My argument is that the President by virtue of his office and fiat of the law, uses the DIS; that by using it he cannot silence criticism; rather such criticism would be driven underground and eventually erupt in violence. I gave examples.
I welcome readers' comments, as they enrich views expressed by my column and make discourse about our land, our government and our leaders worthwhile. It is the right and only step in the dynamic process towards a vibrant democracy. I found Moeti's response, unrehearsed and self-contradictory in places; it fails to respond to points raised. Instead, he finds an excuse to sing praises of DIS and applaud the intelligence systems unreservedly.
While he tries to create an impression that he disagrees, he concurs in a roundabout way by admitting it is government, not the President that uses the DIS! Well, simply tying himself in (k)nots, doesn't he? He should revise his conception of government. Rre Moeti, the President is an integral part of government, the engine of all its executive actions. By your own admission, government uses DIS, ipso facto the President uses the DIS! Don't be blinded by the invented 'virtues' of the DIS and the venerable image enjoyed by President Ian Khama. He is human.
Obviously my quarrel with Moeti is bogus, draped in circumlocution. I submit it is proper to interrogate the President's loose assertions; to warn Batswana not to be taken for a ride by self-serving statements; and refuse to be silenced or conditioned for a programme of misrule under the aegis of the DIS. Moeti tries to place a cordon sanitaire between the President and government while he burnishes DIS to make it glitter more than gold.
In defence of the DIS, Moeti is lavish with unconfirmed reports of its accomplishments. Writes he: "DIS has successfully delivered on its mandate ensuring the national security and providing information for decision-makers. Since its establishment, DIS has uncovered some networks operating in Botswana that threaten our national interests. Such groupings were involved in terror related activities, fraud, money laundering, human trafficking, drug trafficking and distribution, white collar crime, official corruption, weapons smuggling and distribution, illicit diamond dealings and corporate tax evasion. Suspects have been arrested, prosecuted and convicted".
Wow! Hands up all ye who can corroborate this witness before this earthly court of humans and before the next divine court to deliver the last judgment. Please, hands up! I see no hands raised. Why are these fabulous DIS accomplishments confidential to Moeti alone? According to him, he is neither a DIS member nor an ex-member. Huh! Who then indulges him with information to the exclusion of the rest of us? Curious! He also attempts to bowl us over on the effectiveness of the law! Who doesn't know the law like pie is made to be broken? Our President, while Vice President, broke the law with impunity by flying army helicopters contrary to the BDF Act with the complicity and support of then President Festus Mogae. Right now, he ignores the letter of the DIS Act. He appointed the Security Tribunal to oversee the agency without due consultation with the opposition leader and went ahead to appoint a parliamentary committee on DIS against the rules of Parliament and instruction of the Speaker.
We do not have concrete evidence of the grisly underhand operations the agency under-takes besides a few dripping with suspicion, courtesy of the vigilant press. The house of the leader of Botswana Movement for Democracy (BMD) was broken into and documents stolen; the house of the leader of the Botswana Congress Party (BCP) negotiating team at the cooperation talks house was also burgled and documents stolen ... Hard to say who was responsible, but the nagging suspicion points in one direction. The world over, spy agencies have the habit of burgling houses to steal documents, assassinate rivals, abduct and make rivals and potential rivals to disappear and to intimidate and silence criticism. When caught, the unwritten law is to deny the acts were committed under instruction. This modus operandi is the stock-in-trade of spy agencies all over the world.
Super spy Craig Williamson had this to say: "I never got the impression that it was like the movies ... where James Bond or somebody gets called in and the minister says to him: 'I want you to go and kill somebody in the Bahamas but if you are caught we don't know who you are. I had a feeling that we had the backing of the state and that if necessary, they would take the necessary pain".
Nobody says intelligence services, in the form of the DIS is contraband and should be discounted in government systems. What some of us say, is that these agencies must operate within the fundamental framework of democracy. We agree with Sun Tzu, the ancient Chinese sage, father of spying profession who avers: "There is nothing more comfortable to the mind or fortifying to the spirit than.... knowledge of our enemy whereby the art of his destruction shall be made perfect".
Originally, spying was a tool of states to inform themselves on external enemies' designs to counteract their moves. Fair. The problem now is that spying by rulers extends to the loyal opposition in multi-party democracies. That is why Moeti's chide is unwarranted; "Dingake our intelligence service is focused on state security rather than regime security". Recently, the DIS director underlined his agency's line of duty by stating that the DIS is simply the defunct 'special branch' renamed.
Armed with the information, I boldly warn Moeti not to teach grandmother how to suck eggs. Special branch ways is my staple diet. Again the director informed Gabz fm listeners recently how he conducted surveillance on a CSIS researcher, David Throup, wagging his finger at an anonymous political party that sponsored him! Remember? Director's revelations contradict Moeti's apologetics: overlaps pervade 'intelligence' areas!