Saturday, May 18, 2024

Masisi yet to move into the State House

The Office of the President this week claimed that it has no knowledge of the whereabouts of a caravan that was bought for former President Ian Khama in 2009 amid reports that the current President Mokgweetsi Masisi is yet to move into to State House.

Masisi’s Senior Private Secretary Berzac Maphakwane told Sunday Standard he was not aware of the whereabouts of the P2 million caravan, bought by the State for the former President.

In 2009, Presidential Minister at the time, Daniel Kwelagobe told parliament President Khama will be bought an executive camping caravan that will cost government about P 2 million as part of the “benefits accruing to a president”.

“The purpose of the caravan/mobile home is to provide accommodation for His Excellency the President when traveling around the country,” he added.
Khama was the first Botswana president to be bought an executive camping caravan. The caravan and the expansion of his fleet cost the tax payers P 3 million.

Meanwhile it also emerged that four months since he took office President Masisi is yet to move into his official residence, the State House. Despite being left with just over a year in his contract before the general elections, Masisi seems to be in no hurry to move into the State House.

However, according to his office the President has not as yet relocated to State House “as it is currently undergoing refurbishment”.

Government spokesperson Dr. Jeff Ramsay says Masisi is for the time being still residing at State House II, the Official Vice President’s residence, which he occupied when he took over the VP role from Ponatshego Kedikilwe following the 2014 general elections.
“His Excellency will occupy State House as soon as it is ready. However, we do not wish to speculate on the timelines or the extent of refurbishments at this point,” he says. Ramsay could however not reveal the budget or cost of the said refurbishment saying they would not wish to speculate on the cost of renovations. “The final figure will of course become available to you.”

Senior Private Secretary to the President Berzac Maphakwane has also confirmed the President has not moved into the State House yet citing lengthy procurement processes as some of the reasons behind the delay.

Maphakwane said they were however not aware of allegations that there was a debugging exercise to remove spying equipment from the House. “We are not aware of such.”
As a result of the delay, Vice President Slumber Tsogwane has not moved into State House II, but rather still occupying the ministerial house he occupied when he was Minister of Local Government. Ramsay said there were currently no planned refurbishments for State House II.

It remains to be seen how much Masisi will spend in refurbishments given the extravagant spending by his immediate predecessor.

By the time he first moved into the State House back in 2008 former President Ian Khama had already spent over P10 million in refurbishments. An additional P13 million was requested under the National Development Plan 10 by the Ministry of Presidential Affairs and Public Administration to be spent on further refurbishments. Developments included the conversion of the old Serious Crime Squad offices to provide accommodation for the BDF sentries at the State House, housing approximately 60 officers. The building would also have a commander’s office, armoury, radio room, kitchen, dining room and gym. 


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