- Govt injects over P200M into disputed Housing Appeal
- OP says Khama not going anywhere with housing appeal
- PSP appeals to Khama to learn from Mogae, Masire
- Private sector to be engaged on the housing appeal dispute
The government through the Ministry of Local government and rural development has been making contributions to the president’s housing appeal programme which former president Ian Khama is now claiming personal ownership over.
Khama is currently at war with the government over the housing project claiming that he is going to oversee the programme as it is his brainchild and further arguing that all its achievements were as a result of his efforts.
Documents from local government however show that government has spent P221.9 Million over a period of 16 years, since the beginning of the “Needy ‘s Programme” to date. While Khama insists that he will remove the programme from government and continue to administer it privately, the ministry has committed P59 Million for the year 2018/2019 to the programme, which Khama claims belongs to him.
In the final month of his tenure as Head of State, the former president changed the programme from president’s housing appeal to the National Housing Appeal, in an effort to disassociate it from the presidency. This however has not gone down well with the Office of the President which has vowed to fight to the bitter end to keep the programme within government.
Speaking to this publication, the Permanent Secretary to the President, Carter Morupisi said they are shocked to hear Khama saying the housing appeal programme belongs to him.
“This programme long started in 2006, then called destitute housing appeal when Khama was the vice president. But it was developed to include the private sector in 2010 hence what it is today, so it does not belong to anybody but the government.”
Morupisi emphasised that “all the logistics of the programme were achieved through the government resources and not anybody’s or Khama’s personal funds.”
The Permanent Secretary to the President further called on Khama to take a leaf out of the former presidents, Festus Mogae and the late Sir Ketumile Masire’s book, saying they never claimed ownership over their successful programmes.
“Mogae put up a gallant fight against HIV/Aids. Even to date you cannot mention HIV fight without mentioning Mogae but he never claimed any authority or ownership over this fight or ARVs because he knew that he succeeded through the government resources and machinery. So was former president Masire who never wanted to leave with the Integrated Support Programme for Arable Agriculture Development (ISPAAD) which was his idea, or Sir Seretse Khama memorial fund.”
Morupisi said they will make sure that the programme is not vulnerable to abuse or partisan politics. Asked to shed light on how they will make sure the private sector does not get confused over the latest scramble and ownership issues, Morupisi brazenly said “nobody should be worried. We will address that matter and the dust will settle.”
Sources say the highest office in the land is in the process of informing the private sector to engage only with the government over the Presidential Housing or National Housing Appeal. Fears, sources say, are that the donations may be open to abuse or corruption in the name of government.
Those willing to make cash donations have been depositing to the First National Bank account number 62279872652 under the account name- President’s Housing Appeal.
Morupisi says the programme will remain with government as they launch a war on the disparity between the rich and poor.
Khama and his former private Secretary, George Tlhalerwa had been the face of the programme under the Khama regime and strove to achieve the programme’s objectives. Morupisi however notes that that argument is true of any government employee in respect of a programme they are leading.
Khama warns Morupisi..
The fight over the ownership of the Presidential Housing Appeal has soured already strained relationships between Khama and the PSP with the former president warning Morupisi to conduct himself “well” while Morupisi has in return called upon the former president to be presidential. “I respect him and will never be tempted to respond otherwise. My role is to promote and defend government’s policies. This was also done during the former president’s tenure and it will be done during president Masisi’s tenure.
Airing his frustrations, Khama charged that Morupisi is frustrating him because he is fighting hard to protect his job which is on the line as somebody else is being groomed to replace him.
Asked to respond to the allegation from Khama, Morupisi replied that Khama knows his capabilities. “Why do you think he appointed me to this position? I am a career civil servant. I speak nothing but government policies and laws as written in various public documents accessible to anybody who may want to refer to them,” he said.
The intention of the programme was to have housed all needy Batswana by 2016. So far only 3336 houses have been built. It is not yet clear however how the dispute will affect the progress made and future appeals. The office of the president insists however that the situation will settle down and normalise.
It is expected that Khama may run a parallel programme if the matter is not resolved amicably.