The three Directorate of Intelligence and Security Services (DIS) Special Agents, who were recently withdrawn as former President Lt Gen Ian Khama’s security personnel, have been transferred to DIS Operations Division with immediate effect.
Among the transferred personnel, two have been demoted to lower ranks but their present salary scale was maintained, WeekendPost has established. The three agents were earlier this year, charged with ‘absent without leave’ and summoned for a disciplinary hearing. The officers form part of a five men team of trusted aides of former President Khama, dating back from their hay days at Botswana Defence Force (BDF), where he was their boss.
The bone of contention is that; the trio were to accompany former President Khama on his controversial trip to India, which the government declined earlier this year. WeekendPost learnt that the officers were warned through a telephone call not to accompany the former President on his controversial trip. It is understood that in their response, the officers asked that an official communique be routed to the former President’s office where they were currently stationed.
No message was conveyed as per their request and they made assumptions based on the fact that their per diem had been authorised by DIS Director General, Peter Magosi, that it was a go ahead. The letter had not reached their offices and in a bold move, the trio, even though they had not received their per diem, flanked former president Ian Khama, as he made his controversial trip to India. Their per diem however, was turned down at the last hour.
Upon their return, the three were summoned to the DIS office where they were charged with 6 counts of absent without leave for the four working days they spent in India. The former president has been at loggerheads with government over the India trip ever since. On the 26th of February 2019, the then Permanent Secretary to the Office of the President (PSP), Carter Morupisi authored a savingram to the Senior Private Secretary to the former President, in reference to his proposed trip to Dharamsala, India from 8th -12th March 2019.
Khama had been invited by the Central Tibetan Administration in India, to officiate at the 60th National Uprising Day on the 10th March 2019. Khama’s office had written to the Office of the President on 22nd February 2019, informing them of the trip and implored the office for financial and logistical support.
“As you may recall, Botswana subscribes to the “One China Policy”, and essentially this means we regard Tibet as part of China. Furthermore, Botswana’s relations with the People’s Republic of China suffered on the issue of Tibet and therefore as a country we do not intend to engage in anything which can sour our relations with China. Botswana does not recognise Tibet as an Independent State”, reads Morupisi’s savingram in part.
However, Khama released a media statement confirming his trip to India and also his scheduled audience with His Holiness, the Dalai Lama. He confirmed that he shall be among other dignitaries and human rights activists. Khama’s lawyers were at the time working around the clock to get the matter resolved ‘amicably.’
According to their deployment letters signed by DIS Director General Peter Magosi, dated 20th August 2019, Magosi said it is common cause that on 22nd May 2019, they appeared before Class II Disciplinary Board for 6 counts contrary to the Directorate Code of Conduct (“Code”). Magosi said at the conclusion of the said proceedings and during sentencing, the Board recommended that as punishment, their ranks ought to be reduced.
“I have thoroughly persuaded and studied the record of proceedings and take cognizance of the fact that there was, in my view, duplication of charges in that the charges that you faced emanated from the same facts. I must state that for purposes of this exercise; which is whether or not I should confirm the sentence imposed by the Board, I shall only consider the charge relating to Disobedience of lawful instruction contrary to section 22 (i) (a) in appreciation of the prejudicial nature of a duplication of charges”, the letter read.
Magosi also said he has taken cognizance of the fact that they are first offenders and that they may still make the necessary self-introspection into their conducts if they still harbor the desire to still pursue their careers in the organization. However he warned them of the negative repercussions of their conduct of not obeying instructions from those that have authority over them. He said such conduct has implications both at organizational and individual level.
“Failure to obey a lawful instruction when such order was expressed and unequivocally communicated to them and when they could not undertake such other processes because of the existence of such order, constitutes a serious violation of the established order of the Directorate”. The Spy Chief continued by saying he cannot emphasize the importance and compliance to lawful orders being at the very heart of any intelligence organization, DIS not being any exception. “Proceedings to undertake the trip to India when there was a lawful order from your superior can only develop a culture of lawlessness in the organization which ought to be condemned out rightly”.
He said as an intelligence officer, and having other officers that they lead in the organization, their conduct has to be exemplary and such should go a long way in demonstrating their conduct as officers who are dedicate to diligently further the interests of the organization. “On the above, and having considered and applied my mind to all the circumstances, I adopt the recommendation of the Board that your rank ought to be reduced.
It is my sincere belief that a reduction in the rank as recommended by the Board, will serve as a reminder that you turn a new leaf and display the most acceptable conduct and restore the confidence in the organization that you are dependable. You have the right to appeal against conviction and/ or sentence to the Intelligence and Security Council within seven (7) days of receipt of this letter”.
