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Magosi should restore DISS credibility

Publishing Date : 15 May, 2018

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Brigadier Peter Magosi has a huge task ahead of him – that of restoring the credibility of the Directorate of Intelligence Security Services (DISS) if the institution is to gain trust from the citizenry. Since its formation, DISS activities, most of which were controversial and clandestine; have been associated with its former Director General, Colonel Isaac Kgosi.

We are not part of intelligence community, but something was not right with most of their operations and the conduct of their daily business, you cannot have the whole community casting aspersions against you! In journalism for instance it is important to understand the society within which you operate, this could be applicable across board.

Brigadier Magosi should undo most of the tracks left by his predecessor. Many people are wondering if it is the nature of intelligence organs around the world to operate in a manner that DISS operated during Col Kgosi’s reign or the intelligence was just used as a conduit for corruption and other evil deeds. Like we said, we are not part of these people, and their modus operandi is foreign to us. Is there a chance Brigadier Magosi could sanitise the DISS processes.

The successes of DIS under Col Kgosi’s leadership remain a matter of speculation, if there are any, they are known only by a rarefied few. Of course we are not asking for classified or any other sensitive information but a basic justification that we need to have an organisation of this nature. We are aware that there has been talk of busting drug peddling, human trafficking, cybercrime and other white collar crimes. But the overflowing allegations against the DISS have negated all the possible good deeds.

If the public is to continue funding the intelligence organ, it is absolutely necessary for the institution to account to relevant bodies such as parliamentary oversight committees. This demand for accountability, at least to a certain extent is not derision on the part of those who demand it, but a necessary obligation for good governance.  The DISS is a product of parliament, and it is not an organ created by the constitution.

In a democratic set-up such as ours, power struggles between key institutions is guaranteed. But it is these power struggles that should bring a balance and ensure that none of the institution becomes more powerful. We need parliament to provide oversight over the executive, and also the judiciary to ensure that the executive behaves in a fair manner.     

A powerful intelligence organ, capable of overriding and making unilateral decisions is not ideal for a democracy. Actually it is a serious threat to various freedoms, which once lost—dictatorship will creep in. Most of what is happening at the DISS, and all of these acts are done in our name, surely this cannot be Botswana.  

The DISS should also know that like any other government institution, it can never get the budget that it wants all the time. There is a need to balance between competing priorities. There should be a compromise. The mentality that has been prevailing especially in the previous parliament that DISS should be sacred cow should come to end.

All government entities should compromise and DISS should not be an exception. Perhaps Minister of Environment, Wildlife Conservation and Tourism, Tshekedi Khama was right when he said, DISS was receiving preferential treatment when it comes to budget allocation at the expense of more deserving institutions or matters. Our health care system needs revamp, education system needs overhaul, all these and many others also need adequate funding.

Democracy also dictates that citizens are supreme; that government actions should be sensitive to the sentiments of its people. DISS should as a matter of concern introspect and ensure that it makes amends under the leadership of Brigadier Magosi. People will not respect DISS if it keeps on prodding on ordinary and harmless citizens; people will not respect DISS if it allows itself to fight partisan political battles; people will not respect DISS if it is also involved in rogue activities. These are the truths that Brigadier Magosi must deal with.  

We welcome Brigadier Magosi to his new role, but he should know that the expectations are high. We expect him to be a patriot and serve only in the interest of the nation. He should not use the intelligence for any other purpose beyond its permissible mandate. With the benefit of hindsight, we should strive to retire from the office in a dignified manner.



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