About two weeks into his job, Directorate on Corruption and Economic Crime (DCEC) Director General, Brigadier Joseph Mathambo this week fields questions from Mmegi Staff Writer RYDER GABATHUSE.The former army man details his roadmap for the five-year period he will be in office
GABORONE: It was just late last year when Brigadier Joseph Mathambo hung his military fatigue and moved on to serve as the Deputy Director General (operations) at the non-military DCEC.
In the army, Mathambo is adamant that the institution taught officers to be able to function just anywhere they might be deployed.
“One of the things that I did when I finished my engineering training I was appointed as the Inspector general at the BDF,” explains Mathambo who apparently relished his days in the army.
He was the Inspector General from as far 2000.
The Inspector General is an audit function where one conducts scheduled audits in areas such finance, logistics, Human Resource (HR). The officer also performs what is called combat readiness inspection. This entails taking a unit of the army and looking thoroughly at its structure, personnel or their numbers. The annual training programme fulfils the requirement of the army or simply year training plan.
The job entails checking the readiness of a unit at any given time to perform a task. Mathambo headed special investigations at the BDF.
“Most of the investigations you heard about at the BDF relating to welfare systems, I am the one who headed them. It was quite not a very good job because you will get hated by people less clever than you,” he says amidst laughter.
The well- rounded Mathambo asserts that, “that is the same thing I am doing here because generally investigations is an audit of processes and procedures and if things are not in order, you apply what we call constitutional instruments. These are Acts which are normally passed by Parliament.”
Mathambo is a member of the Institute of Internal Auditors. He is certified by Botswana Bureau of Standards (BOBS) as an internal auditor.
One of the things that he learnt from the BDF is that for one to succeed in whatever one does, one has to be impartial.
“It doesn’t mean that when one is a commander of the army for instance, he cannot be audited. I simply audit you and this one of the things that rendered me to struggle in terms of elevation in the army,” he says laughing as after all it is water under the bridge now.
He remained in one rank for about 10 years or so as his mobility was terribly affected as backlash for the work he did.
He performed the function of an auditor before it was actually provisioned for in the BDF Act and he did not have the protection that the current inspector general enjoys at the BDF.
Besides the victimisation he endured as a result of his duties, Mathambo enjoyed his stay at the BDF to the extent that even after his move to the DCEC, “I still feel very much attached to the job at the BDF”.
As a national calling, Mathambo wants to perform his new role to the fullest and accedes that his chemistry is isotopic to the government of the day.
He vowed to perform his functions without fear nor favour and indicated that he accounts to the public just like the media does.
“I will certainly make disclosures that are within the realms of the law. But, I may not be able to provide you with details of specific investigations. When you enquire about general direction, I must be able to provide such,” he said promising to open up the DCEC to the public where possible.
The Mmegi news crew was disappointed when photographer Moreri Sejakgomo was informed by the security at the DCEC headquarters that cameras and laptops were not permitted into the offices.
Sejakgomo had to pack his equipment in his military bag and hand it over in frustration. Lately, Mathambo has been complaining bitterly about the way some media practitioners conducted themselves in terms of covering corruption related matters.
“What I was concerned about was the inaccuracies that were contained in the reports relating to the DCEC. We are in the threshold of the general elections so people need to be told the truth. You can’t polarise people on a false position because you are misguiding the nation,” he says emphasising that the media has to report the truth.
In his view, the truth is important.
“We are friends of the media and we don’t have problems with the fraternity at all.”
Mathambo has an urge to meet with the media because he says he accounts to them and says both the media and the DCEC account to the public.
From the DCEC stand point, Mathambo complained mainly because he was worried about certain leakages from his officers of ongoing cases.
He hails the BDF for its leadership training programmes indicating that what BDF does, it prepares one to lead.
“The core college that we attend is a strategic course that makes and prepares one to become an officer that can be deployed anywhere in the world.
