‘Conflicted’ AG under scrutiny in DIS-DCEC tiff

  • Office of the President under the spotlight for DISS-DCEC shenanigans
  • AG fights issues of conflict of interest as he takes DISS corner
  • Former deputy Attorney General says the stakes are high for
    the AG


The ongoing conflict between the Directorate of Intelligence and Security Service (DISS) and the Directorate on Corruption and Economic Crimes (DCEC) has placed the government legal representative, the Attorney General (AG), Advocate Abraham Keetshabe, under scrutiny, with legal experts warning that this may be the beginning of a long, rough journey for his office if the Office of the President does not clamp down on the DISS as an aggressor institution.

However, a former government top lawyer who served as Deputy Attorney General before joining the Ministry of Defence, Nchunga Nchunga, said the AG cannot be blamed for this anomalous situation.

“We are dealing with an anomalous situation where a government department is harassing another government department,” Nchunga said in an interview. “You don’t expect the AG to defend both institutions, especially that his contract is about to end. He knows where his bread is buttered. Obviously DISS is closer to power (OP) more than DCEC is.”

“It is not normal for a government department to be at war with another government department, let alone disciplined forces, based on the doctrine of one government. But then again, these are not normal times that Botswana is going through. How do you explain the DCEC boss’ offices being accused of breaching national security?”

Keetshabe – whose term ends in July this year – has excoriated DCEC for seeking refuge outside administrative processes in a matter in which DCEC has applied in court to keep its files out of the reach of DISS. This subsequently triggered criticism in legal circles that instead of taking sides in this conflict, the AG should keep his counsel because he is seriously conflicted.

The AG is by principle the legal representative of both DCEC and DISS.
While it is evident from court papers that the AG is not happy with DCEC director Tymon Katlholo’s decision to seek refuge at the judiciary over administrative processes, court papers also suggest that the AG ignored Katlholo’s urgent appeal for help and guidance, pleading ignorance in a sensitive case that had already spilled into the public domain.

In response to DCEC papers, Keetshabe says the decision by DCEC to self-represent will come at a cost to the fiscus and sets a bad precedence. However, Katlholo says previous appeals to address concerns about DISS were unsuccessful because DISS continues to interfere. He cites appeals to the Office of the President and the AG himself.

Lawyers sympathetic to DCEC say the AG has outsourced several DISS cases to Francistown-based private law firm, Thapelo Attorneys, even as he complains about misuse of government funds in an occasional instance.

As the two institutions continue to trade tirades in full public view, criticism is turning to the Office of the President as the administrative authority for failing to prevail on the two powerful state institutions that are both at the core of the country’s national security.