Dow breaks ranks with BDP on DIS

Dow with Masisi in Parliament PIC: THALEFANG CHARLES
Dow with Masisi in Parliament PIC: THALEFANG CHARLES

Political analyst Lesole Machacha says it will be an unfortunate situation if the Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) could feel that Specially Elected Member of Parliament (MP), Unity Dow brought its name into disrepute in her contribution to the debate in Parliament on Wednesday.

During her response to the State of the Nation Address (SONA) delivered by President Mokgweetsi Masisi on Monday, Dow requested MPs to speak with one voice and called for a Commission of inquiry on the Directorate of Intelligence and Security (DIS) to find out if it is still in line with its founding Act or not. She said the most fundamental promise the BDP made to the electorate in 2019 was that it would restore good governance and the rule of law.

“What Dow did was checks and balances in politics. It is commonly done in other countries that are developed. It's part of advanced democracies. There must be accountability in Parliament.

The DIS was formed by an Act of Parliament. If MPs believe that they are doing something wrong, then they are the ones who could review the DIS Act and ensure that things are done correctly or pass a motion that could lead to it being disbanded. Every government department is governed by the role of the law,” he said. The BDP chief whip Liakiat Kablay said Dow was merely saying out her views on how she sees things. “I cannot criticise or blame someone for saying things the way she sees them. Really, I don’t know how the party may take it,” he said.

Dow said they can all agree that good governance can be measured by factors such as the rule of law, participation, transparency, responsiveness, consensus orientation, equity and inclusiveness, efficiency and accountability. “When we promised this nation the rule of law we meant that we would run this country not through whims and fancies, not through force or fear, not through threats and intimidation, but rather that all persons, institutions, and entities would be accountable, to laws that are: publicly promulgated, equally enforced and consistent with international norms and standards,” she said.

Dow said in her view, the DIS has failed to deliver on the promise and as the three arms of government, they have failed in delivering good governance, in respect of the DIS. She stressed that this failure, is so critical, that it threatens the security of every individual in this country, "mine and yours included, as well as that of the State itself." The former Justice of the High Court said what is little known is that the Act did not just create the DIS as an ‘independent and self-regulating’ entity. Rather, it has a network of entities that were meant to oversee, direct, regulate and guide the DIS. She continued: “These mechanisms are the Central Intelligence Committee: Membership: the President, the Vice President, Minister of Foreign Affairs, Minister of Defence, Minister for Presidential Affairs, The Attorney General, The Police Commissioner and the Deputy Police Commissioner, The Permanent Secretary to the President, The Commander of the Botswana Defence Force, The Deputy Commissioner of Police, The Director-General of the DIS, the Department Director of the DIS, The Assistant Chief of Staff of Military Intelligence.

This committee has 13 members, and only two of these are from the DIS. Function (Section 26): “to guide the Directorate generally on matters relating to national security and intelligence interests....”. In addition, she said the public has always viewed the DIS as a monster; they feared it and that became a self-fulfilling prophecy. “We have allowed the DIS to operate outside the law. Absolutely no one, not even a judge, has the power or should have the power to a direct hiring or firing of anyone outside legally laid down procedures.

Direct the blacklisting or inclusion of anyone or company outside legally laid down procedures. Listen to private conversations outside legally laid out procedures. Arrest, detain, search and generally interfere with personal liberties, outside legally laid down procedures. Procure property with government funds or otherwise use government resources without reference to relevant laws and procedures,” she said. Dow said for those individuals who have been suspended or fired unfairly suffer a loss of income and the State end up having to settle cases that should never have been initiated in the first place.

Editor's Comment
What about employees in private sector?

How can this be achieved when there already is little care about the working conditions of those within the private sector employ?For a long time, private sector employees have been neglected by their employers, not because they cannot do better to care for them, but because they take advantage of government's laxity when it comes to protecting and advocating for public sector employees, giving the cue to employers within the private sector...

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