The Minister of Environment, Natural Resources, Conservation and Tourism Tshekedi Khama last week contradicted himself and his Permanent Secretary when he answered a question in Parliament regarding the Wildlife Intelligence Unit. Answering a question from Member of Parliament for Boteti East Sethomo Lelatisitswe on whether they have Tourism Intelligence Unit, Minister Tshekedi Khama denied the existence of the unit. “There is no unit named Tourism Intelligence Services within my ministry. We have, however, developed and continue to develop capacity within the Department of Wildlife and National Parks law enforcement Division to detect, apprehend and investigate all types of wildlife crimes,” he said. This was in contrary to what the Permanent Secretary in his ministry told the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) recently when he confirmed that they have an intelligence unit. Though it has been set up about 33 years ago, TIS came into prominence when the Minister went into recruitment spree, employing former Deputy Commander of Botswana Defence Force (BDF) Major General Otisitswe Tiroyamodimo and former Commander of the Ground Forces Brigadier Peter Magosi and other members of BDF Intelligence unit. When quizzed at the time when he was targeting former army officers, Minister Tshekedi Khama said they were brilliant when it comes to intelligence. Minister Tshekedi Khama has also in the past boosted about the effectiveness of the intelligence unit when compared to other established ones. “Yes, we have our own intelligence unit and is the best so far compared to others which deal with multiple issues while ours deals with wildlife intelligence,” he said.
Tshekedi Khama confirmed on Wednesday that they recently arrested some people with ivory but did not state whether they were members of Directorate of Intelligence and Security Services (DISS) or not. In the past Minister Tshekedi Khama was blatant when talking about DISS even in Parliament but on Wednesday he was diplomatic when the MP for Gaborone Central Dr Phenyo Butale asked him about the progress made so far in investigating the apprehended DISS operatives. “As far as I am informed, it is still on-going and can better be answered by the appropriate Minister,” he said. Early this year, the Wildlife Intelligence Unit arrested some DISS agents at Makalamabedi with a haul of sliced elephant hidden in a bag following a long surveillance stake-out. Recently DISS Director General Isaac Kgosi insisted that there is only one national intelligence unit established by the DIS Act of 2007 when he appeared before the PAC. He dismissed the suggestion by the Ministry of Wildlife PS when he said that they have a well-equipped intelligence unit and don’t need assistance from other disciplined forces. “They might have specialised equipment or what but we will always be there to gather intelligence. We are not in any competition with them. Anti-poaching was given to us as our number one priority; we will continue to treat it as such. We will be going out to gather intelligence be it on anti-poaching, politics or terrorism,” he said.