Former President, Lt. Ian Khama has dismissed allegations that he and his allies formed the Directorate of Intelligence and Security (DIS) to steal millions from the country’s purse and serve their personal interests while impoverishing the rest of the nation.
He told WeekendPost in an exclusive interview on Thursday that, “A lot of it is just perception. If the DIS was for my personal benefit, how did I benefit personally? How do you benefit from the department like that? When people make accusations like that, they must come up with facts and figures to support them,” he said. He further rubbished reports that his DIS was useless. “They are saying that because they don’t know what it did and they don’t know what it achieved.”
He stated that the DIS has done a lot to protect the nation. “I know what the DIS was doing in terms of securing this nation’s interests, and not my interests. Unfortunately because it is an intelligence organization, one cannot go public and say they did this and that, lest people who would be enemies of this state would get to know what they are doing and maybe that is one of the problems because the intelligence service is not able to share with the public what they do day to day.”
The former president however shed light on international terrorism threats. “I will share with you a little on international terrorism. When it is becoming too hot for them in certain countries, they skip and they go to other countries where they think there is not that kind of that problem.”
“Those are things that DIS have to monitor, because if you don’t and if you are not watching people and cooperating with other intelligence organs around the world, you would find that Botswana then becomes a target for such people. Recently in Mozambique, people were decapitated by radicals in that country in the name of the religion,” he said. He also noted that countries life is such that the focus in on their own agendas, and do not care about people’s lives.
“So we have to ensure that does not happen in this country. There is international crime, money laundering, drug trafficking, cross border crime in other areas. I just don’t know where the perception comes from that the DIS was there to protect my interest…How? “
DIS IS NOT MY BRAIN CHILD
Interestingly, the former president revealed that the DIS was not his brain child, like many assume. “The person who recommended DIS to me was the late former Police Commissioner, Norman Moleboge when I was still a vice president. He said it was not ideal to have the national security agency housed inside the police because the work of DIS now was done by police,” he said.
“DIS was formed because mapodisi- as per their profile wanted to be seen as serving the community and not engaged in secret work that the DIS now does. And in many other countries it is not the function of the police, the only intelligence function that the police did was criminal intelligence. It is an international practice.”
Lt. Khama also highlighted that a lot of people who were in the police intelligence went to the DIS, including the Deputy Director of DIS, Tefo Kgotlhane. Other DIS members, he said, were recruited from Botswana Defence Force (BDF) while some were recruited from outside.
MY RELATIONSHIP WITH ISAAC KGOSI
“Isaac Kgosi was someone who was very passionate about the intelligence work, that is why he was appointed to set it up in Botswana,” said Khama. On issues that he was working closely with Kgosi, including in everything concerning the administration of the country, he said, “Kgosi wasn’t the only person. I was working closely with a lot of people in government. And my contact with Kgosi was not as much as other people in government despite the perceptions. We did not interact regularly. It was now and then,” he said.
KGOSI’S REMOVAL FROM OFFICE
Asked whether he had expected President Masisi to fire Kgosi when he resumed the presidency, Lt. Khama’s response was that, “Whether one expects it or not is not really an issue. What I expected was that he will make changes the way he wants to make changes. So when they make changes, we must all expect that changes will be made,” he said, before saying, “I’m dodging your question about Kgosi’s removal.
The Directorate of Public Prosecutions (DPP)’s decision to reject and appeal the High Court’s verdict on a case involving High Court Judge, Dr Zein Kebonang has frustrated the Judicial Service Commission (JSC) and Judge Kebonang’s back to work discussions.
JSC and Kebonang have been in constant discussions over the latter’s return to work following a ruling by a High Court panel of judges clearing him of any wrong doing in the National Petroleum Fund criminal case filed by the DPP. However the finalization of the matter has been hanged on whether the DPP will appeal the matter or not – the prosecution body has since appealed.
Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) top brass has declined a request by Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) to negotiate the legal fees occasioned by 2019 general elections petition in which the latter disputed in court the outcome of the elections.
