Thursday, October 5, 2023

Botswana’s Intelligence services should give more attention to trade, economy

The world over, we see intelligence services playing a crucial role in predicting and even preempting key pitfalls on trade and the economy.

And because of that intelligence services are much respected and less hated by the public they serve.

Yet in Botswana the opposite is true.

That has been the case since the creation of DIS.

For that reason many Batswana think life was much better before DIS was created.

DIS should be reformed.

It should refocus.

Those reforms should involve looking at the its founding statute.

For a long time the DIS has promised reforms.

For a while those reforms were once promised.

But they have not happened.

Instead of getting more involved in protecting and defending trade and the economy, we see the spy agency being involved on less crucial activities like spying on citizens and less on outside influence.

Abuse of drugs has become the single biggest crisis facing the youth.

For some time poaching, especially of rhinos was growing like flames.

There were few arrests made.

Instead the animals had to be relocated.

That has demonstrated failure and shortcomings of our security apparatus as a nation.

The world economy is getting more connected and more interdependent by the day.

Supply chains are totally dependent on events that happen far away from customers.

Trade lines are no longer immune to geopolitics.

And the economic vulnerabilities are getting more pronounced by the day.

Botswana is not immune.

Intelligence organisations should integrate the economy and trade and fundamental aspects of why they exist.

That can only happen if they employ more trade specialists and economists.

At the moment there is overarching concentration on who wins elections.

This concern is so great that it can easily spill into undoing the will of the people.

Intelligence services should be the ones guarding outside influence of elections, especially through cyber and other misinformation.

Intelligence services should guard the country against infiltration and manipulation.

They should not help one party against the other.

Intelligence Services are notorious for spying on opposition and doing the bidding of those in power, including in extreme cases killing the opponents of those in power.

Botswana is today facing a host of economic flashpoints.

These include unemployment. But also uncertainty on the power and energy front.

Millions of working age Batswana are out of work.

For a long time we talked about youth unemployment.

Since covid unemployment is now rife among the young and their parents.

Instead of working on keeping those in power in their positions, an intelligence service worth its salt would be far ahead in warning those in power about possible economic pitfalls of those two.

To transform the DIS there is need for truly patriotic people who are apolitical.

These are professional people with no intention to serve as lackeys of the president who by law is the ultimate custodian of the DIS.

As it is the country is flying blind. There is no self-awareness on where the country is headed, on trade.

There is little clue on where competition is much less on what Botswana’s industrial and economic Archilles heel are.

That has to change.

It needs political will. And also professional depth.

RELATED STORIES

Read this week's paper