President Lt Gen Ian Khama finds himself caught between a rock and hard place as he has to deal with a simmering war between his younger brother who is also Minister Environment, Natural Resources Conservation and Tourism, Tshekedi Khama and Directorate on Intelligence and Security Services (DISS) Director General, Isaac Kgosi, Weekend Post can reveal.
The two are throwing jabs at each other at every opportunity with Minister Tshekedi leading the onslaught because of public space and freedom. In the wake of public outcry about his retirement benefits, President Khama this matter to address before he leaves office in April 2018.
Last week the President had to step in to stop a DISS pursuit to call a press conference and respond to Tshekedi Khama. With the adage of blood is thicker than water failing to apply in this feud, President Khama finds himself sitting on the fence and nursing a very fragile relationship between the intelligence organ, DISS and his young brother, Tshekedi Khama.
The past few weeks have in particular become a headache for president Khama, with his brother on the loose. This publication has been informed by security sources that DISS’s first planned press conference was aborted at the last minute last week, 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.
According to sources, the planned press conference was aborted to save face and prevent a situation where government department could appear to be at war with each other. 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. This publication learns that Khama had to be bold and plead with Kgosi to calm down and call off the press conference.
The fallout between Tshekedi and Kgosi came into play a few weeks back when the former, in an unexpected turn of events refused to support 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 animals attacks is always lower than what they require and it has been so for the past few 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.
The Wildlife anti-poaching intelligence is the brainchild of Tshekedi himself in a bid to protect the wildlife. In clear sign that he would do everything to get what he wants, Tshekedi went on to appoint Brigadier Peter Magosi to head the wildlife intelligence unit. Brigadier Magosi had just been fired by President Khama from the army at the time of his appointment, following a perceived battle between him, Kgosi and others close to President Khama. His expulsion came in the back of the recommendation of the then commander of Botswana Defence Force (BDF) Lt Gen Gaolathe Galaebotswe.
Kgosi is one of Khama’s trusted men, with the two having a close relationship spanning for over two decades. Following his ascendency to the Presidency in 2008, Khama appointed Kgosi the first Director General of the spy unit, the position he has been holding up to date. The DIS boss has remained calm amid accusations levelled against his organisation and by extension himself. He seldom responds to media enquiries and prefers to keep things to himself. However, the burning issues in between him and Tshekedi have seen him provoked to change tact. Kgosi has faced a barrage of accusations, including alleged corruption since his appointment to the position of Director General of the DISS.
According to impeccable sources at both government enclave and within the spy organ, Kgosi has expressed his disappointed with the leakage of information which he deemed sensitive. This publication was further informed that Kgosi said leaking of such sensitive security information such as naming of flights “does not compromise him as an individual but exposes the country to vulnerability.”
On the other side of the aisle is Khama’s younger brother. Tshekedi entered public domain in 2008 when he replaced Khama as Member of Parliament for Serowe North West constituency (now Serowe West) amid a controversy. Upon Khama’s departure, Gomolemo Motswaledi had sought to contest the constituency but was dissuaded from doing so, leaving Tshekedi unopposed for at party primaries.
In 2012, Khama appointed Tshekedi Minister of Environment, Natural Resources Conservation and Tourism, in a move which was perceived as to protect the Khama family business interest. The Khama family is known to have invested in the tourism sector substantially and tourism remains a sector that is dear to them.
The dilemma facing Khama according to informants is that he is incapable of taking sides against neither Kgosi nor Tshekedi or to take a punitive measure against either of them. His inner circle is incapable of resolving the matter as well with the source of antagonism between the Kgosi and Tshekedi still unknown.
This publication was further told by sources that the DISS is of the view that some government departments, not only the wildlife department “desire to do the tasks which are responsibilities of the DIS, therefore causing a conflict between them and the intelligence unit.” Tshekedi Khama has been accused of forming his own intelligence unit at the Ministry of Environment disguising it as an anti-poaching unit.
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.
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.
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.