Wednesday, January 26, 2022

DIS, not the media undermine Botswana’s interests at home and abroad

It was never the intention of this newspaper to choose a topic based on the State of the Nation Address. We have long given up on potential efficacy of the State of the Nation Address to add any meaningful changes to the lives of our people. We did not want to use the State of The Nation Address as a theme for our editorial because it is our belief that increasingly Batswana do not take the address seriously.

This is because many of the undertakings and commitments made in the past addresses have not been implemented. Much worse, nobody has ever seen it fit to explain to the nation why such undertakings have not been implemented and also say the extent to which such commitment remain among government priorities. From 2008 onwards, there is a litany of promises made through the Address that have not been kept, hopes that were raised only to be shattered and policy pronouncements that were made only to be abandoned without any attempt at accounting. Our view, and we have said it in the past is that a State of the Nation Address should not be made to look like a mandatory obligation forced down the throat of an unwilling President.

A president should use the State of the Nation Address to voluntarily, honestly and sincerely engage with the nation. Attempts to use the State of the Nation Address to hoodwink the nation and also attack those that hold a different view on what trajectory the country should take will in the fullness of time be exposed for what it really is. As we speak, the State of the Nation Address has been reduced into a mandatory annual ritual which once delivered is not binding on those that delivered it to ensure pronouncement there made are followed through. If there is one thing in the different addresses that has not changed, but has also been implemented it has to be the vilification of the private media. As part of the private media we have no complaints against the President attacking the media.

We have grown used to that. We have long grown to accept it as part of a therapeutic remedy that somehow makes him feel good. All his entire President Ian Khama has never shown any enthusiasm much less any commitment to media freedom. To him the media is an unwanted nuisance that if he had his way would long have been throttled. He has imparted this attitude to the henchmen that make up his inner circle. In his latest address President Khama continues his annual ritual attack on the media: “While the mass circulation of false and malicious reports intended to incite undue alarm may be aimed at promoting the political agenda of some, it is at the collective cost of tarnishing the image of the country as a whole. It is also a threat to the economy we all must depend upon for our livelihoods. Such disinformation should therefore be rejected with contempt by all peace-loving Batswana. All citizens, residents and potential visitors to Botswana can be confident that this Government will continue to both abide and uphold the rule of law without fear or favour.”

While at face value this statement might be taken as a gospel truth especially by visitors, the fact of the matter is that people who live here would simply laugh at it. President Khama has shown breathtaking contempt for established principles of governance and the rule of law. Ever since becoming the Head of State, at any given time there has at least been one of his ministers facing corruption charges while also retaining his seat in cabinet. As we speak there is a member of cabinet facing corruption charges. That minister has been promoted clearly as a reward. And that is only half the story. Khama’s long time aide and confidante, Isaac Kgosi has been allowed to keep his job Anybody outside Khama’s inner circle would have long been sacked for lesser and more vague allegations. This is the root cause of people’s loss of faith in Khama’s commitment to the rule of law.

We are all used to Khama culture of double standards and uneven-handedness. We would dismiss Khama’s statement that he is committed to rule of law as a joke that it really was it at the centre of ongoing rise international contempt that this country now has to grapple with. The intelligence service, DIS which Khama opted to hand to his ally has done more damage to the international reputation of this country than the private media ever will. The DIS has also has reduced Khama to a clown in the eyes of the world because instead of gather intelligence on threats to the nation including on security and economics, the DIS has chosen to spend all their time eavesdropping on the private lives of citizens, deporting investors who the country needs badly and harassing citizens as they go about their daily lives. While we have in the past vehemently opposed We are now of the \view that DIS is beyond redemption. Even if its current leader was to leave the damage done to the integrity, credibility and reputation of DIS can no longer be salvaged. Sadly, and with great trepidation especially on account of many years spent defending the DIS we find ourselves aligning with those who from the onset said DIS was a monster. The DIS culture of impunity and corruption makes it difficult to give it the benefit of doubt.

DIS, we thought when it was started was created to protect citizens, but when its leaders want to bully everybody into submission including by telling lies about citizens under the pretext it is on account of intelligence gathering, then it cannot be condoned. DIS will no doubt contribute towards the loss of power for the BDP. We have no problem with that. But when that is accompanied by threatening the interests of the country, then we cannot stand it any longer.

We have reached a hard decision that if not abolished, DIS will want to carry the entire nation down the tube. Clearly the DIS was created to protect Khama and the BDP, but its first and biggest victim, we contend have been Khama and the BDP. Because he is so powerful, the DIS Director General is held in awe by BDP members who cannot publicly voice their disgust at him and the organization for fear of their lives but also their careers. We have in the past compared his power and the extent to which he is feared to Abdulla a-Senussi. Al-Senussi was for many years the spy chief to Libya’s Muammar Ghaddaffi. As we speak, Ghaddaffi is dead and al-Senussi is facing charges of crimes against humanity. He is wanted by many countries including France, United States, and United Kingdom for participating in the killing of their nationals. This is over and above killing thousands and thousands of Libyans over many years.

This paper will never be held in thrall to either the DIS director General or the DIS itself. We shall at all times take sides with the truth and also the interests of the country. At the moment with think the DIS is the biggest threat to the interests of this country.

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