President Ian Khama and his Cabinet are working on plans to change the law that caters accommodation for retired Presidents so that retired Presidents could receive housing allowance instead of being provided with accommodation.
Through the current 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.
It is said that Assistant Minister in the Ministry of Presidential Affairs and Public Administration Philip Makgalemele is expected to table a Bill to accommodate Khama’s wishes of being provided with housing allowance instead of accommodation when he retires.
Member of Parliament for Francistown South Winter Mmolotsi disclosed Khama’s plans on Sunday during the Umbrella for Democratic Change rally that welcomed former Speaker of the National Assembly Dr Margret Nasha into opposition politics.
According to Mmolotsi, the Constitution stipulates that government shall provide a retirement home for any President leaving office. He is surprised that now Khama wants a housing allowance.
Mmolotsi said Khama has delegated Makgalemele to cobble a last minute Bill and sell it during the BDP caucus so that the Constitution could be amended.
“Khama wants the law stipulating that retired Presidents of the Republic shall be provided with retirement home be scrapped of because he wants money instead of accommodation. He wants housing allowance,” emphasized Mmolotsi.
The President Retirement home belongs to the government and in a case where there is death the home remains the property of government.
Mmolotsi is of the view that if the Bill passes it means Khama will be entitled to a housing allowance which he may use to build a house of his choice anywhere and the house will never belong to government but Khama’s next of kin.
“I warned Makgalemele that if they dare bring that Bill to Parliament and passes he (Makgalemele) is going to account for the housing allowance when Khama dies. He must tell us how he is going to recover the housing allowance,” said Mmolotsi.
Furthermore Makgalemele wants to bring another Bill to allow retired Presidents to be provided with retirement offices at a place of their choice prompting speculation that Khama could demand that his offices should be constructed in Mosu village in Central District.
Currently the law allows government to provide retired Presidents with retirement offices in Gaborone.
Khama wants this law to be changed to allow him to decide where to situate his retirement office.
The last minute Bills are expected to be tabled before Parliament soon. If the two Bills pass it means government will never recover housing allowance from Khama when he dies. It also means where Khama’s retirement office may be situated might be of convenient to Khama not government.
In 2012 cabinet wanted to bring a similar Bill to advance former Vice President Benefits, the late Mompati Merafhe.
At the time 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.
Reached for comment Makgalemele denied that he was delegated by Khama to table such a Bill before Parliament. He said what Mmolotsi said was news to him.