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DIS depletes Khama’s security

Directorate of Intelligence and Security Services (DIS) has this week moved to recall seven of former President Lt Gen Seretse Khama Ian Khama’s security detail including tried and tested qualified designated drivers who recently completed a VIP driving course in South Africa, his long-time medic and some of his bodyguards.

According to impeccable sources, the idea of degrading Khama’s personal security has been an ongoing process by the spy agency which started two years ago.  After recalling his head of security earlier this year, he was never replaced leaving a junior officer on C1 Scale to assume the responsibility.  “This cannot be right because he is too junior, he lacks experience and his superiors cannot listen to him. Former President Festus Mogae’s head of security is a senior officer who is on D1 Scale,” said the source.

In the past, Khama’s personal security including special agents were transferred to join DIS Operations Division with immediate effect.  Some of them were even demoted to lower ranks but with their present salary scale.  Sources within the spy agency also told WeekendPost that at the moment Khama has few security detail as compared to former President Mogae even in terms of seniority.

In terms of the Presidents Pension and Retirement Benefits Act, former presidents are entitled to state-provided bodyguards — some of whom are elite commandoes seconded from the Botswana Defence Force (BDF).  The sitting president determines the number of bodyguards that are allocated to a former president and the Director General of the DIS identifies and deploys the bodyguards.

President Khama has told local media that government security provided by DIS as per the law has been depleted overtime in order to degrade his personal security.  This week in an interview with WeekendPost Khama said he remains vulnerable on the roads as all his qualified designated drivers were all taken away on Monday.  “Right now I am being driven by one of the random officers who is not a regular,” said Khama.

It is also on record that all of Khama’s drivers were early this year taken on a course in South Africa at the expense of tax payers to further equip them with VIP driving skills. However, they have all been recalled now.  Khama said a number of his personal security were removed in the last two years with more to follow. “I am never consulted when personnel changes are made or equipment taken away,” he said.

Impeccable sources allege that this move is engineered by the DIS chief, Brigadier Peter Magosi and there is a strong belief within his circle that he is conniving with ‘some’ at the headquarters to undermine Khama’s private security.  Currently, former President Khama who is an avid traveller prefers his personal private security which he engaged due to mistrust in government security.  A sportsman, Khama is well known for his sporting activities such as riding, obstacles and football.

When he left office, an arrangement was made for him to at least have one medic whenever he goes to his activities to provide immediate assistance should anything happen.  However, the DIS saw that the process is too complicated and allowed Khama a permanent medic who followed him and provided assistance every day. The medic is one of the seven who were recalled this week, leaving Khama without any medical assistant.

“This is deliberate, they are eroding, eroding and eroding my security,” said Khama.  Contacted for comment this week, DIS Spokesperson Edward Robert said his office explained recently that there is no truth to reports that DIS has curtailed Khama’s security detail.
“His personal security is our responsibility, just as it is our responsibility to protect all other VIPs entitled to protection,” said Robert.

‘‘What has happened is that there has been a change of some personnel deployed at the Former President due to the on-going restructuring within the DIS. The exercise has affected all divisions of the DIS. The strength of resources, including the personnel deployed to service the Former President has not been affected by this development.’’

Asked about why they recalled Khama’s drivers Robert said: “DIS takes VIP protection seriously and we continuously develop our personnel to ensure they are equal to the task. We will not deploy anybody to offer any service without first equipping them. Unfortunately, costs associated with this commitment remain privileged information.”

Robert could not be withdrawn to discuss why there is a gap in seniority and scale difference between head of security deployed with former President Festus Mogae and the head of security at Khama’s office.  In replying to the question, Robert said DIS views deployment of resources as a tactical decision whose details cannot be discussed with the media.

Robert further said personal protection to former presidents is provided for under Section 5 (g) of the Intelligence and Security Service Act (2008) and any action taken outside that provision would be unlawful.  “Personal security of former presidents remains the responsibility of the Directorate and is conducted according to established law and standard practices,” he stated.

