- Gov’t bought building for over P70 million
- Molefhi says they are awaiting funding
- Molefhi says he is yet to engage President Masisi on relocation
The Ministry for Presidential Affairs, Governance and Public Administration has slowed down on the intention to move the Office of the President (OP) to Orapa House, this publication has learnt.
In 2014, Parliament under former President Ian Khama, accepted a proposal of more than P290 million to move both the President and his Vice’s offices to the building once owned by mining giant De beers. However, almost 5 years since the proposal was given the green light, OP has not relocated.
Last week in parliament BDP back-bencher Edwin Batshu asked the Minister of Presidential Affairs Nonofo Molefhi on government’s intentions regarding the abounded but highly costly Orapa House. Molefhi confirmed that government bought the building in 2014 but could not commit when it will be occupied.
“Currently, I cannot confirm when it will be occupied since the refurbishment of the building is still being planned and the reason why it has remained unoccupied is attributed to the fact that the cost estimate for the refurbishment has been found to be unaffordable for Government. In view of this, we have since had to institute a review of the proposed designs,” he told parley last week.
Molefhi further revealed that albeit allegations that government was buying her own building they instituted an investigation to determine the owner of the building. According to reports government payed De-beers more than P70 million for the building. Minister Molefhi however told parliament that he was not in position to confirm the actual purchase price the building from the diamond mining company.
In an interview with this publication this week, Molefhi could not confirm or deny whether government still intends on moving the highest office in the country to Orapa House.
“We are still waiting for the budget to complete the refurbishments,” said the Minister.
“Like I said in parliament, we do not know when the building will be reoccupied. We are also not in a position to say exactly when the refurbishments are expected to be completed. At this point I cannot confirm or deny that the Office of the President will be relocating to Orapa House.”
He also went on to tell this publication that the ministry is yet to engage the President Mokgweetsi Masisi on relocating his office.
“We are still to engage the President about it, so he is currently in the dark regarding this matter. At the moment the building is still a subject of security and procurement. These are the divisions that we are currently dealing with in the matter.”
Furthermore, The Botswana Gazette has also learned that the Masisi led administration has had a change of heart in moving the President’s office to Orapa House. Minister Molefhi also said he did not know of who advised former President Ian Khama to have OP relocate to Orapa House. He said he however held a different view but the call on whether OP moves or not was not his to make.
In conclusion Molefhi said if Masisi makes the call not to relocate OP to Orapa House, other OP departments could still make use of the building.