Wildlife intelligence unit not part of the mainstream -Tshekedi Khama
Minister of Environment, Wildlife and Tourism, Tshekedi Khama said while his spy unit at the ministry is empowered to arrest wildlife criminals and do intelligence work, it is not part of the intelligence community.
Khama said this recently at Parliament following reports that he has built up his own spy arsenal which will help him fight his political battles and consolidate power after his older brother President Ian Khama descends from the presidency next year. MPs had asked about the role of his intelligence unit and the legal authority that established it. TK denied that there is something called Tourism Intelligence Services(TIS).
Ghanzi North MP Noah Salakae wanted to know the role of TIS and whether members of the Directorate of Intelligence and Security (DIS) are involved in ivory theft as suggested by media reports.
“There is no unit named Tourism Intelligence Services within my Ministry. We have however,
developed and continue to develop capacity within the Department of Wildlife and National Parks and Law Enforcement Division to detect, apprehend and investigate all types of wildlife crime,” said Khama.
Khama said members of the aforementioned department are empowered to arrest individuals and criminal gangs in wildlife crimes. He said his ministry deals with management of wildlife crimes without organizational affiliation. According to Khama, where individuals who are suspected to be involved in wildlife crime are apprehended and convicted, the relevant penalties are imposed as prescribed in the laws.
While not getting into details, Khama admitted that his spy unit apprehended some people suspected to be members of the DIS but said it is still an ongoing investigation.
Selibe Phikwe West MP Dithapelo Keorapetse also wanted to know more about the ministry’s spy unit. Keorapetse wanted to know when the unit was established and the legal authority that established it. Furthermore, the legislator quizzed on why the spy unit was established and if this was informed by any empirical assessment. Before distancing his intelligence unit from being part of the intelligence community, Khama said the unit derives its mandate from the Wildlife Conservation and National Parks Act Cap 38:01. Section 3(1) of the above Act provides that, ‘there shall be designated a public officer to be the Director of Wildlife and National Parks, and there shall be within the Public Service such Wildlife Officers as are necessary for the purposes of this Act.’
“Some of the necessary assignments have been identified as intelligence, anti-poaching, park management, transport, research and project implementation amongst others; hence the establishment of units for the purpose. This may change from time to time. The Department of Wildlife and National Parks is not part of the intelligence community,” he concluded.