“Normally, after the war college, officers are deployed just anywhere. The training gives you a teaching that tells you that you can function anywhere.”
For example, at the DCEC as an executive, he does not have to conduct investigations in person as all what he does is to check the quality
He is happy that he has acclimatised faster into his new assignment because he worked with the DCEC people all along from his BDF days.
“I am here because of what I was doing at the BDF. There is nothing that has changed as it’s the same job that I performed. I investigated matters, arraigned wrongdoers in the courts of law.”
By his admission, Mathambo is ready to serve the public as he has been given a five-year contract at the DCEC.
When he first arrived at the DCEC last year, he introduced himself as an agent who had come to deal with public perception of corruption.
“That has since not changed, what I told the DCEC officers I will do, has not changed. What has changed is the office I am holding.”
He wants Batswana to understand that the DCEC accounts to the public and as it accounts to the public, it is there to serve the public with diligence.
“What I have seen generally is that people are beginning to lose confidence in the DCEC. The nation is going to move into action, I am not going to spare anyone. The only person in this country who can give you amnesty is the State President.”
Mathambo’s mission is to search every wrongdoer and ensure they conform to the required standards.
“People think I have been put here for a suspicious reason or so. What the government wanted was someone who is impartial. Someone who can stand his grounds and be vertical against corruption and say I can face it head on.”
He describes Botswana as a small country where people know one another and as such Mathambo is adamant that he cannot excuse himself from taking action just for the sake of having a relationship with somebody.
“The findings would be what they are, I process investigations the way they are and would not discount anything for anyone as that will be polluting the investigations. I can’t afford to lose my integrity as it’s for the manner in which I want to appear in my after life.”
Interestingly, he has started cracking the whip internally, with officers caught on the wrong side of the law shown the door as they have no room to spoil the reputation of the institution.
Upon assuming responsibilities at the DCEC, Mathambo strengthened relations with other security agencies such as the Botswana Police, BDF, Directorate on Intelligence and Security (DIS) .
“What I have done is that I am pulling the DCEC towards like-minded law enforcement institutions. I go to the police every now and then just like I do to others as I cannot keep this organisation in isolation.”
He wants to place the DCEC at a level at which it will be easily accessible and will not want to see any form of disconnect between it and other institutions.
Mathambo assures the nation that anyone who has broken the law would have to have his or her day in court. At the moment, his office has resuscitated cases that were previously closed due to insufficient evidence to prosecute. Examples are, the BCL Mine and Pula Steel . Without elaborating, he says he has already removed dust from some prominent cases which have been moving slowly a the DCEC.
“That’s why I was recently outside the country, we are doing our best to ensure that all the wrongdoers are brought to book to show all and sundry that corruption does not pay,” added the DCEC boss.
Asked if he was not at the DCEC to serve someone’s interest, Mathambo was quick to maintain that he was at the DCEC to serve public interest and not individual interest.
“It’s the public that reports here and we investigate such for the people and not for any individual per se.”
Quizzed about a matter that involved his former wife, Masego who was axed from her job as general manager, Customer Care at the Botswana Telecommunications Corporation in 2015, Mathambo indicated it was not part of the cases he was handed recently.
“I heard that the case was closed sometime back and I never handled such a matter. But, I can tell you one time when I was on vacation from the War College in China, I was summoned to the DCEC about the matter unfortunately, I had no idea,” he said indicating that it was also around the period the wife filed for divorce from their marriage.
Narrating his career journey, Mathambo disclosed that when he joined the BDF, he started off as a pilot. But he had to stop flying army planes because he wanted a tangible profession. He then studied electronic engineering with communications systems specialising in telecommunications micro systems radar in the United Kingdom. The programme dealt with ranging equipment such as speed traps and others. He then proceeded to read for an M.Eng (Masters Degree in Engineering) still in the UK, as well as Master of Arts in International Affairs and Masters of Science in Strategic Studies and other related courses.