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Khama Must Pay Back The Mosugate Money

Publishing Date : 13 March, 2018

Kesitegile Gobotswang (PhD)
BCP Deputy Leader

On 15th September 2014 Botswana Congress Party (BCP) lodged a complaint with the Office of Ombudsman entitled “President Khama’s alleged abuse of office and public funds and resources.” 

It has since emerged that no action was undertaken until almost three years later.  The former Ombudsman or is it Ombudswoman ignored the report for reasons best known to herself.  It is possible that she did not have the spine to investigate a high profile case such as one that involves the Head of State.

The former Ombudsman did not have the courtesy to update us on progress regarding the case until she retired.  However, the current Ombudsman must be commended for his attempt at investigating the complaint even though the end result was disappointing to say the least.  

Augustine Makgonatsotlhe who is the current Ombudsman landed at this forgotten office since the death of Lethebe Amos Maine with a bang.  Local media described him as a man on a mission. He received accolades following his successful investigation of a complaint lodged by Dr Prince Dibeela on behalf of the Botswana National Front (BNF).  The main thrust of the complaint was to make a determination over the biasness of Botswana Television (Btv) - the state broadcaster.

His finding on Btv was forthright and consistent with the general public perception. According to Makgonatsotlhe Btv is favouring the ruling party over the opposition parties.  The scathing report confirmed that Btv gave the ruling party unlimited coverage while the opposition was disadvantaged.

At the time the report was made public WeekendPost  quoted part of the Ombudsman’s report asserting that “It is my view that Btv’s coverage of political party activities does not meet the requirements of balance, equity and inclusiveness as set out under its mandate and guidelines. “  According to Makgonatsotlhe the ruling party enjoys 82% coverage compared to combined opposition parties including the Botswana Congress Party (BCP).  

The last time any ruling was made against government was during the era of Maine, the first indigenous Botswana Ombudsman. This followed a 2009 complaint lodged by BCP involving the illegal flying of Botswana Defence Force (BDF) chopper by Vice President Seretse Khama Ian Khama.

One of the key questions that were never answered was what would happen if the chopper was damaged during such flights.  When he was interviewed about the use of the BDF aircraft Khama said it was a deal he made with President Festus Mogae as a condition to leave the army and join politics under the ruling Botswana Democratic Party (BDP).  Khama got away with it because he enjoyed the full protection of the President.  By allowing Khama to continue flying BDF aircrafts Mogae was complicit in undermining the Office of Ombudsman.  

The approach towards the investigation over the alleged abuse of public office and state resources at Mosu raised questions about the independence of oversight institutions.  In this instalment the intention is to discuss some of the findings of the Ombudsman and suggest remedial action. It is worth noting that BCP has already informed the Ombudsman the intention to approach the High Court to review and set aside the report and its findings.

Despite all its faults the Ombudsman Report on the Mosugate Scandal made critical findings on the matter. Mokgonatsotlhe confirmed that the airstrip at Mosu is a private property of President Khama. More importantly “The airstrip was built by the BDF, with their own resources (i.e. machinery and manpower) using local materials (gravel), to avert the cost of always having to land HE the President in Orapa, which is about eighty-five (85) km away, then transporting him to the site either by car or helicopter.” 

The fact of the matter is that state resources were used for personal gain. In this regard BCP is vindicated.  The Ombudsman fails to state the amount of financial resources used in the construction of Mosu airstrip belonging to Khama. Furthermore Civil Aviation Authority of Botswana (CAAB) was robbed in for purposes of fencing and management of the airstrip. CAAB got involved with the understanding that upon completion the airstrip will be handed over to the entity for management that entails maintenance. 

However, this has not happened raising questions about continued use of state resources on a private property belonging to the person of President Khama.  Again the Ombudsman deliberately fails to provide the amount of state funds used in fencing and management of the airstrip. BCP is vindicated in observing that public money was used on Khama’s private property.

With respect to connection of water pipeline to the compound by Water Utilities Corporation (WUC), Makgonatsotlhe claims that the costs were incurred by President Khama.  However, like other expenditures the Ombudsman does not present the actual financial costs to the taxpayer. There are no indications that financial documentations were obtained for scrutiny. These in our view are serious omissions.   

Interestingly when it comes to construction of buildings inside the compound Makgonatsotlhe appears to have obtained a detailed description of records of expenditure such as receipts, bank cash slips, cheque book stubs etc. There is no mention of items for which the money was used. We suspect that public resources were used in fencing and bush clearing of the construction site.  Sources insist that BDF machinery was visible inside the compound busy at work.  

Makgotsotlhe makes another startling finding when he concluded that “I have come to the conclusion that the fencing and maintenance of the airstrip by CAAB was consistent with past practice of providing landing facilities for sitting Presidents and did not amount to maladministration.” Again Ombudsman fails to provide evidence of such airstrips used by previous Presidents.  The report concurs that the benefits are not contained in the Green Book.

Khama has several places of residence such as Borotsi in Tswapong area. He frequents these places in as much as he frequents Mosu. Ombudsman fails to explain why similar security details don’t apply at these places. Clearly Khama unduly benefited from state resources in the construction of his Mosu resort. There is need to determine the amount of public money spent on the President’s personal property. Once that has happened Khama must pay back the money.  It is an issue that will follow him after retirement in a few weeks time.



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