6 March 2019

Botswana: Khama's Fears!

Former President Ian Khama is a man for fighting for survival and relevance and for that he will enlist everything - from seeking emotional sympathy and using those close to him to fight his battles - even if previously they were on opposing ends.

Luckily for him, those fighting from his corner share the same dislike of Khama's own appointed successor - Mokgweetsi Masisi - who seemingly has gone against the script Khama had assumed he would follow. Instead of honouring and worshipping Khama, Masisi is asking for more respect for his office and person from his predecessor.

Khama had hoped that Masisi would appoint his younger brother Tshekedi as his vice - putting him in line to protect Khamas' interests and prolong Khamas influence in the presidency as potential successor. Masisi refused to offer such and in not appointing one of his leading key campaigners Moyo Guma to at least a cabinet post - he created a political rival. Both seemingly won over Pelonomi Venson-Moitoi to put at the top to dethrone Masisi in the upcoming Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) elections for Presidential candidate.

It was all along assumed that it would be easy for Khama and Moitoi to get their district to endorse her presidential campaign by nominating her. When she was beaten, the bitter trio called emergency meeting of symphathisers at Serowe to perform a postmortem of what went wrong while charting the way forward.

Khama's fears

For the first time former President Ian Khama openly spoke about his fears during the fateful Lady Khama Centre meeting last Sunday.

Addressing disgruntled Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) members, Khama said the current administration wants to take him down together with his family and close associates.

"They want to bury us alive," he said with fear and worry written all over his face, adding that he has heard that he will be raided for tax evasion and other related issues.

"I will be the first former president [in Botswana] to be raided and arrested. I have worked for the BDF for 21 years and there are soldiers and former police officers at DISS who have told me that they have been sent to harass Isaac Kgosi," he said.

Khama's statement came a few days after his accountant John Barry Little was raided by officers from Directorate of Intelligence and Security Services (DISS), Botswana Unified Revenue Services (BURS), Botswana Police and Directorate of Corruption and Economic Crime (DCEC).

Immediately after the confiscation of files from Little's company, Corporate Services, Khama through his lawyers demanded that his documents be returned. He reasoned that the raid was on Little but not on him and queried why his files were seized.

Tax evasions

Former President Khama let the cat out that he has been informed that he was going to be raided by the tax agency, protesting that there was no need for the agency to raid him or anyone for that matter.

"If you owe tax, the officials from BURS should approach you and negotiate how you can pay your outstanding balances. There is no need to raid or arrest those who have evaded tax," he said. Highly placed sources have revealed that Khama's companies have not been complying with tax laws with some evading it as they enjoyed his protection during the presidency.

A-Cap investment

Information gathered by this publication has shown that former President Khama has shares at A-Cap Resources which is listed on the Australian Securities Exchange and the Botswana Stock Exchange (BSE), as Botswana's premier uranium company focused on the Letlhakane Uranium Project.

In 2012 the company appointed Anthony Khama, the young brother to former President Khama to the Board of Directors of the company. The appointment is said to have raised eyebrows, with some of the files confiscated from Corporates Services.

Linyanthi Camp and Selinda Reserve

One of the files that are said to have been confiscated from Khama's accountant includes documents relating to the acquisition of Linyanthi Camp in 2010- two years after assuming Presidency. Khama and his personal friend Dereck Russel Jourbert were given the concession in the Chobe National Park.

The park sits on the banks of Linyanti Wetlands - an area that is one of the main sources of water during the drier months.

The granting of the concession was done two years after Khama became the Head of State and was granted by his younger brother Tshekedi Khama who was then Minister of Tourism. Three months after they acquired the Linyanti Camp, President Khama awarded his business partner a Presidential Order of Meritorious Service. The two also own one of the world's most expensive tented camps, Selinda camp in the Selinda Reserve situated in the Okavango Delta.

It was perhaps this investment that shaped Khama's tourism policies, choosing without undertaking full consultation or even approval of Parliament to ban hunting - a move that substantially empoverished communities in the tourism areas while enriching investors in the sector; mostly foreign ones that were granted preferential and lucrative concessions in the area.

Money laundering

Another fear that former President Khama is facing is the issue of money laundering after the use of his Serowe North Development Trust bank account by DISS to transact for some of its official acquisitions.

The account was opened in 1998 when Khama became the MP for Serowe North for donor contribution. The fund used to give food rations to 10 destitute persons in every village in Serowe North constituency, built houses for the destitute, sponsored people for different courses in and outside Botswana and provided sport kits and balls.

After he assumed power in 2008, the account was shifted from what it was doing with the trustees of the trust left in wilderness as DISS took over and used it as a conduit for money laundering and secret operations.

In 2011 when interrogated by DCEC, former DISS Director General Isaac Kgosi admitted that that DIS used the Serowe North Development Trust bank account to make "substantial" payments.

"I said my office can because it's no longer a contribution account it was never closed, so i said my office can use that to change money from Pula to Rands for them to pay the South Africans let it be the South African Revenue Services let it be ATS and so forth for our covert aircraft because we don't have an account in-house. I even one day asked they director if we could use their account to change money from it so that we pay them because they wanted Rands. That is the only time I remember," he revealed in a transcript contained in a docket - referred to as DOC/IF/2011/001166 (27).

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