Probing a rich ex-spy chief’s pursuit of a PhD

The disgraced former spy chief, Colonel Isaac Kgosi, is undoubtedly a man at a crossroads. In addition the drama around his life, the 61-year old whom many say was strongman Ian Khama’s enforcer is pursuing a PhD. But what could a filthy-rich Kgosi be pursuing a PhD for? writes TEFO PHEAGE.

Isaac Kgosi is currently enrolled for a PhD programme with a little known institution in Slovenia called View University while his lecturer is based in South Africa, which requires him to travel frequently. According to Kgosi’s curriculum vitae, he has a Diploma in Mechanical Engineering and a Masters in Intelligence and Security obtained from Brunel University, a public research university located in Uxbridge, West London, United Kingdom. The latter qualification was obtained in 2007. The university says this course is of value to individuals seeking to go into security-oriented careers in both the private and public sectors. “It is suitable to individuals engaged in the security professions who seek further qualifications and professional enhancement,” it adds.

Kgosi’s CV states that he is now pursuing a PhD in foreign affairs and diplomacy with an institution in Slovenia, which in fact the faculty has confirmed. THE University official Kaja Gode said: “Isaac Seabelo Kgosi has disposed a doctoral dissertation titled ‘Southern African Development Community [SADC] Diplomatic Conflict Management Response for Enhancing Human Security: The Case of Mozambique,’ which is not public yet.”

The thesis is a study of SADC’s mediation and diplomacy in the Mozambican conflict that is mainly between the ruling Front for the Liberation of Mozambique (Frelimo) government and forces of the National Resistance (Renamo) that was once mediated by the late former president Sir Ketumile Masire in 2016 when it re-emerged after a revival by Renamo in 2012, driven by several grievances including allegations of economic marginalisation, regional economic imbalances and breach of the 1992 Rome General Peace Accords which had ended the post-independence civil war fought from 1977 to 1992. The escalation of conflict in Mozambique in early 2016 resulted in displacement of citizens in affected areas whilst thousands of people crossed the borders into Malawi and eastern Zimbabwe as refugees.

Political observers have always argued that the attitude of SADC denoted a certain understanding of the historical, political and socio-economic dynamics of Mozambique that precludes a concerted diplomatic response to the persistent military conflict that threatens full-blown civil war. This is because diplomacy of the mainly economic bloc is absent as it has failed to assume a firm, impartial leadership position on the matter and facilitate a mutually acceptable disarmament and re-integration process between Frelimo and Renamo.

Be that as it may, a PhD is an advanced research degree that is awarded on the basis of a dissertation and an oral examination. Should he defend his work successfully, Kgosi will become a doctor or professor of philosophy. The primary purpose of a PhD is the preparation and presentation of a substantial piece of independent and original academic research. Literature suggests that graduates with a PhD usually have highly developed research skills and a firm grasp of theoretical aspects of their special field.

Although it may not necessarily be a matter of public interest, Kgosi’s PhD pursuit is clearly a matter of interest to the public that arouses curiosity. People who pursue this highest academic qualification do it either for maximising their financial gain or for prestige. Why then would a filthy rich man want a PhD? Shouldn’t he be pursuing finance, accounting or management courses to protect and manage his considerable wealth and money? Does Kgosi intend to seek formal employment again? At any rate, what purpose would a job serve him in the midst of his well-documented controversies?

Former chief of protocol, Daphne Kadiwa, who was in Kgosi’s inner circle, may shed some light in a leaked audio clip in which she is allegedly in conversation with the president of the South African Mining Development Association, Brigette Radebe, who is a powerful businesswoman with blood connections to power in Botswana’s neighbour to the south. “Everybody long advised Kgosi to leave the country,” Radebe says in the audio, which raises the possibility that the former spy chief may have decided to heed this advice. “We can get him a job outside the country (Botswana),” she continues. “We could talk to some international organisations to give him a job.”

The conversation – in which Kadiwa says “it’s now too late” – is part of a series of similar exchanges between these two women and other people that seem to point to previously failed attempts to ‘save’ Kgosi. It may well be “too late” because he was unceremoniously dismissed from his powerful position by President Mokgweetsi Masisi within months of the latter’s ascendency to the highest office in the land, catching both Kgosi and his former master and confidant, Masisi’s predecessor Ian Khama, by surprise. But Kgosi’s current circumstances hardly surprise anyone because most former top spies lead abnormal lives post retirement or dismissal. In addition to exile, some are arrested and jailed, some are killed while others ‘choose’ to pre-empt the torture that precedes being snuffed out by committing suicide. Not so Kgosi: “I have a life to live,” he answered tersely when asked about his PhD studies recently and would talk no further.

It is hard to imagine this man settling for anything less than what he commanded in rank and power as the feared head of the Directorate of Intelligence and Security Service where he accounted to no one except his bosom buddy in President Ian Khama.

However, there is no shortage of opportunities internationally where a PhD in intelligence and related studies could earn Kgosi a lucrative post even within governments of third world countries.

Kgosi to renounce Botswana citizenship?

In order to join first world intelligence agencies, one must usually be a citizen and must denounce any other citizenship(s). An intelligence source says Kgosi’s grand plan might be to dump Botswana for a foreign country where a PhD may be a strong advantage. “But I am told that he may also be looking into possibilities of opening an intelligence consultancy institution,” says the source. “Most countries are quick to grant citizenship to skilled and highly qualified personnel. At any rate, Kgosi needs to leave Botswana if he is to enjoy his money freely.”

As the source points out, such decisions are difficult to make because they may result in extremely unpleasant repercussions. But going abroad holds considerable appeal for Kgosi because he owes much of his training to Israel and has obviously made solid friendships at the highest levels.

International organisations and PhDs

A PhD is without a doubt the quickest way to international organisations as PhD holders are very attractive to hire, even though most international organisations are particular about who they employ and use highly stringent requirements and vetting systems. Kgosi was marred by controversy from day one in his job as founding director of DISS, hence the numerous charges that he faces before the courts and the accusations on all fronts, including from Khama’s younger brother Tshekedi. His reputation is so well-documented that a background check on the man that many say was strongman Khama’s enforcer is likely to disqualify him.