The arrest of founding Head of Directorate of Intelligence and Securty Services (DISS), Isaac Kgosi at Sir Seretse Khama International Airport (SSKA) Tuesday night adds a new twist in the ominously dangerous local political climate.
Kgosi was arrested in the airport lobby as he pushed his luggage trolley immediately on arrival from South Africa yesterday night by DISS agents led by the new spy boss, Peter Magosi.
He was then handed what appeared to be an arrest warrant, which he read before being handcuffed amidst protestations that the DISS had invited the Press to embarrass him in a public spectacle.
After a brief spell Kgosi succumbed and was whisked away to Mogositshane Police Station where he would be read his charges. He was overheard telling Magosi he was going to “topple this government, I promise you,” a threat which in law constitutes treason.
At the time of writing, Kgosi’s lawyer Unoda Mack and one of Kgosi’s close relatives were said to be at the airport. The arrest happened on the fifth day of President Dr. Mokgweetsi Masisi’s private visit to his Mozambican colleague, Filipe Jacinto Nyusi. Masisi is due to arrive home today Wednesday January 16th.
Kgosi’s arrest is bound to exacerbate the rift between President Dr. Masisi and his predecessor, Dr. Ian Khama. Their feud – initially over a perceived refusal of the state to avail Khama air travel for his personal and official chores – broke irretrievably when Masisi fired Isaac Kgosi from the public service.To make matters worse, Masisi also declined Khama’s overtures to hire Kgosi as his Private Secretary. Parallel to this feuding, the state was busy investigating corruption and money laundering charges against Kgosi and his alleged involvement in the National Petroleum Fund (NPF) scandal.
Kgosi was appointed by Khama during the latter’s presidency. He is not only a close personal friend of Khama but also worked with him at the Botswana Defence Force (BDF). A renowned sniper (marksman), Kgosi’s DISS was the embodiment of fear.
The spy agency was described as a law unto itself and despised for eavesdropping on people’s conversations and alleged acts of terror including extra-judicial killings. His arrest and possible prosecution during an election year signals the state’s unflinching commitment to instil the rule of law and restore public confidence in oversight institutions.However, this could provoke a long drawn-out battle between the antagonistic factionsof the ruling Botswana Democratic Party – the pro-Khama New Jerusalem and pro-Masisi Cava – with the sum effect of compromising public service delivery. It is no secret Kgosi is on the side of Khama, and that Khama depends on Kgosi for his exploits.
Yet again, the arrest is the administrtaion’s unambigous message that it has thrown down the gauntlet for the perceived purveyors of corruption to take up. It remains to be seen how Kgosi will react. He allegedly told Magosi Tuesday night, “You are forcing me to do things I never intended to do,” what these things are, is known only to him. However, on the political front there is general foreboding that feeds the lust of doomsday prophets.
The country’s eminent citizens among them the thrid president, Festus Mogae as well as former Vice Presiddent Ponatshego Kedikilwe and property magnate, David Magang have joined the fray on the side of President Masisi in the protracted Khama/Masisi impasse. And just like at the height of the legal brawl between the State and former Debswana boss, Louis Nchindo – Mogae will not harbour any secrets – not least concerning Khama’s ill-fated succession plan and Masisi’s role in it.
Suddenly, the internal power struggle in the BDP has become a national security threat and a cancer that threatens to eat away the gains made in the country’s 53 year history as a democracy.
Conversely, it has emboldened others and awakened the allure of contestation in former minister Pelonomi Venson-Moitoi to challenge Masisi for the party’s presidency at this year’s July national congress, which thing, some watchers dismiss as “absurd” while other pundits, such as foreign minister Unity Dow, see Mma Venson as a decoy or proxy for Khama’s grand comeback to the presidency.
Khama has however denied attempts at pulling a ‘Putin”- that is, returning to the presidency after his constitutional term has expired.
Just as the Sybilline Oracle warned the Roman Emperor Julius Caesar about the Ides of March, the BDP was forewarned by a Zambian ‘seer’or prophet; long ago about its eventual collapse, which is eerily becoming imminent with the passage of time.
Some may say, the Botswana Democratic Party made its bed when it recruited Khama into politics from the military and must now lie on it. But the reality is that the Khama/Masisi feud risks tearing the county asunder. A Tswana dictum counsels that there can be no two bulls in a kraal at the same time, and in like manner, there can be no two presidents in a republic or two centres of power. This is the warning that all the eminent BDP leaders have sounded to the nation and the party.
President Dr. Masisi stirred the hornet’s nest and rattled the interest of white monopoly capital last year when at the height of the elephant poaching scandal, that made international headlines, he disamrmed the Wildlife Protection Unit.
He also had the audacity to set up a plebiscite to gauge the people’s views regarding the ban on wildlife hunting, which had been a permanent feature of the past adminstration. The disarming of the Unit particularly carried a sting with Khama, himself an avowed conservationist and distinguished fellow of Conservation International. And all these actions that seem to go against the wishes of Khama and his loyalists, threaten to plunge the country into a state of disrepair, for they will not take the latest arrest lying down. Khama will surely react, and the nation should be on the alert.