Confounding people who believed that President Khama’s reprimand of last year had effectively shut him up, Specially Elected MP, Botsalo Ntuane, came out of his shell swinging, accusing his ruling BDP government of inaction and silence as the newly established Directorate of Intelligence Services is increasingly being accused of torture and harassment of citizens.
Contributing in parliament over the
State President’s budget presented earlier by the Minister of Defence, Justice and Security, Ramadeluka Seretse, Ntuane argued that the recent damning accusations and allegations of maltreatment levelled at DIS were serious in the eyes of the public.
He demanded a snappy response from the government which, to date, has not been availed to the public.
“When the DIS formulation was brought to parliament, there were quite a number of dissenting voices from the MPs and the public alike. Questions over the checks and balances were raised. However, we were assured DIS would serve the best interests of this nation… but these recent damning reports of kidnappings culminating in torture of certain police officers at the hands of DIS are serious. They enhance the fears the MPs and the public had over the institution were well founded. To make matters worse the government has not responded to these allegations thereby consolidating the negative perception the public has over DIS,” noted the youthful maverick legislator.
Last year, Ntuane’s outspokenness over government decision to introduce an alcohol levy nearly cost him parliamentary candidature in the coming national elections scheduled October.
Ntuane, a BDP parliamentary candidate in the opposition-controlled Gaborone North West constituency, told parliament his constituents were privy to reports the DIS were kidnapping and torturing innocent individuals – a development which he says thwarts his campaign strategy as the aspiring MP in the area since government has not provided answers to clear the mist surrounding the allegations.
He said that DIS was quickly losing its image before the eyes of the public, and called on the government to come up with a communication strategy to acquaint the public of the new institution and dispel doubts about its now questionable existence.
He said some African countries are infamous for using their intelligence arms to thwart dissenting voices, adding that it is, therefore, natural that the government should have responded promptly to dispel misconceptions lest DIS becomes “an institution of questions.”
A newly established institution, DIS came into operation last year after being passed by the numerically powerful BDP MPs in parliament amid opposition MPs’ murmurs, which culminated into a boycott of parliament.
Opposition MPs argued the formulation was designed to suppress them.
No sooner had it started operations than complaints ran in the local media screaming torture and kidnappings of people by the institution. To date, the government has not responded to the complaints – a move which does not augur well with some individuals and MPs, particularly the opposition.
“Our rights must not be violated by any institution. This new trend should not be allowed. Something must be done to show it is criminal and illegal to torture and kidnap innocent individuals. These allegations are a source of shame,” the outspoken legislator insists, questioning and doubting the existence of the Tribunal committee, which was recently mandated to monitor the DIS and which, to date, has also not responded to the allegations.
The Botswana Police Service also were at the receiving end, accused of subjecting the public, especially the robust and energetic youth to the lousiest New Year celebrations ever.
“If you could ask the youths they would tell you this was the lousiest New Year they have ever seen. They could not go out. Their private home sessions, including that of a cabinet minister, were invaded and shut down by the overzealous police officers and the gun-toting soldiers,” Ntuane revealed, pleading with the government to guide and provide clarity over these matters lest the officers take the law into their hands, harassing and maltreating the peace-loving Batswana in their homes.
“I am an adult and live my life responsibly and so are most Batswana. Nobody is supposed to tell me how to life my life. It is only when I have offended the law that the law enforcers must intervene,” the concerned legislator said.
Over matters related to DCEC, Ntuane maintained the concerned officers should expand their mandate to encompass the private sector, which he says is inundated with corruption and maladministration.