- Some MPs say DISS failed to detect the Covid-19 threat
- DISS says COVID-19 is outside its brief
The Directorate of Intelligence and Security Services (DISS) says all issues surrounding the Coronavirus (Covid-19) are strictly for the Ministry of Health and Wellness and come nowhere near the secret service.
This comes after President Mokgweetsi Masisi, Vice President Slumber Tsogwane, cabinet ministers, MPs, key officials of the Ministry of Health and several journalists were exposed to the virus during last week’s emergency meeting of Parliament in Gaborone and are all now all in mandatory quarantine.
In the aftermath of the extraordinary exposure of nearly the entire political leadership of Botswana to a deadly virus at a time, some MPs expressed the view that DISS had failed to detect the Covid-19 threat.
“DISS is responsible for the personal protection of the President,” the Public Relations Officer of the secret service, Edward Robert, told this publication in an interview.
“That is one of our primary mandates. Ministry of Health of Wellness is responsible for dealing with all issues of COVID-19. In this particular matter, you should engage the relevant ministry and Parliament.”
Contacted for comment, the Minister of Health, Dr Lemogang Kwape, said he could not discuss security issues with this publication.
The Speaker of the National Assembly, Phandu Skelemani, said that he did seek advice from the health experts at the Ministry of Health regarding the wisdom of Parliament going on despite the government’s emphasis on social distancing and was given the green light.
MPs have also come down hard on the Ministry of Health for failing to adhere to its own rules. The MP for Maun West, Dumelang Saleshando, said it was too reckless of the health ministry to deploy someone who had been exposed to the virus to an event where the country’s leadership was gathered. “This person had been working at a place where they were exposed to the virus,” Saleshando noted.
But the MP for Okavango, Kenny Kapinga, sees things differently: “We cannot say there was any intelligence failure,” he said. “Even in the UK where they have the most sophisticated intelligence, their Prime Minister Boris Johnson still got infected with this virus. The blame should be on the Ministry of Health.”