Monday, September 21, 2020

Khama and the bandits

A former member of Executive Outcomes claims that President Ian Khama had links with Military Technology Services (MTS), a mercenary outfit that was allegedly engaged to train Botswana’s Special Forces.

Revealing how MTS boss Nigel Morgan allegedly sold out Simon Mann, leading to the failure of the planned coup in Equatorial Guinea, the unnamed mercenary told the media that MTS enjoyed a good relationship with Botswana’s Ian Khama, at the time he was the Minister of Defence, and helped train Botswana’s Special Forces.

The instructors were all members of Executive Outcomes. The mercenary is further quoted saying, “There was no doubt that British intelligence and the British government were aware of this military arrangement with a mercenary force.”

Defence, Justice and Security minister, Dikgakgamatso Seretse, told The Telegraph that he was not aware that Khama ever had any links with the mercenary outfit that later joined Executive Outcomes.

“I would not know who trained the Special Forces and I know nothing what so ever,” Seretse said, before referring all enquiries to the Directorate of Intelligence and Security Services Director (DIS), Isaac Kgosi.

Kgosi, however, dismissed as untrue reports that Khama had links with MTS, saying, “I was there by then and its utter nonsense.”

He said it was highly unlikely that Botswana Special Forces were at any point trained by MTS, stressing that the reports were ‘rubbish’. The Executive Outcome former agent further claimed that MTS boss, Nigel Morgan, was also an informer of the South African National Intelligence Services (NIS).

This is the second time in less than two months that Botswana is being linked to NIS and mercenary outfits. A SADC research report, which was released mid September, claims that there are “suggestions of covert collaborations between Botswana authorities, Debswana and the South African National Intelligence Services (NIS) towards the end of Apartheid”.

The controversial report by Bench Mark Foundation said that was why mercenary outfit, Executive Outcomes’ founder Eeben Barlow was contracted to design Debswana security training manuals, to conduct training and give advice for De Beers and Debswana security personnel.
MTS boss Nigel Morgan was friends with Eeben Barlow, Simon Mann and Mark Thatcher.

Barlow’s connections with the DeBeers diamond cartel allegedly helped expedite the start-up of Executive Outcomes. Barlow worked for DeBeers in the late ‘80s and early ‘90s, handling DeBeers’ corporate counterintelligence. He was also contracted to establish and train a covert group for the De Beers diamond company in Botswana, Debswana, with the aim of infiltrating and penetrating the illegal diamond-buying and smuggling syndicates.

Executive Outcomes’ corporate structure is highly elaborate and winds around the globe. It is constantly evolving and changing. Investigations into a Hong Kong bank account in the name Executive Outcome /Sandline Holdings turned up the signature of Barlow alongside that of Simon Mann, then languishing in a Zimbabwean jail having been arrested for participating in an alleged coup in Equatorial Guinea in exchange for oil concessions.

The Debswana contract with Barlow allegedly came to an end when Executive Outcomes was contracted by the MPLA government in Angola to fight against UNITA in 1993. With funding from the Angolan state oil company, Simon Mann spearheaded a very dangerous operation with Barlow’s Executive Outcomes using only a few MiG helicopters and a few dozen black African expat mercenaries, which would be transported by ship. Mann and Barlow eventually defeated the UNITA.

Soon after, Mann and Barlow were given another contract by the dos Santos government to deal directly with UNITA forces, and by 1994 the company “dramatically tilted the balance of the conflict”. By November 2004, the two warring sides signed the Lusaka Protocol, temporarily ending the conflict in Angola.

According to the report, the Debswana contract with Barlow was terminated because De Beers saw the relationship between Barlow and the MPLA government “as a threat to its illicit trade in conflict diamonds” with UNITA. Claims by the Executive Outcome agent further suggests that Botswana established links with MTS in the early 2000s before MTS joined with Executive Outcomes.

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Sunday Standard September 20 – 26

Digital copy of Sunday Standard issue of September 20 - 26, 2020.