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Gov’t to buy Khama retirement helicopter- BOFEPUSU

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.” 

Other Benefits


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.
 

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