- Khama informed OP to take over the costly airstrip
- OP ignored Khama’s appeal, did not bother to respond
- Says govt not telling the truth on Mosu Airstrip
- Govt say they are no longer interested in Mosu airstrip
Former president Ian Khama has accused the Office of the President of ignoring his appeal to take over the costly Mosu airstrip and place it under the CAAB registry, as long promised to the nation, Khama has revealed.
Former president Ian Khama told this publication that his then private secretary, Brigadier George Tlhalerwa informed the presidency that they want to cede the airstrip and inquired on the way forward.
“My then private secretary, Tlhalerwa informed the presidency that as part of the promise, we want to cede the airstrip to the presidency to make arrangements for takeover, but we were ignored,” Khama said in an interview with this publication.
The Permanent Secretary to the president, Carter Morupisi countered the accusation levelled at his office and informed The Botswana Gazette that a new study and an assessment of the airstrip had revealed that the airstrip is not “strategic” as previously claimed by the Khama administration.
Morupisi has been supported in his criticism of the Mosu airstrip by the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of transport and communications, Kabelo Ebineng who has revealed that the area is not a priority for government, as government used and continues to use the Orapa airfield.
“The Ministry has taken a decision that they will not expend any of the tax paper’s money in the Mosu airstrip and will not take it over as it is not a strategic area but burden in its current status and location,” Ebineng revealed.
Khama said he is aware of government’s decision but that he is not willing to engaged on it as he sees at as another war being waged against him by the current administration.
“I will maintain the airstrip. I have not done much on cost estimates, but I will,” Khama quipped. He denied that his administration misled the public on the airstrip, including the assertion that it is strategic, “look, I don’t think it is about that and I need not to defend myself on that. The current administration just wants to see me suffer and this is one of their many ways to discredit me,” Khama explained.
Airstrips are very costly and demanding and this decision is likely to impose a heavy financial burden on the former president. Ebineng says Govenrment has assessed that the airstrip will need approximately P5 million every five years and around P250 000 every year for ongoing routine maintenance (reoccurring cost).
Khama will now need trained personnel to maintain the airstrip using industrialised equipment and to provide daily reports on the condition of airstrip, cleaning drainages, placing of cone marker, reporting wind sock conditions and more. The requirements are necessary to ensure that the airstrip complies with CAAB maintenance standards and remains operational.
Maintenance includes measures to keep or restore the operational function as well as measures to check and to evaluate the present function of an element and the basic components of maintenance are classified into three-inspection, servicing and overhaul as well, as repair.
Asked whether he will manage the expense of maintaining the airstrip, Khama says “I will see, there is always a way.”
The current government position on Mosu raises questions of the integrity of members of the previous regime, many of whom remain in the current administration, who justified and okayed the controversial expenditure including the office of the president, Botswana Defence Force, the Ombudsman’s office and others who joined in the ‘okay’ chorus’.
The Ombudsman, following a protest by the Botswana Congress Party released a report saying that the expenditure was justifiable, further clearing Khama of any wrongdoing in a matter in which the Botswana Congress Party had alleged maladministration and abuse of Office by the President.
The Ombudsman, Augustine Makgonatsotlhe has since shied away from making comments on the latest developments saying he has not received any formal information from the Office of the President on the matter.
For a prolonged period, the BDF and Office of the President condoned the expenditure justifying the airstrip as ‘very strategic’. The army diverted both personnel and millions of Pula from its Maintenance Budget towards the construction of an airstrip.