State secrets exposed as DIS, DCEC clash

As Masisi loses grip over DIS, DCEC, the clash places AG in a tight spot


Intelligence and security experts are warning that the dispute between the Directorate on Intelligence and Security (DISS) and the Directorate on Corruption and Economic Crime over state files presents a serious threat to national security.

The two agencies are at war over investigation documents held at the DCEC head offices in Gaborone. The High Court ordered on Monday that the documents be handed over to the Registrar of the High Court following an “unusual” urgent application by the DCEC stating that the files were not safe under the custody of the DISS.

Major General Pius Mokgware, former commander of the ground forces of the Botswana Defence Force (BDF), believes that the standoff does not only expose state secrets but also damages the image of the country.

“It is obviously a national security threat that needs immediate intervention by the powers that be. These issues also affect the economic security of the country. How are we going to be able to attract investors when serious corruption allegations are levelled against oversight bodies under the Office of State Presidency?” said Mokgware.

Major General Gaolathe Galebotswe, former BDF Commander also advised that the DIS ought to have understood the mandate of the DCEC before carrying out their operation at the DCEC head offices.

“I must, however, caution that DCEC, of the two, is one such institution which will, for any given reason, have files for all its citizens, including even our number one citizen. Because of the nature of their work, such information should be accorded the highest security classification. DISS has to be very clear on this as failure to understand this mandate to its fullest and accord DCEC its sacred responsibility. DISS needs to tone down and allow established legislative structures to help on the way forward if there are issues that warrant discovery,” cautioned Galebotswe.

Where is the AG?

The role of the Attorney General is defined in Section 51 of the Constitution of Botswana as the principal legal adviser to the government. Observers believe that the DCEC vs DISS case presents a very unusual legal battle which undermines the authority of the AG.

The DCEC is represented by Monthe Marumo law firm, whilst AG stands for the DISS. “Does it mean the AG says the DISS is well within the law to demand the files of the DCEC in the manner they did? And where was the AG when the DCEC took the decision to engage a private attorney and launch their urgent application?” questioned another security expert who preferred to remain anonymous.

AG Abraham Keetshabe said he could not comment on the matter as it was still actively before the courts of law.