Isaac Kgosi ready to fight
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.
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Malawi appeals for help over Cyclone Freddy at PAP
As of yesterday evening, the death toll from the Cyclone in Malawi had risen from the initially reported 190 to 225 in a short period of time, over 20 000 people have been displaced, and the worst of fears are yet to come as the fatalities continue to mount. This was reported by a Malawi Member of Parliament attending the Pan African Parliament session in Midrand, South Africa, Hon Steven Mikiya.
Mikiya was giving a statement on behalf of Malawi as the ongoing Pan African Parliament in South Africa.
Mikiya said the Cyclone has wreaked the most havoc in our country’s Southern Region. “The Southern Region, has been hardest hit with widespread heavy rains and strong winds. This caused a rapid rise in water levels and subsequent flooding. Meanwhile, power supply has been disrupted, roads blocked off and rendered impassable and mudslides have also been widely reported,” he said.
He made a special appeal to the PAP: “Where I come from, there is a parable which I would like to share with you which says, “mzako weniweni umamudziwa panthawi ya mavuto.” Simply put, a friend in need is a friend indeed or put loosely, a person who helps at a difficult time is a friend you can rely on.”
Mikiya continued: “Yes! Misfortune has knocked on our door and left in its wake a trail of death and destruction that may take years to fully recover from. However, amidst these difficulties, I have every reason to believe that sometimes when you are in a dark place and think you have been buried, you have actually been planted. My belief, Mr. President, arises out of my faith in this gathering and out of the conviction that it is not coincidental that Cyclone Freddy hit Malawi and Mozambique while the delegations of both countries are here.”
According to Mikiya, the level of destruction, the loss of life, property and the decimation of the entire fabric of established communities has been unprecedented. He noted that all this, is coming at a time when Malawi was starting to show signs of recovery from the deadly COVID-19 pandemic that also came hard on the heels of Cyclone Ana and Cyclone Gombe that left a similar trail of devastation and destruction in Malawi and neighbouring countries.
As of Sunday, this week, from the 12th of March, Malawi and Mozambique have been facing the devastating effects of Cyclone Freddy that made a landfall over Mozambique on Saturday the 11th and reached Malawi by Sunday the 12th of March.
The Malawi legislator said he has absolute faith in the Pan African Parliament, which he described as “a league of nations brought together by a shared ancestry, history, identity as well as our beloved continent which we inhabit”.
Meanwhile, Malawi President, Lazarus Chakwera, has declared a State of Disaster in the affected areas effectively appealing for local and international support for the affected families.
Mikiya appealed to the Pan African Parliament drawing “positive” inspiration from Europe which rallied around Turkey after the destructive earthquakes to bring the much-needed relief and humanitarian aid to the people of Turkey.
He said Africa should demonstrate to the world that the African Union and its Organs are not mere talk shows, but effective institutions which stand up when it matters most.
“Alone, it may take us a lifetime to fully recover, but together, in the Pan-Africanist spirit of Ubuntu, our lives and livelihoods will return to a semblance of normality in record time. This is the time to live by our operative mantra, “One Africa, One Voice.” Mikiya concluded.