Sunday, November 29, 2020

BDF Commander “not resigning”

Botswana Defence Force (BDF) Commander Lt Gen Gaolathe Galebotswe described reports of his resignation circulating recently in the media as untrue.

Responding to The Telegraph questionnaire, the Director of Protocol and Public Affairs, Tebo Dikole said “the BDF wishes to categorically state that the BDF Commander is neither resigning nor serving a three months’ notice contrary to rife speculations in the media.”

Asked how they intend to resolve the saga following an out of court settlement reached between BDF , Magosi and Mothobi which was made an order of the Court by Justice Key Dingake this week, Director of Protocol and Public Affairs, Tebo Dikole said “the way forward will and remains an internal matter.”

Dikole added that the BDF “had a mutual agreement with the concerned parties to withdraw their case. However please note that the case before the court was not a BDF case against either Brigadier Magosi or Sergeant Mothobi as purported. The case was brought to the Court by two likely affected persons challenging the procedural fairness in the board of enquiry that was convened by the Commander.”

On Monday, the Office of the President weighed in and denied reports purporting that President Ian Khama will address the rank and file of the BDF on Tuesday. OP states that President Khama will “be at BDF on Tuesday to address a pre-scheduled event, the pass out parade of officer cadets and as is the norm will undertake a tour of the base as well as meet some members of the BDF.”┬á
However, The Telegraph has learnt that Khama has issued a directive instructing Galebotswe not to hold any meeting with his officers ahead of the meeting that the President will hold on 24 June.

“The President is seriously disturbed by the spy equipment saga as he believes that it was not professionally handled by the BDF commander. He is of the view that the matter has the potential to divide the army and breed a fertile ground for indiscipline within the army,” said a source.

The source added that “the President also believes that the issue should have been handled internally and not let to be in the public domain. The commander should have nipped the issue in the bud the moment Magosi and Mothobi started to seek legal representation. The damage has already been done and it will not be easy to restore public confidence in our security agents. ”

Sources said this week that while President Khama was made aware of the sour relationship between Botswana Defence Force Commander Lt Gen Gaolathe Galebotswe and former Military Intelligence (MI) Chief Brig Peter Magosi some few years ago, Khama was kept in the dark about the recent unfolding events relating to the board of inquiry set up to investigate a missing surveillance equipment at the army.  

The tradition is that President Khama should have been briefed on the inquiry as the Commander in-Chief of the Armed Forces. The BDF Act empowers the President to take the final decision after the Board had made some recommendations. Protocol, sources within security industry say, demands that the President should be made aware of key issues surrounding an ongoing inquiry at the BDF.

Khama was kept in dark about the saga as it unfolded. It is understood that the BDF command which set up the enquiry feared that Khama could have questioned why such an inquiry was important because “it is common cause that the intelligence community is aware of who is in possession of the equipment as it is common knowledge that there is a practice whereby the intelligence community exchange resources including equipment.” ┬á

Information gathered thus far indicates that Galebotswe was caught off guard by Magosi’s resilience as he put up a spirited fight resulting in the saga coming before the courts.┬á

“When he called for a Board of inquiry, he was under the impression that Magosi would chicken out and resign with immediate effect, but the other man stood his ground tilting sympathy in the process from junior officers in his favour as they felt that he was a victim of circumstances,” said a source.

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Sunday Standard November 29 – 5 December

Digital copy of Sunday Standard issue of November 29 - 5 December, 2020.