Monday, July 15, 2024

Time for DIS to redeem its battered image

Since its establishment six years ago, the Directorate on Intelligence and Security Services (DISS) has been on the news for all the wrong reasons.

The intelligence security agency’s formation through an Act of Parliament coincided with Ian Khama’s ascendancy to the country’s presidency in early 2008. The Intelligence and Security Services Act (2007) was met with uncertainty and controversy that saw opposition Members of Parliament walking out of parliament at the height of the Bill’s debate.

Political pundits and other social analysts joined the fray maintaining that the agency was established at the behest of Ian Khama,  a former Botswana Defence Force (BDF) commander who was brought into the political sphere to quell factions within the ruling Botswana Democratic Party (BDP).

“It is [Ian] Khama’s law. And except for [Festus] Mogae, hardly anyone else’s,” one political commentator said at the time.
Matters were not helped by the fact that its founding director general Isaac Seabelo Kgosi was viewed as the president’s aide de camp, having previously been Khama’s private secretary during his tenure as vice-president. ┬á

The battered image of the security agency goes on unabated as it is viewed as a law unto itself.

There are no oversight structures to talk about and the proximity between the president and the director Genreral has not helped the situation.

Its director general has been linked to corruption allegations that are currently a subject of investigation by the Directorate on Corruption and Economic Crime (DCEC).

Despite damning corruption allegations, the appointing authority and in this instance President Khama does not feel obliged to interdict Kgosi to allow the DCEC unfettered investigation on the director general in line with good corporate governance.

Apart from corruption activities linked to the security’s agency director general, the media is also awash with reports that the spy agency is being used to terrorize ordinary members of the public including opposition politicians and members of the press who are relentlessly reporting on the perceived wrongs allegedly perpetrated by the DIS.

The matters were further compounded by the redeployment of the spy agency and the DCEC from the Ministry of Defence, Justice and Security to the Office of the President at the height of the latter’s ongoing investigations.

The redeployment was viewed as a clear ploy by the presidency to thwart possible prosecution ofKgosi by relevant authorities especially the Directorate of Public Prosecutions (DPP).

The spy agency has further been linked to losing its sight on national security issues and concentrating on Khama’s political adversaries in the looming 2014 general elections; mnexactly as opposition politicians had feared during parliamentary debates..

The ruling party’s popularity at the past polls has been on a free fall. It garnered a paltry 53 percent of the popular vote at the last elections raising fears it is likely to shed more of its share ┬áof the popular vote at this year’s general elections on the back of a strong opposition mounted by Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) and Botswana Congress Party (BCP).

Given the negative publicity that the DIS has been receiving lately, it is imperative that the spy agency clears its name. It is equally important that the agency cleans its house before it is too late.

The general public was initially not averse to the establishment of the spy agency given the important national security role it was envisioned to play. There is however a clear apprehension that the spy agency is quickly veering off its mandate and engaging on an unjustified  mission to protect Khama and his BDP from losing the October general elections.

The perception is denting the country’s democratic credentials hence calls from some quarters that the spy agency clears its name and redeem itself to claim its rightful position as a protector and guarantor of national security.

The linking of its director general to corrupt activities is not helping the country in its quest to eliminate corruption. The situation diminishes the country’s prospects of propelling domestic development and attracting foreign direct investment at a time when Botswana like the rest of the world is still reeling from the effects of the 2008 global economic recession characterized by fragile economic recovery.

It is important therefore that the authorities do all in their power to redeem the spy agency’s relevance and counter terrorism threats.

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