In a week in which the Commander-in-Chief put on a full military gear walked shoulder to shoulder with his generals, saluted and inspected his troops while offering them a bag of goodies – salary increase – he was not necessarily secure.
Various sources at the weekend confirmed a security breach at the State House and other national key points such as Mass Media Complex that has resulted with security chiefs ordering the scaling up and reinforcement of security at such areas.
Sources in fact say President Mokgweetsi Masisi’s security was compromised on Friday night when he attended the Manhattans Music Festival at Ba Isago University.
This was when the stress signal was pressed enforcing that all military officers on stand-by were to immediately be on alert while security was increased at all national key points. These include Fuel storage area, Sir Seretse Khama Military barracks and Sir Seretse Khama International Airport.
“Some members of the special forces were flown from Thebephatswa Air Base to beef the security at both the State House and at Ba Isago where President Masisi was attending a music festival,” revealed a highly placed source within the security cluster.
Some intruders were allegedly arrested on Saturday evening as they tried to enter the State House.
The situation was compounded by the arrest of a BDF officer in the rank of colonel who was arrested as he was going to the armory though he was not on duty.
“He was fully dressed in military regalia pretending to be on duty though he was off duty and the military intelligence operatives arrested him and he is currently on detention,” intimated a source.
On the same day some Israeli operatives were allegedly arrested by the Directorate of Intelligence and Security Services (DISS) for tampering with Botswana Broadcasting Services national transmitter and were taken to military prison at SKKB.
DISS is by law the agency responsible for providing security of the Head of State, his Vice, VIPs and other senior Government officials as seen necessary.
Contacted for comment DIS Boss Brigadier (R) Peter Magosi denied the occurrence of security breach at the State House.
Concerns at State House
“We are not surprised by the allegations because since last year we have done some security analysis on the Head State and realised that there are some elements of threat to security and time and again we will keep on changing how things are done,” he said.
He said the security in the country has changed since the presidential transition in April last year, thus compelling them to do things differently. One of such steps was to have identical presidential cars in the same convoy; a show of force and security tactics that was unveiled during the Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) retreat in Palapye. At the time concerns about President Masisi’s security had escalated, with a former BDF Special Forces officer and DIS operative were arrested at the meeting place.
Magosi conceded however that he could not discuss some security issues that they are dealing with.
The alert is said to have been prompted by technical surveillance product on a former high ranking government official who allegedly sent a short message to his lawyer threatening to kill Masisi and commit suicide.
At the BDP retreat, the security was beefed with only accredited delegates and journalists allowed entering at the Palapye International Convention Centre housed at Majestic Five Hotel.
Early this year, Masisi’s security details were enhanced with the recruitment of the retired members of the Special Forces due to their intense experience and also proven loyalty not to an individual but to the State.
During the Palapye BDP retreat, the presidential motorcade which normally consist of the stagecoach (the car carrying the president) which is sandwiched between the secure package was changed.
The presidential motorcade consisted of identical cars which made it difficult to know which one he was being ferried in. Though normally during party events few members of the BDF are seen at the events, in Palapye, the whole hotel was littered with members of the Special Forces and military officers.
Though president since April last year, Masisi has faced loyalty issues at the behest of former President Ian Khama who has generated a rebellious group of his own loyalists in an attempt to reverse his decision of having Masisi succeed him by having him voted out and stopped from being the party presidential candidate for 2019 General Elections.
Khama supports the challenge posed by Pelonomi Venson-Moitoi to Masisi for the party presidency which will culminate with a vote at the BDP special congress on April 5, 2019.
At the centre of the fallout between Khama and his successor is a feeling by Khama that the current regime is abusive and disregards his interest. He campaigns against Government on grounds that Masisi was misgoverning and disregarding the critical tenets of a democratic dispensation as he left it. He has vowed never to sit back and watch the country being ran down.
While Venson-Moitoi seeks to constantly deny that she is Khama’s proxy, her policy pronouncements have not been clear with her protest about former President’s abuse being more categorical.
With tensions escalating allegations of increasing security concerns for President Masisi have grown, with even claims that some were plotting a coup. While Khama has consistently scoffed at such fears, insisting that BDF cadres were more honourable than that, concerns of the president security have remained.
However recent reports – confirmed by DISS – that former president was recruiting retired soldiers and orphaned boys from the SOS to form part of his security detail have escalated concerns about security and intelligence wars that could emerge.
With no legal standing and precedence locally, the move has worried some observers who see this as a move into running a vigilante operation particularly at a time when the current President’s security remains a concern.
At the beginning of the week, Masisi’s longtime ally turned foe, skipped the country claiming to have uncovered plot to have him assassinated. DISS has flatly denied being involved in any plot of eliminating him.