Former president Lt Gen Ian Khama is locked in a fight with Civil Aviation Authority Botswana (CAAB) to be allowed to operate a remotely piloted unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) otherwise known as drone which has been red flagged as a national security threat in the United Kingdom and the United States of America.
When the former president cautioned last week that Botswana was headed for “crash landing” due to the ongoing fallout between himself and his successor – President Mokgweetsi Masisi, he possibly did not anticipate that his drone will be the one likely to be involved in “crash landing”.
American became weary of drones during their military occupation of Iraq. As American Special Operations commandos fought to retake the Iraqi city of Mosul from ISIS in the fall of 2016, they faced a threat that American ground forces hadn’t dealt with: attack from the air. Desperate to break the American-led siege of the city, ISIS militants sent fleets of small drones, often several at a time, carrying grenades and miniaturized explosives, scattering troops and driving them to seek cover.
The British public is also dead-set against the use of drones, with the vast majority believing that they continue to represent a national security risk and which cyber experts must do more to mitigate the threat from above. This emerged after Think tank Parliament Street polled 2000 members of the public to compile its latest report, Drones 4 U.
Despite Khama’s plea with the Civil Aviation Authority Botswana (CAAB) to consider renewing his drone’s license the authority insist that it cannot do so without approval by the Directorate of Intelligence Services (DIS).
The DIS is responsible for security vetting of all the drones operated in the country.
This week, CAAB delivered what others might loosely classify as the country’s first prospective drone “crash landing” by refusing to renew Khama’s license. The refusal effectively means should Khama – for reasons known to him, chose to fly the drone without a license the country’s intelligence units could opt to shoot it down or force it to a “crash landing”.
In a letter addressed to Khama’s lawyers dated 11 December 2019, CAAB Acting Chief Executive – Kabo Phutietsile ran short of words that could describe Khama as someone who has does not have regards for the law.
“We are at pains to understand how following due process is an abuse of CAAB’s statutory powers”, reads part of the CAAB letter to Ramalepa Attorney, Notaries and Conveyancers who are Khama’s attorney.
The letter made it to the public space a few days after Khama told journalists in both Gaborone and Johannesburg that Botswana could be headed for what he called crash landing.
“I do not wish for Botswana the damage we are going to suffer as a result of this exposure, but neither do I wish such criminality which was committed by this government to ever be done again to any citizen or anyone else for the purpose of achieving wrongful incarceration and defamation motivated by evil intentions against an opponent”, Khama said.
The former head of state said that the false accusations were of great concern to him and should be of grave concern to every citizen.