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Khama caught between DISS, Tshekedi feud

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.

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13 AUGUST 2022 Publication

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DIS blasted for cruelty – UN report

26th July 2022
DIS BOSS: Magosi

Botswana has made improvements on preventing and ending arbitrary deprivation of liberty, but significant challenges remain in further developing and implementing a legal framework, the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention said at the end of a visit recently.

Head of the delegation, Elina Steinerte, appreciated the transparency of Botswana for opening her doors to them. Having had full and unimpeded access and visited 19 places of deprivation of liberty and confidentiality interviewing over 100 persons deprived of their liberty.

She mentioned “We commend Botswana for its openness in inviting the Working Group to conduct this visit which is the first visit of the Working Group to the Southern African region in over a decade. This is a further extension of the commitment to uphold international human rights obligations undertaken by Botswana through its ratification of international human rights treaties.”

Another good act Botswana has been praised for is the remission of sentences. Steinerte echoed that the Prisons Act grants remission of one third of the sentence to anyone who has been imprisoned for more than one month unless the person has been sentenced to life imprisonment or detained at the President’s Pleasure or if the remission would result in the discharge of any prisoner before serving a term of imprisonment of one month.

On the other side; The Group received testimonies about the police using excessive force, including beatings, electrocution, and suffocation of suspects to extract confessions. Of which when the suspects raised the matter with the magistrates, medical examinations would be ordered but often not carried out and the consideration of cases would proceed.

“The Group recall that any such treatment may amount to torture and ill-treatment absolutely prohibited in international law and also lead to arbitrary detention. Judicial authorities must ensure that the Government has met its obligation of demonstrating that confessions were given without coercion, including through any direct or indirect physical or undue psychological pressure. Judges should consider inadmissible any statement obtained through torture or ill-treatment and should order prompt and effective investigations into such allegations,” said Steinerte.

One of the group’s main concern was the DIS held suspects for over 48 hours for interviews. Established under the Intelligence and Security Service Act, the Directorate of Intelligence and Security (DIS) has powers to arrest with or without a warrant.

The group said the “DIS usually requests individuals to come in for an interview and has no powers to detain anyone beyond 48 hours; any overnight detention would take place in regular police stations.”

The Group was able to visit the DIS facilities in Sebele and received numerous testimonies from persons who have been taken there for interviewing, making it evident that individuals can be detained in the facility even if the detention does not last more than few hours.

Moreover, while arrest without a warrant is permissible only when there is a reasonable suspicion of a crime being committed, the evidence received indicates that arrests without a warrant are a rule rather than an exception, in contravention to article 9 of the Covenant.

Even short periods of detention constitute deprivation of liberty when a person is not free to leave at will and in all those instances when safeguards against arbitrary detention are violated, also such short periods may amount to arbitrary deprivation of liberty.

The group also learned of instances when persons were taken to DIS for interviewing without being given the possibility to notify their next of kin and that while individuals are allowed to consult their lawyers prior to being interviewed, lawyers are not allowed to be present during the interviews.

The UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention mentioned they will continue engaging in the constructive dialogue with the Government of Botswana over the following months while they determine their final conclusions in relation to the country visit.

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Stan Chart halts civil servants property loan facility

26th July 2022
Stan-Chart

Standard Chartered Bank Botswana (SCBB) has informed the government that it will not be accepting new loan applications for the Government Employees Motor Vehicle and Residential Property Advance Scheme (GEMVAS and LAMVAS) facility.

This emerges in a correspondence between Acting Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Finance Boniface Mphetlhe and some government departments. In a letter he wrote recently to government departments informing them of the decision, Mphetlhe indicated that the Ministry received a request from the Bank to consider reviewing GEMVAS and LAMVAS agreement.

He said: “In summary SCBB requested the following; Government should consider reviewing GEMVAS and LAMVAS interest rate from prime plus 0.5% to prime plus 2%.” The Bank indicated that the review should be both for existing GEMVAS and LAMVAS clients and potential customers going forward.

Mphetlhe said the Bank informed the Ministry that the current GEMVAS and LAMVAS interest rate structure results into them making losses, “as the cost of loa disbursements is higher that their end collections.”

He said it also requested that the loan tenure for the residential property loans to be increased from 20 to 25 years and the loan tenure for new motor vehicles loans to be increased from 60 months to 72 months.

Mphetlhe indicated that the Bank’s request has been duly forwarded to the Directorate of Public Service Management for consideration, since GEMVAS and LAMVAS is a Condition of Service Scheme. He saidthe Bank did also inform the Ministry that if the matter is not resolved by the 6th June, 2022, they would cease receipt of new GEMVAS and LAMVAS loan applications.

“A follow up virtual meeting was held to discuss their resolution and SCB did confirm that they will not be accepting any new loans from GEMVAS and LAMVAS. The decision includes top-up advances,” said Mphetlhe. He advised civil servants to consider applying for loans from other banks.

In a letter addressed to the Ministry, SCBB Chief Executive Officer Mpho Masupe informed theministry that, “Reference is made to your letter dated 18th March 2022 wherein the Ministry had indicated that feedback to our proposal on the above subject is being sought.”

In thesame letter dated 10 May 2022, Masupe stated that the Bank was requesting for an update on the Ministry’s engagements with the relevant stakeholder (Directorate of Public Service Management) and provide an indicative timeline for conclusion.

He said the “SCBB informs the Ministry of its intention to cease issuance of new loans to applicants from 6th June 2022 in absence of any feedback on the matter and closure of the discussions between the two parties.”  Previously, Masupe had also had requested the Ministry to consider a review of clause 3 of the agreement which speaks to the interest rate charged on the facilities.

Masupe indicated in the letter dated 21 December 2021 that although all the Banks in the market had signed a similar agreement, subject to amendments that each may have requested. “We would like to suggest that our review be considered individually as opposed to being an industry position as we are cognisant of the requirements of section 25 of the Competition Act of 2018 which discourages fixing of pricing set for consumers,” he said.

He added that,“In this way,clients would still have the opportunity to shop around for more favourable pricing and the other Banks, may if they wish to, similarly, individually approach your office for a review of their pricing to the extent that they deem suitable for their respective organisations.”

Masupe also stated that: “On the issue of our request for the revision of the Interest Rate, we kindly request for an increase from the current rate of prime plus 0.5% to prime plus 2%, with no other increases during the loan period.” The Bank CEO said the rationale for the request to review pricing is due to the current construct of the GEMVAS scheme which is currently structured in a way that is resulting in the Bank making a loss.

“The greater part of the GEMVAS portfolio is the mortgage boo which constitutes 40% of the Bank’s total mortgage portfolio,” said Masupe. He saidthe losses that the Bank is incurring are as a result of the legacy pricing of prime plus 0% as the 1995 agreement which a slight increase in the August 2018 agreement to prime plus 0.5%.

“With this pricing, the GEMVAS portfolio has not been profitable to the Bank, causing distress and impeding its ability to continue to support government employees to buy houses and cars. The portfolio is currently priced at 5.25%,” he said.  Masupe said the performance of both the GEMVAS home loan and auto loan portfolios in terms of profitability have become unsustainable for the Bank.

Healso said, when the agreement was signed in August 2018, the prime lending rate was 6.75% which made the pricing in effect at the time sufficient from a profitable perspective. “It has since dropped by a total 1.5%. The funds that are loaned to customers are sourced at a high rate, which now leaves the Bank with marginal profits on the portfolio before factoring in other operational expenses associated with administration of the scheme and after sales care of the portfolio,” said the CEO.

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