Saturday, September 26, 2020

Members of Bangwato royal house top list of people associated with NPF case

At this point, the Broadhurst Magistrate Court is still trying to determine who was involved in the looting of the ill-fated National Petroleum Fund (NPF) and so it would be premature to point a finger of blame at anyone. However, what has merged so far is that names of members of the Central District and Serowe’s most prominent family have been mentioned more than any other among those who have been associated with the NPF case.

It is alleged that as Director of Energy Affairs and chief custodian of the NPF, Kenneth Kerekang released P250 million to the Directorate of Intelligence Services and Security (DISS) which then transferred the money into a bank account of an asset management company owned by Bakang Seretse. Officially, the transfer was to facilitate purchase of armaments but that account is being challenged by the state. In its last 2017 edition, Sunday Standard quoted a highly-placed Ministry of Justice, Defence and Security as saying that “the money ended up in the pockets of some people.”

Bakang Seretse is not too many places removed from the throne of the Bangwato royal house. He is the grandson of Serogola Seretse, a royal family member who served a stint as Bangwato regent following the ouster of Tshekedi Khama who had held such position prior to feuding with heir apparent and future founding Botswana president, Seretse Khama. A reworked charge sheet, which was only unveiled last week, shows a long list of property that Bakang Seretse bought with proceeds from the NPF. Charged alongside him is his younger brother, Mogomotsi Seretse. A third Seretse, Kgosi Serogola Seretse, has not been charged but the Directorate of Corruption and Economic Crime, took interest in and impounded a Land Cruiser truck registered in his name. The vehicle was allegedly bought with money looted from the NPF. Serogola Seretse, who is the elder brother to both Bakang and Mogomotsi, holds the position of Bangwato Tribal Authority in the Bangwato Tribal Administration and is named after his ex-regent grandfather. Earlier this year, a prosecutor told the court that the probe into the NPF case (which is being done by the DCEC and the Financial Intelligence Agency) has led investigators outside Botswana.

“Specifically South Africa, Italy and the United Kingdom. We uncovered materials that are of evidential value that have been hidden in these jurisdiction. And the materials are linked to Bakang and other persons not before court,” the Weekend Post quoted him as saying.

At the top of the Ngwato royal house is former president, Sir Seretse Khama’s first-born son, former Botswana Defence Force commander and Bangwato’s supreme traditional leader, Lieutenant General Seretse Khama Ian Khama. The latter has vehemently denied the allegation but at the March hearing, defence lawyer Kgosietsile Ngakaagae alleged that Khama received an amount he didn’t disclose towards the purchase of a luxury caravan trailer and construction of his retirement home. Khama was the effective oversight authority over DISS because a parliamentary tribunal statutorily assigned such task never convened a single meeting. While the former DISS Director General, Colonel Isaac Kgosi, publicly declared that he didn’t take orders from anyone, the act of parliament that establishes DISS says that its DG reports to the president. This raises the question of whether Kgosi, who was Khama’s aide-de-camp in the army and later his private secretary, notified Khama about his plans to make any purchase with NPF money.

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