Former President Lt Gen Seretse Khama Ian Khama has expressed dissatisfaction with the manner in which former intelligence chief, Colonel Isaac Kgosi was arrested, saying it was amateurish and too personal. He even questioned what business the Directorate of Intelligence and Security (DIS) has on tax issues.
Khama was not impressed by what he considers a staged operation to embarrass the former spy chief in full view of the public and the media. The former Directorate of Intelligence and Security (DIS) boss was arrested on Tuesday last week, reportedly on charges related to corruption and tax evasion, but Kgosi is yet to be charged. He has since been released. He was arrested at the Sir Seretse Khama International Airport (SSKIA) upon rival from Dubai.
The arrest follows a lifestyle audit reportedly conducted on the former intelligence head by the Botswana Unified Revenue Services (BURS) after attempts to lay separate charges by prosecutors were delayed. When speaking to WeekendPost this week, former President Ian Khama said the arrest was aimed at discrediting and humiliating Isaac Kgosi. But Khama said he does not blame the DIS for the manner of the arrest because “they were operating under instructions from above”.
“Is this now the start of how things will be done in Botswana? This is not the way intelligence carries out such a high profile arrest in other countries,” observed Khama. Khama first worked with Kgosi at the Botswana Defence Force (BDF) and Kgosi later quit the military to serve as Khama’s Senior Private Secretary after the latter was appointed vice president of Botswana. In 2008 Khama entrusted Kgosi with the establishment of the DIS becoming its first Director General until he was sacked by the current President Mokgweetsi Masisi last year.
In this interview the former president said he was satisfied with the way Kgosi executed his duties but indicated that accountability lied with the relevant ministry which DIS reports to. The former President said ever since he appointed Kgosi, he has never heard of the things he is being accused of especially in the mold of corruption and tax evasion. “When it comes to accountability there are elements in government whose responsibility it is to call all government departments to account for what they are doing”.
Khama said he was only responsible for their operations but it terms of accountability, they have their own Minister, Permanent Secretary and Permanent Secretary to the President and lastly the President. “Based on that DIS used to report actions and activities they were carrying out once in a while and yes I was satisfied. That does not mean to say I was commanding or ordering them like what happened at the airport, like saying go and arrest this person and do it this way. That was never my thing”.
Khama dismissed allegations that he remained quiet and was hiding in Tuli Block during the period of the arrest because the Isaac Kgosi scandals implicate him. He said it was very unfortunate that the incident coincided with an annual holiday in Tuli Block where “I also do charity work every year”. “It is just a coincidence that it happened whilst I was out of town,” he stated. Khama said as soon as he arrived he went straight to see Kgosi and his family to offer them support, reassure him and comfort his family.
The former President said even though he did not have enough time to look at the Intelligence and Security Act following Kgosi’s ordeal, he believes it gives the Director General some certain powers as it is case with many other institutions outside government who are given powers. He however said how you exercise those privileged powers will determine the type of leader you are.
“We don’t want people to exceed their powers, this is a democracy. I don’t blame the DIS or Magosi, I know him to be very professional and normally he would not do things in that manner unless instructed to do so,” he said. The former president said there is no bad blood between him and current DIS chief, Brigadier Peter Magosi. “I also worked with him before, he was a good officer, very efficient, effective and I am sure he will lead the DIS well,” Khama added.
However Khama said after visiting Kgosi, he does not find it appropriate to call Magosi because he is doing his government job according to instructions from his superiors. When asked about the possibility of suffering the same fate as Kgosi, and how he would react, Khama said he could not tell now because people react differently.
But he said he commends Kgosi and how he handled the whole situation despite uttering some words which he did not really mean because of what he had to go through in the public eye and in front of his own family. “All what I can say if there was ever a thing like that, that involves me, it would have been under the same situation.
Fortunately for now we still live under democracy and we have legal course to take action against any abuse of power and that is the route that I will take because I swore to uphold the laws and the constitution of this country when I was sworn in as President and as far as I am concerned it didn’t end when I was President,” Khama said. Khama said he has not met Masisi nor talked to him, thus their sour relationship still prevails. He said the current administration has engaged in some undemocratic actions and that it is cause for concern because that will eventually lead to the erosion of the country’s democracy.
