Amid a growing uproar that President Ian Khama was deeply hurting the economy of Botswana with his extravagant and exotic lifestyle the Acting Minister of Presidential affairs and Public Administration today defended the President, arguing that the controversial multi million Pula presidential jet was worth it.
Ramadeluka Seretse added that the executive caravan purchased for the President together with a number of vehicles under the category of transport “have always been a benefit accruing to a president.”
Last week Members of Parliament debated the purchase of the presidential jet and the P2 million caravan.
A number of MPs questioned the rationale of buying such expensive and unnecessary luxuries even as the economy was beginning to show signs of uncertainty.
Members of Parliament argued that there are many hotels across the country in which the President could lodge as he tours the country.
“For the benefit of this Honourable House and the public, let me state for the record that the provision of a mobile home together with a number of vehicles under the category of transport has always been a benefit accruing to a president,” said Minister Seretse.
“These benefits are contained in a document that stipulates functions, pay and privileges for the president, members of cabinet, the speaker, deputy speaker and the leader of opposition and it was last printed in 2004,” he added.
The Presidential caravan is a self propelled mobile home mounted onto a 6 x 6 Mercedes Benz truck.
Seretse put the total amount allocated to the caravan at P1.8million.
Its purpose is to provide accommodation for the President when he is traveling around the country.
“It will serve as a substitute for hotels and will make up for absence of hotels in other places. In this way, the caravan will offer the president flexibility of movement and duration of meetings as well as minimize flying back and forth,” Seretse argued.
He said the purchase of the caravan is nothing new as to stir the MPs as it was through their approval that an allocation of P2.8 million for fleet expansion for the office of the president which included payment of the caravan was made.
With regard to another controversial matter, the Presidential Jet, Seretse estimated the price tag at P237million adding however that while the amount will remain the same in US dollars it “may vary in Pula terms depending on the Pula/US dollar exchange rate when the final payment is made.”
He told parliament that the manufacturer has since indicated the delivery of the jet will now be in June 2009 and not May as was initially agreed.
“This is due to delayed delivery from the vendor suppliers for items such as cabinets and chairs,” he said, adding however that “these are not additions, but were part of the original configuration.
Seretse was answering questions from the Lobatse Member of Parliament Nehemiah Modubule.