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Magosi opens up on National Security

The Directorate of Intelligence and Security Services (DIS) Director General Brigadier Peter Magosi has opened up on a number of issues which he says needs to be cleared up for those who do not understand security matters.

Before delving on national issues, the DIS boss dealt with the issue of remuneration of his officers, insisting that the spy agency officers will have their remuneration improved once the process has been completed. With reports indicating that DIS officers are not happy with recent salary in disciplined forces which left them out, Magosi said they are still consulting regionally about their salary adjustments. “Right now as we speak, some of my officers are in Kenya on a benchmarking exercise and they will visit other countries in the region to do the same,” he said.

Magosi said once the exercise is complete, they will submit a report for restructuring and salary review of all officers. “We want to engage some of the best security practices in the region, continentally and globally,” he said. Magosi said both the Botswana Police Services and Botswana Defence Force have long submitted their salary review hence they received their increment early this year. “Right now my officers are in the dark but there has been planning and everything is in the pipeline including plans to further their studies which was not the case in the past,” Magosi stated.

It is reported that the last promotions at the DIS were in 2014 but not all officers were promoted by then. The organisation is at the moment undergoing a rough patch, with concerns raised over its lack of organisational structure.  “As we speak, duty reports are no longer coming on daily basis as it used to be the norm. The officers are disgruntled and there is fear that they are bound to sell information for better life,” said a source. Another agent who spoke to WeekendPost on an account of anonymity said the most sensitive institution in the country is sitting on a time bomb that might explode anytime.

“We are currently seated on a volcano that might erupt anytime from now. This is not good for the country, this institution is the custodian of the state security yet the welfare of the officers is not a priority,” he said. The recent muddle up at the DIS however is blamed on the Magosi who is believed to have shifted his focus to guarding President Mokgweetsi Masisi, instead of proving strategic leadership. Magosi was brought in to replace Colonel Isaac Kgosi at the helm of the spy agency a few weeks after President Masisi ascended to Presidency on April 1st 2019.

A few weeks back this publication reported that President Masisi secretly promoted Magosi to a super scale moving him from F1 to F0 but leaving behind his two deputies. An inside source said when he was brought in Peter Magosi was made aware of all the challenges the institution is currently facing, at the top of the agenda being staff welfare. The source also said the difference between Fana (Magosi) and Spanere (Kgosi) as they are affectionately known within the DIS is that Kgosi was hands on, mingled with officers and was in touch with the day-to-day operations of the organisation.

 “He was very cognisant with issues of welfare was on the right track handling them even though his loyalty was better placed with former President Lt Gen Seretse Khama Ian Khama. He was a better boss compared to Magosi,” said the source. “Right now we are told there is no money at the institution but every week we see a new face. They continue to employ more people coming in at higher scales even though we are told there are no vacancies. This is what is upsetting the old guard at DIS,” said another source.

The agents told WeekendPost that with the absence of Magosi on the ground, there is no trust at all, the entire organisation is on a survival move. It is reported that there are a lot of backstabbing, jealousy and falsehood that is now positioning the whole operations at ransom.
“This unscrupulous behavior is now damaging these innocent officers’ careers. These guys have devoted their lives to serve their country with dignity. We have lost our once prestige institution, it is now tantamount to running a mere tuck- shop. What is even more disheartening and frustrating is that the Director General has delegated everything to his two deputies Modiri Keoagile and Tefo Kgotlhane, at least if he was here lying to us as always it would be better”.

Magosi however said being an absent leader is a deliberate move. He said when he took charge at the intelligence office, he made himself clear that he will look down to link the DIS with other security elements. To achieve this Magosi said he needs to get all the resources that they needed and network on the region, continentally and engage on global level.

“I will be looking at the security of the president and that is my number one priority at the moment,” he said. “This is the reason why I have two deputies; Operations and Support Services. They take care of the operations of the DIS while I continue to travel abroad. However, I can promise you that the unhappy officers will not pose a threat to the national security.”

Magosi on the issue of Presidential personal security

Unlike his predecessor, Magosi is not a man to seat in the office. For his role of always providing personal security to the president, Magosi was seen as President Masisi’s personal bodyguard. Magosi told WeekendPost that dynamics have changed and the security landscape of the country has changed thus his responsibility to take charge.

“I am an experienced Special Forces Operatives, Experienced Intelligence Officer, I have done them at tactical, operational and strategic levels. This put me as a qualified person to understand the socio- political landscape of this country. I do not blame those who see me behind the president and blame me for doing my job. Their level of understanding cannot match mine.”

Magosi said the country has for a long time experienced issues of corruption at the highest level and nothing seems to be done about it. These issues to humankind if left unattended they manifest themselves to become a security threat. “Botswana has mineral resources and now we have an orthodox interested parties from outside the country and this has become a problem that needs to be attended.”

Peter Magosi said everyone knows about the Motsepe family and others that we don’t know about. “Minerals have caused conflicts in other African countries but they have started at the lowest level, unattended and escalated. The general living of Botswana continue to deteriorate despite having a good income per capital. The uneven distribution of natural wealth will automatically displeasure the nation towards government. It goes without saying that an unhappy nation becomes a security threat to itself.”

Mediation between Masisi and Khama

Information gathered by WeekendPost this week suggest that there is a standoff between Masisi and Magosi. It is alleged that the fallout is a result of Magosi’s persistent move to reconcile President Masisi and his predecessor Khama.  When asked about his involvement in trying to reach a reconciliation, Magosi started by dismissed suggestion of tension between him and Masisi.

“I am his advisor, I don’t tell him (Masisi) what he wants to hear. I advise him on issues of national security. The only reason why we are at the position we found ourselves in is because former President Ian Khama wants to meet Masisi one on one while Masisi wants the elders to resolve the matter. Now they cannot meet on a common ground thus far. I have advised former President Khama that in a cultural set up the elders are better tasked with resolving this kind of disputes but he is not willing to bend. It must be noted that Masisi has never refused to meet his predecessor as reported,” he said.

Magosi said it should be noted that he is not doing any of the two leaders any favours. “Right now there are two centres of power and is not good for the country. My job is to advise them both accordingly, Khama is my former boss and I respect him and Masisi is the current President.”  He said he does even advise members of opposition should they find something that is of national security. “I am not involved in politics, I am charged with the responsibility of stabilizing the political landscape of the country,” he said.

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Civil Service volatility: Democracy vs Bureaucracy

19th April 2021
President Masisi

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.

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Morupisi fights for freedom in court

19th April 2021
morupisi

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.

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Pressure mounts on Biden to suspend Covid-19 vaccine patents

19th April 2021
Joe Biden

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.”

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