He said the intolerance that they continue to display shows immaturity and total disregard for other people’s opinions. “You don’t use your powers in ta reckless manner just so you safeguard your own self-interests, that is abuse of power. Right now people are being fired; and some in business say orders are issued barring them from getting tenders or being supported, this is humiliating and it has never happened before.”
The former president said he does not know everyone’s life in and out, so he does not know Kgosi as corrupt person. “I know him based on how we worked together at a professional level. So it is for others, if they assume he has done something wrong they should follow the normal procedures. I understand his issue has something to do with tax but what does DIS have to do with tax? There are people in this country who have been owing taxes and we have never heard of them going and being arrested by DIS in that same manner.”
In a classic and shocking case of disgrace and dishonour to this country, the law enforcement agencies are currently struggling to cover up a damaging and humiliating scandal of having conspired to forge the signature of a Palapye Chief Magistrate, Rebecca Motsamai in an unlawful acquisition of the much-publicised 2019 warrant of arrest against Isaac Kgosi, the former director of the Directorate of Intelligence Services (DIS).
The cloak-and-dagger arrest was led by the DIS director, Brigadier Peter Magosi supported by the Botswana Police, Botswana Defence Force (BDF), with the Botswana Unified Revenue Services (BURS) which accused Kgosi of tax evasion, in the backseat.
Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) constituent members are struggling to reach an agreement over the allocation of wards for the imminent ward by-elections across the country.
Despite a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC), Botswana Patriotic Front (BPF) and Alliance for Progressives (AP) are said to be active, but the nitty-gritties are far from being settled.
The eight bye-elections will be a precursor of a somewhat delayed finalisation of the brittle MoU. The three parties want to draw a plan on how and who will contest in each of the available wards.
This publication has gathered that the negotiations will not be a run off the mill because there is already an impasse between the Botswana Congress Party (BCP) which is a UDC constituent and AP (currently negotiating to join umbrella).
The by-elections joint committee met last week at Cresta President Hotel in a bid to finalise allocation but nothing tangible came out of the gathering, sources say.
The cause of the stalemate according to those close to events, is the Metsimotlhabe Ward which the two parties have set their eyes on.
In 2019, he ward was won by Botswana Democratic Party’s (BDP) Andrew Sebobi who unfortunately died in a tragic accident in February last year.
Sebobi had convincingly won by 1 109 votes in the last elections; and was trailed by Sephuthi Thelo of the UDC trailed him with 631 votes; while Alliance for Progressives’ Innocent Moamogwe got 371 votes.
Thelo is a BCP candidate and as per UDC norm, incumbency prevails meaning that the BCP will contest since they were runners up. On the other hand, AP has also raised its hand for the same.
“AP asked for it on the basis that they have a good candidate but BCP did not agree to that request also arguing they have a better contestant,” one UDC member confided to this publication.
Notwithstanding Metsimotlhabe Ward squabble, it is said the by-election talks are almost a done deal, with Botswana National Front (BNF) tipped to take Boseja South ward in Mochudi East constituency. Botswana Patriotic Front (BPF) will be awarded Tamasane Ward in Lerala/Maunatlala constituency, sources say.
“But the agreement has to be closed by National Executive Committee (NEC),” emphasized the informant.
The NEC is said to have been cautioned not to back the wrong horse but rather rate with reason and facts.
UDC President, Duma Boko has told this publication that, “allocation is complete with two wards already awarded but with only one yet to be finalized,” he could not dwell into much details as to which party got what and the reasons for the delay in finalisation.
Chairperson of the by-elections committee, Dr. Phenyo Butale responded to this publication regarding the matter: “As AP we contested and as you may be aware we signed the MoU with UDC and BPF to collaborate on bye-elections. The opposition candidate for all bye-elections will be agreed by these parties and that process is still ongoing,” he said when asked if AP is interested on the ward and how far with the talks on bye-elections.
Butale, a former Gaborone Central Member of Parliament, who is also AP Secretary General continued to say, “As the chairperson of the bye-elections committee we are still seized with that matter. We should also do some consultations with the local structures. Once the process is complete we will issue a notice for now we cannot talk about the other two while the other is still pending the other one”.
Butale further clarified: “There is no such thing as AP and BCP not in agreement. It is an issue of signatories discussing and determining the opposition candidates across the three wards.”
Apart from the three wards, there are five more council wards that UDC is yet to allocate to cooperating partners.
FROM PALAPYE MEET: BPP CAUTION NEC MEMBERS
With the UDC cheerful from last weekend’s meeting in Palapye, the meeting however was very tense on the side of both BCP and BNF, with only BPP flexing its muscle and even lashing out.
