Botswana Federation of Public Sector Unions (BOFEPUSU) says it is keeping tabs on government’s intents to procure a helicopter for President Ian Khama’s private use in his retirement.
Khama is expected to stand down on the 1st of April 2018 when his term comes to an end. His deputy, Mokgweetsi Masisi will take over as head of state until the Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) convenes to elect its president. The federation’s labour secretary, Johnson Motshwarakgole told the press this week that government is entertaining designs to procure a helicopter for president Khama.
He described the claim as ‘very credible’ promising to disclose further details as time goes on. However, WeekendPost has established that government has amended the Presidents (Pensions and Retirement Benefits) bill of 2016 at least three times to insert multiple provisions and scrap some which will allow Khama to rendezvous with state helicopters and any other government mode of transport in his retirement.
Khama is believed to retain multiple homesteads dotted across multiple ends of the country. Some of his widely known homesteads include the Mosu resort in Central District while another one sits on an Island in the Okavango delta region. He is also an avid aviator who used to pilot state helicopters by himself.
The last of Khama’s retirement bills was published on the 12th of December 2016.This latest amendment deletes several sections to include pleasant provisions for Khama. The bill’s memorandum section states that “the bill is amended to grant a former President access to the use of any kind of any Government owned mode of transport, on a case by case basis, on such terms as may be determined by the President.” The amended bill also does not expressly state whether or not the president can pilot the aircraft himself but seems to leave that prospect open.
All along, a retired president was traditionally provided three cars. Section 6 of the president’s retirement bill provides that a former president is provided three cars: One is a sedan (Mercedes Benz or an equivalent or similar class of motor vehicle). Subsection two further states that the ex-statesman will also be provided one four wheel drive station wagon and one pick up van.
“The bill also states that these vehicles will be permanently at the disposal of the former president and will carry BX registration number plates unless otherwise decided by parliament.” it further states: “As with other Government motor vehicles, the vehicles will be replaced as and when necessary.” Government spokesperson, Dr. Jeff Ramsay feigned ignorance on the matter stating that he was out of town. “I am in Kasane. You can ask other people. I don’t know anything about that.”
BDP Secretary General Botsalo Ntuane also declined to comment. He only stated: “It’s not a BDP matter. Kindly ask OP [Office of the President].” In addition, the aim of the amendment was to outlaw and delete section 6(2) of the Presidents (Pensions and Retirement Benefits) Act which provides for the suspension of pension and benefits of a former head of state who has subsequently directly or indirectly held any paid office in the service of state or of any person.
It further states that “the deletion of section 6(2) means that if a former president directly or indirectly holds any paid office, any pension or benefits to which he is entitled under the Act shall continue to be paid.” Khama has in the past embarked that he intends to rejoin the Botswana Defence Force. His BDF stay was cut short by a request to abandon service to save the BDP in 1998.
Besides these two major amendments, a major amendment that was inserted to make conditions more salivating for Khama is the deletion of a section that outlawed the construction of a presidential palace out of the capital. The same change also made it possible for an ex-president “to receive a housing allowance in lieu of the house.”
The Act is intended to be so flexible that instead of a presidential palace and an office, a former statesman may choose to be given an office and residential allowance. Contrary to the current Act, the President’s house or office may be constructed outside Gaborone. It states that, “a retired President is given the option to choose between having an office, where he or she prefers, of the standard and size specified by the President or receiving office accommodation allowance using the prevailing Gaborone market rental rates.” In the old Act, there is also a new provision to construct palaces for former presidents outside the capital.
A further clause states: “A retired President is given the option to choose between having a residential house of the standard and size specified by the President or receiving a housing allowance in lieu of the house. A restriction to having the official residence in Gaborone has been removed.”
On the 2nd of April 2018, Khama will be entitled to a number of security officers to be determined by Masisi, two drivers, one private secretary, one secretary and one office attendant. He will also be entitled to office accommodation of the standard and size specified by Masisi in a location where Khama may prefer, or a monthly office accommodation allowance based on the prevailing Gaborone market rental rates. It includes a telephone, computer/word processor, office furniture and other office equipment as may be determined by Masisi.
