Former army man retired Major General Pius Mokgware, who was once in charge of former president Sir Ketumile Masire’s escort, has lamented efficiency of security efforts in the country.
Among his concerns, Mokgware is against the idea of the incumbent State President driving a car while there are professionally trained officers to do so. Speaking at a press conference by the Botswana Defence Force (BDF) Retired Members Association, Mokgware said he would never let a president drive himself. During the State of Emergency that started early last year, President Mokgweetsi Masisi was spotted arriving at different places driving a Toyota Hilux GD6 Double Cab driving himself.
Despite talks that Masisi’s life was touted to be in danger, even beyond SOE, and with low new COVID-19 cases, the President still drives the car with no single passenger. Former president Ian Khama, during his reign, was more often than not seen driving himself since early into his term. Former spy chief Isaac Kgosi, the man who was charged with the safety and security of the president, however, said the president “should not be like he is in prison”. He said there is no law that says the president should not drive a motor vehicle or ride a bicycle. “When I was a young lieutenant coming from military academy as a platoon commander, I was given the task of being the head of former President Masire’s escort.
It was December and he was going to spend his holiday at his farm in Sekoma. We went there with a police officer who was his bodyguard and others. While we were still there, on the second day, we saw him driving a Toyota Hilux.
I stopped him and told him to get out of the car. He laughed and told me that it was his car. I told him that there is a driver employed by government, well trained to drive him that in any situation, he can get you out. By doing so, you will get us, your escorts in trouble,” Mokgware said. Mokgware said the former president listened and told him that he should just sit back and tell them what to do because they do not know what could transpire. He said others were surprised that he could get the president out of the car but assured them that it was part of his job.
He said the president was never taught how to drive presidents hence he cannot drive himself. “The rule is simple, the president is given a trained driver, who can maneuver in situations. Now tell me, if a president is driving his car and someone throws a grenade through the window trying to greet him, will he survive? You will never see such a thing happening in other countries. You, who allow him to do so, you are at fault. You are charged with that huge responsibility to look after a head of State. Allowing him to drive while he was never trained for it is wrong.
It looks simple but it is very critical,” he said. DIS public relations director Edward Robert said they have Masisi’s security issues under control. “Provision of personal security to His Excellency the President is a statutory function of the directorate.
Throughout its provision ,the protection of VIPs including His Excellency the President is as per standard practice, subject to the directorate's continuous security risk assessments. These assessments inform the directorate on how to deploy depending on noted threats and other security requirements. As things stand, the directorate is happy with all security arrangements for His Excellency the President,” he said.