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Where Lies the Truth?

SANDY GRANT
In a week or so of such extraordinary confusion, it really comes down to taking one’s pick. But let’s start with the Makwala affair where the Sunday Standard (August 13), contrary to just about everybody else’s fiercely expressed point of view, bravely stated that, the Botswana management team at the ongoing IAAF World

Championships was culpable for costing Isaac Makwala his position in the 400m finals, that a string of gaffes and blunders by the Botswana management team may be to blame, that the Botswana team management slept on the job with the Botswana team manager saying that the confusion was the result of a communications breakdown. So where do we all go from there? An enquiry of sorts perhaps or alternatively let the whole matter diplomatically rest and keep crossed fingers that it doesn’t happen again.

Then, in no order of priority comes the Dalai Lama’s impending visit and China’s failure to rein in North Korea where, in respect of both, this country told mighty China to get lost. There has also been considerable confusion about the President’s Gaborone retirement home. The Gazette (9 August) reported that after a two-month investigation it could confirm that a ‘secret’ multi-million pula office, now at roof level, was being constructed on consolidated plots on President’s Drive. Its attempts to obtain information proved fruitless with Dr Ramsay only able to state that potential plots had been identified. It reported that the Minister of Presidential Affairs had earlier told that National Assembly that P3.6 million would be needed for the ex President’s transport needs, P2.5 for furniture and another P2.5 for office equipment.  

It reminded us that the recently passed Bill allows the ex President the option of having his own office or being given an office accommodation allowance. Mmegi then further muddied the water when reporting (August 16) that from April next year, the ex President to be will be occupying the State owned home occupied by the late Sir Ketumile Masire.

Dr Ramsay, this time more fulsome, explained that refurbishment of the combined office and residence which was started some time last year, is still underway, a process which ‘forced’ Sir Ketumile to move into a Guest House somewhere in Gaborone. ‘The refurbishment’, said Dr Ramsay, ‘ will save the Government the expense of constructing a new facility.’ It was being done so that the former President could live in a more comfortable home. It was just a coincidence, said Ramsay, ‘that he happened to have passed on and the President will move into the residence’. There is much about this reported scenario that is profoundly

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disturbing. For instance, was Sir Ketumile asked if he wanted his home to be refurbished or was he simply told to move out? Could our ex President, then aged 90 or 91, have agreed to leave the home that he had occupied for the last 18 years so that it could be refurbished? It seems implausible. Into what Guest House did he move? 

It is most unlikely that a commercial Guest House could have met Sir Ketumile’s needs for office and residential accommodation and those of his staff, including security. What did this accommodation cost and under what head was it approved? How did he eat? What happened to the staff who could not be so accommodated? What happened to his furniture and personal possessions? There may be some other way of looking at this disturbing scenario but for the moment I haven’t a clue what this might, or even, could be. Is this Botho? Is this how we treat our ex Presidents? I am not much of a hero worshipper, but I do profoundly believe in respect, decency and integrity. Right now, I am unable to locate it. How can the government be saving money, as Dr Ramsay maintains, if it is spending so much on what are likely to be two completely new buildings rather than upgrading one?  Can we assume that the State-owned building which had been occupied by Sir Ketumile Masire will become a privately-owned building to be taken over by the retiring President, which would make no less than three privately owned properties? It is getting very confusing. The Mosu complex as we now know is a private security area and thus beyond the reach of the inquisitive or of those who merely wish to be informed. Somewhat similarly the ‘office’ under construction on President’s Drive is also secret. Why would it take The Gazette two months to obtain information which should be publicly available?

Why would those responsible be so cagey about releasing information?  Everybody, I imagine, would agree that ex Presidents should be properly housed and accommodated and would be proud that this should be so. But instead, of being proud it is now more likely that many will now be disconcerted that so little has been made known about what is going on.



Etcetera II

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