A classic Isaac Kgosi story culled from the realm of apocrypha finds the Directorate of Intelligence and Security Services (DISS) boss on the phone with DCEC investigators. The DCEC investigating team had stormed Kgosi’s farm at Gakgatla while he was away. One of his farm hands whipped out his cellular phone handset and punched Kgosi’s number.
After a brief moment on the phone, he handed the cell phone handset over to the head of the DCEC investigating team. “Do you know who you are messing with? Do you know who I am”, the voice on the other end warned. The DISS Director General is more than just a director or a general. Kgosi, the eyes, ears and brute behind the President Khama administration is something of a powerful mythical figure.
Almost everyone, from Cabinet ministers to ordinary folks in the street believes he even has the power of life and death. And when discussions turn to politics, a subject that comes up even before enquiries about the rain and health of children these days, switched on citizens choose to whisper in hushed tones because the omnipresent Kgosi may be watching and listening. There is fear and paranoia in everyone. Even Chairman of the Parliamentary Committee of the Intelligence and Security (PCIS) and Botswana Democratic Party MP, Kagiso Molatlhegi confirms the prevailing psychological effect of a surveillance state, that spine-chilling feeling of Big Brother watching you. “Indeed civil liberties have been affected but only due to the perception that has been created which as we know is false.
These days as a politician when you talk to someone over the phone and as soon as you get into issues that may seem controversial they immediately request discussing the issue in person instead.
So that indicates to you that people are not free to express themselves because they believe someone is listening to their conversations.” In her academic paper, “ a critical Evaluation of the Intelligence Oversight Regime in Botswana” Lesego Tsholofelo states that, “real or perceived as Molatlhegi argues it is, the reality is that such a perception is actually having an effect on how the citizens handle their day-to-day interactions. To the extent that people believe they are living under constant surveillance is an indictment to a state of free society that democracy must guarantee.” The DISS boss has put the fear of God in everyone, and he can be forgiven for having something of a God complex. The swashbuckling chief spy never passed up an opportunity to let everyone know that it is Isaac Kgosi’s world and everyone else just happen to live in it.
Kgosi is currently the subject of a multi million Pula corruption investigation by the Directorate on Corruption and Economic Crime (DCEC). According to a statutory notice by the National Amalgamated Local Central Government & Parastatal Workers Union (NALG&PAU), Kgosi is being investigated for “obtaining by false pretences contrary to Section 308 of the Penal Code CAP 08:01; Failure to give a satisfactory explanation as to how he is able to maintain a standard of living disproportionate to his p[resent or past known sources of income or assets, contrary to Section 34 of the DCEC Act CAP 08:05; Stealing by a person employed in the Public Service contrary to Section 276 of the penal Code CAP 08:01; money laundering contrary to Section 14 of the Corruption and Economic Crime Act CAP 08:05 and abuse of office contrary to Section 104 of the Penal Code CAP 08:01.”
Although the Office of the President insists that it is committed to ensuring that justice is served, the body language of the players in the high profile case tells a different story. The Chief Investigator in the case Don Mackenzie left the country in a huff, allegedly fearing for his life. Mackenzie had completed his investigations and the case docket referenced DOC/IF/ 2011/001166 was sent to the Directorate of Public Prosecutions (DPP) as far back as 2012. Curiously, the DCEC recalled the docket a few weeks after the graft buster and the DISS were transferred to the Office of the President in April 2012 from the Ministry of Justice, Defence and Security. Quizzed by the Sunday Standard eight months ago on why the DCEC recalled the docket from DPP, DCEC Public Relations Officer, Lentswe, Motshoganetsi said they usually recall dockets to address loopholes.
“We always lose cases in courts of law because of technicalities and we retrieve such cases to fill any loopholes that could exist, “he added. In another media interview, the DCEC refused to either deny or confirm allegations that Mackenzie’s life was feared to be in danger following the murder of Harry Tembo who was a potential state witness in the DCEC corruption investigations against Kgosi.
Responding to a media questionnaire the DCEC public Relations Officer, Lentswe Motshoganetsi said: “Kindly note that the issues that you have raised are based on rumors that the DCEC is not in a position to comment on. “Mr. Mackenzie is the Deputy Director Operations and he joined the DCEC in March 2011. I am further unable to comment on some of the issues you have raised as they are on internal matters of the DCEC, hence off limits for public consumption.”
It is understood that Mackenzie, an Australian citizen was advised by his government to terminate his contract before time following newspaper reports that linked the murder of Harry Tembo, who was found shot and hacked with an axe. Tembo was part of the DCEC’s investigations on his business dealings with Kgosi. The Sunday Standard was informed that although Mackenzie at one point sought refuge at the British High Commission in Gaborone, he insisted on completing his contract but sent his family back to Australia for safety reasons. The DCEC has however filed an application to interdict the Sunday Standard from reporting on the DCEC investigations against Kgosi, arguing that the investigations are not complete. Information passed to the Sunday Standard, however, suggests that the last entry on the docket investigation diary indicates that the investigations are complete. This is believed to be part of the fancy footwork by the Office of the President to ensure that Kgosi never has his day in court. The Gakgatla incident between Kgosi and the DCEC investigating team, provides the best insight into the investigations against Kgosi and how the spy chief sees himself: Untouchable and above the law.
For a long time, he was the law unto himself and this was not helped by his brash administrative style which often clashes with the business ethics of the government enclave. For example, when the DISS bought generators from BH Botswana, Kgosi decided to add an extra generator for his private farm in Sentlhane farms. There are even question marks over whether his relationship with BH Botswana was arms length. When he celebrated his daughter’s wedding, he borrowed a generator from BH Botswana, and there are no records showing that money exchanged hands. The DISS boss also borrowed a generator from BH Botswana during a family bereavement. Often times, the lines between official and personal are blur and conflict of interest is the norm.
Kgosi used Zebra Shipping for customs clearance of DISS imports as well as his personal imports. He used the customs clearing company when he imported his BMW 5 Series from the United States and when he imported his personal rifle and its magazine. The contractor who built Kgosi’s private residences in Phakalane and Sentlhane farms was given a number of construction contracts by the DIS running into millions of Pula. In an investigation by the Sunday Standard, the contractor, a Zambian national, first turns up in 1998 when he was contracted to complete Kgosi’s mansion in Phakalane Estates. Then he was only a small time bricklayer who had not registered a company. When Kgosi became director of DISS the small time builder blossomed into a big time building contractor who became the DISS preferred contractor. His company was given the contract to build the DIS Criminal Investigation Offices in Sebele through a single sourcing tender.
The company was also given the contract to build the DIS storage facility next to the Botswana Power Corporation head office, and the DIS contract to build the District Commissioner’s house in Serowe. Both projects were also awarded through direct single sourcing tender process. The contractor was also contracted by President Ian Khama for the construction of his private residence at the controversial Mosu air strip. The Zambian contractor was brought in to complete Kgosi’s house after the man the DISS boss had contracted, Harry Tembo failed to complete it. Curiously, Tembo also got a number of contracts to supply the Office of the President with computers while Kgosi was still at the Office of the President. When Kgosi became head of DISS, Tembo’s companies became one of the DISS preferred suppliers. Tembo, who was a potential witness against Kgosi in the ongoing investigations by DCEC was found shot and hacked to death at Phakalane Estates, a Gaborone suburb.