Thursday, October 1, 2020

Khama needs new law to crash dissent – Magama

The Botswana National Front Secretary General, Akanyang Magama, has, for the first time, directly linked Vice President Ian Khama to the Security and Intelligence Bill now being debated in parliament.
Magama said the Bill is Khama?s brainchild and he will want to use the law once he becomes President.
He said the law and the directorate will be used to crash opposition and dissent both from within and outside the ruling party.

Magama, who is the Member of Parliament for Gaborone South, said it is not a coincidence that the Bill comes to parliament just as Khama prepares to take over the presidency.

Debating the Bill, Magama said Khama has, in the past, lamented that he felt helpless without national intelligence services reporting directly to him.

?In a rare interview, Vice President Khama has in the past said he felt helpless without such services reporting directly to him,? said Magama.

?Ian Khama said he was much more powerful as Commander of the Defence Forces than as Vice President.?

Magama insisted that it was clear that the country is moving towards authoritarianism.

He said Khama will use the security services not only to crash opposition, but even dissent from the ruling Botswana Democratic Party.

Magama spoke of Khama as someone who would not tolerate dissent.

As such he would not support the Bill, not even conditionally, saying Khama would circumvent whatever oversight structure there was.

The Intelligence and Security Bill seeks to create a Directorate that would be tasked with collecting information inside and outside the country.

Magama said if the Bill is passed into law, Botswana would be headed for an era of ?stage managed accidents.?

?Botswana is marching into authoritarianism,? said Magama.

In the last parliament sitting, Members of Parliament rejected the Bill saying it has to be subjected to parliamentary oversight role.

Those Members included some who have since joined cabinet after the recent reshuffle rejected the Bill.

The new minister of Minerals, Ponatshego Kedikilwe, was even more radical, saying there should be a clause in the constitution providing for the impeachment of the president if it was found that they abused the intelligence services.

Another opposition Member of Parliament, the BCP?s Dumelang Saleshando, said the Bill gives the Director General a blank cheque without the slightest oversight by the minister.

He also said weak as it currently is, Botswana parliament is not in a position to effectively control a technical security wing as that envisaged by the Bill.

Saleshando said there is a need for the responsible minister to subject the Bill to further public debate.

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