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Reform DIS

Publishing Date : 22 January, 2019

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The arrest of former Directorate of Intelligence and Security (DIS) Colonel Isaac Kgosi by the DIS agents, led by current chief spy, Brigadier Peter Magosi has been generally welcomed by the public. But on a sober mind, it is clear that it once again raises the debate on the credibility and the resilience of our institutions.


It is without a shadow of doubt that the arrest of Col Kgosi, owing to unaccountable decisions that he made during his tenure as the chief of the intelligence organ is a welcome development. We all await his formal charges. However, we should be rest assured that this whole saga is about that, and it is in the best interest of the nation that it is done.


The last thing we need is a personal and political vendettas being fought using institutions such as DIS, because it will be a bad precedent. There is a complication in this matter. Kgosi was unceremoniously dismissed from his post. He was replaced with his rival, Brig Magosi, who was then in the wilderness. Kgosi is a close ally of former president Lt Gen Ian Khama, while Magosi is a part of the project of the new administration.   


One may ask if the current events are completely devoid of political dynamics, because if they are not, we will be doing injustice to the whole nation. There is also absolute need to reform the DIS and make it an accountable government organ. One that will know its limit and one that would conduct in a professional and sincere manner. During Kgosi’s tenure, we learnt a lot about the DIS. It was strictly covet in its operations, and there were reports and even confirmation of its activities which bordered on terrorism when ordinary citizens were targeted by the organ.


There has been a paradigm shift in its operations now ever since Brid Magosi took over the reins. What we need to ask ourselves is weather the DIS, as an institution has a policy that guides its operations? If not then, there is a need to review its legal framework and give it a direction, because based on the recent observations, there is a need for defined framework that would guide the behaviour of the institution in its operations.


We cannot afford to have an organisation that behaves depending on who is at the helm of the organisation at that time. Basic behaviour of the institution should be consistent and be guided by the established norms. The danger of having an organisation which is a loose cannon is that it creates uncertainty. We may be having a good spy chief today, who will act responsible or in the interest of the citizens, but that cannot be guaranteed to be there tomorrow when another director general takes over. Or when the country has a new president.


The independence of intelligence organ is paramount in that it guarantees   that its actions are devoid political motives. The debate on the actions of intelligence organs are not only peculiar to Botswana. These debate are everywhere including the United States where many a calling for ethical conduct on behalf of US intelligence community organs.Of course DIS is only 10 years old, and there we are not used to having this kind of an organisation. But the past 10 years have been a learning curve. We have seen how extreme an intelligence organisation can go, and we should definitely learn from it.


It is not nice for a retiring DIS to always be worried that he will be prosecuted for the actions during his tenure as intelligence chief. But if we do not learn, this is going to be the case going forward. And one of the surest ways of causing political instabilities is through politicising the spy agency. We should not delude ourselves into thinking that Botswana is immune from political instabilities.   It takes such an irresponsible self-serving actions to throw the whole country into turmoil.

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