This publication is made aware that UDC Vice President Dumelang Saleshando was left with an egg on his face after the BDP big wigs, comprising of party Chairman Slumber Tsogwane and Secretary General Mpho Balopi rejected his plea.
“He was told that this is a legal matter and therefore their (UDC) lawyer should engage ours (BDP) for negotiations because it is way far from our jurisdiction,” BDP Head of Communications, Kagelelo Kentse, told this publication.
This spelt doom for the main opposition party and Saleshando who seems not to have confidence and that the UDC lawyers have the dexterity to negotiate these kind of matters. It is not clear whether Saleshando requested UDC lawyer Boingotlo Toteng to sit at the table with Bogopa Manewe, Tobedza and Co, who are representing the BDP to strike a deal as per the BDP top echelons suggested.
“From my understanding, the matter is dealt with politically as the two parties are negotiating how to resolve it, but by far nothing has come to me on the matter. So I believe they are still substantively engaging each other,” Toteng said briefly in an interview on Thursday.
UDC petitioners saddled with costs after mounting an unprecedented legal suit before the court to try and overturn BDP’s October 2019 victory. The participants in the legal matter involves 15 parliamentary candidates’ and nine councillors. The UDC petitioned the court and contested the outcome of the elections citing “irregularities in some of the constituencies”.
In a brief ruling in January 2020, Judge President Ian Kirby on behalf of a five-member panel said: “We have no jurisdiction to entertain these appeals. These appeals must be struck out each with costs including costs of counsel”. This was a second blow to the UDC in about a month after their 2019 appeals were dismissed by the High Court a day before Christmas Day.
This week BDP attorneys decided to attach UDC petitioners’ property in a bid to settle the debts. UDC President Duma Boko is among those that will see their property being attached with 14 of his party members. “We have attached some and we are on course. So far, Dr. Mpho Pheko (who contested Gaborone Central) and that of Dr, Micus Chimbombi (who contested Kgalagadi South) will have their assets being sold on the 5th of February 2021,” BDP attorney Basimane Bogopa said.
Asked whether they met with UDC lawyers to try solve the matter, Bogopa said no and added. “Remember we are trying to raise the client’s funds, so after these two others will follow. Right now we are just prioritising those from Court of Appeal, as soon as the high court is done with taxation we will attach.”
Saleshando, when contacted about the outcomes of the meeting with the BDP, told WeekendPost that: “It would not be proper and procedural for me to tell you about the meeting outcomes before I share with UDC National Executive Committee (NEC), so I will have to brief them first.”
UDC NEC will meet on the 20th of next month to deal with a number of thorny issues including settling the legal fees. Negotiations with other opposition parties- Alliance for Progressives and Botswana Patriotic Front (BPF) are also on the agenda.
Currently, UDC has raised P44 238 of the P565 000 needed to cover bills from the Court of Appeal (CoA). This is the amount in a UDC trust account which is paltry funds equating 7.8 per cent of the overall required money. In the past despite the petitioners maintaining that there was promise to assist them to settle legal fees, UDC Spokesperson, Moeti Mohwasa then said the party has never agreed in no way to help them.
“We have just been put in debt by someone,” one of the petitioners told this publication in the past. “President’s (Duma Boko) message was clear at the beginning that money has been sourced somewhere to help with the whole process but now we are here there is nothing and we are just running around trying to make ends meet and pay,” added the petitioner in an interview UDC NEC has in December last year directed all the 57 constituencies to each raise a minimum of P10, 000. The funds will be used to settle debts that are currently engulfing the petitioners with Sheriffs, who are already hovering around ready to attach their assets.
The petitioners, despite the party intervention, have every right to worry. “This is so because ‘the deadline for this initiative (P10, 000 per constituency) is the end of the first quarter of this year (2021),” a period in which the sheriffs would have long auctioned the properties.
President of the Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) Duma Boko’s alliance with former President Lt Gen Ian Khama continues to unsettle some quarters within the opposition collective, who believe the duo, if not managed, will once again result in an unsuccessful bid for government in 2024.
While Khama has denied that he has undeclared preference to have Boko remaining as leader of UDC, many believe that the two have a common programme, while other opposition leaders remain on the side-lines.