NO MORE FREE RIDES

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Khama humiliated as masisi clips his wings again

  • Don’t give him a ride on your aircraft – OP orders Debswana
  • Khama wanted to fly to Orapa PSP and Debswana confirm
  • PSP says Khama needs to understand protocol

SONNY SERITE

In yet another humiliating blow to former President Ian Khama, the Office of the President yesterday (Monday) ordered Debswana Mining Company to turn down Khama’s request for a lift to Orapa in the mining company’s private jet.
Khama, who is scheduled to attend an event in the Orapa/Letlhakane area on Thursday, asked government’s joint venture company Debswana for a lift as it owns a private jet that flies between Gaborone and Orapa every Monday and Wednesday. The former President received the humiliating news through Debswana Managing Director Balisi Bonyongo who informed him that he had received an instruction from the Permanent Secretary to the President Carter Morupisi barring Debswana from allowing Khama to fly on their scheduled flight.
According to sources close to Khama, Debswana had already confirmed Khama’s seat in their shuttle aircraft but was forced to cancel the reservation when the order came from PSP Morupisi prohibiting them from taking the former president as their passenger. Asked how Khama felt about the incident, the source said ‘‘obviously it was humiliating for him. What you need to know is he didn’t ask for any special treatment from Debswana, all he wanted was to hop into their aircraft and be treated like all their passengers.”
The source said he wondered what this seemingly ‘‘payback time’’ on Khama sought to achieve as ‘‘Khama was never like this on them when he was president’’. He also wondered why former President Festus Mogae is not being ‘mistreated’ in the same way.
Permanent Secretary to the President, Carter Morupisi confirmed issuing the instruction and the unfolding events to The Botswana Gazette in an interview on Monday evening. Morupisi revealed that the Office of the President is mandated with handling traveling arrangements for former presidents and as such they cannot allow Khama to ‘‘go around asking for free rides from companies.’’ Morupisi said Khama knows the procedure and he must adhere to it, ‘‘They [Khama] ought to have informed us about his intended trip so we could make proper arrangements for him’’, he said, further adding that his office has to be informed well in advance on Khama’s trips because his movements involve his security detail which are provided for by government.
Debswana Corporate Affairs Manager, Matshidiso Kamona confirmed that indeed Khama had asked for a ride in their aircraft which is normally used for official purposes and to transport employees, their families, contractors and business associates.
‘‘Whenever there is a request to transport any dignitary who should be accorded the appropriate level of protocol and security, we seek guidance from the Office of the President’’, Kamona told this publication on Monday evening. She said in this instance, they sought guidance from the Office of the President, which advised them against flying Khama.
This is not the first time President Masisi’s administration has frustrated Khama’s appetite for air travel. A connoisseur of aviation, Khama has, since he left office in April, tried to get permission to use government aircrafts for his travels but his pleas have often been turned down by Masisi. It has been previously reported that Masisi at one point refused to grant Khama permission to use the BDF helicopter to travel to his retirement home in Mosu. Former DIS boss Isaac Kgosi stepped in and lent him the DIS aircraft, much to the chagrin of Masisi who fired Kgosi from his job shortly thereafter.
Early this month, it was reported that Masisi had rejected Khama’s request to use a government aircraft to travel to Serowe after hosting the ‘Race for Rhinos’ event at Sowa Town. Khama had wanted to fly to Serowe where he was scheduled to address Dikgosi from his home village. At the time, Permanent Secretary to the President , Carter Morupisi was quoted in the media as having written to Khama’s office that, “I am advised to relay the message to you by His Excellency the President Mokgweetsi Masisi that your request to use an aircraft has been denied. You are advised to arrange road transport for the former President”. It was also reported that following Masisi’s rejection to the request, a friend of Khama availed a helicopter for him to travel to Serowe.
In March this year the Botswana Defence Force also banned Khama from flying army planes. According to the savingram signed by the Air Arm Commander, Major General Phatshwane: “With the retirement of the former president Lt Gen Dr Seretse Khama Ian Khama you are informed that he is no more allowed to fly any BDF aircraft as crew.”
The denial by the BDF to allow Khama to fly their planes occurred shortly after the BDF had recalled its members from Khama’s security escort.
The controversy surrounding Khama flying first arose in 2001 when the Office of the Ombudsman condemned his use of BDF aircraft for his personal use. More recently Khama has been criticised for arranging a trip to the United States without following the correct protocol by communicating with the Office of the President.

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