The Office of the President on Friday moved fast to quash allegations that President Seretse Khama Ian Khama intends to cut off funding for the offices of former Presidents Sir Ketumile Masire and Festus Mogae. While he acknowledged that government is concerned with the escalating cost of maintaining the former Presidents’ offices, the Director of Government Communications and Information Systems Dr Jeff Ramsay dismissed allegations that the Khama administration intends to cut off the former presidents completely.
When presenting her budget proposal to parliament recently, the Minister of Presidential Affairs and Public Administration, Lesego Motsumi, expressed concern that the cost of maintaining the former presidents offices are escalating, and called for stringent measures to put them in check.
Meanwhile Mogae’s Personal Secretary Bapasi Mphusu on Friday dismissed the contention that their expenditure is overboard, insisting that they are reasonable given their scope of work.
He also confirmed that they have been given instructions by government to cut down on their expenditure.
Mphusu also said that the former presidents are funded through an act of parliament, and those who want to revoke their funding will have to go to parliament first.
The former presidents’ offices, whose core staff includes among others a Senior Private Secretary and an Executive Secretary, are maintained at the taxpayers’ expense. In the 2009/2010 financial year, Masire’s office gobbled up P3, 105,340, while Mogae cost government a whooping P4, 197,110.
Government is trying to cut down on the cost escalations, and Motsumi has proposed P2, 682,430 for Masire and P3, 670,420 for Mogae.
These translate to a 14% reduction for Masire and 13% budget cut for Mogae. The opposition has in the past called for the funding to be scrutinized to check if the money is used prudently.
Apart from these expenses, the retired presidents are also built retirement homes at the taxpayers’ expense.
Mogae’s P20 million retirement mansion is located in Phakalane. About P36, 142 was used to demolish a ministerial house at which a retirement home was later built for Masire at a cost of P7, 963,915.44. The plot on which Mogae’s home was built was bought for close to P2 million.