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BDP mulls amending Khama’s retirement package

Publishing Date : 17 June, 2019

Author : KETUMILE RAMATITI

Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) ‘strategists’ have advised the party to place as a matter of urgency, a motion calling for amendments of Presidents (Pensions and Retirement Benefits) Act package which the same party championed its adjustment barely two years ago.


The BDP in 2017 through the then Minister for Presidential Affairs, Governance and Public Administration, Eric Molale tabled a bill in Parliament giving President Ian Khama a 30 percent gratuity, among a raft of other generous rewards. However, the party is now regretting the decision and President Mokgweetsi Masisi has admitted and apologised to opposition legislators who were against the motion.


Owing to the fall-out between Masisi and his predecessor, the party’s scheme plotters have advised the party on amending the retirement package. At the top of their qualms, the advisors say presidents [In this case-Khama’s] retirement benefit package was generous, lucrative and lustful and should be adjusted. The party wants his modes of transport trimmed.


“Of most significance for now is the transport. The former can access any mode of transport he wants at the liberty of the sitting president. But remember when the current refuses it is blown out of proportion. So the agreement is there should be specific modes of transport that the former presidents are given to avoid rift,” says an informant who is very close to the developments this week.   


The party, a source says, is perturbed by the former’s (Khama) travel around the country which they say will de-campaign them in various constituencies, a fact that he has never denied. The MPs want to table an urgent motion at the upcoming parliamentary session expected to commence on the 3rd of next month. The party strategists for now are not concerned by his salary nor residence or office but “want him to have access only to a road while a managed flight will be availed only on international trips.”


The other issue which even President Masisi conceded recently, is that Khama is now politically active. “It should be scrapped from this Act that the former president could work especially in active politics. The concern is Khama is busy politicking and in the process dismissing his former party and it is a lesson that the party has bitterly swallowed but wants to rectify the mistake,” revealed a source on Tuesday this week.


Of late Khama has made it clear that he will endorse parliamentary candidates that are honest to him and is reported to be a member of the newly formed Botswana Patriotic Front (BPF). When contacted for comment, BDP Secretary General Mpho Balopi said: “I am not part of the party’s legislative block but we work through caucus where motions are discussed by the party Chairman and president and other members.


Once the caucus meet and discuss the motion I will be able to confirm or deny what you are saying. Members place the motion at the party office which then presents them to caucus before they can reach parliament.” The proposed motion is likely to meet a strong resistance from dissenting MPs sympathetic to Khama. A number of BDP MPs are likely not to support the motion because of a number of reasons. Some are aligned to Khama while others are just frustrated with the way the party is run, the source argued. At least 10 BDP legislators will not vote for the motion according to source.  


MASISI APOLOGISES FOR KHAMA’S BENEFITS

According to Masisi, at the time opposition MPs warned against the idea to please Khama but he and other ruling members of the Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) turned a blind eye. Tendering his apology to the nation, Masisi said: "I owe you and the opposition an apology. We made a mistake on Khama. We apologize for not listening to the opposition. It is sad. We thought it would never be like this. We thought the assurance that once I (in reference to Khama) am allowed to work I will not destabilise the government and this is a total somersault."  


The President reiterated that, "we made a mistake in the passing of the amendments to the former Presidents Benefits Act. We made a mistake taking it that when the Presidents retired they will not work. If they did their benefits were to be withdrawn; work is much influence."


Masisi revealed that had they not made the "big mistake we would be withdrawing all benefits for former President Khama if he works because he is retired and should not be working as per the previous retired Presidents benefit."
According to Masisi "this is not a personal issue. If that leverage was there we would take back all the benefits he has but we changed the law for him."


Masisi further stated that "We made a very big mistake. I'm the first to admit it, a very big mistake.  Because if that leverage was still there we would withdraw all the benefits that former President Khama has for engaging in politics again because he has retired."


Masisi also informed the nation that "Let me tell you that part of the reason I have refused to allow him (Khama) to use the chopper sometime was because in my view and assessment those trips were not as necessary as the government work that was to be done."


Masisi said, "I concluded that because he is in retirement; he is not a priority in terms of work. He is not in terms of work. You know moving soldiers to training or moving that and that is the priority of running the government. So please don't trivialize this thing. It's serious." Masisi also warned the nation that "If you want him (Khama) to return to the State House like he says he wants to come back as a retiree, have him and good luck. He will teach you a lesson."

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