Saying that Finance Minister, Kenneth Matambo’s case is far different from that of former Deputy Finance Minister, Simon Moyo Guma, some insiders at the Attorney General’s Chambers (AG) have joined the fray surrounding the Finance Minister’s stay in cabinet while he faces a graft charge.
Government lawyers who spoke to the Sunday Standard on condition of anonymity deem as disingenuous President Ian Khama’s reasoning that he will not sack the Minister of Finance on account of having been previously misled to fire another minister in the same portfolio.
Sources argue that the circumstances that led to the sacking of Samson Guma Moyo as Assistant Minister of Finance and Development Planning are by no measure comparable to what the Minister of Finance and Development Planning, Kenneth Matambo, finds himself in.
In a nutshell, sources say, Moyo was never charged with corruption by the Directorate on Public Prosecutions (DPP) while Matambo has been. They insist it was Khama’s choice to fire Moyo before he was formally charged by the DPP.
“He could have waited till the matter was registered with the courts. The fallout over Moyo’s sacking should lie with him,” sources told the Sunday Standard.
Khama has decided to keep Matambo in cabinet despite the fact that the Finance Minister is facing a graft charge amid growing calls from the opposition, members of the civil society and the media for him to step down and clear his name as well as protect the integrity of his office.
In an interview with the Botswana Guardian recently, Khama mentioned that he was ‘misled’ by the relevant authorities to sack Moyo and therefore he will not encourage him to resign.
“The question is: who are these authorities who misled the President if in fact there are any? Why would they deliberately mislead him? There are only three parties he could be referring to – the Attorney General, the Directorate on Corruption and Economic Crime and the Directorate on Public Prosecutions,” AG sources told the Sunday Standard.
Insiders say it is regrettable that the President fails to say why he is of the view that he was misled.
“What is plausible is that the DCEC notified him [Khama] that they are investigating Guma Moyo for possible corruption and that he could be prosecuted. It turns out that the Guma Moyo docket goes to the DPP, who then decides not to charge him. This sort of process is normal. However, Khama then blames the agencies mentioned for what led to Moyo’s dismissal, and justifies it with Matambo’s scenario,” another source offers.
While insiders say Matambo should step down, they say the President may have, in one way or the other, blemished the integrity of the three authorities (DCEC, AG and DPP).
“The President must be challenged on his allegation that the government’s legal spokespersons misled him in what appears to have been a political plot – at least that is what it sounds like- yet these authorities have never been criticised until the Moyo matter. Now concerns have arisen from the man on the street facing legal challenges from these authorities. The spectre of malicious prosecution becomes real simply because of the Moyo matter while circumstances on that matter are different from the Matambo issue,” sources point out.
Sources fear a perception may have been created that prosecutors wanted to maliciously prosecute Moyo and others. They wonder whether, in situations where cabinet ministers are prosecuted, Khama would encourage them not to resign pending the finalisation of their matters despite the negative consequences that will ensue.
“There are negative consequences that will ensue. For instance, imagine the compromised view many will take in the event that Matambo is acquitted. What will this do to the image of the judiciary? And, of course, our image as a country if the world hears that a Minister of Finance is being prosecuted for corruption yet he is still in office.”