Botswana: Spy agency DIS, anti-corruption body DCEC tiff gets nastier
Following the Directorate of Intelligence and Security (DIS) recently sealing some offices of the Directorate on Corruption and Economic Crime (DCEC) and the latter retaliating by filing an urgent court application which barred the spy agency from accessing some documents and dockets, it looks like the fight between the two agencies is far from over.
Appearing before the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) on Wednesday, DIS director-general, Peter Magosi admitted that while they have always had differences with the DCEC the current problem can be resolved. In particular, the problem relates to the sealing of the DCEC’s office and the graft buster’s refusal to give the DIS access.
Magosi was responding to a question from Member of Parliament (MP) for Bobonong, Taolo Lucas who had asked whether the intelligence head did not see the rivalry between the two security organs as a national security threat.
“Organs that are supposed to be working for the best interest of national security are now appearing to be at loggerheads with one another,” Lucas put it to Magosi.
While many are hoping for the rivalry to stop, Magosi revealed that their differences with the DCEC are not new as such matters have happened before and will still happen in the future.
“We have had different opinions in the past as different organisations and we will still have different opinions in the future, but there are ways and means where we sit down and talk about these problems and come up with solutions and move forward,” Magosi told the hearing.
He added that the rivalry between agencies does not only happen in Botswana, but it is also happening in other countries.
“As long as there are measures put in place to find solutions to problems then it will be solved,” Magosi highlighted.
The DIS head also said he went to the DCEC to seal offices because the problem had now become an issue of national security.
“Right now we are involved in areas of criminal activities. We are addressing crime and we continually do analysis on daily basis, we have our weekly, monthly, quarterly and annual reports. From that analysis that is where we take decisions to act in order to assist other organisations,” he said.
Already there had been allegations that Magosi had sealed DCEC offices in an effort to retrieve investigation files against him. One of the PAC members and Francistown South legislator, Wynter Mmolotsi asked Magosi what happens in the event where the DIS head and his officers are being investigated by the DCEC. In his response, Magosi said he would like to assure the nation that nobody in Botswana is above the law.
“If the DG is under investigation nothing will happen to stop that investigation. If there is any investigation involving any of my officers including myself nobody can stop it,” he responded.
For his part, PAC chairperson and Selebi-Phikwe West MP, Dithapelo Keorapetse said they cannot be oblivious of the fact that Magosi once detained officers of the DCEC and the fact that the latter is also carrying out investigations on officers of the DIS.
Earlier this week Lobatse High Court ordered that all files, documents and dockets that the DCEC and DIS are fighting over be transferred to the Registrar for safekeeping.
Keorapetse also asked Magosi what the DIS’ mandate is in dealing with corruption. He added that they continuously wake up to the news that the DIS has arrested suspects and sealed offices.
“What is your mandate and how do you execute that mandate?” Keorapetse quizzed Magosi. As the DIS takes action, Magosi said they take a step that will reduce the spread of corruption. He said they have intervened in different ministries when issues of corruption were taking place.
“We would do our investigation, compile a report, and take it to that particular ministry and say ‘this is what we have found’. The same ministry will then deal with its problem administratively. If there are areas where we believe the DIS will have to go to the courts then we will take that decision,” Magosi explained.
He said they are mandated to take a step where the interests of the government are compromised. Magosi maintained that the DCEC deals with corruption at an ordinary level, but when corruption is out of the ordinary that is when the DIS comes in.
Despite the ongoing rivalry between the two organs, Magosi pointed out that it is true that they service the DCEC on intelligence on corruption. He also indicated that it is not just the DCEC, which benefits from their intelligence, but also other security organs and various government ministries.
“Our mandate is to ensure national security, so any issue that becomes a threat to national security becomes our interest,” Magosi explained.
When asked where the DCEC comes in when DIS is handling issues of corruption on the basis of national security, Magosi added that they have in the past shared intelligence with the DCEC.
“We collect intelligence and share it with all the responsible agencies, we have done the same with the DCEC,” Magosi said.
Despite Magosi trying to explain the blurred lines between their job and that of the DCEC, Mmolotsi added that what is happening now is that the DIS is usurping the role of the DCEC.
For his part, Keorapetse said the DIS is an institution that is confused about its mandate and oversteps its mandate to meddle in corruption and crime issues. Keorapetse said he will never understand why the DIS cannot resource the DCEC instead of usurping its role.
Keorapetse said his concern is where the DIS is usurping the role of the DCEC instead of servicing it. He said the fact that the DIS has sealed some offices at the DCEC shows that inter-agency cooperation has collapsed and what exists is arch rivalry between the law enforcement agencies.
He also said this is despite the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) indicating that inter-agency co-operation and co-ordination should be enhanced and promoted in order to combat illicit capital flows and money laundering.