After fighting hard and working through the night leading fellow legislators to give his then principal, Ian Khama a free pass to air and water transport, President Mokgweetsi Masisi could live to regret the move.
Requested to react to a recent court judgment in his favour through his Private secretary, Mabedi Letsholo, Khama said: “It is a further indication that this regime has no respect for the rule of law. We will be following up on all aspects of the judgment to ensure that the respondents comply with the court order,” he said.
On provision of an estimation of the reimbursement due to him, Khama said it would take sometime as they will be compiling the information from 2018. Besides reimbursement, Khama's BPF will also be boosted in its campaigns. Since its formation, even despite the COVID-19 pandemic, BPF has been the most active. It has been on a recruitment drive with Khama present at most events. The party will now be able to reach out even more areas over a short period of time due to the transport available to the leader. Khama, who has been at odds with Masisi, has vowed to take legal action should he be stopped in his tracks.
Quizzed on whether he would be using his victory to benefit him and his BPF activities, Khama said; “the benefit of having access to state aircraft will be enjoyed within the applicable laws, currently I am not aware of any legal impediment or exclusions relating to the purpose of travel. If that question ever arises, I will take legal advice.”
The Pension and Retirement Benefits Amendment Act that was passed in 2017 allows former presidents use of any State owned mode of transport, on a case-by-case basis, on such terms as may be determined by the President. Previously, former presidents were entitled to only specified motor vehicles. Opposition legislators then failed in their bid to stop the law from passing despite their objection. They argued that this would be costly. However, the ruling party legislators overpowered them with numbers. BDP chief whip Liakat Kablay insisted then that the law was not meant for the BDP.
“This was all meant to improve efficiency when they undertake their daily duties. President Khama has said he would be willing to help with the campaign, the law does not say he cannot use the transport for political activities, so there is nothing wrong in him using whatever mode of transport for political activities,” Kablay had said then.
According to the judgment delivered by Justice Gabriel Komboni on August 4, 2021, Masisi’s refusal to grant Khama the use of a government aircraft was unlawful. He ordered government to reimburse Khama for all the costs he incurred during a trip to India in 2019. At the time, President Mokgweetsi Masisi refused to avail to his former boss use of a government aircraft.
Khama who last used state aircraft mid 2018 had approached court seeking review of Masisi’s refusal to grant him the use of government-owned transport, particularly aircraft. The other impugned decisions denied Khama the benefit of international air travel to India and the withdrawal of security detail by the Director General of the Directorate of Intelligence and Security, Peter Magosi in respect of the said trip to India.
Komboni concluded that Masisi acted illegally and irrationally when he refused to grant Khama access to the requested aircraft. Also, the court declared the decisions taken by Magosi on July 6 and 14, 2019, to commence disciplinary action against the detail that provided Khama with security during the trip to India as unlawful.
The former army general argued that all the decisions that were taken between March 19, 2019, and June 19, 2019, were unlawful as they are a violation of his rights, entitlements and privileges as a former president.
Khama started experiencing problems as far back as 2018 when his requests for air and water transport were rejected. As published by a local publication, a letter by Khama’s attorneys Collins Newman dated September 24, 2018, Khama requested use of aircraft and boat transport on a monthly basis to travel to Shakawe and twice a month to the farms.
He however, got no response and this continued with many other local trips until the then Permanent Secretary to the President (PSP), Carter Morupisi informed Khama through Collins and Newman that the Office of the President (OP) was still consulting and advised him to resort to road transport.
Despite the OP rejecting some of his requests, Khama continued to make more requests for air and boat transportation until he instituted legal proceedings after the India trip to visit Tibetan Leader the 14th Dalai Lama.