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Masisi torn between Khama, Mogae

Publishing Date : 05 August, 2019

Author : DAVE BAAITSE

President Mokgweetsi Masisi is torn between his number one enemy former Presidents, Lt Gen Ian Khama and Festus Mogae, as pressure mounts from his inner circle to revoke some of entitlements of former presidents.


If he is to amend the Act which was altered in 2017 to appease Khama, it will naturally affect Mogae’s entitlements. Sources within the Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) have revealed that some democrats have been mounting pressure on the President to revoke some of Khama’s benefits. What they find ironical in the history of Botswana is the perpetual use of the luxurious official government vehicles bearing the BX number plates by the former President in opposition party events.


After resigning from the ruling BDP at a consultative meeting in Serowe almost two months back, former President Khama joined the newly formed Botswana Patriotic Front (BPF), a party he facilitated its formation, as a Patron. In a bizarre turn of events, Khama arrived to a swarming crowd at Kanye during the BPF launch in his luxurious black Lexus, something which irked members of the ruling party.


The contention is that now that he joined opposition, the Khama should not be allowed to use official government vehicles bearing the BX number plates on opposition events. Former Presidents’ benefits provides that a former president be afforded an official transportation and it does not indicate any limitations as to where they go and in extension which event they attend.


Sometime in June this year, Masisi upon his arrival from an international trip in the United States, apologised to the nation for what he termed ‘wrongly amending the former Presidents Benefits Act’ to please Khama. Masisi in his capacity as the former Vice President then and leader of the house which dispersed at midnights, is the custodian and champion of the new Act. President Masisi was quoted in one of the local newspapers saying, at the time opposition parties warned against the idea to please Khama but he and other BDP MPs turned a blind eye.  


"I owe you and the opposition an apology. We made a mistake on Khama. We apologise for not listening to the opposition. It is sad. We thought it would never be like this. We thought the assurance that once I (in reference to Khama) am allowed to work I will not destabilize the government, and this is a total somersault."


He reiterated that: "We made a mistake on the passing of the amendments to the former Presidents Benefits Act. We made a mistake taking it that when the Presidents retired they will not work. If they did their benefits were to be withdrawn; work is much influence." He also revealed that had they not made the "big mistake, we would be withdrawing all benefits for former President Khama if he works because he is retired and should not be working as per the previous retired Presidents Benedict Act."


He further stated that: "We made a very big mistake. I am the first to admit it, a very big mistake.  Because if that leverage was still there we would withdraw all the benefits that former President Khama has for engaging in politics again because he has retired." A close source to the developments indicated that Masisi find himself fighting a bitter end; if he goes on to satisfy himself and impress his democrats, Mogae will become collateral damage.


Mogae, though he has not entangled himself in the Masisi-Khama feud, he has at the beginning of the fallout of the duo criticised for Khama for being divisive. The issue of former presidents’ benefits, if tampered with, may make Masisi prone to be used by former president, sources have indicated.Masisi has been warned that should he go on with the decision, he will also lose big if he loses the general elections to the opposition in October.   “This was initially his intention, now he finds himself in a dilemma and he is very indecisive,” said the source.

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