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Masisi deserves commendation for suspending Morupisi

Publishing Date : 10 September, 2019

NDULAMO ANTHONY MORIMA
EAGLE WATCH


Writing for Botswana Daily News, Botswana Press Agency (BOPA)’s Keone Kealeboga, on 3rd September 2019, reported that ‘…Morupisi, his wife, Pinny Morupisi, and her company R7 Group, briefly appeared before Regional Magistrate - South yesterday on charges of abuse of office, receiving a bribe and money laundering…’



He continued to report that ‘Morupisi and his co-accused were read their charges, but their pleas were reserved…’, stating that ‘…on the count of abuse of office, Morupisi is alleged to have on 11 November 2014, while holding the position of board chairperson  of the Botswana Public Officers Pension Fund (BPOPF), without authority and final resolution of the board, signed a contract with Capital Management Botswana (CMB) on behalf of the pension fund, authorising CMB to administer BPOPF funds…’


He further reported that ‘…On the charge of acceptance of bribery by a public officer, particulars of the offence are that while employed as PSP and therefore a public officer, Morupisi, signed a contract with CMB on behalf of BPOPF and on 11 May 2017 acting together with his wife, received on behalf of R7 Group, a valuable consideration in the form of a Toyota Land Cruiser Pick-Up….’


Kealeboga further reported that ‘…The third count, that of money laundering, jointly charges the first and second accused, Morupisi and R7 Group. The particulars are that on 15 May 2017, the two accused laundered an amount of R630 988 (P462 260) which was proceeds of crime…’ On 4th September 2019, the Botswana Daily News reported that ‘The Office of the President informs the public that the president Dr Mokgweetsi Masisi has suspended the Permanent Secretary to the President Mr Carter Morupisi from office with effect from 2nd September 2019.’


Before I proceed with this article, I wish to state that Morupisi, like every citizen of this country, is to be presumed to be innocent until proven guilty. This is a constitutional right that every human being, including Morupisi, is entitled to. Therefore, in the absence of compelling reasons as to why he should have been denied bail, the argument that he should have been denied bail simply because other people charged with similar offences before were denied bail cannot be sustained.


In deciding to admit him to bail, the Court was enjoined to consider no other factor than the nature and seriousness of the offence; the likelihood or otherwise of him leaving Botswana before trial; whether or not he would be likely to be imprisoned should he be convicted and the question generally of what sentence or other measure would be likely to be passed in the event of conviction; as well as his character, antecedents, associations and community ties.


The other factors are whether or not he has fulfilled his obligations where he has, in any previous criminal proceedings, if any, been granted bail; and the strength of the case likely to be made out against him. I have faith in our justice system, and believe that the fact that Morupisi was admitted to bail means that he was deserving of bail. So, the suggestion that he was somehow favoured in being admitted to bail is not justified. The same applies to the argument that H.E Dr. Masisi should have dismissed Morupisi from work outright. What if he is later discharged and/or acquitted?


Morupisi, like all citizens, is entitled to due process. Even if he is convicted of the criminal charges he faces, he is to be accorded due process with respect to his rights as an employee. For instance, he is entitled to the right to a hearing before any adverse action is taken against him. In fact, strictly speaking, he should have been accorded the right to a hearing even before his suspension. Advisedly, Morupisi should have been written a letter requiring him to show cause why he should not be suspended.


The foregoing notwithstanding, I am of the view that H.E Dr. Masisi acted prudently in suspending Morupisi considering the sensitive position he holds. As PSP Morupisi is effectively the administrative president and continuing in office during his case would be perilous not only for the investigations, but also for government generally.  


Following Morupisi’s suspension, social media was abuzz with several conspiracy theories. Some claimed that nothing will ultimately happen to Morupisi since this is a political stunt calculated to position H.E Dr. Masisi as intolerant of corruption and ready to take action against any person, including his allies. They say the fact that this comes less than two months before the general elections is intended to have the matter fresh on Batswana’s minds when they go to the polls on 23rd October 2019 so that they vote for Masisi’s Botswana Democratic Party (BDP).


According to this theory, H.E Dr. Masisi conspired with the Directorate on Corruption and Economic Crime (DCEC) and the Directorate on Public Prosecutions (DPP) to conjure up fake charges against Morupisi to present himself as a champion of the fight against corruption in order to win votes. For this theory to be true, it would mean that Morupisi would have agreed to sacrifice himself and his wife for the sake of H.E Dr. Masisi’s political career. It would mean that he is prepared to destroy his reputation for the sake of securing H.E Dr. Masisi’s political career.


Of course, Morupisi has demonstrated his loyalty to H.E Dr. Masisi, and has gone to great lengths to defend him, especially in relation to his tussle with former president Lieutenant General Dr. Seretse Khama Ian Khama, but can he be so naïve as to go to such an extent as to almost irreparably destroy his and his family’s life and legacy?    


For this conspiracy theory to be true, it would mean that the DCEC and the DPP are so much politicised and under H.E Dr. Masisi’s whims that they would let themselves to be weaponised for political purposes. Granted, the manner in which the directors of the DCEC and the DPP are appointed does not guarantee their independence from the Executive, especially the state President in whom resides the sole power to appoint them, but can they go to such folly, especially knowing how robustly their action will be scrutinised by our vigilant judiciary?  


Though politicians are often prepared to go to any length to secure their political careers, can H.E. Dr. Masisi really go to such an extent? Does he really need to go to such an extent to secure his presidency? Is his presidency really at stake that he needs to risk this much? Is there really a lot at stake in this year’s general elections to warrant such callous action by him?


In my view, I do not think Morupisi would be so much blinded by loyalty to H.E Dr. Masisi that he would voluntarily inflict such irreparable harm on himself and his family, especially considering the political ambitions his wife and him apparently have. Similarly, I do not think the directors and agents of the DCEC and DPP can be so foolish as to let themselves be used in such a way.


I also do not think there is any threat to H.E Dr. Masisi’s presidency as to go to such level of desperation. As I have argued elsewhere, I think the BDP is almost guaranteed of victory in this year’s general elections, something that will ensure that H.E Dr. Masisi continues as president. In my view, therefore, those who are spreading the conspiracy theories surrounding Morupisi’s suspension are doing so to minimise the admirable action that H.E Dr. Masisi has taken which is in keeping with good governance.

 
We have always called for such action to be taken when high profile individuals were facing corruption allegations and or charges. We cannot now ascribe such commendable action to malice or malady in order to minimise H.E Dr. Masisi’s achievement. You would remember that after assuming office in April 2018, H.E Dr. Masisi left, out of his inaugural cabinet, some people who were facing corruption allegations. In doing so he did not say those are guilty, but he demonstrated his commitment to good governance, knowing full well that even mere allegations surrounding such a steward as a government minister had far reaching consequences for the country.

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