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Was the problem with Kgosi or the ISS Act, 2007? (Part I)

Ndulamo Anthony Morima
EAGLE WATCH

The tenure for the former Director General (DG) of the Directorate on Intelligence & Security Services (DISS), Colonel Isaac Kgosi, was marred with controversy, with many labelling him is the law onto himself.

Appearing before the Public Accounts Committee of Parliament on the National Petroleum Fund debacle, Kgosi himself is reported to have stated that he accounts to no one, and refused to answer most questions citing national security and that the matters were sub judicae since they were pending before the courts. While many believed the problem was Kgosi himself, Kgosi claimed that he was merely implementing the Intelligence and Security Services Act, 2007(“the Act”) and that any prudent DG will act in the manner he does.

The question, therefore, is: was the problem with Kgosi or the Act? In this four part series, we try to answer this question. In order to educate the reader about the Act, which is largely unknown, we do so by reproducing the relevant sections of the Act and then expressing our opinion them. This is critical because while there is hope that Kgosi’s successor, Peter Magosi, will bring improvement to the DISS he may be hamstrung if the problem lies with the Act. Magosi’s promise of openness, as promised during the historic press conference of 25th May 2018, may remain hollow if the problem is with the Act.

Also, the employment of a Public Relations Officer (PRO), as promised by Magosi, may be in vain if the PRO is going to be muzzled by the Act and fail to disseminate information to the media and the public as PROs do. In this part we deal with sections 5 to 7(d) of the Act. In part II we discuss sections 7(e) to 17. In part III we discuss sections 18 to 21(7). In part IV we discuss sections 27(8) to 24.

Section 5(1) provides that, subject to subsection (3), the DISS’s functions are to (a) investigate, gather, coordinate, evaluate, correlate, interpret, disseminate and store information, whether inside or outside Botswana, for the purposes of- (i) detecting and identifying any threat or potential threat to national security,(ii) advising the President and the Government of any threat or potential threat to national security and (iii) taking steps to protect the security interests of Botswana whether political, military or economic.

The DISS’s functions are also to (b) gather ministerial intelligence at the request of any Government ministry, department or agency and, without delay, to evaluate and transmit as appropriate to that ministry, department or agency, such intelligence and any other intelligence at the disposal of the Directorate which constitutes ministerial intelligence.

The DISS also has a function to (c) regulate, in cooperation with any Government ministry, department or agency entrusted with any aspect of the maintenance of national security, the flow of intelligence and security, and the coordination between the Directorate and that ministry, department or agency of functions relating to such intelligence.

It also has a duty to (d) advice Government, public bodies and statutory bodies on the protection of vital installations and classified documents; (e) carry out security vetting investigations for the security clearance of persons who have or may have access to any sensitive or classified information. Further, it has a duty to (f) make recommendations to the President in connection with-(i) policies concerning intelligence and security, (ii) intelligence and security priorities, and (iii) security measures in Government ministries, departments or agencies.

The aforesaid sections cannot be faulted because every country requires intelligence to protect its citizens from local and external threats. No wonder all countries, including such mature democracies as the United States of America (USA) and Great Britain have such intelligence agencies as Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) and MI5 respectively.

It is also the DISS’s duty to (g) provide personal protection to the former President, the former President’s immediate family, the President, the President’s immediate family, the Vice President, the Vice President’s immediate family, visiting dignitaries and such other persons as the President may determine; and (h) subject to any other written law, perform such other duties and functions as may, from time to time, be determined by the President to be in the national interest.

In my view, functions (a) to (g) are appropriate for such a security and intelligence organization as the DISS. Function (h) is, however, problematic because in a case where we have an unrestrained President it can be abused by having the DISS perform functions which infringe on citizens’ rights under the guise of national interest.

Section 5(2) provides that the Directorate shall not, in the performance of its functions, be influenced by considerations not relevant to such functions and no act shall be performed that could give rise to any reasonable suspicion that the Directorate is concerned in furthering, protecting or undermining the interests of any particular section of the population or of any political party or other organization in Botswana.

