The Monitor :: Ombudsman Investigate ‘Mosugate’ despite the law Protecting Sitting President
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Sunday 18 February 2018, 21:00 pm.
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Ombudsman Investigate ‘Mosugate’ despite the law Protecting Sitting President

Despite going at length describing in detail how the Constitution of the country shields a sitting president from criminal and civil prosecutions and investigations, the Ombudsman Augustine Makgonatsotlhe tore away the script and used his discretion to go into the heart of the ‘Mosugate’, after allegations that President Ian Khama had abused millions of state funds to build himself a resort at Mosu.
By Staff Writer Mon 05 Feb 2018, 16:59 pm (GMT +2)
The Monitor :: Ombudsman Investigate ‘Mosugate’ despite the law Protecting Sitting President








In his report that was circulated last week, the Ombudsman says he applied his discretion to embark on a fact-finding mission into the matter because of its sensitivity and apparent public appeal.

According to Makgonatsotlhe, his fact finding mission covered interviews with officers in the Office of the President and other persons associated with the developments at Mosu, as well as written correspondence with those that could not be personally interviewed with the view to soliciting as much information on the matter as possible.

In fact the Ombudsman states that he personally, accompanied by his deputy, William Moncho undertook a visit to President Khama’s Mosu property on June 6, 2017 to establish the facts and verify some of the allegations.

 

Inside Khama’s Mosu Home

The report reveals the exact amount of structures in the compound, that it has 11 buildings, being a worker’s block, a garage, kitchen and dining facility as well as eight residential houses, the biggest being a two-bedroomed house, while the rest are just small cottages, some made from pre-fabricated material.

According to this report, there are no ongoing construction or any sign of recent construction or any other works on site at the time of their visit in June last year. According to the Ombudsman’s report, construction on the site started in 2001 and has been undertaken on incremental basis, with individuals paying for their expenses.

The Ombudsman says he is convinced the State did not build those structures, thanks in large part to the evidence provided by the President’s aide who laid bare to him receipts of purchases and payments for the structures.

The Ombudsman found that a president aide was appointed to make all related payments and purchases, and that officer kept all the receipts, which were produced as proof that the President’s private home at Mosu was not funded from public coffers, as allegations had intimated.

The Ombudsman says the president aide had been involved with the project since 2008 and produced evidence showing that he was actively involved in purchasing and paying for the materials used in the construction of the various buildings as well as paying the builders between then and 2012.

“There is a clear record (receipts, bank cash slips, cheque book stubs, etc) of how the construction of the houses were paid for which we have inspected for all the houses including HE the President’s house… Evidence placed before us clearly showed that the construction of the buildings was paid for by HE the President and individual owners of the houses from their personal resources.

There was nothing therefore to suggest that public resources might have been expended on developing the President’s private property at least in so far as it relates to the main compound,” says the report further.

According to the Ombudsman, they found that there are two separate plots, the airstrip and the main compound, separated by a 50-meter servitude. The two plots belong to President Khama and were applied for and allocated under his names under an agreement of grant of lease for business plots, for purposes of a Lodge.

This finding contradicts allegations by

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some media reports to the effect that the property has no lodge licences, which also intimated that President Khama might be building a lodge there illegally.

The Ombudsman also found that the airstrip runs on a plot measuring 1,500m by 120m and is fenced, while the main plot, measures 18.6 hectares; that is 600m long and about 300m wide. The Ombudsman here says allegations that the Ngwato Land Board had found that the plot measured 2,000m by 2,000m were false.

The Ombudsman’s report goes further to discuss some contradictions they found on the ground especially with regard to the airstrip. For example, the Civil Aviation Authority feels the airstrip should be belonging to them by now because there was an agreement that they, CAAB, would fence it, maintain it, and take over its management so that it becomes a CAAB property, something that has not happened to date since the assurance was made in 2016.

The Ombudsman fearlessly noted that the CAAB is concerned that the airstrip does not form part of their assets and this could lead to audit queries against them in future.

However, the security arms of Government differ with the Ombudsman and are of the view that so long as President is still in power, the airstrip cannot be a public property as it is classified as a National Security area, hence access is not allowed to any aircraft or private persons. “State and civilian aircraft will only be allowed on the airstrip after the President ceases to hold office, and upon compliance with CAAB formalities.”

On whether the President could have been made to develop and maintain the airstrip at his Mosu home, with the State only providing security detail, the Ombudsman reasoned that the perimeter fence and the physical state of the airstrip would ordinarily be part of its security details which would determine its suitability for the safe use of a sitting Head of State.

“I have thought hard about this matter and come to the conclusion that …it conforms with the practice that the President be provided with a safe landing place at his place of abode that he frequents the most and that the safety of that landing place relates not only to the quality of the surface, but also to the existence of an effective perimeter fence to prevent animals, both domestic and wild, from encroaching into it, with the possibility not only of being hit by aircraft, but also of damaging the run way, thereby placing the President’s life at risk….applying this line of reasoning I have come to the conclusion that the fencing and maintenance of the airstrip by the CAAB was consistent with past practices of providing landing facilities for sitting presidents and did not  amount to  maladministration.”

The Ombudsman also found that Khama paid for the water connection in his personal capacity and further says that his interaction with the Water Utilities CEO did not reveal that the connection of water to the Mosu residents had inconvenienced residents of Letlhakane as the President’s compound uses very little water.

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