Monday, December 11, 2023

Masisi disarms Khama’s militia

The Botswana defence Force and Directorate of Intelligence and Security Services last week seized a collection of military rifles from Tshekedi Khama’s Ministry of Environment and Tourism intelligence militia bases throughout the country and former President Ian Khama’s residence in Mosu.

BDF trucks on Friday offloaded the huge haul at the Special Support Group complex in Gaborone. The arms of war were later transported to the Sir Seretse Khama barracks armoury in Mogoditshane.

This was part of Masisi’s campaign to disarm Tshekedi Khama’s intelligence outfit which for the past two years had touched off an arms race with the Directorate of intelligence and Security Services (DIS).

Tshekedi had established a militia under his ministry headed by a Special Forces commando complete with trained soldiers and a mini air arm.

Masisi who is also Commander in Chief wrote to Khama’s ministry last week to surrender their arms of war as there is no regulation empowering them to carry arms. The president advised Khama to approve parliament for a law that would allow his outfit to bear arms.

Unconfirmed reports alleged that President Masisi also ordered a raid on former President Ian Khama’s residence in Mosu where the seized a cache of weapons of war.

Satelite Images generated last year by DigitalGlobe, a New York-listed commercial imagery firm, projected the former president’s Mosu residence as a huge military installation which is much larger than previously stated by the Office of the President. One of the plots is 15 hectares of military equipment: Earth moving machinery, water bowsers, large trucks, smaller utility trucks, a solar panel plant, a large generator and three rectangular structures  – which according to an architect contracted by INK resemble army barracks. The satellites also showed a runway and a helipad.

The arms race between Tshekedi and former DIS Director General on the other hand has in the past threatened to destabilise the country. The BDF was two years ago forced to beef up security and the Military Intelligence (MI) was placed on high alert following threats of a military mutiny. The arms race between the DIS and the Department of Wildlife and their scramble for the few trained members of the BDF commando unit’ to beef up their growing militias was threatening to destabilise the BDF. In a bid to stem the commando brawn drain, the BDF approved an exclusive salary increase for its special forces much to the chagrin of its general infantry. The BDF military intelligence was dispatched to retrieve and destroy leaflets prepared by unidentified soldiers at the Glen valley barracks inciting their colleagues to stage a mutiny. The aggrieved soldiers were allegedly incensed by the BDF high command’s decision to increase salaries of the Commando unit. It is understood that the decision to increase salaries of the commando unit officers was aimed at enticing and retaining the officers who were leaving for greener pastures by joining the DIS and the Department of Wildlife.

The competition between the Department of Wildlife and the DIS to build strong militias was believed to be linked to the political jostling for the country’s presidency after Ian Khama.

The DIS under Kgosi was believed to be supporting President Masisi the then Vice President while the department of wildlife supported Tshekedi Khama who was a contender to challenge Masisi for the presidency.


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