It is now official, the once rosy relationship between former president Ian Khama and his successor, President Mokgweetsi Masisi is on the rocks.
Khama, who has been catching all the dust from the Office of the President (OP), is not taking it lying down, like just an ordinary unhappy pensioner, but a soldier, he is rolling up his sleeves and looking in at what the law says.
The former president has decided that he would not slide quietly into retirement and has for the first time opened up and shed light to Mmegi about the treatment he is getting from his chosen successor at the OP.
Responding to Mmegi questionnaire on the status of the relationship between former president’s office and OP, Khama stopped short of saying that things are pretty awful between him and Masisi.
In a carefully written response, which came through Khama’s lawyers, Monthe, Marumo and Co., Khama said, “with respect to the relations with the Office of President (OP), we are instructed that the relationship is not as cordial as it should or ought be”.
The bone of contention with Khama and Masisi has been the former’s travels, especially his appetite for air travel. Since stepping down from office on March 31, Khama’s air travels have been making headlines as OP was busy clipping the former president’s wings by denying him open access to government aeroplanes.
The relationship soured when Botswana Defence Force (BDF) Air Wing was instructed to stop letting Khama cockpit access to the military aircraft. Khama had had the full access to army aircraft for over 40 years since his father and first president of Botswana, Sir Seretse Khama appointed him the youngest one-star Brigadier at the age of 24.
Last month, Khama was advised to take to A1 Road when he requested for a government aircraft to travel to Serowe for a soup event.
This was after another rejected request to fly to a social soccer event in Mosu village in the Boteti area where Khama has a holiday home.
Also last month, Khama decided to sneak out of the country and fly to the United States (US) to a Conservation International (CI) board meeting without informing OP.
Khama has however read the Green Book and is calling out to Masisi to show him a specific provision that stipulates the former president to inform OP about his travels. He also says no one informed him about the need to inform OP when he travels.
“The former president has not been made aware that he has to notify OP with regards to his travels and we have equally considered the contents of the Green Book and have found nothing that stipulates that the former president has to notify the OP when he travels,” read Khama’s lawyers’ response.
Khama said he finds it “strange” that Masisi wants him to report to him about his travels while his [Khama] predecessors were never required to inform OP about their travels.
The former president also highlighted that he is a “private citizen who is only bound by the Constitution and therefore not subjected to the strictures of the Green Book which applies to government functionaries”.
Just recently, Khama was embarrassingly denied a ride on to the Debswana airplane after OP instructed the diamond mining company to not give the former president a ride in their plane – a move that was widely seen as Masisi’s cracking of the whip to pronounce that he is in charge.
Khama has also defended his decision to travel to the US without informing OP reasoning that he is not obliged to.
“There is no obligation on the part of the former president in terms of the Green Book to notify the OP prior to his travels and they would be no need to do so in the instant matter of CI that you mention.”