BY THOBO MOTLHOKA
Former President Ian Khama has been painted as a petulant crybaby who throws toys out of his cot every time things do not go his way.
Addressing the media on Friday Khama’s former Permanent Secretary to the President (PSP), and still PSP Carter Morupisi stopped short of describing his former boss as an ungrateful, spoilt individual who wants preferential treatment over his predecessor, former President Festus Mogae.
Morupisi briefed the media on former Presidents’ pensions and retirement benefits to counter Khama’s constant wailing about treatment at the hands of the current administration under his successor President Mokgweetsi Masisi.
Among those complaints by Khama were the government’s decision to reduce the number of his staff personnel. Morupisi said despite Khama’s assertions that the PSP had contravened the laws of the country by recalling some of his staff, the government had actually been contravening the law in granting Khama with more staff than was legally prescribed.
He said Khama had 13 additional against three additional staff for former President Mogae. Part of this additional staff such as the Chief Catering officer and Senior Catering officer, Morupisi said, were part of the staff compliment for State
House but the former President requested for a temporary redeployment to help him to settle. Recalling them, the PSP told the media, was now a challenge as expressed by the former President’s public disapproval. “When it was time to recall them, he didn’t agree because he was to use them to manage the Presidential Housing Appeal, Soup kitchen events and weekend football tournaments involving his team SKI X1,” Morupisi said.
According to the PSP the former President currently has nine staff members over and above what he is entitled to in terms of staff compliment.
The officers, he said, were deployed to Khama’s office and residence at his request and the agreement was that they should be redeployed after one year, which has not happened yet.
Khama has also insisted that the Presidential Housing Appeal was his baby which he renamed National Housing Appeal in 2018.
“That is when I advised him the Housing Programme for the needy started in 1994 by former President the late Sir Ketumile Masire when it was called The President’s Small Borrowers Fund and assistance to the needy and later made a determination that the Presidential Housing Appeal will continue to be managed under Office of the President as it is part of Government drive to address poverty among the vulnerable groups,” Morupisi.
President Masisi’s immediate predecessor has previously also complained about being denied access to government aircraft.
“My office has, through several correspondence, assured the Former President that his requests for air transport will be assessed on a case by case basis,” Morupisi told the media.
“In fact, there are numerous instances where his requests were approved.” He said out of 13 requests for use of state aircraft, Masisi had granted Khama seven while the rest coincided with important government trips.Morupisi also addressed Khama’s relationship with the Dalai Lama. “You will recall that Former President Khama paid a visit to India recently to visit Dalai Lama despite the well-known position of the Government of Botswana that supports the One China policy in view of the strong bilateral relations that subsist between China and Botswana,” he explained.
“China regards Tibet as part and parcel of main land China. Therefore any association by any country with Dalai Lama who is regarded as the spiritual leader of Tibet is viewed as an act of provocation and a challenge to China’s territorial integrity.” He said Khama was well aware of this and that his visit had the potential to strain the relations between the two countries, and likely to result in disastrous implications for Botswana as a developing country.
At a recent Serowe meeting Khama also complained about harassment of his friends particularly former Director of Directorate of Intelligence and Security, Isaac Kgosi. But Morupisi has denied such charges.
“The fact of the matter is that no one is being targeted by intention or association because we are all equal before the law. So all the investigations that are ongoing by those agencies are done in accordance with the dictates of the laws of this country,” the PSP told the media.