Tuesday, November 28, 2023

DCEC clears BDP councillor of criminal wrongdoing

The Directorate on Corruption and Economic Crime (DCEC) has cleared a Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) councillor, Banthasetse Merementsi of criminal wrongdoing in a case that has put the latter on a collision path with Tjako Mpulubusi, a former senior government official.

In a letter ÔÇô now the subject of a defamation case at the High Court, Mpulubusi alleges that Merementsi indulged in “recidivistic surreptitious collusions with a rogue NDB syndicate characterized [by] misinforming authorities, faking acquisitions of attached properties disregarding terms and conditions stipulated in the High Court writ and repeatedly making false statements to public officers while he is under oath.”

Mention of the National Development Bank (NDB) is in the context of a 2001 loan that Mpulubusi got from the bank to develop a farm (called Sedze Ramantswe) in Kodibeleng, a small village 15 kilometres west of Shoshong. With the P272 000 loan, Mpulubusi started a dairy project and started supplying milk to Bushmen pupils attending primary school in the villages of Otse and Mokgenene. Prior to that, Merementsi had been supplying the milk. When the dairy was foreclosed, Mpulubusi, who is the former Director of the National Museum and Art Gallery, had repaid only P54 000 of the NDB loan and in his letter he attributed this misfortune to “misinformation and lies” perpetrated by a deputy sheriff called Keitumetse Waheng.

“There is a conspiracy theory that Deputy Sheriff Waheng and Merementsi had colluded to eliminate the Ramantswe Dairy Farm,” the letter says.

It further alleges that councillor and deputy sheriff connived to “stage the auctioning of my dairy herd”, with the former as the sole bidder, for the sum of P140 000: “This transaction never appeared anywhere in the documents of NDB. Until March 2017, NDB cannot account for any of the items [falsely] auctioned by Waheng to Merementsi.”

On the basis of his conviction about the alleged connivance, Mpulubusi reported the matter to the DCEC and at one point got to meet the former Director General, Rose Seretse, who has since been redeployed to the Botswana Energy Regulatory Authority. DCEC investigators would also meet Mpulubusi in Mahalapye where he produced some more documents to back up his case. It turns out that effort didn’t help.

“These documents were analysed and cross-checked accordingly and they couldn’t change the complexion of the case. As such, the investigations carried out did not reveal any relationship between the Sheriff and Mr. Merementsi that could amount to conflict. The enquiries could also not reveal any element of corruption perpetrated by either the bank employees or court officials who handled the matter. This communique therefore informs you that the enquiries in the matter were closed due to insufficient evidence,” reads a letter from DCEC.

That conclusion notwithstanding, the Directorate says that Mpulubusi is free to pursue the matter through the court which, as it happens, is already happening. Merementsi didn’t take kindly to Mpulubusi’s letter ÔÇô which was addressed to the Council Secretary of the Central District Council ÔÇô and is suing for defamation. Mpulubusi is standing by his story and the Gaborone High Court will hear the matter some time next year.


Read this week's paper