FRANCISTOWN: The sacking of former Directorate of Intelligence and Security (DIS) director general, Isaac Kgosi has reportedly come as a relief to ruling party members who the party and government spied upon.
For a long time, Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) cadres have been complaining that the party’s top leadership was spying on them. Just about two years ago, when he was the vice president and ruling Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) chairperson, Mokgweetsi Masisi shockingly let the cat out of the bag by revealing that “the BDP was spying on its errant members and will come down hard on democrats who spill sensitive party information to outsiders.”
He did not specifically state which spy agency the party and government would use to spy on members but it has been an old party members’ concern that the DIS was used on them.
This was at a time when Kgosi was the helmsman at the spy agency DIS, notorious for its brutality in handling suspects and its tendency to be used by Khama to work upon its party cadres.
This information was contained in a tape that was leaked to the media after an indoor meeting held at the Tati River Lodge in August 2016 addressed by Masisi.
Addressing the internal party meeting about two years ago, Masisi is heard on the tape boasting about the party’s prowess in monitoring its members’ behaviour. In the leaked tape, a voice associated with Masisi even said: “We have the capacity to know who did it whether is on WhatsApp, Twitter or Facebook. Don’t think you can hide kana we are a BDP government that has been in power for 50 years.”
Just last Friday, a former BDP youth and central committee member revealed how former president Ian Khama under whom Masisi served used to chide them over their wayward private communication on their mobile phones and the social media.
“As young people we were worried at the accuracy of information SKI (referring to Khama) would rebuke us on. It confirmed that we were indeed being spied upon by our principals,” revealed a BDP operative who preferred anonymity.
The youthful BDP operative knew that within the party structures they didn’t have a spy agency and attributed the spying work to the Kgosi-led DIS.
She knew very well that all members of the BDP National Youth Executive Committee (BDPNYEC) and central committee members were being spied upon by the DIS. “It made life very difficult for us because there was no way we could exist in isolation and not debate national issues with others who hold differing views from our party fearing that we are being listened to.”
Her principals, who were apparently gripped by paranoia so much that they would illegally monitor their communication, worried our source. As mitigation to the spying allegations, some BDP members including our source were forced to use more than one mobile phones so that they can have the freedom to communicate on unknown numbers with their friends and relatives.
In the past, both the BDP and its government have vehemently denied allegations that the Khama regime was using the DIS to spy on party members. Even the former spy agency boss, Kgosi denied spying on the BDP members.
But, now with Masisi having articulated his party and government’s “prowess” of spying on wayward members, it confirms the party operatives’ concerns of the party eavesdropping on their private communications. Now, with Masisi occupying the highest office in the land as state President, there are worries that he could still be following the old practice. Quizzed about spying allegations, BDP secretary general, Mpho Balopi said: “You know what is happening is that we never had any complaints on the basis that party cadres are being spied upon on the basis of them being members of the BDP.”
At least by Monday this week, Balopi emphasised that the secretariat did not know of any report emanating from any party structure of espionage by the DIS or any intelligence organ for that matter.
Efforts to solicit comments from the former spy agency chief Kgosi were futile, as he could not pick his mobile phone. He could not even respond to short message service (SMS) sent to him this week.