Thursday, May 23, 2024

Cabinet at wits’ end over Merafhe’s retirement package

Cabinet is in the process of cobbling a last minute retirement package for outgoing Vice President, Mompati Merafhe, prompting speculation that his departure could only have come after he extracted a deal from President Ian Khama.

It is known that while Khama had long wanted Merafhe to go, that did not happen since Merafhe bargained long and hard to be accorded a retirement package.

Just over two weeks ago, the presidency announced that Merafhe would be retiring, officially on account of his health.

But insiders point that Merafhe’s retirement only came after he had received an undertaking from the President that, among other things, the state will take care of his security, housing, transport costs and medical bills.

Under the law only retired presidents are taken care of.

Through the legislation, retired presidents continue to receive 80 percent of their salaries while they were on active duty; they are provided with accommodation, security and transport.
The same is not extended to retired Vice Presidents and ministers.

At a parliament caucus last week, Members of Parliament, led by those from the ruling Botswana Democratic Party, turned down suggestions by cabinet to present a fast-tracked legislation to take care of Merafhe.

Members of Parliament said it would be wrong to come up with a law for just one individual.

They also warned cabinet not to break the law in its determination to accommodate Merafhe.
This prompted cabinet to look for other avenues through which to cater for Merafhe without having to go through the route of parliament.

So far the preferred instrument is the Green Book, which is a schedule that cabinet uses to prescribe perks and benefits for its members.

There is however a legal disability as it has been suggested that Green Book only caters for serving Members of Cabinet.

The Chief Government Spokesman, Jeff Ramsay, has told the Sunday Standard that so far no announcement has been made regarding the retiring Vice President.

“If there is any announcement to be made it will have to be next week,” said Ramsay.
Merafhe officially leaves office at the end of July.

President Khama is expected to announce a replacement on Tuesday.

Sunday Standard can, however, confirm that barring a last minute tragedy, President Khama has already told members of his kitchen cabinet that he will appoint current minister of Minerals, Ponatshego Kedikilwe, as the new Vice President.

“The problem is there is currently nobody suitable to replace Kedikilwe at the Ministry of Minerals,” said an insider.

It is feared that among those who would be candidates to replace Kedikilwe are members of parliament who are known to have fallen under the radar of the DCEC (Directorate on Corruption and Economic Crime) making them high risk in as far as potential targets for prosecution by DPP (Directorate of Public Prosecutions.)

After going through the humiliating process where two of his senior ministers were brought before the courts, President Khama is said to be totally averse to taking another risk.

“Our members of parliament have too many skeletons following them. That is one thing that haunts the President as he attempts to reshuffle the cabinet. That is over and above the fact that there is simply no talent in this current crop of MPs,” said the same source.

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