The lead defence counsel in the case of Minister Ndelu Seretse has defended the decision by President Ian Khama not to appoint a substantive minister during the time that the former minister of Defence, Justice and Security was facing a single count of corruption charge.
For almost twelve months, Edwin Batshu was appointed to act.
And when Seretse was acquitted on Tuesday, the president immediately reappointed him to his previous cabinet portfolio of Defence, Justice and Security.
The decision to immediately reappoint Seretse to cabinet, like that not to appoint a substantive replacement, has ignited conspiracy theories that the President could have been privy to what the court verdict was going to be.
“I would not rule out that based on the charge sheet. Based on the charge, the President knew all along that there was no way Seretse could be convicted,” said Tafa.
A senior Partner at Collins Newman & Company, Tafa said President Khama was the only person named in the charge sheet. He was also the person who it was alleged had been misled.
Tafa said because the President was such a clear potential witness, as both the head of cabinet and also the sole person mentioned in the charge sheet, it was possible that he could easily predict the outcome of the case.
“People must not assume that the President was a passive observer. He was at the heart of the criminal charges as he was the one who was allegedly deceived when the disclosures were allegedly not made by Honourable Seretse to him as the President and Head of cabinet on a police tender that was allegedly awarded by cabinet,” he said sarcastically.
Tafa said, based on the charge sheet, the President knew that Seretse was going to be free.
He said President Khama only appointed Batshu on an acting capacity because it was clear that it was only a matter of time before Seretse was cleared.
“As President, Khama knew very well that Seretse had declared his interests. As leader of cabinet, the President also knew very well that cabinet had not been the one that awarded the police tender as was alleged by the charge sheet.”
But why did the President rush to reappoint Seretse back into cabinet less than 24 hours after he was acquitted?
“When Seretse rushed to resign from cabinet immediately after he was charged nobody complained. Why expect the president to wait after Seretse had been acquitted?” asked Tafa.
Tafa said any attempt by the Director of Prosecutions to appeal would not only be a waste of time but would also “compound DPP problems.”
Meanwhile, the DPP is reported to have filed notice of intention to appeal an acquittal by Gaborone Regional Magistrate, Barnabas Nyamadzabo.
It remains to be seen if Seretse would once again resign from cabinet if the High Court restored the charges.