Monday, January 17, 2022

DIS oversight committee dithers over Kgosi’s fate

The Parliament Intelligence and Security Committee is skirting around DISS Director General Isaac Kgosi’s corruption allegations stoking perceptions that is nothing but President Khama’s lapdog.

DISS Head of Operations, Lesego Tsholofelo in his academic paper: “A critical evaluation of the intelligence oversight regime in Botswana” warned that the unilateral appointment of the DISS Director General and the Parliament Intelligence Committee by the President promotes consensus building.

“A president who may habour ill intentions on the use of the directorate may appoint someone who, once in office, would be at both his own personal and political bidding instead of national interest. In the Botswana context, this deficiency is further compounded by the fact that the President also appoints members of the parliamentary committee tasked with overseeing the intelligence”, warned Tsholofelo.

The much publicised Committee meeting to decide Kgosi’s fate billed for last Friday never materialised because the committee which has majority BDP mps could not muster enough courage to meet and address the issue ÔÇô an insider told Sunday Standard. The committee is made up of Chairman Kagiso Molatlhegi, Bagalatia Arone, Phillip Makgalemele, Moeng Pheto, Charles Tibone, Mephato Reatile, Slumber Tsogwane and Raynor Makosha.

Tsholofelo who is a DISS insider also warned that the independence of the committee was questionable. “Notwithstanding that the committee is referred to as parliamentary and endowed with the same powers and privileges as other parliamentary committees as per the National Assembly (Powers and Privileges) Act, it fundamentally differs with them. The President appoints members of the committee after consulting the Speaker of the National Assembly and the Leader of the Opposition. This is in contrast with the appointment of other parliamentary committees where it is the Parliamentary Selection Committee (PSC) that is seized with such a task. Critics have cast aspersions over this arrangement with former Speaker of the Botswana National Assembly, Matlapeng Ray Molomo branding it a “special presidential committee.”

Concerns over the committee’s lack of independence resulted in opposition members resigning in protest during the early stages of the DISS. Currently there are only two opposition MPs in the committee: Bagalatia Arone of the Botswana Congress Party (BCP) and Moeng Pheto who recently resigned from the BDP to stand as an independent candidate. Tsholofelo points out that, “with its current composition the committee has lost its effectiveness as premised on credibility emanating from its inter-party posture. The human rights group Ditshwanelo observed prior to the MPs resignation that it “would render it an empty shell, accountable only to the ruling party.

It is understood that, “Committee members wanted a meeting without Kgosi where everybody would feel comfortable to discuss the matter and come up with suggestions,” said a source.

Contacted for comment Molatlhegi said the committee does not have the mandate to push Kgosi out of his position or to investigate him.

“As a committee it is not our mandate to do that. Parliament is not empowered to fire anyone. I think the Security Council which is an oversight body that covers issues relating to that is the one which can look into that issue because its mandate covers a lot of things including the operations of the DIS,” he said. Molatlhegi claimed ignorance on reports that some of his committee members had been pushing for a meeting with Kgathi or to meet him and discuss the issue.

“For our committee to meet there must be an agenda. The committee is scheduled to meet sometime next month to discuss the DIS annual report. I can’t rule out the possibility of the issue relating to DIS Director General being discussed at the meeting because members are allowed to seek clarity on various matters, especially that the issue is now in the public domain through the media,” he said.

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