Some readers are probably familiar with the story of a number of blind men who had access to an elephant and were later asked to describe it. Each one had touched a specific part of the animal: the rump, hind leg, fore leg, trunk, tusk, ear and tail. Each had felt (seen) one part of the animal and described the animal on the basis of the part he had touched.
The report authored by David W Throup for the Centre For Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), Washington DC; titled, Botswana - Assessing Risks To Stability is one of a series of reports written about 10 African countries basically to assess their stability for the benefit of American policymakers and other interested parties.
The report touches on a number of issues: the status of the ruling party, opposition parties, public institutions and generally the lie of the political land and what the future may hold for Botswana in the next decade. Credit for the quality of report must go to the author in his meticulous selection of the interviewees across the broad spectrum of Batswana.
I read it with relish and admiration for its scholarly approach. Relatively accurate in its presentation of facts and objective analysis of the scope of the issues, its tentative conclusions should be applauded.
The report does not claim to be the last word on the current situation in the land, nor is it designed to be anybody's political agenda. In my view it is value for money for its clients. Different individuals and groups in Botswana may read different messages in it; some will look at it with a jaundiced eye while others will eye it with a twinkle in their eye.
The Middle East and North African events commonly called the Arab Spring, in Tunisia, quickly followed by Egypt, Yemen and others in the region and now Libya and Syria with a lot of blood-letting, caught international policymakers, in particular the US, napping.
Tunisia, the darling of the US was an obvious shock. Egypt a bastion of American foreign policy in the Middle East under Hosni Mubarak was another. The report on Botswana is meant to apprise the US in particular, so that whatever happens in future does not come as a bolt from the sky. It alerts the world power players to play their game with foreknowledge.
The report was subjected to various interpretations here. Opposition parties' reaction was euphoric on reading the outline of the report in the local media, which highlighted prospects of their victory in the next general elections; a bit prematurely since the report bases such an outcome on a successful coalition project, still to be finalised.
Reading the report itself, one senses that there are big 'Ifs' related to the prospects of regime change; the first 'If' is of course about the coalition, its finality; the second 'If' is if the ruling party fails to react to the danger signals in the weaknesses pinpointed with such precision in the report; somehow the report depicts a replay of the Schlemmer Report of 1995: danger signals flashing, it is for the Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) to ignore these at its own peril. In summary, it offers tips and subtle advice to the BDP if it wishes to remain in power.
The battle lines for the 2014 general elections have been drawn. It is up to the contestants to streamline or fudge their strategies and tactics.
Why was the director of the DIS so worked up in his interview on Gabz fm? Why was he so indignant? Did he think it spells finito to his job?
We know Directorate of Intelligence and Security (DIS) director Isaac Kgosi is a public servant unaffiliated to any political party, de jure; it is an open secret however, that he is de facto President Ian Khama's political loyalist and confidante. Uprooted from the Botswana Defence Force (BDF), boots and all and planted in Vice President Khama's office, virtually in military uniform when Khama transferred to the Office of the President; when Khama ascended to the presidency, Kgosi was installed unchallenged in the sensitive but prestigious post of director of the DIS; there can be no doubt where Kgosi's political allegiance lies.
Why did he insinuate that the CSIS report was a subversive report? From the Botswana Gazette of August 17-23, 2011 it transpires that Throup went on his knees begging to interview him. Seven times Kgosi gave excuses and on the eighth time, he emphatically rebuffed his importunities.
In the Gabz fm interview, the director implies that he knew everything about the (subversive) report - from the driver who picked the author from the airport and drove him around to meet the interviewees - 40 of them. He also implied that there was a mischievous local party, which organised and eventually sneaked the author of the report into the country.
Why did the director imply his intelligence outfit uncovered the cloak-and-dagger shenanigans of author Throup?
It now transpires that the director was at all times informed about the movements of the author of the report. Why did he moan about the anonymous party that sponsored and sneaked the academic researcher into Botswana?
Was it to impress the public that his unit has chameleon eyes that never sleep a wink in pursuit of security phantoms? The director dismisses the CSIS report as not an intelligence report.
Of course not. Intelligence reports are compiled by secret agents from secret intelligence sources! But we do well not to be misled that these are accurate, flawless and impeccable. Think of the CIA reports that led to the Bay of Pigs fiasco and Iraq invasion.
Throup must have annoyed director Kgosi by stating: "Many Batswana are concerned about the rising power of the Directorate of the Intelligence Security Service under President Khama's friend Isaac Kgosi..." p13. Throup does not know the director denies and resents being called the president's friend. "How can he be a friend of his boss?"