Kgosi arrest welcome but...

Kgosi was arrested recently PIC: THALEFANG CHARLES
Kgosi was arrested recently PIC: THALEFANG CHARLES

The arrest of Colonel Isaac Kgosi was long overdue and we acknowledge the decision to heed calls for his arrest by mainly political parties, media and other sections of the society.

However, it may be that he was arrested purely for political reasons; President Mokgweetsi Masisi is on propaganda and deceptive campaign that he thinks will make him popular. He sees Kgosi and Ian Khama as two sides of the same coin; big men behind the New Jerusalem faction of the Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) in quest to dethrone him.

He may have instructed the arrest of Kgosi in full glare of the media to intimidate his BDP opponents and to check if the former Director General (DG) is spying on his faction. These are possibilities. Masisi is also likely a sponsor of the “foiled Israeli Coup plot” story in last week’s Sunday Standard. He seeks to send a message to the voters that Khama, Kgosi and everybody supporting Pelonomi Venson-Moitoi are out to oust him with the help of foreign elements such as the Israeli government, because he’s fighting corruption. He seeks public sympathy that he is under siege. Masisi uses all sorts of unconventional strategies and tactics to remain in power and the arrest my have been a public relations stunt to gullible voters who may think his government law enforcement agencies are doing something about erstwhile rogues. He should also be careful about politicising these institutions.

Masisi has also captured some journalists and media houses which we are told have not been tax compliant and have been struggling financially especially with reduced government advertising.  These media houses are said to be now experiencing a surge in government advertising in return for promoting the President. These media houses should now be taken as mere mouthpieces of the President or his propaganda machinery and nothing else.

Masisi however doesn’t care about fighting corruption. He works with a Permanent Secretary to the President (PSP) who is under corruption investigation. He works with allegedly corrupt ministers who are under investigation by the DCEC and he is himself allegedly implicated in both CMB and National Petroleum Fund (NPF) corruption scandals.

Allegations around how he financed his chairmanship campaign, Camp Dubai, and many others have reached Parliament but the President hasn’t said anything about them. He is silent about his PSP and some of his ministers. Why should we then assume he’s serious about graft busting?

We all know that Kgosi had absolutely no regard for the rule of law, principles of good governance and democratic oversight of the intelligence. He had become a bully who was feared by everybody. We are of the view that his arrest would be meaningless if he is not prosecuted for the corruption and economic crimes he is alleged to have committed whilst at the helm of the spy agency. The DCEC has completed investigation of corruption and fiscal and revenue crimes involving the former DG and we’ve patiently waited for his day in court. The latest case of the NPF proved that the wheels had fallen off regarding the Directorate of Intelligence and Security (DIS) under Kgosi and its disregard for the laws of Botswana.

But we doubt if the Directorate of Public Prosecutions (DPP) can prosecute Kgosi because even Masisi knows that the former DG knows where the bodies are buried. Kgosi knows who and how the BDP was financed in 2009 and 2014. He knows who stole what, when and how in the administration. He knows other few deep and dark secrets, which he may reveal if the very ruling party he protected betrays him. If Masisi is really serious, corruption and economic crime cases at Botswana Development Corporation (BDC), Botswana Railways, Botswana Meat Commission (BMC) and DIS should be prosecuted without any further delay. Some of these cases are seven years old. But the reason they’re not reaching our courts is because ministers and senior officials loyal to Masisi are implicated.

Some of us have never approved the appointment of Kgosi from the beginning as we regarded him as not only unqualified for the job but also a stooge of former President Khama. It is common knowledge that Khama shielded Kgosi from both prosecution and accountability before democratic institutions protected Kgosi. The spy unit under him was a huge liability to the fiscus.

We hope, and our hope is diminished by a possibility of disappointment, that the arrest of Kgosi will be followed by his immediate prosecution, recovery of the missing guns in the armoury of the DIS and the auditing of the DIS, which hasn’t been audited since its establishment in 2007. We, in fact recommend forensic audit of the unit. We also recommend investigation into human rights abuses by the DIS under Kgosi and Khama including but not limited to extra-judicial killings, torture and other degrading treatments, unlawful and arbitrary arrests and detentions and wiretappings of electronic communications and invasion of citizens’ privacy.

But most importantly we would like to see Masisi walking the talk on fighting corruption and economic crime by accounting to Batswana and coming out clear on his role in both CMB and NPF and by removing all corrupt senior civil servants and ministers from his administration and also reforming or strengthening anti-graft laws.  

His government should review democratic oversight mechanisms of the DIS through legislative amendments to infuse transparency, accountability and the protection of individual rights and freedoms. As we have always contended, the current DIS legislative framework has created a fascist state in Botswana; Khama abused it and nothing stops Masisi from abusing it further.

*Keorapetse is the Member of Parliament for Selebi-Phikwe West

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