Khama’s security vows to fight back
By Dave Baaitse
The three Directorate of Intelligence and Security Services (DIS) Special Agents, who were recently withdrawn as former President Lt Gen Ian Khama’s security personnel, have been transferred to DIS Operations Division with immediate effect.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.
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ENVIRONMENT ISSUES: Masisi asks Virginia for help
President Mokgweetsi Masisi says the issue of sustainable natural resources management has always been an important part of Botswanaâ€™s national development agenda.
Masisi was speaking this week on the occasion of a public lecture at Virginia Polytechnic, under theme, â€śMerging Conservation, Democracy and Sustainable Development in Botswana.â€ť
Botswana, according to Masisi, holds the view that the environment is fragile and as such, must be managed and given the utmost protection to enable the achievement of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
â€śIt is necessary that we engage one another in the interchange of ideas, perspectives, visualizations of social futures, and considerations of possible strategies and courses of action for sustainable development,â€ť said Masisi.
On the other hand, dialogue, in the form of rigorous democratic discourse among stakeholders presents another basis for reconfiguring how people act on their environments, with a view to conserving its resources that â€śwe require to meet our socio-economic development needs on a sustainable basis,â€ť Masisi told attendees at the public lecture.
He said government has a keen interest in understanding the epidemiology and ecology of diseases of both domestic and wild animals. â€śIt is our national interest to forestall the dire consequences of animal diseases on our communities livelihoods.â€ť
President Masisi hoped that both Botswana and Virginia could help each other in curbing contagious diseases of wildlife.
â€śWe believe that Virginia Tech can reasonably share their experiences, research insights and advances in veterinary sciences and medicines, to help us build capacity for knowledge creation and improve efforts of managing and containing contagious diseases of wildlife. The ground is fertile for entering into such a mutually beneficial partnership.â€ť
When explaining environmental issues further, Masisi said efforts of conservation and sustainable development might at times be hampered by the emergence and recurrence of diseases when pathogens mutate and take host of more than one species.
â€śWater pollution also kills aquatic life, such as fish, which is one of humanityâ€™s much deserved sources of food. In this regard, One Health Approach imposes ecological responsibility upon all of us to care for the environment and the bio-diversity therein.â€ť
He said the production and use of animal vaccines is an important space and tool for conservation, particularly to deal with trans-border animal diseases.
â€śIn Botswana, our 43-year-old national premier pharmaceutical institution called Botswana Vaccine Institute has played its role well. Through its successful production of highly efficacious Foot and Mouth vaccines, the country is able to contain this disease as well as supply vaccines to other countries in the sub-region.:
He has however declared that there is need for more help, saying â€śWe need more capacitation to deal with and contain other types of microbial that affect both animals and human health.â€ť
Masisi saddened by deaths of elephant attacks
President Mokgweetsi Masisi has expressed a strong worry over elephants killing people in Botswana. When speaking in Virginia this week, Masisi said it is unfortunate that Batswana have paid a price with their own blood through being attacked by elephants.
â€śCommunities also suffer unimaginable economic losses yearly when their crops are eaten by the elephants. In spite of such incidents of human-elephant conflict, our people embrace living together with the animals. They fully understand wildlife conservation and its economic benefits in tourism.â€ť
In 2018, Nthobogang Samokwaseâ€™s father was attacked by an elephant when travelling from the fields, where he stayed during the cropping season.
It was reported that the man couldnâ€™t run because of his age. He was found trampled by the elephant and was pronounced dead upon arrival at the hospital.
In the same year, in Maun, a 57-year-old British woman was attacked by an elephant at Boro and died upon arrival at the hospital. The woman was with her Motswana partner, and were walking dogs in the evening.
Last month, a Durban woman named Carly Marshall survived an elephant attack while on holiday in the bush in Botswana. She was stabbed by one of the elephantâ€™s tucks through the chest and was left with bruises. Marshall also suffered several fractured ribs from the ordeal.
