The clash involving the Directorate on Intelligence Security Services (DISS) and Ministry of Environment, Natural Resources Conservation and Tourism is far from over, as this week the intelligence chief Isaac Kgosi insisted before Public Accounts Committee (PAC) that it is the mandate of DIS to pursue anti-poaching mission.
Last week, Ministry of Tourism Permanent Secretary, Jimmy Opelo informed the committee that the Wildlife anti-poaching unit was capable of pursuing its mission given the resources at its disposal. He informed PAC that the wildlife department has eight aircrafts and eight special vehicles used in combating poaching in Botswana.
PAC member, Mephato Reatile had inquired as to whether Members of Parliament should support or ignore supplementary budgets that frequently come from the Botswana Defence Force (BDF) and the DISS under the disguise of anti-poaching mission. This week the DISS boss differed significantly with the permanent secretary when legislator Reatile presented the issue before him. Kgosi said although the Wildlife anti-poaching unit has the aircrafts and specialised vehicles to combat poachers, they (Wildlife Unit) need the presence of the intelligence if they are to succeed.
“In Setswana were say: “moroto wa o esi ga o ele,” said the DIS boss. Kgosi contended that as a security organ, there is no way they are going to stay away from pursuing poachers because the task remains one of its major priorities. “We are not in competition with them [Wildlife Anti-poaching Unit]. The role of the DIS is to gather intelligence for its consumers. We are not only limited to our country as we even go international to gather intelligence,” he said.
“Not long ago, we found a stash of elephant tusks from Botswana in one country. Ours is not about having specialised vehicles or aircrafts but gathering intelligence.” Kgosi said not only is the DIS role in the anti-poaching complementary, its anti-poaching missions are also sanctioned by the Central Intelligence Committee (CIC). “All operations of the DIS are sanctioned by the CIC, which the DIS report to,” he said. “Because anything can happen, people may lose lives during the operation.”
ON DIS/TSHEKEDI KHAMA TENSION
The DIS boss said as far as he is concerned there is no bad blood between the DIS and the Wildlife Anti-poaching Unit or the Minister of Tourism, Tshekedi Khama. Guma Moyo, Tati East Member of Parliament and also a PAC member had raised concern in relation to reports playing out in public with regard to the animosity between intelligence organs.
“Perception is stronger than reality. What is happening in the national security community is a cause for concern; because nobody is coming out publicly to state the record straight, citizens are worried; they are beginning to wonder if they are really safe,” said the Tati East lawmaker.
Reatile also raised the same concerns and asked whether the DIS boss could be hiding important information in regard to the current state of affairs. Reatile said the tendency to deny reality will end up landing the DIS boss in trouble as evidenced by incidents in other countries, giving example of disgraced former intelligence chief in Angola. Kgosi informed the committee that the DIS is scheduled to address its first press conference alongside the concerned parties to finally put the matter to bed.
The DISS’s first planned press conference was aborted at the last minute a month ago, with the DISS hierarchy resolute on refuting the damning story which appeared in the Sunday Standard newspaper about DISS’s illegal involvement in the smuggling of ivory out of the country.
The planned press conference was aborted after the intervention of President Lt Gen Ian Khama, to save face and prevent a situation where government departments could appear to be at war with each other’s throats. DISS has never held a press conference before and does not have public relations unit at the moment in its ranks. It is understood that Kgosi was prepared to name and shame at the said press conference.
While Kgosi continued to downplay the gravity of differences with the Wildlife Anti-Poaching unit, Tshekedi Khama has opted to make his position known about the DISS involvement in anti-poaching missions. Earlier this year he refused to support the DISS supplementary funding, insisting that it was a misplaced request. He pointed out that for the good of the country, the government should get its priorities right.
Tshekedi’s reasons for rejecting DISS request for additional funding was that the money that his ministry always requests to compensate Batswana who lose lives and livestock due to wild animal attacks is always lower than what they require and it has been so for many years.
“I become surprised that for the DISS, P15 million can be passed to fix the computers. What are we saying to Batswana? Are we telling them that we cannot compensate them for the damages caused by wildlife or when they have lost a family member yet we can afford to fix computers?” he told parliament then.
On other issues raised by the PAC, Kgosi revealed that the DIS operations are in line with world best practices. He noted that the intelligence community reports to oversight organs such as the National Intelligence Committee (NIC), Central Intelligence Committee (CIC), the Auditor General as well as the PAC. Ndaba Gaolathe had wanted to know if the DIS chief considers the organs’ operations to be in line with the world best practices.
Kgosi further confirmed to the committee that DIS is responsible for VISA and permits vetting and noted that the intelligence however takes only four days to process that. He noted that the vetting is based solely on security reasons and there are no other criterions used. Bogolo Kenewendo wanted to know if the assessment of VISA and permits was points based or solely on “Security threat /Not security threat.”
