Almost exactly a year ago, on 17 February 2020, former Permanent Secretary to the President (PSP) Carter Morupisi arrived at the High Court in handcuffs and leg-irons under heavy security escort.
Morupisi, together with his wife, was facing three counts in connection with the misappropriation of funds from the Botswana Public Officers Pension Fund (BPOPF).
The case was the beginning of the end for a man who has been in the civil service for 37 years.
Morupisi was appointed PSP on 28th October 2014, but after serving for five years, President Mokgweetsi Masisi suspended him on 2 September 2019.
The former PSP has since been in and out of courts as his criminal case drags on under the glaring watch of the media.
In this candid interview, Morupisi fields questions from Voice Reporter, Kabelo Dipholo to talk governance, his frustrations, and recent decision to join Botswana Patriotic Front (BPF).
Q: Prior to your suspension and ultimate dismissal from Public Service, there were allegations of a fallout between you and the former President Ian Khama. However, you seem to have mended bridges….
There was never a fallout! People do misinterpret a lot of things.
Even when words were exchanged during the course of duty as a PSP, I was still on talking terms with the former President. I could call him and discuss a lot of things.
What people don’t know is that I differed with SKI many times when he was still President but we still managed to work together until he left office.
Holding divergent views doesn’t necessarily mean people are having a fallout. Not at all.
I’ve always been on talking terms with the former President, and I can call him anytime.
Q: Interesting. Is it true then you shared a Christmas lunch with the former President?
That is not true. What is true is that I shared lunch with Khama here in my house following the unveiling and launch of my wife in the party (BPF).
Q: You recently applied to be a member of the BPF yourself. How did that come about?
Joining BPF was purely my decision, there was no influence from anybody.
My intention was never to rush into politics, but I had time to assess the situation.
When you’re a citizen and you realise that there are certain things that could’ve been done better in terms of governance, political outlook, resource distribution, and allocation to ensure that which used to make this country proud and a decent place to live in is restored.
You’ve to look back and say what’s the point, don’t I have a bit that I can contribute? The circumstances we find ourselves in require men and women to rise up to the occasion to help save the nation.
The BPF is yet to respond to my application, but I’m hopeful that I’ll get a positive response.
Q: Are you running for political office in 2024?
If BPF gives me an opportunity to run for a Parliamentary seat I’ll do that, but I’m not the one to decide.
My sincere submission and focus right now is to go into politics and should an opportunity come about, I’ll take it.
Greek Philosopher Plato once said, ‘If you don’t take an interest in the affairs of your government, then you’re doomed to live under the rule of fools’.
I’m not in any way implying that those in power are fools, but quoting an important reminder to all that they must have an interest in the affairs of the government.
They must rise up and help what I see as a sinking ship.
Q: What do you mean by sinking ship?
Our economy is going down fast but I don’t see any plans that’ll bring a turnaround.
It is important to provide hope and leverage to turn it around and get out of the crisis.
This is where as citizens we should come in. If we don’t redirect the way government business is being run it’s going to be difficult to turn a corner.
Citizens need to provide alternative solutions to the problems they see.
Q: There are those who feel that BPF winning state power would be akin to replacing the BDP with the BDP. Why do you believe the likes of Master Goya and Biggie Butale deserve a second chance to rule?
People think that it’s wrong when you start thinking differently.
There’s nothing wrong with people changing the way they see things.
When you’re in the system where you’re required to have a collective responsibility you have a duty to honour decisions taken even if you hold a different view.
I wish you could attend a Cabinet meeting one day.
Ministers debate and hold divergent views but the ultimate responsibility to make a decision lies with the President, a decision Ministers will then have to own even when they don’t agree with it.
I’ve personally differed with the President on several occasions, but once he takes a decision, I’ve to honor it.
Q: The fallout between President Masisi and his predecessor played out in the public glare for quite some time. Have you ever tried to intervene between the two and are you privy to what could have caused this fallout?
I was duty-bound to intervene and I did on several occasions.
I’m privy to a few things that might have caused the fallout but I don’t think I have a mandate to reveal this to the public.
As a matter of courtesy and respect to both leaders and the Office of the President, I won’t say anything to anyone.
One thing that I, however, emphasize is that they’re Management Policy guidelines relating to how to treat a former President in terms of their entitlements.
It’s not about personalities. You do things according to what the law requires you to do.
Q: Lastly, what are your views on the allegations about election rigging and political party funding?
I listened very carefully to the petitions. Unfortunately, everything was killed technically, so we never learnt what rigging or no rigging went into the elections. So I can’t pass any judgment.
As for political party funding, there’re pros and cons to everything.
I’m not certain if that’ll provide the answers to what we’re looking for.
It’s, however, something we need to discuss. It’s not fair to see individuals left with such hefty amounts after elections.
It’s a lot of money for an individual to pay and the most sensible thing would be for the bill to be taken care of by the political party.