3 October 2018

Botswana: DISS' Weapons Missing

The Directorate of Intelligence and Security Services (DISS) is struggling to trace the surveillance equipment and weapons procured by the previous administration, revealed Director General Brigadier (R) Peter Magosi when appearing before the Public Accounts Committee.

Magosi, who was appointed DISS DG in May this year after President Mokgweetsi Masisi fired Isaac Kgosi, said when he joined the spy agency he had nothing to fall on in terms on the inventory as there were no records.

"Our main challenge is surveillance equipment and weapons of war procured outside the country and the only solution is to go to the companies where they were procured and ask how many were procured from them," he revealed.

One of the thorny issues, which have been bedeviling the spy agency since it was established, is that it has never been audited; something that didn't sit well with members of the PAC. Magosi informed the committee that they have engaged the Auditor General to audit their books and normalize things.

The new Spy Plane

On the recent procurement of the new spy plane PC-24, Magosi confirmed that it was procured by the previous administration, making the number of their aircrafts four.

Asked if they really need another spy plane, the former Botswana Defence Force Head of Intelligence answered in the affirmative, adding that they will have to share it with other departments as it is more of a passenger aircraft.

He said some of their officers have already been sent for training on how to pilot the plane.

The 10-seater aircraft, which cost P90 million, is said to be affixed with the latest surveillance cameras with high-resolution and thermal-imaging capabilities and downlink that enables the plane's crew to send real-time surveillance images anywhere in the country.

It is said to be suitable for use on short and unpaved runways and is available in different versions to be suitable for diverse purposes such as medical evacuation, cargo, commuter and special missions.

Its purchase according to inside information was through Seleka Springs, a company owned by Minister of Environment, Natural Resources Conservation and Tourism Tshekedi Khama and his twin brother Anthony Khama.

Meddling in political affairs

One of the issues which have made most people uncomfortable with DISS is that it is being used by some politicians to eavesdrop on their political opponents.

Ahead of the 2014 General Elections some opposition leaders accused the spy agency of being used by the ruling party to intimidate opponents, with even claims that a hit list was developed to eliminate some of them. Magosi said the issue of surveillance of people, especially politicians is too tactical and must be done with good reasons to serve national interests.

"If we find that the issue poses a threat to national security we will act. Should any issue within a political party threaten national security, we will call the leader of that party and inform him/her," he said.

He said they are currently reviewing the Intelligence and Security Act to ensure that there is no abuse of the office especially when it comes to surveillance. Another issue that worries him is the leaking of classified information to the media and publishing of names of agents, saying it is against the law. He warned media houses against this.

Restructuring the DISS

Magosi informed the PAC that for the past five years there has never been any promotion at DISS, something that has killed morale among the officers and they are now working on promoting some of them. "We are currently revisiting the DISS structure and change placement of some personnel to match their skills. We want to recruit more people," he revealed.

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