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President secretly moves into State House

Staff Writer
While everybody was busy celebrating the October election outcome and preparing for the festive season President Ian Khama, being the silent operator that he is, silently moved into refurbished State House.

Private Secretary at the State House, Tefo Mokaila confirmed yesterday that the President moved into his official residence immediately after the general elections.
Speaking in a telephone interview, Mokaila however could not state the exact date that Khama moved into the country's first residence. 

The move came 19 months after Khama ascended to the Presidency in April 2008.In the process President Khama has made history as the first bachelor resident of the State House. 

An estimated P10 million was spent on the refurbishment of the State House that commenced at the beginning of 2008.

While awaiting the completion of the refurbishment Khamahad been staying at a house he had been living in while he was Vice President. 

Mokaila said that the project was completed within the budget. During presentation of National Development Plan 10, Ministry of Presidential Affairs and Public Administration requested an additional P13 million to be spent on refurbishment of the State House in the next seven years.

"In addition, the conversion of the old Serious Crime Squad offices to provide accommodation for the BDF sentries at the State House will be completed.
The converted BDF sentry will provide accommodation for approximately 60 officers.
Among other things, the building will have a commander's office, amoury, radio room, kitchen, dining room and gym," the minister said last year.
 
Vice President
The Vice President Lieutenant General Mompati Merafhe is also scheduled to move into his official residence at the end of this month or the beginning of February.

He has been staying at the house he was using during his time as Minister of

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Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation.

Senior Private Secretary to the Vice President, Ontiretse Letlhare said that at the moment they are cleaning the residence and carrying out minor maintenance work on the building for his occupation. The Vice President will also be provided with security 24 hours a day seven days, a week.

Ministers and their assistants
Government has in the past been spending P12, 000 per month on each minister as Housing Allowance, even on those ministers who have opted to stay in their houses outside Gaborone.

Mmegi is reliably informed that that option could soon be a thing of the past, as ministers would now be obligated to stay in official houses or pay for their rent if they decide to stay in any other residence of their choice.

Through this system government would save at least P2 million per annum that was paid to ministers as housing allowance.

At least eight ministerial houses that were built last year have been handed over to the government and have been allocated to senior ministers.

"Ministers are moving in as we speak," deputy clerk to the Cabinet, John Moreti confirmed yesterday. He said that the construction of the other eight houses has already commenced and is expected to be completed by mid 2010.

Moreti revealed that assistant ministers might have to move into old ministerial houses some of which are in good condition. Those that are in bad condition will be refurbished for occaupation, he said.

The ministerial houses project was done in two phases and would cost government an estimated P80 million.



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