One of the complaints against the DISS has been that it is used for political purposes to spy on the Opposition. If this is true, it would be clearly in violation of section 5(2) supra. But, an unrestrained President can achieve such purpose in terms of section 5(1) (h) above. Section 5 (3) provides that subsection (1) shall not be construed as- (a) derogating from any power, duty or function conferred upon or entrusted to any person or authority other than the Directorate by or under any other written law.

It also provides that it shall not be construed as (b) limiting the continuation, establishment or functions of an intelligence capability connected to any Government ministry, department or agency in respect of any function relating to ministerial intelligence and (c) derogating from any duty or function of any body or committee instituted by the President.

One of the complaints against the DISS is that it has usurped the powers of such other security and intelligence agencies as the Botswana Police Service (BPS), the Botswana Defence Force (BDF)’s Military Intelligence unit and the Directorate on Corruption and Economic Crime (DCEC). The question is: if it did indeed do that is that permissible under the Act? The answer is no because section 5(3) explicitly prohibits that. So, if that happened during Kgosi’s tenure, it was not because of the Act, but because of Kgosi himself.
  

Section 6 provides that (1) there shall be a DG who shall be appointed by the President on such terms and conditions as the President may, on the recommendation of the Council, determine and (2) the DG shall be responsible for the direction, control, administration and expenditure of the Directorate. This section cannot be faulted.

Section 7 provides that without prejudice to section 6, the DG shall (a) be the principal advisor to the President and the Government on matters relating to national security and intelligence and (b) report to the President and the Government on threats and potential threats to national security. This section, too, cannot be faulted.

It further provides that (c) in consultation with the President and the Government, the DG shall ensure that a good relationship is established and maintained between the Directorate and every
Government ministry, department or agency and any other institution approved by the President.

One of the complaints relating to the DISS has been that it has not work well with other government ministries and departments. If that is true, the blame cannot be on the Act, but on Kgosi himself because section 7 (c) supra explicitly promotes good relations not only with government ministries and department, but also with any other institution approved by the President. 

Further that the DG shall (d) take all reasonable steps to ensure that the actions of the Directorate are limited to those necessary for the proper performance of its functions under this Act or any other written law and that no information is gathered by the Directorate except as may be necessary for the proper performance of its functions. The other complaint regarding the DISS has been that it is a law on its own; engages in activities which are beyond its mandate and gathers information from citizens, especially those in the Opposition, to use for irrelevant purposes.

But, section 7 (d) supra prohibits that. This can, however, be achieved through section 5(1) (h) which provides that ‘subject to any other written law, the DISS shall perform such other duties and functions as may, from time to time, be determined by the President to be in the national interest.’ In terms of section 5(1) (h), if the President, alone, determines that it is in the national interest that a particular person’s communications be intercepted for purposes of gathering information such action will be lawful in terms of the Act.

Of course, such action will be subjected to any other written law, for instance, section 9 the Constitution on protection for privacy of home and other property, but invocation of the limitation of such right on the national interest will often take precedence, especially that the President may not even be forced to give reasons for such action.

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Appendicitis: Recognising the Signs

29th March 2022

Many a times I get clients casually walking into my room and requesting to be checked for “appendix”.  Few questions down the line, it is clear they are unaware of where the appendix is or what to expect when one does have it (appendicitis). Jokingly (or maybe not) I would tell them they would possibly not be having appendicitis and laughing as hard as they are doing. On the other hand, I would be impressed that at least they know and acknowledge that appendicitis is a serious thing that they should be worried about.

So, what is Appendicitis?

Appendicitis is an inflammation of the appendix; a thin, finger-like pouch attached to the large intestine on the lower right side of the abdomen. Often the inflammation can be as a result of blockage either by the faecal matter, a foreign body, infection, trauma or a tumour. Appendicitis is generally acute, with symptoms coming on over the course of a day and becoming severe rapidly. Chronic appendicitis can also occur, though rarely. In chronic cases, symptoms are less severe and can last for days, weeks, or even months. 

Acute appendicitis is a medical emergency that almost always ends up in the operating theatre. Though the appendix is locally referred to as “lela la sukiri”, no one knows its exact role and it definitely does not have anything to do with sugar metabolism. Appendicitis can strike at any age, but it is mostly common from the teen years to the 30s.

