On paper, the head-on rivalry between Commander of Botswana Defence Force (BDF), Lt. Gen. Gaolatlhe Galebotswe, and Commander, 1 Infantry Brigade, Brigadier Peter Magosi, ended amicably on Wednesday.
That was when the High Court ordered an end to what was going to turn out to be a marathon case into the disappearance of mobile data extraction and analysis equipment. On paper, Justice Key Dingake’s order means that Lt. Gen Galebotswe will “not institute any further proceedings against” Brig. Magosi and Sergeant Dzikamani Mothobi. Magosi and Mothobi emerged victorious from Courtroom 3 on Wednesday, as part of their wish had been granted. But the reality is that a lot is at stake on this matter.
And it will not take long before daggers are re-drawn in full public glare again. This rivalry is historical and will not be resolved by the courts of law. For now a fragile truce has been negotiated and Lt. Gen. Galebotswe duly assisted by Major General O. Mashinyana had to make a rational retreat before any blood could be spilt under the pretext of missing electronic gadgets. But the biggest loser is the taxpayer who has been denied an opportunity to know whether the GSM Jammer equipment and the much wickered Cellebrite – which apparently has the ability to extract and analyse mobile data - were used legally on the fateful day of their disappearance.
By settling the matter out of court, the public will never know:
• The number of GSM Jammers and Cellebrites missing in Military Intelligence inventory
• The circumstances leading to the loss and effort made to recover it
• Whether there are laid down procedures for the storage and accountability of GSM Jammers and Cellebrites at MI and whether the procedures are followed
• Whether there is any person designated to authorise the use of GSM Jammers and Cellebrites at MI
• Whether such person misuses the equipment and if so, has there been any action taken
• Establish the number and cost of GSM Jammers and Cellebrites
Analysts are in agreement that the rivalry raises a spectre of a defence and intelligence community gone berserk. Dirty linen has been washed in public and it took President Khama three months to bring order in the intelligence community. Order does not necessarily instill credibility in the intelligence community, which is known for handling highly sensitive information. For starters, the case was not winnable for Galebotswe as Onalethata Kambai and Dick Bayford had erected an impenetrable fortress to shield Mothobi and Magosi respectively. The problem with our society is that there are several instances of corruption in almost all our institutions, BDF included.
The involvement of the Directorate on Corruption and Economic Crime (DCEC), Directorate on Intelligence Services and several disgruntled retired officers and soldiers as potential witnesses was going to open a new chapter into the dealings of the intelligence community. The case suddenly opened floodgates of media leaks about the workings of the security intelligence and corruption allegations against some officers. The timing of these leaks could be coincidental but in the minds of many, a connection exists between the instigation of the enquiry and the media leaks. Also take for instance DIS boss, Isaac Kgosi’s scenario.
The latter was in 2012 at the receiving end of an investigation led by the DCEC director general Rose Seretse. Kgosi was investigated for offences ranging from corruption, money laundering, living beyond his means and theft by person employed in the public service. There was however a temporary lull in Kgosi’s case following the transfer of the DCEC from the Defence Ministry to the immediate watchful eye of the Office of the President. “Until now, following Galebotswe’s Board of Enquiry proceedings, suddenly the gene was out of the bottle, with recent moves by one of the country's biggest unions- National Amalgamated Local, Central Government and Parastatal Unions, to force the DPP to prosecute Kgosi,” said a source. It is easy to sympathise with those who preferred an out of court settlement and save the nation from a spectre of several skeletons tumbling out of closets.