WeekendPost can confirm that the trio have exercised their rights and appealed the conviction by the Disciplinary Board and sources close to the developments said the officers will also go ahead with the court proceedings. The trio are represented by local law firm, Ramalepa Attorneys. Another source within the Directorate said this is yet another one of Peter Magosi’s plan orchestrated at ousting former DIS DG Col Isaac Kgosi’s loyalists.
“It is believed, there are five DIS Special Agents allied with Kgosi stationed at the former President’s office. With three gone, two are left and they remain under heavy scrutiny and surveillance. Some of them have worked with Khama for more than 25 years from BDF”, said the source. However, former President Ian Khama told this publication that some people have been making donations at his office and he will compensate them for their loss. Khama said what happened was unfortunate because, the officers were within their lines of duty. “Had they remained behind and something happened to me, they would have been blamed for failing to carry- out their duties”, Khama stated.
Here is how one Permanent Secretary encapsulates the clear tension between democracy and bureaucracy in Botswana: “President Mokgweetsi Masisi’s Government is behaving like a state surrounded with armed forces in order to capture it or force its surrender. The situation has turned so volatile, for tomorrow is not guaranteed for us top civil servants.
These are the painful results of a personalized civil service in our view as permanent secretaries”. Although his deduction of the situation may be summed as sour grapes because he is one of the ‘victims’ of the reshuffle, he is convinced this is a perfect description of the rationale behind frequent changes and transfers characterising the current civil service.
The result of it all, he said, is that “there is too much instability at managerial and strategic levels of the civil service leading to a noticeable directionless civil service.” He continued: “Changes and transfers are inevitable in the civil service, but to a permissible scale and frequency. Think of soccer team coach who changes and transfers his entire squad every month; you know the consequences?”
The Tsunami has hit hard at critical departments and Ministries leaving a strong wave of uncertainty, many demoralised and some jobless. In traditional approaches to public administration, democracy gives the goals; and bureaucracy delivers the technical efficiency required for implementation. But the recent moves in the civil service are indicative of conflicting imperatives – the notion of separation between politicians and administrators is becoming blurred by the day.
“Look at what happened to Prisons and BDF where second in command were overlooked for outsiders, and these are the people who had sacrificially served for donkey’s years hoping for a seat at the ladder’s end. The frequency of the changes, at times affecting the same Ministry or individual also demonstrates some level of ineptitude, clumsiness and lack of foresight from those in charge,” remarked the PS who added that their view is that the transfers are not related to anything but “settling scores, creating corruption opportunities and pushing out perceived dissident and former president, Ian Khama’s alleged loyalists and most of these transfers are said to be products of intelligence detection.”
Partly blaming Khama for the mess and his unwillingness to let go, the PS dismissed Masisi for falling to the trap and failing to outgrow the destructive tiff. “Khama is here to stay and the sooner Masisi comes to terms with the fact that he (Masisi) is the state President, the better. For a President to still be making these changes and transfers signals signs of a confused man who has not yet started rolling his roadmap, if at all it was ever there. I am saying this because any roadmap comes with key players and policies,” he concluded.
The Ministry of Health and Wellness seems to be the most hard-hit by the transfers, having experienced three Permanent Secretaries changes within a year and a half. Insiders say the changes have everything to do with the Ministry being the centre of COVID-19 tenders and economic opportunities. “The buck stops with the PS and no right-thinking PS can just allow glaring corruption under his watch as an accounting officer. Technocrats are generally law abiding, the pressure comes with politically appointed leaders racing against political terms to loot,” revealed a director in the Ministry preferring anonymity.
The latest transfer of Kabelo Ebineng she says was also motivated by his firm attitude against the President’s blue-eyed Task Team boys. “The Task Team wants to own the COVID-19 pandemic and government interventions and always cry foul when the Ministry reasserts itself as mandated by law,” said the director who added that Masisi who was always caught between the crossfire decided on sacrificing Ebineng to the joy of his team as they (Task Team) were in the habit of threatening to resign citing Ebineng as the problem.
Ebineng joins the Office of the President as a deputy Coordinator (government implementation and coordination office).The incoming PS is the soft-spoken Grace Muzila, known and described by her close associates as a conformist albeit knowledgeable.
One of the losers in the grand scheme is Thato Raphaka who many had seen as the next PSP because of his experience and calm demeanour following a declaration of interest in the Southern African Development Community (SADC) Secretary post by the current PSP, Elias Magosi.
But hardly ten months into his post, Raphaka has been transferred out to the National Strategy Office in what many see as a demotion of some sort. Other notable changes coming into OP are Pearl Ramokoka formerly with the Employment, Labour and Productivity Ministry coming in as a Permanent Secretary and Kgomotso Abi as director of Public Service Reforms.
