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Cabinet fears DIS – former Minister reveals

Publishing Date : 16 April, 2018

Author : UTLWANANG GASENNELWE

Former minister of Mineral Resources, Green Technology and Energy Security, Sadique Kebonang has revealed this week that members of the executive fear the intelligence organ of Directorate of Intelligence and Security Services (DISS).


The DIS, in terms of the Intelligence and Security Services Act, was established to investigate, gather, coordinate, evaluate, correlate, interpret, disseminate and store information, whether inside or outside Botswana, for the purposes of detecting and identifying any threat or potential threat to national security. They also advise the President and the Government of any threat or potential threat to national security.


DIS was instigated in 2008 upon ascension to the Presidency by President Lt Gen. Dr. Seretse Khama Ian Khama. The organ was started through the unlawful assistance of the Disaster Funds which were diverted despite strong resistance from some in the ruling Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) backbench as well as opposition legislators.


Since its establishment, the intelligence unit has been marred in controversy receiving bad publicity from the curious members of the fourth estate (media) and other notable watchdogs including parliamentary Public Accounts Committee (PAC). Kebonang revealed the Executive’s fear for the DIS when summoned before PAC this week to review the corruption and or money laundering allegations surrounding the 250 million pula National Petroleum Funds (NPF).


“The money was moved to DIS. Expenditure was spent but people have now been charged with money laundering. It’s unfortunate that we all know now where the money is. But there is this fear, there is this fear, there is this fear we have on the DIS which we all fear. Directorate on Crime and Economic Crime (DCEC) also fears DIS. Equally I do. And so there is any other Minister that I know,” Kebonang told PAC members and the fully packed public gallery.


The former Minister whom was dropped in cabinet reshuffle under the current President Mokgweetsi Masisi’s administration continued: “this is an institution you can’t say a ‘no’ to. Because what they do is sensitive as it is national security. And also you can’t second guess them. And I don’t think that we can sit here and accuse Isaac Kgosi (DIS Director) of money laundering.” “I don’t think we can accuse him of money laundering,” the former Minister who only served under Khama administration reiterated.


Kebonang also pointed out that when giving evidence before PAC that “equally, I can’t think we can accuse, borne by the fact that cabinet has directed the DIS that they must return the money. Why would you return the money or direct someone to return the money if the money has been laundered?” he asked rhetorically adding that “I am only just giving what my view on this.”


Francistown West law maker Ignatious Moswaane then interjected Kebonang to ask that: “you spoke about the DIS; the fear of the organ by Ministers. Does that mean you suggest that the flouting of procedures and financial misappropriation could mean that it is happening due to this fear for the DIS?”


In response to the legislator, Kebonang explained that the “DIS is an intelligence organ. They are responsible for keeping us safe. They are responsible for assessing security. So when we dealt with it, it was on the basis that it is a government department asking for variation for the amount of funds that has already been allocated.


He added that in terms of “fears” (of DIS) whether those fears are real or imagined, it doesn’t take one very far too even to recall a recent newspaper article (Weekend Post) where even the members of this committee (PAC) stated that they fear the organ DIS and fear for their lives. According to the Lobatse legislator, the DIS never asked for the process but they only made a request and that request was approved by the accounting officer who should have known what processes to put in place.


Kebonang also want ex-president Khama summoned before PAC

Kebonang also told the PAC that they may subpoena the former President Khama to answer for his role and involvement in allocation of the NPF to DIS. He revealed to PAC that he informed Khama of the “unlawful” transaction. When the contentious Tati East Member of Parliament (MP) Moyo Guma asked the Accounting Officer at the time: “after you said that the country was at risk, as a security matter, and security measures are usually dealt with by the security people and the President. Did you inform the President (Lt. Gen. Dr. Seretse Khama Ian Khama at the time)? And was he aware of the security risks (that the DIS purported) or the funds involved?”  


In answering Guma, Kebonang confirmed that Khama was also aware. “Yes he was aware. He was aware of the funds involved. In terms of the security risks it is Isaac Kgosi who is aware of them (who may have informed Khama of them). President Khama was aware of the allocation of the 250 million pula from the NPF to DIS. I mean he (Khama) was aware of the funds made available to DIS. I personally informed him,” the former Minister highlighted.


Guma then but in as a follow up: “do you think that we should ask these questions then to Khama (former president) whether he was aware of these security threats? There is no way you can talk security threats without informing the president.” In answering Guma, Kebonang stated that “Yes, I think he is the right person to ask, including Isaac Kgosi.” Kgosi was summoned and appeared before the committee on Thursday.


Secretive DIS led to the collapse of the governance system

Meanwhile, the Leader of Alliance for Progressives (AP) Ndaba Gaolathe has made his position known that the formation of DIS was the beginning of troubles that have led to the collapse of the country’s governance standards.  

Gaolathe said the formation of the DIS is the indication that government has seemed to focus on those reforms that made Botswana’s entire governance system to regress.


“As long as we are here, we will not relent from pouring cold water on the legislation that brought the DIS to life, which monster has injected a rapacious poison into our life-blood as a people,” he said.

Gaolathe has also maintained that “whether it is real or perceived the DIS is at the heart of everything that is wrong about our Governance system – it is an institution that has been associated with extrajudicial killings, the nepotistic award or non-award of mega-lucrative tenders, immigration decisions for expatriates and investors as well as non-merit appointments to key Government roles in the Executive and Judiciary.”


He said this at the AP 1st Annual Policy statement while insisting that the DIS’s participation in the ongoing money laundering scandal involving the NPF shows the extent of which the intelligence organ runs affairs of the government (more than even cabinet).

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