- Says its operations tarnish the image of the gov’t
- Morwaeng says DISS operates within the law
- Balopi wants its ‘overreach’ restrained
The MP for Gaborone North, Mpho Balopi, has joined the rising din of complaints against the Directorate of Intelligence and Security Service (DISS), especially regarding tarnishing the image of the government.
On Monday, Balopi – who resigned from the cabinet last December – asked the Minister of Presidential Affairs, Governance and Public Administration, Kabo Morwaeng, in Parliament whether he does not consider some of its actions to be tarnishing government image.
Balopi further asked Morwaeng whether the government will not consider limiting DISS operations to investigations to leave other enforcement duties to institutions like the Botswana Police Service.
In response, Minister Morwaeng said DISS does not tarnish government image but is guided by the Intelligence and Security Service Act and other laws of the country.
“There have been two cases brought against the Directorate of Intelligence and Security Service for harassment which have been successfully defended before the High Court as well as the Court of Appeal,” he said.
“Judgments in favour of the Directorate are a matter of public record and the Directorate, like any other litigant, continues to defend claims against it through the legal advice of the principal legal advisor, being the Attorney General’s Chambers.”
The minister added that functions of DISS are clearly spelt out in the Act and include protecting political, military and economic security interests of Botswana in collaboration with the intelligence community established by the law and is mandated to ensure inter-agency exchange of intelligence. “There is need for agencies to cooperate in order to deal with the evolving trends of criminal activities that in no doubt threaten the security interests of this republic,” said Morwaeng
“Criminal syndicates have become more sophisticated and criminal activities are becoming complex, be it crime of an economic nature, a political or a military nature, and a joint effort must be encouraged to harness this within our society. So limiting the operations of the Directorate would in no way be in the interest of the security of this nation.”
He added that law enforcement agencies are overwhelmed in their respective mandates and that there are proper channels to follow when people feel intimidated by the secret service. “We came up with a decision to set up a parliamentary committee on DIS and some members of the opposition flatly refused to join it,” Morwaeng said. “This would have been a committee (for) Batswana to report to.”
There have been reports that the DISS was tailing Balopi and Specially Elected MP Unity Dow who also recently questioned DISS ethics and operations and appealed to President Mokgweetsi Masisi to intervene.