Sunday, December 3, 2023

P50m down the DIS drain

The Directorate of Intelligence and Security Services (DISS) high command spent more than P50 million in an outlandish purchase of 250 cars which it has never used and has been hidden for six years, Sunday Standard investigations have revealed.

The cars which are still in mint condition have ran out of their motor plan warranty while grounded at different DISS warehouses. Sunday Standard has established that 70 of the cars have been hidden at a DIS warehouse along the route to the Sir Seretse Khama Airport in Gaborone, 120 have been parked in their warehouse in Selibe Phikwe and 60 in Francistown.

The Sunday Standard could not establish if the 250 new cars are still on the DIS ledger books. The DIS ledger books are not subjected to an inspection by the Auditor General as is the case with other government departments.

Insiders have detailed for the first time how strong political connections have allowed the DIS Director General to get away with misuse of public funds. They reveal how political dynamics have turned The Central Intelligence Committee (CIC) – which is supposed to provide executive oversight for the spy agency – into a lap dog of the DIS boss.

The CIC comprises President Ian Khama, Vice President Mokgweetsi Masisi, Minister of Defence Justice and Security Shaw Kgathi, Minister of Foreign Affairs Pelonomi Venson and Permanent Secretary to the President Carter Morupisi. All the ministers in the CIC are linked to the Masisi faction which has the support of the DIS and its Director General.

Investigations by the Sunday Standard have revealed that the misuse of public funds is part of a pattern at the spy agency where tens of millions of Pula are spent every year outside official plans. Insiders told Sunday Standard that in some cases the expenditures are almost completely disconnected from the DIS policy objectives and strategy and the results are scattershot and haphazard.

In a glaring whimsical expenditure, Head of the DIS Special task team ÔÇô codenamed Butterfly, also known as Mmamosadinyana, hired more than 200 agents outside the DIS plan. The recruits continue to draw a combined monthly salary of more than P2 million while staying at home doing nothing because the DIS had not made any preparations on how to absorb them.

The DIS has also wasted millions of Pula retrofitting one of their PC 12 planes with a surveillance system so that it can be deployed in intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) missions. The system, however has never worked. The PC 12 surveillance system retrofit included modifying the aircraft operator’s console, display monitors, digital video recorder, a communications audio panel, and controls to deploy and retract the sensor.  The DIS has also wasted money on surveillance cameras at the Sir Seretse Khama International airport which have also never worked.

The DIS is not subjected to rigorous accounting rules like other government departments and its misuse of funds is a continuum reaching back to the earliest days of the spy agency.

A Parliamentary Committee on Intelligence and Security report marked “Confidential’ reveals that the Office of the President is failing to account for some of the “missing” funds that were used to set up the Directorate of Intelligence and Security Services (DIS).

The “missing” funds were diverted from the accounts of the National Disaster Relief Fund (NDRF) under controversial circumstances. Earlier reports revealed how the hastily inception of the country’s secret service, on the eve of Khama’s ascension to the highest office, led to the use of unauthorised funds as there was no accounting code for an otherwise non-existent department.

The latest Parliamentary Committee on Intelligence and Security Report reveals that part of the unauthorised funds cannot be accounted for.

According to the confidential report: “The Office of the President, as the custodian of the Account as well as financial advisor to DIS by then did not manage the account as expected”.

The report states that this is evidenced by contradicting statements issued. It says initial Public Accounts Committee submission on 2007/2008 showed that the total amount available for use was P42 470 000 and that a sum of P10 225 455 was available for use after financial year end.

“Re-submission for the same period stated the total available funds after expenditure as P3 625 820 and not P10 225 455 as stated earlier,” reads the report.

It says on the advice given based on these contradicting statements, Government Purchase Orders (GPOs) were prepared during 2007-2008 to meet the outstanding needs of the organisation at that critical formation stage. “This action caused over-expenditure amounting to P2 875 638.75. However, payments were only made in the 2008-2009 financial year,” reads the report.

It adds that “on October 16, 2008, the financial advisor informed DIS of the over-expenditure and requested a virement to cover the same. It should be noted that all transactions were made from OP as DIS did not have staff at that time.”

The report further observes that “the DIS is adamant that it will not admit to overspending the approved amount by P2 875 638.75 under the guidance and advice given by OP and did not apologise for the same.”


Read this week's paper