Pundits point that the recent security crisis at Khama’s office happens against a backdrop whereby there have been strong allegations of assassination of President Mokgweetsi Masisi which were projected by Magosi.  Two years ago, two of former President Khama’s security detail were arrested in Palapye at Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) national meeting for illegal possession of what turned out to be a toy gun.

An unswerving source within the former President’s security detail revealed that the weapons confiscated by members of the DIS at Palapye are described as the Tippmann X TiPX. 68 Calibre Paintball Pistol which is generally used by the former President’s security on daily basis while on duty for protection.


ENVIRONMENT ISSUES: Masisi asks Virginia for help

24th March 2023

President Mokgweetsi Masisi says the issue of sustainable natural resources management has always been an important part of Botswana’s national development agenda.

Masisi was speaking this week on the occasion of a public lecture at Virginia Polytechnic, under theme, “Merging Conservation, Democracy and Sustainable Development in Botswana.”

Botswana, according to Masisi, holds the view that the environment is fragile and as such, must be managed and given the utmost protection to enable the achievement of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

“It is necessary that we engage one another in the interchange of ideas, perspectives, visualizations of social futures, and considerations of possible strategies and courses of action for sustainable development,” said Masisi.

On the other hand, dialogue, in the form of rigorous democratic discourse among stakeholders presents another basis for reconfiguring how people act on their environments, with a view to conserving its resources that “we require to meet our socio-economic development needs on a sustainable basis,” Masisi told attendees at the public lecture.

He said government has a keen interest in understanding the epidemiology and ecology of diseases of both domestic and wild animals. “It is our national interest to forestall the dire consequences of animal diseases on our communities livelihoods.”

President Masisi hoped that both Botswana and Virginia could help each other in curbing contagious diseases of wildlife.

“We believe that Virginia Tech can reasonably share their experiences, research insights and advances in veterinary sciences and medicines, to help us build capacity for knowledge creation and improve efforts of managing and containing contagious diseases of wildlife. The ground is fertile for entering into such a mutually beneficial partnership.”

When explaining environmental issues further, Masisi said efforts of conservation and sustainable development might at times be hampered by the emergence and recurrence of diseases when pathogens mutate and take host of more than one species.

“Water pollution also kills aquatic life, such as fish, which is one of humanity’s much deserved sources of food. In this regard, One Health Approach imposes ecological responsibility upon all of us to care for the environment and the bio-diversity therein.”

He said the production and use of animal vaccines is an important space and tool for conservation, particularly to deal with trans-border animal diseases.

“In Botswana, our 43-year-old national premier pharmaceutical institution called Botswana Vaccine Institute has played its role well. Through its successful production of highly efficacious Foot and Mouth vaccines, the country is able to contain this disease as well as supply vaccines to other countries in the sub-region.:

He has however declared that there is need for more help, saying “We need more capacitation to deal with and contain other types of microbial that affect both animals and human health.”

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Masisi saddened by deaths of elephant attacks

24th March 2023

President Mokgweetsi Masisi has expressed a strong worry over elephants killing people in Botswana. When speaking in Virginia this week, Masisi said it is unfortunate that Batswana have paid a price with their own blood through being attacked by elephants.

“Communities also suffer unimaginable economic losses yearly when their crops are eaten by the elephants. In spite of such incidents of human-elephant conflict, our people embrace living together with the animals. They fully understand wildlife conservation and its economic benefits in tourism.”

In 2018, Nthobogang Samokwase’s father was attacked by an elephant when travelling from the fields, where he stayed during the cropping season.

It was reported that the man couldn’t run because of his age. He was found trampled by the elephant and was pronounced dead upon arrival at the hospital.

In the same year, in Maun, a 57-year-old British woman was attacked by an elephant at Boro and died upon arrival at the hospital. The woman was with her Motswana partner, and were walking dogs in the evening.

