As he battles to repair his dented integrity, Minister of Land Management, Water and Sanitation Services Prince Maele has singled out prominent “powerful people” including highly placed politicians accusing them of being hell-bent on destroying him.
At the heart of the political-cum-business conspiracy, he says is the cancellation of the P5billion North-South Water Carrier 2 tender that he made unaware that he was stepping on other people’s toes. Recently, media reports that corruption busters, DCEC was keeping Maele under its radar have circulated widely. He is allegedly being investigated for several allegations including receiving bribes and living beyond his means.
BG News first broke the story intimating that it was only a matter of time before law enforcement agencies pounced on a top government official whom they have been investigating for some time.
BG News further revealed that the official is believed to have been having connections with a foreign national businessman or contractor of Asian origin- who operated in Botswana and died in March 2017, in a road accident in Zambia where he is believed to have gone to allegedly participate in a tendering process following an advertisement of a tender placed in the internal market.
The foreign national allegedly died after his car collided and or went under a truck. BG News has learnt that the deceased foreign national allegedly used to assist the top government official in question in many respects including offering both financial and material assistance. It is alleged that in turn the said official turned himself into a philanthropist of some sort, as he is often seen in rural areas donating different types of gifts, including blankets to the needy.
At the time of his death, the foreign national had allegedly advanced money estimated to be in excess of P300 000.00 and had further offered to give him up to about P2million or more.
On Wednesday BG News asked Maele for his side of the story. In response Maele alleged that some of his cabinet colleagues are interested in themselves than the country. However, he was clear that his detractors have nothing to do with his allegiance in the axis of Vice President Mokgweetsi Masisi and Minister Nonofo Molefhi who are contesting the chairmanship of the ruling Botswana Democratic Party at the next month’s congress in Tonota.
Instead, he says their smear campaign is “a way of getting back at me for calling off the P5billion water pipe carrier tender. I want to point out that originally, I supported Minister Tshekedi Khama and when he pulled out of the race, I went to the Masisi camp. I even told my brother Molefhi that I will not be supporting him in Tonota”.
In his rebuttal of the series of newspaper articles that have been circulating, Maele says he feels duty-bound to caution the nation that “this matter may be more than meets the eye”. He says it is politically motivated and stems from a decision he made to unbundle the P5 billion water project into four parts so that it may be more quickly implemented in the interest of Batswana, particularly in the southern part of the country, who often go for months without water.
“Unfortunately, unbundling the project deprived some powerful people a chance to further enrich themselves from the misery of thirsty citizens in the southern part of Botswana. Had the project continued as it were, the project would have been completed in 5-7 years, and cost more than the original price, while the unbundling will see it completed in 2-3 years”, he explained.
He confirmed to BG News that DCEC visited him once and laid claim against him for receiving P300.000.00. The team went on to search his house, but he maintains that he has never heard from them again. Maele confirmed being a friend to the deceased Asian and that he was a close friend who used to give and or donate freebies for him to hand over to his constituents. Maele’s parting shot was to criticise the way DCEC is handling his investigation.
“I agree that as a Minister, I am subject to public scrutiny. I do not mind much because I have nothing to hide. But I will never confuse pursuit of my personal interests with my duties and responsibilities as a Minister in which my country and fellow citizens come first. I take full responsibility for what happens in my Ministry; its successes and failures together. Above all, I have the Constitution of the Republic of Botswana and an oath of office to uphold”.