Wednesday, March 29, 2023

Sleaze and dirty tricks in Botswana arms deals

A confidential report by former Botswana Defence Force commander, Lt Gen Louis Fisher provided a peep show into the sleaze and dirty tricks in the Botswana arms deals. The then Chairman of the Defence Council Lt gen Mompati Merafhe found himself investigating reports that suppliers were bribing the army command (known to this paper) and depositing millions of Pula into their foreign bank accounts in Denmark.

The fight for billions of Pula in the opaque arms deals became dirtier after 1998, when President Khama left the army to join politics and the company owned by his brothers Seleka springs which was hitherto the BDF’s major supplier suddenly started losing lucrative deals.

In February 1999, hardly a year after Khama left the army; Seleka Springs lost a multi-million Pula tender to carry out the army F-5 aircraft periodic inspection and the avionics upgrade for C-130 aircraft. Immediately thereafter, Seleka Springs lost another tender when the army decided to replace their Land Rovers with ACMAT trucks supplied by Ishmael Nshakashokwe.

Anonymous whistle blowers accused the then commander, Louis Fisher of having a personal interest in ACTMAT, a claim he flatly denied and dared his accusers to report him to the Directorate on Corruption and Economic Crime (DCEC) . “In order to understand exactly the nature of these allegations ÔÇô the accusers need to be more specific about what it is they are referring to. Otherwise the commander is aware of only his professional interest in the matter. The onus remains upon the accusers to forward any information they have to the relevant authorities i.e. DCEC””, wrote Fisher in his response.

Seleka Springs then lost another tender for the supply of Combat Fighting Vehicles which was awarded to Mr Mbaakanyi who was representing Mowag. Seleka Springs was representing Steyr.

Anonymous whistle blowers started writing letters to the local media and complained to the Defence Council and the then Vice President Lt gen Ian Khama about corruption in the army. Among those who were maligned in the corruption complaints were the then commander of the BDF, Louis Fisher, his deputy Tebogo Masire Col Bakwena, Col Basupi and Lt Col Thobosi. The corruption claims against them, however were never proven.

There were claims that a South African based agent of an American company bribed the BDF command and paid money into the account of one of the army big shorts (name withheld) and that the money was then shared among BDF leaders who were close to the contract.


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