Opposition stalwart Dumelang Saleshando has stated that the Directorate of Intelligence and Security Services (DISS) Director General, Isaac Kgosi is absolutely right in the stance he has adopted at the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) interrogation.
The PAC which is tasked with examining government’s books is interrogating Kgosi’s DISS involvement in the ongoing P250 million pula National Petroleum Fund (NPF) saga. The fund is also the subject of a current High Court case in which prominent figures and political kingpin Bakang Seretse and two other accused Botho Leburu and Kenneth Kerekang are charged for money laundering.
In the PAC cross-examination, Kgosi’s subpoena follows the appearance of Minister of Mineral Resources, Green Technology and Energy Security Sadique Kebonang as well as his Permanent Secretary Dr. Obolokile Obakeng. The spy chief has maintained his posture of out rightly declining to divulge vital information relating to his involvement in the NPF loot particularly issues surrounding the instruction from DIS and subsequent disbursement of the P230 million from the NPF to the DIS.
“I cannot discuss or comment on anything that is classified unless it is de-classified,” maintained the notorious Kgosi at the PAC committee. The chairperson of PAC who was caught between a rock and a hard place in dealing with Kgosi, Dithapelo Keorapetse summoned him (Kgosi) to give more evidence again this week with the possibility of compelling him to reveal the information he refused to divulge before the committee.
Keorapetse, who is also legislator for Selibe Phikwe West said the committee will also summon the Botswana National Archives and Records Services accounting officer to give evidence and advice on classified information, which Kgosi used as an excuse not to share information with the committee.â€¨â€¨Keorapetse further stated that the committee will invoke the Standing Order relating to the Powers and Privileges of the National Assembly to compel Kgosi to give information that he refused to give, failing which it will be contempt, which will attract the wrath of the law.
In light of the PAC matter, Saleshando told WeekendPost, this week in an interview while defending Kgosi’s refusal to divulge more information he deemed “classified” saying he is not really the one to blame. At the time when the Act was passed in 2008, the Botswana Congress Party (BCP) two-time law maker said people did not really apply their minds and they deliberately chose to be stupid.
“So, I think Isaac Kgosi has a point, he has been correctly advised,” the BCP leader told WeekendPost adding that if anything “he is simply abusing the Act which does not conform to the modern standards of mere checks and balances.” Saleshando reiterated: “we can’t blame him for it, just like his mentor ex President Lt. Gen. Seretse Khama Ian Khama when he looked at the loopholes in the Botswana constitution and used them to his advantage and benefit.”
He reminisced that when asked why he (Khama) was abusing the constitution, Khama insisted he did not write the constitution. This, he stressed, was Khama’s weapon from day 1 of his presidency. He said he then started applying the law willy-nilly by being the first to go on sabbatical leave. So in terms of utilizing the loopholes of the law, the former Gaborone Central legislator emphasised that Kgosi learnt from the best.
“So, Kgosi is just looking at the DISS Act. Anything he does not want to comment on, he “classifies” it. There is no provision if classifying was done in best interest of the organisation or country.” However Saleshando further observed that the problems this country has about corruption are bigger than the spy chief who he described as “just an individual”; adding that “he can either drop or die tomorrow”.
According to Saleshando, whoever assumes the position of DISS Director General after Kgosi under the current DISS Act and circumstances could also become a problem as allowed by the existing law. Saleshando therefore added that the real test for Masisi as the new president of the country is that: “he has a DISS Director General; and he walks in and there is a mess created by the DISS.”
“Does he have the courage to act by suspending Kgosi to allow for full investigations? Can he fire him? Is Masisi also afraid of Kgosi? If he doesn’t act I think it will also show that he (Masisi) is also afraid of him (Kgosi) as some Ministers have been purporting recently.” DIS Director General, Kgosi was appointed by President Khama on such terms and conditions as he, on the recommendation of the Council, determined. He is responsible for the direction, control, administration and expenditure of the Directorate.
Just last week, former Minister of Mineral Resources, Green Technology and Energy Security, Sadique Kebonang revealed to PAC that members of the executive (Cabinet), the public and; corruption busting agency Directorate of Corruption and Economic Crime (DCEC) “fear” the intelligence organ (DIS).
The organ was started through the unlawful assistance of the Disaster Funds which were diverted despite strong resistance from some in the ruling Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) backbench like Ponatshego Kedikilwe, Botsalo Ntuane as well as opposition legislators like Saleshando. DIS was instigated following a strict instruction in 2008 upon ascension to the Presidency by President Khama.
