Four more high profile figures are expected to be raided and investigated in a planned Directorate of Intelligence and Security (DIS) operation, Weekend Post has established. High noon came on Tuesday when former DIS chief, Colonel Isaac Kgosi was apprehended by his successor retired Brigadier Peter Magosi at Sir Seretse Khama International Airport left many tongues wagging. Ironically the arrest the arrest of Kgosi was made by the very organisation he formed in conjunction with the military police and Botswana Unified Revenue Services (BURS).
Kgosi was arrested around 10 pm in front of his own family; wife and daughter upon their arrival from a holiday in India, where he reportedly attended the wedding of the daughter of Choppies supremo, Ramachandran Ottapathu. Sources reveal that a network of prominent individuals have teamed up with Khama to assist former cabinet minister, Pelonomi Venson-Moitoi to topple Masisi from power. The events of Tuesday night were a watershed moment in the political battle that is expected to ensue. Why was he arrested at the airport and not at his home or elsewhere?
Sources close to the events suggest that the airport was the only convenient and safest place for Kgosi’s arrest. They say arresting Kgosi immediately after passing through the security scanners at the airport they were sure he was harmless and disarmed. “Allowing a former spy boss to get inside his property and you come following him with bad news can be deadly. Obviously he has his stuff in his car and at his house. So, the airport was the safest place,” said the source.
Questions remain on what will be the ramifications of the arrest of the former spy boss. Will this lead to more arrests and what are the implications for his former boss, Dr Ian Khama? It is a well held belief that Kgosi and Khama have a close relationship. Kgosi was forced out of office in May after signing a five year contract. He has all along denied wrong doing but the DIS feels confident he is cornered and will confess to many transgressions under his reign.
Late last year, some agents from the Directorate on Corruption and Economic Crime (DCEC) were denied entry and subjected to insults at Kgosi’s Phakalane house in their attempt to get a statement from him in connection with corruption offences. They were forced to go back without doing the job and were only allowed to get a statement at the premises of his attorney Unoda Mack the following day.
After spending a night at the Sir Seretse Khama BDF barracks in Mogoditshane, Kgosi was released on compassionate grounds after complaining of a back ache. However, the search on his properties continued throughout. Speaking to a source in the intelligence, the release of Kgosi was also done after the DIS was satisfied with what they were looking for amongst which was the laptop containing vital information. “Within the laptop was information on undisclosed DIS safe houses which contained hundreds of millions of Pula and foreign currency,” said the source.
Throughout the search and subsequent release, Kgosi is thought to have been visibly shaken and cooperated fully with the authorities. This was a stark contrast to his earlier demeanour of using threatening language.
Offences presented to the DPP so far
WeekendPost can confirm that the tax evasion issue that the DIS agents claimed to be arresting Kgosi for on Tuesday was just a holding charge. The State intends to pursue him on a multiple charges known to this publication, both criminal and civil. All these charges dodged his tenure as head of Intelligence. A few of the possible charges have so far been handed over to the Department of Public Prosecutions (DPP), for further assessment by the DCEC.
Possible charges before the DPP office which it is alleged are yet to be finalised are: The P900 000 Sentlhane farm which Kgosi purchased in 2009. Allegations are that the money was deposited by Vladacom; the P300 000 Debswana tender. It is alleged that money was deposited into Kgosi’s Silver Shadows account from Debswana in 2010. It is not clear whether the money was for the government or his personal things; Gakgatla farm, before being bought by Kgosi, the farm was previously presented for auction on a number of occasions.
Allegations are that Kgosi has manipulated the mortgage sale process; Lifestyle audit, it is alleged that Kgosi has during his tenure accumulated so much wealth that was impossible to acquire with his salary and property alone; Maboane farm, it is also alleged the farm was illegally acquired. Kgosi is thought to have raided many government funds using the non-accountability of the DIS to government. Some of the funds were from Bank of Botswana Reserves, disaster management funds, alcohol levy and BURS funds.
He is also alleged to have amassed well by blackmailing many corporates to give him shares in their companies. Choppies and CMB are one of the companies he is being associated with. He is also alleged to have run a scheme of getting foreigners to pay huge amounts to get citizenship or working visas through the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Immigration.