Last month, a Durban woman named Carly Marshall survived an elephant attack while on holiday in the bush in Botswana. She was stabbed by one of the elephant’s tucks through the chest and was left with bruises. Marshall also suffered several fractured ribs from the ordeal.

President Masisi Botswana has the largest population of African elephants in the world, totaling more than 130 000. “This has been possible due to progressive conservation policies, partnerships with the communities, and investment in wildlife management programmes.”

In order to benefit further from wildlife, Masisi indicated that government has re-introduced controlled hunting in 2019 after a four-year pause. “The re-introduction of hunting was done in an open, transparent and democratic way, giving the communities an opportunity to air their views. The funds from the sale of hunting quota goes towards community development and elephant conservation.”

He stressed that for conservation to succeed, the local people must be involved and derive benefits from the natural resources within their localities.

“There must be open and transparent consultations which involve all sectors of the society. It is against this backdrop that as a country, we lead the continent on merging conservation, democracy and sustainable development.”

Masisi stated that Botswana is open to collaborative opportunities, “particularly with identifiable partners such as Virginia Tech, in other essential areas such as conservation, and the study of the interplay among the ecology of diseases of wild animals and plants, and their effects on human health and socio-economic development.”

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Gov’t commit to injecting more funds in fighting HIV

24th March 2023

Minister for State President Kabo Morwaeng says government will continue to make resources available in terms of financial allocations and human capital to ensure that Botswana achieves the ideal of eradicating HIV and AIDS as a public health threat by 2030.

Morwaeng was speaking this morning in Gaborone at the High-Level Advocacy event to accelerate HIV Prevention in Botswana. He said the National AIDS and Health Promotion Agency (NAPHA), in partnership with UNAIDS, UN agencies, the Global Fund and PEPFAR, have started a process of developing transition readiness plan for sustainability of HIV prevention and treatment programmes.

“It is important for us, as a country that has had a fair share of donor support in the response to an epidemic such as HIV and AIDS, to look beyond the period when the level of assistance would have reduced, or ceased, thus calling for domestic financing for all areas which were on donor support.”

Morwaeng said this is important as the such a plan will guarantee that all the gains accrued from the response with donor support will be sustained until the end when “we reach the elimination of HIV and AIDS as a public health threat by 20230,” he said.

“I commit to continue support efforts towards strengthened HIV prevention, accentuating HIV primary prevention and treatment as prevention towards Zero New Infections, Zero Stigma, Discrimination and Zero AIDS related death, to end AIDS in Botswana.”

He reiterated that government commits to tackle legislative, policy and programming challenges that act as barriers to the achievement of the goal of ending AIDS as a public health threat.

In the financial year 2022/2023, a total of 119 Civil Society Organizations, including Faith Based Organizations, were contracted with an amount of P100 million to implement HIV and NCDs prevention activities throughout the country, and the money was drawn from the Consolidated Fund.

Through an upcoming HIV Prevention Symposium, technical stakeholders will use outcomes to develop the Botswana HIV Prevention Acceleration Road Map for 2023-2025.

Morwaeng stated that government will support and ensure that Botswana plays its part achieving the road map. He said there is need to put hands on the deck to ensure that Botswana sustains progress made so far in the fight against HIV and AIDS.

“There are tremendous achievements thus far to, reach and surpass the UNAIDS fast track targets of 95%- 95%- 95% by the year 2025. As reflected by the BAIS preliminary results of 2021, we now stand at 95- 98- 98 against the set targets.”

“These achievements challenge us to now shift our gears and strive to know who are the remaining 5% for those aware of their HIV status, 2% of enrolment on treatment by those aware of their status and 2% of viral suppression by those on treatment.”

Explaining this further, Morwaeng said shift in gears should extend to coming up with robust strategies of determining where these remaining people are as well as how they will be reached with the necessary services.

“These are just some of the many variables that are required to ensure that as a country, we are well positioned to reaching the last mile of our country’s response to the HIV and AIDS pandemic.”

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