Saleshando remembered this week that: “it was when their messiah, Khama was coming to the presidency so they wanted to pass the DISS Act come rain or sunshine as Khama wanted it so badly.” Saleshando said the problem with the said law, as its flaws started to play out in the public and lately at the PAC, is that there were no attempts to build on mechanism to provide checks and balances.
The BCP leader said the law does not force to reveal the classified information at PAC whereas the top leadership of the country supported the motion to review the NPF as moved by Mephato Reatile at the close of last year. Saleshando said it is a pity that Masisi, as Vice President supported the said motion together with Prince Maele, Guma Moyo, Botlogile Tshireletso and Polson Majaga for the parliamentary committee PAC to take up the matter “but PAC is now appearing helpless as we can all see”.
Intelligence and Security Services Act prohibits disclosure of information
In light of Saleshando’s sentiments of the law, WeekendPost perused through the controversial Act and has some few highlights of the monster law with regard to prohibiting disclosure of information. In terms of section 20, outlining the prohibition of unauthorized disclosure of information subsection (1) states that “without prejudice to any other written law, an officer or support staff shall not disclose or use any information gained by him or her by virtue of his or her employment otherwise than in the strict course of his or her official duties or with the authority of the Director General.”
It continues at subsection(2) that “no officer or support staff shall be required to produce, before any public body other than a Parliamentary Committee established under the Standing Orders of the National Assembly, any document or other evidence where – (a) it is certified by the Director General- (i) that the document or other evidence belongs to a class of documents or evidence, the production of which is injurious to public interest, or (ii) that disclosure of the evidence or of the contents of the document will be injurious to public interest.”
The contentious section further posits that; “or (b) the Central Intelligence Committee certifies- (i) that the document or other evidence belongs to a class the production of which is prejudicial to national security, or (ii) that disclosure of the evidence or of the contents of the document will be prejudicial to national security.”
According to subsection (3) of the said DISS Act: a person aggrieved by a decision of the Director General or the Central Intelligence Committee may apply to the High Court for determination whether the production, or the disclosure of the contents, of the document or other evidence would be injurious to the public interest or, as the case may be, prejudicial to national security.
Botswana Police Service (BPS) has indicated concern about the ongoing trend where the general public falls victim to criminals purporting to be police officers.
According to BPS Assistant Commissioner, Dipheko Motube, the criminals target individuals at shopping malls and Automated Teller Machines (ATMs) where upon approaching the unsuspecting individual the criminals would pretend to have picked a substantial amount of money and they would make a proposal to the victims that the money is counted and shared in an isolated place.
“On the way, as they stop at the isolated place, they would start to count and sharing of the money, a criminal syndicate claiming to be Criminal Investigation Department (CID) officer investigating a case of stolen money will approach them,” said Motube in a statement.
The Commissioner indicated that the fake police officers would instruct the victims to hand over all the cash they have in their possession, including bank cards and Personal Identification Number (PIN), the perpetrators would then proceed to withdraw money from the victim’s bank account.
Motube also revealed that they are also investigating a case in which a 69 year old Motswana woman from Molepolole- who is a victim of the scam- lost over P62 000 last week Friday to the said perpetrators.
“The Criminal syndicate introduced themselves as CID officers investigating a case of robbery where a man accompanying the woman was the suspect.’’
They subsequently went to the woman’s place and took cash amounting to over P12 000 and further swindled amount of P50 000 from the woman’s bank account under the pretext of the further investigations.
In addition, Motube said they are currently investigating the matter and therefore warned the public to be vigilant of such characters and further reminds the public that no police officer would ask for bank cards and PINs during the investigations.
Botswana Congress Party (BCP) leadership walked out of Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) National Executive Committee (NEC) meeting this week on account of being targeted by other cooperating partners.
UDC meet for the first time since 2020 after previous futile attempts, but the meeting turned into a circus after other members of the executive pushed for BCP to explain its role in media statements that disparate either UDC and/or contracting parties.
The Director General of the Directorate on Corruption and Economic Crimes (DCEC), Tymon Katlholo’s spirited fight against the contentious transfers of his management team has forced the Office of the President to rescind the controversial decision. However, some insiders suggest that the reversal of the transfers may have left some interested parties with bruised egos and nursing red wounds.
The transfers were seen by observers as a badly calculated move to emasculate the DCEC which is seen as defiant against certain objectionable objectives by certain law enforcement agencies – who are proven decisionists with very little regard for the law and principle.