BCP going into the meeting, had promised to ask difficult questions to the UDC NEC.
BCP VP and also acting Secretary General, Dr. Kesitegile Gobotswang, presented their qualms which were addressed by UDC Chairperson Motlatsi Molapisi, informants say.
It is said Molapisi is fed up and concerned by some UDC members especially those in the NEC who ‘wash party’s dirty linen in public’.
Insiders say the veteran politician cautioned the NEC members that they “will not expel any party but individuals who tarnish the image of the UDC.”
It is not the first time BPP play a paternalistic role as it once expressed its discontent with BCP in 2020, saying it should never wash UDC linen in public.
At first it is said, BPP, the oldest political formation in Botswana, claims disappointment on BCP stance that UDC should be democratised especially by sharing their stand with the media. Again, BPP was not happy with BCP leader Dumelang Saleshando’s decision to air his personal views on social media regarding the merger of UDC party.
Botswana Police Service (BPS) Commissioner, Keabetswe Makgophe, has of late been dousing raging fires from various quarters of society following the infiltration of the police fingerprint system by the Directorate on Intelligence and Security (DIS), WeekendPost has learnt.
Fresh information gleaned from a number of impeccable sources, points to a pitiable working relationship between the two state organs. Cause of concern is the DIS continuous big brother role to an extent that it is now interfering with other institutions’ established mandates.
BPS which works closely with the DIS has been left exasperated by the works of the institution formed in 2008. It is said, the DIS through its Information Technology (IT) experts in collusion with some at BPS forensics department managed to infiltrate the Fingerprint system.
The infiltration, according to those in the know, was for the DIS to “teach a lesson” to some who are on their radar. It is said the DIS is playing and fighting dirty to win the fights they have lost before.
By managing to hack the police finger print system, a number of renowned businessmen and other politically exposed persons found their fingers in the system. What surprised the victims is the fact that they have never been charged of any wrongdoing by the police and they were left reeling in shock to learn that their fingers are on the data-base of criminals.
In fact, some of those who their fingerprints were falsely included in the records of those on the wrong side of law learnt later when other errands demanded their fingerprints.
“We learnt later when we had to submit and buy some documents and we were very shocked,” one politician who is also a businessman confided to this publication this week.
“We then learn that there are some fabricated criminality recorded for us, as to when did we commit those remained secret to the police, but then we had to engage our lawyers on the matter and that is when we were cleared,” said the politician-cum- tenderpreneur.
The lawyers have confirmed engaging the police and that the matters were settled in a gentlemen’s agreement and concluded.
All these happened behind the scenes with the police top brass oblivious only to be confronted by the irked lot, police sources also add. The victimized group who most of them have been fighting lengthy battles with the DIS read malice and did not blink when it was revealed that these were done by the DIS.
“And it was clear that they (DIS) are the ones in this dirty war which we don’t understand. Remember when we sue, it will be the Police at the courts not the DIS and that is why we agreed to a ceasefire more so they also requested that be kept under carpet,” said the victim.
Nonetheless, the Police through its spokesperson Assistant Commissioner, Dipheko Motube, briefly said: “we do not have any system that has been hacked.” On the other hand DIS mouthpiece Edward Robert was not in office this week to comment on the matter.
Reports however say DIS boss, Peter Magosi, who most of the victims accuse of the job, is said to have met his police counterpart Makgophe to put the matter to bed.
COVID-19 RAVAGES POLICE
As frontline workers, Police have not escaped the wrath of Covid-19. Already the numbers of those infected has reached the highest of high and they suggest that they be priorities on vaccine rollout.
“Our job is complicated, firstly we arrest including those who are non-compliant to Covid protocols and we go to accidents and many more. These put us at risk and it seems our superiors are not bothered,” said one police officer this week.
The cops further complain about that working spaces are small, as such expose them to contact the virus.
“Some tests positive and go for quarantine while the rest of the unit will be left without even test carried out. If at all the bosses are serious all the police officers should every now and then be subjected to testing or else we will be no more because of the virus,” added another officer based in Gaborone.
The government has since placed teachers on the priority list for the vaccines, it remains to be seen whether the police, who also man road blocks, will be considered.
“But our bosses should convince the country leadership about this, if not then we are doomed,” concluded a more senior officer.