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I am not afraid of DIS, BURS – Khama

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.”

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Bangwato regent speaks ‘respect for Dikgosi’

23rd May 2022
Bangwato

Presidential Commission of Inquiry into the Review of the Constitution held a meeting in Serowe this week. The meeting was to accord Bangwato, just like other tribes, a platform to give their opinions, contributions and what they think is the horse power and limitations of the current Constitution of Botswana.

Bangwato Regent, Kgosi Serogola Seretse said, he is of the understanding that the Commission has not come for anything apart from getting their opinions on how things could be made better. His contribution was that he solely knows of only two social positions in the world; Dikgosi and Pastors. He said other positions are just benedictions. He further urged that, Batswana should respect God’s ordained protocols such as Dikgosi and Pastors.

Seretse pointed out the importance of acknowledging and appreciating Dikgosi as nation builders. He cautioned and warned that, the Commission should ensure that their dealing with Dikgosi is harmonious. He called for an amendment to be made on the ‘National Order of Precedence’ noting that Dikgosi are put at number 11, but should at least be taken a little higher to number 7.

One resident, Tshepo Moloi while giving his contribution said there must be provisions of Social Justice that ensure equal distribution of resources to all citizens. He said this provision should entail an obligation that all citizen have equal opportunities to different Government Initiatives. Moloi substantiated that, all ‘Presidential Commissions’ be engraved on the Constitution

Alfred Thogolwane who is as well a resident of the biggest village in the Central District, pointed out the need for preservation of the country and resources thereof, saying “it must dawn onto all that, the calabash that fetches water for the family cannot fixed once its broken.”  Another resident, Keikantsemang Sebedi advocated for Polygamous marriage, saying that men should marry as many wives as they please. She said there is no need for any socioeconomic assessment done on men who wish to marry more than one wife.

She advised that, the country should benchmark from the Zezuru culture that does it, with no complexities. On the other hand, Sebedi said that, there must be considerations done on the Old Age Pension. She said people who earned P4000 should not receive the old Age Pension upon their fullness of age.  Forshia Koloi called for amendments on Section 77 and all the provisions that speaks to the subject of Bogosi and the powers infested in them. He said they should be made more detailed and avoid ambiguity in clauses.

Mr Tlhaodi said there must be Land Audits done in the country. Citing an example of the Tati Land as one that should be thoroughly audited. He further advised that, Election Day be put on the Calendar. He said, if it happens that the day be a Saturday, there should be some special dispensation for the 7th Day Adventist Church members to take part in voting without compromising on their day of worship. Tlhaodi added that there must be People’s Complaint Commission in the country.

Speakers emphasized the need for the country to review the exercise of ‘Political Party Funding’. They articulated that lack of funding political parties’ results in political parties resorting to finding funds for themselves. They reiterated that sometimes going to the extent of getting funds through illegal means. Bangwato agreed in one accord that they want the President be tried whilst in office if suspected of any criminal offences. This was revealed in their contributions. They pointed out that, the law should not to wait until the end of their tenure.

For his part, the Deputy Chairperson of the Commission Johnson Motshwarakgole expressed gratitude to the residents of Serowe. He applauded women for their kindness saying it is only them, who always take responsibility for doing things amicably in the society.

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Parliament unveils major shake-up plans & reforms

23rd May 2022
Parliament

Parliament has revealed that it plans to rollout a Community Score Card (CSC) exercise as part of sweeping reforms to its role and mandate among others.

The planed shakeup, along with the rollout of CSC will see creation of new Parliamentary Portfolio Committees on Health, HIV&AIDS, Education and Skills Development, Trade and Economic Development, Agriculture, Lands and Housing and Local Governance and Social Welfare.
Parliament informed government ministries and departments that the CSC is a participatory, community based monitoring and evaluation tool that enables citizens to assess the quality of public services and interact with services providers to express their concerns.

According to Parliament, the CSC will assist to inform community members about available services and their entitlements and to solicit their opinions about the accessibility and quality of certain services related to the portfolio committees mentioned.  It said the main objective is for Parliament through identified oversight committees is to conduct a participatory monitoring and evaluating process that puts ownership and responsibility for delivery of services in the hands of both the Government and the service recipients.

“Through scorecards developed around identified sectors and services, communities and implementing departments remain in touch with progress made through the programme delivery cycle and are able to respond timely to bottlenecks,” the National Assembly said.  Some of the measurements and expected outcomes for the rolling out of the CSC include among others, improved monitoring and economic evaluation, to determine the impact of spending, so as to be able to direct resources from where they having the least benefit to those projects and programmes where they will have a larger positive impact.

The National Assembly explained further that this could result in a willingness to close down ineffective programmes and institutions and not to implement projects that do not deliver adequate returns, improved productivity in the public services, especially given the substantial pay increases.

The National Assembly believes that the rolling out of CSC is also expected to result in efficiency savings: many public services and programmes could be delivered more effectively at lower costs, by improving management and accountability, and making use of e-services. “This would yield financial savings that could be used for development programmes or reducing the deficit,” the National Assembly said.

