Tuesday, September 26, 2023

Spy row ÔÇô What does the president know, and when did he know it?

What does President Ian Khama know about the ongoing intelligence row and when did he know it? The famous question that brought down President Richard Nixon during the Watergate scandal may come to haunt the Office of the President as it emerges that Khama was made aware more than a year ago of the dirty war between Botswana Defence Force Commander Lt Gen Gaolathe Galebotswe and former Military Intelligence (MI) Chief Brig Peter Magosi.

Sunday Standard investigations have turned up information that president Khama assigned the Director General of the Directorate of Intelligence and Security Services (DIS) Isaac Kgosi to investigate complaints by Brig Magosi that the BDF commander was waging a dirty tricks campaign against him. As part of the probe, Kgosi investigated claims that Lt Gen Galebotswe vowed to dig for dirt against Brig Magosi as soon as he became BDF commander.

Indications are that the alleged attempt by the army command to discredit Brig Magosi was not an isolated incident and was part of a pattern by the army dirty tricks brigade. Sunday Standard has established that when Lt Gen Gaolathe was head of the BDF commando unit around 1999, the army commando high command was accused of using non commissioned officers to plant drugs on other BDF officers leading to unrest in the unit. Retired BDF Gen, Bakwena Oitsile recommended an inquiry into the issue after more than 60 BDF commandos applied for transfer from the commando unit.

It was during this controversy that Lt Gen Galebotswe was taken out of the Commando unit. Before ordering the investigation against Brig Magosi over the alleged missing intelligence equipment, Lt Gen Galebotswe instructed the BDF Inspector General responsible for audit, Col Mathambo to audit the Military Intelligence (MI) then headed by Brig Magosi. This was the first time the MI was audited since it was set up. In what turned out to be a very controversial exercise, the BDF commander deviated from the normal audit procedure and instructed the Inspector General to include two officers from outside his unit as part of his audit team.

Col Mathambo questioned this break from tradition which he allegedly felt was a slight of hand by the BDF commander to influence the outcome of the audit. As the controversy over the audit escalated, another BDF officer, Major Tshenyego was summoned to Brig Gaborone’s office for a hearing after also questioning the decision to deviate from the normal audit procedure. When the audit failed to produce desired result, Lt Gen Galebotswe then took Brig Magosi to the DCEC. It was at this stage that Brig Magosi complained to the president about the apparent smear campaign against him.

The DCEC later cleared Brig Magosi of any wrong doing. Curiously, DIS Director General Isaac Kgosi and Permanent Secretary to the President Eric Molale, the two public officers believed to be closest to President Khama are at the centre of the current investigation against Brig Magosi over the missing spy equipment. Sunday Standard has established that the army command is aware that the missing CelleBrite data spying equipment and cell phone GSM jammers are allegedly in the possession of the Permanent Secretary to the President Eric Molale and DIS Director General Isaac Kgosi. In what comes across as an attempt to throw Brig Magosi to the wolves, the convening order of the Board of Inquiry into the missing intelligence equipment has disregarded the question of who has the missing equipment and instead is centred on whether procedure was followed when the equipment was taken out of the DIS store.

According to the convening order, a copy of which has been made available to the Sunday Standard, the inquiry is to report on among other things; “ whether there are laid down procedures for the storage and accountability of GSM jammers and Cellbrites at MI and whether the procedures were followed and if not why; Whether there are procedures to be followed for the withdrawal of GSM jammers and Cellbrites from the store to wherever it is going to be used and whether the withdrawal of GSM jammers and Cellbrites is done in accordance with the laid down procedure.”

In another curious turn of events, all the players in the row; Brig Magosi, Isaac Kgosi, Lt Gen Galebotswe and Eric Molale are believed to be part of President Khama’s circle of associates. Eric Molale and Isaac Kgosi will however testify for the BDF command during the board of inquiry in which Brig Magosi and sergeant Dzikimani Mothobi are the subjects of the inquiry.


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