One of the ousted senior officers in the Office of the President warned that there are no signs that the changes and transfers will stop anytime soon: “If you are observant you would have long noticed that the changes don’t only affect senior officers but government decisions as well. A decision is made today and the government backtracks on it within a week. Not only that, the President says this today, and his deputy denies it the following day in Parliament,” he warned.
Some observers have blamed the turmoil in the civil service partly to lack of accountable presidential advisers or kitchen cabinet properly schooled on matters of statecraft. They point out that politicians or those peripheral to them should refrain from hampering the technical and organizational activities of public managers – or else the party (reshuffling) won’t stop.
In the view expressed by some Permanent Secretaries, Elias Magosi, has not really been himself since joining the civil service; and has cut a picture of indifference in most critical engagements; the most notable been a permanent secretaries platform which he chairs. As things stand there is need to reconcile the imperatives of democracy and democracy in Botswana. Peace will rein only when public value should stand astride the fault that runs between politicians and public managers.
Former Permanent Secretary to the President, Carter Morupisi, is fighting for survival in a matter in which the State has charged him and his wife, Pinnie Morupisi, with corruption and money laundering.
Morupisi has joined a list of prominent figures that served in the previous administration and who have been accused of corruption during their tenure in office. While others have been emerging victorious, Morupisi is yet to find that luck. The High Court recently dismissed his no case to answer application.
United States President, Joe Biden, is faced with a decision to make relating to the Covid-19 vaccine intellectual property after 175 former world leaders and Nobel laurates joined the campaign urging the US to take “urgent action” to suspend intellectual property rights for Covid-19 vaccines to help boost global inoculation rates.
According to the world leaders, doing so would allow developing countries to make their own copies of the vaccines that have been developed by pharmaceutical companies without fear of being sued for intellectual property infringements.
“A WTO waiver is a vital and necessary step to bringing an end to this pandemic. It must be combined with ensuring vaccine know-how and technology is shared openly,” the signatories, comprising more than 100 Nobel prize-winners and over 70 former world leaders, wrote in a letter to US President Joe Biden, according to Financial Times.
A measure to allow countries to temporarily override patent rights for Covid related medical products was proposed at the World Trade Organization by India and South Africa in October, and has since been backed by nearly 60 countries.
Former leaders who signed the letter included Gordon Brown, former UK Prime Minister; François Hollande, former French President; Mikhail Gorbachev, former President of the USSR; and Yves Leterme, former Belgian Prime Minister.
In their official communication, South Africa and India said: “As new diagnostics, therapeutics and vaccines for Covid-19 are developed, there are significant concerns [about] how these will be made available promptly, in sufficient quantities and at affordable prices to meet global demand.”
While developed countries have been able to secure enough vaccine to inoculate their citizens, developing countries such as Botswana are struggling to source enough to swiftly vaccine their citizens, something which world leaders believe it would work against global recovery therefore proving counter-productive.
Since the availability of vaccines, Botswana has been able to secure only 60 000 doses of vaccines, 30 000 as donation as from the Indian government, while the other 30 000 was sourced through COVAX facility. Canada, has pre-ordered vaccines in surplus and it will be able to vaccinate each of its citizens six times over. In the UK and US, it is four vaccines per person; and two each in the EU and Australia.
For vaccines produced in Europe, developing countries are forced to pay double what European countries are paying, making it more expensive for already financially struggling economies. European countries however justify the price of vaccines and that they deserve to buy them cheap since they contributed in their development.
It is evident that vaccines cannot be made available immediately to all countries worldwide with wealthy economies being the only success story in that regard, something that has been referred to as a “catastrophic moral failure”, head of the World Health Organisation (WHO), Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus.
The challenge facing developing countries is not only the price, but also the capacity of vaccine manufactures to be able to do so to meet global demand within a short time. The proposal for a patent waiver by India and South Africa has been rejected by developed countries, known for hosting the world leading pharmaceutical companies such US, European Union, the United Kingdom, and Switzerland.
According to the Financial Times, US business groups including pharmaceutical industry representatives, have urged Biden to resist supporting a waiver to IP rules at the WTO, arguing that the proposal led by India and South Africa was too “vague” and “broad”.
The individuals who signed the letter, including Nobel laureates in economics as well as from across the arts and sciences, warned that inequitable vaccine access would impact the global economy and prevent it from recovering.
“The world saw unprecedented development of safe and effective vaccines, in major part thanks to US public investment,” the group wrote. “We all welcome that vaccination rollout in the US and many wealthier countries is bringing hope to their citizens.”
“Yet for the majority of the world that same hope is yet to be seen. New waves of suffering are now rising across the globe. Our global economy cannot rebuild if it remains vulnerable to this virus.” The group warned that fully enforcing IP was “self-defeating for the US” as it hindered global vaccination efforts. “Given artificial global supply shortages, the US economy already risks losing $1.3tn in gross domestic product this year.”