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.
In a classic and shocking case of disgrace and dishonour to this country, the law enforcement agencies are currently struggling to cover up a damaging and humiliating scandal of having conspired to forge the signature of a Palapye Chief Magistrate, Rebecca Motsamai in an unlawful acquisition of the much-publicised 2019 warrant of arrest against Isaac Kgosi, the former director of the Directorate of Intelligence Services (DIS).
The cloak-and-dagger arrest was led by the DIS director, Brigadier Peter Magosi supported by the Botswana Police, Botswana Defence Force (BDF), with the Botswana Unified Revenue Services (BURS) which accused Kgosi of tax evasion, in the backseat.
Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) constituent members are struggling to reach an agreement over the allocation of wards for the imminent ward by-elections across the country.
Despite a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC), Botswana Patriotic Front (BPF) and Alliance for Progressives (AP) are said to be active, but the nitty-gritties are far from being settled.
The eight bye-elections will be a precursor of a somewhat delayed finalisation of the brittle MoU. The three parties want to draw a plan on how and who will contest in each of the available wards.
This publication has gathered that the negotiations will not be a run off the mill because there is already an impasse between the Botswana Congress Party (BCP) which is a UDC constituent and AP (currently negotiating to join umbrella).
The by-elections joint committee met last week at Cresta President Hotel in a bid to finalise allocation but nothing tangible came out of the gathering, sources say.
The cause of the stalemate according to those close to events, is the Metsimotlhabe Ward which the two parties have set their eyes on.
In 2019, he ward was won by Botswana Democratic Party’s (BDP) Andrew Sebobi who unfortunately died in a tragic accident in February last year.
Sebobi had convincingly won by 1 109 votes in the last elections; and was trailed by Sephuthi Thelo of the UDC trailed him with 631 votes; while Alliance for Progressives’ Innocent Moamogwe got 371 votes.
Thelo is a BCP candidate and as per UDC norm, incumbency prevails meaning that the BCP will contest since they were runners up. On the other hand, AP has also raised its hand for the same.
“AP asked for it on the basis that they have a good candidate but BCP did not agree to that request also arguing they have a better contestant,” one UDC member confided to this publication.
Notwithstanding Metsimotlhabe Ward squabble, it is said the by-election talks are almost a done deal, with Botswana National Front (BNF) tipped to take Boseja South ward in Mochudi East constituency. Botswana Patriotic Front (BPF) will be awarded Tamasane Ward in Lerala/Maunatlala constituency, sources say.
“But the agreement has to be closed by National Executive Committee (NEC),” emphasized the informant.
The NEC is said to have been cautioned not to back the wrong horse but rather rate with reason and facts.
UDC President, Duma Boko has told this publication that, “allocation is complete with two wards already awarded but with only one yet to be finalized,” he could not dwell into much details as to which party got what and the reasons for the delay in finalisation.
Chairperson of the by-elections committee, Dr. Phenyo Butale responded to this publication regarding the matter: “As AP we contested and as you may be aware we signed the MoU with UDC and BPF to collaborate on bye-elections. The opposition candidate for all bye-elections will be agreed by these parties and that process is still ongoing,” he said when asked if AP is interested on the ward and how far with the talks on bye-elections.
Butale, a former Gaborone Central Member of Parliament, who is also AP Secretary General continued to say, “As the chairperson of the bye-elections committee we are still seized with that matter. We should also do some consultations with the local structures. Once the process is complete we will issue a notice for now we cannot talk about the other two while the other is still pending the other one”.
Butale further clarified: “There is no such thing as AP and BCP not in agreement. It is an issue of signatories discussing and determining the opposition candidates across the three wards.”
Apart from the three wards, there are five more council wards that UDC is yet to allocate to cooperating partners.
FROM PALAPYE MEET: BPP CAUTION NEC MEMBERS
With the UDC cheerful from last weekend’s meeting in Palapye, the meeting however was very tense on the side of both BCP and BNF, with only BPP flexing its muscle and even lashing out.
BCP going into the meeting, had promised to ask difficult questions to the UDC NEC.
