Friday, October 23, 2020

Khama Vs Khama ÔÇô Inside the president’s imploding inner circle

Battle lines inside President Khama’s inner circle were drawn this week as the President’s brother and Minister of Environment, Tourism and Wildlife Tshekedi Khama openly took sides with former Botswana Defence Force Chief of Staff and Commander of Ground Forces Brigadier Peter Magosi.

President Khama’s small circle of close associates was recently rattled by his decision to force Brig Magosi into early retirement. Magosi who for a long time was part of President Khama’s inner circle has the backing of Tshekedi Khama and his twin brother Anthony. On the opposite side of the battle line is Directorate of Intelligence and Security Services Director General Isaac Kgosi, Minister of Presidential Affairs Eric Molale and BDF Commander Lt Gen Galebotswe.

Speculations were rife this week that Tshekedi Khama would break ranks with President Khama and appoint Brig Magosi to head one of the departments within his ministry. 

Tshekedi broke his silence this week and told Sunday Standard that, “my Ministry has not appointed Magosi yet, but I can confirm that some time ago when his case started; at some stage there was a rumour that he was going to leave the army.” 

Tshekedi added that “At the time I made a comment that the way he understands the Military and the way in which he is so passionate about issues involving anti poaching I thought it was an opportunity for my Ministry to give him a job within the Ministry of Wildlife and Environment.” 

Tshekedi Khama further explained that “then he decided to stay at the army, we then employed major General Otisitswe Tiroyamodimo. At the moment I do not know what Magosi’s plans are.”

“You know this is the thing that bothers me; the way he understands the military and anything involving military, he will be such an asset because that knowledge is within him,” said the Minister.

Tshekedi explained that, because Magosi “has left now (quitting army), it does not mean his understanding of the military is finished.  I will certainly find it difficult to say I do not need Magosi. My Ministry could benefit from Magosi’s experience. That is the truth.” 

Contacted for comment, Magosi said he was not aware of reports linking him to the Ministry of Environment, Tourism and Wildlife. Asked if he would consider the offer should the Ministry make a proposal, Magosi said he does not have a plan to return to the public service again. 

Magosi’s forced early retirement by President Khama recently was not without controversy. 

Cracks inside Khama’s camp first appeared when DISS Director General Isaac Kgosi allegedly reported Brigadier Magosi to the Directorate on Corruption and Economic Crime (DCEC). At the time, Magosi was embroiled in another fight with BDF commander, Lt Gen Galebotswe. The relationship between the two BDP commanders turned waspish after Brig Magosi refused to hand over some intelligence officers to his successor Col Cullen Nkete current head of the BDF Military Intelligence. Sunday Standard has established that at a meeting of the BDF command in July 2014, Brig Magosi was grilled on why he had not handed over one of the MI agents to his successor, but Brig Magosi maintained that he could not do so because the new command was compromising MI agents.

In intelligence speak, compromising intelligence agents means breaking their cover and exposing them to being discovered by the agents. Brig Magosi allegedly charged that Lt Gen Gaolathe had allowed Col Nkete to compromise the security of MI agents initially deployed by Brig Magosi to infiltrate criminal syndicates.

The DCEC could not find any dirt on Brigadier Magosi who in turn pressured the graft busters in vain to disclose that Kgosi was their source. The animosity between Kgosi and Gaolathe against Magosi was never resolved and boiled over when the army chief launched an investigation against Magosi.

Brigadier Magosi and Sergeant Dzikamani Mothobi were investigated following the alleged disappearance of Botswana Defence Force (BDF) intelligence surveillance equipment.

Both Kgosi and Minister Molale were implicated in the missing GSM Jammers and Cellbrites after Brigadier Magosi allegedly disclosed that they were the last to handle them. Even before investigations could commence, Lt Gen Gaolathe wrote to President Khama recommending Magosi’s dismissal.

The investigation which was to justify a decision already taken was halted in court by Magosi’s lawyer Dick Bayford. It is understood that the president’s brothers, Tshekedi and Anthony also weighed in on him to stay Magosi’s expulsion.

The incident however escalated the animosity inside Khama’s circle. At the time, the Directorate of Intelligence and Economic Crime (DCEC) was investigating Kgosi for alleged corruption. Sources close to the DISS director say he was convinced that Brigadier Magosi was behind the investigations. This was not helped by a letter written by Brigadier Magosi’s lawyer, Dick Bayford to the BDF Command investigating Magosi. The letter suggested that some DCEC and Military agents were backing Brigadier Magosi.

In the letter addressed to the BDF commander, dated April 11th 2014, Bayford states that, “we will be interviewing several potential witnesses currently serving under the command of the BDF, DIS and Directorate on Corruption and Economic Crime (DCEC) as well as retired officers and soldiers. This letter is copied to the Directors, DIS and DCEC for their information.”

Around the same time, information started emerging suggesting that Kgosi was at the crime scene during the controversial extra-judicial execution of John Kalafatis.

Both Brigadier Magosi and Sergeant Mothobi who were investigated for the missing spy equipment were also named in the Kalafatis execution.

Although the investigations against him were halted and Brigadier Magosi was spared the guillotine, he had committed a mortal sin by engaging Bayford. Brigadier Magosi became a marked man.

It was not long before the BDF command initiated another investigation against him for allegedly consorting with a junior officer’s wife. The investigation believed to be another plot to get rid of Brigadier Magosi was again foiled by Bayford.

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