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Kgosi’s firing shows Masisi is in charge

Publishing Date : 08 May, 2018

Ndulamo Anthony Morima

Some have claimed that the reason former President Lieutenant General Dr. Seretse Khama Ian Khama picked Mokgweetsi Masisi to succeed him is that he thought that he will control him to protect his legacy.

According to them, Masisi would effectively be a regent for former president Khama’s brother, Tshekedi Khama, and remain in Khama’s shadow and Khama’s associates would continue to be protected even under Masisi’s reign. In other words, Khama would continue being in charge and rule from the grave as it were, something which he would not do if somebody else other than Masisi, for instance Nonofo Molefhi, were President.

According to this school of thought, such people as the former Director General for the Directorate on Intelligence and Security Services (DISS), Isaac Kgosi, a long time Khama ally, would be untouched and they would in turn protect Khama.  Therefore, nobody thought that Masisi would, less than a month after assuming the presidency, dismiss Kgosi, with immediate effect, with four years before the end of his contract, especially after it seemed he would retain him after he did not dismiss him when he reshuffled his cabinet immediately after assuming office.

Judging from the arrogance with which Kgosi recently answered questions before Parliament’s Public Accounts Committee (PAC), it is safe to conclude that not even Kgosi himself thought that he would, today, not be the head of the DISS. Recently, Kgosi shocked many when appearing before the PAC when he stated that he does not take instructions from anyone, and he, alone, runs the DISS as he deems fit and without deference to anyone else.

This surprised many for no person who is appointed by an authority can claim not to be accountable to anyone. Even the state President is accountable to Parliament, the Constitution and the people. Right from his appointment when the DISS was established there were concerns that his appointment was not based on merit, but rather on his friendship with former President Khama which friendship started from their time together at the Botswana Defence Force (BDF).

Kgosi’s reign at the DISS has been characterized by allegations of brutality, maladministration and corruption yet he seemed to be untouchable. He was indeed an integral part of former President Khama’s inner circle. Not even his alleged involvement in the National Petroleum Fund (NPF) saga was enough to induce former President Khama to at least suspend him from the DISS pending his absolution from the matter. Khama disregarded calls for a Commission of Inquiry, presumably because he did not want his ally to be involved in investigations.

I will, however, avoid further commentary on the NPF matter since the case is still pending before the courts, save to state that Kgosi could have answered most of the questions arising from the PAC instead of hiding behind the sub judicae rule and national security. In fact, I am convinced that it is the manner in which Kgosi evaded the PAC’s questions and his assertions that, as DISS head, he is not accountable to anyone, including the President, that put the final nail on his coffin.

This, in my view, irked H.E Masisi since it was, in a way, challenging his authority. That the PAC, following Kgosi’s failure and/or refusal to answer many of its questions citing national security and the sub judicae rule, referred him to the Speaker of the National Assembly, may have contributed to his sacking.   

Hitherto to his sacking, many had resigned themselves to the fact that Kgosi would remain the head of the DISS until the end of his contract, and even have his contract extended, but that was not to be. His fate was, on 2nd May 2018, sealed in what was diplomatically referred to as a ‘release from his duties.’

The truth is that Kgosi was not released from his duties. He was dismissed, with immediate effect, from his position much to the delight of many Batswana. If it were not dismissal he would have been allowed to serve the normal three months’ notice for people of his position. It is clear that H.E Masisi has been listening to Batswana’s concerns and he, like many Batswana, had had enough of Kgosi’s infamous and tumultuous reign. He was obviously aware of the damage that the Kgosi era had caused to our country’s image.

H.E Masisi should have been aware that the Botswana Democratic Party (BDP)’s decline in electoral fortunes in 2014, which saw it attaining less than 50 % of the popular vote for the first time since independence, was partly because of the bad publicity caused by Kgosi’s woes. No doubt, H.E Masisi, knowing how significant the 2019 general elections will be for his presidency and his party, the BDP, could not risk going to the 2019 general elections with the Kgosi cloud hanging over his head.

H.E Masisi dropped former cabinet ministers Sadique Kebonang and Prince Maele despite the fact that they have not been convicted by any court, but simply because they faced allegations of corruption and/or maladministration which were damaging the image of not only the BDP but also the country. Granted, they, like everyone else, are to be presumed innocent until proven guilty by a competent court of law, but because they are public figures, the perception that they were corrupt had, in the world of politics, become more of a reality though it may not have been.

H.E Masisi demoted Honourable Erick Molale from the Ministry of Presidential Affairs, Governance and Public Administration and Ruth Maphorisa from the Directorate on Public Service Management presumably because of their failure to maintain good relations with trade unions and labour, something which nearly cost the BDP power in 2014. Granted, the breakdown in relations between government and labour cannot have been caused by Molale and Maphorisa alone, but the perception was that they are at the centre of such breach and, in the world of politics, such perception became more of a reality.

Granted, Kgosi has not been convicted by any court of law for the allegations levelled against him, but his baggage, at least from a perception point of view, had become too much for the nation to bear. He had simply become a liability which had the effect of, inter alia, scaring potential investors. It is unlikely that H.E Masisi made his decision to terminate Kgosi’s contract on 2nd May 2018. He likely made it even before assuming the presidency, but did not implement it immediately for purposes of getting to grips with the country’s intelligence apparatus before dismissing Kgosi.

Granted, Kgosi’s successor, Peter Magosi, has had his controversies in the past, but I believe Batswana are willing to settle for any person, but Kgosi. They are willing to give him a chance and the benefit of doubt. There is one other person that H.E Masisi has to release from his duties though if he is to detach his government from the past and mend relations with the media and trade unions. That person is Carter Morupisi, Permanent Secretary to the President and Secretary to Cabinet.



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