The committee was also informed that the drug dealings and smuggling were growing at an alarming rate, with new kinds of drugs entering Botswana on daily basis. Kgosi revealed that on average 10-15 people are found in possession of drugs on a daily basis. He said the culprits are not only the unemployed youth but even professionals. He shared with the committee that recently a practicing medical doctor was arrested after being found in possession of drugs.
BATSWANA ARE GOSSIPERS AND COWARDS
Kgosi could not spare the character of Batswana when appearing before the committee as he expressed that they are “cowards” and “gossipers.” He said a lot of negative talk said about the DIS is far from the truth. He said when some government department are unable to do their job, they shift the blame to the DIS, pointing to a case in particular involving the Department of Immigration who he said are fond of accusing DIS of delaying issuance of VISAs and permits when in fact DIS only takes four days to do the assessments. He said others who accuse him of wrong doings do not have the temerity to seek audience with him because they are cowards.
While there is no hard-and-fast rule in politics, former Molepolole North Member of Parliament, Mohamed Khan says populism acts in the body politic have forced him to quit active partisan politics. He brands this ancient ascription of politics as fake and says it lowers the moral compass of the society.
Khan who finally tasted political victory in the 2014 elections after numerous failed attempts, has decided to leave the ‘dirty game’, and on his way out he characteristically lashed at the current political leaders; including his own party president, Advocate Duma Boko. “I arrived at this decision because I have noticed that there are no genuine politics and politicians. The current leaders, Boko and President Dr Mokgweetsi Masisi are fake politicians who are just practicing populist politics to feed their egos,” he said.
Former Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) parliamentary hopeful, Lawrence Ookeditse has rejected the idea of taking up a crucial role in the Botswana Patriotic Front (BPF) Central Committee following his arrival in the party this week. According to sources close to development, BPF power brokers are coaxing Ookeditse to take up the secretary general position, left vacant by death of Roseline Panzirah-Matshome in November 2020.
Ookeditse’s arrival at BPF is projected to cause conflicts, as some believe they are being overlooked, in favour of a new arrival. The former ruling party strategist has however ruled out the possibility of serving in the party central committee as secretary general, and committed that he will turn down the overture if availed to him by party leadership.
Ookeditse, nevertheless, has indicated that if offered another opportunity to serve in a different capacity, he will gladly accept. “I still need to learn the party, how it functions and all its structures; I must be guided, but given any responsibility I will serve the party as long as it is not the SG position.”
“I joined the BPF with a clear conscious, to further advance my voice and the interests of the constituents of Nata/Gweta which I believe the BDP is no longer capable to execute.” Ookeditse speaks of abject poverty in his constituency and prevalent unemployment among the youth, issues he hopes his new home will prioritise.
He dismissed further allegations that he resigned from the BDP because he was not rewarded for his efforts towards the 2019 general elections. After losing in the BDP primaries in 2018, Ookeditse said, he was offered a job in government but declined to take the post due to his political ambitions. Ookeditse stated that he rejected the offer because, working for government clashed with his political journey.
He insists there are many activists who are more deserving than him; he could have chosen to take up the opportunity that was before him but his conscious for the entire populace’s wellbeing held him back. Ookeditse said there many people in the party who also contributed towards party success, asserting that he only left the BDP because he was concerned about the greater good of the majority not individualism purposes.
According to observers, Ookeditse has been enticed by the prospects of contesting Nata/Gweta constituency in the 2024 general election, following the party’s impressive performance in the last general elections. Nata/Gweta which is a traditional BDP stronghold saw its numbers shrinking to a margin of 1568. BDP represented by Polson Majaga garnered 4754, while BPF which had fielded Joe Linga received 3186 with UDC coming a distant with 1442 votes.
There are reports that Linga will pave way for Ookeditse to contest the constituency in 2024 and the latter is upbeat about the prospects of being elected to parliament. Despite Ookeditse dismissing reports that he is eying the secretary general position, insiders argue that the position will be availed to him nevertheless.
Alternative favourite for the position is Vuyo Notha who is the party Deputy Secretary General. Notha has since assumed duties of the secretariat office on the interim basis. BPF politburo is expected to meet on 25th of January 2020, where the vacancy will be filled.
Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) big wigs have decided to cancel a retreat with the party legislators this weekend owing to increasing numbers of Covid-19 cases. The meeting was billed for this weekend at a place that was to be confirmed, however a communique from the party this past Tuesday reversed the highly anticipated meeting.
“We received a communication this week that the meeting will not go as planned because of rapid spread of Covid-19,” one member of the party Central Committee confirmed to this publication. The gathering was to follow the first of its kind held late last year at party Treasurer Satar Dada’s place.