Signs to look out for

If you have any of the following symptoms, go and see a Doctor immediately! Timely diagnosis and treatment are vital in acute appendicitis;

Sudden pain that starts around the navel and shifts to the lower right abdomen within hours

The pain becomes constant and increases in severity (or comes back despite painkillers)

The pain worsens on coughing, sneezing, laughing, walking or deep breaths

Loss of appetite

Nausea and vomiting

Fever

Constipation or diarrhoea

Abdominal bloating/fullness

Diagnosis

The doctor often asks questions regarding the symptoms and the patient’s medical history. This will be followed up by a physical examination in which the Doctor presses on the abdomen to check for any tenderness, and the location of the pain. With acute appendicitis, pressing on and letting go of the right lower abdomen usually elicits an excruciatingly unbearable pain. Several tests may be ordered to determine especially the severity of the illness and to rule out other causes of abdominal pain. The tests may conditions include: blood tests, a pregnancy test, urinalysis, abdominal  “How do ultrasound scans work?” ultrasound (scan), CT scan or MRI Scan.

Treatment

The gold standard treatment of acute appendicitis is surgical removal of the appendix known as appendectomy. Luckily, a person can live just fine without an appendix! Surgical options include laparoscopy or open surgery and the type will be decided on by the Surgeon after assessing the patient’s condition. Painkillers and antibiotics are also given intravenously usually before, during and after the surgery.

Complications

Appendicitis can cause serious complications such as;

Appendicular mass/abscessIf the appendix is inflamed or bursts, one may develop a pocket of pus around it known as an abscess. In most cases, the abscess will be treated with antibiotics and drained first by placing a tube through one’s abdominal wall into the abscess. The tube may be left in place for a few hours or days while the infection is clearing up but ultimately one would still have surgery to remove the appendix.

Peritonitis – without treatment, the appendix can rupture/burst. The risk of this rises 48–72 hours after symptoms start. A ruptured appendix spreads the infection throughout the abdomen (peritonitis). This is life threatening and requires immediate surgery to remove the appendix and clean the abdominal cavity.

Death – The complications of appendicitis (and appendectomy) can be life threatening, only if the diagnosis has been missed and no proper treatment has been given on time. This is rare though with the evolved medical care.

If you need further advice or treatment please call 4924730, email  HYPERLINK “mailto:info@themedicscentre.co.bw” info@themedicscentre.co.bw or visit www.themedisccentre.co.bw

Antoinette Boima, MBBS, BMedSci, PgDip HIV/AIDS, Cert Aesth Med is the Managing Director of The Medics Centre in Palapye.

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A degree of common sense

7th February 2022

Here’s a news item from last month you may have missed. In December 2021 the University of Staffordshire announced it would be offered a degree course in pantomime! Yes, that’s right, a degree in popular festive entertainment, the Christmas panto.

We used to have one here, put on by the Capitol Players, though it seems to have fallen away in recent times, but the spectacle is still alive and well in the UK, both in local ad-dram (amateur dramatic ) societies and on the London stage and most of the major cities, these latter productions usually featuring at least one big-draw name from the world of show business with ticket prices commensurate with the star’s salary.

In case you’re unfamiliar with the pantomime format, it consists of a raucous mixture of songs and comedy all based around a well-known fairy or folk tale. Aladdin and His Magic Lamp, Cinderella, Jack & The Beanstalk & Dick Whittington are perennial favourites but any well-known tall tale goes. There is no set script, unlike a play, and storyline is just a peg to hang a coat of contemporary, often bawdy, gags on, in what should be a rollicking production of cross dressing – there has to be at least one pantomime dame, played by a man and always a figure of fun, and a Principal Boy, ostensibly the male lead, yet played by an attractive young woman.

As an art form it can trace its roots back to 16th century Italy and the Commedia Del’Arte which used a mélange of music, dance, acrobatics along with a cast of comic stock characters so it has a long and proud theatrical tradition but you have to wonder, does that really qualify it as a suitable subject for a university? Further, what use might any degree be that can be acquired in a single year? And last but not least, how much standing does any degree have which comes from a jumped-up polytechnic, granted university status along with many of its ilk back in 1992, for reasons best known to the government of the time? Even more worrying are the stated aims of the course.

