Former President Ian Khama has instructed his lawyers to order the Republic of Botswana to disclose the number and purpose of procured military aircraft for his own benefit.
According to a letter dated 24 September 2018 Khama requested use of aircraft and boat transport on a monthly basis to travel to Shakawe and twice a month to the farms.
“Such request was not responded to nor does your letter constitute a response to our client’s requests will be considered,” Collins & Newman stated.
In another letter dated 13 December, Collins and Newman stated that “The mere fact that our client’s aforesaid request has not received the benefit of a substantive response belies your letter that our client requests will be considered.”
Khama had requested the use of a helicopter on 14 December 2018 to travel to the annual Khawa Dune Challenge and to return on 17 December 2018.
He had requested the use of aircraft and boat transport to travel to and within Shakawe on 18 December 2018 and returning on 20 December 2018 and to travel on 27 December 2018 respectively.
In another letter dated 24 December 2018, Collins & Newman stated that “We have been instructed by our clients to request as we hereby do, for air and boat as follows; Mosu from 27 December 2018 to 14 January 2019, Chitabe/Seba Camps from 5 January 2019 to 9 January 2019, Kasane from January 2019 to 14 January 2019 and from Mashatu from 15 January 2019 to 20 January 2019.”
Yet in another letter dated January 2019, Collins and Newman states that “it is inconceivable that on each of the dates that transport has been sought there would be , or is, limited availability of aircraft ..”
The lawyers stated or mentioned the figures and specific purposes of aircraft operated by the BDF, DIS and the Ministry of Environment Natural Resources Conservation and Tourism.
In a letter dated 10 January 2019, Morupisi informed Khama through his lawyers Collins and Newman that the Office of the President was still consulting and advised him to resort to road transport.
The documents show that despite the Office of the President rejecting some of his requests, Khama continued to make more requests for air and boat transportation.
In a letter dated 13th February 2019, Khama’s Private Secretary Mabedi Letsholo wrote to Morupisi stating that “as the Patron of Arts and Culture, His Excellency the Former President, Lt. General Dr Seretse Khama Ian Khama will be attending the Polka Annual Festival in Tsabong. We therefore kindly request aircraft services for His Excellency the former President as follows; 1st March 2019, Gaborone to Tsabong and 3rd March Tsabong to Gaborone.”
In a letter dated 22 January 2019 addressed to Collins and Newman, Morupisi states that “I wish to state that in as much as I have not deemed it necessary to verify the aircraft figures as stated in your letter, particularly those operated by Botswana Defence Force, it is rather unfortunate that such information is being disclosed to third parties without the slightest regard to the national security risks that such disclosure might pose, let alone the specific purposes for which such aircrafts (sic) were procured.”
Morupisi added that “Although we had thought that your client’s request would come directly from the Office of the Former President, which is a Government office, we continue to receive them through yourselves. That notwithstanding, the Office of the President will continue to ensure an objective assessment of your client’s request with a view to providing the needed facilitation.”
According to Masisi: “In light of the scarce resources and their engagement, our office is constrained to heed your client’s request relating to Shakawe on the stipulated dates.”
Responding to Morupisi in a letter dated 24 January, Collins and Newman stated that “it is telling that you have not deemed it necessary to verify aircraft figures yet assert that there are scares resources. Without ascertaining the actual available aircraft, our client is left to conclude that the refusal to accord our client his legal and statutory rights us deliberate and unreasonable.”
Khama’s lawyers further stated that “It is unclear who the third parties that you are referring to are and why they pose a risk to national security particularly as whereas every effort is made to address correspondence to your good office and to ensure delivery exclusively to your good office, our efforts to ensure proper delivery are frustrated by the repeated refusal of officers to acknowledge receipt.”
The documents also show that Khama’s demands had taken a toll on the Office of the President.
On 19 March, Letsholo also stated that “His Excellency the Former President…will be undertaking his monthly visit to his home in Shakawe on Friday 28 March 2019. We therefore kindly request aircraft services for His Excellency the former President as follows; 28th March 2019, Gaborone to Shakawe, 30 March, Shakawe to Gaborone.
On 11th June, Letsholo also wrote a savingram stating that “As per section 6 (b) of the President’s (pension and Retirement Benefits) Amendment Act of 2017, we kindly request for an aircraft to transport His Excellency the Former President, Lt, General Dr Seretse Khama Ian Khama as he will be undertaking his monthly visit to his home in Shakawe.”
In a letter dated 17 June 2019 addressed to President Mokgweetsi Masisi, Letsholo also stated that “I kindly request, Your Excellency, that you grant permission for the use of an aircraft by His Excellency in accordance with Section 6 (b) of the President’s (Pension and Retirement Benefits) Amendment Act of 2017. The former President will be going to his home in Mosu from the 26th June to the 1st July 2019 and the aircraft service is requested as follows from 26 June, Gaborone to Mosu and from 1st July 2019, from Mosu to Gaborone.”
Responding to one of Letsholo’s letters, Morupisi stated in a letter dated 18 February 2019 that “I’m directed to inform you that His Excellency has not acceded to your request. Please arrange road transport for Former President Lt. Gen. Dr Seretse Khama Ian Khama.
He added that “On a related note which you mentioned, please furnish my office with official records indicating when he was appointed Patron of Arts and Culture. I have checked for such at the Ministry of Youth Sports and Culture Development who do not have such records. Our Cabinet records also don’t carry such information.”
The Permanent Secretary to the President Carter Morupisi has said that the tension between President Dr. Mokgweetsi Masisi and former president Ian Khama, which has been boiling over for quite some time, is threatening national security, documents seen by the Sunday Standard show.
Morupisi was commenting on a decision by Khama’s lawyers, Collins & Newman to disclose the number of helicopters owned or operated by the Botswana Defence Force (BDF) and the Directorate of Intelligence and Security (DIS) among others.
According to Masisi, the disclosure of aircraft figures, which have been seen by this publication, and the specific purposes for which the aircraft were procured pose a national security threat.