The security tension between the Directorate of Intelligence and Security Services (DISS) and Tourism Intelligence Services played itself in Parliament on Thursday and Friday parliamentary debates. The Minister of Environment, Natural Resources Conservation Tshekedi Khama vented out his frustration on how the DISS is always favoured ahead of his ministry’s needs. In his response to the debate on his ministry’s budget, Minister Khama decried that they are unable to compensate farmers because of shortage of funds while the Ministry of Finance and Economic Development easily approves supplementary funding for DISS. The outspoken and militant Minister Khama said the country has its priorities wrong if they consider computers more valuable than human life. “We have people who have their relatives killed by wild animals while others have their crops destroyed. We are failing to compensate them due to lack of funds, yet we can splash over P15 million into DISS coffers,” he hit out, adding that it is totally wrong. Minister Khama said over the years they have asked for supplementary funds to compensate people whose livelihood were disrupted by the wild animals but were told there was no money yet government has the audacity to give money to DISS with ease. “What are we saying to Batswana out there, we don’t value their lives,” he asked rhetorically. The Minister of Infrastructure and Housing Development Nonofho Molefhi interjected, saying it was wrong for Minister Khama to say that government was against the preservation of human life. “Unfortunately, I don’t agree with you because it is clear that computers have been prioritised over human life,” Khama fired back at Molefhi. DISS has required an additional P15.5 million to honour invoices for maintenance of computer systems. “The BOT50 celebrations called for tightened security and this resulted in increased number of hours used by the Directorate’s computer systems, hence the request for additional funding as there was urgent need to service these systems,” said Molefhi, who was the acting Minister of Finance and Economic Development. Molefhi called on Minister Khama to also set his priorities right, instead of protesting against availing of funds to DISS.
Where it all began
The tension between Minister Khama and DISS began when he formed the Tourism Intelligence Services (TIS) and started recruiting members of DISS as well as those from BDF Military Intelligence. He started by recruiting former Deputy Commander of BDF Major General Otisitswe Tiroyamodimo, appointing him Director of Wildlife and National Parks in 2015. Tiroyamodimo is senior to DISS Director General Isaac Kgosi in military ranking. The formation of TIS is said to have caused uneasiness among the BDF and DISS top brass as they felt the employees of Wildlife and National Parks were not allowed to carry weapons of war. DWNP, which recently procured an aircraft and have four Jabiru J430 aircrafts, is allegedly recruiting pilots from BDF into their department. According to Minister Khama, TIS was formed to help in anti-poaching and has praised it, saying it is more effective than all security agencies which are involved in anti-poaching. They have also procured eight helicopters that will be used for anti-poaching and some are currently in Maun and Kasane. DWNP is also building anti-poaching camps in Kasane, Maun and Kang. The design for the three camps which will each cost P70 million has already been completed and just awaiting construction. Recently former commander of the BDF ground forces who is also MP for Gabane/Mmankgodi Major General Pius Mokgware warned Minister Khama against forming a third military wing. “Let us not have a third army in Botswana through the Anti-Poaching Unit because I understand you have bought some weapons of war which can only be used by soldiers. Now if we arm people who belong to a union as per the Act, I think that is not good for this country,” warned Mokgware. There are some allegations that Minister Khama is using TIS to fight his political battles ahead of the retirement of his elder brother President Ian Khama’s term is coming to an end.