Former President Ian Khama's pet project, Super XI, a purported social football team, has been exposed as bodyguards comprising former Botswana Defence Force (BDF) Special Forces soldiers and some young boys recruited from Save Our Souls (SOS) villages.
Khama's love for Super XI has long raised eyebrows as the team follows him everywhere he goes. He recently complained at a meeting in Serowe that Super XI was denied an opportunity to participate at the Khawa Dune Challenge, despite being defending champions.
Initially, the team was believed to be made up of members of Khama's security detail but such observation changed last year after the Office of the President (OP) withdrew some officers to trim down the group to a required number provided for legally.
Sources within the security cluster have revealed that after OP reduced officers deployed as his security detail, Khama started recruiting young boys from SOS to beef up the squad and provide a disguise. "They were enrolled for physical training similar to military training which raised eyebrows within the security cluster. Training was held at Mosu village, Kasane and in Bloemfontein, South Africa," a source revealed.
Sources say with the passage of time Super XI has proven to be a nuisance, an irritant and a great pain to state security agencies, especially the Directorate of Intelligence Services (DIS) who are responsible for the security of current and former Heads of State.
This discomfort was revealed by DIS Director General Peter Magosi during a press briefing last week. Magosi decried that some of the bodyguards recruited by Khama do not have any experience in VIP Protection as they have received suitable training.
Although in the past Khama claimed that he is not an avid reader, it would appear that he was economical with the truth as his latest tactic closely resembles that of South African liberation struggle icon, the late Winnie Madikizela Mandela.
During the apartheid era, Madikizela Mandela formed a football team called Mandela United which was used as a decoy to spy on the apartheid government. Khama has employed a similar tactic, forming Super XI using ex-special forces soldiers who in reality are used as his private bodyguards. “We have advised him to desist from doing that because it compromises the work of official state security agents assigned to guard him,” revealed Magosi.
Khama’s private security also came under scrutiny last year in Palapye at a BDP retreat when one of his bodyguards Mike Maake, who works for Avante Securities, was arrested at Majestic Five Hotel for possession of a gun.
“Any member of the disciplined forces knows only members of the President's security detail are allowed to carry firearms near him. Anyone else armed in the vicinity of the President is contravening the law and those arrested are fully aware of that,” said Magosi, declining to discuss if those arrested are part of those suspected to be planning to assassinate Masisi or launch a coup.
Magosi only revealed that they have established a pattern of the modus operandi of the culprits and they are closing in on them.
Khama dismisses assassination plot claims
Last Saturday Khama opened up regarding reports by DIS that President Mokgweetsi Masisi's life is in danger and that there is an appetite for a coup in Botswana.
Speaking at the launch of his political party, Botswana Patriotic Front (BPF) in Kanye, Khama dismissed the reports, saying no one is planning to assassinate Masisi.
“Over the years Botswana has been enjoying political stability and there has never been any threat to the life of the Head of State. Why now?” he asked rhetorically, adding that such allegations are part of a grand plan to tarnish innocent people's names and in the process win public sympathy.
Khama said when the story about the assassination of the President broke he knew that he was the target of that smear campaign together with his close associates. He denied any involvement in the alleged assassination or coup.
Regarding the mid-air U-turn by Masisi en-route to Mozambique, Khama dismissed the story, saying Masisi is just seeking political sympathy. He said being a professional pilot himself, he knows that there was no way that the Presidential jet could be shot down upon landing in Maputo.
Last week Magosi told journalists that he advised that the presidential jet return to Botswana as there was some imminent threat in Mozambique. "We consulted with our counterparts in Mozambique, South Africa, Zambia and Zimbabwe. Had we not advised that OK1 make a U-turn the story could be different,” he said.