President Masisi Botswana has the largest population of African elephants in the world, totaling more than 130 000. â€śThis has been possible due to progressive conservation policies, partnerships with the communities, and investment in wildlife management programmes.â€ť
In order to benefit further from wildlife, Masisi indicated that government has re-introduced controlled hunting in 2019 after a four-year pause. â€śThe re-introduction of hunting was done in an open, transparent and democratic way, giving the communities an opportunity to air their views. The funds from the sale of hunting quota goes towards community development and elephant conservation.â€ť
He stressed that for conservation to succeed, the local people must be involved and derive benefits from the natural resources within their localities.
â€śThere must be open and transparent consultations which involve all sectors of the society. It is against this backdrop that as a country, we lead the continent on merging conservation, democracy and sustainable development.â€ť
Masisi stated that Botswana is open to collaborative opportunities, â€śparticularly with identifiable partners such as Virginia Tech, in other essential areas such as conservation, and the study of the interplay among the ecology of diseases of wild animals and plants, and their effects on human health and socio-economic development.â€ť
Govâ€™t commit to injecting more funds in fighting HIV
Minister for State President Kabo Morwaeng says government will continue to make resources available in terms of financial allocations and human capital to ensure that Botswana achieves the ideal of eradicating HIV and AIDS as a public health threat by 2030.
Morwaeng was speaking this morning in Gaborone at the High-Level Advocacy event to accelerate HIV Prevention in Botswana. He said the National AIDS and Health Promotion Agency (NAPHA), in partnership with UNAIDS, UN agencies, the Global Fund and PEPFAR, have started a process of developing transition readiness plan for sustainability of HIV prevention and treatment programmes.
â€śIt is important for us, as a country that has had a fair share of donor support in the response to an epidemic such as HIV and AIDS, to look beyond the period when the level of assistance would have reduced, or ceased, thus calling for domestic financing for all areas which were on donor support.â€ť
Morwaeng said this is important as the such a plan will guarantee that all the gains accrued from the response with donor support will be sustained until the end when â€śwe reach the elimination of HIV and AIDS as a public health threat by 20230,â€ť he said.
â€śI commit to continue support efforts towards strengthened HIV prevention, accentuating HIV primary prevention and treatment as prevention towards Zero New Infections, Zero Stigma, Discrimination and Zero AIDS related death, to end AIDS in Botswana.â€ť
He reiterated that government commits to tackle legislative, policy and programming challenges that act as barriers to the achievement of the goal of ending AIDS as a public health threat.
In the financial year 2022/2023, a total of 119 Civil Society Organizations, including Faith Based Organizations, were contracted with an amount of P100 million to implement HIV and NCDs prevention activities throughout the country, and the money was drawn from the Consolidated Fund.
Through an upcoming HIV Prevention Symposium, technical stakeholders will use outcomes to develop the Botswana HIV Prevention Acceleration Road Map for 2023-2025.
Morwaeng stated that government will support and ensure that Botswana plays its part achieving the road map. He said there is need to put hands on the deck to ensure that Botswana sustains progress made so far in the fight against HIV and AIDS.
â€śThere are tremendous achievements thus far to, reach and surpass the UNAIDS fast track targets of 95%- 95%- 95% by the year 2025. As reflected by the BAIS preliminary results of 2021, we now stand at 95- 98- 98 against the set targets.â€ť
â€śThese achievements challenge us to now shift our gears and strive to know who are the remaining 5% for those aware of their HIV status, 2% of enrolment on treatment by those aware of their status and 2% of viral suppression by those on treatment.â€ť
Explaining this further, Morwaeng said shift in gears should extend to coming up with robust strategies of determining where these remaining people are as well as how they will be reached with the necessary services.
â€śThese are just some of the many variables that are required to ensure that as a country, we are well positioned to reaching the last mile of our countryâ€™s response to the HIV and AIDS pandemic.â€ť