He will be further entitled to a furnished residential house of the standard and size specified by Masisi, or a monthly housing allowance based on prevailing Gaborone market rental rates, two maids and one gardener. Furthermore, Khama (and his spouse) will also be entitled to state sponsored medical aid and will also be a beneficiary of first class air and rail travel within Botswana. First class air travel will also extend to international trips up to a maximum of 4 trips per annum (including a spouse if accompanying) and per diem for each trip as may be determined by Masisi.
He will also receive entertainment allowance determined by Masisi, telephone expenses as well as water and electricity expenses for the office and residence.
While there is no hard-and-fast rule in politics, former Molepolole North Member of Parliament, Mohamed Khan says populism acts in the body politic have forced him to quit active partisan politics. He brands this ancient ascription of politics as fake and says it lowers the moral compass of the society.
Khan who finally tasted political victory in the 2014 elections after numerous failed attempts, has decided to leave the ‘dirty game’, and on his way out he characteristically lashed at the current political leaders; including his own party president, Advocate Duma Boko. “I arrived at this decision because I have noticed that there are no genuine politics and politicians. The current leaders, Boko and President Dr Mokgweetsi Masisi are fake politicians who are just practicing populist politics to feed their egos,” he said.
Former Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) parliamentary hopeful, Lawrence Ookeditse has rejected the idea of taking up a crucial role in the Botswana Patriotic Front (BPF) Central Committee following his arrival in the party this week. According to sources close to development, BPF power brokers are coaxing Ookeditse to take up the secretary general position, left vacant by death of Roseline Panzirah-Matshome in November 2020.
Ookeditse’s arrival at BPF is projected to cause conflicts, as some believe they are being overlooked, in favour of a new arrival. The former ruling party strategist has however ruled out the possibility of serving in the party central committee as secretary general, and committed that he will turn down the overture if availed to him by party leadership.
Ookeditse, nevertheless, has indicated that if offered another opportunity to serve in a different capacity, he will gladly accept. “I still need to learn the party, how it functions and all its structures; I must be guided, but given any responsibility I will serve the party as long as it is not the SG position.”
“I joined the BPF with a clear conscious, to further advance my voice and the interests of the constituents of Nata/Gweta which I believe the BDP is no longer capable to execute.” Ookeditse speaks of abject poverty in his constituency and prevalent unemployment among the youth, issues he hopes his new home will prioritise.
He dismissed further allegations that he resigned from the BDP because he was not rewarded for his efforts towards the 2019 general elections. After losing in the BDP primaries in 2018, Ookeditse said, he was offered a job in government but declined to take the post due to his political ambitions. Ookeditse stated that he rejected the offer because, working for government clashed with his political journey.
He insists there are many activists who are more deserving than him; he could have chosen to take up the opportunity that was before him but his conscious for the entire populace’s wellbeing held him back. Ookeditse said there many people in the party who also contributed towards party success, asserting that he only left the BDP because he was concerned about the greater good of the majority not individualism purposes.
According to observers, Ookeditse has been enticed by the prospects of contesting Nata/Gweta constituency in the 2024 general election, following the party’s impressive performance in the last general elections. Nata/Gweta which is a traditional BDP stronghold saw its numbers shrinking to a margin of 1568. BDP represented by Polson Majaga garnered 4754, while BPF which had fielded Joe Linga received 3186 with UDC coming a distant with 1442 votes.
There are reports that Linga will pave way for Ookeditse to contest the constituency in 2024 and the latter is upbeat about the prospects of being elected to parliament. Despite Ookeditse dismissing reports that he is eying the secretary general position, insiders argue that the position will be availed to him nevertheless.
Alternative favourite for the position is Vuyo Notha who is the party Deputy Secretary General. Notha has since assumed duties of the secretariat office on the interim basis. BPF politburo is expected to meet on 25th of January 2020, where the vacancy will be filled.
Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) big wigs have decided to cancel a retreat with the party legislators this weekend owing to increasing numbers of Covid-19 cases. The meeting was billed for this weekend at a place that was to be confirmed, however a communique from the party this past Tuesday reversed the highly anticipated meeting.
“We received a communication this week that the meeting will not go as planned because of rapid spread of Covid-19,” one member of the party Central Committee confirmed to this publication. The gathering was to follow the first of its kind held late last year at party Treasurer Satar Dada’s place.