Staffordshire University claims it is a world first and the masters course is aimed at people working inside as well as outside the industry. Students on the course, due to start in September 2022, will get practical training in the art form as well as research the discipline.

“We want to see how far we can take this,” Associate Professor of Acting and Directing Robert Marsden said. The role of pantomime in the 21st Century was also going to be examined, he said, “particularly post Me Too and Black Lives Matter”. Questions including “how do we address the gender issues, how do we tell the story of Aladdin in 2021, how do we get that balance of male/female roles?” will be asked, Prof Marsden added.

Eek! Sounds like Prof. Marsden wants to rob it of both its history and its comedic aspects – well, good luck with that! Of course that isn’t the only bizarre, obscure and frankly time and money-wasting degree course available. Staying with the performing arts there’s Contemporary Circus and Physical Performance at Bath Spa University. Sounds like fun but why on earth would a circus performer need a university degree?

Or how about a Surf Science and Technology degree at Cornwall College (part of the University of Plymouth). Where the one thing you don’t learn is….how to surf!

Then there is a  degree in Floral Design at University Centre Myerscough. No, I hadn’t heard of it either – turns out it’s a college of further education in Preston, a town that in my experience fits the old joke of ‘I went there once…..It was closed’ to a ‘T’!

Another handy (pun intended) art is that of Hand Embroidery BA (Hons), offered at the University for the Creative Arts. Or you could waste away sorry, while away, your time on a course in Animal Behaviour and Psychology. This degree at the University of Chester teaches you about the way animals think and feel. Cockroaches have personalities according to the subject specs– you couldn’t make it up.

Happily all these educational institutes may have to look to their laurels and try to justify their very existence in the near future. In plans announced this week, universities could face fines of up to £500,000 (P750m), be stripped of their right to take student loans or effectively shut down if they cannot get 60 per cent of students into a professional job under a crackdown on ‘Mickey Mouse’ courses. Further, at least 80 per cent of students should not drop out after the first year, and 75 per cent should graduate.

The rules, published by the Office for Students (OfS), aim to eliminate ‘low-quality’ courses by setting new standards & requiring courses to improve their rating in the TEF, the official universities ratings system. Universities not meeting the new standards will not be able to charge full annual fees of £9,250. Unconventional courses that could fall victim to the new rules could include the University of Sunderland’s BA in Fashion Journalism, where students learn essential’ skills such as catwalk reporting and the history of Chanel.  They have only a 40 per cent chance of entering highly skilled work 15 months after leaving.

At University College Birmingham, BSC Bakery and Patisserie Technology students – who learn how to ‘make artisan bread’ – have a 15 per cent chance of a professional job within 15 months. Universities minister Michelle Donelan welcomed the move, saying ‘When students go to university, they do so in the pursuit of a life-changing education, one which helps pave their path towards a highly skilled career. Any university that fails to match this ambition must be held to account.’

OfS found that at 25 universities, fewer than half of students find professional work within 15 months.  Business and management courses at the University of Bedfordshire (14.8 per cent) were among the least likely to lead to graduate-level jobs.  Asked to comment, the University of Sunderland said it always looked ‘to find ways to improve outcomes’; University College Birmingham said data on graduates and definition of ‘professional work’ was limited. I’ll bet it is! As the saying goes, ’what the eye doesn’t see, the heart doesn’t grieve over’. What a pantomime!

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Why regular health checks are important!

7th February 2022

With the world still reeling from the negative impact of the Coronavirus disease-19 (COVID-19), and the latest Omicron variant (which is responsible for the ongoing global forth wave) on everyone’s lips, we should not forget and neglect other aspects of our health.

While anyone can get infected with corona virus and become seriously ill or die at any age, studies continue to show that people aged 60 years and above, and those with underlying medical conditions like hypertension, heart and lung problems, diabetes, obesity, cancers, or mental illness are at a higher risk of developing serious illness or dying from covid-19.

It is a good habit to visit a doctor regularly, even if you feel healthy. Regular health checks can help identify any early signs of health issues or assess your risk of future illness hence prompting one to take charge and maintain a healthy lifestyle. Heart disease, diabetes, some cancers and other non-communicable diseases (even communicable) can often be picked up in their early stages, when chances for effective treatment are high.

