Monday, October 26, 2020

Former CEO to be extradited as DCEC tackles BR long and deep legacy of corruption

The Directorate on Corruption and Economic Crime (DCEC) is expected to apply for the extradition of former Botswana Railways Chief Executive Officer Andrew Lunga to face corruption charges in Botswana. Lunga’s corruption case is the tip of an iceberg as the DCEC cracks down on Botswana Railways’ long legacy of corruption and cover up spanning more than two decades. Sunday Standard has turned up information that while it takes the DCEC about 12 months to investigate reports of corruption, it has taken them two decades to investigate some corruption claims against Botswana Railways because of the seriousness and complexity of the corruption. At least 60 cases of corruption were reported to the DCEC during the period, 25 are being investigated and expected to go for trial while 35 were referred back to management. The DCEC confirmed this week that their investigation against Botswana Railways was initiated in 1994 after receiving the first report of corruption and the last entry in the long running investigation against the parastatal was made three months ago. It has however emerged that a number of star witnesses have died while waiting for the marathon investigations to be concluded and the cases prosecuted. DCEC Deputy Director General, Eugene Wasetso confirmed that the DCEC may be forced to drop some of the cases because some of the star witnesses who had submitted written statements have passed away. Wasetso confirmed that the DCEC is about to conclude its eight year long investigations against former Botswana railways CEO, Andrew Lunga. He explained that Lunga, a Zimbabwean national may be extradited to come and face corruption charges in Botswana.

“Naturally such investigation takes time because of their complexity. Most of our investigations take 12 months to be completed but that is also determined by the gravity of the case and may sometime take much longer that we thought”. Lunga who was fired by Botswana railways eight years ago was given a paltry P5000 (five thousand Pula) golden handshake and told to pack and go immediately.  Lunga went back to Zimbabwe to work for Viamex – an international company which does consultancy work for railways in Southern Africa. He emerged last October as a front ÔÇô runner in the race for CEO of National railways Zimbabwe. He was among five Zimbabweans short listed for the plum post.

An investigative forensic report revealed how Botswana Railways (BR) management hiked contract values by up to 98% almost doubling the cost of procurement. It also emerged that deserving bidders were qualified and contracts awarded to favored suppliers. Botswana railways is also under investigation over the procurement of 37 coaches from the manufacturer, Transnet from South African. Sunday Standard has turned up information that a high profile businessman with links to the ruling Botswana Democratic Party brokered the controversial deal. Although Transnet has reiterated through South African media that they won the contract “following a public and competitive bidding process”, this contradicts a statement by Transport and Communications Minister, Tshenolo Mabeo that Transnet was picked through selective tendering. Efforts to get clarity from BR officials have proved futile as the organization’s Public Relations Manager Kebabonye Morewagae said only the Chief Executive Officer can provide answers to the question regarding the procurement deal.

 

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