While Kgosi’s arrest seem to have been welcomed by many Batswana, some hold the view that the whole arrest thing is politically motivated. Kgosi was former President Ian Khama’s right hand man during his tenure. They were running the day to day of the country together with Kgosi being the Intelligence boss. Many people were even of the view that Kgosi did not deserve the said post. At some point Kgosi implicated Magosi in stealing the spy equipment which was said to be a lie as Magosi was seen as a threat to Kgosi on issues of intelligence.
This led to Khama firing Magosi. Immediately after Khama retired as the president of the country and handing over to Masisi, Masisi fired Kgosi and replaced him with Magosi. The decision pit Khama and Kgosi against Masisi and Magosi. Currently, there is a tussle between Khama and Masisi. Masisi is seen to be reversing almost everything that Khama implemented, and Khama is seen to be frustrating Masisi’s administration and sponsoring contestants to topple Masisi from the presidency.
After firing Kgosi as DIS director, Masisi went on to reject his name after it was submitted by Khama for a post of Senior Private Secretary in the former president’s office. The decision is said to have worsened relations between the two men to an extent that it has reached irretrievable stage. Just a few weeks ago, Khama confessed that he was supporting Venson-Moitoi to contest against Masisi for presidency. Venson-Moitoi was immediately fired from as Minister of Local Government and Rural Development after announcing her intention to contest for the BDP presidency against Masisi.
Those in the political circle say, the move against Kgosi is just to frustrate Khama by touching his ‘touch not’. Kgosi is said to be sharing a lot of property with Khama. And searching him and confiscating some documents carrying what is deemed as secrets is hoped to put Khama in a panic mode. =In terms of the Income Tax Act, the commissioner General can issue a warrant of arrest for unpaid tax. And the procedure is often resorted to against foreigners attempting to flee the country before settling their tax. It is rarely used against citizens.
Before one can also be deemed to have failed to pay tax, one must have filed their tax returns and an assessment done by BURS to determine how much owes. In Kgosi’s case, this was not done. There are strong allegations that Kgosi was in the process of doing something which warranted all these procedures to be broken. A political commentator says the former spy boss appearing in court on corruption charges is hugely symbolic for a small country like Botswana.
“This is an era of impunity coming to an end. The government led by new president Masisi is keen to distance itself from the controversy as it prepares to contest the national elections in a few months’ time. But the faction of Moitoi is not having any of that, but said it has been a well calculated move to intimidate and harass those close to Masisi.” Kgosi’s opponents had long fought for him to be charged over his deed. Khama is thought to be the one who stood between DPP prosecuting Kgosi using his presidential powers.
Choose between Khama and family
Kgosi was arrested in the presence of his family, wife and daughter. His daughter cried in front of the media and DIS officials as her father was escorted inside the car. Kgosi politely decried to Magosi, “Let me hug my daughter first,” and he was allowed to,where upon he uttered the words, “I will topple this government, I am telling you.”
“You see that trauma that the family went through at the airport will force Kgosi to choose between Khama and his immediate family. Kgosi has done a lot because of Khama’s influence. He thinks he is untouchable because of Khama, and Khama thinks he is what he is because of Kgosi. So, really, Kgosi will have to choose between his friend and family. The family will have to call a meeting and ask him to reverse his steps so that they also stay peacefully in the country,” said a witness at the airport.
The humble Kgosi
DIS boss, Magosi could not stop praising Kgosi for the cooperation during the search. Though he was to be detained in safe custody for two days, Kgosi was only detained for a day and released as the search continued. “We are happy at the way he is cooperating with us. And we have decided to release him though the search will be continuing,” said Magosi at the end of the first day of the search at Phakalane. The search took a day and half at the Phakalane house; a few hours at Maboane farm and half a day at the Extension 11 house and Sentlhane farm. More documentation was collected at the Phakalane house.
Unidentified man spotted during the search
During the prolonged search at Kgosi’s Phakalane an unknown man was seen being escorted by the DISS officials into the yard covered with a beige towel. Two black laptop bags were confiscated from his car by BURS officials.
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.