Responding to a remark from across the floor that the Botswana Democratic Party will win Sekoma ward again in the next general election, Mochudi East MP, Isaac Davids, said the following: “Over my dead body. Kill me first, ask the Directorate of Intelligence Service to kill me first.”
This was completely unrelated to affairs of the Ministry of Education and Skills Development whose budgetary proposal to the Committee of Supply was being debated by the house. Davids would have continued to the next point but was cut short by Gaborone South MP, Kagiso Molatlhegi, who said that the Botswana National Front MP’s remarks couldn’t be ignored.
“You can’t say DIS should kill you first for us to win the ward. That’s unparliamentary,” Molatlhegi said.
Before making a ruling, the Speaker, Gladys Kokorwe, quipped that Davids didn’t seem too concerned about dying, adding, “Does DIS kill people? You can’t say that.”
Davids responded with his own question: “Why do they carry guns? You gave them guns; why did you do so?”
Speaking from his seat, an MP from across the floor had demanded that Davids withdraw his words because they would be carried in the Hansard – the official record of parliament proceedings. However, Davids never withdrew the allegation. Earlier Molatlhegi had used a Setswana word (“tshwakgoga” which means getting accustomed to a disagreeable habit) in relation to Davids’ conduct that Francistown South MP, Wynter Mmolotsi, found to be offensive. When Davids resumed his seat without withdrawing his allegation, Mmolotsi raised a point of order about the use of that word. Distracted, Kokorwe focused her attention on “tshwakgoga”, ruling it to be in order and Davids finished his contribution without withdrawing his allegations about the DIS.
In an era when “extra-judicial killing” is used more often than was the case in the past, Davids is not the first MP to raise questions about DIS work. In the last parliament, Kanye North MP, Kentse Rammidi, asked the DIS boss about allegations that DIS kills people when he appeared before the Public Accounts Committee. Kgosi said that the allegations were not true.
Whatever the case may be, DIS’ name has been so badly tarnished that farther down the road, it will find itself having to do what the South African army had to do with the advent of a democratic South Africa in 1994. The South African Defence Force was associated with all the atrocities of the apartheid era and when the African National Congress took over, it was renamed it the South African National Defence Force and overhauled its leadership. When a name change was mooted in the past, an Echo editorial comment noted that that would amount to nought unless DIS changes the way it conducts itself. In some cases, DIS’ mention in print media is preceded with “the dreaded” or “the notorious”.