DISS Blocks Outsa Mokone’s Passport
DISS investigates Outsa Mokone
Government, embattled under the weight to leaked documents and exposés on questionable dealings has embarked on a new tactic to silence one of its most feared critics.
Having failed to silence the Sunday Standard and its Editor Outsa Mokone, information reaching The Botswana Gazette indicates that a new front in the war against the media has been declared: with the use of the immigration agency and its vetting partner the DISS.
The editor of the Sunday Standard Outsa Mokone is being denied his passport due to investigations into his citizenship. Mokone has confirmed that, despite having been born in Botswana, his citizenship is now being “investigated”.
Mokone reveals that he has been informed that the Directorate of Intelligence and Security Services (DISS) have launched a witch hunt against him in an attempt to silence both him and the Sunday Standard. The DISS are refusing to have him issued a passport by the immigration department citing that his citizenship is under investigation.
Mokone said that earlier this year he had received a tip off that the DISS were investigating his citizenship on allegations that he may not have renounced his parents nationality, “I brushed that off as a joke because it was so implausible.” Speaking to The Botswana Gazette yesterday Mokone revealed that his vehicle was broken into last month at the time of his wife’s passing. The burglars made away with his passport and Omang ID card, which he immediately reported to the Police. To his surprise, after going through a two week process with the immigration to have his passport application accelerated he discovered after having been initially advised to collect it that there was a new instruction from the DISS to the department of home affairs that he not be given the passport.
Mokone reveals that during the same week he had applied for a new Omang ID card – which has since been issued –following which he lodged a request with the Immigration Department to waive their one year waiting period for losing a passport.
“The Immigration board at its sitting two weeks ago upheld my request and decided that I should pay a P1000 penalty before proceeding to apply for a new passport. I paid the P1000 penalty two weeks ago and lodged an application for a new passport. I was told to collect the passport in two days. Six days and a dozen trips to the Immigration office later I still had no passport, and a lady at the service counter told me that the Deputy permanent Secretary Mabuse Pule wanted to see me,” Mokone narrated on the unfolding events.
At the meeting with Mabuse, Mokone says, Mabuse was in the company of another immigration officer who informed him that, “Mr Mokone, I do not know how to say this too you. As you know we do not work alone, we have other department working with us. Your passport is ready for collection but we have been instructed not to give it to you because the department is investigating your citizenship.”
At the meeting Mabuse declined to divulge to Mokone how long the investigation was going to take, but advising that they had been informed by the “other organisation” that they still had to take their investigations to other countries where they suspected Mokone may have asked for citizenship.
The allegation against Mokone is that he only came to Botswana at Standard 3, according to sources, an allegation Mokone refutes stating that he was born in Molepolole, Scottish Livingston Hospital in Botswana and has a Botswana birth certificate to prove it.
“I also have an Omang ID card and have always had it since they were introduced. I acquired my primary school, secondary school and tertiary education certificates in Botswana. I have never applied for the citizenship of any country.”
To Mokone’s despair, the unwarranted investigation into his citizenship are fictitious and an effort to frustrate him following his newspaper Sunday Standard’s extensive exposes on government corruption and in particular the reports involving the DISS boss Isaac Kgosi’s corruption allegations.
The DISS as the vetting agency for Immigrations and Home Affairs wields considerable influence in who is allowed to remain in the country. While the current attack on Mokone’s citizenship is as ludicrous as other attempts to silence him, it follows a series of attacks against the private press by the state in an attempt to intimidate journalists and muzzle press freedom.
In September 2014 Mokone was arrested and charged with sedition after Sunday Standard published a story that President Ian Khama was involved in a car accident with a visiting Zambian Mabitha Kaunda, while driving by himself at night. Edgar Tsimane the journalist who wrote the story fled the country fearing for his life and was granted political asylum by South Africa. A year later (2015) the DCEC launched a similar attack on the Botswana Gazette, sealing its offices overnight and arresting its journalists following a story exposing elite’s connections to a plot to siphon millions from Botswana Oil, revealing the extent to which the government stoops to silence the media.
Mokone says that the investigation into his citizenship is directed against the media fraternity generally. He has revealed that not only does the refusal to issue his passport impact on him personally, as he is unable to attend to his late wife’s estate, but further that he has had to cancel an official media trip to China, together with a number of local newspaper editors at the invitation of the Chinese government.
“I have also had to cancel scheduled appointments for joint counselling sessions with my son and daughter in Cape Town following my wife’s death four weeks ago. My two children attend college in Cape Town where my wife was based at the time of her death,” he pointed out.
DISS director Isaac Kgosi has distanced himself saying that his organisation does not deal with issuances of passports. The DISS is involved in the immigration vetting processes.
The Minister of Immigration, Labour and Home Affairs Edwin Batshu said that he was aware of the matter as Mokone had called him when he was out of the country but would not divulge any details while Mabuse’s secretary did not return calls as promised.