Monday, September 28, 2020

Guma-Moyo faces another abuse of office complaint

Hardly a week after Botswana Energy and Regulatory Authority CEO Rose Seretse complained to the National Assembly that Chairman of the Parliamentary Committee on Statutory Bodies Samson Guma Moyo used his office to pursue vendetta against her, another parastatal CEO has come forward with a similar complaint.

Botswana Power Corporation CEO Dr Stefan Schwarzfischer last week accused Guma Moyo of using his position as Chairman of the Parliamentary Committee on Statutory Bodies to launch his planned business deal with the power utility. The BPC boss revealed that Guma-Moyo has interest in setting up a 100MW coal fired plant in Francistown.

Schwarzfischer who appeared before the Parliamentary Committee on Statutory Bodies complained that Guma-Moyo’s line of questioning was motivated by personal interest to gain “inside information about BPC projects” which he could use for his power business project. Instead of asking questions about the BPC accounting system, Moyo spent a lot of time quizzing Schwarzfischer about BPC projects.

Schwarzfischer told Sunday Standard that Guma-Moyo had earlier indicated that he would not be chairing the session in which BPC appeared before the committee as he was conflicted because he has an interest in going into business with BPC with his solar power project in Francistown.

Schwarzfischer said he was shocked when Guma-Moyo went back on his undertaking and went ahead to chair the session.

The BPC CEO said on the day he was to appear before the committee, he could tell from the onset that there were plans to intimidate him as Guma threatened to have him arrested if he failed to appear before the Committee at 1100 Hours.

In what appeared to be a good cop bad cop strategy, Guma-Moyo allegedly later apologised to Schwarzfischer saying there was mix-up because he was supposed to appear at 1400 hours instead of 1100 hours.

Schwarzfischer who was at the time not in the capital city said “I came to Gaborone because I was scared of being arrested, for something I could not do anything about, it was just another threat. The acting chairman said in public he has summoned me to be here and he would send the police to arrest me.”

He said he was grilled for eight hours by the committee and to his surprise the chairman who initially had declared that he was conflicted was now part of panel and was leading in asking grueling questions.

He stated that after eight hour of being subjected to difficult questions, Guma later approached him and apologized that he “should not take it personal.”

Schwarzfischer told Sunday Standard that during the first two hours of the session, Guma-Moyo’s questions were about the planning capacity of BPC and production costs of BPC solar plant he “was working on in order to gain more facts and figures for his own business.”

The BPC CEO said “the way the questions were couched was unprofessional.  He tried to manipulate every statement I made.”

Schwarzfischer said Guma-Moyo’s badgering and line of questioning was calculated to push him to the brink and he nearly lost his cool but he was able to maintain his professionalism.

“The questions were not on accounts but about projects.  Only 15 minutes of questioning was on account and the rest were on projects,” he said.   

Stopping short of accusing Guma of xenophobia Schwarzfischer told Sunday Standard that Guma-Moyo “said I don’t love this country. That is wrong. I like this country. I’m here to reorganize and transform BPC. I’m here on purposes somebody likes it or not it comes with the transformation process.”

Asked if he accepted Guma-Moyo’s apology, Schwarzfischer said “The question is for you; as Batswana are you conformable with this kind of behaviour of your MPs in public in dealing with professional matters. It is not for me, he does not need to apologize to me or BPC but to the nation. I’m a guest in this country. It is for locals to say this is not the way things are done. There is something wrong with these committee’s meetings, it needs to be addressed.”

When asked whether he would take up the matter with the Speaker of the Assembly, Schwarzfischer said he has not yet made up his mind on that.  

Approached for comment by the Sunday Standard, Guma-Moyo declined to comment.

Guma-Moyo is currently facing an investigation by the National Assembly for allegedly abusing his power as Chairman of the Parliamentary Committee on Statutory Bodies to pursue vendetta against former Directorate on Corruption and Economic Crime (DCEC) Director General Rose Seretse.

Seretse who is currently Chief Executive Officer of Botswana Energy and Regulatory Authority (BERA) has filed a complaint with the Clerk of the National Assembly that Guma

Moyo confided in some friends that he would use his position to “fix” her for freezing his business accounts when she was the DCEC Director General.

Guma Moyo who was three years ago investigated by the DCEC on allegations of corruption and bribery has openly vented out against what he termed a politically motivated investigation. Speaking at a recent #Team Masisi rally in Tonota, Guma Moyo could not hide his bitterness when he spoke of how he got the shock of his life In May 2015 when he learnt from his bank manager at Standard Chartered Bank that they received instructions from the highest office that his accounts be frozen. At the time, Seretse was the DCEC boss lady.

In her complaint letter to the Clerk of the National Assembly Seretse alleges that she received a tip off before appearing before Guma Moyo’s watchdog committee as accounting officer of Botswana Energy and Regulatory Authority (BERA).

Seretse stated that Guma Moyo allegedly boasted that he was itching to get his revenge against Seretse even before she appeared before the committee accompanied by BERA chairperson Bernard Ndove recently.

The letter by Seretse suggests that Guma Moyo violated Parliamentary ethics that bar members from pursuing personal interest through official action.  

In a response to a Sunday Standard questionnaire, Principal Public Relations Officer Caroline Bogale-Jaiyeoba said “kindly be advised that the letter you are referring to was not addressed to the Speaker of the National Assembly as you all allege but rather to the Clerk of the National Assembly.”

She added that “…further that the purpose and contents of the said letter cannot be shared with any person because of its confidentiality.”

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Sunday Standard September 27 – 3 October

Digital copy of Sunday Standard issue of September 27 - 3 October, 2020.