The media has lately been awash with allegations of the ‘forced’ exit of the Directorate of Intelligence and Security (DIS) director general, Peter Magosi. In this question-and-answer session, Mmegi Staff Writer RYDER GABATHUSE speaks to the DIS communications officer, Edward Robert, who vehemently and outrightly dismisses Magosi’s alleged impending exit as simply the work of the media
Question: Could you kindly shed light on this development, as the assumption is that the media cannot just run with a baseless story about a prominent person of Magosi’s stature without reason?
Answer: Speculation about the Director General Brigadier (Rtd) Peter Magosi’s alleged exit originated from the media and not from the Directorate. We have repeatedly indicated, following previous similar media queries, that these allegations are unfounded. The Director General has not resigned nor has he been forced to resign. The media allegations you refer to are not borne out of facts since Brigadier (Rtd) Magosi is and has continued to be the Director General of this Directorate.
Question: There are reports that Magosi and his principal, President Mokgweetsi Masisi have literally fallen out. How true are these reports?
Answer: Such reports are also unfortunately not borne out by facts. The relationship between the Director General and President Masisi is normal and has never changed or deteriorated as suggested in media reports.
Question: To the best of your knowledge, how many more years do you think are remaining on Magosi’s contract before he exits?
Answer: As you may already be aware, the decision to deploy the Director General is the legally established responsibility of the President and it is always done in accordance with the Intelligence and Security Services Act (2008). Feel free to seek further clarity from the Office of the President.
Question: Lately, is there anything that could have affected Magosi’s terms of employment, to the extent that, the State President could be or has considered terminating his (Magosi’s) contract?
Answer: Nothing has affected the Director General’s terms of employment; this is why he continues to perform his role as normally as he always has, contrary to speculation. Feel free to seek further clarity from the Office of the President.
Question: There are wild allegations that Magosi has committed a number of blunders in line of his duty that could have compelled the President to consider exiting him. One such allegation relates to the P100 billion cash allegedly stolen from Bank of Botswana by the suspended DIS agent, Wilhelmina Maswabi and others. What do you make of this allegation?
Answer: We are unable to comment on this speculation as it concerns matters that are still under investigation and before the courts.
Question: As the DIS family, has Magosi not communicated his plan to exit the spy agency where he has been the helmsman since 2018, taking over from Isaac Kgosi who was forced out?
Answer: No exit plan exists and as such there has never been any need for the Director General to address the organisation.
Question: If the Magosi alleged exit is simply misinformation, what is the DIS doing to parry such allegations?
Answer: The Directorate has always addressed media questions regarding this speculation.
The facts have never changed regardless of the continued speculation by the media. It is however, unfortunate that while this being the case, some media houses continue to perpetuate the allegation even where they continuously fail to produce proof. We are however, confident that the public is able to discern facts from speculation whenever allegations about the Director General’s alleged exit are raised.
Question: How has the alleged Magosi exit affected the image of the DIS, as public perception has been that all is not well in the DIS?
Answer: The organisation’s image is intact as the public is able to differentiate between facts and the disinformation that is carried out through the media to create unnecessary speculation and doubt.
Noted public views show that there is a substantial section of the public, which appreciates role and mandate of the Directorate.
They continue to provide insightful
Question: Why do you think the media can choose to report fallacies on Magosi’s impending departure when in fact he (Magosi) is not even thinking of leaving or there is no pressure pushing for his exit?
Answer: This happens in part due to the nature of intelligence work. It is done away from public glare and naturally always invites speculation particularly from the media, which in turn has the power to influence public perception, rightly or wrongly.
It is also understandable that because Director General Magosi has been in office for only 24 months, speculation will arise from time to time since the organisation is still undergoing transformation under his leadership.
Also, while the media often does well to raise genuine issues of accountability in the public interest, it from time to time unfortunately falls victim to disinformation agendas from actors who understand its power and effectiveness in causing unnecessary panic and instability, usually with the object of reducing public confidence in public institutions.
This does not only happen against the DIS. Different government departments and non-government entities do from time to time experience baseless disinformation campaigns.
Meanwhile, Robert explains the role of the DIS in the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic…
Question: Could you kindly explain the role of the DIS in the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic? We know the roles and contributions of other organisations and their presence in the public space speaks volumes about their contribution and we can’t speak the same about the DIS?
Answer: The COVID-19 pandemic constitutes the type of national security risk, which automatically falls under the mandate of the Directorate as established by the Intelligence and Security Services Act (2008).
The pandemic threatens both the economy and the welfare of citizens. It presents many challenges that are, without question, of concern to national security.
As you may be aware, the Directorate like all intelligence organisations across the world does not publicise or conduct its activities in public unlike other organisations with different mandates.
However, on May 18, 2020, Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Defence Matshidiso Bokole stated at the ministry’s press update that while the Directorate falls under the Office of the President, it has representatives at the COVID-19 national command centre.
Question: As the fight against the pandemic continues, what of public interest have you unearthed to help other organisations to function effectively?
Answer: The Directorate works with other public entities the same way it has always worked with them when there are threats to the country’s national interests and security.
The Directorate, under the current leadership values collaboration, skills and resource sharing.
Different government ministries and departments are all Directorate’s partners, clients and service providers and continue to work together in fighting the current pandemic as they would any other national security risks.
Question: The intelligence organisations have specific mandates to play in the society. Could you share what the role the DIS has been playing in the COVID-19 fight?
Answer: Kindly note that the mandate of the Directorate is set out in the Intelligence and Security Services Act (2008).
Regardless of the national security issue, functions of the Directorate are to Investigate, Gather, Evaluate, Correlate, Interpret and promptly disseminate information to government ministries, departments and agencies that require it.
Such information is disseminated to detect threats and advise government on steps that should be taken to protect the country’s security interests whether economic, political (i.e. the country’s political security) and so on.
The Directorate also has regulatory responsibilities such as security vetting which are ongoing even during the current COVID-19 pandemic.