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.”
As a response to avert vulture poisoning currently going on in Botswana and KAZA region, Birdlife Botswana has collaborated with three other partners (BirdWatch Zambia, BirdLife International & Birdlife Zimbabwe) to tackle wildlife poisoning which by extension negatively affect vulture populations.
The Director of Birdlife Botswana, Motshereganyi Virat Kootshositse has revealed in an interview that the project which is funded by European Union’s main goal is to reduce poisoning related vultures’ death and consequently other wildlife species death within the KAZA region.
He highlighted that Chobe district in Botswana has been selected as a pilot site as it has experienced rampant incidents of vulture poisoning for the past few months. In August this year at least 50 endangered white backed vultures were reported dead at Chobe National Park, Botswana after feeding on a buffalo carcass laced with poison. In November this year again 43 white backed vultures were found dead and two alive after feeding on a zebra suspected to have poisoned. Other selected pilots’ sites are Kafue in Zambia and Hwange in Zimbabwe.
Kootshositse further explained they have established a national and regional Wildlife Poisoning Committee. He added that as for the national committee they have engaged various departments such as Crop Productions, Agro Chemicals, Department of Veterinary Services, Department of Wildlife and National Parks and other NGOs such as Raptors Botswana to come together and find a long-lasting solution to address wildlife poisoning in Botswana. ‘Let’s have a strategy or a plan together to tackle wildlife poisoning,’ he stated
He also decried that there is gap in the availability of data about vulture poisoning or wildlife in general. ‘If we have a central point for data, it will help in terms of reporting and advocacy’, he stated
He added that the regional committee comprises of law enforcement officers such as BDF and Botswana police, village leadership such as Village Development Committee and Kgosi. ‘We need to join hand together and protect the wildlife we have as this will increase our profile for conservation and this alone enhances our visitation and boost our local economy,’ he noted
Kootshositse noted that Birdlife together with DWNP also addressed series of meeting in some villages in the Chobe region recently. The purpose of kgotla meetings was to raise awareness on the conservation and protection of vultures in Chobe West communities.
‘After realizing that vulture poisoning in the Chobe areas become frequent, we realise that we need to do something about it. ‘We did a public awareness by addressing several kgotla meetings in some villages in the Chobe west,’ he stated
He noted that next year they are going to have another round of consultations around the Chobe areas and the approach is to engage the community into planning process. ‘Residents should be part of the plan of actions and we are working with farmers committee in the areas to address vulture poisoning in the area, ‘he added
He added that they have found out that some common reasons for poisoning wildlife are farmers targeting predators such as lions in retaliation to killing of their livestock. Another common incident cross border poaching in the Chobe area as poachers will kills an elephant and poison its carcass targeting vultures because of their aerial circling alerting authorities about poaching activities.
Kootshositse noted that in the last cases it was disheartening the incidents occurred three months apart. He added that for the first time they found that some of the body parts of some vultures were missing. He added harvesting of body parts of vultures is not a common practice in Botswana, although it is used in some parts of Africa. ‘We suspect that someone took advantage of the availability of carcasses and started harvesting their body parts,’
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Minister of Health Dr Edwin Dikoloti says Africa member states call on World Health Organization (WHO) to ensure equitable resource allocation for 2024-2025. Dr Dikoloti was speaking this week at the WHO Executive Board Meeting in Geneva, Switzerland.
He said countries agreed that there is need to address the budget and funding imbalances by increasing the programme budget share of countries and regions to 75% for the next year.
“The proposed budget for 2024-2025 marks an important milestone as it is the first in Programme Budget in which country offices will be allocated more than half of the total budget for the biennium. We highly welcome this approach which will enable the organization to deliver on its mandate while fulfilling the expectations for transparency, efficiency and accountability.”
The Botswana Health Minister commended member states on the extension of the General Programme of Work (GPD 13) and the Secretariat work to monitor the progress towards the triple billion targets, and the health-related SDGs.
“We welcome the Director’s general proposed five priorities which have crystalized into the “five Ps” that are aligned with the GPW 13 extension. Impact can only be achieved through close coordination with, and support to national health authorities. As such, the strengthening of country offices is instrumental, with particular focus on strengthening national health systems and on promoting more equitable access to health services.”
According to Dr Dikoloti, the majority of countries with UHC index that is below the global median are in the WHO Africa region. “For that, we call on the WHO to enhance capacity at the regional and national levels in order to accelerate progress. Currently, the regional office needs both technical and financial support in order to effectively address and support country needs.”