The exercise is also expected to result in “Careful scrutiny of subsidy schemes and termination of those that do not address market failure or assist truly needy Batswana.”  The National Assembly revealed that proposed Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Health and Wellness has been established in accordance with the Standing of National Assembly of Botswana.  It explained that the mandate of the Committee is mainly to exercise Parliamentary oversight and scrutiny over Government Ministries, Departments and Agencies with portfolio responsibilities in respect of Health and HIV/AIDS.

“There is need to identify reasons for inefficiency and poor outcomes and ensure that health system reform improve productivity and value for money. Key areas of focus for scorecard, availability of drugs, staffing ratios, accessibility of health services, speciality care and services and sexual reproductively health,” the National Assembly said.

Another proposed Committee is on Local Governance and Social Welfare. The mandate of the Committee is mainly to exercise Parliamentary Oversight and Scrutiny over Government Ministries. Departments and Agencies with Portfolio responsibilities in respect of Local Governance and Social Welfare.

“Strategies under NDP 11 to improve outcomes of social uplifment include; diversification of rural economies, development and support of small businesses, provision of social safety nets, eradication of absolute poverty, provision of quality and equitable education and harmonisation of social protection programmes,” said the National Assembly.  It said social nets need to be improved so as to target these most in need (at present some social safety nets benefit many people who are not the most needy, but also miss out some of those who are needy).

“Some social development policies more broadly should also aim to reduce household vulnerability to shocks such as those arising from fluctuations in agriculture, climate change, incomes and employment and improve their ability to handle shocks, thereby building household resilience,” the National Assembly said.

Another Committee established is on Agriculture, Lands and Housing. The mandate of the Committee is mainly to exercise Parliamentary oversight and scrutiny over Government Institutions, Departments and Agencies with portfolio responsibilities in respect of Agriculture, Lands and Housing.

The National Assembly said the average growth rate of the agricultural sector since the beginning of National Development Plan 11 (NDP11) (i.e. during the 2017/2018 and 2018/19 financial years) was 2.5 percent, making it the slowest growing sector of the economy, in line with its historical performance.

“Over the same period, its share of GDP has been stagnant at around 2 percent. The sector also contributes job opportunities for about 80 000 adults. Food security has become paramount since the onset of the corona virus pandemic,” the National Assembly said.  The National Assembly said the Government realises the need to increase food production for products in which Botswana has a cooperative advantage such as beef, grains and other horticulture products.

The Committee on Finance, Trade and Economic Development has also been established. One of the mandates of Committee would be to exercise Parliamentary oversight and scrutiny over government ministries, departments and agencies with portfolio responsibilities in respect of Finance, Development, Trade and Industry.

“The sector is at the core of industrialisation aspirations and strategies for economic development in Botswana. Manufacturing in particular can be the driver of economic growth through technological improvements and innovation,” the National Assembly said. Hence, it said, the development of the sector could also foster export diversification and export led-growth in Botswana while benefitting from the African Continental Free Trade Area (AFCFTA).

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Salbany, Bareetsi threaten to sue DIS

23rd May 2022
Salbany Bareetsi

Two senior members of Directorate on Corruption and Economic Crime (DCEC) have threatened legal action against Directorate of Intelligence and Security (DIS), it has transpired. The threat is contained in an answering affidavit of Director General of DCEC, Tymon Katlholo in which he is seeking an interdiction from High Court to stop the DIS from accessing investigation files at his office.

After the DIS detained DCEC officials Joao Salbany and Tsholofelo Bareetsi on December 16, 2021, they filed an official complaint against DIS and some officials. They complained about abuse of office by DIS and five officers. Salbany and Bareetsi also complained about unlawful detention by DIS and unlawful dissemination of classified information contrary to Section 44 of Corruption and Economic Crime Act. “The DIS interviews were premised on information divulged during the course of official DCEC work product, that is the Monday media brief meeting,” they wrote.

They further requested leave to institute a civil suit against the DIS and its officers, and invariably the State for inhuman and degrading treatment they suffered and unlawful detention. They also pondered a declaratory seeking a sanction against the DIS and Botswana Police Service (BPS) and clarification of the role of BPS officers seconded to DIS.

“The envisaged suit against BPS and DIS officers and the DIS will inevitably centre on investigations done by the DCEC and the scope of the protection availed to DCEC officers for conduct done in the course and scope of DCEC official duties.” The duo said it was self-evident from the conduct of the DIS officers that there was nothing urgent about the information required by the DIS, justifying their detention at its Sebele facility from 08:30 hours on December 16, 2021 until 02:00 hours on December 17, 2021.

They reasoned that the information required by the DIS could have been obtained by a simple request to DCEC Director General. “What the DIS did was to seek to intimidate officers of the DCEC whom they knew were carrying out investigations against some of the DIS officers who were part of their investigation team. This turn of events has a chilling effect not only on the functioning of the DCEC but also on the official conduct of officers of the DCEC as to how they conduct their official duties.”

They concluded by stating that in the event the request is granted, they would further request to be advised as to the provision of legal representation as the unalwful detention and the degrading and inhuman treatment by the DIS was in relation to matters conducted by and on behalf of the DCEC.

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