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DIS keeps Masisi oblivious on SPEDU probe

President Masisi delivering SONA PIC: PHATSIMO KAPENG
The Directorate of Intelligence and Security (DIS) did not brief President Mokgweetsi Masisi about its investigation of SPEDU Industrial and Urban Agriculture Land Service project before he highlighted the matter in his State of the Nation Address (SONA) last week, Mmegi has learnt.

Delivering SONA, Masisi informed the nation about SPEDU Industrial and Urban Agriculture Land Service project, a 3,500-job development, but he did not highlight that the project has been put on hold.

Sources close to the President deny that DIS has ever informed him that the agency was investigating how the project was awarded. Also, the Ministry of Land Management, Water and Sanitation Services did not inform the President’s speechwriters about the DIS investigation of the project.

“On October 9, 2020, SPEDU informed engineers of this project that they have been instructed by the ministry who are sponsors of the project to suspend the contract because it is under investigation. That was a month before the President delivered his SONA. If he was briefed about this investigation he could not have mentioned the progress of the project,” said the source.

The source explained that the President chairs the Central Intelligence Committee (CIC) every Tuesday where he gets briefings from the security agencies. Every week the CIC sitting members meet and brief Masisi about the intelligence assessments. “Every week the police commissioner briefs it about crime analysis and the DIS Director General briefs it about intelligence assessment. The committee advises the President on the cause of action,” a source privy to the committee meetings said.

Members of the CIC are the President, Vice President, DIS Director General and his deputy, police commissioner and deputy commissioners of both Criminal Intelligence Bureau and commissioner of operations, Botswana Defence Force (BDF) commander, his deputy and chief of staff intelligence (BDF) Minister of Presidential Affairs, Governance and Public Administration, Minister of Defence, Justice and Security, Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, Permanent Secretary to the President and the Attorney General.

“President Masisi is in the dark about the status of the project. The DIS head did not inform him about the investigation,” a highly-placed source said.

In his address on November 9, 2020 Masisi said: “The construction of the SPEDU Industrial and Urban Agriculture Land Servicing project commenced in August 2020 and it is expected to be completed by June 2023. Once complete, the project is expected to create 3,500 jobs with an investment of P1.2 billion.”

The source denied Masisi deliberately misinformed the nation when he highlighted the progress of the works project in his report to the nation.

“In fact he was let down by people who should be advising him. The DIS should have informed him that they have smelt a rat about the awarding of the tender and have the matter referred to the Directorate on Corruption and Economic Crime for investigation,” another source said.

On Monday the Office of the President (OP) referred all the questions about the project to the DIS.

Said government spokesperson Andrew Sesinyi: “It would appear that all

your questions are related to the DIS; and as such, you should redirect the questionnaire to the DIS. I trust you realise that I am not being unduly perfunctory but following previous practice where oversight institutions handle issues within their mandates”.

For his part the DIS public relations director, Edward Robert said it should be noted that the Directorate does not make decisions on tenders and the mandate of the Directorate is instead established in the Intelligence and Security Service Act (2008).

Robert said a close reading of the Act shows that the role of the DIS is limited to amongst other things, to routinely advising ministries and government departments on matters of national security as and when they are identified.

“This is a normal and distinct national security role that was envisioned to protect the country’s national interests and is in line with the Directorate’s established mandate. The Directorate will therefore continue playing that role,” he said.

He concluded that the DIS will always conduct itself within the purview of its established mandate and will always act with the necessary professionalism and requisite seriousness where the country’s national interests and security are concerned.

What Robert is avoiding to reveal is that one of the bidders reported alleged corruption to DIS and in April this year a team of DIS agents were sent to SPEDU offices and they seized all documents associated with the project.

“The files were later returned after the DIS cleared allegations of corruption,” said the source.

In May, a DIS female officer was dispatched to Selebi-Phikwe again to investigate the project again. Like her colleagues before her, she cleared the project and gave SPEDU the go ahead to award the tender. “What is happening in this project is clear abuse of office by the DIS head honchos.”

Still on the matter, the DCEC public relations officer, Lentswe Motshoganetsi was unable to confirm whether the DIS referred the matter to the corruption busting agency or not. Motshoganetsi provided a typical DCEC response hiding behind the Corruption and Economic Crime Act.

“I can confirm that the DCEC is privy to issues that you have raised. However I am unable to discuss the details of the allegations as they border on operational matters of the Directorate, which is contrary to the Corruption and Economic Crime Act,” Motshoganetsi said.

This project has been divided into two phases and the P230.5 million Phase 1 works contract was awarded to Marcian Concepts (PTY) Ltd on June 3, 2020.

It entails the provision of detailed designs of infrastructure, construction of road works, storm water drains, water reticulation, sewer pump stations, power reticulation, street lighting and telecommunications. Its period of performance is estimated to be 15 months with a 12 months defects notification period.




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