Minister of Justice, Defence and Security, Ramadeluka Seretse had a difficult time in Parliament on Wednesday evening trying to repair the damaged reputation of his last born organ - Directorate of Intelligence and Security (DIS).
After the majority of MPs hit hard at the security organisation, accusing it of eavesdropping on people's phone conversations, and that it is a terror squad instead of protecting people, Seretse put the blame on phone hackers.
He claimed that there are criminals, just like internet hackers, who target telephone conversations so that they can acquire information from unsuspecting users.
However, Seretse assured the House that the nation is safe from the DIS, and that they must feel free wherever they are and speak freely on their phones. "DIS is here for you, feel free wherever you are, speak freely on your phones," he declared. This is despite complaints from opposition MPs and outspoken MPs from the ruling party that the DIS is following them and listening to their private conversations. It is said that even some ministers are afraid of speaking on their phones.
He said that the DIS does not listen to private conversations as fellow MPs have alleged. Instead, he said, the DIS has to get permission from courts to intercept someone's phone if they have valid reasons to do so or if they suspect the person could be planning to commit a crime.
However, in the same vein, Seretse said it is safe for people on a criminal mission to desist from sharing their information on phones and better to share such information face to face. He was responding to a comment made by another MP who said that people are afraid of conversing in buses because DIS agents are everywhere. On other issues the minister said that government has no plans to keep two presidential jets explaining that the old jet would be sold at a better price once the world economy has recovered from the recession. A new jet was acquired at the beginning of last year.
MPs on Tuesday took turns describing how fear has gripped the nation following the birth of DIS. They said that the DIS agents were involved in political activities instead of focusing on security threats to the nation. Others likened Botswana to neighbouring Zimbabwe where President Robert Mugabe is believed to be using government security agencies to silence his political opponents. President Ian Khama has shown solidarity with Zimbabwean refugees who were running away from their President. BTV is also alleged to have been ordered to conduct interviews with the refugees, which were aired every Wednesday in the programme named 'Voices From Within'.