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.”
Government is currently sitting on 4 400 vacant posts that remain unfilled in the civil service. This is notwithstanding the high unemployment rate in Botswana which has been exacerbated by the recent outbreak of the deadly COVID-19 pandemic.
Just before the burst of COVID-19, official data released by Statistics Botswana in January 2020, indicate that unemployment in Botswana has increased from 17.6 percent three years ago to 20.7 percent. “Unemployment rate went up by 3.1 percentage between the two periods, from 17.6 to 20.7 percent,” statistics point out.
Leading commercial bank, First National Bank Botswana (FNBB), expects the central bank to sharpen its monetary policy knife and cut the Bank Rate twice in the last quarter of 2020.
The bank expects a 25 basis point (bps) in the beginning of the last quarter, which is next month, and another shed by the same bps in December, making a total of 50 bps cut in the last quarter. According to the bank’s researchers, the central bank is now holding on to 4.25 percent for the time being pending for more informed data on the economic climate.
An audit of the accounts and records for the supply of food rations to the institutions in the Northern Region for the financial year-ended 31 March 2019 was carried out. According to Auditor General’s report and observations, there are weaknesses and shortcomings that were somehow addressed to the Accounting Officer for comments.
Auditor General, Pulane Letebele indicated on the report that, across all depots in the region that there had been instances where food items were short for periods ranging from 1 to 7 months in the institutions for a variety of reasons, including absence of regular contracts and supplier failures. The success of this programme is dependent on regular and reliable availability of the supplies to achieve its objective, the report said.
There would be instances where food items were returned from the feeding centers to the depots for reasons of spoilage or any other cause. In these cases, instances had been noted where these returns were not supported by any documentation, which could lead to these items being lost without trace.
The report further stressed that large quantities of various food items valued at over P772 thousand from different depots were damaged by rodents, and written off.Included in the write off were 13 538 (340ml) cartons of milk valued at P75 745. In this connection, the Auditor General says it is important that the warehouses be maintained to a standard where they would not be infested by rodents and other pests.
Still in the Northern region, the report noted that there is an outstanding matter relating to the supply of stewed steak (283×3.1kg cans) to the Maun depot which was allegedly defective. The steak had been supplied by Botswana Meat Commission to the depot in November 2016.
In March 2017 part of the consignment was reported to the supplier as defective, and was to be replaced. Even as there was no agreement reached between the parties regarding replacement, in 51 October 2018 the items in question were disposed of by destruction. This disposal represented a loss as the whole consignment had been paid for, according to the report.
“In my view, the loss resulted directly from failure by the depot managers to deal with the matter immediately upon receipt of the consignment and detection of the defects. Audit inspections during visits to Selibe Phikwe, Maun, Shakawe, Ghanzi and Francistown depots had raised a number of observations on points of detail related to the maintenance of records, reconciliations of stocks and related matters, which I drew to the attention of the Accounting Officer for comments,” Letebele said in her report.
In the Southern region, a scrutiny of the records for the control of stocks of food items in the Southern Region had indicated intermittent shortages of the various items, principally Tsabana, Malutu, Sunflower Oil and Milk which was mainly due to absence of subsisting contracts for the supply of these items.
“The contract for the supply of Tsabana to all depots expired in September 2018 and was not replaced by a substantive contract. The supplier contracts for these stocks should be so managed that the expiry of one contract is immediately followed by the commencement of the next.”
Suppliers who had been contracted to supply foodstuffs had failed to do so and no timely action had been taken to redress the situation to ensure continuity of supply of the food items, the report noted.
In one case, the report highlighted that the supplier was to manufacture and supply 1 136 metric tonnes of Malutu for a 4-months period from March 2019 to June 2019, but had been unable to honour the obligation. The situation was relieved by inter-depot transfers, at additional cost in transportation and subsistence expenses.
In another case, the contract was for the supply of Sunflower Oil to Mabutsane, where the supplier had also failed to deliver. Examination of the Molepolole depot Food Issues Register had indicated a number of instances where food items consigned to the various feeding centres had been returned for a variety of reasons, including food item available; no storage space; and in other cases the whole consignments were returned, and reasons not stated.
This is an indication of lack of proper management and monitoring of the affairs of the depot, which could result in losses from frequent movements of the food items concerned.The maintenance of accounting records in the region, typically in Letlhakeng, Tsabong, and Mabutsane was less than satisfactory, according to Auditor General’s report.
In these depots a number of instances had been noted where receipts and issues had not been recorded over long periods, resulting in incorrect balances reflected in the accounting records. This is a serious weakness which could lead to or result in losses without trace or detection, and is a contravention of Supplies Regulations and Procedures, Letebele said.
Similarly, consignments of a total of 892 bags of Malutu and 3 bags of beans from Tsabong depot to different feeding centres had not been received in those centres, and are considered lost. These are also not reflected in the Statement of Losses in the Annual Statements of Accounts for the same periods.