Botswana minister reportedly lied under oath in casino license case

The Gaborone High Court has ruled that Botswana's Minister of Investment, Trade and Industry Vincent Seretse lied under oath while testifying under oath regarding an application for review of the Letsatsi Casino license renewal case in Palapye, the Sunday Standard reports.

Bet365 Nigeria mobile app published information on how Letsatsi Casino is fighting for its rights. Letsatsi Casino, located next to the Cresta Botsalo Hotel, had appealed again and again to the Casino Control Board, now called the Gaming Authority, about the latter's refusal to renew the casino's license. Not satisfied with the Gaming Authority's decision, Letsatsatsi appealed to Seretse, and only then was the Authority's previous decision upheld. The casino operator then took the case to the High Court, at which time Seretse filed a responsive affidavit, the result of which cast a shadow over his testimony.

Judge Dr. Zane Kebonang stated in his decision, "When the minister was asked to produce the record of the trial on the application for review, he stated under oath that no such record existed. The minister's position was reflected in the affidavit he filed on August 12, 2016. That no such record existed was in fact a lie. It was, because on August 16, 2016, [the Gambling Authority] did produce the record of the proceedings that petitioner requested," the news agency said.

The defense of the state attorney, Grenor Began, was also rejected by the High Court in an attempt to explain why the minister did not file responsive affidavits within the court's deadline. When documents are not filed in a timely manner, parties can apply for clemency or leniency. Begane asked for clemency for Seretse and provided the court with three reasons for the minister's failure to file on time, one of which was that Seretse was "very busy" preparing for the country's golden jubilee celebration. Begane's other two explanations were that Seretse had gone on an official tour of his constituency in October 2016 and that after it ended, "there were cabinet reshuffles, the creation of new ministries, and the renaming of ministries, which also took up much of the minister's time."

The court found all three of Began's explanations to be untrue, stating, "I found this explanation unacceptable and misleading. It is known that the independence celebration ended on September 30, 2016; that the cabinet reshuffle was initiated by His Excellency the President of the Republic of Botswana, not any minister, and was announced a week before September 30, 2016, and that Minister Seretse was not affected by the reshuffle as he continued to lead the same ministry after the reshuffle," Kebonang said in the decision, adding that Seretse knew about the revised statement as early as August 12, 2016, when he signed an affidavit of response. "The minister's explanation, submitted four months later by his attorney, had all the hallmarks of a controversy designed specifically to try to defeat an unexplained default," the report said.

The court's denial of the motion for leniency made Letsatsatsi's claim irrefutable, resulting in an order renewing Letsatsi's casino license.

This is not the first time Seretse's actions have been questioned; in a similar case involving a license application for Moonlite Casino, the same judge reportedly said the minister acted "illegally and irrationally."

In an effort to expand the gambling market in Botswana, the Gambling Authority will, according to recent reports, issue six more casino licenses to the eight already issued.