The Directorate on Intelligence Services (DIS)’s participation in the recent money laundering scandal involving the National Petroleum Fund (NPF) shows the extent of which the intelligence organs runs affairs of the government.
This has been observed by the Alliance for Progressives (AP) leader Ndaba Gaolathe at the party’s 1st Annual Policy Statement last week. Gaolathe is of the view that, DIS has amassed power to the extent that it is literally runs the government of Botswana.
There have been pleas, including from defence lawyer Kgosi Ngakayagae for the prosecuting authority to also charge intelligence chief Isaac Kgosi in connection with the money laundering activities that have ensnared former Kgori Capital managing director Bakang Seretse . “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.”
He said the current Government does not have the interest to bring the DIS to the book, and even if they were willing to do so, the current governance mechanism would allow them to effective deal with the ‘rogue’ institution. “Our Government system is centralised, and Parliament lacks the institutional capacity to fulfill its constitutional mandate, consequently our system is not one of checks-and-balances; it is a legitimised authoritarian rule,” he opined.
“Our Government is configured in a way that not only legitimizes authoritarianism by the central Government or Presidency in particular, it promotes it. We cannot, with our system, expect to successfully combat corruption when we know the system is configured in a way that inherently feeds corruption, not combat it.”
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.
DIS was established amid controversy shortly after President Lt Gen Ian Khama assumed office in 2008. The Disaster Fund was diverted to help establish the organisation amid strong resistance from Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) backbenchers as well as opposition legislators.
“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,” Gaolathe said
Gaolathe is of the view that, although there is room for an intelligence agency in any democracy, including that of Botswana, there should be legislative safeguards against abuse of such powers. “Botswana is ripe for such safeguards including ones that set up technical/specialized panels with rights and powers to audit the uses of funds by the DIS, and independent panel with full oversight functions including treatment of abuse cases,” Gaolathe.
The intelligence chief, Kgosi has however on numerous occasions defended the DIS from the perception that it does not account to anyone. He blames the responsible bodies, among them the Intelligence and Security Parliamentary Committee which have for years failed to convene a meeting that would summon the DIS boss. “It is a matter which is beyond me. I cannot account to myself or I cannot cause the meeting to take place because there is oversight body mandated to do that,” Kgosi told Public Accounts Committee in 2016.
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.