During a health check, your doctor will take a thorough history from you regarding your medical history, your family’s history of disease, your social life and habits, including your diet, physical activity, alcohol use, smoking and drug intake. S/he will examine you including measuring your weight, blood pressure, feeling your body organs and listening to your heart and lungs amongst the rest. Depending on the assessment, your doctor will notify you how often you need to have a health check. If you have a high risk of a particular health condition, your doctor may recommend more frequent health checks from an early age.

Diet – a healthy diet improves one’s general health and wellbeing. It is recommended that we have at least two serves of fruit and five serves of vegetables daily. Physical activity – regular physical activity has significant health benefits on one’s body, mind & soul. It contributes to preventing and managing non-communicable diseases such as cardiovascular diseases, cancers and diabetes, reduce symptoms of depression and anxiety, enhances thinking, learning, and judgment skills and improves overall well-being. According to the world health organisation (WHO), people who are insufficiently active have a 20% to 30% increased risk of death compared to people who are sufficiently active. Aim for 30 minutes to an hour of moderate physical activity at least four days in a week. Examples of moderate physical activity include brisk walking, gentle swimming and social tennis.

Weight – maintaining a healthy weight range helps in preventing long-term complications like cardiovascular disease, diabetes and arthritis. It is also vital for one’s mental wellbeing and keeping up with normal activities of daily living. Ask your doctor to check your body mass index (BMI) and waist circumference annually. If you are at a higher risk, you should have your weight checked more frequently and a stern management plan in place.

Alcohol – as per WHO reports, alcohol consumption contributes to 3 million deaths each year globally as well as to the disabilities and poor health of millions of people. Healthy drinking entails taking no more than two standard drinks per drinking day with at least two alcohol-free days in a week.

Smoking –Nicotine contained in tobacco is highly addictive and tobacco use is a major risk factor for cardiovascular and respiratory diseases, many different types of cancer, and many other debilitating health conditions. Every year, at least a whopping 8 million people succumb from tobacco use worldwide. Tobacco can also be deadly for non-smokers through second-hand smoke exposure. It is not ‘fashionable’ if it is going to cost you and your loved ones lives! If you are currently smoking, talk to your doctor and get help in quitting as soon as possible to reduce the harm.

Blood pressure: Hypertension is a serious medical condition and can increase the risk of heart, brain, kidney and other diseases. It is a major cause of premature death worldwide, with upwards of 1 in 4 men and 1 in 5 women – over a billion people – having the condition. Have your blood pressure checked annually if it is normal, you are aged under 40 and there is no family history of hypertension. You might need to have it checked more frequently if you are over 40, your blood pressure is on the high side, or you have a personal or family history of high blood pressure, stroke or heart attack. Your doctor will be there to guide you.

Dental care – eating a low-sugar diet and cleaning and flossing the teeth regularly can reduce one’s risk of tooth decay, gum disease and tooth loss. Visit a dentist every six months for a dental examination and professional cleaning, or more frequently as per your dentist’s advice.
Blood tests – annual to five-yearly blood tests may be done to further assess or confirm risk of disease. These may include blood sugar levels, cholesterol levels, kidney function, liver function, tumour markers, among other things. They may be done frequently if there is already an existing medical condition.

Cancer screening – various screening techniques can be done to detect different cancers in their early or pre-cancer stages. These include; skin inspections for any suspicious moles/spots, two-yearly mammograms for those at risk of developing breast cancer, Pap smear or the new Cervical Screening Test (CST) every five years, stool tests and colonoscopy (every five years) for those at most risk of bowel cancer, prostate cancer screening for those at risk (over 45 years of age, family history of cancers etc.). Discuss appropriate tests with your doctor.

Vaccinations – You should discuss with your doctor about the necessary routine immunisation, in particular; the Covid-19 vaccines, an annual flu shot, a five-yearly pneumococcal vaccine if you have never had one or you are immunocompromised and any other boosters that you might need.

If you need further advice or treatment please call 4924730, email HYPERLINK “mailto:info@themedicscentre.co.bw” info@themedicscentre.co.bw or visit www.themedisccentre.co.bw

Antoinette Boima, MBBS, BMedSci, PgDip HIV/AIDS, Cert Aesth Med is the Managing Director of The Medics Centre in Palapye.

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