Thursday, July 9, 2020

Khama takes full control of disciplined forces?

The Deputy Commissioner of Police, Kenny Kapinga, has been redeployed to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs as a Resident Ambassador in what is believed to be the final stroke in President Ian Khama’s whispered plan to assume absolute control of the disciplined forces.

A career police officer, Kapinga was until recently looked at as a possible future Commissioner of Botswana Police. Kapinga’s curious transfer harks back to the ouster of Major General Pius Mokgware a few months ago. Mokgware, who was the BDF second in command, was strongly tipped to take over from Tebogo Masire as army commander until he was dismissed from the army under controversial circumstances.

A lawyer by training, doubts on Kapinga’s chances at ascending to the top most position began to surface when the current Commissioner, Thebeyame Tsimako, had his contract twice extended.

Doubts about Mokgware’s chances also surfaced when Masire’s contract was extended. Both Kapinga and Mokgware were viewed as pro-opposition after they turned down proposals that they should take up the ruling Botswana Democratic Party membership.

There were also allegations of a tug of war between Kapinga and Ikothaeng Bagopi, another Deputy Commissioner who was also said to be in the running for the police’s top spot.

The two are said to have differed on the future and direction of the police service.

Tsimako was said to have been the stabilizing force behind what could easily have erupted into irreconcilable differences between the two deputy commissioners, who are also age mates.
As it turned out, Bagopi now remains the indisputable future Commissioner of Botswana Police.
In an interview, Kapinga has confirmed that he is no longer a police officer, and that his redeployment has been with immediate effect.

He was slapped with the letter upon his arrival from New York.
He confessed that he never saw it coming.

The letter came exactly from President Ian Khama.

“Effective 30 June, I am no longer a police officer. I have been redeployed to the position of Resident Commissioner at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs,” he told Sunday Standard in an interview.
He would not want to dwell too much on the reasons behind his redeployment, saying he remains a proud and loyal public servant, with a track record to protect.

“The conclusions are up to you to make. All I can tell you is that I am a professional police officer who has never been compromised by anything in my entire career. I am deeply proud of my record at the Botswana Police and nobody can ever take away my achievements.”

He said he has gleefully accepted the redeployment by the President and is already preparing himself for a new diplomatic career, where he said he would want to leave a mark.
“Look, the truth of the matter is that there were undercurrents and uncertainties,
but I never expected that I would leave the police service. But now that it is happened I have calmly accepted it,” Kapinga said.

On public perceptions that his working with Bagopi was never cordial, Kapinga said there were differences of opinion, but that the relationship remained strictly professional.

“Yes, there have been differences, but they were not such that they would paralyse the police service. To be honest to you, I would not deny that we have in the past differed but I do not know of any two people who always think alike. Always agreeing with your next colleague is to me unrealistic. The important thing is to remain professional,” he said diplomatically.

He said his heart has always been with the police service and for that he turned down many lucrative offers to join the private practice as a lawyer upon completing his degree at the University of Botswana.

Now that he is approaching his retirement age, Kapinga says he plans to join the private legal practice in the next three to four years.

“Together with Parks Tafa, I was one of the best two in our law class when we graduated. Despite receiving many offers from the private practice I simply could not imagine myself leaving the police service,” he said.

Sunday Standard can confirm that Kapinga has always been looked at by many of his supervisors as sympathetic to opposition, especially the Botswana Congress Party.

Attempts in the past to get him to obtain a membership of the ruling Botswana Democratic Party were spurned as he insisted that his interest was to remain a professional police officer with no political affiliation.

This did not go down well in a country where senior public officers are almost invariably always aligned to the ruling Botswana Democratic Party.

But what are Kapinga’s views on the levels of professionalism he leaves behind in the police service?

“The levels of professionalism are best captured in how the police reacted in the recent public service strike. Elsewhere people would have died. The restraint shown by the officers goes a long way to show just how a culture of human rights has now been inculcated into the service. Were it not because of that, we could be talking of a different story, with possible casualties and deaths among civilians,” he said.

Kapinga joined the police service in 1983, rising fast through the ranks to become the first in-house legal advisor. He has also served in Zimbabwe with Interpol before coming back to take the position of Deputy Commissioner ÔÇô Operations.

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Sunday Standard July 5 – 11

Digital copy of Sunday Standard issue of July 5 - 11, 2020.