President Lt Gen Ian Khama has evoked his special powers to add more privileges to the benefits he has awarded former Vice President, Lt Gen Mompati Merafhe, it emerged this week. Minister for Presidential Affairs and Public Administration, Mokgweetsi Masisi told Parliament that a nurse and a medical assistance paid by government have been added to the benefits awarded Lt Gen Merafhe.
Previously, Khama had at his discretion given Merafhe an official vehicle and a chauffeur at taxpayer’s expense. Masisi was answering a question by Member of Parliament (MP) for Francistown South, Wynter Mmolotsi who wanted to know other non- monetary benefits extended to Merafhe other than a vehicle and a driver and the provision that was used to extend such benefits. Mmolotsi expressed discomfort that President Ian Khama is abusing his powers by extending benefits to Merafhe, going against the popular sentiment of parliament. In an interview with The Sunday Standard, Mmolotsi said if this is left unchecked; the president will use his emotions to give benefits to those he wants.
“My concern is that the president used his powers in the green book when there is no law passed by parliament empowering him to do that. One wonders whether there is need to have a law on retirement’s packages for former presidents and vice presidents when the president can do as he wishes with the green book.” He said this means that should there be a vice president who is not in good books with the president, then that vice president won’t have any entitlements.
Mmolotsi said Khama has set a precedent that all vice presidents who retire will be entitled to some benefits. He said it has never been the intention of parliament to entitle a retiring vice president with benefits, if that was so, parliament would have passed a law as it did with retiring presidents. He said since Kedikilwe is retiring, it will mean after October, there will be two former presidents and two former vice presidents who are being taken care of by tax payers. Mmolotsi stated, when Merafhe was about to retire, a bill was hastily brought to parliament with the aim of creating retirement benefits for him, but Parliament rejected it reasoning that it will be unfair to come with a law for just one individual.
“Now he has fiddled with the Green Book to make sure Merafhe gets benefits.” Masisi said paragraph 76 of the Green Book provides that, “the president may, in exceptional cases, award particular benefits or privileges to the retired vice president, speaker, deputy speaker, minister, assistant minister or leader of opposition on compassionate grounds or based on other criteria determined by the president.”