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Magosi will support Commission of Inquiry on DIS activities

The newly appointed Director General of Directorate of Intelligence and Security (DIS), Brigadier Peter Magosi will support investigations into the perceived illegal activities of the intelligence organ if the oversight institutions call for it, Weekend Post has established.

Brigadier Magosi revealed this yesterday [Friday] on the sidelines of the organisation’s first press conference under his leadership. The DISS was formed 10 years ago. Coaxed by this publication to give his view on the perceived need to investigate the activities of DIS during the tutelage of his predecessor Colonel Isaac Kgosi, Magosi gave a hint of his support if authorities call for it.

“Look, I am the driver of the vehicle. There is somebody who decides the destination of the vehicle. If those who decide the destination believe that there should be a commission of an inquiry, I will support it,” he said. “I will do everything to ensure that DIS is a professional institution and gains trust from the public.”

President Mokgweetsi Masisi is empowered by the law to set-up a commission of an inquiry and set its terms of references.  Masisi dismissed Colonel Kgosi from office last month in an unexpected turn of events and replaced him with Brigadier Magosi.  Magosi stated that his duty as the new spy chief is to set new high standards and ensure that the activities of the organisation are carried out in a professional manner and purely in the interest of the nation.

There has been litany of complaints against the DIS, with some within and outside the political sphere believing that the spy agency has been encroaching on their private life unnecessarily. Under the leadership of Colonel Kgosi, who is the organisation’s founding Director General; the organisation gained a bad reputation leading to a rejection by the public.  Its formation was without controversy, with many ruling party Members of Parliament famously opposing the legislation which created the organisation.

Established in 2008, its core mandate, according to the Intelligence and Security Service Act, is to investigate, gather, coordinate, evaluate, correlate, interpret, disseminate and store information, whether inside or outside Botswana, for the purpose of; detecting and identifying any threat or potential threat to national security. Another mandate of the DIS is advising the President and the Government of any threat or potential threat to national security as well as taking steps to protect the security interests of Botswana, whether political, military and economic.  

There is a believe that the phone taping as done by the DIS under Kgosi’s regime, bordered on illegality and does not fall within proper activities of the intelligence organ. Magosi however said though he believes that the activities of the DIS should not unfairly bother ordinary citizens, he said in the event that there is a need, the organisation will go overboard to get the information that it requires. 

“Intelligence activities are covert, just like in investigative journalism. Sometimes we use extreme means to gather information if there is a need to do that. We do this in the interest of the public,” he hinted. The DIS, as per the legislation that established it, has various bodies that it should keep it in check. Its activities should be authorised by the Defence Council, Parliamentary Committee on Intelligence Security as well as the DIS Tribunal.

CRITICISM OF DIS OPERATION AND INTERFERENCE

Last year, the leader of Alliance for Progressives (DIS) Ndaba Gaolathe, did not have so much good words for the intelligence organ, blaming if for the problems that besiege government and accusing it of interference. “The Intelligence Services is more powerful than the rest of the Government decision making machinery,” said Gaolathe. “It is them that decide who gets awarded the multi-million Government procurement assignments, it is them that decide whose expatriate VISA gets approved.”

Gaolathe contended that DIS has an influential role in deciding appointments to key positions in both government and quasi-government institutions. “It is them that re-allocate willy-nilly Government reserves as we they did with the National Petrol Fund,” he said. “They are above the law, and no one is able to find a way for them to face the wrath of the law.”

Gaolathe said even though some people maybe in denial or believe it to be false, many people leave in fear of retribution of government for their conversation. “Even those who are in denial are afraid to speak freely on their phones and will refuse to be drawn into conversations that involve the Government, because they feel that this may be used against them somehow,” he said.

Gaolathe’s criticism for DIS has been consistent, taking a shot at it at every opportunity. In his response to President Lt Gen Ian Khama’s valedictory State of Nation Address (SONA), Gaolathe criticised the process which led to the formation of the DIS. “As long as we are here, we will not relent from pouring cold water on the legislation that brought the DIS to life, which monster has injected a rapacious poison into our life-blood as a people,” he said.

“Whether it is real or perceived the DIS is at the heart of everything that is wrong about our Governance system – it is an institution that has been associated with extrajudicial killings, the nepotistic award or non-award of mega-lucrative tenders, immigration decisions for expatriates and investors as well as non-merit appointments to key Government roles in the Executive and Judiciary.”

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DPP halts JSC, Judge’s back to work plan

25th January 2021
Kebonang

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.

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BDP rejects Saleshando payment proposal

25th January 2021
MP saleshando

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.

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Boko-Khama axis viewed with suspicion

25th January 2021
boko-and-khama

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.

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