character you can cast to play villain in every circumstance of your life.
Blaming me may bring you comfort, Notwithstanding, I acknowledge that due to the nature of the work that I do, there will always be more myth than the truth about me.