- BMD spokesperson appears on payroll
- Rasina denies working for DIS
- Tholwana Borethe re-emerges
The controversial spokesperson of the Botswana Movement for Democracy (BMD) Rasina Winfred Rasina has denied working for the Directorate of Intelligence and Security (DIS) but leaked documents reveal his name on the organisation’s recent payroll.
Rasina recently re-joined the BMD to serve under its president Sidney Pilane as the National Spokesperson & Head of Strategic Partnerships, a position he once held during the late Gomolemo Motswaledi’s leadership.
Rasina’s return to the BMD coincides with the Botswana Public Employees Union (BOPEU) terminating a contract with his Glam Shouts Communication & Events Management Company, following an internal power struggle that was highly politicized and reported on by media.
The leakage of the DIS payroll which has been confirmed by this publication’s sources and individuals known as a fact to be agents by this publication has raised fears that there could be insider operatives within the DIS seeking to incapacitate undercover operations.
Speaking to The Botswana Gazette, Director General Peter Magosi raised concern over the security breach, stating that they are working around the clock to bring to book those who leaked the information. He however, could not be drawn into details.
In early 2017 The Botswana Gazette parted ways with one of its longest serving employees (name withheld). An audit had provided information that suggested that there was infiltration of reporters who were now double agents for the DIS. The former employee appears on the DIS payroll earning P26690.03 per month as his gross income, while the BMD politician is said to earn P23691.68. Another veteran reporter working for Gabz FM also appears on the payroll.
Rasina has vehemently denied working for the intelligence stating to this publication that he was going to take up the matter with the leadership of the spy agency. He also mentioned that it was not the first time such allegations were raised about him.
“I recall even back then there was something called Asparagus leaks which spread lies about me and that I was involved with the DIS,” he said, referring to leaks code named Asparagus which alleged that the then DIS boss Isaac Kgosi planted agents in newsrooms and political parties.
In 2017 investigative reporters received a leaked intelligence report marked “Secret” and addressed to the Director General, Isaac Kgosi titled “Tholwana Borethe” whose contents drew a picture of how the spy network has infiltrated and compromised the UDC opposition model.
The report which was purported to have had been compiled for the former regime claimed that DIS agents and sources, who were being referred to as “assets” had established cosy relationships with some editors within the media fraternity. The leaks of the recent payroll leak appear to confirm the clandestine DIS operation though at the time the Director General of the DIS, Isaac Kgosi denied any knowledge of paying opposition politicians and the operation.
In a questionable turn of events, the document leaked to the media, claiming to reveal the methodology of operation Tholwana Borethe was subsequently revealed to be a false leak. The recent revelations of the DIS payroll reveal that the operation was in place and the falsified document deliberately leaked to discredit media reporting on the illegal operation.
Tholwana Borethe alleged, though widely disputed, that spyware and counter espionage equipment enabled the DIS to spy on journalists, researchers and other politicians without being detected. Editors of The Botswana Gazette, Sunday Standard, Business Weekly and The Botswana Guardian were called in for questioning after the BCP lodged a case of publishing alarming reports, against the media in 2017.
In their letter to police commissioner Keabetswe Makgophe, BCP president Dumelang Saleshando stated that, “the alleged intelligence report details how the DIS meddles in politics by illegally and wrongfully spying on opposition political parties in Botswana with a view to destabilising them to the advantage of the ruling party”.
In July 2018, the Directorate of Public Prosecutions (DPP) told the Botswana Police Service (BPS) that they could not prosecute on the newspapers publication of the alleged intelligence report code-named, Tholwana Borethe.
The alleged intelligence report detailed covert operation code named “Tholwana Borethe” whose principal objective was to neutralise BMD President Ndaba Gaolathe as a ‘centre-of-power’ in both BMD and UDC while throwing the party into rivalling factions. The BMD has since split with its former president Ndaba Gaolatlhe exiting to form a new party, Alliance for Progressives.
The clandestine “Tholwana Borethe” black operation report alleged that the DISS viewed the UDC as a “major political existential threat” and feared that should it win elections in 2019 BDP politicians accused of corruption may be prosecuted and the spy agency disbanded.
Whilst it is not unknown for intelligence agencies to do an internal assessment of the national political environment, what was of particular concern and raised a crisis of constitutional proportions was the DISS’s disregard for the rule of law and the strict legislative prohibition on their involvement in political matters.
Addressing the media for the first time upon assuming the role of director general of DISS, Magosi highlighted that under his leadership the organisation will undergo a ‘clean up’ through various legislative reforms.
Responding to enquiries by this publication, BMD president Sidney Pilane denied that Rasina is employed by the DIS. “ I do not, with respect, believe that you have the genuine DISS payroll, nor that Rasina’s name would appear on the genuine one,” Pilane said.
However, BMD treasurer general Percy Bakwena said that the party has always been aware of the allegations. “We need the proof to investigate the veracity of these reports,” he said.