Those who are attracted by the unusual would certainly have enjoyed the two recent newspaper headlines, ‘DIS Agents Caught in Tshekedi’s Spiders Web’ (Sunday Standard April 3) and ‘DISS Ambushes Jagdish Shah over alleged BDP Treasurer challenge’ (The Botswana Gazette April 5).
Apart from the lovely juxtaposition, the two news reports did have exceptional value in demonstrating the remarkable extent of the involvement of the Directorate of Intelligence and Security Services (DISS).
On the one hand, three of its agents were allegedly caught by Wildlife officers with elephant tusks in their possession ‘following a tip off that the Intelligence agency had gone rogue and was part of an international diamond and ivory smuggling racket’. They were, apparently, handed over to the police. It was believed, said the SS, that the DIS boss had been tipped off about the arrests because acting Police Commissioner, Bruno Paledi allegedly called and instructed that the three agents be released from custody.
When the SS called sought information, the Commissioner insisted that he knew nothing about DIS poachers saying, I can’t release people I never arrested’. This particular incident is consistent with the earlier one that had occurred at Mosu when DIS agents arrested three INK journalists although, following complaints by those three, the police in Letlhakane were unable to confirm that anyone had been arrested. It would appear, therefore, that with any incident involving the DIS, of whatever nature, the police are not legally permitted to be involved.
This would also appear to mean that the DIS is able to involve itself in activities for which you or I could be charged with criminal offence. If this were to happen, and the case came to court, a magistrate would be bound to state that testimony from the police would be legally inadmissible. But then, I am remarkably ill-informed about legal matters and hope that someone better equipped, will be brave enough to advise.
But then, there was that other news report that the DIS was deeply concerned about the reported intentions of Shah to stand for election as the BDP’s Treasurer, thus replacing Sataar Dada.
What apparently the DIS wanted to know was to which of the two BDP factions Shah might be aligned? Understandably Shah, having been interviewed by the DIS about his supposed party leanings, was distressed but not intimidated. BDP members will assume that the interest in such matters is unlikely to be restricted to Shah.
But my goodness, how this DIS does get around! Having allegedly acted to safeguard the President’s house in Mosu from prying eyes one day, being allegedly involved in the international traffic of wildlife trophies and
I apologise to readers of this column for these repetitive ‘alleges’ and ‘apparentlys ’which does make for very tedious reading. But how, otherwise, can anyone publicly comment on an agency which to all intents and purposes, does not exist – despite the National Assembly (NA) agreeing that it should engorge increasingly vast sums of the tax payers money?
How has any one in the country benefitted from the DIS’ role as, apparently (sorry) an international racketer, in allegedly (sorry) protecting HE’s place at Mosi and in allegedly (sorry) being in the business of deciding who should be what in the BDP’s hierarchy.
But this is the problem which resulted from the NA’s agreement that it should surrender its normal and proper role regarding oversight and accountancy of the DIS, and indeed other agencies. By doing so, the NA ensured that it was legally powerless to have any say in the agencies’ activities.
Humiliatingly, all that was required of it has been to approve more and more millions for purposes about which it has not been allowed to have the slightest clue.
So that one day the DIS apparently operates as a security agency keeping an eye on private property and tomorrow it is, apparently and allegedly counting the gains from international trafficking and then on another it is, allegedly involved in deciding who will be elected to a top BDP position – and thus, by implication (sorry) to the future of the country and of all of us.
But I cannot go on like this with so many pre-qualifications about saying almost anything about almost everything. So let me switch quickly to the recent earthquake which was so curiously selective in damaging just the one building in Jwaneng and leaving Shoshong, Serowe, Palapye and Mahalapye unscathed. In contrast, the smaller ( 6.3) earthquake which hit Christchurch in New Zealand in 2011 caused extensive damage.
One explanation might be the considerable population differences between the two. But the difference between this one and all the other recent earthquakes does need explanation. In addition, I remain puzzled because I had never known that this country is situated in an earthquake zone. Is it known when an earthquake of this magnitude last hit this country?