Masisi apologises, accuses Khama of destabilising govt

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By Mpho Tebele

Gaborone - Botswana President Mokgweetsi Masisi has apologised to the nation for his fallout with his predecessor former President Ian Khama. 

Masisi expressed regret on the decisions relating to the 2017 amendment of the Former Presidents Pensions and Retirement Act. 

"We made a very big mistake and I will be the first to admit it because if we had not amended this act we would be in a position to suspend former President Khama's benefits for engaging in active politics because he has essentially retired," said Masisi. 

He was referring to the amendment of Former Presidents' Pensions and Retirement Act which stated that a former head of state can work after leaving office.

 "Man, did we make a mistake! Promises were made and assurances given that once he vacated office, he will always support government, that he will never destabilise government, but now we are witnessing a total somersault," said Masisi.

According to Masisi, he was the leader of the house (Parliament) in 2017 when the amendment was made and not only did he champion it, he defended it against criticism from opposition parties. 

Apologising to the nation for wrongly amending the Act in question to please Khama, Masisi said at the time opposition parties warned against the idea to please Khama but he and other members of the ruling Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) ignored the advice. 

"I owe the nation and the opposition an apology. We made a mistake on Khama. 

We apologise for not listening to the opposition.

 It is sad. We thought it will never be like this. 

We took the assurance that ‘once I'm allowed to work, I will not destabilise the government’ and this is a total somersault.  

"We made a mistake on the passing of the amendments to the former Presidents Benefits Act. We made a mistake taking it that when the Presidents retired, they will not work. If they did, their benefits were to be withdrawn; work is much influence."

Masisi further stated that had they not made the "big mistake, we would be withdrawing all benefits for former President Khama if he works because he is retired and should not be working as per the previous retired Presidents Benedict Act."

Masisi said this was not a personal issue. " If that leverage was there we would take back all the benefits he has but we changed the law for him. Let me tell you that part of the reason I have refused to allow him (Khama) to use the chopper sometime was because in my view and assessment, those trips were not as necessary as the government work that was to be done," said Masisi. 

"I concluded that because he is in retirement; he is not a priority in terms of work. He is not in terms of work. You know moving soldiers to training or moving that and that is the priority of running the government.

 So please don't trivialise this thing. It's serious."

Masisi also warned the nation: "If you want him (Khama) to return to State House like he says he wants to come back as a retiree, have him and good luck. He will teach you a lesson."

Khama has since announced that he has resigned from the ruling BDP, citing alleged ill-treatment by his chosen successor. 

He has since informed the nation that he intends to support opposition parties in an effort to dethrone Masisi. 

 

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