Wednesday, January 26, 2022

Khama’s crew breached BDF protocol – Seretse

The Minister of Defence, Justice and security, Dikgakgamatso Seretse says Botswana Democratic Party members who took photographs inside the Botswana defence Force aeroplane and posted them on Facebook breached military protocol. Seretse told the Sunday Standard that there was nothing wrong with President Khama travelling with BDP members in a military aircraft.

“There is only one thing wrong, it is a presidential and military aircraft and those who took pictures violated procedures and the process of the military. One is not allowed to take pictures in the inside particularly the presidential aircraft. I think it was just out of excitement, but at the same time there was nothing wrong with the pictures they took when they were loading off,” he said. “It was not really right for them to do so but they are not military and I am sure it was just a lapse. Normally there are air hosts who accompany the president but sometimes you assume that people are aware that they are not supposed to take pictures around these things,” he said.

“It is only a lapse that someone took pictures inside presidential aircraft but it is upon the president to invite whoever he wants to travel with on board, it is not wrong as long as the aircraft is able to take numbers and does not put the president in imminent threat. If the numbers are adequate; the weight also adequate; then he is ready to fly with whomever,” said Seretse. Seretse said even members of opposition were allowed to travel with the president on military aircrafts. “For example if the president is heading to Shakawe and one member of opposition ask to board with him I do not think there will be a problem as long as issues of security are not compromised.

In this case security assessment is key and not party affiliations,” he said. He further said that the perpetrators who took pictures cannot be charged but they can just be cautioned because they innocently took pictures unaware that it was not allowed. He emphasized that it was just a mistake that happened. For its part, the Office of the President reaffirmed that the incumbent President is entitled to official or State transport at all times, for purposes of official duties and private engagements.

“It therefore follows that when he travels anywhere, he can be accompanied by whomever he wishes. This has, moreover, been the case since the early years of our Republic. It may be further noted that this ‘all times’ provision is in recognition of the fact that, as the head of state and government, the President and those around him must officially operate on a continuous (24/7) basis,” said Jeff Ramsay for government communication.

Ramsay said in this respect, the above provisions are also in keeping with general international norms governing the conditions of service of heads of state and government found elsewhere.

He said it may be further noted that, for reasons of his security among others, the responsibility for providing the President with official transport on state aircraft rests with the Botswana Defence Force (BDF).

“This is true of OK 1, as well as such other aircraft as may be availed as and when needed. Whenever such an aircraft is availed for the President’s use, it thus automatically assumes the special status of a VVIP flight. There was nothing unusual or out of the ordinary for the President to have recently travelled with a team of three members of his political party on his VVIP Flight from Ghanzi to New Xade,” he said.

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