- Masisi refuses to lend Khama presidential helicopter
- Masisi tells Khama he still has issues to deal with
President Mokgweetsi Masisi has allegedly refused to grant his predecessor, Ian Khama, unfettered access to presidential air transport.
Sources at the Office of the President (OP) have revealed to this publication how Khama wanted to continue using the luxurious presidential Supa Puma helicopter on his frequent trips to his retirement home in Mosu but Masisi refused to grant Khama’s request.
‘‘He told Khama to wait as he still had more important issues to deal with,’’ a source said. Khama was apparently forced to drive to Mosu where he had gone to attend a football tournament that included his football team, Super XI.
A well-known connoisseur of aviation, Khama’s fascination with flying machines is well documented and at some point former Ombudsman the late Lethebe Maine called him to order when he continued to fly BDF aircrafts after he resigned from the army. Maine’s call out was a result of a complaint raised by the opposition Botswana Congress Party which had reported Khama for abusing army aircrafts even as he was now a civilian having resigned from the army to join politics. A defiant Khama continued to fly army aircraft arguing that he had sought permission from President Festus Mogae who was his boss at the time.
Sometime in November last year, Khama escaped a possible crash when his favourite presidential Airbus Helicopter EC225LP Super Puma Mk II encountered gearbox failure during one of his rendezvous in Gchwihaba. Before he vacated office in April, Khama reportedly spent P56 million of tax payers money to ensure the luxury Puma helicopter was fixed before he retired.
Among his presidential retirement benefits, Khama is entitled to air transport and can use a government helicopter but only at the express permission of the sitting president, Masisi. During his time as Vice President, Masisi used to be transported in BDF helicopters and at times flew commercial airlines when going on international assignments. Sources at the Office of the President say this might be payback time as Masisi could be having flashbacks of how Khama used to deny him the luxury of using the presidential helicopter and the presidential jet (OK 1).
Reached for comment, Government spokesperson Dr Jeff Ramsay said former Presidents are entitled to official transport, including air transport.
‘‘In context of former President Khama, he has apparently used official helicopter since leaving office,’’ Ramsay said, even though he was in the dark as to when Khama last used the official helicopter. This publication can however confirm that Khama’s last use of the presidential helicopter was on 31st March when he flew from CKGR to Gaborone where he stepped down from office the next day.