BCP VP and also acting Secretary General, Dr. Kesitegile Gobotswang, presented their qualms which were addressed by UDC Chairperson Motlatsi Molapisi, informants say.
It is said Molapisi is fed up and concerned by some UDC members especially those in the NEC who ‘wash party’s dirty linen in public’.
Insiders say the veteran politician cautioned the NEC members that they “will not expel any party but individuals who tarnish the image of the UDC.”
It is not the first time BPP play a paternalistic role as it once expressed its discontent with BCP in 2020, saying it should never wash UDC linen in public.
At first it is said, BPP, the oldest political formation in Botswana, claims disappointment on BCP stance that UDC should be democratised especially by sharing their stand with the media. Again, BPP was not happy with BCP leader Dumelang Saleshando’s decision to air his personal views on social media regarding the merger of UDC party.
Botswana Police Service (BPS) Commissioner, Keabetswe Makgophe, has of late been dousing raging fires from various quarters of society following the infiltration of the police fingerprint system by the Directorate on Intelligence and Security (DIS), WeekendPost has learnt.
Fresh information gleaned from a number of impeccable sources, points to a pitiable working relationship between the two state organs. Cause of concern is the DIS continuous big brother role to an extent that it is now interfering with other institutions’ established mandates.
BPS which works closely with the DIS has been left exasperated by the works of the institution formed in 2008. It is said, the DIS through its Information Technology (IT) experts in collusion with some at BPS forensics department managed to infiltrate the Fingerprint system.
The infiltration, according to those in the know, was for the DIS to “teach a lesson” to some who are on their radar. It is said the DIS is playing and fighting dirty to win the fights they have lost before.
By managing to hack the police finger print system, a number of renowned businessmen and other politically exposed persons found their fingers in the system. What surprised the victims is the fact that they have never been charged of any wrongdoing by the police and they were left reeling in shock to learn that their fingers are on the data-base of criminals.
In fact, some of those who their fingerprints were falsely included in the records of those on the wrong side of law learnt later when other errands demanded their fingerprints.
“We learnt later when we had to submit and buy some documents and we were very shocked,” one politician who is also a businessman confided to this publication this week.
“We then learn that there are some fabricated criminality recorded for us, as to when did we commit those remained secret to the police, but then we had to engage our lawyers on the matter and that is when we were cleared,” said the politician-cum- tenderpreneur.
The lawyers have confirmed engaging the police and that the matters were settled in a gentlemen’s agreement and concluded.
All these happened behind the scenes with the police top brass oblivious only to be confronted by the irked lot, police sources also add. The victimized group who most of them have been fighting lengthy battles with the DIS read malice and did not blink when it was revealed that these were done by the DIS.
“And it was clear that they (DIS) are the ones in this dirty war which we don’t understand. Remember when we sue, it will be the Police at the courts not the DIS and that is why we agreed to a ceasefire more so they also requested that be kept under carpet,” said the victim.
Nonetheless, the Police through its spokesperson Assistant Commissioner, Dipheko Motube, briefly said: “we do not have any system that has been hacked.” On the other hand DIS mouthpiece Edward Robert was not in office this week to comment on the matter.
Reports however say DIS boss, Peter Magosi, who most of the victims accuse of the job, is said to have met his police counterpart Makgophe to put the matter to bed.
COVID-19 RAVAGES POLICE
As frontline workers, Police have not escaped the wrath of Covid-19. Already the numbers of those infected has reached the highest of high and they suggest that they be priorities on vaccine rollout.
“Our job is complicated, firstly we arrest including those who are non-compliant to Covid protocols and we go to accidents and many more. These put us at risk and it seems our superiors are not bothered,” said one police officer this week.
The cops further complain about that working spaces are small, as such expose them to contact the virus.
“Some tests positive and go for quarantine while the rest of the unit will be left without even test carried out. If at all the bosses are serious all the police officers should every now and then be subjected to testing or else we will be no more because of the virus,” added another officer based in Gaborone.
The government has since placed teachers on the priority list for the vaccines, it remains to be seen whether the police, who also man road blocks, will be considered.
“But our bosses should convince the country leadership about this, if not then we are doomed,” concluded a more senior officer.