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.
Lebang Mpotokwane, one of the conveners who presided over the opposition cooperation talks that resulted in the formation of the Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC), has advised against changing the current umbrella model in favour of a merger as proposed by others.
The Botswana Congress Party (BCP) leader, Dumelang Saleshando recently went public to propose that UDC should consider merging of all opposition parties, including Alliance for Progressives (AP) and Botswana Patriotic Front (BNF).
Saleshando has been vehemently opposed by Botswana National Front (BNF), which is in favour of maintaining the current model. BNF’s position has been favoured by the founding father of UDC, who warned that it will be too early to ditch the current model.
“UDC should be well developed to promote the spirit of togetherness on members and the members should be taught so that the merger is developed gradually. They should approach it cautiously. If they feel they are ready, they can, but it would not be a good idea,” Mpotokwane told WeekendPost this week.
Mpotokwane and Emang Maphanyane are the two men who have since 2003 began a long journey of uniting opposition parties in a bid to dethrone the ruling Botswana Democratic Party (BCP) as they felt it needed a strong opposition to avoid complacency.
Tonota born Mpotokwane is however disappointed on how they have been ejected from participating in the last edition of talks ahead of the 2019 general elections in which BCP was brought on board. However, despite the ejection, Mpotokwane is not resentful to the opposition collective.
He said the vision of opposition unity was to ultimately merge the opposition parties but he believes time has not arrived yet to pursue that path. “The bigger picture was a total merger and we agreed that with three independent parties, members might be against merger eventuality so the current model should be used until a point where they are now together for as long as possible,” he said.
“UDC should gradually perform better in elections and gain confidence. They should not rush the merger. We have been meeting since 2003, but if they rush it might cause endless problems. If they are ready they can anyway,” he advised. For now the constituent parties of the umbrella have been exchanging salvos with others (BCP and BNF).
“There are good reasons for and against merging the parties. Personally, I am in favour of merging the parties (including AP and BPF) into a single formation but I know it’s a complex mission that will have its own challenges,” Saleshando said when he made his position known a week ago.
“Good luck to those advocating for a merger, it will be interesting to observe the tactics they will use to lure the BPF into a merger,” former BNF councillor for Borakalalo Ward and former BNF Youth League Secretary General, Arafat Khan, opined in relation to BCP’s proposed position.
Mpotokwane, who is currently out in the cold from the UDC since he was ejected from the party’s NEC in 2017, said the current bickering and the expected negotiations with other parties need the presence of conveners.
“We did not belong to any party as conveners so we were objective in our submissions. If party propose any progressive idea we will support, if it is not we will not, so I would agree that even now conveners might be key for neutrality to avoid biasness,” he observed. Despite being abandoned, Mpotokwane said he will always be around to assist if at all he is needed.
“If they want help I will be there, I have always been clear about it, but surely I will ask few questions before accepting that role,” he said. UDC is expected to begin cooperation talks with both AP and BPF either this week or next weekend for both upcoming bye-elections (halted by Covid-19) and 2024 general elections and it is revealed that there will be no conveners this time around.
The Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) moved through its lawyers to attach the property of Umbrella for Democratic (UDC) President Duma Boko and other former parliamentary contestants who failed in their court bid to overturn the 2019 general elections in 14 constituencies.
WeekendPost has established that this week, Deputy Sheriffs were commissioned by Bogopa Manewe Tobedza and Company who represented the BDP, to attach the properties of UDC elections contents in a bid to recover costs. High Court has issued a writ of execution against all petitioners, a process that has set in motion the cost recovery measures.
Botswana Sectors of Teachers Union (BOSETU) says COVID-19 as a pandemic has negatively affected the education sector by deeply disrupting the education system. The intermittent lockdowns have resulted in the halting of teaching and learning in schools.
The union indicated that the education system was caught napping and badly exposed when it came to the use of Information System (IT), technological platforms and issues of digitalisation.
“COVID-19 exposed glaring inefficiencies and deficiencies when it came to the use of ITC in schools. In view of the foregoing, we challenge government as BOSETU to invest in school ITC, technology and digitalization,” says BOSETU President Kinston Radikolo during a press conference on Tuesday.
As a consequence, the union is calling on government to prioritise education in her budgeting to provide technological infrastructure and equipment including provision of tablets to students and teachers.
“Government should invest vigorously in internet connectivity in schools and teacher’s residences if the concept of flexi-hours and virtual learning were to be achieved and have desired results,” Radikolo said.
Radikolo told journalists that COVID-19 is likely to negatively affect final year results saying that the students would sit for the final examinations having not covered enough ground in terms of curriculum coverage.
“This is so because there wasn’t any catch up plan that was put in place to recover the lost time by students. We warn that this year’s final examination results would dwindle,” he said.
The Union, which is an affiliate of Botswana Federation of Public, Private and Parastatal Union (BOFEPUSU), also indicated that COVID-19’s presence as a pandemic has complicated the role of a teacher in a school environment, saying a teacher’s role has not only transcended beyond just facilitating teaching and learning, but rather, a teacher in this COVID-19 era, is also called upon to enforce the COVID-19 preventative protocols in the school environment.
“This is an additional role in the duty of a teacher that needs to be recognized by the employers. Teachers by virtue of working in a congested school environment have become highly exposed and vulnerable to COVID-19, hence the reason why BOSETU would like teachers to be regarded as the frontline workers with respect to COVID-19,” says Radikolo.
BOSETU noted that the pandemic has in large scales found its way into most of the school environments, as in thus far more than 50 schools have been affected by COVID-19. The Union says this is quite a worrying phenomenon.
“As we indicated before when we queried that schools were not ready for re-opening, it has now come to pass that our fears were not far-fetched. This goes out to tell that there is deficiency in our schools when it comes to putting in place preventative protocols. In our schools, hygiene is compromised by mere absence of sanitizers, few hand-washing stations, absence of social distancing in classes,” the Union leader said.
Furthermore, Radikolo stressed that the shifting system drastically increased the workload for teachers especially in secondary schools. He says teachers in these schools experience very high loads to an extent that some of them end up teaching up to sixty four periods per week, adding that this has not only fatigued teachers, but has also negatively affected their performance and the quality of teaching.
In what the Union sees as failure to uphold and honour collective agreements by government, owing to the shift system introduced at primary schools, government is still in some instances refusing to honour an agreement with the Unions to hire more teachers to take up the extra classes.
“BOSETU notes with disgruntlement the use of pre-school teachers to teach in the mainstream schools with due regard for their specific areas of training and their job descriptions. This in our view is a variation of the terms of employment of the said teachers,” says Radikolo.
The Union has called on government to forthwith remedy this situation and hire more teachers to alleviate this otherwise unhealthy situation. BOSETU also expressed concerns of some school administrators who continuously run institutions with iron fists and in a totalitarian way.
“We have a few such hot spot schools which the Union has brought to attention the Ministry officials such as Maoka JSS, Artesia JSS, and Dukwi JSS. We are worried that the Ministry becomes sluggish in taking action against such errant school administration. In instances where action is taken, such school administrators are transferred and rotated around schools.”